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2009 Top-Rated Nonprofit

Bet Alef Meditative Synagogue

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Nonprofit Overview

Causes: Judaism, Religion

Community Stories

20 Stories from Volunteers, Donors & Supporters

12

Volunteer

Rating: 5

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.

12

Volunteer

Rating: 5

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!

10

Volunteer

Rating: 5

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

2

Volunteer

Rating: 5

I came to Bet Alef 13 years ago, after my Orthodox husband had died, and I came out as a gay woman late in life. My first service was Rosh Hoshana in 1996, and I left in tears, feeling that I'd finally found the place of spirituality I'd been looking for all my life. Rabbi Ted was a wonder, supportive of all, a great teacher, and a compassionate "every man!" Now upon his retirement, we are so blessed to have someone like Olivier leading us to our next level. He shares Ted's love of knowledge, wonderful sense of humor, and I'm so impressed with him as a teacher. We are truly twice blessed to have such leaders in our community. We truly are a synagogue for all people!

3

Volunteer

Rating: 5

Although having been raised Jewish, there was little observance in my home. I had not attended synagogue for many years except when I joined one so my son could be Bar Mitzvah. I was studying Buddhism when I met Rabbi Ted and was blown away by the idea of having an active spiritual life in a Jewish context -- something I had never encountered before. When I checked it out I discovered that the Rabbi taught the Torah as a living, relevant source of lessons for life. What a concept! I've been coming ever since.

8

Volunteer

Rating: 5

My father eschewed all religion, harboring horrible memories of Hebrew school and a bar mitzvah he didn’t believe in. I knew nothing of my Jewish heritage growing up, apart from my mother’s kugel (which she hardly ever made), Sunday breakfasts of lox and bagels, my parents’ Yiddish colloquialisms and their tales of the Holocaust. All my life I yearned for more connection to Judaism. Without a people, without a history, when my own children were born I was left to ponder how to link them with their Jewish roots. My husband (a non-Jew) and I tried several synagogues but with little experience to go on, we felt frozen out. Bet Alef had the answer: a program that welcomes all who seek deeper meaning and connection to the faith. Bet Alef’s blend of music, meditation, chanting, and prayer with spiritual interpretations of the Torah and Jewish ritual has brought meaning and value to traditions that were foreign to us. Bet Alef’s invitation to Jewish spirituality gave me a handhold, enabling me to explore my relationship with Judaism in a non prescriptive manner and giving our children a chance that I never had to grow up connected to 4,000 years of Jewish history.

8

Volunteer

Rating: 5

Five Stars Plus! OK, let's make it 6 stars, like the Star of David! Give it a Try, if you haven't yet. Bet Alef,Rabbi Ted,Rabbi Olivier, the Musicians, the Fabric Art and all who I have met & continue to meet are HOLY,HOLY,HOLY. Also unique, intelligent, fun, interesting, spiritual, ethereal & solid. Bet Alef is a core of the heart and spirit. A truly welcoming and All Inclusive place. I first met Rabbi Ted during pre-Bet Alef existence and have been an active member and participant since. Traditional & Untraditional Reform, Silent & Jewish Mantra Meditation, Learning & Teaching and Friends. For approx 16 years of Bet Alef, I have touched and held the Torah,been Queen Esther in the Purim Shpiel,celebrated many BA weddings, chanted/sang in Tiferet, been nurtured and supported thru my parents "passing", completed a year of wonderful learning and my Bat Mitzvah (along w. five other adults), and have now started a Rosh Chodesh group. Rabbi Olivier brings a new youthful refreshing inviting dynamic as well.

8

Volunteer

Rating: 5

I had not been to Synagouge in 20 years. When my children started to grow up we attended High Holidays at a Local Synegouge. Then my neighbor told me aobut Bet Alef. They hosted an informal children's Shabbat service at our community pool and the kids were charmed by the then Rabbincal Intern Olivier. When I bagan attending services I expereienced an immedaite and unconditional affinity with Rabbi Ted Falcon and the BEt Alef community. My son who has dificult with school has just finished tow years of B'nai Mitzvah and became a Bar Mitvah in September. The expericiene has changed him, made him abetter person and a jew. My daugther started the two year program last month. This is now our spiritual home and the springboard of my children's religious life.

11

Volunteer

Rating: 5

Bet Alef has been my surrogate family in a state where I have no blood relatives since I moved here 14 years ago. For four years before I relocated to Seattle, I would drive up from Tacoma for the twice a month services and other holidays and celebrations. Earlier in my life I had pushed away organizational Judaism, because I felt excluded - as a female, as a non-Hebrew reader/speaker, and because the message of "us vs. them" didn't fit me anymore. For me, Bet Alef has always been about healing - within myself, and with others both within and outside our immediate community. Our interfaith focus, while maintaining our own identity, is one manifestation of that healing. The laughter and occasional tears that are a natural part of every service and gathering is another. I'm grateful for having had the opportunity to be part of the music program over the years; it's been a source of growth, joy, and healing for me personally.

