1992 - 2007
And George begat Barbara who begat Joel who begat Marc.
The synagogue continued to grow and change, but at the same time, stayed the same. We knew we could expect the Garage Sale and Services Under the Stars each summer and the Blood Drive to be held the Sunday between Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur. As the High Holidays ended, we knew Sisterhood and the congregation adult education would begin and Men’s Club would continue the Road Rally. Unique shopping experiences could be had at the Holiday Boutique and CBS would have the Family Kallah. The school would have its Gimel, Daled and Hay Kallah. As these good programs continued, we added more. The Sisterhood sponsored an interfaith luncheon and started working with a women’s shelter. The Cantorial Concert brought jazz pianist Jon Simon and Rabbi Harold Kushner came to CBS for the first of many visits to our congregation courtesy of the Adult Education program. Rabbi David Wolpe followed closely with his first visit. Less than 10 years later, our Distinguished Speakers Program was born, bringing these high-caliber speakers four times year to CBS in programs open, free of charge, to the public.
In 1994 we searched for our first assistant rabbi as we surpassed 1,000 members. Two rabbis would benefit CBS. They would teach, reach out to members, oversee many programs, and enable us to offer new programs. Our search would continue for almost a year.
In February 1995, CBS reinstated Solomon Schechter Shabbat to honor the students, alumni and teachers who attended Solomon Schechter Day School and the Keshet program. We started “Services with a Bagel,” featuring a Shabbat service with a break for breakfast and study before the Torah Reading, The Ark Seder became an annual event in which we hosted families from the Ark who might otherwise not have an opportunity to attend a Seder. During this year our Daled and Hay students, along with Rabbi Mussman and the teachers, participated in the dedication of a Holocaust Memorial at Shalom Memorial Park in commemoration of Yom Hashoah. CBS also established its first Social Action Committee with the statement; “The greatest gift we can give our children is to teach them by example - to share with them the mitzvah of doing for others.”
High Holidays 1995 brought CBS its first assistant rabbi, Adam Wohlberg. Adam came to us straight from the Jewish Theological Seminary. He looked forward to working with and teaching the CBS members. Leann Blue also joined us that year as our youth director. We also unveiled the Glenbrook Adult Study Institute, a first-time effort of four Northbrook synagogues, that would present an adult education program for the entire community. At the United Synagogue Convention our president received two Silver Solomon Schechter Awards – one for the bulletin and the other for our very creative Prayer Book Buddy program.
Sisterhood published Essabissel More, a long-awaited sequel to their first cookbook. In 1996, CBS started construction of an administrative wing to house the clergy, executive director, support staff, a brides’ room, a mailroom and a conference room. After the first week in the new offices, I wondered how we lived without them for so many years. We asked our members to join friends and neighbors to make a difference in the community during our Mitzvah-Thon ‘96. Rabbi Kushner returned for a lecture on “How Good do We have to be?” When the president left office that year, she used words like grateful, thankful, appreciate, optimistic, best wishes and Todah Rabah. And all was well at CBS of Northbrook.
As the years passed, new families joined us and a few left each year. We were close to 1,100 families and the synagogue programs and spirituality grew. CBS enhanced and tweaked programs as well as revamped them. We tried new things, and in some cases, new ways to do old things.
CBS established themes or campaigns for each year. In 1997-98, Rabbi Wolkin, Rabbi Wohlberg and Cantor Stoehr led the congregation with a very well received “Celebrate Shabbat Campaign.” They introduced unique programs as they endeavored to promote the observance of Shabbat in our homes and the synagogue.
The next year the clergy and the congregation focused on the year of Tikun Olam (repairing the world). That year they emphasized Mitzvot (obligation) and gemilut chasadum (acts of loving kindness).
As I read the past bulletins for this article, from month to month and year-to-year, it saddens me as I see the names of beloved members that have passed away. Beth Shalom has touched the lives of so many members and so many members have touched the “Life of Beth Shalom”. We will miss them, but we will remember them forever.
“It was finally finished.” The Youth Lounge, complete with kitchen and bathrooms that I promised the youth program in 1972, became a reality in December 1998 as a result of the generosity of our Sisterhood. It greatly enhanced the Youth program. That year, we also raised funds as part of our “Tikun Olam” project, to purchase a car for our sister city of Tiraspol, Moldova. This enabled Chesed, the main Jewish organization in Tiraspol, to do the mammoth task of caring for 1,000 plus needy elderly and children.
