All posts by MCJC Leslie

We announce with sadness the passing of Melissa A. Mayber . . .

We mourn the passing of Melissa Mayber.
Our thoughts and prayers are with

the Mayber family.

We are sad to announce the passing of Melissa Mayber, daughter of Kathleen and Kenneth Mayber, yesterday, March 14, 2019 | 7 Adar II 5779.

Melissa is survived by her parents, Kathleen and Kenneth, her sister, Rebecca, and her brother, Adam.

The funeral for Melissa will take place Sunday, March 17, 2 pm, at Chicago Jewish Funerals, 8851 Skokie Boulevard, Skokie, IL 60077. Shiva in the same location immediately follows the service.

The family is planning a Celebration of Life, and we will add details to this post as we know them. Please check here for more information.

In addition, when all arrangements are finalized, you can check for additional details here or call Chicago Jewish Funerals at 847-229-8822.

תהא נפשו צרורה בצרור החיים
T’hi nafsho tzrurah b’tzror hachaim
May his soul be bound up in the bond of life.

Upcoming at MCJC Week of March 5, 2019

Wednesday, March 6
1:00 pm: Lunch and Learn
4:30 pm: Religious School

Saturday, March 9
9:30 am: Shabbat Morning Services & Torah Discussion
Extended Kiddush following morning service to include light fare, Zemirot, Talmud Torah (If you can bring veggie or dairy food to share, please let us know what you’ll bring at

Sunday, March 10 – It’s a big day at MCJC!
9:30 am: Religious School
11:00 am: Adult Education
1:30 pm: Charles Troy Comes to MCJC with his acclaimed “The Creation of West Side Story” show. Time to get your ticketsThis is an MCJC event you don’t want to miss! Light refreshments follow the show, and free babysitting is available — but you must RSVP here or call the office at 815-455-1810. Read all about this wonderful event

Wednesday, March 13
1:00 pm: Lunch and Learn
4:30 pm: Religious School
6:00 pm: Ritual Committee Meeting

Thursday, March 14
7:00 pm: MCJC Book Club – Discussing The Cloister by James Carroll

Friday, March 15
6:30 pm: Community Shabbat Potluck Dinner (If you can bring veggie or dairy food to share, please let us know what you’ll bring at

Saturday, March 16
9:30 am: Shabbat Morning Services & Torah Discussion

Religious School Purim Program – including our one-and-only MCJC Purim Carnival

5:00 pm:  Purim Dinner
6:00 pm: Megillah Reading/Purim Shpiel -“Wizard of Oz” theme (wear a costume, and shake, rattle, & roll that gragger)

The Chicago Jewish Film Festival


SATURDAY, APRIL 20 – MCJC Passover Seder (details to follow)

MCJC will travel out to Spring Grove on Sunday, April 28, 2019 after Religious School.  Please join our entire synagogue to see McHenry County’s only Holocaust Memorial. Storyteller Jim May will meet us there to share the story of Holocaust survivor Lisa Derman, at the beautiful monument created by Jim and MCJC member Nancy Deborah Wicker, with Hebrew written by Max Gimpel, father of Al Gimpel.

Local Shiva Arrangements for Max Gimpel, Father of Al Gimpel

Al Gimpel will sit Shiva at the Saddlebrook Farms “Lake Lodge” building this coming Wednesday evening, February 27 from 6 pm to 9 pm with a Ma’ariv Service at 7:30 pm.

The address of the Saddlebrook Farms subdivision is 23000 West Peterson Road, Grayslake Illinois.

The entrance to Saddlebrook Farms is near Peterson Road and Route 60. Turn off Peterson Road at Behm Lane. Ignore the first side road, and follow Behm Lane for two-tenths of a mile. Turn right on Saddlebrook Drive, and follow it for 1.1 miles to the building marked “Lake Lodge.”  Dairy or Parve dishes are welcome.

Al prefers that you come to this Shiva Wednesday, a venue with much more room, but if you cannot, he will sit Shiva during the same hours on Tuesday at his home, 107 Jockey Court Grayslake Illinois (where parking may be more difficult).


Shiva. If you would like to donate food or make a financial contribution to the Shiva, or if you have questions about what to donate, please contact Ellen Morton at or text her at 815-353-0819.

Other contributions. Contributions in memory of Max Gimpel can be made to The Selfhelp Home at 908 W. Argyle, Chicago, IL 60640. You can also make your contribution online at

With Sadness, we announce the passing of Max Gimpel, father of Allen Gimpel

We mourn the passing of Max Gimpel, father of Allen Gimpel. Our thoughts and prayers are with the Gimpel family.


From Allen Gimpel:

At just over 101 years old, Max Gimpel passed away in comfort in the very early hours of this morning. Burial will be in Arizona, with Shiva Visitation to be determined.

A very good newspaper article was written about Dad some years ago. Google these words consecutively: Max Gimpel Architect Of The Spirit.

Examples of his religious artwork can be found at, and when you reach the landing page click on the words “click here.”


תהא נפשו צרורה בצרור החיים
T’hi nafsho tzrurah b’tzror hachaim
May his soul be bound up in the bond of life.

