Frequently Asked Questions About JRC

What is Reconstructionism?

Reconstructionists define Judaism as more than a religion. For us, it is an ever-evolving way of life, encompassing spiritual practices, ritual, history, literature, art and music, land and language.

Reconstructionist Judaism is a progressive, contemporary approach to Jewish life that integrates a deep respect for traditional Judaism with the insights and ideas of contemporary social, intellectual and spiritual life.

We believe that we are involved in active Judaism. We cherish the traditional spiritual foundation bequeathed to us, and we are open to new interpretations and forms of religious expression. We are responsible for shaping the spiritual legacy we will leave to future generations.

What are the benefits of membership at JRC?

When you join JRC, you become an important part of a vibrant, innovative, diverse, and caring community. You’ll have a spiritual home to share in the joys and challenges of life. You’ll be offered opportunities to grow intellectually and live your social justice values. You’ll meet fellow members who engage enthusiastically in spiritual practice, progressive causes, lifelong learning, and building lasting friendships. And, of course, we’ll eat.

You can participate in life cycle rituals officiated by our rabbi and our cantor, such as baby namings, b’nai mitzvah, weddings, and funerals. In times of illness or struggle, you’ll be supported by our clergy, who are available for any pastoral needs, as well as our Chesed Community, who can help with some of the more practical needs during difficult periods.

As a JRC member, you’ll receive High Holiday tickets for your immediate household (and discounted tickets for close family members). You’ll be invited into the lively, ongoing conversation in our Facebook group exclusively for JRC members. You’ll be kept informed about special services and events, as well as important congregational news. You’ll even receive a special members’ rate to use JRC’s beautiful sanctuary and gathering spaces for your family’s smachot(celebrations).

Can I attend services if I am not a member?

Yes! Anyone is welcome to attend our Shabbat and holiday services. We look forward to meeting you!

High Holiday services (Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur) require tickets, which are a benefit to members, or can be purchased through the JRC office. However, our afternoon family services on the first day of Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur don’t require tickets and are open to everyone.

Are children welcome to attend services?

Yes! People of all ages are welcome to attend any JRC service. Children are always welcome – both to our services designed specifically for children and to our adult services. Bringing your children to services is a wonderful way to “teach by doing” and model Jewish practices. We ask that families pay attention to the needs of their children and to the needs of those participating in services around them. It’s always fine for children to bring a book or other quiet, non-electronic activity to services, or to leave the sanctuary to spend supervised time in the Early Childhood Center if they are in need of a non-quiet space to move or play.

I am part of an interfaith marriage/partnership, is that welcomed at JRC?

Yes! We wholeheartedly welcome interfaith families to JRC. Both our rabbi and our cantor officiate at Jewish weddings for Jewish-Jewish and Jewish-NonJewish couples. Our congregation is as diverse as the American Jewish community, and includes Jews by birth and by choice, interfaith families, people of color, LGBTQ people, and from a variety of socioeconomic backgrounds. Our community spans the spectrum of Jewish practice and observance. We welcome you as you are.

I don’t read Hebrew; will I be able to follow along in the service?

Yes! Our prayer books, handouts and other service materials are all written with transliteration and English translations to help everyone feel comfortable participating.

I was not raised Jewish, can I still join JRC?

Yes! Judaism maintains that “we all stood at Sinai,” reflecting the based in the custom that everyone who ever was or would be Jewish gather together to receive our Jewish Tradition as a collective. Some of us joined the Jewish people at birth, others joined the Jewish people as adults, and others have yet to become Jewish or won’t choose to do so. Membership is open to all.

What should I wear to services?

We hope that the clothing you wear to services makes you feel comfortable and reflects who you are. While our High Holiday services are dressier and our Shabbat services more casual, there is no dress code.

All people of any gender are welcome to wear a kippah (head covering) per their preference. It is traditional to wear a tallit (prayer shawl) during morning services and on Erev Yom Kippur (Kol Nidre). It is also customary to dress in white or light colored clothing, and to avoid wearing leather on Yom Kippur.

Can women wear tallitot, kippot and/or tefillin?

Yes, as an egalitarian congregation, JRC encourages people of all genders to wear kippot (head coverings) and tallitot (prayer shawls). These religious articles are available for people who do not have their own to use during the service. If it is your practice to lay tefillin, you are welcome to bring your own.

I want to learn to read/write Hebrew; are there classes at JRC I can take?

We occasionally offer beginning Hebrew classes for members. Our Adult Education catalog can be found here. The catalog for the new program year is usually published at the end of August.

What adult education can I find at JRC?

We have a wide variety of classes and programs for adults, including literature and film, history and current events, philosophy and Torah study, social justice and spiritual practice, and more. Our Adult Education catalog can be found here. You can also pick one up the next time you’re at JRC.

What education is offered for children?