Sisterhood held its first Women’s Seder for members and their daughters and invited the members of B’nai Tikvah in Deerfield. They celebrated together with stories, music, customs and dessert as they learned about the important roles women play in the Passover story. We continue to support Tiraspol by sending boxes of clothing and medicines that were greatly appreciated. Men’s Club continued to send out the Yom Hashoah candles and host the Yom Hashoah Program each year.
We entered into the year 2000 with the same trepidation as everyone else as they wondered “Will the electric and water still work? Will computers continue to work? Will planes fly? What will happen at the stroke of midnight on December 31, 1999? What will January 1, 2000 have in store for us? “ The one thing I was absolutely sure of was that Beth Shalom would still function and continue all the work that we had been doing. Our theme that year was a ritual one - “Dedication to spirituality and prayer.” CBS expanded our Adult Education programs and partnered with the Florence Mellon Adult Mini-school. The “listserve”was born enabling us to communicate instantly with our members. We would work hard at our new Eastern European Torah project with its “dancing Torah” logo: “More Torah – More Life”. We also introduced our new High Holiday Machzor. We no longer needed to bring our own Machzor. Oy! A machiah!
This year we raised funds to send 50 children to camp in Tiraspol. Cantor Stoehr released his first CD, entitled “A Mosaic of the Spirit,” featuring Cantor Steve and the CBS Choir and Ensemble. Cantor Steve and guest Cantor David Propis performed at our first Helene Hoffman Memorial Concert.
Our school children visited the Dead Sea Scrolls Exhibit, purchased trees to be planted in the two CBS Religious School Groves in Israel, and the “Kids on the Block” program visited our Aleph students. Barbara Barnett became our full time Ritual Director. We also burned the mortgage on our building.
In November 2000 we celebrated the dedication of our new Torah and rededicated our CBS Torah (1984) during our Eastern European Torah Project Celebration Weekend. We listened to Safam. CBS raised $1.2 million for this project and the president wrote, “…Once we reached a commitment of 1 million we have a donor who will match our fund dollar for dollar.” We did…the donor did…and we now have an endowment fund of 2.5 million dollars that funds our outstanding Distinguished Speakers Program that has brought such people as Rabbi Harold Kushner, Dr. Ruth, Rabbi David Wolpe, Rabbi Bradley Artson, Dr. Deborah Lipstadt, Yossi Klein Halevi, Rabbi Twerski, Dennis Praeger, Yitz Greenberg, Anita Diamant, Rabbi Shmuley Boteach, Hadassah Lieberman, John Loftus and Joseph Telushkin. “This fund will be used forever more to ensure the education of our membership. It will be used for educational programming and events, which we would have been unable to offer.”
In 2001, we started “Welcome Home” and Wednesday Night Alive, an innovative worship show offering “a message of Jewish values that speaks to you and your needs in everyday life”. We wanted you - the members and Beth Shalom - to reconnect. Men’s Club introduced everyone to the World Wide Wrap – an event to teach everyone how to “lay Tefillin.” Men’s Club also established a youth scholarship fund to subsidize conventions and interchapters for our USY members.
And Marc begat David (the only President to have been a member since day 1), who begat Michael B., who begat Michael Z.
We expanded our Board to include a vice president of programming and a vice president of social action. Earlier, we bought a car for Tiraspol. This year we had grander plans and purchased an ambulance for Magen David Adom through our “Race to the Rescue” project. Our last renovation was conceived as a learning center but it grew to be much more. We created a Chesed Committee, “the intention to create the essence of Jewish community life, to reestablish the warmth in our midst and to show our empathy and compassion for each other.”
At the end of June 2002, Rabbi Sander Mussman became our educational director emeritus after 30 years of leading our school. As the president wrote: “Rabbi Sander and Isabel Mussman have dedicated these past 31 years to the education of CBS students with kind words, gentle smiles and a soft touch.” Rabbi Wohlberg left us to become the senior rabbi in Deshler, Pa., just outside of Philadelphia.
