MCJC 5779 High Holy Days Schedule

Erev Rosh HaShanah
Sunday, September 9, 7:30 p.m.

Rosh HaShanah—Day 1
Monday, September 10, 9:00 a.m.
Children’s Service (ages 4-8) 10:15 a.m. (see below)
Tashlich Service 1:45 p.m.
Main Beach, 300 Lakeshore Dr., Crystal Lake, IL
Family Service with Tashlich 4:30 p.m. (see below)
Main Beach, 300 Lakeshore Dr., Crystal Lake, IL

Rosh HaShanah—Day 2
Tuesday, September 11, 9:00 a.m.

Kol Nidre
Tuesday, September 18, 7:00 p.m.

Yom Kippur
Wednesday, September 19, 9:00 a.m.
Children’s Service (ages 4-8) 10:15 a.m. (see below)
Mincha Service 4:30 p.m.
Neila Service 6:00 p.m.
Break-the-Fast 7:15 p.m. (see below)

Sunday, September 23, 9:15 a.m.
Sukkot Services with the Religious School

Monday, September 24, 8:30 a.m.
Sukkot Morning Services with Lulav & Etrog

Wednesday, September 26, 4:30 p.m.
Pizza in the Hut—Sukkot Program with the Religious School

Saturday, September 29, 9:30 a.m.
Shabbat Morning Services & Torah Discussion with Yizkor

Simchat Torah
Sunday, September 30, 9:15 a.m.
Simchat Torah Celebrations with Religious School (see below)

Rosh HaShana & Yom Kippur Children’s Services
Monday, September 10 and
Wednesday, September 19 at 10:15 a.m.
Bring your family to our High Holy Day Children’s Services on the first day of Rosh Hashanah, as well as on Yom Kippur. These are wonderfully engaging, musical and fun services, and geared to younger children ages 4 through 8.

Family Service with Tashlich
Monday, September 10 at 4:30 p.m.
MCJC will be hosting a musical, family-friendly, High
Holy Day service. We’ll share songs, stories, a shofar blowing Shofar-palooza, and much more. This program is open to the public, so bring friends and family, Jewish or not.

Break-the-Fast 2018 at MCJC
Wednesday, September 19 at 7:15 p.m.
Join the entire MCJC community at
Break-the Fast after Yom Kippur Services:
$10 per person, $5 per child, $30 max per family
To register, please contact the MCJC office at 815-455-1810 or
You can also pay securely on this site.

Simchat Torah
Sunday, September 30 at
9:15 am: Religious School
10:30 am: Hoshana Rabba & Simchat Torah Service & Celebration followed by light lunch and joining the Crop Walk

Simchat Torah is a joyous celebration when we end the last book
of the Torah and start again from the beginning.
Young and old, dor v’dor, generation-to generation,
we’ll sing and dance, together with the Torahs.

Upcoming at MCJC Week of September 5

For more information about any of these listings, please visit our website, either the provided links or the MCJC Calendar at

Wednesday, September 5
1:00 pm: Lunch and Learn with Rabbi Tom
4:30 pm: Religious School
4:30 pm: High Holy Days Set-Up

Friday, September 7
6:30 pm: Community Shabbat Potluck

Saturday, September 8
9:30 am: Shabbat Morning Services & Torah Discussion

Sunday, September 9 – Erev Rosh Hashanah
No Religious School – High Holy Days Set-Up
7:30 pm: Erev Rosh Hashanah Service with Yom Tov Kiddush to follow

Sept. 10: Rosh Hashanah – Day 1
9:00 am: Rosh Hashanah Morning Service
9:30 am – 10:30 am: High Holy Day Discussion Group
10:15 am: Children’s Service (ages 4-8)
1:45 pm: First Tashlich Service at Main Beach, 300 Lakeshore Dr, Crystal Lake, IL 60014
4:30 pm: Tashlich Family Service at Main Beach, 300 Lakeshore Dr, Crystal Lake, IL 60014

Tuesday, September 11
9:00 am: Rosh Hashanah Morning Service – Day 2

Wednesday, September 12
1:00 pm: Lunch and Learn with Rabbi Tom
4:30 pm: Religious School

Friday, September 14
6:30 pm: Community Shabbat Potluck

Saturday, September 15
9:30 am: Shabbat Morning Services & Torah Discussion

Sunday, September 16
9:30 am: Religious School
11:00 am: Adult Education with Rabbi Tom

