A Message from Rabbi Tom

MCJC Connections
May/June 2018 ~ Iyar/Sivan/Tamuz ~ Volume 5778

Rabbi Tom Samuels

Leadership guru Jim Collins describes a great leader as “an individual who blends extreme personal humility with an intense professional will.” Collins points out that such a combination is a rarity and needs to be recognized and appreciated. “Leaders,” Collins writes, “who possess this paradoxical combination of traits are catalysts for the statistically rare event of transforming a good company into a great one.”

MCJC and I have been blessed to have such leaders at our helm: outgoing president, Jack Fishman, and outgoing vice-president, Rob Perbohner. From my personal experience over the past two years that I have served as MCJC’s spiritual leader, Jack and Rob have weathered the storms that inevitably come with transitions and changes. They have done so with grace, respect, and as true mensches, readily willing to learn, to let go, and most important, to trust. They both truly exemplify the best of a reflective leadership and governance style marked by a careful examination of alternatives, a commitment to overarching purpose, attention to relationships, and a mastery of both big picture and detail. I will miss them both dearly.

Our Torah gives us a model for a healthy transition of leadership in the narrative of Moses presenting his successor, Joshua, to the Israelites: “And Moses went and spoke these words unto all Israel. And he said to them ‘I am a hundred and twenty years-old this day. I can no more go out and come in. And the Lord said to me, ‘You shall not go over the Jordan. The Lord, your God, He will go over before you and Joshua,’ he will go over before you.” (Deuteronomy 31:1-3)

But the narrative leaves the reader in a state of not knowing: How would Moses feel in the end? Might he act on feelings of jealousy? And, how would the Israelites react? Would they embrace Joshua? After all, they had spent the past forty tumultuous years with Moses, through the ups and downs that are at the foundation of any deeply-rooted, intimate relationship formation process. Would they be able to let go of Moses and accept his young assistant, Joshua? And finally, would Joshua, so used to being second-in-command to Moses, be able to assume the mantle of prime leadership? Would he be overwhelmed by this new responsibility, the very fate of his people burdened on his shoulders alone? (Rabbi
Schulweis)

Let us return to the first three words cited in the Torah passage above, “And Moses went.” Where, in fact, did Moses go? The great medieval Spanish commentator Ibn Ezra (1089-1167) writes that Moses went from tribe to tribe, tent to tent, comforting his people and encouraging them to embrace the closure of his leadership, while at the same time the continuation of the leadership of God, and the new leadership of Joshua. No one leader, not even Moshe Rabbeinu, Moses our Teacher, the only human to have seen the face of God, is indispensable, irreplaceable. The organization, is far larger than any one person.

All transitions, our Torah is teaching us, leave us with questions, doubts, and fear of the unknown. However, while those times of transitions might feel daunting, it is precisely these in-between phases, before the old is entirely gone and the new entirely settled, which allow for innovation, radically honest self-reflection, and consequently individual, relational, and collective actualization.

As Jack and Rob’s board terms come to an end this May, and as they tirelessly continue to dedicate their time and energy to ensuring a smooth transition to a new MCJC board, they exemplify and inspire the Talmudic dictum: “This is what the Holy One said to Israel: My
children, what do I seek from you? I seek no more than that you have the love for one another, honor one another, and that you have awe and reverence for one another.” (Tanna de Bei Eliyahu Rabbah)

I will miss having Jack and Rob as our board leaders. At the same time, I look forward to working with our new board and new energy. In the end, the Children of Israel entered the Promised Land and thrived. And so shall MCJC.

B’Shalom,
Rabbi Tom

President’s Report: “Goodbye, Farewell and Amen” “All Good Things…”

MCJC Connections
May/June 2018 ~ Iyar/Sivan/Tamuz ~ Vol. 5778

Jack Fishman

By Jack Fishman

For those television fans reading this column, you may recognize the two titles of this article as the names of the final episodes of “M*A*S*H” and “Star Trek: The Next Generation,” two of my all-time favorite shows. I thought they were two very aptly named final series episodes.

I thought it was appropriate to use those episodes’ names as the titles of this column – my last newsletter column, after nine years of Board involvement, from Board member-at-large to Executive Vice President, and four years as your President.

In so many of my columns over the years I have reflected on the transitions that I’ve gone through personally and professionally, and those that MCJC has gone through in that same time. Indulge me as I take this approach one last time. These last four years have been nothing short of “revolutionary” for me personally, and so, I dare say, for MCJC.

