Although she never attended religious school, Rachel Beaver, the new music education director at BINA — Congregation Beth El —Keser Israel (BEKI)’s new religious school — says her role “feels right. This is what I’m supposed to be doing, and I’ve been enjoying it so much. This is a beautiful experience for my Jewish and musical growth.”
The moment she joined the Westville synagogue in February, Rachel began teaching the children songs for Tu Bishvat, the New Year for Trees. Now, in addition to holiday songs, she teaches students to sing Hebrew prayers. When the children join the congregation’s Sunday morning minyan, she leads some of the liturgy. She uses music to make Hebrew fun and as a vehicle for larger Jewish learning, she explained. “Music is such an important part of Jewish education, says BEKI’s Rabbi Eric Woodward, “It helps you learn not just the words and tunes of the prayers, but also to feel them emotionally. Rachel brings real joy and energy to this work, and we are so lucky to have her!"
Experienced as a college tutor and a preschool teacher, at BINA Rachel works with grades K to 6. “I love teaching and am grateful for the opportunity to teach in a new setting,” she says. “I grew up doing music, but Jewish music came to me later,” she notes. As a teenager she taught herself guitar, using YouTube videos. She took vocal lessons and—thanks to growing up in Texas—learned to play a little bit of banjo as well as piano.
Currently a Masters of Arts in Religion student at Yale Divinity School, focusing on Religion and the Arts, she is a graduate of Randolph College and has a MDiv in Biblical Studies from Union Theological Seminary. Each Friday, she says, she turns away from her academic work and prepares for Shabbat and BINA’s Sunday music. Since moving to Westville, she says, “I’ve been able to settle into a Jewish community, with a group of young Jewish people who care about Judaism.” Previously she lived in New York City where, she explains, “I loved my synagogue, but it was huge, and it was hard to feel in community. I found that here in Westville with BEKI. It’s lovely.”
Exhibition by Dganit Zauberman at BEKI “
Land in Flux,” an exhibition of work by Israeli-born artist Dganit Zauberman is on view in the BEKI Gallery until June 14.
“Memories, life experiences, intuitive processes, and curiosity drive my work,” says Dganit. “Early in my life, informed by my upbringing in a Kibbutz, I observed the importance of land as not only a source of life but also as a source of struggle, separation, and death,” she adds. “Now, with the current political and environmental climate, the subject of land continues to be essential to my work; it has, if anything, become even more important in recent years.”
Zauberman moved to North Carolina in 1992, where she began formal art training at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. After relocating to Philadelphia, she received a Bachelor of Fine Arts degree from the University of the Arts and a Master of Fine Arts degree from the Pennsylvania Academy of Fine Arts.
Based in a studio in Erector Square in New Haven since 2016, she has exhibited in galleries in Pennsylvania, Ohio, New York, California and Connecticut, including at the Institute Library and ArtSpace in New Haven.