As the New Year began, we welcomed Rabbi Aaron Melman as our assistant rabbi and Judy Grossbard as our educational director. Lawrence LeVine became our youth director and Leann Blue became our director of Jewish life and learning. New staff, new ideas, new programs. CBS selected a renovation committee to lead the physical growth of Beth Shalom. The plan called for a learning center, a new school wing, and a new Beit Midrash. We planned to gut the original building (1972) and completely renovate Rosner and Dickler Halls. This became a huge project. As the summer months began, we started the project and in the end only the sanctuary and the administrative offices were untouched during this renovation. By the time the High Holidays approached, we had completed the learning center (waiting for all the shelves), the social halls, and the old wings of the school. The new gift shop was just about finished. But we were still waiting for the new school wing to be finished. We started school only one week late and it was truly amazing what we accomplished from the middle of June to the middle of September. The New Year began on a high note.
We introduced a new Jewish film experience as we explored the portrayals of Judaism through the lens of the film industry. We started Got Shabbat?, PJ Shabbat, mini-Minyans and YFO Shabbat dinners. It was our hope to bring more young people to CBS for the Shabbat experience. We introduced “Helping Hands for Hanukah” and the congregation donated gifts for more than 150 children served by the Jewish Children’s Bureau. This project now annually provides gifts for more than 150 children.
On February 29, 2004, CBS celebrated Chanukat Beth Shalom: Day of Rededication and Celebration. As the president wrote, “It began as a dream…so come let us celebrate and see your new home.” Our new home was finished…and it was beautiful. At the same time we still thought of others and we raised enough monies to fund an ambulance station in Petach Tikvah, near Tel Aviv.
The school held the Kindergarten consecration. Gimel students explored Israel using a huge, inflatable floor map “The Attractive Land Map” and the Hay students learned about the lives of Israeli teenagers. The younger children performed with Sam Glaser during a concert that capped off our rededication celebration.
In February 2005, CBS spent a weekend honoring Rabbi Carl and Judy Wolkin for 25 years of leadership. The widely attended events included a Shabbat dinner, a Shabbat service and luncheon, as well as a Sunday morning brunch that attracted more than 700 people. It was a wonderful, exciting weekend.
The Cantorial/Helene Hoffman Memorial Concerts are always exciting but for me, personally April 2005 was special as we listened to the world renown, Dudu Fischer. The concert sold out.
The new president wanted to focus on adult education, Israel, religious services, social action and youth. CBS presented “Connect 4 Shabbat” and a new initiative, “Send a Kid to Israel,” through the “Israel Now” program, was born. Through the Kol Nidre pledges, the congregation reached out and helped survivors of Katrina.
In April 2006, we had the honor of hosting Linda Hooper, principal of the Whitwell Middle School and the woman who inspired “The Paper Clips Project.” Almost 1,500 people came to hear this marvelous educator speak about her students and this project and we raised $5,000 in Tzedakah for her school.
In June 2006, as part of the Karing Project, Rabbi Melman led a group of 15 of our CBS members and others in the community to help rebuild homes in Waveland, Mississippi. Volunteers who went still speak about this event as something that they were so pleased to have done.
On November 5, 2006, Eli Wiesel, the Nobel Peace Prize Laureate, addressed a crowd of 2,100 people at CBS. That CBS brought Eli Wiesel to our community was a personal milestone for me and a great accomplishment for our congregation. Our artist in residence program featured Mordechai Rosenstein. Rabbi Melman geared up for a great camping trip over the summer. We launched a new website and our Chavurah program is back up and running.
We have had Megillah Mania, Lamazel, Shabbaton, Family Fun Night, brunches, dinners, Kavod Awards and Men’s Club Man of the Year awards, Sisterhood Valued Volunteer of the Year awards, Book Reviews, Poker Tournaments to benefit terrorist victims in Israel, School Kallot, Men’s Club and Sisterhood Shabbat, Pizza in the Hut and on and on and on. Beth Shalom continues to offer as much as we can to as many people as we can. Our goal has always been to try and do it all and reach as many different groups of members as possible. And we are creating new programs every year. We will continue to strive to be the best congregation for our members.
And Michael Zaransky begat Brian Miller…and all is good at Congregation Beth Shalom of Northbrook. May our next 40 years be as good as the first 40 and May we go from Strength to Strength! Mazal Tov to all of us! (And thanks to Jan and Sam from the bottom of our hearts!)