Tuesday, September 18
7:00 pm: Kol Nidre Service

Wednesday, September 19
9:00 am: Yom Kippur Morning Service
9:30 am – 10:30 am: High Holy Day Discussion Group
10:15 am: Children’s Service (ages 4-8)
4:30 pm: Yom Kippur Mincha Service
6:00 pm: Yom Kippur Neila Service
7:15 pm: Break-the-Fast

Sept. 23: Sukkot – Erev
Sept. 24: Sukkot – Day 1
Sept. 25: Sukkot – Day 2
Oct. 1: Shemini Atzeret
Oct. 2: Simchat Torah

High Holy Days Tickets for Non-Members

The High Holy Days at MCJC are unique and special. Our own members lead the services, making these co-creative and empowering experiences for all. Make this the year you become part of what makes the High Holy Days such a special time at MCJC.

We welcome non-members and guests to share the High Holy Days with us,  but ask that you RSVP in advance and consider making a donation to MCJC. You can purchase your non-member High Holy Day tickets below.

​For more information, please contact Rabbi Tom


High Holy Day services for non-members:

Other Amount: USD

Thank you for supporting MCJC and sharing the High Holy Days with us this year.

A Message From Rabbi Tom: Breaking The Torah

September/October 2018 – Elul/Tishrei/Cheshvan
Volume 5778-5779

Rabbi Tom SamuelsRabbi Harold Schulweis, may his memory be a blessing, tells a beautiful story of a 19th century Chassidic rabbi by the name of Rabbi Mordecai.

Rabbi Mordechai was the poor rabbi of a very poor village. Before Sukkot, the Holiday of the Booths, the villagers gathered together some money for their rabbi to purchase an etrog, a ritual lemon used on Sukkot. Rabbi Mordecai set out of the village to purchase an etrog at the market in the adjacent main town.

Along the way, he came across a wagoner, who was on his knees, sobbing. “My horse is dead!” cried out the wagoner,“ I have nothing. Who will pull my wagon?” Rabbi Mordecai, without hesitation, gave the man the money his villagers had given him to purchase the etrog, turned around, and returned to his village empty-handed.

The townspeople were aghast. What shall we do? How will we fulfill the commandment of lulav (the frond of a date palm tree also used on Sukkot) and etrog on Sukkot? We have no more money to purchase one.

Rabbi Mordecai paskened a din, made a rabbinic legal decision, that the villagers would instead bench etrog (say the blessing over the etrog) over a dead horse. The etrog is a symbol for our hearts, or symbol for our compassion. Rabbi Mordecai substituted the purpose of the symbol for the symbol itself. “To do otherwise,” Rabbi Schulweis teaches, “to make the symbol an end unto itself, to replace compassion and loving kindness for an etrog, to ascribe inherent holiness to this object, would be making a ritual into a kind of idolatry. This is not the Jewish way.”

This is not the Jewish understanding of what is holy, kadosh. Our Torah teaches that holiness is available to us in every moment, in every place. It is the continuous, ongoing acts of mindfulness, consciousness, and creativity which originates in all of Creation. The opposite of holy in Hebrew is chol, which does not translate into “profane,” but rather as “empty” or better yet, “not yet filled.”

In the Talmud (Gittin 45b) we learn that a Torah scroll written by a heretic is to be burned. Imagine that. Place two identical Torah scrolls in front of yourself. One is written by a pious scribe, a sofer in Hebrew, the other by an atheist. One is to be sanctified, the other to be burned. In other words, “holiness is not a property of objects. It is a property of human acts and intentions,” writes Rabbi Jonathan Sacks. “There is no such thing,” he continues, “as ontological holiness or intrinsic sanctity.”

The great 20th century Torah commentary, the Meshech Chochmah, Rabbi Meir Simcha of Dvinsk, Latvia, was famous for throwing a wrench into assumed understandings of even the most basic Torah text. He re-imagines the story of Moses breaking the first set of tablets, the ones written by the Hand of God, when he returns with them from the mountain and witnesses the Episode of the Golden Calf. We assume that Moses sinned, and that he lost his temper and broke the tablets.

The Meshech Chochmah flips the narrative on its back and teaches that Moses did not in fact lose his temper. He did not sin. Rather, upon seeing the Israelites worshipping the Golden Calf, Moses realized that the Israelites built the Golden Calf, not as a thing to be worshipped in itself but as an object of holiness that might summon the Divine down upon it. Moses fears that they could just as easily worship the tablets, even Moses himself. The Meshech Chomah imagines Moses scolding the Israelites: “Did you think that I (Moses) had any holiness without God’s command, so that when my presence was gone, you made this calf? I am just a man like you! Do not think that the Sanctuary or the Tabernacle themselves are holy things, God forbid. These things are mere vessels. And even more so, the tablets, with the writing of God – these too have no holiness in themselves, but only for your sake.”

