Religious School News: Holiday Happenings!

MCJC Connections
May/June 2018 ~ Iyar/Sivan/Tamuz ~ Vol. 5778

By Paula Eskoz

What a busy couple of months we had leading up to Spring Break. In addition to our regular classroom Hebrew/Judaica/holiday studies, we had some really fun special events!

Hard at work making matzah is Sophia, Deborah, Rivka, Sienna, Emily, Zoe, and Dad

This culminated in our early March Purim Fest filled with raucous activity! We began with our Megillah reading, where our costume-clad students enjoyed shaking their homemade groggers to Haman’s
name, as the adults enjoyed partaking in the Goldschlager. This was followed by the community compiling bags for the PADS homeless shelter, filled with much needed toiletries and paper goods. Thanks to all for donations! And, of course, we then held our carnival with some new games and prizes, along with a fun raffle. Thanks to the Maintenance Men, as always, for their delicious picnic that morning.

Sisters Ryleigh and Brooklyn stringing
beads for their Elijah and Miriam cups.

March also brought us wonderful Passover events. Rabbi Scheiman from Chicago joined us for Matzah Making, much to the enjoyment of the students AND the teachers. After a short discussion about the Passover holiday, kids learned how to mix the water and flour. Then while wearing their matzah hats, they rolled the dough and made it “holy”…using a fork. Rabbi baked the matzahs in his oven, and each of the kids was able to take one home…if it got that far! Thanks to Jill Purvin for coordinating this event.

Teacher Paula Eskoz helping several CKI students to string their beads.

We also joined other synagogues at CKI in Elgin for a special Passover program. We were thrilled to have several teachers, Rabbi Tom, and about ten students from MCJC in attendance. The morning consisted of singing followed by several fun stations including a Passover floor game, matzah tasting contest, and seder plate learning.

Rabbi Tom and Rabbi Friedman teaching about Elijah and Miriam’s cups to all the kids.

Rabbi Tom and Rabbi Friedman from Aurora taught the students about Elijah and Miriam’s cups, which was followed by an art activity where the kids were able to decorate their own beautiful glasses to bring home. They also made creative tambourines to use while we danced and sang. A special thank you to Davina Kelly for helping to coordinate this program, and for coordinating the PJY program this year.

Hard at work making matzah is Sophia, Deborah, Rivka, Sienna, Emily, Zoe, and Dad

Happy to report that our grade 2/3 class finished making their Torahs and yads…this was a very exciting project that began last year. We held a Torah parade around the school so they could show off their hard work and creativity. These will head home soon with the children.

We are looking forward to an exciting end of the school year, filled with some Israel activities for the upcoming holidays. Please attend Closing Day on Sunday, May 6.

Students, including MCJC’s Rivka, enjoying a fun Passover floor game led by Davina.
Teacher Davina Kelly with MCJC students Sophia and Deborah.

B’nai Mitzvah Class with Rabbi Tom

At MCJC, we teach our children to question, to debate, to fall in love with Torah, while finding their own voices in the chorus of our tradition.

Our students don’t have a Bar or Bat Mitzvah – they become a Bar
or Bat Mitzvah. They become responsible adults in the Jewish community and in the world.

Starting in fourth grade and continuing on up to and even past our children’s Bnai Mitzvah ceremonies, Rabbi Tom trains our children to become fluent in the Shabbat morning prayer service which includes proficiency in reading Hebrew, knowing a variety of Jewish liturgical music, and finding personal meaning in the prayers themselves.

Habitat: My First Home Dedication

By Howard Frank

On Feb. 24 I went to my first Home Dedication for Habitat for Humanity. The new owners of the home in McHenry are a single father, Matt, and his five year old son. It was a wonderful occasion,
seeing the son running around and proudly showing off the house
off to anyone that he could.

On another note, I spoke to one of the managers of the new Restore Center for Habitat (2205 S. Eastwood) regarding volunteer opportunities. He indicated that they are always looking for helping
hands to do a myriad of jobs at the center.

Jobs range from cashier, shelf stocker, product tester, material sorter, and any other task that might be required at any retail operation.

