Rabbi Tom, the MCJC Board of Directors, and the Ritual Committee wish a Todah Rabbah to everyone who volunteered to make this out-of-the-ordinary High Holy Day Season a successful one.

It is our hope that you were able to find the Zoom sessions uplifting and meeting your spiritual needs. May 5781 bring our community peace, health and happiness.

Please continue to visit this website,, and the Online Calendar throughout the year to see our schedule of services and events.

Our High Holy Day Pledge Season has begun! Especially this year, please consider an additional donation to support the efforts being made to keep our “Little Shul On The Prairie” a viable virtual presence during the High Holy Day season and throughout the year. Look in your mailbox for the Pledge card. Return it with your donation, or we can “gently remind” you in the coming months to fulfill your commitment. If you did not receive a Pledge Card, please go to our Home Page, click on the “Donate” dropdown menu, and decide which funds you would like to earmark.

High Holy Days Tzedakah Pledge

Amount: USD

Posted in High Holy Days, High Holy Days 2020 | Leave a comment


Membership Renewal Forms have been mailed to congregants. Take advantage of the Early Bird Discount prior to July 10, 2020! You can also find the fillable .pdf by clicking on the “FORMS” button in the right-hand column of our website, (choose MEMBERSHIP FORM 2020/21). Instructions for completing and returning forms to MCJC are provided on the Forms page.

Posted in Forms, High Holy Days 2020, Membership, Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Support the Holocaust Memorial in McHenry County


To Benefit The Lisa Derman Holocaust Memorial, “Storytelling on the Square,” and Illinois Storytelling, Inc., a non-profit Educational Corporation


SATURDAY, DEC 21   7:00 – 9:00 pm

The Lisa Derman Holocaust Memorial

The Lisa Derman Holocaust Memorial has many connections to MCJC. Conceived by Jim May of the Illinois Storytelling, Inc. and a good friend of MCJC, this is the only Holocaust memorial in McHenry County.

The beautiful bronze bas relief was created by MCJC’s own Nancy Wicker, and Al Gimpel’s dad, Max, created the Hebrew inscription. Many synagogue members contributed financially to help realize the dedication of the memorial, and Leo Schlosberg oversaw the engineering aspect. The memorial is in Spring Grove Park, site of Mrs. Derman’s final speaking engagement. She succumbed to a heart attack as she was concluding her remarks of caring and love for all.

A Holocaust survivor who spoke regularly at Ellen Levy’s middle school in Buffalo Grove, Lisa Derman testified in Springfield to help pass the Illinois mandate to teach students about the Holocaust. As President of the Illinois Holocaust Museum, she helped to build the Illinois Holocaust Museum and Education Center in Skokie.

This summer, a meditation bench is going to be installed at the monument.  This welcome addition to the site will enable visitors to relax and enjoy the beauty and meaning of this only Holocaust memorial in McHenry County.

Please consider attending this heartwarming evening On the Square at Stage Left, attached to the Opera House.


Jim May–emcee, and “Child’s Christmas in Wales”
Ed Collin–a Winter Solstice Story
Carol Kerman–a story from the Jewish Tradition
Rich Tobiasz–the real story of “The Night Before…”

No coverbut your donations will keep storytelling alive in Woodstock and Illinois.

Mail in donation to: Illinois Storytelling, Inc., P.O. Box 1022, Woodstock, IL 60098. You will receive a receipt for taxes.

Stage Left Café is located on the historic Woodstock Square, 125 Van Buren St., Woodstock, IL 60098.

For more info and weather updates, contact Jim May at, 815-382-5264.

Sponsored by Illinois Storytelling, Inc. and the Woodstock Opera House.

Posted in Entertainment | Leave a comment


Thank you to our MCJC member, Gale Harris, for sharing this beautiful Chanukah poem with us:

All people yearn
For light in winter
Even then, especially then.
The temple was defiled
And only one light shown:
A once eternal light
That could not be sustained.
It should have sputtered,
Smoked and died,
But kept its fire
For eight long nights
Until another lamp was lit.
This is the miracle:
How one light,
One bright mind,
One child
One loving act
Keeps hope alive
Until another comes
To bring the flame.
               Gale Harris, 2019

Posted in Chanukah, Member Creativity | Leave a comment

A Shabbat Experience That Reshaped My Week & My Life

By Leslie Cook

I’d like to tell you about the Shabbat experience I enjoyed for ten years when I lived in West Rogers Park.

