All posts by MCJC Leslie

Upcoming at MCJC Week of July 17

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

Wednesday, July 18
1:00 pm: Lunch and Learn with Rabbi Tom

Friday, July 20
6:30 pm: Community Shabbat Potluck

Saturday, July 21
9:30 am: Shabbat Morning Services & Torah Discussion
6:00 pm: Erev Tisha B’Av Services & Study 

Sunday, July 22
9:00 am – noon: Help the Building & Grounds Committee with some outdoor tasks, light painting, etc. – lunch at noon

Tuesday, July 24
7:00 pm: Communications Committee Meeting, location off-site

Wednesday, July 25
1:00 pm: Lunch and Learn with Rabbi Tom
6:30 pm: Ritual Committee Meeting

Bnai Mitzvah Families Meet & Greet at MCJC
Sunday, August 12, 2018, 10:00 am – 12:00 pm

Special Shabbat Picnic at Wonder Lake Water Ski Show
Friday, August 17, 2018

Community Shabbat Potluck Picnic Dinner at the Wonder Lake National Champion Water Ski Team Show. We’ll light Shabbat candles, say Kiddish, and sing some Shabbat songs around 6:30 pm. The show is from 7:00 pm to 8:00 pm.

Sunday, August 26
9:30 am – 12:30 pm: McHenry County Jewish Congregation OPEN HOUSE – tour the building, meet members, teachers, and Rabbi Tom, enjoy a community picnic.

Torah: Completing the Missing Pieces

Devarim 2018

Please join us for Shabbat worship and Torah study, 9:30 am.

Rabbi David Hartman wrote that the Torah is not a “static, immutable inheritance passed down through an unbroken chain of transmission.” That just as we humans are in an ever-evolving relationship with God to perfect our imperfect world, we are also co-creators with God in completing the Torah.

Imagine that! God gave us His Torah with missing pieces. And God created within each of us the ability re-express His Torah throughout the generations. Our Covenant didn’t end at Sinai and with Revelation. We are in a Covenant to create, to complete the Torah as well.


Torah: Devarim Deuteronomy 1:1 – 3:22 – Click here.
Haftarah: Isaiah 1:1 – 1:27 – Click here.

This week our readings and Torah discussion focus on:


  • Devarim 1:1-5 – P981
  • Devarim 1:6-8 – P982
  • Devarim 1:9-10 – P983

Erev Tisha B’Av Services & Study

Tisha B’Av is culminates the Three Weeks, an annual mourning period when we mourn the destruction of the Holy Temple and our launch into a still-ongoing exile.

Tisha b’Av is the saddest day of the Jewish calendar, and it is also the date that many other tragedies befell the Jewish people.

And it is the time when we start, as individuals and as a community, to do a Heshbon HaNefesh, an Accounting of our Souls leading up to the High Hoy Days.

Our sages taught: “It is the great dreams that are the foundation of the world.” That the whole world stands only because some people have the courage, the audacity, the Chutzpah, to dream great dreams. So, what is our dream? The Jewish dream?

Please join us for an evening of reflection, meditation, and of study, Saturday, July 21, 2018 at 6:00 pm.

Everything You Need to Know: MCJC High Holy Days, Sukkot, Simchat Torah 5779/2018

Yom Kippur Break-the-Fast Payments

Join the entire MCJC community to Break-the-Fast
after Yom Kippur Services

Wednesday, September 19, at 7:15 pm
$10 per person, $5 per child, $30 max per family
To register, please contact the MCJC office:
815-455-1810 or
or submit your payment below:

Amount: USD

For other High Holidays 2018 Payments and
Volunteer Opportunities


 Schedule for
High Holy Days, Sukkot, Simchat Torah

Erev Rosh HaShanah
Sunday, September 9, 7:30 pm

Rosh HaShanah Morning Service – Day I
Monday, September 10, 9:00 am
Children’s Service (ages 4-8): 10:15 am
Tashlich Service: 1:45 pm
(Main Beach, 300 Lakeshore Dr,
Crystal Lake, IL 60014)
Family Service with Tashlich: 4:30 pm
(Main Beach, 300 Lakeshore Dr,
Crystal Lake, IL 60014)