I have experienced my only child, Rebecca, compete for the last time in the sport she dominated for so long (karate), get her driver’s license and her first car, graduate from high school, get accepted into the college of her choice, transition to college life, make Dean’s List,
and, at age eighteen, already be in a two and half year committed relationship. My twenty five year marriage ended, and while Liz and I remain close friends, my relationship with my partner, Ella, is now almost two years old and still developing. I struggle with some health issues, some ascertainable and others not. Those situations continue to progress.

Over that same time frame, MCJC has transitioned to a non affiliated congregation and has recently entered into what we hope will be a long-term commitment with Rabbi Tom. Sadly, some long-term members departed and are missed. Other young families with young children have joined us. We have new members – and many new faces – on the Board and Executive Board, and we have new committees and new committee members, along with a new approach to our overall religious practice. We have a new look to our school, new office staff, and so much more. Each of our personal revolutions continue, as does the evolution of MCJC.

Where are we as a congregation today? Each of you has to assess that based on your own criteria. I’ve said from the beginning of my Executive Board service that my goal was to leave MCJC in a “better
position” than when I began, and I reiterated that aspiration throughout my two terms as President. We are certainly a very different organization than we were eight years ago, four years ago, and two years ago. Better? I certainly think so. But I am very biased on this point, and “better” is a subjective term.

We’ve weathered some significant storms: the loss of members, and the wind-down of the long-term involvement of others that had become almost second nature to us; ritual and philosophic differences of opinion and practice. And yet here we are.

As I look toward my future as a congregant, I know that my connection with MCJC will change. I will be here less, I will be less involved in what’s going on, I will have less reason to worry about all the minutiae that for the last four years have been part of my daily
routine. But I will love this place no less, and I will feel no less of an affinity for this institution. This building and our sanctuary is where I first spent any real time with Ella. This building and this sanctuary is
where my daughter became a bat mitzvah, with an overflowing crowd of family and friends. It’s where I experienced one of my favorite, never to be forgotten life’s experiences, when Rebecca broke down on the bima as she was thanking Liz and me for helping her get to that moment, leaving not a dry eye in the sanctuary. Thanks to Gene Lindow, we have that moment captured forever on DVD. And that moment happened, at least in part, because of so many of you and our community here at MCJC.

No one knows what the future holds. We don’t know where we will end up in life, where we will be living, what synagogue we may be attending, where our children may live and whether we will move to be close to them. We don’t know what our health will be and what we will be able to accomplish as the years pass.

We can’t necessarily quantify what motivates us to take on the commitments many of us have over the years, some over and over again, both at MCJC and elsewhere. The Board and Executive Board have worked very hard these last few months to make sure that the transition to the incoming Board and Executive Board is as seamless and as easy as possible for all involved.

While we struggled at times with some decisions that needed to be made, I believe that Rob Perbohner, Jen Finger, and Karen Koenig, as well as the entire Board, collectively believe that we are moving in the right direction, moving forward, on the path to stability — financial, religious, and substantive. But we all readily acknowledge we have a long way to go. We have to grow membership, grow our school, find more commonalities, and continue to understand our differences. None of that will come easy, but all of it can come.

We have made quantum leaps in the nine years I’ve been on the Board, not necessarily because of me, or your Board, but because of the sense of community, caring, and belonging that each of us has for this institution. I would be lying if I said I didn’t kvetch about the presidency at times over the years. I wondered if I wanted to take on a second term, and during some of the more tumultuous times, both for me personally and at MCJC, I wondered if it was worth the effort. In hindsight, of course it was, and since it isn’t my nature to quit something I commit to doing, I feel that I succeeded on a number of levels by persevering through those difficult times. Each of you will, of course, have your own opinion of the impact on MCJC.

It has been a privilege, honor, and – most of the time – pleasure, serving as your President. In the long history of MCJC, there have only been a select few individuals who have had that distinction, and to be considered in the same breath as many of those who have come before me, makes me quite proud. I have no doubt that those who will follow me will feelthe same as they reflect on their Presidencies and Board involvement.

This is a melancholy article. I leave with regrets, but “then again too few to mention.” And so I’ll say goodbye for my last official time in this newsletter but hope that I will see you all soon, and fairly often, at the place we call our Jewish home, MCJC.

May you all be blessed with good health, prosperity, happiness, and success, family and enduring friendships. Thank you for the opportunity to have served on your behalf on the Board and as your President.

Religious School News: Holiday Happenings!

MCJC Connections
May/June 2018 ~ Iyar/Sivan/Tamuz ~ Vol. 5778

By Paula Eskoz

What a busy couple of months we had leading up to Spring Break. In addition to our regular classroom Hebrew/Judaica/holiday studies, we had some really fun special events!

