Tikkun Olam

Community, Spirituality, and YOU

At Etz Chaim, we are dedicated to repairing the world. We look to improve our communities by understanding the issues which face members of our community; whether that be synagogue community, local community, or even world community. We use our values, experiences, and stories to fight for a myriad of issues. We are committed to combating hate in all its forms. We seek to improve lives through advocating for immigrant and refugee rights. We help decrease poverty in our area as well as offer shelter once a week with our PADS program to those who may need a place to stay. We protect our environment and work to make a more sustainable world. All of these are done because of our great tradition of Tikkun Olam.

"Thou shalt not be a victim. Thou shalt not be a perpetrator. Above all, thou shalt not be a bystander." -- Holocaust Museum, Washington DC

The mission of the Social Action Committee is to promote activities at the local, national and international levels which support the Jewish idea of Tikkun Olam, Repair the World. The Social Action Committee organizes programs, projects and fundraisers to improve the lives of others in our synagogue, our local area, our nation, and throughout the world.

Over the years, a combination of congregants’ efforts, donations to our Louis & Bettye Kaplan Social Action Fund, and contributions to the tzedakah box in the synagogue lobby have helped numerous organizations that fight homelessness, poverty and hunger; support Jewish causes in the US and worldwide; and improve the environment, health, education, and socio-economic status of disadvantaged individuals.

The Social Action Committee works to achieve balanced support for a blend of social action causes and to include as many members of Etz Chaim in this work as possible. We encourage Tikkun Olam by giving congregants opportunities to roll up their sleeves and give to others through their own hard work on many programs and through donations to the Louis and Bettye Kaplan Social Action Fund and the lobby tzedakah box.

CEC Tikkun Olam sm

Etz Chaim Interfaith Outreach

We aim to promote open dialogue and facilitate a greater understanding of Judaism and Jewish people

The Etz Chaim Interfaith Outreach Task Force, a collaboration between the Lifelong Learning and Social Action Committees, looks for ways to foster positive relationships among our friends and neighbors of different faiths. We aim to promote open dialogue and facilitate a greater understanding of Judaism and Jewish people as we participate in community outreach events throughout the year. We are an active volunteer-driven committee that strives, through education and engagement, to develop mutual respect and understanding within our diverse faith community. We are proud to be a part of the American diaspora and we aim to build bridges.

We are also committed to In-reach.  As a Reform congregation, Etz Chaim strives to provide a warm, welcoming community for interfaith families and believes that our congregation’s diverse membership—whether raised Reform, Orthodox, Conservative or secular, whether Jewish by choice or Jewish adjacent (members of other religious communities or none at all but committed to Jewish values) is better served through meaningful and active inclusion of interfaith families.

We invite you to share with us your suggestions and to attend our many activities throughout the year that will be regularly updated on this page. If you are interested in joining our committee, please see the Etz Chaim calendar for our meetings or contact Barbara Margolis, cec.io@congetzchaim.org.

DuPage United - An Organization of Organizations

DuPage United is an inclusive, non-profit, fiercely non-partisan organization whose members are civil society institutions: churches, mosques, synagogues, non-profit agencies, and associations. This mix of institutions have come together to form public relationships and to act together to improve the quality of life for individuals, families and communities. DuPage United engages in democratic action in the public arena.

Why was DuPage United Formed?

DuPage United‘s “purpose is creation of a broad-based, non-partisan, civic organization with sufficient relational power to take collective action for social and economic changes that will benefit the people of DuPage County.” Translated: DuPage United’s member organizations work together to influence decision-makers in DuPage County to improve the social and economic situation for DuPage County residents. Member institutions highlight issues and concerns to the steering team which decides which issues to pursue.

Etz Chaim and DuPage United

Congregation Etz Chaim should take pride in being one of the founding members of DuPage United. Our leadership long ago recognized the need for our congregation to actively engage with our neighbors for social justice in our communities. Etz Chaim continues to play a strong leadership role among the 28 member churches, mosques, and secular non-profit agencies and associations. Etz Chaim’s vital representation is shared with several members of our social action committee including Rabbi Kamil.

DuPage United and the temple’s CEC/DU Core Team

At DuPage United ‘s leaders meeting on June 18, 2018 over 30 leaders from the 27 member institutions attended including our representatives: Mary Hason, Harriet Rose, Ben Weiskopf and Mary-Jo Wolsky.

