Our last quarter’s programming has continued our practice of diversity in topic, teacher and mode. Opportunities for learning, prayer and helping others continue as the backbone of our community’s action.


On Friday nights, we enjoyed the following:

  • Rachel led us in a thoughtful exploration of the connection between love and prayer, utilizing written passages, interpretation of photographs and dialogue between us.
  • Ken Krimstein shared the powerful story of his investigation of recently discovered autobiographical writings by Jewish High School students just before WWII. Ken’s intent is to tell some of these stories in his next graphic novel, hopefully published next year. The stories that the kids told – and the stories behind the stories – held us spellbound and provided a memorable evening.
  • I shared passages from the Jewish theologian Abraham Joshua Heschel on Shabbat, leading to a profound conversation about the place of work and leisure in our lives, about the difficulty in finding time for reflection, and in the way some business treat their employees.
  • Robin reflected on her service trip to Cambodia, presenting an inspiring message of hope and possibility as well as a model of service to others.

Our Shavuot celebration took us outdoors this year. We gathered in the woods at Half Day Preserve and began with a meditational walk through the woods.  Once back to the shelter we used the biblical texts of Ruth and Ezra to explore two opposing Jewish perceptions of the Other. Those texts provided the stepping-stone for a discussion of my practice regarding officiation at weddings between people who are Jewish and partners who aren’t.  Following dinner, we spent a short time in prayer including Havdala, songs of celebration (Hallel), reading Aseret Hadibrot (Ten Commandments) from the Torah, and Yizkor (memorial service). We ended at sundown after a beautiful few hours in nature and community.

We viewed and discussed the second of our two films for the year, Ida, an award-winning Polish film about a young woman in the aftermath of WWII. Ida is preparing for life as a nun when the Mother Superior tells her that her parents were Jewish, that she has an aunt, and that she needs to explore this part of her life before finalizing her impending religious commitment. Rachel shared background on the film and the led the engaging discussion following our viewing.


Three very different opportunities for helping others and taking a stand occurred. In April, we supported Misericordia’s mission of serving people with developmental disabilities through their “Candy Days.” We provided the wait-staff at the JUF Uptown Café in May, serving meals, friendship and dignity to people in need of all three. Finally, under the leadership of Stew and Robin we participated in the first-ever Pride Parade in Buffalo Grove, an event that was extraordinarily successful in its public affirmation of LGBTQ folks and in its sense of joy and celebration.


We have a number of outstanding opportunities coming up in the months before Rosh Hashana. Included are:

  • Learning more about Mussar from Master Teacher Marcia Cohn.
  • Serving dinner at PADS
  • Our new, Shabbat morning “Torah Together” exploration of Judaism’s basic text over coffee and…
  • A private tour of the Spertus exhibit about Ken Krimstein’s last graphic book, The Three Escapes of Hannah Arendt: A Tyranny of Truth, led by Ken himself.
  • A 5K Walk/Run for Willow House, an organization that provides support for children, families, schools and communities faced with grief and loss through death.
  • Our annual Selichot observance, helping us with our spiritual preparation for the High Holidays.


And, later in the year, included in our planning are:

  • A visit with Arielle Rada, Consul for Academic and Community Affairs in Israel’s consulate in Chicago. Ms. Rada fled Ethiopia at the age of 3 with her mother and sister. She’ll tell her fascinating story, as well as give us insight into racial tensions found in Israel today.
  • Opportunities to explore and discuss racism, reparations, white privilege and more in America today, including dialogue, guest speakers, books and films.
  • A visit to the IL Holocaust Museum, led by our member-docents Bonnie Dobkin and Bruce Natkin.
  • Following A Road Not Yet Finished – BIRMINGHAM TO MEMPHIS: B’CHAVANA’S CIVIL RIGHTS PILGRIMAGE (January 12-19, 2020)
  • Our 2nd Annual Community Pesah Seder.

Along with our regular Shabbat gatherings for prayer, song and celebration, it promises to be another year filled with fun, spirituality and growth.