All posts by MCJC Leslie

Passover is coming…search for the Chametz!

BJennifer Schwartz, MCJC Religious School Lead Teacher

One of my favorite memories is finding the chametz before Pesach with my Papa.  We would hide small chunks of bread throughout the house on napkins; then we’d take a flashlight and go back through for a seek-and-destroy mission.  The chunks of bread would be swept into a paper bag and taken to our local shul to be burned the next day.

Why not start this tradition with your own family?  Customarily, the search for chametz (leavened food forbidden duing Passover) in the home is done with a beeswax candle, a wooden spoon, and a paper bag for collection.  Before collection, “hide” ten small pieces of bread throughout the house, wrapped in or on something flammable (no aluminum foil here guys). The hiding doesn’t even have to be done the day of the search!  Hide them before and adults can write down where they are, just in case. Make it a real mission for the kiddos!

The evening before Pesach, say the following prayer:

Ba-ruch A-tah Ado-nai
E-lo-hei-nu Me-lech Ha-olam
A-sher Ki-de-sha-nu Be-mitz-vo-tav
Ve-tzi-va-nu Al Bee-ur Cha-metz.

Or, in translation:

Blessed are You, L-rd our G-d, King of the universe, who has sanctified us by His commandments, and has commanded us concerning the removal of chametz.

Burning the Chametz

Next, have someone hold the lit candle and find all the hidden chametz, even ones you didn’t hide but you might just find!  The wooden spoon can be used to sweep the chametz into the bag. Once you’ve completed the search, gather the search party back together and recite the Kol Chamira:

All leaven or anything leavened which is in my possession, which I have neither seen nor removed, and of which I am unaware, shall be considered nullified and ownerless as the dust of the earth.

After this declaration is recited, all unknown chametz in your home will be considered nullified.  Your bag is now safe to be destroyed.

Chag pesach sameach and happy searching!

Passover 2018: It All Starts with a Question

Passover 2018: It All Starts with a Question

In the Jewish tradition, there’s a sense that everything gets moving as a result of a problem, a question, a Machloket in Hebrew. That even the most provocative question is still better than no question because, in the words of Rabbi Professor Donniel Hartman, questions, questioning, push at the limits of the sort of silent conspiracy of the way things have to be.


High Holy Days, Sukkot, Simchat Torah 5778/2017

Service Schedule
 Erev Tisha B’Av
Monday, July 31, 2017 at 7:00 pm
Leil Selichot
An Evening of Reflection & Learning in Preparation for the High Holidays
Saturday, September 16, 2017 at 7
:00 pm
Rosh HaShana
Erev Rosh HaShana

Sunday, September 9 at 7:30 pm 
Rosh HaShana Morning Service – Day I
Monday, September 10 at 9:00 am
Children’s Service (ages 4-8): 10:15 am
Tashlich Service
2:30 pm (Main Beach, 300 Lakeshore Dr, Crystal Lake, IL 60014​Family Service with Shofar Blowing & Tashlich by the Pond
4:30 pm (Main Beach, 300 Lakeshore Dr, Crystal Lake, IL 60014​)
 Join us for a musical family High Holiday and Tashlich service. This program is open to the public, ​so bring friends and family, Jewish or not. 
Rosh HaShana Morning Service – Day 2
Tuesday, September 11 at 9:00 am
Shabbat Shuva
Shabbat Shuva Morning Services
Saturday, September 15 at 9:30 am
Yom Kippur
Kol Nidre

Friday, September 29, 2017 at 7:00 pm SHARP
Yom Kippur Morning Service
Wednesday, September 19 at 9:00 am
Children’s Service (ages 4-8): 10:15 amYom Kippur Mincha Service
Start: 4:30 pm

Yom Kippur Neila Service
Start: 6:00 pm

Start: 7:15 pm
Click Here for Break-the-Fast Registration

Join the entire MCJC community for Break-the-Fast after Yom Kippur Services. So that we can plan, please contact the MCJC office to RSVP and to help put this together at: 815-455-1810 or

Pizza in the Hut Religious School Sukkot Celebration
Wednesday, October 4, 2017 at 4:30 pm

Sukkot Yom Tov Morning Services with Lulav & Etrog
Thursday, October 5, 2017 at 9:30 am

Friday Night Shabbat Services & Potluck Dinner in the Sukkah
Friday, October 5, 2017 at 6:30 pm

Shabbat Morning Sukkot Services
Saturday, October 6, 2017 at 9:30 am

Special Religious School Sukkot Programming
Sunday, October 17, 2017 at 9:30 am

​Shemini Atzeret
Sheminim Atzeret Morning Services with Yizkor
Thursday, October 12, 2017 at 9:30 am

Simchat Torah
Simchat Torah Community Celebration / Shabbat Dinner Potluck
Friday, October 13, 2017 at 6:00 pm


Family & Children’s Services

Rosh HaShanna & Yom Kippur Children’s Services (Ages 4-8)
MCJC will offer Children’s Services on the first day of Rosh Hashanah, Sunday, September 9 at 10:15 am , as well as on Yom Kippur, Saturday, Wednesday, September 19 , also at 10:15 am. These are wonderfully engaging, musical and fun services, and geared to younger children ages 4 through 8.  ​

Family Service with Shofar Blowing & Tashlich
Monday, September 10, at 4:30 pm
Join Rabbi Tom and the entire MCJC community on Monday, September 10 at 4:30 pm, (the first day of Rosh Hashanah), at 
Main Beach, 300 Lakeshore Dr, Crystal Lake, IL 60014​. We will have a musical family service and throw kosher oyster crackers (supplied by MCJC) into the pond next to the shelter. We will conclude with a community-wide shofar blowing Shofar-Palooza (bring your own shofar or use the ones MCJC provides). This program is open to the public, so bring friends and family, Jewish or not. 


Days of Teshuva: A Journey to Peace
High Holidays 2018/5779

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 day, week 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 the multimedia 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