The strategic planning committee has spent the past eight months surveying the congregation and identifying strategic initiatives to work on over the next five, ten and even fifteen years. We identified and discussed trends in religion and particularly Jewish religious life and gathered input from our congregation on what is important to them.
Senior Staff Writings
Is there such a thing as Jewish Spirituality? What does it mean? It is not uncommon to hear someone say, “I am spiritual, but not religious.” However, what does that really mean. Come and explore with Rabbi Cosnowsky, the origins of spirituality in Judaism and how Jewish spiritual practice can become a part of your daily life. This program is sponsored by the Etz Chaim Foundation as part of their Sunday morning programs..
Rabbi Cosnowsky will be on sabbatical from February 4 to March 4, 2020. This will be her first sabbatical after serving our congregation for the
past 14 ½ years. Please read her column for the instructions on how communication will be handled for the month she is away.
Now that the fall holidays have passed, it’s exciting to look ahead and see what wonderful possibilities exist for further learning, study, worship and transformation.
There has been a lot of planning these past few months to hold a large, festive, multigenerational temple community picnic on Selichot. This will take place on Saturday afternoon, September 21st at 4:30pm, which is 10 days prior to Rosh Hashanah.
There is an old story of five people in a boat. None of them like each other that much, so they mostly keep to themselves. Everyone is happy to allow the other to do their own thing. One day, the person in the corner begins to hack at the wood in the bottom of the boat. At first, everyone is fine with this. However, it’s not long before a small leak appears. The people say that the person in the corner should stop what they’re doing. The person in the corner argues that they’re doing their own thing and it doesn’t matter. The people respond, “When your actions affect all of us, it’s not just your thing.”
This month we will celebrate the holiday, Hanukkah. There are many rituals and festivities associated with this holiday. We kindle the Hanukkah candles each night to spread and increase light and warmth even in the darkest and coldest times of the year. We spin the dreidel with its four Hebrew letters, nun, gimel, hay, and shin, making the acronym, Nes Gadol Hayah Sham, meaning a “great miracle happened there.”
We find ourselves amid the Days of Awe. These begin with the welcoming of the New Year on the evening of Rosh Hashanah, and end with the shofar blast at the conclusion of the N’ilah service on Yom Kippur.
We don’t always associate August with the season of love. However, there is a little-known Jewish holiday which usually falls early to mid-August. This is the holiday Tu B’Av, translated to the not so inventive name of the 15th of the month of Av (occurring on August 16th this year).
It sounds like a lot is happening in a period of 8-weeks at our synagogue. The fact is that a lot happens at our synagogue.
I began writing this column on Thanksgiving Day for the January 2020, newsletter. Later today, most of our family will be able to gather for dinner. My wife and I have talked to our children who live out of state. We may not be physically in one place; we can be emotionally connected.
September and October were busy months for our congregation. We kicked off with the beginning of religious school which included the Brotherhood’s picnic and games. That was followed by the family picnic celebrating our 60th year and the beginning of Selichot starting the High Holiday ‘season.’ And for both of these events the rainy weather let up so that we could enjoy our outside activities. The participants were grateful for the break in the weather.
With the approach of Rosh Hashanah at the end of this month, it is an appropriate time to reflect on the fact that this year, 2019-2020, is Congregation Etz Chaim’s 60th anniversary. Sixty years of providing a center for Jewish life in the far western suburbs.
Sixty years ago the seeds for Congregation Etz Chaim were sowed. A small number of Jewish families in DuPage County got together with the intent of establishing a Jewish synagogue to support them and their families. The core of this new synagogue was this group who wished to have a central place of Jewish worship and community. They had no building. They had no rabbi. They had themselves.
One of Etz Chaim’s own, Audrey Honig, was recently chosen as a Rosh Eidah, unit head, at OSRUI. Audrey is the daughter of Rob and Lisa Honig and is a junior at Kalamazoo College in Kalamazoo, MI. We are so proud of her and her many accomplishments! I asked Audrey to tell us about her love for all things OSRUI.
I want to take a bit of space in this month’s bulletin article to let you know how thankful I am to be the religious school principal at Etz Chaim. Working with our staff, engaging with the families, and interacting with our students bring me such joy. I am grateful to all of you who help make this happen
Our entire religious school is learning W.O.W. What is W.O.W.? It’s the Hebrew Word of the Week that teaches us something Judaic. The primary grade students and their families have learned “Ah-rone Koe-desh”, Holy Ark, by means of a puppet show! The intermediate and upper grade teachers share the W.O.W. on Sundays with their classes.
I hope that you are all enjoying the summer so far. Here at Etz Chaim, we are busy getting ready for the new school year. Registration forms are coming in and it’s so gratifying to see the volunteer forms returning (filled out!) as well.