Upcoming Shabbat – this Friday, Dec. 4th – Jews In Space!


No, it’s not the next hit movie in a long series starring Billy Crystal in the role of Han Solo – but it is our upcoming Friday night Shabbat theme!

We’ll be gathering at Beth Rosen’s home,  654 Westgate Road, Deerfield, Il 60015   [view map] and we’ll learn all about Jews … IN SPACE! presented by Roger Price.  This was a topic chosen by the membership at the Halloween Shabbat – you can learn more about Roger, here – he’s got a fascinating web page.  Roger writes and is an expert on Judaism and Science and the interplay between the two.  His website:  www.judaismandscience.com.

Our schedule is the usual Friday night:

6:00 PM: Arrive, schmooze, beverages and noshes
6:45 PM: Kaballat Shabbat service
7:30 PM: Dinner
8:30 PM: Discussion and Learning with Roger Price
AFTER: Dessert and more conversation

As always, please RSVP through Perfect Potluck:  http://www.perfectpotluck.com/meals.php?t=VHTI9517

And if you have questions, please call Beth at 847-514-6146.

We look forward to this journey into the great beyond!

Thanksgiving, Our History and Our Obligation to Refugees


I’m happy to share these two announcements with you from clergy and Jewish leaders in our metropolitan area – Marc

The Council of Religious Leaders of Metropolitan Chicago, as American citizens and people of faith, affirms in the strongest possible terms our responsibility to welcome Syrian refugees and other victims of terror who are seeking asylum in our greater Chicago community. We understand the temptation, in a time of grief and alarm at the recent atrocities inflicted on innocent victims, to respond with fear and urgent measures. We also appreciate and affirm the need in the present context to carefully screen refugees applying for entrance into the United States, as our federal government has in fact been doing. However, we believe that the impulse to fail to give support and protection to the very victims of terror unwittingly plays into the heinous aims of those who perpetrate such criminal acts in order to create fear and divisions within our own communities. We therefore contest the proposal of Governor Rauner to impose a “pause” on the welcome of refugees to our community. We also reject as contrary to our American values and shared religious convictions the call to impose a religious criterion in accepting refugees by opening our doors to Christian refugees while refusing those who are Muslim. This, too, only encourages those who seek to scapegoat members of our community based solely on their religious affiliation. As representatives of more than 35 religious traditions we implore our civic leaders and fellow citizens to act in accord with our enduring religious and civic tradition that welcomes and gives comfort and shelter to our fellow human beings in jeopardy and opposes the forces of fear and discrimination.


Given our long history of persecution and dislocation, the Jewish people well understand the plight of refugees fleeing for their lives. For over 115 years, our Jewish Federation has provided services to refugees of all faiths, nationalities, and ethnicities including those from Bosnia, Burma, Iraq, Iran, Russia, Rwanda and elsewhere. We are proud of this work, which is deeply rooted in the Jewish values of empathy and fair treatment of the stranger.

Today, as we find ourselves confronting the worst refugee crisis since World War II, we reassert the need for ethical and secure resettlement policies. These policies must uphold America’s fundamental values while also ensuring the security of our citizens, virtually all of whom are descendants of refugees and immigrants or are so themselves.

We recognize that today’s situation regarding Syria is uniquely complex. The global rise of terrorism has necessarily increased concerns over our country’s security. These concerns should be addressed while also ensuring that America remains a beacon of hope and a safe harbor for those fleeing persecution because of their religion, race, nationality, political opinion or membership in a particular social group.

As Congress seeks to find this balance, we caution against calls to bar or to privilege certain groups of refugees solely because of their religion or country of origin. Such sentiments do not constitute sound refugee policy, and remind us of similar attitudes targeting Jews seeking refuge in the United States during the Nazi reign of terror.

As current refugee resettlement policies are being debated, we will continue to ensure our community has up to date information on existing policies and screening practices, in addition to information on our long-term organizational role in administering the federally funded refugee social services program for the State of Illinois.

A Thanksgiving Blessing

Chevre, I’m happy to share with you this blessing that I’ll offer at our Thanksgiving meal tonight.  Please feel welcome to use it if you like.

I wish you a happy holiday – Marc

That we were not in a Paris nightclub when the shooting began – we give thanks.

