Our Story

From the ashes of post-war Europe, the much-loved Rabbi David Genuth came to Cleveland and started Temple Beth El on Kinsman Road in the 1950’s. The temple moved to Chagrin Blvd. in Shaker Heights in 1954 and thrived there for many years — a modern orthodox congregation with a progressive rabbi. Even after his death, Rabbi Genuth’s tradition lived on, allowing for both tradition and change, with women becoming full participants in the services. But by the summer of 1998, Temple Beth El’s membership had dwindled, and they decided to sell their building. Where would they again find the same traditional services and close intimacy they so valued? That same year, 35 former members of Beth Am launched a new congregation called Heights Synagogue — and it was looking for a home.

Was it fate that brought these two congregations together? Their members met and found they shared a similar vision — a participatory, egalitarian and traditional congregation with a commitment to the Jewish neighborhood. The two groups began worshipping together at the Mayfield JCC, and formally merged in January, 2000, forming Beth El — The Heights Synagogue.

A new chapter in the life of the 80-family congregation began in July, 2003, with the purchase of Sinai Synagogue’s former building on Desota Avenue in Cleveland Heights.

Now with its own home in the Heights, Beth El — The Heights Synagogue holds Shabbat morning and holiday services. Members, many of whom are not from the Heights, pray and learn together, spend Shabbat together and celebrate holidays and simchas together. Families and individuals get to know one another in a warm, intimate and welcoming environment that supports lifelong Jewish learning and growth.

Come share our dream of a vibrant, dynamic Jewish community in the old neighborhood. The future of the community is still here – live the dream with us.

Karen E. Rubin