Anyone interested should contact Mark or Dan (managers) at 815-334-0500.  Any questions, please email me at


MCJC is a participant in the McHenry County Adopt-A-Highway litter pick-up community service program. MCJC’s adopted highway is Ridgefield Road, between U.S Route 14 and Country Club Road.

Over 11 five-gallon cans of litter were picked up on Friday, March 23. This was more than normal because it was the first litter pick-up after the winter season. Normally, three to five-five gallon cans of litter are picked up on “litter clean-up day.”

The first and third Fridays of the month are “litter pick-up” days. It generally requires thirty to forty-five minutes of work time. Bruce Weiss is responsible for picking up the litter on behalf of MCJC’s participation in this community service project.

If you would like to help Bruce and participate in this community service project, please contact him at 815-338-2721 or

Upcoming at MCJC Week of April 24

Please see the MCJC CALENDAR for more information on any of these dates: 

Tuesday, April 24
Office Closed

Wednesday, April 25
1:00 pm: Lunch & Learn with Rabbi Tom
4:30 pm: Religious School
6:00 pm: PADS Dinner (See Below)

Friday, April 27
6:30 pm: Community Shabbat & Potluck Dinner

Saturday, April 28
9:30 am: Shabbat Morning Services with Torah Discussion
7:00 pm: MCJC Casino Night Fundraiser & Silent Auction

Sunday, April 29
9:15 am: Religious School
11:00 am: Adult Ed with Rabbi Tom

Wednesday, May 2
1:00 pm: Lunch & Learn with Rabbi Tom
4:30 pm: Religious School
6:15 pm: Religious School Faculty Meeting

Friday, May 4
6:30 pm: Community Shabbat & Potluck Dinner

Saturday, May 5
9:30 am: Shabbat Morning Services with Torah Discussion

Sunday, May 6
9:15 am: Last Day of Religious School, Closing Day, Community Picnic

Wednesday, May 9
1:00 pm: Lunch & Learn with Rabbi Tom
4:30 pm: Religious School

Thursday, May 10
7:00 pm: MCJC Book Club

Friday, May 11
6:30 pm: Community Shabbat & Potluck Dinner

Saturday, May 12
9:30 am: Shabbat Morning Services with Torah Discussion

Torah: It’s About Separation, Not Morality: Rethinking Homosexuality in the Torah — Acharei Mot / Kedoshim 2018

The Torah was given in the desert, to emphasize its universal availability. This is a trope of pluralism, universalism, and tolerance, regardless of who someone has sex with or, for that matter, whether they like eggplant or not.

The Trope

Acharei Mot – Lev. 16:1 – 18:30Click here.

Kedoshim – Lev. 19:1 – 20:27Click here.

MCJC’s Major Fundraiser: An Evening of Casino Entertainment

Saturday, April 28, 2018, at the McHenry VFW 

Our “Little Shul on the Prairie” is in the process of requesting donations and/or sponsorships from our community members to help make our event successful.

The success of this event will enable us to continue to provide an outstanding religious education for both children and adults as well as community outreach and spiritual growth in McHenry County. We are asking for Silent Auction items, raffle prizes and event sponsorships.


$50 Wildcard

Name on MCJC website, Facebook, Twitter, as well as in printed program book

$200 Queen

Name on MCJC website, Facebook, Twitter, as well as in printed program book and table signage at event, and “Raise your Glass” announcements

$350 King

Name on MCJC website, Facebook, Twitter, as well as in printed program book, table signage at event, “Raise your Glass” announcements, your promotional materials in our “Thank You” bags (*if provided) and a ticket to the event

$500 Ace

Name on MCJC website, Facebook, Twitter, as well as in printed program book, table signage at event, “Raise your Glass” announcements, your promotional materials in our “Thank You” bags (*if provided), and Two tickets to the event

$1000 or more The Royal Flush

Name on MCJC website, Facebook, Twitter, as well as in printed program book, table signage at event, “Raise your Glass” announcements, your promotional materials in our “Thank You” bags (if provided), four tickets to the event — AND a genuine LAS VEGAS printed casino table felt with your business or family name printed on it, for your choice of table game. Deliverable after the event for you to keep.

Donated items and sponsorships to MCJC are considered a charitable contribution and are tax deductible. Please contact us for our Federal ID number.

