Congregation Etz Chaim has a distinctive culture of volunteerism and belongingness that helps to make our community vibrant and relevant. Together with the rabbis, the school principal, and staff, Congregation Etz Chaim members lead, guide, and perform the work of the congregation through various committees and social groups. This thread is woven through not only congregational projects but community ones as well.
Religious services at Etz Chaim are exceptionally warm and welcoming. They reflect and deepen our sense of community. In our sanctuary, the seats are arranged so we can see the front of the sanctuary as well as each other. Ascending to the bimah requires only one step. As we begin the Torah service, we take the Torah from the ark and carry it through the sanctuary. Our choir sits close to the congregation. The melodies they sing invite participation by the entire congregation. We experience our worship services as part of a community.
Jewish education is the shared responsibility of the family, the school and our congregation. Congregation Etz Chaim offers many ongoing and special programs to help our congregants be knowledgeable, active and competent members of the Jewish community.
Adult education programs are offered for members who wish to expand their knowledge of Hebrew, Judaism, current events, and Torah. Programs may be led by the congregation’s rabbis or members, or by visiting rabbis or other outside experts.
We are very proud of our school and its accomplishments. We have a very high percentage of students who continue their Jewish education after they become Bar/Bat Mitzvah. We also put a significant emphasis on family education, encouraging our parents to be a part of their child’s Jewish education.
Congregation Etz Chaim is a community, not just a building. We make every possible attempt to make our environment as welcoming as possible. We have greeters in our foyer to welcome people on shabbat and other worship services. Our goal is to create a space where all feel welcomed within our building and all families feel comfortable participating in meaningful ways at all worship services, programs, family events and congregation committees. A variety of accommodations are available.
Rachel works with students who have learning challenges as our inclusion specialist. She supports teachers and teaching assistants who have children in their classes with diagnosed learning disabilities.
The earliest use of the term tikkun olam comes in the phrase mip’nei tikkun ha-olam, “for the sake of repairing the world”, which appears in the Mishnah with the meaning of amending the law in order to keep society well-functioning. More generally, tikkun can mean improvement, establishment, repair, prepare, and more. In the Mishnaic context it refers to practical legal measures taken in the present to ameliorate social conditions.
Congregation Etz Chaim of DuPage County, a Reform synagogue, is a growing, thriving center of Reform Judaism that serves more than 500 families in the western suburbs of Chicago. The synagogue is conveniently located near I-88 and I-355 between Roosevelt and Butterfield Roads, at 1710 South Highland Avenue in Lombard, Illinois.