Our History


When I first heard there would be a way for my son to have a bar mitzvah at the beach, I was thrilled. Our Jewish congregation began in 1991 as the “Beaches Hebrew Association,” meeting at a local high school to gauge interest. By 1994, we had renamed our organization “Beth El The Beaches Synagogue,” but we remained without a permanent home until we moved to our present location on Solano Road.

Initially, a rabbinical student, Dan Satlow, led our services on Shabbat and holidays, alternating with laypeople. For a brief period in 1993, Rabbi Dudai took on the role. We were a resourceful community, holding services at various locations around the beaches area, including the naval station chapel in Mayport, a Catholic church, and eventually renting from the Ribault Garden Club.

In 1993, we welcomed Rabbi Paul Grob part-time, and our congregation began to grow. At that time, we leaned towards conservative orthodoxy and established our Hebrew school, which met twice a week: three hours on Sunday and two hours on Wednesday. Under the leadership of Rabbi Eli Ben Yehuda, we continued to expand and soon developed plans for a building, which resulted in the impressive synagogue we are proud of today. We also converted a modular into our “education center,” incorporating three classrooms into our building design.

As our commitment to maintaining a Jewish community at the beach persisted, the population began to shift towards Reform Judaism. In July 2008, we transitioned from Conservative to Reform, welcoming Rabbi Michael Matuson to help reshape our religious focus. Rabbi Matuson’s leadership left a lasting impact on our community, and he retired in July 2022.

Following an extensive search, we welcomed Rabbi Benjamin Dyme, who has been warmly embraced by our community. Over the past 30 years, Beth El has evolved into a close-knit family, sharing and intertwining many life cycles. Our congregation and religious school continue to grow, and we look forward to nurturing our passion for Judaism, growing spiritually, and being guided with enthusiasm and love for our Beaches Jewish community.