Beautifying the Mitzvah

By Leslie Cook, MCJC Member

I spent a lot of time at Spertus Institute for Jewish Learning (formerly Spertus College) in the 70s, 80s and 90s, both as a student and on the staff. I learned a lot while I was there! But the most important things I learned were outside the classroom.

One of my teachers was Dr. Nathaniel Stampfer, who was my guide and mentor in Jewish education. Yes, there were the specifics of teaching Jewish topics to various ages, but what remains in my mind and heart are chance phrases that came up from time-to-time like hiddur ha-Mitzvah, “beautifying the commandment.”

Hiddur ha-Mitzvah means we don’t do things half-heartedly or carelessly. We consider what we are going to do and how we can enhance it to make it as rich and beautiful as possible. We don’t just stick a mezuzah on our doorposts, we make or select something beautiful, invite friends over, and place it lovingly, with blessings and songs and thoughtfully share the moment.

The Torah, which we are required to read, is covered with a beautiful garment and silver ornaments. Getting it out involves lovingly and ceremoniously taking it out, parading it, undressing it, chanting the portion, and later redressing it.

We don’t just go to synagogue on Shabbat, we plan ahead how we are going to make the day unique and beautiful. We have beautiful ritual objects, special foods lovingly prepared, songs, and friends.

I remember once having a group of friends over for dinner Friday evening, and one of my friends, a wonderful cook, made a main dish. He had had little time to prepare that day due to work, so the dish was . . . well, thrown together. His nephew, visiting from Israel, said, “Well, yes, it’s good. Not like your usual. It wasn’t prepared with enough love.” That was true.

Hiddur ha-Mitzvah takes time and thought, but when a group of people cooperate, each putting in a little energy, something magical happens. Even a simple dish prepared with love becomes memorable. A beautifully set table adds to the moment. Every smallest thing contributes to making the “Palace in Time” (Rabbi Abraham Joshua Heschel) that is Shabbat.

Hiddur ha-Mitzvah is an idea to practice at home in big and small ways, in Jewish and not specifically Jewish ways. Here’s one that has all those qualifications: reducing or eliminating waste.

30-40% of the food in this country never ends up on tables. It is wasted. Bal tashchit (בל תשחית), “do not destroy,” is a basic principle in Jewish law. It comes from Deuteronomy 20:19–20, a commandment that forbids cutting down fruit trees to assist in a siege.

The rabbis expand the idea to include other forms of senseless damage or waste. It’s easy to imagine painless ways to beautify this commandment: making special containers for veggie waste destined for the garden, recycling garbage, or creating ways to repurpose food and other items. Making gifts from found materials. Sharing food with others in a timely way if you can’t finish it yourself.

Practice ways to beautify those things you take time to do in your life. Then apply what you learn to beautifying our Shabbat experience at MCJC. Learn to chant a Torah portion. Sponsor a Kiddush or part of one. Share thoughtful food. Help set up the table Friday evening or Shabbat morning. Is cleanup your thing? Storing what we use on one Shabbat to use the next Shabbat beautifies both and reduces waste.

We are going to begin running a list in the e-nouncements each week (and possibly in the Newsletter) of which Shabbat meals and kiddushes have sponsors. We’ll invite you to choose any open dates to sponsor. We hope you’ll take advantage of this opportunity to beautify Shabbat at MCJC.

Here’s a resource to check out:

Upcoming at MCJC Week of February 5, 2019

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

Wednesday, February 6
1:00 pm: Lunch and Learn
4:30 pm: Religious School

Friday, February 8
6:30 pm: Community Shabbat Potluck Dinner

Saturday, February 9
9:30 am: Shabbat Morning Services & Torah Discussion
Extended Kiddush following morning service to include light fare, Zemirot, Talmud Torah.

Sunday, February 10
9:30 am: Religious School
11:00 am: Adult Education

Wednesday, February 13
1:00 pm: Lunch and Learn
4:30 pm: Religious School

Friday, February 15
6:30 pm: Community Shabbat Potluck DinnerSee Extended Kiddush below.

Saturday, February 16
9:30 am: Shabbat Morning Services & Torah Discussion
Extended Kiddush following morning service to include light fare, Zemirot, Talmud Torah.

Sunday, February 17
9:30 am: Religious School
11:00 am: Adult Education

Wednesday, February 20
1:00 pm: Lunch and Learn
4:30 pm: Religious School
6:30 pm: Ritual Committee Meeting

Friday, February 22
6:30 pm: MCJC Religious School’s K-3 Sponsored Community Shabbat Potluck Dinner.

Saturday, February 23
9:30 am: Shabbat Morning Services & Torah Discussion
Extended Kiddush following morning service to include light fare, Zemirot, Talmud Torah.

Sunday, March 10: Charles Troy Comes to MCJC with Acclaimed “The Creation of West Side Story” Show. (Please note this date change).

This is an MCJC event you won’t want to miss! The show is followed with light refreshments, and free babysitting is available — but you must RSVP here or call the office at 815-455-1810.

Read all about this wonderful event

Religious School News Week of February 5, 2019

Did you see this announcement in the e-nouncements the last couple of weeks?

