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.”
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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).
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.