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STEP 2 - JRF Salutes Legacy Book - Congregational Information Form
STEP 2 - JRF Salutes Legacy Book - Congregational Information Form
Submitted by Anonymous
Wednesday, January 25, 2012 - 4:57pm
Congregation's Official Name:
What is the name of the city in which this congregation is located?
In which state or province is your congregation located?
What is your name?
Year of Founding:
In what year was your congregation founded?
President Freddi Greenberg Past President Joshua Karsh Vice Presidents Administration Vickie Korey Development David Tabak Operations Lisa Pildes Education Steve Fox Tikkun Olam Marty Rosenheck Ritual Practices Ann Perkins Information Brad Moldofsky Membership Karen Libman Treasurer Henry Nutkevitch Secretary Susan Witz Members-at-Large Lisa Barbe Linda Kaskel Stan Cohn Jason Osborne David Forte Sandy Spatz Marge Frank Ruth Wenger Rick Friedman Carla Willis Elliot Frolichstein-Appel Youth Member Aaron Litoff
Please name your congregation's current officers and their positions.
About Your Community:
The Jewish Reconstructionist Congregation of Evanston is a 500-household congregation known for its joyful spirituality, intellectual curiosity, inclusivity, and deep commitment to social justice. We have built a highly acclaimed green building, and our rabbi has been heralded by Newsweek magazine as one of the top 25 pulpit rabbis in the United States. But most of all, JRC is about people - our members. Our congregation is as diverse as the American Jewish community, including observant and nonobservant Jews, interfaith families, blended families, people of color, gays and lesbians, believers and nonbelievers. Here is our history: With its roots in an Anshe Emet study group led by Rabbi Ira Eisenstein (1955-59), and in the Jewish Reconstructionist Havurah (probably the area’s first Havurah), the Jewish Reconstructionist Congregation (JRC) fully blossomed when it incorporated as a congregation in 1964. Although Wilmette was the first of its many homes, from the outset early JRC members envisioned and advertised themselves as an ideological rather than a geographical congregation. Inaugural High Holy Day services were held, highlighted by study sessions rather than sermons. By the end of 1965, JRC had already elected its first female president, celebrated its first bar mitzvah and begun a school. By the spring of 1970, membership approximated 60 families, and the Congregation had moved into larger, more flexible headquarters at Chute Middle School in Evanston. A social action committee was formed and its first bat mitzvah was called to the Torah. Ties to Reconstructionism at the national level were also strong. JRC hosted the national Reconstructionist convention. We became the first congregation to adopt the Rabbinic Intern program from the then two year old Reconstructionist Rabbinical College (RRC). The second student to visit us was an energetic young man named Arnold Rachlis who subsequently conducted High Holidays in 1972 and the first JRC Kallah (retreat). While stability and growth marked the next few years, JRC members continued to innovate using musical instruments and multi-media presentations in Shabbat services. High Holidays were celebrated with a complement of drama and modern dance. By the fall of 1972, JRC had expanded to 76 families. JRC extended its links to the Jewish community. JRC was admitted to the Synagogue Council of the Northwest Suburbs and the Congregation’s school became affiliated with the Board of Jewish Education of Greater Chicago. Because membership was still increasing 10 years after its inception, this period was marked by much attention, study and discussion devoted to an assessment of the congregation’s needs and its future. The President’s 1973 report to the congregation raised questions concerning, among other things, membership (then at a record 85 families), the need for a permanent rabbi, and the need to limit school size. Several meetings in the spring of 1973 resulted in the decision to stabilize growth and not to hire a rabbi. Throughout this period, services were held in members’ homes during the summer, and often during the school year as well. JRC had only one official home, Chute Middle School in Evanston. While this provided some stability, the “shlep a shul” existence also meant that the “sanctuary” (Chute cafeteria) and all JRC school classrooms had to be set up and put back into homes and cupboards after each weekend of activity. Still, the JRC arts committee, in the next years, managed to complete two large projects: the JRC tablecloth and needlepoint panels for the ark then in use. Debates about the future size and nature of JRC had not ended with the decisions made in the spring of 1973. Many months of thoughtful meetings, begun in the summer of 1975, culminated in a decision in December, 1975, to offer the position of part-time rabbi to Arnold Rachlis, who was soon to be ordained. This represented an exciting turning point for the congregation, a reaching