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November 23, 2009

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November 23, 2009

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.

The Great!

I've personally experienced the results of this organization in...

deepening my experience of life and connection.

Ways to make it better...

If I had to make changes to this organization, I would...

More feedback...

What I've enjoyed the most about my experience with this nonprofit is...

learning, Torah study, High Holy Days and Shabbat and Havdalah services, the great music.

The kinds of staff and volunteers that I met were...

sophisticated in the best sense of the word. Intelligent and funny.

Ways to make it better...

more services and events and activities could be in Seattle instead of the east side.

In my opinion, the biggest challenges facing this organization are...

financial.

How frequently have you been involved with the organization?

About every week

When was your last experience with this nonprofit?

2009

November 14, 2009

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November 14, 2009

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.

Ways to make it better...

If I had to make changes to this organization, I would...

More feedback...

What I've enjoyed the most about my experience with this nonprofit is...

One amazing thing about Bet Alef is they have a 12 step meeting on Yom Kippur. As an addict in recovery, this is one of the most welcoming things I have ever seen from a religious organization.

Ways to make it better...

The facility was closer to our home in Seattle.

How frequently have you been involved with the organization?

About every month

When was your last experience with this nonprofit?

2009

November 13, 2009

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November 13, 2009

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.

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What I've enjoyed the most about my experience with this nonprofit is...

Non judgmental, warm and friendly atmosphere

How frequently have you been involved with the organization?

About every month

When was your last experience with this nonprofit?

2009

November 13, 2009

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November 13, 2009

When I moved to Seattle over 3 years ago, one of the reasons I decided was because I knew that Bet Alef was there. I knew Rabbi Ted as a child and knew that there would be a supportive community for me. I wasn't disappointed. I love going to services and the Torah study classes are amazing. I've learned so much in the last few years and think I've grown as a Jew. Bet Alef is the synagogue for me. Also on a note, people who I've brought to services,both Jews and non-Jews have had amazing experiences. They found Bet Alef to be a warm, inviting community and found the services to be very meaningful.

The Great!

I've personally experienced the results of this organization in...

my ability to learn and grow as a Jew.

More feedback...

The kinds of staff and volunteers that I met were...

warm, inviting, and inclusive. They truly care about helping people grow, as people, and as Jews.

If this organization had 10 million bucks, it could...

reach lots of people and really make a huge impact. Our spiritual path is welcoming and could help a lot of people, both Jew and non-Jew.

How frequently have you been involved with the organization?

About every week

When was your last experience with this nonprofit?

2009

November 12, 2009

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November 12, 2009

When I first walked into a Bet Alef Friday night service, it felt like I had come Home. I had always wanted to feel more connected to my Jewishness in a deeper way, and in the almost nine years that I have been attending Bet Alef, this has become possible for me. I love the beauty and joy in our songs. Belonging to Tiferet was a wonderful experience for me, I miss that very much. I don't know if it is possible to have another singing group, but it was great to have the reunion during the High Holidays. I would like to have a tighter knit community. I appreciate the outreach when I was in a dire time of need.

Ways to make it better...

If I had to make changes to this organization, I would...

More feedback...

What I've enjoyed the most about my experience with this nonprofit is...

That it has been so enriching for my life and has supported the changes in my life.

Ways to make it better...

I would like to see a committee that reaches out to memebers who haven't been to services or participating in a while and try to include them again.

In my opinion, the biggest challenges facing this organization are...

Financial and ways to grow membership.

How frequently have you been involved with the organization?

About every month

When was your last experience with this nonprofit?

2009

November 12, 2009

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November 12, 2009

We are an interfaith couple - My husband, the non-Jewish element, feels that the synagogue is very inclusive. Also, it is important that a rabbi be willing to thoroughly explore questions about Judaism without feeling threatened. Rabbis at Bet Alef make us feel comfortable with our level of knowledge. The spirit is as important as the doctrine there.

Ways to make it better...

If I had to make changes to this organization, I would...

More feedback...

What I've enjoyed the most about my experience with this nonprofit is...

Its inclusiveness and accessibility.

Ways to make it better...

I wish I had more time to spend there!

How frequently have you been involved with the organization?

About every six months

When was your last experience with this nonprofit?

2009

November 12, 2009

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November 12, 2009

As a "recovering Catholic," for over 30 years I had been longing for an entree into Judaism. The first time I attended a service at Bet Alef, I knew I was home. The teachings, the music, the inclusiveness, the warmth of the community have fed my soul as no other religious experience ever has. I will be forever grateful to Rabbi Ted for welcoming me into the Tribe, and to Rabbi Olivier for his luminous spirit and love of the way of Torah.

The Great!

I've personally experienced the results of this organization in...

every aspect of my life. I am a much kinder, gentler person because of the teachings and examples I have experienced at Bet Alef.

More feedback...

What I've enjoyed the most about my experience with this nonprofit is...

the sense of belonging to a faith community that is eager to walk the path of Torah in all the beautiful, individual ways that life offers.