Rosh HaShanah Morning Service – Day II
Tuesday, September 11, 9:00 am

Kol Nidre
Tuesday, September 18, 7:00 pm

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

Sunday, September 23, 9:15 am
Sukkot Services with the Religious School

Monday, September 24, 8:30 am
Sukkot Morning Services with Lulav & Etrog

Wednesday, September 26, 4:30 pm
Pizza in the Hut – Sukkot Program with the Religious School

Saturday, September 29, 9:30 am
Shabbat Morning Services & Torah Discussion with Yizkor

Simchat Torah
Sunday, September 30, 9:15 am
Simchat Torah Celebrations with
Religious School


Schedule for
High Holy Day Children & Family Services

Rosh Hashanah & Yom Kippur Children’s Services
Monday, September 10 & Wednesday, September 19 at 10:15 am

Bring your family to our High Holiday Children’s Services on the first day of Rosh Hashanah as well as on Yom Kippur. These are wonderfully engaging, musical and fun services, geared to younger children ages 4 through 8.  

Family & Community-Wide High Holiday Service with Tashlich
Monday, September 10 at 4:30 pm

MCJC will host a musical, family-friendly, High Holiday service at the Main Beach in Crystal Lake (300 Lakeshore Dr, Crystal Lake, IL 60014). 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.

Simchat Torah Celebration
Sunday, September 30 at 9:15 am

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

Kavanot: Intentional Meditations
for the 10 Days of Turning

A Journey to Peace 5779

The days between Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur 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.

Day 1 Rosh Hashanah – Asking the Big Questions
Looking Within:  Renewal of our Relationships
How am I doing with friends, family, community, and work?
Do I owe anyone an apology?
Do I need to return a borrowed item?
Can I mend a broken connection?
Have I left a promise undone?
Make a list.

Day 2 – More Looking: Self Care
Am I taking care of my physical body?
Have I had doctor and dental check-ups?
Have I listened to my body’s needs?
Am I getting enough rest and quiet time?
Am I caring for my changing challenges?
Do I pay attention to my diet?
How can I do better?

Day 3 – Much More Looking Within
What am I doing to grow spiritually?
What new activity have I tried or re-introduced into my routine?
Is there a comforting routine in my daily, weekly, or monthly schedule?
Do I have someone in my circle to guide me? (If not, seek advice.)

Day 4 – Am I Angry?
Is there someone in my life that has hurt me? Have I retaliated?
What is MY part?
Can I forgive or start to forgive?
Can I ask for forgiveness?
Do I need help with this?

Day 5 – Am I Afraid?
What/who frightens me?
Why am I fearful?  
Are they real or imagined fears?
Are there things I do in my life to reduce those fears?
Are my attempts to reduce those fears healthy?
Yes, I am human; we all have fears.

Day 6  – Am I Honest?
Do I practice honesty with myself and with others?
Do I justify “exceptions from the truth” to justify a perceived positive result?
Am I more concerned with seeking approval than being truthful?
Do I avoid making changes when I am not being honest with how I feel about a relationship, decision, or lifestyle?

Day 7 – Balance: Where is the Joy, Love, and Play in my Life?
Does my life have real fun space?
Is it enough?
Do I actively seek enriching experiences, entertainment, and generosity?
Can I turn off my social media and electronic devices for a part of my day or week?
Do I honor and spend time in nature?
Do I listen?
Can I say, “Not now”?

Day 8 – Patience: Tell me Yes, Tell me No, But Please Don’t Tell me to Wait.
Is time always a commodity, or can I slow down?
Does my agenda supersede all others?
Can I stay in the moment, or do I live in the past and future?
How can I do better?

Day 9 – Hope and Gratitude: Every Day is a New Beginning.
We can start over any time.
Prayer and meditation can take us to a place of unselfish and focused spiritual growth.
Even something very, very small makes a difference.
Am I willing to add just one tiny, new practice to my daily routine or more?
Do I need help with this?