7

Volunteer

Rating: 5

I was introduced to Bet Alef by a friend and I began coming to services and quickly realized I had found my spiritual home. I love the rituals and teachings and the community is like family to me. This year when my mother-in-law passed away and the community had a beautiful service to honor her. It was an amazing expression of their love and concern for my family.

5

Volunteer

Rating: 5

When I first came to Bet Alef several years ago, it was because I was new in town and looking for some kind of community and hopefully some friends. I had not been interested in religion for all of my adult life. And to be immediately encouraged to participate as a volunteer turned out to be the way that I met many good friends and later, my husband. He, like many people at Bet Alef, was not brought up in the Jewish faith but was drawn to the synagogue by its inclusiveness and teachings. That there could be a synagogue where laughter and joy were part of the services was a big surprise to me. That I could go on a Friday night and feel intellectually challenged as well as spiritually refreshed was a totally new experience. That the rabbi carefully explained the rituals and teachings, knowing that there were lots of other people like me who had little background in Judaism, helped me to learn. People are drawn to the synagogue for the meditative aspect, the music, the teachings,or the people they meet.Whatever the reason,Bet Alef is a place where many people feel at home.

12

Volunteer

Rating: 5

After years in an orthodox shul I discovered real spirituality at Bet Alef. For the first time I wasn't participating out of a sense of responsibility & duty. I was there because I wanted to be there. And I was really there, in the moment. My mind wasn't 1000 miles away. The truly joyful shabbat services are unparalled in my experience.

7

Volunteer

Rating: 5

Bet Alef is a warm and welcoming place. I love going to Friday night services where I feel spiritually renewed.

4

Volunteer

Rating: 5

There's no place quite like it within the Jewish spiritual spectrum. Accessible, vibrant, authentic and welcoming. Chanting and meditation will bring those who left traditional Judiasm to find more meaning in Eastern traditions back to the fold to discover something that feels familiar and yields an "embarrassment of riches." Mixed marriage couples and interfaith partners will find a universal spiritual experience within an authentic Jewish context. When the worship service is meditational and experiential, it can be life-changing. When it veers toward intellectual and typical teaching, it is, well, less boring than the usual Jewish service. Classes offer something for various seekers. New agers, mystics, holistic earth-mother types and such may find comfort, but know that the community keeps it's feet on the ground even when you hear "will the congregation please rise." You'll love it or simply not get it. It's not "alternative," for the sake of defining it as different. It's not "renewal" or "humanistic." It has it's own identity and if you come with an open mind and an open heart, you'll be welcomed with open arms.

3

Volunteer

Rating: 5

I came to Bet Alef from a flyer that advertised a Synagogue for those who don't go to Synagogue. It turned out that it was the very first service in Seattle by Rabbi Ted Falcon. The initial visceral reaction during the service was, "I'm Home." Over the past 16 years, Bet Alef has become my spiritual home, and my community - consistently opening doors to the larger community and my own growth.

3

Volunteer

Rating: 5

Bet Alef has helped me in to grow spiritually. I had been searching for my spiritual home for many years. After attending my first service at at Bet Alef,I knew I had found my home. The teachings of the Rabbi's have helped me to have better understanding of the Torah.

4

Volunteer

Rating: 5

Bet Alef changed my life. As an adult who identified as a Jew culturally but not religiously, I was seeking a spiritual home in almost everyplace but my own backyard. Now I'm proud to belong to a Jewish community that's all embracing and all inclusive: and proud to call myself both Jewish and religious. This courageous, gentle, loving, spirited and very, very alive synagogue practices what it preaches, nurturing "a spiritual deepening that can express through acts of greater compassion in the world."

4

Volunteer

Rating: 5

For several years we searched for a synagogue and found a home for our spirituality. More than 13 years ago we felt the fit and to this day we are involved with the community that has supported us in very dificult times. We found our BetAlef Family right here while our "real" family is spread over the US. It's a comfort and a rewarding loving experience to participate.

4

Volunteer

Rating: 5

When we moved to the Seattle area, we started looking for a congregation. We went to several that reminded me of the synagogue I grew up with....which did not excite me. When I attended Bet Alef for the first time, I knew I found my new schul. For the first time, I discovered Shabat and now look forward to finding that break in my week. My whole family fell in love with Bet Alef, the leadership and community. All of my kids have or are in the B'nai Mitzvah program (last child enrolled now)....and everyone who has attended their celebrations have said they are unlike any other. Our non-Jewish friends often comment how great they feel after joining these Bet Alef guided events, and maybe they should become Jewish. There is a sense of community that we Relish. Both my wife and I have served on the Board to help keep the community alive and vibrant. I have learned so much more about our tradition, history, and Torah since joining Bet Alef. I now join by invitation the Music team as a singer for certain services. My kids are well known and accepted by all the adults in the community. It is a very special place to has re-awakened my Jewishness and brought Shabat back into our household.h

5

Volunteer

Rating: 5

I found this community in early 2001. What a find!!! Not only were the teachings amazing, the people were wonderful. I never thought I'd go to Friday night services on a regular basis. Thanks to Bet Alef, I love going!