I've had Ted Falcon as my rabbi for over 30 years, both in LA and in Seattle and now, since I live in Oregon, in my heart, with occasional visits in person. There has never been a better teacher in my life, a better influence or someone who has lighted my path to help me make better choices than he has. I've been a volunteer, a member of the choir, a "cheerleader" and a participant. Now, that Ted is an "Interfaith Amigo" and Rabbi Olivier has taken over the congregation of Bet Alef, I only know that it will continue with great energy and teachings for present and future congregants alike. It is a true story of community and excellent experience.
I was born in 1951. I came from a culturally Jewish background; the religious aspects of Judaism to which I had been exposed seemed form-bound, anachronistic, and lacking vitality. Since 1999 I have been oriented to the spiritual worldview of Integral philosophy, which is comprehensive, universal and demands coherence on many levels. I have found in Bet Alef a creative dedication to joyfuly including and expressing Judaism's tribal + scholarly + cultural + activist roots, and pushing into universal and mystical territory. What a find!! Bet Alef is an incredibly attractive and unusual package for Jews, and anyone, who needs a postmodern and mystical spiritual home with lots of rich tradition underneath. The people are great, too.
We moved to the area and we were searching for a community that fit with our sense of Judaism and community. We soon got connected with Bet Alef and began participating in the family Shabbat programs. We immediately felt welcome. Rabbi Olivier is warm and patient with the children (and adults!). The all let us participate and we became part of the community we were looking for.
This place is great! There is a very strong sense of community, which is enhanced by the meals after services. Oliver is a great Rabbi. He gives really interesting, funny talks and really makes Judaism enjoyable. I am one of the sutdents in his Bar/Bat Mitzvah class, and I'm glad that I am. The class lasts two years. During the first year, we learn how to read and chant Hebrew and learn about Jewish traditions and values. During the second year, we memorize all of the prayers for the ceremony and learn about Jewish history. It's really fun. Meditation goes very well with the services, it helps people get relaxed and in the right state of mind. It doesn't always work for everybody (after one service where we were instructed to imagine ourselves as waves crashing on the shore, I heard someone remark "I was imagining my head smashing agaisnt the rocks."), but it works for me. The synagogue is also kid-friendly, holding "Inter-generational family Shabbats" which are specifically geared towards kids. They are much shorter than normal services and involve more audience participation. All in all, involvement in Bet Alef is a very fun and spiritual experience, and I definately recommend it.
Our lives are so enriched because we are members of Bet Alef. We discovered Bet Alef in 2003 after moving to Seattle from Los Angeles and here we found a spiritual community unlike any other. Our Friday night services are moving, magical and inspiring and Saturday morning Torah class, which begins with an hour of silent meditation, not only teaches us about ourselves and our world, but has helped us deepen friendships and widen our community. Rabbi Ted, our founding rabbi, has brought new meaning for us as we practice Judaism. And Rabbi Olivier's love for learning and sharing - not only Judaism but all he is interested in - has given us new insights and helped us evolve as more complete human beings. You won't find a friendlier community of like-minded souls anywhere else on the planet!
I left my previous synagogue when I remarried. I had rarely attended. Rabbi Ted Falcon performed our ceremony in 2000 and we joined shortly thereafter. Six years ago, Rabbi blessed my Bar Mitzvah at age 56. My wife is Vietnamese and comes from a Buddhist tradition but loves our congregation and we never miss a Shabbat when we are in town. She has been warmly welcomed and we are truly part of a loving community. Starting as a cultural Jew with little training, I have found that the Jewish spiritual path, as iterated by Rabbi Ted and his home grown successor, Rabbi Olivier, resonates with me and has imbued my life with deeper meaning and intention, something I never thought would happen given my scientific, reductionist mindset. Finding Bet Alef has been one of the great blessings of my adult life.
I immigrated to US about 10 years ago. I grew up in Catholic Poland. As typical Pole I was raised Catholic, but as an adult I considered myself an atheist. In my late 30’s, when I was already living in the US, my mother gave me big news. She received a letter from Jewish Historical Institute in Warsaw, stating that she was born Jewish and that she was adopted as a child by a Polish family during World War II. That night I took a very close look at the shape of my nose in the mirror, but the news did not strike me. What difference does it make? Polish, American, or Jewish…I was still my usual me and my life was already difficult enough. One evening, a few years after my mother told me that I was Jewish, by pure chance; I was invited to visit Bet Alef Meditative Synagogue. The experience I had that evening at Bet Alef moved me deeply and initiated a significant change in me. Rabbis Ted’s and Olivier’s teachings incorporated into Judaism everything I was always looking for in religion: interfaith and its philosophy of tolerance to all human beings, soothing and healing meditation, counseling, intellectual stimulation, humor, rousing music, family life, and many opportunities for social interactions. Unexpectedly, I found warm, stimulating community, welcoming to all people and families including single parents with small children. I discovered that Bet Alef families gather each month in different homes to enjoy spending time together and to celebrate Jewish holidays. At Bet Alef I discovered my spirituality and I found my spiritual home. This synagogue will always have a very special place in my heart. I will always stay loyal to Bet Alef and I recommend this place to anyone that struggles with identity issues or is searching for spiritual awakening.
I truly couldn't be experiencing my Jewish lineage in any other space.... it blends my metaphysical upbringing with Eastern philosophy and Jewish mysticism. The congregation is an amazing group of people... the discourses presented by Rabbi Ted and Rabbi Olivier challenge the minds and spark the spirits of each in attendance. I am also thrilled to have a space for my young son to connect with his Jewish lineage in a way that is open and free
I have struggled with many things in my life. Judaism being one...addiction being another. When I woke up to the fact that the cure for my addiction was a spiritual life I became a seeker. I had turned my back on my Jewish roots many years before and felt there was nothing for me there. Through a series of events (serendipity) I found my way to Bet Alef. The meditation has been very healing and the Judaism sang to my soul.
The name represents what is unique about this synagogue. The rabbis (founding rabbi Ted and current rabbi Olivier) speak and work out of a place of true meditativeness; they do not simply speak about meditation or speak about Judaism. They rather have the ability to evoke the feeling of meditation within a Jewish context, providing an experience for the congregation. The excellent music program supports and enhances this process. I find that each service is like a journey through inner spaces; more involving and meaningful to me than what I experienced in other Jewish settings.