Day 10 – Service: Giving Without Reward – the Greatest Gift of All.
The path to peace and joy lies in the ability to do for others, when our motives are not self-serving.
Even the smallest token or act of kindness is enough each day.

Taking Action:
“Thank you.”
An anonymous gift or gesture
A kind word to a stranger
Comforting the sick
Supporting the grieving
Sharing a talent
Protecting the natural world


Minhag haMakom   מנהג המקום
MCJC Traditions for High Holiday Services

Entering/Exiting the Sanctuary
Integral to MCJC is the Jewish ethic of Hachnasat Orchim, “the welcoming of guests.” With this in mind, please feel free to enter and exit the sanctuary as you wish, knowing that you are always welcome. However, there are certain parts of the services during which entering could disrupt your fellow worshipers. Our ushers will let people know when these moments are and might ask you to wait before entering the sanctuary.

Tallit and Kippah
Our custom at MCJC is for male congregants to wear a kippah (head covering) and tallit (prayer shawl) during services. In our egalitarian community, women are welcome to wear these as well. Both are readily available in the foyer just outside of the sanctuary’s door.

Electronic Devices
Please turn off or mute any electronic devices before entering the building.  We ask that you respect our tradition not to use any electronic device in the building during the High Holiday services.

While there are times during services when the congregation is asked to sit or stand, the priority is that you are physically comfortable. At any point during services, if you need to sit or stand, regardless of what the larger congregation is doing, please honor what your body is telling you.

Yom Kippur Fasting
While most Jews fast on Yom Kippur, you are never allowed to jeopardize your health. See an usher if you need a snack.

“Let’s Have Fun Together,” MCJC! Picnic & 33rd Annual Woodstock Folk Festival

The MCJC Diamond’s Group invites the entire MCJC membership and friends to another great “Let’s Have Fun Together ” event:

Picnic Lunch In The Park 11 AM
Historic Woodstock City Square
(Opera House Side)

Followed By
The 33rd Annual Woodstock Folk Festival
Noon – 6:00 PM

Audiences have come to the annual Woodstock Folk Festival from near and far since 1986.

Local, national, and international folk music artists will perform a variety of styles of folk music at the festival, which features a Main Stage, an Open Mic Stage, a Children’s Area, a Workshop, and an All-Sing Finale.

This is a free admission event, though organizers of the event welcome donations. For more detailed information about the event, see the flyer below.

Bring folding chairs and a picnic lunch.  If you like folk music, you will love this event!

Please RSVP so we know how large a space in the park we need to reserve for the MCJC group.

RSVP & Questions: Bruce Weiss 815-338-2721 or

The purpose of the MCJC “Let’s Have Fun Together” initiative is to enhance the social program offerings at MCJC.

MCJC Open House Sunday, August 26, 9:15 am to 12:30 pm

We welcome you to visit MCJC to see if our Jewish community is right for you.  Get a taste of Religious School at 9:15 a.m., tour the building at 11:00 a.m., and meet members, teachers, and Rabbi Tom. The community picnic starts at 11:30. Hot dogs and veggie/pareve food selections will be served.

We’ve had a great response to this event. It promises to be a wonderful day and an opportunity to meet with and experience what a special place our MCJC community is.

If you’re among those who have already RSVP’d, thank you! If you haven’t yet let us know you’ll be there, please RSVP today at

Torah: The “Promised Land” is a place of promise, not yet of fulfillment


We are the people of metaphor, memory and meaning. We have important stories. And we plug our everyday realities into these stories. And this is how we give them meaning.

Zion is aspirational. Beyond the physical land, the place.  The Promised Land is a place of promise, not yet of fulfillment. Its “inheritance,” its “portion” cannot be assumed. This is the difference between Prophecy and Nevuah. The Greek word, “prophet,” is about predicting the future, one that is sealed and fated. This is in contrast to Navi whose role was not to predict the future, but rather to lead, to inspire a collective change. The future is changeable. Bechirah Chovsheit. Not closed. Not predetermined. The theology of Nevuah is of what could be, not what is going to be.