For more information, or to arrange donation pickups, please contact us via email at


The next MCJC-sponsored PADS dinner is April 25, 2018, from 6:00 pm to 8:00 pm at Redeemer Lutheran Church, 1320 Dean Street in Woodstock.
This is the last MCJC-sponsored PADS dinner for the October 2017-April 2018 PADS winter season.

Five to six individuals will be needed to help serve the meal (6:00 pm to 8:00 pm). Please contact me or Amy Llanetta if you are able to help serve the meal. You can get in touch with us about preparing or serving via

For more information about PADS Click Here. To find out about volunteering, please contact Bruce Weiss, MCJC Social Action Chairperson, at

Thanks so much for your help with this important community service project,

Bruce Weiss, MCJC Social Action Committee Chairperson

Bring Music of the Jewish Soul Home

Jewish Music, Memory and Identity
All music is soul music, an expression of someone’s soul, and Jewish music is no exception. It expresses the Jewish soul, the joy, sadness, hope, longing, aspiration, anticipation, fun, excitement and love that flows from a Jewish life.

Music is one of those things that like the aromas of food stimulates emotion and memory, as Stuart Stott expresses in his song, Music in My Mother’s House:

“There were wind chimes in the window. Bells inside the clock.
An organ in the corner and tunes on a music box.
We sang while we were cooking or working in the yard.
We sang because our lives were really hard.

“There was music in my mother’s house.
There was music all around.
There was music in my mother’s house.
And my heart’s still full with the sound…”

One of the best ways to create warm Jewish memories with your children is to fill your home with Jewish music in all its variety. For children, the simple words and melodies of songs are a key: sing your children to sleep, sing with them, sing while you’re cooking or working in the yard. Sing at Shabbat dinner — sing at any meal! Sing in the shower, sing while you’re carpooling, sing while you’re cleaning the house, stop for a song break while you’re helping with homework. If someone plays piano or guitar or another instrument, try learning a Jewish song to share with the family.

Jewish Song-of-the-Week (or month)
Here’s a good way to get started: choose a Jewish Song-of-the-Week (or month) to learn and sing to each other or sing together any chance you have.

Decide how you’ll choose a song. Will each person in the family take a turn finding something to share with the others? Will each person bring a suggestion to the table and the family vote on one for the current choice?

Jewish Music Resources
Rabbi Tom offers a growing library of Jewish songs ( to help you choose. Visit often to check out new videos.

The Chicago area is home to some wonderful Jewish musicians, and you’ll have a chance to hear and learn from many of them at the Greater Chicago Jewish Festival this summer, Sunday, June 10, 11 am – 6 pm at St. Paul Woods, Cook County Forest Preserve.

In the meantime, you can check out some of our own Chicago Jewish musicians on their websites: Listen Up! Jewish A CappellaThe Maxwell St. Klezmer Band and Tum BalalaikaShakshuka and Kol Sasson  just to name a very few.

Be sure to check out Jewish Rock Radio for contemporary and up-and-coming Jewish music for all ages.

The Klezmer Music Foundation, created by Chicagoan Lori Lippitz, encourages young people to engage through their outreach program to schools and other venues. The Spertus Institute for Jewish Learning and Leadership in Chicago offers performances and programs on aspects of Jewish music, and for any who really want to get into it (or have a school paper to write and want an interesting topic), the Asher Library is an extraordinary local resource.

Did you know The Chicago Public Library has a Jewish Music Archive? And it’s a cool place to visit as a family as well!

Of course we all know about resources like iTunes and Pandora.

YouTube features lots of videos when you search on things like “Jewish songs,” “Israeli songs,” “Jewish children’s songs,” “Jewish holiday songs,” “Jewish songs in English,” or “Shabbat songs.”

Make searching and learning a fun family activity as you discover ways to enrich the Jewish soul of your home.

When you sensitize your ears, you’ll start to find music coming from so many places. Don’t be surprised if your kids start to sing snippets of tunes they hear in synagogue alongside your Jewish-Song-of-the-Week (or month). You can be sure they’ll remember the Jewish songs you sing together as warmly as the aromas of Jewish foods you share.

The Jewish Heart of McHenry County