Hard at work making matzah is Sophia, Deborah, Rivka, Sienna, Emily, Zoe, and Dad

This culminated in our early March Purim Fest filled with raucous activity! We began with our Megillah reading, where our costume-clad students enjoyed shaking their homemade groggers to Haman’s
name, as the adults enjoyed partaking in the Goldschlager. This was followed by the community compiling bags for the PADS homeless shelter, filled with much needed toiletries and paper goods. Thanks to all for donations! And, of course, we then held our carnival with some new games and prizes, along with a fun raffle. Thanks to the Maintenance Men, as always, for their delicious picnic that morning.

Sisters Ryleigh and Brooklyn stringing
beads for their Elijah and Miriam cups.

March also brought us wonderful Passover events. Rabbi Scheiman from Chicago joined us for Matzah Making, much to the enjoyment of the students AND the teachers. After a short discussion about the Passover holiday, kids learned how to mix the water and flour. Then while wearing their matzah hats, they rolled the dough and made it “holy”…using a fork. Rabbi baked the matzahs in his oven, and each of the kids was able to take one home…if it got that far! Thanks to Jill Purvin for coordinating this event.

Teacher Paula Eskoz helping several CKI students to string their beads.

We also joined other synagogues at CKI in Elgin for a special Passover program. We were thrilled to have several teachers, Rabbi Tom, and about ten students from MCJC in attendance. The morning consisted of singing followed by several fun stations including a Passover floor game, matzah tasting contest, and seder plate learning.

Rabbi Tom and Rabbi Friedman teaching about Elijah and Miriam’s cups to all the kids.

Rabbi Tom and Rabbi Friedman from Aurora taught the students about Elijah and Miriam’s cups, which was followed by an art activity where the kids were able to decorate their own beautiful glasses to bring home. They also made creative tambourines to use while we danced and sang. A special thank you to Davina Kelly for helping to coordinate this program, and for coordinating the PJY program this year.

Hard at work making matzah is Sophia, Deborah, Rivka, Sienna, Emily, Zoe, and Dad

Happy to report that our grade 2/3 class finished making their Torahs and yads…this was a very exciting project that began last year. We held a Torah parade around the school so they could show off their hard work and creativity. These will head home soon with the children.

We are looking forward to an exciting end of the school year, filled with some Israel activities for the upcoming holidays. Please attend Closing Day on Sunday, May 6.

Students, including MCJC’s Rivka, enjoying a fun Passover floor game led by Davina.
Teacher Davina Kelly with MCJC students Sophia and Deborah.

B’nai Mitzvah Class with Rabbi Tom

At MCJC, we teach our children to question, to debate, to fall in love with Torah, while finding their own voices in the chorus of our tradition.

Our students don’t have a Bar or Bat Mitzvah – they become a Bar
or Bat Mitzvah. They become responsible adults in the Jewish community and in the world.

Starting in fourth grade and continuing on up to and even past our children’s Bnai Mitzvah ceremonies, Rabbi Tom trains our children to become fluent in the Shabbat morning prayer service which includes proficiency in reading Hebrew, knowing a variety of Jewish liturgical music, and finding personal meaning in the prayers themselves.

Habitat: My First Home Dedication

By Howard Frank

On Feb. 24 I went to my first Home Dedication for Habitat for Humanity. The new owners of the home in McHenry are a single father, Matt, and his five year old son. It was a wonderful occasion,
seeing the son running around and proudly showing off the house
off to anyone that he could.

On another note, I spoke to one of the managers of the new Restore Center for Habitat (2205 S. Eastwood) regarding volunteer opportunities. He indicated that they are always looking for helping
hands to do a myriad of jobs at the center.

Jobs range from cashier, shelf stocker, product tester, material sorter, and any other task that might be required at any retail operation.

Anyone interested should contact Mark or Dan (managers) at 815-334-0500.  Any questions, please email me at habitat@mcjconline.org.

MCJC ADOPT-A-HIGHWAY LITTER PICK-UP COMMUNITY SERVICE PROJECT

MCJC is a participant in the McHenry County Adopt-A-Highway litter pick-up community service program. MCJC’s adopted highway is Ridgefield Road, between U.S Route 14 and Country Club Road.

Over 11 five-gallon cans of litter were picked up on Friday, March 23. This was more than normal because it was the first litter pick-up after the winter season. Normally, three to five-five gallon cans of litter are picked up on “litter clean-up day.”

The first and third Fridays of the month are “litter pick-up” days. It generally requires thirty to forty-five minutes of work time. Bruce Weiss is responsible for picking up the litter on behalf of MCJC’s participation in this community service project.

If you would like to help Bruce and participate in this community service project, please contact him at 815-338-2721 or socialaction@mcjconline.org.