Our challenge then is to embrace our human destiny to take action. This is the co-creative covenant of destiny where we humans take control of events themselves. Going from passive consumers to active participants to fulfill our own destinies.

Please join us 9:30 a.m. Shabbat morning for study and worship.


Matot: Numbers 30:2 – 32:42
 – Click here.
Masei: Numbers 33:1 – 36:13 – Click here.

Matot: Jeremiah 1:1 – 2:3 – Click here.
Masei for Ashkenazim: Jeremiah 2:4 – 28; 3:4 – Click here.

This week our readings and Torah discussion focus on:

  • First Aliyah: 30: 2-7 PAGE 941
  • Second Aliyah: 30: 7-9 PAGE 942
  • Third Aliyah: 30: 10-17 PAGE 942 – “Hazak, Hazak, Ve-nithazek”
  • Haftarah: Jeremiah 1:1-2:3 PAGE 968

Upcoming at MCJC Week of July 10

Wednesday, July 11
1:00 pm: Lunch and Learn with Rabbi Tom CANCELLED

Friday, July 13
3:00 pm: Religious School Faculty Meeting
6:30 pm: Community Shabbat Potluck

Saturday, July 14
9:30 am Shabbat Morning Services & Torah Discussion

Sunday, July 15
12:00 pm – 6:00 pm: MCJC’s Let’s Have Fun Together program at the Woodstock Folk Festival

Wednesday, July 18
1:00 pm: Lunch and Learn with Rabbi Tom

Friday, July 20
6:30 pm: Community Shabbat Potluck

Saturday, July 21
9:30 am: Shabbat Morning Services & Torah Discussion
6:00 pm: Erev Tisha B’Av Services & Study

Sunday, July 22
9:00 am – noon: Help the Building & Grounds Committee with some outdoor tasks, light painting, etc. – lunch at noon

Tuesday, July 24
7:00 pm: Communications Committee Meeting, location off-site

Wednesday, July 25
1:00 pm: Lunch and Learn with Rabbi Tom
6:30 pm: Ritual Committee Meeting


Sunday, August 26
9:30 am – 12:30 pm: McHenry County Jewish Congregation OPEN HOUSE – tour the building, meet members, teachers, and Rabbi Tom, enjoy a community picnic.

A Message From Rabbi Tom: A Judaism That Touches Our Souls

July/August 2018 ~ Tammuz/Av/Elul ~ Volume 5778

Rabbi Tom SamuelsAt the very beginning of the Torah’s Book of Numbers, Bamidbar, the Israelite nation is commanded by God to take a military census as preparation for their upcoming war to conquer the Promised Land. And yet previously, in the Book of Exodus, Shemot, God warns the Israelites that census-taking, even for the purpose of war, can result in the death by plague of the participants and of the takers themselves.

Which is it then? Is taking a census permissible or not? Our ancient Sages look to the case study of King David to help resolve this textual contradiction. In the Book of Samuel II (and in parallel, Chronicles I), King David and the entire nation are punished with a horrible plague for having taken a census. What’s so wrong with taking a census, the Sages asked? They conclude that, at least in the case of David, the sin of counting was that he reduced human beings to objects, resources to satiate his feeling of being in absolute control. (I can imagine King David surveying his kingdom from his palace’s turret and exclaiming “All of this is MINE!”)

The ancient rabbis understood that human nature tends toward formulating the allusion, the story, and that we are the sum of that which we own. Our very existence is dependent on our power over others. David’s sin was relating to his people as surrogates to serve his own ego. But David and all of us are here to serve each other. Communal systems cannot flourish where their only narrative is numbers and rules. For true vibrancy, communities require human stories – of suffering and triumph, conflict and euphoria, humor and love – to ensure that a community understands its own depth and complexity (Rabbi Sacks).

The similarities to our current Jewish public conversation concerning policies and numbers is salient. In the institutional American Jewish world over the past half-century, there has been what scholars call a Theology of Demographics: How many people registered for your Shabbat program? How many households are members of your synagogue? How many young families participated in your Purim carnival? What is your temple’s post-Bnai Mitzvah attrition rate? This has become the bulk of the conversation, the Halacha of American Jewish life.

