Holidays and Festivals

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Winter/Spring Rituals| Summer Rituals | Fall Rituals | High Holidays 


Winter/Spring Rituals

Hanukkah

Our yearly Hanukkah Shabbat Family Service starts with a potluck, then commences with singing, dancing and performances by our our JRC Junior Choir and house Klezmer band, Heavy Shtetl. Sufganiyot (jelly doughnuts) and other treats are provided by JRC's Membership Committee after the service!

Martin Luther King Jr. Shabbat Service

On the Shabbat before Martin Luther King, Jr. Day, JRC's Racial Equity Task Force hosts a service in celebration of Dr. King's legacy.

Tu B’Shvat

Learn about the Jewish relationship to the environment in our yearly celebration of Tu B'Shvat (also known as the birthday for trees). We host a yearly all-ages Tu B’Shvat Seder featuring kids activities and special guest speakers who discuss contemporary environmental topics.

Purim, A Festival for Fun

Purim is the most lively holiday on the Jewish calendar, with traditions that include carnivals, parties, cookies, gifts, noisemakers and costumes.

The Whole Megillah Reading and Oy Vey Cafe
Things kick off with the Megillah reading where JRC members will take turns reading the story of Esther in Hebrew and in English. While you listen, say l'chaim with spirits served by members of JRC's Pub Night group. Then enjoy the Oy Vey Cafe, an annual production of song parodies and spoofs performed by JRC's house band the Alte Rockers and the world-famous Purim Spielers. Costumes encouraged!

Family Megillah Reading & Purim Carnival
Join us in the sanctuary for a Megillah reading and costume parade with music and dancing by our house klezmer band, Heavy Shtetl. Costumes are encouraged for kids and grown-ups alike! Then it's time for fun in our festive carnival filled with games, crafts, and prizes. Try your luck to win a congregant confectionary creation in the cakewalk, or get a bite to eat in the Purim cafe.
Lend a Hand! Lots of volunteers are needed to make the celebration a success. If you can be a carnival organizer, volunteer, or if you can bake for the cake walk, please email the coordinators at [email protected]

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Summer Rituals

Shabbarbeque

Each year, we welcome the start of summer with a delicious barbecue with friends at JRC. The Membership Committee supplies everything for dinner (including kosher hot dogs and veggie burgers). The grill is manned by some “celebrity grillmasters” including our Clergy and Board Members. After the BBQ, Rabbi Weiss leads some camp-style Erev Shabbat Singing!

Tikkun Leil Shavuot

Are you ready to flip tradition on its head and reimagine what Torah study could mean in the modern world? Choose-your-own adventure through an array of late-night-learning sessions led by JRC members in our new take on Tikkun Leil Shavuot, the observance commemorating the gift of the Torah on Mount Sinai, where tradition is to stay up all night to study Torah. We will "study" art, cooking, music, dance, storytelling, ritual, meditation and social justice, all under the tutelage of JRC members who will lead elective sessions on Saturday until midnight.

Shabbat by the Lakeshore

Enjoy the summer with our informal Erev Shabbat Services on the beautiful Evanston lakefront. Pack a dairy/vegetarian picnic dinner and come early to eat and schmooze.
In case of rain: we always try hold out and go to the lakefront, but in case of rain or extreme temperatures, the whole operation - 6 pm picnic, 7 pm service - moves inside of JRC.

Pride Shabbat

The Friday before the Chicago Pride Parade, we celebrate the diversity we have within our JRC community as Rabbi Weiss leads a service celebrating LGBTQ Pride. After the service, JRC's LGBTQ Havurah hosts an oneg with rainbow themed treats!

Summer Sendoff Service

Each summer, we get together to honor recent grads of both high school and higher education and send off our JRC youngsters on their way to Camp JRF and other Jewish summer camps. Rabbi Weiss leads this special Shabbat service with a blessing for JRC's youth.

Erev Tisha B'Av

On Tisha B’Av, we observe ancient and contemporary Lamentations together. “By the Rivers of Babylon, where we sat down, there we wept…” From the destruction of the Temples in Jerusalem to expulsion from Spain, many tragedies have befallen the Jewish people on the 9th day of Av. The Book of Lamentations gives voice to our grief and our loss. Rabbi Rachel Weiss leads a candlelight service on Erev Tisha B'Av to chant traditional words from the book of Eicha and add contemporary words reflecting today’s tragedies of racism, Islamophobia, immigrant injustice, and tragedy and destruction in Israel/Palestine.

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Fall Rituals

Selichot

Rabbi Rachel Weiss teaches a class about the Days of Awe and the tradition of selichot, the first confession of sins for the High Holiday season followed by a candlelit service as we open our ears and hearts to the High Holiday music. We'll raise up the good of the last year to bring with us, and prepare to confess the wrongdoings for which we ask forgiveness. Anonymously, we'll record our chataim (sins), to be read in our Yom Kippur service.

Sukkot

Sukkot is the Jewish harvest holiday commemorating the season in Biblical times when our ancestors built temporary booths - sukkot - to sleep in, eat in, and gather in with their community, as they harvested their bounty and celebrated. Today, we build these sukkot as a reminder of that time, and as an opportunity to share food and friendship with each other. We decorate the sukkah with fruits and vegetables of the season and artwork by JRC children.
There are several parties and gatherings for kids, and adults in the Sukkah each year. Check our calendar for the exact schedule.

Simchat Torah

In one of JRC’s most unique and beloved traditions, we usher in the beginning of a new cycle of reading Torah with our resident klezmer band Heavy Shtetl. This party includes dancing, taffy apples, and our tradition of unfurling the torah around the room.

Trans Day of Remembrance

The Friday in November closest to the Trans Day of Remembrance features a reading of names (that we know) of those trans people who have been killed as result of transphobia, as well as prayers and liturgies that celebrate trans experiences in Judaism and in the world, with participation from our LGBTQ Havurah, our Gender Inclusion Task Force, and members of JRC who identify as trans or nonbinary.

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The Green Synagogue and the Pillars of Chai

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In 2008, we built the first platinum LEED-certified green synagogue in North America. The construction required 18 pillars - the number in Hebrew that also means "chai" or "life." 

Now, more than ten years later, JRC has launched the Pillars of Chai Campaign to raise $4.4m to wholly own our beloved building. 

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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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New Assistant Rabbi for Education

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Welcome to Rabbi David Eber, our new Assistant Rabbi for Education!

 

Read Rabbi Eber's Bio