We have a NAEYC-accredited Early Childhood Center that provides a nurturing and stimulating environment to support children’s social, emotional, physical, intellectual, and spiritual growth. Judaic values and traditions are woven into daily activities of fun, experimentation, creative play, and discovery. Classroom activities are developed by early childhood professionals who are in tune with our children and their families, and who are responsive to their diverse needs and interests.

Our Religious School has classes for children from Pre-kindergarten through high school. Our calendar includes frequent family programs, school potlucks and services, and parent education. We also have an active youth group for kids in grade 5 and up. For families new to the school or the community, we offer a 6-week “taste” of school for a nominal fee.

What are the steps I need to take to have a b’nai mitzvah at JRC?

For your child: B’nai mitzvah typically occur during your child’s 7th grade year, although the scheduling process happens in 5th grade. From kindergarten on, our Religious School curriculum provides the necessary foundation for a student to prepare for b’nai mitzvah, with guidance from one of our tutors. We have a wealth of information on our website to help you navigate the entire process.

For yourself: Becoming Bar/Bat Mitzvah as an adult is a journey of deep learning, exploration, and reflection. Many adults became Jewish after bar or bat mitzvah age, or never had the opportunity at age 13. Some became bar or bat mitzvah, but are looking for a more intensive Jewish learning path. JRC’s adult b’nai mitzvah program encompasses Torah learning, history, liturgy, language and spiritual and ritual practices. To let us know you’re interested in this program, please contact the rabbi’s office.

I don’t believe in God, but I am looking for a Jewish community to belong to. Will I be welcomed at JRC?

Yes, you will. Jewish practice is as diverse as the Jewish community. At JRC, we believe that there is no one way to be Jewish, and that participation and inclusion in Jewish community is paramount. Whether you believe in God, don’t believe in God, or are searching for meaningful Jewish space and practice, we welcome you. Your thoughtful curiosity, openness, and exploration are welcome.

Where can I find more information about the upcoming services/events at JRC?

Our calendar has the most up to date information about our upcoming services and events. You can also follow us on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram to keep JRC news and events on your radar.

What pastoral services are available for members of JRC?

Our clergy team – Rabbi Rachel Weiss and Cantor Howard Friedland – provide pastoral care and counseling to our members. Our rabbi and cantor visit members in the hospital, meet in-person and by phone at times of difficulty and loss. Whether grieving the death of a loved one or struggling during a hard time, our clergy provide a listening ear and a safe space.

At times of a death, Rabbi Weiss and Cantor Friedland officiate at funeral and burial rituals. They also lead shiva minyanim, as do many of our members.

Can my children attend JRC’s Religious School if I am not a member?

Grades K-12 are limited to children of JRC members. We also have a pre-K class on Sunday morning that does not require synagogue membership to enroll your children.

How do I get involved with one of the community groups at JRC?

Joining an existing program or committee can seem daunting, but it’s the smartest, fastest, best way to get involved and feel invested in your community. You can find a list of our committees here and social justice initiatives here, with the members to contact for each. And, if you’re still not sure where to start, our clergy and staff are ready to connect you with the parts of JRC that will align with your interests and let your talents shine.

I left my coat/glasses/shoes/keys/dental records at JRC. Where is your lost & found?

Please ask at the front desk for your items. If the office has not located your item you can also check the coat racks on the first floor outside of the small pantry (across from the women’s restrooms).

When I bring food to JRC for a potluck or other event, what are the rules I need to follow?

JRC is “kosher by Ingredient.” All of our potluck events are dairy/pareve, which includes dairy, fish (but not shellfish), and vegetarian/vegan foods (but not meat – and that includes chicken). Out of respect for those with nut allergies and sensitivities, we ask that you refrain from bringing peanuts or tree nuts. We hope you’ll bring something delicious!

What are the costs to Join JRC?

At JRC we provide a membership commitment range, rather than a fixed amount, for each category of household. If you are able, we encourage you to select a membership level above the minimum for your household. Your generosity helps JRC continue a longstanding practice of welcoming all our members with due regard for ability to pay. If your circumstances don’t allow you to pay membership at the recommended levels you can speak confidentially with Jill Persin at [email protected] or 847-328-7678.

Families with children enrolled in our Early Childhood Center preschool are included in JRC’s membership. We encourage you to make a donation that meaningfully reflects JRC’s commitment to your young family.

I have questions. Who should I contact at JRC for answers?

This is all very helpful, but I would like more information on joining JRC. What are my next steps?

Contact Jill Persin at [email protected] or 847-328-7678. We look forward to meeting you!

If you are a JRC Committee Member and you would like to know how to get things done at JRC, you can find a list of Frequently Asked Questions here. 

Last updated: June 26, 2018

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The Religious School provides JRC children with the building blocks they need to engage throughout their lives in Jewish exploration, community and activism.

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Our enriching and diverse preschool program is based on progressive Jewish values, is open to families of all religious backgrounds, and focuses on the importance of relationships between students, teachers, and families. 

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