But here’s the problem with this conversation: While it certainly comes from a good place, an existential concern for the continuation of American Jewry, in our zeal to ensure the Jewish future, we forgot to articulate why it matters for Judaism to continue. The challenge isn’t about demographics. Rather it is about creating communities of meaning.

In America, where Jews can choose their religious and cultural identities from a smorgasbord of a seemingly endless array of offerings, where Jews are free to leave the Jewish community without joining any other religious community, where old ties to Jewish life have eroded and most Jews have no plausible explanation to justify trying to preserve them (Rabbi Gordis), the conversations that we need to have must start at the very fundamentals of our personal and collective Jewish identities. Why be Jewish? Do we have an obligation to remain part of the Jewish people? Where does that obligation come from? Who (or what) makes that obligation real? If I choose not to be Jewish, what do I lose? Would our lives be significantly impoverished if we chose not to make Jewish connection a central part of life? What does Judaism offer that I cannot find in secular society (Rabbi Gordis)?

Rabbi Abraham Joshua Heschel famously stated at the Jewish Federation’s General Assembly in 1964 that “…it is time to retire surveys and survival.” We must teach each other how a commitment to Jewish life will revive our spirit, rekindle our passion for living, and
infuse our lives with joy and with meaning (Jay Michaelson). We must foster a Jewish life which merits the attention of modern Jews by virtue of its potential role in our lives as a compelling, meaningful, and enriching enterprise that helps define precisely who and what we are (Rabbi Gordis). To express our humanity. To satisfy our need to touch the transcendent in the world.

Rabbi Tom

Co-President’s Column: My Introduction

July/August 2018 ~ Tammuz/Av/Elul ~ Volume 5778

Dara Turnball

By Dara Turnball, MCJC Co-President

Hello MCJC! Many of you know me, some of you well, some of you not sowell, and some not at all, so I figured with my first newsletter article I would introduce myself.

I have lived in Woodstock my entire life (except for going to Chicago for college.) But it wasn’t until my adulthood that I found my Jewish home at MCJC. My mother raised my brothers and me as Jewish, but we celebrated all the other holidays with the larger family. So growing up, my spirituality was very eclectic to say the least; in fact when I visited Ireland, I fell in love with a castle that housed
nuns and told my mom I wanted to live there!

But when I started to read about Judaism and really understand the historic significance of things, I found my true spiritual home. I’m so glad I was able to share that with my two sons. Seth, my oldest, just had his Bar Mitzvah here at MCJC. It was a beautiful moment to watch him up there after all his hard work. I’m excited to see that same thing happen in a few years when my youngest, Eli, reads from the Torah.

MCJC is very blessed with passionate teachers who truly care for the children in our school, and it’s amazing to watch them all grow, learn, and question together. With programming running Wednesday, Friday, Saturday, and Sunday, there is plenty of time for our youth to learn and grow their own Jewish identities, and I hope with the coming school year the process of Jewish education will become one that allows for that passion to thrive in our students.

Education is a great passion of mine; I think that we must all be life-long learners. I’ve been working in schools for the past five years. Before that I was with a marketing firm as the head of the video department. I’ve taken several different professional paths, but
each one taught me valuable skills and life lessons, which helped me to become who I am today. I just finished my Masters this May and am excited for the next step in my career.

I became a part of the MCJC board shortly after joining as a member. I think the idea of helping and giving back to organizations that do so much for you and your family is a key component to living a full life. Often times we are so rushed with today’s world and the need to achieve, we forget to calm ourselves and to really be present in the moment. Becoming a leader at MCJC was daunting, but the reward is amazing. I’ve learned a lot about myself as I’ve volunteered to help with various things throughout MCJC.

There is that old saying, “If not now, when? If not me, who?” I believe this to be very true. If we don’t make time now, then we won’t. If we don’t step up to the plate to be a part of our community, then who will? MCJC needs all of us working together to foster an open and caring place for our members and visitors. That being said, during the coming year there are going to be ample opportunities for you to step up to the plate and become a part of MCJC, and I encourage you to do so!