President’s Pen, September 2019

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 of the Jewish community coming together for the High Holidays, for Jewish learning experiences for our children and ourselves, a place to celebrate births, B’nai Mitzvahs, weddings, and other happy occasions. Also a place to seek community support during illness and the death of loved ones. Sixty years of being there for the lifecycle events with members of our Jewish community. Imagine what would have been missing in the community if this congregation had not been here for of us. Consider the empty space.

To celebrate our 60th year several events have been planned.

 Our first Kavod Dinner is being held on Sunday, September 15th, honoring three long-time members of Congregation Etz Chaim: Lifetime Service Award - David Baruch, Outstanding Educator Award -Ellen Simsohn, and Outstanding Volunteer Award (Posthumously) – Edie Bernstein. These people were here in the early days of the synagogue – before my time – putting in the time and effort to make Etz Chaim a Jewish community in DuPage County. Ellen is still teaching here. She taught my children, and she is now teaching my grandchildren. I know you have received invitations. Please join us for an evening to celebrate their accomplishments and our first 60 years.

 And a reminder, there is a raffle for one car, and the prize is either a 2019 Mazda3 Sedan, a 2019 Mazda CX3, or you can take the cash prize of $18,000. Contact the office for information. The winner is responsible for all taxes and fees.

 On September 21st, there is a congregational picnic starting at 4:30 p.m., followed by the opening of our Genizah in order to bury our outdated holiday prayer books. A Tot Selichot service will be held at 6 p.m.. At 6:30PM our 9th graders will lead the introduction to the Selichot service and change the Torah covers to the white ones we use on the High Holy Days. The main Selichot service begins at 7 p.m.

 On May 2 there will be an auction and a fundraising concert featuring our own Rabbi Andrea & Jane Cosnowsky.

Whether it is the 60th year or the 61st or 59th, Etz Chaim is serving the Jewish community here in the Western Suburbs every year. This just does not happen. Etz Chaim is more than a building, a rabbi or two, and staff. It is a community of people, us, that come together to create a vibrant Jewish community. Like every other organization, we have grown, expanded, contracted, and grown again. In the next 60 years the cycles will repeat. What each of us can do is step up to keep this congregation relevant to the surrounding Jewish community, for ourselves, our children, our grandchildren, and the Jews who will undoubtedly move to the area and look to be part of a Jewish community. This synagogue and community exists thanks to those who came before us. We owe it to those who will follow to keep it strong by joining, participating, and supporting our Tree of Life, Etz Chaim.