Rabbi Jonathan Kraus was ordained by the Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institute of Religion (HUC-JIR) in 1989 and has been the Rabbi of Beth El Temple Center since 1994. A child of the Reform Movement who grew up in its synagogues and programs, Rabbi Kraus was deeply influenced by the Union for Reform Judaism’s (URJ) summer camps, its youth movement (NFTY) and its Religious Action Center in Washington, D.C. All are programs he continues to support enthusiastically as a rabbi. A longtime song leader, composer and musician, Rabbi Kraus also has been nourished by his great love for and involvement with Jewish music. All those experiences, combined with several, transformative opportunities to visit and live in Israel, have been among the most defining influences on his Jewish identity and rabbinate.
Rabbi Kraus’ vision for Beth El is of a warm, welcoming and vibrant Jewish religious community that does its best to express the values of Judaism in every area of its life. He believes that the congregation’s shared life is always at its best when firmly rooted in a creative, highly participatory and deeply felt embrace of Jewish religious learning and living. Whether wrestling with profound questions of meaning, working for social justice, nurturing strong and sustaining relationships, singing, celebrating, creating, laughing, grieving, eating, praying, learning, healing or just wondering together, Rabbi Kraus’ highest aspiration is to help lead a holy Jewish community.
Cantor Geoffrey Fine grew up in Rockville, Maryland, and was always passionate about music. He began playing piano and violin at an early age and sang throughout his school years. At his shul, he sang in junior and adult choir and, during college summers, in its professional quartet. Throughout high school and college, he performed in numerous synagogue choirs, musicals, operas, choral groups, and recitals throughout the country. He received his Bachelor of Music degree in Vocal Performance from the Eastman School of Music. Further musical studies continued at the Tanglewood Summer Music Center.
Cantor Fine came to Beth El Temple Center as a student cantor in 1995, co-leading services for three years. He was invested as Cantor and received a Master in Sacred Music degree in 1998, after studying in the Jerusalem and New York branches of the Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institute of Religion. That same year, BETC invited him to remain and become their full-time Cantor.
"My calling to the cantorate brings me great joy in many ways: working with a congregation and other clergy to create a Jewish experience, not only in the synagogue but in our daily lives; having the opportunity to introduce the congregation to the beautiful tapestry of Jewish music from many traditions, historical and modern. Beth El Temple Center offers me sacred moments for musical and spiritual leadership in worship and life-cycle events, teaching adult education courses, tutoring b’nai mitzvah students, conducting and singing with musical ensembles, leading adult and junior choirs, working on interfaith and social action projects, pastoral counseling, and hospital visitations, and representing the New England area cantors on the National Board of the American Conference of Cantors. It has been a blessing for me each day at Beth El Temple Center, and I look forward to the next part of the journey . . ."
- Cantor Geoffrey Fine