Someone told me once that in an Orthodox community Shabbat shapes the entire week. From Saturday evening after Havdalah until midweek, you’re re-engaging with regular time, memories of the last Shabbat fading but still there. By midweek, you begin to prepare for the upcoming Shabbat with house cleaning, menu planning, shopping, preparing food, and finally setting up the table. And then Shabbat begins as the candles are lit, and time is suspended for twenty-six hours. While the week is a time for creation, Shabbat is a time for appreciation. The beauty of this idea enacted weekly in space and time transformed my life.

My own thought about the day was that in doing all that ahead of Shabbat, cleaning, shopping, cooking, setting my table, putting on special clothes to honor the day . . . I created a space in time for myself in which I could sit back with friends and be nurtured. Of course I had done the work, but as another teacher said to me once, religion is the language of “as if.” In the fictional space we all created in that community, the prepared table gleamed before me, and I could sit and enjoy the evening as a guest among guests.

But I wasn’t the only one doing that. Everyone in my community was engaged in the same effort. If my windows were open on a Shabbat evening, I could hear Shabbat songs from all three floors of the building next to me, and I’m sure they could hear ours. Every person at every table was a guest at the table, thanks to planning and preparation toward a common goal during the week. That goal was a beautiful Shabbat – in the words of Rabbi Abraham Joshua Heschel, “a palace in time.”

One of the things I loved about Shabbat in West Rogers Park was the bustle in the kosher stores around Devon Avenue in the hours before Shabbat. Whether on the streets shopping on Friday or walking to and from one of the more than twenty synagogues in walking distance, friends were likely to run into each other and invite each other to a Shabbat meal. It didn’t matter which synagogue a person attended – or if they didn’t attend at all. Everyone was a welcome addition to someone’s Shabbat table.

I’ve been in McHenry County now for almost twenty years. I miss those wonderful Shabbat evening dinners and midday meals after shul with friends. So when Rabbi Tom said he’d like to encourage people to celebrate Shabbat in their homes with friends and hoped to help with and join in those celebrations, I jumped at the opportunity to recreate in some way those West Rogers Park evenings in my home. Of course they won’t be the same as in that other community. McHenry County is very different from West Rogers Park. Shared Shabbat meals here will take on their own style and character. But the important things will be the same. I will share good food, laughter, song, and Torah with my friends.

Maybe you have different memories or a different vision of Shabbat at home that you would like to share with others – or maybe you would like to create something very different. We are fortunate to have a rabbi who is willing to work with each of us where we are to create something special for our ourselves, our families, and our friends wherever we are on the path of our Jewish lives.

Posted in Member Creativity, Shabbat & Holidays | Leave a comment

Upcoming at MCJC Week of December 17, 2019

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

Wednesday, December 18
2:00 pm: Learn with Rabbi Tom, *Panera, Crystal Lake
4:30 pm: Religious School grades 4-7
6:15 pm: Ritual Committee meeting
6:30 pm: NO Adult Education with Rabbi Tom

Friday, December 20
6:30: Community Shabbat Service & Potluck Dinner  (If you can bring veggie or dairy food to share, please let us know what you’ll bring at

Saturday, December 21
9:30 am: Shabbat Morning Services, Torah Discussion

Sunday, December 22
9:30 am: NO Religious School
11:00 am: NO Adult Education with Rabbi Tom

Tuesday, December 24
5:00 pm: Get out your chopsticks! –
“Let’s Have Fun Together” CHINESE DINNER

Wednesday, December 25
2:00 pm: NO Learn with Rabbi Tom
4:30 pm: NO Religious School
6:00 pm: PADS Dinner, Redeemer Lutheran Church, 1320 Dean Street, Woodstock
6:30 pm: NO Adult Education with Rabbi Tom

Friday, December 27
6:30:  Friday Night Shabbat at Rabbi Tom’s Table. Please visit our website at, the upper right column, for a beautiful video celebrating Shabbat. Check out our Video Gallery for the entire series!

