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Pillars of Chai: JRC's Campaign for the Future


About the Campaign | The Origin Story | Why We Give


JRC’s Pillars of Chai Campaign seeks to raise $4 million to responsibly retire the building loan on JRC’s home, but that is only the beginning.

  • This campaign is about planning for a future in which we can thrive and grow in ways we are already imagining without the shadow of a loan.
  • It is about ensuring a sustainable, healthy financial tomorrow for our community by preventing the need to dip into operating funds for loan payments.

cg-024.jpgOur Physical and Spiritual Home

In 2008, our congregation moved into its current building. Our award-winning spiritual home was the first platinum LEED-certified synagogue in North America. It is the place where we learn and live our values, explore our Judaism, raise our children, celebrate during happy times, and gather to support each other during life’s challenges.

Please add your generous support to the Pillars of Chai Campaign and help make this magnificent building fully ours.


To Give or Learn More

So Many Ways to Contribute

Your pledge can be paid over four years and is tax-deductible to the extent allowed by law. Gifts can be made in a variety of ways including transfer of appreciated securities and retirement savings, which could offer tax savings.

For more information and to add your support, please contact Campaign Chairs Reese Gratch and Sandy Spatz at or Executive Director Micky Baer at or 847-328-7678, ext. 2224.

The Story Behind the Pillars of Chai

JRC’s Three Campaigns

In our fifty-plus years, JRC has had two previous major capital campaign fund drives. The first one, in the late 1970’s, made it possible to purchase land at 303 Dodge and to renovate the original building on that land. Beginning in 2002, we started a second campaign and raised $6.7 million to build our beautiful new building. This third chapter, the Pillars of Chai Campaign will bring important stability to our community and finish what we started.

An Amazing Transformation

It has already been more than a decade since we moved into our new building, and it's hard for some to remember why we embarked on this journey in the first place. In fact, the current 4th graders weren't even born when JRC was in the old building.

Even if you joined after 2008 (the year we moved into the new building) and you never set foot in the old space, you are still impacted by enjoying the benefits of the incredible transformation that allowed our community to grow in a way that would never have been possible in our old building.


For example, the old basement Social Hall doubled as the Early Childhood Center, and toys had to be stashed behind a partition in the corner during programs. 

Building the Actual "Pillars" 


In 2005, we discovered that the soil on our property was soft and sandy—definitely not suitable for supporting a large three-story building. This necessitated the drilling of caissons: concrete pillars driven 55 feet into the earth in order to reach hard clay and to stabilize the structure.

The surface of our building’s foundation is therefore now supported by these massive underground pillars—eighteen in all. That’s right—18, the celebrated Jewish number equaling “life” according to Hebrew numerology.

This led our congregation’s president to ask, “Since we are constructing pillars to support our congregation, why not create eighteen symbolic ‘pillars’ of our community—spiritual values that we could somehow connect to the physical caissons?”

Our Rabbi took the question to our 4th and 7th grade religious school students, reminding them of Rabbi Shimon the Righteous’ famous dictum, “The world stands on three things: study, worship and acts of loving-kindness.”

“What,” he asked our students, “would you consider to be the eighteen ‘pillars’ upon which our congregational community stands?”

They brainstormed the eighteen spiritual values of our JRC community and came up with these:

1. God 7. Judaism 13. Joy
2. Prayer 8. Tikkun Olam 14. Respect
3. Partnership 9. Community 15. Hope
4. Song 10. Study 16. Freedom 
5. Freindship 11. Learning 17. Spirit
6. Peace 12. Growth 18. Love


Each of these values was placed by the construction crew into a separate caisson shaft to be mixed together with the concrete. Each of these 18 values became a permanent aspect of JRC’s support structure.

Put Your Values into Action

As you consider these pillars of our community, as you reflect on how JRC has grounded your own spiritual life and all that JRC has to offer you, please put your values into action and make a meaningful gift to the Pillars of Chai: JRC’s Campaign for the Future.

For more information and to add your support, please contact Campaign Chairs Reese Gratch and Sandy Spatz at or Executive Director Micky Baer at or 847-328-7678, ext. 2224.

About the Living Our Values Speaker Series

This series, held on select Friday nights, is sponsored by the Pillars of Chai Committee. Each presentation features a JRC member who is putting our community's values into action in their daily lives and in their professional practices.

Tue, April 20 2021 8 Iyyar 5781