DuPage United Initiatives - Learn More Here

PADS at Etz Chaim

As a PADS (Public Action to Deliver Shelter) site, we provide a nourishing hot dinner, a safe and warm place to sleep, breakfast and a bag lunch.
Check back to see when PADS will resume, as CODID 19 restrictions are lifted.

Every Sunday evening throughout the year (with a few exceptions due to holidays), the Etz Chaim Social Hall is transformed into a temporary refuge for some of the less-fortunate men, women and children of DuPage County. As a PADS (Public Action to Deliver Shelter) site, we provide a nourishing hot dinner, a safe and warm place to sleep, breakfast and a bag lunch. We also provide a human dimension - conversation and personal interaction. Some of our PADS guests avail themselves of everything that we offer; others come only for the meal. All are appreciative.

As you can imagine, much work must be done each Sunday night. Work begins at 5:00 PM with 8 or more volunteers. Thirty-six pads (thin mattresses), each with sheets, blanket, pillow, pillowcase, towel and wash cloth, are laid out on the floor. Fresh linens are generously provided each week by Good Samaritan Hospital. Folding screens are set up to separate the women’s area from the men’s area. A table filled with toiletries is set up. Tables are set. Dinner is prepared, sometimes for as many as 50 people. A staff person from the PADS organization joins us for a few hours. At 7:00 PM, the doors open, the guests are “signed in” and dinner is served cafeteria-style. There is salad, entrees, fresh vegetables, bread, fruit and dessert. Sometimes there is homemade soup and some kind of appetizer as well. After dinner, while the guests are chatting, reading or playing cards, the volunteers are busy with kitchen cleanup and the preparation of the bag lunches. At 8:30 PM, the first shift of volunteers is finished with their work. They are replaced by two-person shifts, whose job it is to stay awake and monitor the facility once the guests have gone to sleep at 10:00 PM. Wake-up is at 6:00 AM on Monday morning. While the guests are eating breakfast, the morning volunteers collect the blankets and pillows, wash down the pads, neatly pack up all these things into the storage closet, and gather the dirty linen, which is later taken to the laundry at Good Samaritan Hospital.

Partner Churches

Etz Chaim and St. Paul’s Lutheran Church of Villa Park provide the volunteers on the first and fifth Sunday of each month. Other “partner churches,” including York Center of the Brethren, Christ the King, Lombard Mennonite and Lombard Christian Reformed, provide the manpower on the second, third and fourth Sundays.

Our congregation does an incredible mitzvah in providing this PADS shelter to those who are homeless or hungry. Hats off to all the volunteers who make it possible.

Etz Chaim Volunteers

Who are the Etz Chaim volunteers? They are young and old, families and singles, new members and old members, and students of our religious school. They all find the experience to be very gratifying as well as educational. The Etz Chaim PADS effort is headed by Meryl Diamond.

Like to cook? Our PADS guests always appreciate home cooked dishes congregants make for them.

Donations Welcome

If you'd like to help out by donating paper goods or staples for the pantry, there are plenty of items we use on a routine basis - small paper plates and bowls, large sturdy paper plates (no Styrofoam), plastic cutlery, napkins, cold drink cups, hot coffee cups, decaf coffee, lemonade mix, ovaltine, and salad dressings. Contact Meryl Diamond about donating items for the pantry or drop off donations in the synagogue kitchen with "PADS" clearly marked on the box or bag.

Congregation Etz Chaim

Community, Spirituality, and YOU


Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday - 10:00 AM - 5:00 PM
Thursday - Closed
Friday - 10:00 AM - 3:00 PM
Saturday - Closed for Shabbat

During the school year the office will remain open on Wednesdays until 6:45PM and Sunday will be open from 8:30AM - 12:00PM


Carol Meyer, Interim Executive Director
Michele Miller, Bookkeeper
Adrienne Mintz, Administrative Assistant
Nicole Coover-Thompson, Librarian


Andrea Cosnowsky, Senior Rabbi
Jessica Wainer, Associate Rabbi
Marla Friedman, Religious School Principal


1710 S Highland Ave, Lombard, IL 60148
Phone: 630.627.3912
Fax: 630.627.9123