Saturday, December 28
9:30 am: Shabbat Morning Services & Torah Discussion. Community 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, December 29
9:30 am: NO Religious School
11:00 am: NO Adult Education with Rabbi Tom

Monday, December 30
6:00 pm: Communications Committee Meeting, *Panera, Crystal Lake

*Panera Bread, 6000 Northwest Hwy, Crystal Lake, IL 60014

Posted in Upcoming | Leave a comment

Religious School News Week of December 17, 2019

Students had a great week!

Last Wednesday our upper grades worked hard on their Hebrew reading and prayer.

On Saturday we had a wonderful Consecration Havdalah where our 4 th graders received their very own prayer books. We are very proud of them and all they have accomplished so far!

We wrapped up the week with our Annual Chanukah Party. We started with Chanukah songs with Ilene Kaye and Rabbi Tom. Then families made edible dreidels, played a variety of Chanukah games, and made Chanukah cards. We finished the morning with delicious latkes made by our own MCJC Maintenance Men. A big thank you to all who helped make the morning special!


Wednesday, December 18
School grades 4-7

NO SCHOOL on the following days due to Winter Break:
Sunday, December 22
Wednesday, December 25
Sunday, December 29
Wednesday, January 1
Sunday, January 5

Happy Chanukah!

Posted in Religious School | Leave a comment

Torah: Vayeshev – On the Limits of Grief & Mourning

Please join us on Saturday morning at 9:30 am for Shabbat worship and Torah study.


On the Limits of Grief and Mourning

We read that upon hearing of his son, Joseph’s, death, Jacob tore his clothes, put on sackcloth, and refused to be comforted. He said, “I will go down to the grave mourning for my son.” (Gen. 37: 34-35)

There are laws in Judaism about the limits of grief – aninut, avelut, shiva, sheloshim, shanah, etc. There is no such thing as a bereavement for which grief is endless. And yet, Jacob refuses to be comforted. Can we, in fact, ever mourn too much? Grieve too much?


Please note: These trope links connect to the beginning of the whole Torah portion / Haftarah. Find a specific reading with the drop-down box at the top, right of the page, and/or by using chapter and verse.

Torah: Genesis 37:1 – 40:23 – Click here.

Haftarah: Amos 2:6 – 3:8 – Click here.

* * *

Another good Torah “helper” is Pocket Torah, available in the Apple App store. Pocket Torah Trope teaches “Trope Phrases,” and Pocket Torah teaches portions.

Posted in Torah Study | Leave a comment

MCJC’s “Let’s Have Fun Together” Program Hosts Barry Bradford & His Crystal Ball for 2020

The goal of  MCJC’s “Let’s Have Fun Together” initiative is to build community through entertaining and fun programs and activities.

Check out our next “Let’s Have Fun Together” event:

Sunday, February 2, 2:00 pm at MCJC

“Looking Back Ahead:
2019 in Review – Predictions for 2020″

Enjoy a highly entertaining overview of the year 2019, and a “crystal ball” predictive look at what to expect in 2020 . . . this is Barry Bradford’s most anticipated show each year, and the perfect entertainment experience to start off 2020!

Barry Bradford is a Chicago-based, award-winning motivational speaker, historian, and author.

Tickets: $5/pp by phone (815-455-1810), online at, or cash or check at the door.

Refreshments and a social immediately follows the presentation. Child care is provided. Please bring a guest or two to enjoy with you.

Questions: Bruce Weiss at (815-338-2721)

Posted in Entertainment | Leave a comment

Planting the Seeds Potluck Dinner & Panel Discussion with Rabbi Tom

Planting the Seeds of Community and Friendship
An Interfaith Initiative

Please join us for our next
Community Potluck Dinner & Panel Discussion
Friday, January 24, 2020 ~ 6:30-8:00 pm

At: Resurrection Catholic Church
2918 Country Club Road   Woodstock, IL 60098

Four local religious communities will gather to promote fellowship and understanding: McHenry County Jewish Congregation, Resurrection Catholic Church, Ridgefield-Crystal Lake Presbyterian Church, and the American Muslim Community Organization.

Rabbi Tom is the MCJC representative for the panel discussion.

To RSVP for this event or if you have questions, please contact Bruce Weiss at

Posted in Interfaith Dialogue | Leave a comment