Who We Are
Beth El is a Conservative, Egalitarian people-friendly Synagogue that fills all the needs of today’s Jewish family. Founded in 1960, the Shul is nestled on the Jerome Avenue & “Jewish Campus”, directly across the street from the Jewish Community Center and the Federation of Atlantic and Cape May Counties.
Our school is a top priority at Beth El. Taught by the finest teachers, children ages 4-12 enjoy a complete Judaic education, fully prepared for their Bar/Bat Mitvahs.
People who visit Beth El feel right at home. Daily minyans and Shabbat morning services followed by Kiddish provide spiritually and friendship to all who attend. Beth El offers social activities and programs for all ages such as Sisterhood/Men’s Club, Choir, Adult Education, Game Days, Holiday Bazaar and Carnival, fully-stocked Judaica Gift Shop, Kosher kitchen, community events, dances, theater, movie nights and trips! A beautiful Sanctuary and adjoining social hall provides members a perfect backdrop for their life cycle events. Our compassionate clergy of Rabbi Krauss and Cantor Goren provide strength and comfort for all in need. Beth El is also proud to be the home of the Jewish War Veterans, Golda Meir Hadassah and hosts the Hebrew High Graduation.
The Beth El community welcomes you and your family to visit us and experience the feeling of ‘home’ that our Shul can provide in your busy lives. Speak to our friendly staff about High Holiday seating. For those summering at the shore, we offer a ‘Summer Membership Package’ for only $250 per family, that includes two free High Holiday tickets plus Youth service/programs for all ages!
Beth El Synagogue came into existence in 1958, founded by a number of primarily younger members of Atlantic City’s Community Synagogue living mostly in the Downbeach areas of Absecon Island. Community Synagogue was situated in the Inlet part of Atlantic City and was the oldest Conservative synagogue in the area. Following World War ll, there was an increasingly strong movement of younger families to Margate and Ventnor. The need to establish a Conservative Jewish presence there was felt. By 1958, this group of dedicated men and women, along with Rabbi Morris Fishman , joined forces to fill this need for a Conservative Synagogue in Margate.
Beth El’s first observance of the High Holidays was held in the Jewish Community Center on Jerome Avenue. Membership had already grown to 100 families. At a crucial point in Beth El history, Richard Simon played a crucial role in providing the synagogue with a piece of land which when sold, provided the necessary funds for the Shul to survive. The land for the projected new building was purchased late in 1959 and by 1960; construction of our new synagogue had begun! A building fund was initiated and the first Beth El Sanctuary was built in 1960 on a piece of ground opposite the JCC.
The first formal service in the new building was drafty and mosquito-ridden! The walls had not yet been erected. Drapes supported by stanchions were the actual ‘walls’ for that occasion. Those prayers must have certainly reached G-d’s ear! Membership continued to grow under the leadership of Rabbi Fishman and with strong direction of first president, Harry Klinghoffer. A substantial contingent of Holocaust survivors came to Beth El.
In 1964, after Rabbi Fishman left for a larger pulpit in Chicago, Rabbi Jerome Lipsitz, in 1965, assumed our pulpit and was our Spiritual Leader for the next six years. Beth El continued to grow and provide spiritual and social support to its membership and community. In the years that followed, Cantor Sam Waschall served from 1969-1972 and Rabbi Norman Intrator from 1972-1974.
In 1974, a young and vibrant Rabbi Mark Kunis led our Congregation for 8 years and also served as Cantor. As he grew in stature as a Rabbi, Beth El grew to over 300 families. During his service, plans were formulated for the expansion of our facilities.
By 1987, it was clear that with a rising number of families, a larger Sanctuary was necessary. Under the leadership of Dan Roseman and with the funds from membership, particularly the Gurwicz family, a new Sanctuary was added.
Our present Spritual leader, Rabbi Aaron Krauss was installed in 1983. Since his arrival, he has worked tirelessly to promote Beth El and has been deeply involved in community efforts to foster Brotherhood among all religions. Since 1983, Rabbi Krauss has been joined by Hazaan Mitchell Martin for 10 years, until moving to a larger Congregation in Miami. Cantor Almekias Siegel filled Cantorial duties from 1994-1995. Cantor Johanan Bickhardt served from 1996- 2000. Rabbi Shalom Plotkin served seven years during the first decade of 2000’s. Our present Cantor, Ralph Goren was installed in 2001 and works closely with Rabbi Krauss to provide meaningful services and support to our Beth El membership with the Beth El Choir, adult education, Bar/Bat Mitzvah and music instruction in our school.
Today, in 2017, Margate has primarily become a second home community and families have busy lives that challenge the importance of Judaism and synagogue life. With a somewhat smaller membership, Beth El has a dynamic new president, Diana Gurwicz…She has given us a spirit of optimism! Our school is growing again! With a great past and greater future, Beth El will serve our people well.
– By Rabbi Aaron Krauss and Irving Latt, P