Beth Levin began working in Winchester in 1999 when she accepted a position as Cantor at Temple Shir Tikvah.
Embedded within the Jewish value system is a mandate to work toward equity, equality, and freedom for all people and to repair what is broken around us. For Beth, this has taken the form of working for racial justice, reform of criminal justice, healthcare and immigration systems, housing equality, LGBTQ+ rights, and feminism.
In all of this work, Beth feels incredibly fortunate to have the full support of the Shir Tikvah community. She revealed that one of the most rewarding aspects of her role is working with young people, helping them find their voices and supporting them as they grapple with their identities.
Beth conveys that creating a safe, supportive, nurturing space in which teens can grow into their truest selves is her greatest joy. She is able to witness this first hand each year during Temple Shir Tikvah’s Pride Shabbat service, which is led largely by the congregation’s youth.
According to Beth, “As I watch them support one another, I know we are creating the next generation of social justice activists who value each person for the gifts they bring.”
Another particular joy has been witnessing people of all ages engage with each other, with political and social action, as they inhabit their Jewish identities in a new way. The Jewish tradition has supported “praying with our feet” for generations, meaning that prayer is not just about words but action. Beth loves when that connection is created through political activism.
Beth shares that the main obstacle she faces is one of time, but the vision remains very clear for what needs to be done to create more social and economic justice in our world.
Beth has been inspired by many strong women who came before her. One in particular was Debbie Friedman, an American singer-songwriter of Jewish religious songs and melodies who passed away in 2011. Friedman created music from ancient liturgy that, to this day, propels people to look within themselves and Jewish tradition, to gather energy, and then take those values and manifest them in the world.
Believing that music helps to create a container and a catalyst for social justice, Beth too has inspired authentic spiritually-based activism.