On Sunday afternoon, April 30, 1978 before an exciting gathering, the congregation held its groundbreaking ceremony. After the formal ceremony, which included remarks from many dignitaries, an emotional groundbreaking then followed including the past presidents and the Executive professional staff. From that moment, it took us twenty-nine months before we officially opened our new facility.
While we waited, we offered North Shore Sunday Forum with Abba Eban, Ann Landers and Theodore Bikel. We had Menachem Begin attend an Israel Bonds Dinner. Our Bulletin changed to a much more professional format. All the presidents wrote a column, as did our staff. The calendar in the middle of the bulletin was created and we grew and grew and grew.
We began to offer more Adult Education and we were lucky to have the late Dawn Schuman as a scholar-in-residence. Sisterhood began their Tuesday morning classes. We still did not have minyanim everyday, but we were getting there: Sunday, Monday, Tuesday, and Thursday morning and Monday through Thursday nights – we got closer to being a full-service congregation.
On March 1, 1979 Rabbi Sander J. Mussman became Interim Rabbi and Educational Director. It was a smooth transition.
The synagogue continued to grow both in members and physical size. We dug deep and poured much cement and we waited and waited and waited for the steel to arrive. The form of our present building began to take shape. The bitter cold weather hurt us and we thought we would have to stop building. But, the Sanctuary wall of red brick was built in 10-degree weather under a heated plastic tent. Nothing was going to stop this building from getting completed. And on June 8, 1980, we held the Bar Mitzvah Celebration of Congregation Beth Shalom and the opening of the new building. During our Bar Mitzvah year we truly matured, as our Minyan became truly a daily Minyan every day of every week. It was an interesting evening as the building was not quite finished and as we celebrated with a Bar Mitzvah candle lighting ceremony birds were flying overhead in the building. Nobody cared because it was in our own building; our own home.
In the June Bulletin of 1980, the president wrote in his thank yous:
“To Rabbi Sander Mussman, you were there when we needed you. Your service to the congregation was unending. Your commitment to our membership at their time of need never stopped. We will be forever grateful for your dedication and devotion.”
During the months leading up to the Bar Mitzvah celebration, a rabbi’s search committee looked diligently to find a new rabbi for the congregation. They met with committees and they met with members-at-large to seek out what people wanted in their spiritual leader. They worked hard and interviewed many rabbis. But the night they interviewed Rabbi Carl Wolkin of Temple Israel of Great Neck, they knew that they had found their man. This was the rabbi that they believed could lead CBS into their future. (And they were right!) And in his first bulletin column he said:
“We begin at a propitious time…a New Year…a New Sanctuary…a New Rabbi. May we build a community of harmony and cooperation wherein are contained all the blessings of our Torah and our Tradition!”
And all was good at Congregation Beth Shalom of Northbrook.
New programs and new ideas came to CBS. There was an unusual lecture on the Japanese and Jews during World War II by Rabbi Marvin Tokayer, where we had to move to a larger room because of the large turnout.
A new year, a new rabbi, a new sanctuary, over 80 aleph students and over 80 new families. On February 1, 1981, we officially dedicated the new building and formally installed Rabbi Carl Wolkin. As the president wrote:
“Let this installation and dedication be an inspiration to us all. May it be the spark to rekindle that commitment to Beth Shalom. May it inspire us and motivate us to become part of, and share in its future.”
And Fred begat Jerry, who begat Barbara, who begat Jack.
A new program was introduced called, “Let Us Read,” where we taught people how to read Hebrew and participate in the Friday night service in twelve easy lessons. Rabbi Wolkin and Rabbi Mussman trained the teachers. The thirteen teachers taught the students and 125 congregants, who were never able to read, participated in a beautiful Friday evening Shabbat experience. It was very gratifying to be part of that service. Chavurah was another new program introduced that year. Chavurah sought to translate into our lives the culture, ethics and joy of Judaism. Small groups of families would come together to socialize, learn and enjoy Jewish living. Rabbi Wolkin took over 50 members for the first CBS Family Pilgrimage to Israel – a program that has joyously been repeated for many years.
New programs came to CBS as Ways and Means introduced the “First Annual Fantasy Auction,” where such items were sold as: “A one week use of a condo anywhere in the world for six,” “A private dinner party for five couples at the Wolkin home” and an antique slot machine or pinball machine. The school introduced their Israel Fair where there was food, games, movies, Shuk items, buttons with pictures and movies and all profits of the day were donated to JUF. Shabbat Under the Stars was a complete success as four Friday Shabbat Services were held outside during July and August with over 100 people attending. That program, which has had a few format changes, continues to this day. It has lasted over 25 years and we all look forward to these services each year. As a part of the youth program, Rabbi Wolkin started to go to the University of Illinois to visit our college students.
As the 15th year of the synagogue came to a close, there are a couple of things I noticed that continually appear in the bulletins and it’s the same even today.
We need your help to provide Minyan – Please pick a day and join us – Go to the library and take out a new book; we have much to offer – Come to Shabbat services; don’t let the Bar Mitzvah or baby naming keep you from coming to synagogue – We are a full service congregation; join us.
“Every Jew is affirmatively commanded to write a Sefer Torah.”
The 613th commandment indicates to us that we are each responsible for the writing of a Torah in our lifetime and if we are unable to write one ourselves, we must support the writing of one. This is the task that our first female president presented to our congregation at the end of 1983. The chair people write that:
“The project represents the heart and soul of Judaism and it offers all the members the personal opportunity to participate in this very special Mitzvah.”
We watched as the scribe began the work on our Torah. “More Torah, More Life.” The program of raising funds and writing this Torah continued throughout the year.
On Sunday, October 21, 1984, the Torah was formally dedicated as a climax to the Simchat Torah weekend. Not only did we have a new Torah, but also the new Torah had a new home. With the money that we raised to write the new Torah, CBS was able to build a new Bimah and a new Ark, which housed the Beth Shalom Torah. What a great way to kick off our Chai year – 18 years old!
Beth Shalom also announced its Family Kallah with the theme “The Jewish Family from Generation to Generation.” It was held at Camp Chi.
Sisterhood’s second cookbook “Essabissel” has its premier that year. It had over 500 delicious kosher recipes that included a section explaining Kashrut, the Shabbat holidays, menus and a complete section devoted to Passover.