MCJC’s Major Fundraiser: An Evening of Casino Entertainment

Saturday, April 28, 2018, at the McHenry VFW 

Our “Little Shul on the Prairie” is in the process of requesting donations and/or sponsorships from our community members to help make our event successful.

The success of this event will enable us to continue to provide an outstanding religious education for both children and adults as well as community outreach and spiritual growth in McHenry County. We are asking for Silent Auction items, raffle prizes and event sponsorships.

EVENT SPONSORSHIPS CATEGORIES:

$50 Wildcard

Name on MCJC website, Facebook, Twitter, as well as in printed program book

$200 Queen

Name on MCJC website, Facebook, Twitter, as well as in printed program book and table signage at event, and “Raise your Glass” announcements

$350 King

Name on MCJC website, Facebook, Twitter, as well as in printed program book, table signage at event, “Raise your Glass” announcements, your promotional materials in our “Thank You” bags (*if provided) and a ticket to the event

$500 Ace

Name on MCJC website, Facebook, Twitter, as well as in printed program book, table signage at event, “Raise your Glass” announcements, your promotional materials in our “Thank You” bags (*if provided), and Two tickets to the event

$1000 or more The Royal Flush

Name on MCJC website, Facebook, Twitter, as well as in printed program book, table signage at event, “Raise your Glass” announcements, your promotional materials in our “Thank You” bags (if provided), four tickets to the event — AND a genuine LAS VEGAS printed casino table felt with your business or family name printed on it, for your choice of table game. Deliverable after the event for you to keep.

Donated items and sponsorships to MCJC are considered a charitable contribution and are tax deductible. Please contact us for our Federal ID number.

For more information, or to arrange donation pickups, please contact us via email at mcjcevents@gmail.com.

MCJC Annual Notice and Proxy

Dear Fellow Congregant:

The annual meeting of the McHenry County Jewish Congregation will be held Sunday, May 6 2018, at 10:30 am. The meeting will include:

• State of the Congregation (Officers Report)
• Board of Directors Election, 2018-19
• Rabbi’s Comments
• Open discussion of congregational matters

The annual meeting coincides with year-end school activities, which will begin at 9:15 am. All members are encouraged to attend the annual meeting starting at 10:30 am, as your input is vital to our success. We hope you also plan to attend our annual school closing picnic, which will start at about 11:15 am.

Each family membership is entitled to two votes (member must be 18 or older). Single members are entitled to one vote.

A quorum (25% of eligible voters) is required to conduct congregational business, so it is important you either attend or provide a proxy. If you cannot attend, you are allowed to designate a vote by proxy. You may print out and sign the proxy below and send it along with a member who is attending the May 17 meeting, or you may cut, paste and complete the proxy and email it to MCJC to Robert.Perbohner@gmail.com or jbfishman@fishmanmillerpc.com

Your vote is necessary to advance the business of this congregation this coming year by voting for or against the slate presented to the congregation by the Nominating Committee. (Also attached is a Proxy Ballot)

MCJC’s Nominating Committee is pleased to announce the following slate of officers for consideration for the 2018-19 fiscal year.

Officers
Karen Koenig – co-President
Andy Purvin – co-President (acting Secretary)
Dara Turnball – co-President
Jennifer Finger – Treasurer

At-Large Board Members
Robb Tadelman
Leslie Cook
Steve Danzig
Mark Goldberg
Iza Celewicz

We hope you will be able to join us on the May 6. If you have any questions, you can contact Rob Perbohner (robert.perbohner@gmail.com) or me.

Sincerely yours,

Jack Fishman
MCJC President
jbfishman@fishmanmillerpc.com

Please cut and paste, complete the proxy, and email it to me at jbfishman@fishmanmillerpc.com or to Rob Perbohner at robert.perbohner@gmail.com — or employ the tried-and-true technique of printing out the proxy, signing it, and giving it to a member who is attending the meeting.


PROXY

I, _____________________________________________, will not be able to attend the Congregational Meeting of MCJC on May 6, 2018. I designate the congregant member below to vote on all matters on my behalf.

Signed,


(Signature)


(Printed Name)


DESIGNATED PROXY


(Printed name of Proxy)


(Date)

The MCJC Book Club

The MCJC Book Club continues to meet every other month. Our next meeting is Thursday, May 10, 2018 at 7:00 PM. We will discuss And After the Fire by Lauren Belfer.

This book is available in paperback format at libraries, book stores and online at Amazon.com, Alibris.com, and other book sites.

Rachel Kamin will facilitate our program. Tell a friend and bring them too! SEE YOU THEN!!!

Questions? Contact Rita at RivkaEFS@aol.com.

The Jewish Heart of McHenry County