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.
I hadn't been to a synagogue in 30 years when a friend insisted I had to join her at services at Bet Alef. I have tried to never miss a Shabbat service since then, 5 years ago. The message at Bet Alef is inclusive and medititative. It speaks to my heart. Not only the messages of the wonderful Rabbis, but the welcoming friends one can immediately connect with make this my community! I love the diversity and open-heartedness of the community and the very personal touch of Rabbi Olivier BenHaim as well as the message and meditations of Rabbi Ted Falcon who drew me in at my first service.
We started with Bet Alef for Bar Mitzvah prep for our sons after a horrible ezxperience elsewhere. olivier is simply a wonderful caring man who takes each kid for where they are, while also challenging them to reach out or their comfort zone.
My son is in the Bet Alef B'nai Mitzvah program. I am amazed at what a profound impact it has had on his understanding of himself and his interest in his spiritual life and role in the Jewish community and world community. My daughter is fascinated by what she has learned through him, and can't wait to start the program herself next year!
I moved to the Seattle area about three years ago. I spent many months going to different Temples, trying to find the right "fit". When I went to other Temples here in the Seattle area I did not feel welcome, no one greeted me or said "Shabbat Shalom" after the service. Within 30 seconds of steping into Bet Alef people were smiling at me and welcoming me to the Temple. Five minutes after the service started I knew I had found MY Temple. When I found Bet Alef, I was still looking for work after moving; I was living with family and did not have a lot of money. Rosh Hashanah was coming up in a couple of weeks and I wanted to go to services, but was enbarased about my lack of funds. When I spoke with a Board Member she told me not to worry that what mattered was that I come to the services. I strongly recomend Bet Alef to everyone I meet that is searching for a Temple.