The MCJC Board is restructuring and reinvigorating the Religious School Education Committee. We are looking for a Committee Chair as well as members. Interested parties email

The MCJC Religious School still needs Substitutes for Sundays, 9:30 am – 12 noon, and Wednesdays, 4:30 – 6:00 pm, all grades. If interested, please email

And now for this week’s news! Finally, the weather has returned to normal! It was great seeing most of our students last Sunday.

In the Classroom. The K-1 class is learning about the Ten Commandments.  The 2-3 class is learning about Shabbat, and they are beginning to put together a Shabbat Shalom scrapbook with things that bring them peace and joy. The 4-7 graders have finished watching the movie “Wonder,” and will soon begin their Jewish Values film project. Hebrew studies for all are going well.

This week. Wednesday, February 6- Regular religious school for grades 3-7.  Sunday, February 10- Regular religious school for all grades.

Upcoming Special Event. Friday, February 22, 6 pm: K-3 families are sponsoring a veggie/dairy meal for Shabbat. All are welcome!

Other reminders. Please continue to bring in donations for Blessing Bags. We are looking for these items:

alcohol wipes
band aids
bathing wipes
feminine hygiene products
multi-vitamins, chewable in unopened containers
peanut butter crackers
soft breakfast bars
socks, black best
Zip-Loc bags – quart and gallon size

Snacks. Also, if you have not done so already, please bring in snacks for the second half of the year.  They can be bulk, or if you prefer, cash donations are acceptable.

Absence. Last but not least, if your child will be absent, please email or text 847-373-3186.

Your MCJC Community Needs You!

MCJC needs a Volunteer Coordinator, and we hope you’ll consider becoming that person! It’s a job that requires just a small time commitment but will have a big impact on the life of MCJC.

Volunteers are the lifeblood of our MCJC community, and we have so many people who devote a lot of time and energy to making our community work. From Board Members to those who work on our committees–Building & Maintenance, Communications, Events, Fundraising, Membership and Ritual–we are blessed with hard-working, creative, devoted volunteers.

These committees need help from an energetic Volunteer Coordinator, someone who can build a team of congregants willing to pitch in to help with a dinner or an event or a mailing or to prepare the kitchen for Passover, who can serve as ushers or greeters. We need someone who can create a schedule of kiddush sponsors . . . or pull together people to do whatever is needed on an ad hoc basis.

The person who successfully builds this program will relieve a lot of pressure from the team of volunteers who not only manage committees and the projects that come out of those committees but the many smaller related tasks that could be handled by others who prefer shorter term, more limited commitments.

We can provide to a Volunteer Coordinator an MCJC email account ( and lists of people to contact to start a volunteer team, individuals you can call on from time to time to help out with projects including set ups and take downs for meals, mailings, ushering and greeting, phone trees and more. We can also offer all the tools of our website, email system and social media connections.

Please contact Dara Turnball ( if you’d like to spearhead an effort to organize people who want to help out a little here and there without a huge, long term commitment. Think of all the ways you can make it fun, while doing something critically important for your congregation!

Save the Date March 10: Charles Troy Comes to MCJC with Acclaimed “The Creation of West Side Story” Show

The Creation of West Side Story

The MCJC Let’s Have Fun Together Committee is pleased to announce that Charles Troy will present his highly acclaimed “The Creation of West Side Story” show at MCJC on Sunday, March 10 at 1:30 pm.

This 90 minute multimedia show was a huge entertainment success, receiving a standing ovation, this past summer at the Woodstock Opera House.  It’s a show you won’t want to miss! Plan to bring your family and friends to share this delightful and informative entertainment experience. Free child care is available if needed.

Charles Troy is America’s most celebrated dramatic musical theater historian/storyteller. He has developed more than fifty multimedia shows on musical theater subjects. His presentations are informative, highly entertaining, and have been embraced by audiences nationwide.

Mr. Troy is based in Chicago and performs extensively in Chicago North Shore communities and appears on a monthly basis at the Skokie Theater. He has been featured twice on the front page of the Arts & Entertainment section of the Chicago Tribune. The late Roy Leonard, former theater critic for WGN-TV, wrote in his blog in 2014, “I first saw Charles Troy a few months back at the Skokie Theater and have been back three times since, learning things I never knew about Broadway musicals I’ve enjoyed for years.”

RSVP and advance ticket purchase are required. Tickets are $15/per person.  Please RSVP via the calendar listing on this site (in the calendar, click on the March 10 listing to go to a registration page) or by calling the MCJC office at 815-455-1810.

You may purchase your tickets securely with your online RSVP by credit card or PayPal, or you may send a check made out to MCJC to:

McHenry County Jewish Congregation
8617 Ridgefield Rd.
Crystal Lake, IL 60012
Attn: Tickets

Please RSVP and purchase your tickets early to avoid disappointment in the event of sellout. We will hold your tickets for you at the door.

If you have questions about the show, please contact Bruce Weiss via email (

We will provide child care during the show if needed. You may indicate your requirements when you register.

A refreshment social immediately follows Charles Troy’s presentation.

“The Creation of West Side Story” is brought to you by MCJC’s Let’s Have Fun Together program.