The kinds of staff and volunteers that I met were...

open, generous, enthusiastic, kind, thoughtful, fantastic!

If this organization had 10 million bucks, it could...

gather up sparks of divinity far and wide and make this world a much better place!

How frequently have you been involved with the organization?

About every week

When was your last experience with this nonprofit?

2009

November 10, 2009

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November 10, 2009

Bet Alef is an extraordinary spiritual, inclusive community that is firmly rooted in the Jewish tradition. And yet it is so much more than that. The first time I attended a service at Bet Alef, I found myself in tears--I was deeply moved and stunned to realize that I could have found a spiritual community to be my home. Though my spirituality is quite deep, my love of all the world's religions had led me to believe it would be difficult to find a single non-New-Age religious community for a home. I am the daughter of a Jewish mother and Christian father -- but mostly raised admidst Christian teachings. I was troubled at an early age by the exclusivity of the standard Christian message (be "saved" or go to hell). On the other hand, I was also troubled by the message of Jewish exclusivity (Jews being the "chosen people"). Enter 2002 and my encounter with Bet Alef--a community that teaches that Jews are "chosen" to follow the path of Torah -- not as people who are more important than other peoples. The Torah teaches Oneness -- an authentically JEWISH message that is ripe not only for Jews -- but non-Jews alike. The teachings at Bet Alef are vital, authentic, healing, and profound in this age of extremism, separation, and alienation. Is it any wonder, then, that so many people who have been raised as Christians are drawn so deeply to the teachings of Bet Alef?

The Great!

I've personally experienced the results of this organization in...

Feeling more connected to community and my birthright of being Jewish--and ~4000 years of amazing ancestors.

Ways to make it better...

If I had to make changes to this organization, I would...

Find a way to enable more people to learn about this remarkable community so they can benefit also.

More feedback...

What I've enjoyed the most about my experience with this nonprofit is...

It is a real spiritual and religious home for me--the perpetual misfit. I've learned so much about Judaism that speaks personally to me. It's a home that is open to many spiritual teachers, including Jesus, Buddha, Ramakrishna--even Mohammed.

The kinds of staff and volunteers that I met were...

Generous, authentic, reflective individuals who genuinely want to make a contribution to others in the world.

If this organization had 10 million bucks, it could...

Do a lot to reach out into the community--near and far. It could expand programs for kids and adults, pay rabbis and staff appropriately, hire a music director, better support interfaith and service projects.

Ways to make it better...

I had learned about the community earlier than I did.

In my opinion, the biggest challenges facing this organization are...

Financial. The people, the leadership, the energy are there....but the money is a definite challenge.

One thing I'd also say is that...

This community represents something important; relevant framing of a beautiful, authentic 4000-yr-old path that is not stuck in old paradigms of "us" versus "them" thinking.

How frequently have you been involved with the organization?

About every week

When was your last experience with this nonprofit?

2009

November 9, 2009

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November 9, 2009

Bet Alef is the only place that I've been that has made Judaism relevant and meaningful. Rather than race through a standard liturgy so we can say we've done it, each prayer's kavanah is established before it is entered. There is a period of silent meditation that is honestly meditated. And the music is filled with joy and beauty.

Photos

The Great!

I've personally experienced the results of this organization in...

attending services, with hardly missing any, for the last ten years.

Ways to make it better...

If I had to make changes to this organization, I would...

increase the programming for families.

More feedback...

What I've enjoyed the most about my experience with this nonprofit is...

it has made Jewish practice relevant and meaningful in my daily life.

The kinds of staff and volunteers that I met were...

stupendous people!

If this organization had 10 million bucks, it could...

turn on many more people to Jewish life and practice who otherwise thought it was a dead letter and irrelevant to modern life.

Ways to make it better...

Stephen Merritt would sing and perform there more often; I miss the days when he was the music director.

In my opinion, the biggest challenges facing this organization are...

financial. This is not a community of big machers with deep pockets. Unlike some other long-time established congregations, Bet Alef does not have an endowment and has not benefited from planned giving.

How frequently have you been involved with the organization?

About every week

When was your last experience with this nonprofit?

2009

November 9, 2009

more

November 9, 2009

An incredible community - Rabbi Olivier is a gift. I found my home here. The Shabbat services are a deeply moving, spiritual experience. Torah Study is fascinating. We have fun together and care about one another.

The Great!

I've personally experienced the results of this organization in...

all aspects of my life

Ways to make it better...

If I had to make changes to this organization, I would...

More feedback...

What I've enjoyed the most about my experience with this nonprofit is...

The people are accepting and encouraging of one another

If this organization had 10 million bucks, it could...

Bring love and light to more than 10 million people!

Ways to make it better...

There were weekly Shabbat services

In my opinion, the biggest challenges facing this organization are...

Financial stability - like most non-profits

One thing I'd also say is that...

I love Bet Alef

How frequently have you been involved with the organization?

About every week

When was your last experience with this nonprofit?

2008

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