That we are not forbidden from our streets as they are in Brussels – we give thanks.

That our villages are not raided and our daughters not trafficked – we give thanks.

That our country is not torn apart and our neighbors beheaded and we are not fleeing for our lives – we give thanks.

That our son didn’t wash up on the shore of the sea for all the world to see – we give thanks.

That our son was not marched into a Chicago alley and executed as payment for the sins of his father – we give thanks.

That we do not fear being shot to death by police when we walk the streets of our cities – we give thanks.
For the beauty of awakening this morning alive and whole and safe – we give thanks.

For the clean water from our faucets and the warmth from our furnaces – we give thanks.

For the simple breakfast we ate – a bowl of cereal, a banana, a bagel with cream cheese – we give thanks.

For the joy of this family gathering where we are safe and respected and loved – we give thanks.

For the bounty of this meal and the next, when we eat more than we should and enjoy foods that both satisfy our needs and please our senses – we give thanks.

For the gracious and loving generosity of those who host us – we give thanks.

At this Thanksgiving meal, we offer the thanks of our hearts for the many blessings we recognize and for those of which we are, regrettably, unaware.

Baruch Atah Adonai Eloheynu Melech ha-olam, shehechiyanu v’kiy’manu v’hig’yanu la-z’man ha-zeh – Blessed are You, Adonai our Sovereign, who gives us life, sustains us each day and brings us to this moment.

Baruch Atah Adonai Eloheynu Melech ha-olam ha-motzi lechem min ha-aretz – Blessed are You, Adonai our Sovereign, Who brings forth bread from the earth.

Need Immediate Response: Chanuka


We’ve heard from several people that they won’t be able to make our Chanuka party. Before we get headlong into the planning we’d like to know what your plans are.

Jan Swimmer and I would appreciate your immediate response: do you plan to attend our annual Chanuka party at the Jacobs’ in the city, Saturday night Dec. 12?  Please respond with either your yes or no right now: jandesign22@comcast.net.  If you’d like to plan the party with Jan please let her know that too.  Thanks.



Making Use of Our Blog Roll


There are interesting resources available to you when you visit our blog roll in the right-hand column of this page.  I encourage you to try them out.  They range from sites of general interest to those of some of our teachers over the years.

I’ve added Roger Price’s blog “Judaism and Science” in anticipation of his upcoming presentation on Friday night Dec. 4.



Torah Learning Dates; Social Justice Organizing Conversation


Thanks to Melinda for hosting such a lovely morning in her home on Shabbat. Our davvening ranged from our usual joyful singing to the sorrow attendant upon recent events in Paris and the deaths that have hit our community.  We used our study of Rebecca and Jacob’s deceit to explore questions of sibling rivalry and family dynamics.

Our Torah learning continues this Tuesday night at Jane Rosenblum’s (jane.rosenblum@yahoo.com), 7:15-8:30 – open to everyone.  We’ll continue December 1, 8, 15 at a location tbd.

A reminder: if you’re interested in working on our social justice initiative, we’ll have our first organizing discussion this Wednesday at my home, 7:15-8:30.  For more info or to let me know that you’ll attend please email me: ravmarc@aol.com.

Shavua tov – I hope you have a good week.

Shabbat REMINDER – This Saturday, 11/14, 10:00 AM


Our next gathering is this Saturday morning, November 14, at the home of Melinda Remaly in Wheeling.

Often we think stereotypically about the Torah, its texts and its heroes – that all was good and faithful in the days of yore.  Yet a close reading of the text often shows anything but that.  This coming Shabbat morning we’ll wrestle with the story of Jacob and Esau as they struggle with one another and with their destiny with the future of the Jewish people on the line.

Our usual Saturday schedule applies:

9:45 AM Arrive and Schmooze
10:00 – 12:30 – Tifilot Shabbat Services
12:30 – Oneg potluck luncheon.

Please use the Perfect Potluck link below to RSVP to Melinda.  If you have questions, you may call Melinda at 847-638-1928.

Location:  Melinda’s House ,  505 Mors Avenue, Wheeling, IL 60090   [view map]

RSVP Link:  http://www.perfectpotluck.com/meals.php?t=OGNR9590

See you there!