“Moses did not break the tablets out of mere rage, but in order to  teach the people a profound spiritual lesson: that religion itself can become an object of idolatry,” writes Rabbi David Kasher. Moses broke the Torah, God’s Torah, in order to make a nuanced point about the purpose of Torah: that sometimes we have to challenge and even shatter our assumptions, our learned understandings of what is Torah, what is Judaism, and what is our purpose in life.

“You can’t make a Torah, it seems,” Rabbi Kasher concludes, “without breaking some tablets.”

Rabbi Tom

Co-President’s Column: Join Our Journey For Continuous Improvement

September/October 2018 – Elul/Tishrei/Cheshvan
Volume 5778-5779

Karen Koenig

By Karen Koenig

My full-time job revolves around the woodworking industry, where companies often incorporate the concepts of lean production and continuous improvement in their operation, not only to survive, but to thrive in today’s economic landscape.

Those familiar with MCJC know that we are already a lean operation, working without “waste.” Along with Rabbi Tom, and a dedicated staff of teachers and volunteers too numerous to mention, we strive hard to ensure the work and projects at MCJC get done in an efficient and timely manner.

But we can always use more hands to help. I encourage every one of you to join one of the many committees, assist on a fundraiser, or volunteer to help out around the synagogue or during services. We also need your help to ensure continuous improvement at MCJC. Without this ongoing effort, we run the risk of stagnation or worse.

Already, many products and processes are in place to streamline and improve the member services provided by our synagogue. Most notable is the revamped website, with new and improved features to entice and assist current and prospective members. These include: sections on worship and lifecycle events, Torah study, MCJC happenings, musical, inspirational and educational videos. In addition, we now offer online payment options for donations, dues, or other fees, a section with express announcements/late-breaking news, an easy-to-use calendar of events and submission forms for membership, and volunteering or events. If you haven’t had an opportunity to visit the site recently, I urge you to check it out.

Also revamped is the religious education program, with a school-wide curriculum that connects with an online component, and B’nai Mitzvah teachings. Changes have also been made to the classroom structure for teaching Judaica and Hebrew. This is an exciting development at MCJC, and will enhance your child’s religious education experience.

Another recent change was converting the kitchen to veggie/dairy. This now eliminates the continual problems that arose from the mixing of dishes and utensils, despite having marked doors and drawers. (Accommodations will be made for hosting the Passover second night Seder, traditionally held at MCJC.)

Stay tuned for more updates as we continue to reexamine and improve our products and processes at MCJC. As we begin a new Jewish year, I encourage you to get involved and provide input– a journey like this is successful if we have everyone’s participation.

I would also like to take this opportunity to wish everyone a good New Year 5779. May it be one of health, happiness, peace, and prosperity for all.

Selichot Service & Discussion with Havdala

Saturday, September 1, 2018
5:00 PM at MCJC

The High Holy Days are imbued with a special light that gives us the chance to make changes in our lives that seemed out of our reach during the rest of the year.

Join the MCJC Community for an evening of discussion and learning to prepare for the High Holy Day season.

To guide you in your spiritual practice this season, we offer these Kavvanot.

Gabbai’s Message: What’s In YOUR NAME?

Gene Lindow

By Gene Lindow 

I am always trying to share an inspirational message and recently received one at a funeral earlier this summer. Rabbi Klein of Congregation Kneseth Israel in Elgin shared a poem by ZELDA that moved me. My hope is that it may touch you, too.

  • Each of us has a name given by God, and given by our parents.
  • Each of us has a name given by our stature and our smile, and given by what we wear.
  • Each of us has a name given by the mountains and given by our walls.
  • Each of us has a name given by the stars and given by our neighbors.
  • Each of us has a name given by our sins and given by our longing.
  • Each of us has a name given by our enemies and given by our love.
  • Each of us has a name given by our celebrations and given by our work.
  • Each of us has a name given by the seasons and given by our blindness.
  • Each of us has a name given by the sea and given by our death.

During the High Holidays we find ourselves looking at what we have encountered in life. We look at how we can improve, what we can change, and how we can accept that we will not always get what we want from life. It is easy to win. I believe how we handle the disappointments and challenges of life truly has the greater impact on our successes.

I know that during the High Holidays I will not be able to ask each of you directly for your forgiveness if I offended you. I hope you find it in your hearts to forgive my transgressions, and in doing so you can impact on my name.

The Jewish Heart of McHenry County

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