outside itself for new leadership after years of teaching and learning primarily from each other. To insure the participatory nature of the congregation, the initial agreement with the rabbi uniquely required that members would continue to lead half of all Shabbat services. A similar commitment to active leadership and participation by our members still exists today, although our Rabbi and Cantor now lead most services throughout the year. JRC members continue to participate actively in many parts of the service and we still have several “member-led” services throughout the year. Rabbi Rachlis was installed as JRC’s Rabbi by Rabbi Ira Eisenstein, his teacher and JRC’s original inspirational force. Within weeks of the installation, we moved from Chute to the First Baptist Church, an ecumenical first in Evanston. Although serious consideration was given to adopting a Hebrew name for JRC, consensus could not be reached. Growth and reorganization were continuing themes for the next years. The rabbi’s position had become a full-time one and the school committee asked that enrollment be limited. By 1978, JRC membership approached 160 families – double the size just 5 years earlier. In the fall of 1978, the school, having reopened its enrollment, expanded to 120 students and added weekday classes to the formerly weekend-only program. Adult education mini-courses were established to accommodate parents on Sundays. We kept growing, and in August, 1980, rolled up our sleeves (again), packed, and moved to new quarters at Covenant United Methodist Church. The first congregational trip to Israel occurred that summer. By spring, 1982, we expanded to over 200 families with more than 175 children. During the next 3 years the subject of a permanent home, our own shul, came up in discussions again and again. After serious debate and soul-searching, the momentous decision was made and, in 1985, we moved into our synagogue building at 303 Dodge Avenue in Evanston. There were to be no more temporary homes for JRC in which we were guests, and no limited space for our school. We had arrived home. Because of the concerted efforts of our members and the extraordinary dedication of individuals skilled in matters of architecture, law, fundraising and the art of negotiation, JRC is now able to welcome new members into our own synagogue building without limits set by someone other than ourselves. In 1988, a pre-school director was hired to coordinate early childhood classes as well as a pre-school summer camp. We also hired a part-time cantor. Rabbi Arnold Rachlis relocated to California in July, 1992. In August of 1993 we welcomed Rabbi Richard Hirsh as the new Rabbi of JRC. In the past two years, we have instituted new programs and practices to help meet the growing needs of JRC. Our “Friends and Neighbors” (FAN) program is bringing small groups of JRC members together in their neighborhoods. Our Friday evening rotation of informal Farbrengens, family Torah services, guest speakers, and discussion, meets the needs of the diverse group within JRC. Today we are a 500 plus family congregation, and it bears repeatin; most of all, JRC is about people - our members. Our congregation is as diverse as the American Jewish community, including observant and nonobservant Jews, interfaith families, blended families, people of color, gays and lesbians, believers and nonbelievers.
Please provide a paragraph or so about your community. Who's a part of it? What sets your congregation apart?
Now, please give us some information about your photos
In the boxes below, please type the name of each Photo, using the naming instructions from the e-mail. File naming instructions: Congregation Name.State.Category.(#).jpg For instance, if Congregation Beit Tikvah in Maryland has a picture that represents Tikkun Olam, it should look like this: CongregationBeitTikvah.MD.TikkunOlam.jpg If Congregation Beit Tikvah in Maryland has 2 pictures that represent Tikkun Olam, they should add a number after the Category to let us know which picture of Tikkun Olam we are seeing. It should look like this: CongregationBeitTikvah.MD.TikkunOlam.1.jpg. Please also give us the caption that should go along with each photo.
Photo 1 Name:
Photo 1 Caption:
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Photo 2 Name:
Photo 2 Caption:
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Photo 3 Name:
Photo 3 Caption:
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Photo 4 Name:
Photo 4 Caption:
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Photo 5 Name:
Photo 5 Caption:
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Photo 6 Name:
Photo 6 Caption:
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Photo 7 Name:
Photo 7 Caption:
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Photo 8 Name:
Photo 8 Caption:
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Photo 9 Name:
Photo 9 Caption:
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Photo 10 Name:
Photo 10 Caption:
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