PADS Dinner Upcoming February 28, 2018

The next MCJC-sponsored PADS dinner is February 28, 2018, from 6:00pm to 8:00 pm at Redeemer Lutheran Church 1320 Dean Street in Woodstock.

The menu is soup, roasted chicken, mashed potatoes, green beans, salad, rolls, and dessert. The MCJC PADS dinner team needs to provide enough food for sixty guests. Gene Lindow and his Trio Grille team will be providing the roasted chicken entree, and Leslie Cook will be providing the soup.

We need food providers for the mashed potatoes, green beans, salad, rolls, and dessert. We also need a total of five volunteers to help serve the meal.

Important: do not feel that you need to provide a food item for 60 people…provide whatever your time & energy allow you to provide. Please contact Bruce Weiss at to let him know which food item & how much of the needed food item you are able to provide.

If you are able to help serve the meal, enter Amy Llaneta’s name to the subject line. Your help with this important community service project is GREATLY APPRECIATED.

Warm regards,
Bruce Weiss MCJC Social Action Chairperson

A Message From Rabbi Tom: Sharing and Exchanging the World of Ideas

MCJC Connections
March/April 2018 * Adar/Nissan/Iyar * Volume 5778

An ancient legend teaches that when our ancestors stood at Mount Sinai, God said to them, “Before I give you my Torah, you must give me something precious that proves that you are devoted to it.” The Israelites thought long and hard. They offered their jewelry. But God did not accept it.

Then they thought harder about what was most precious, and offered the patriarchs and matriarchs – Abraham and Sarah, Isaac and Rebecca, and Jacob, Rachel, and Leah – as proof. But God refused that offer, too.

Finally, the Israelites said, “Our children and all generations of children after them are what is most precious. We will teach them to love and honor God’s commandments.” (Song of Songs Rabbah)

We are commanded in the Book of Deuteronomy, “You stand this day, all of you, before the Eternal your God, tribal heads, elders, officials, all of the men of Israel, children, women, even the stranger within your camp, from wood chopper to water drawer.” (29: 9-10) That every single one of us, from the prince to the water drawer, adult to child, is literally standing before God to create a Judaism of meaning, depth, and seriousness.

And the Jewish way, the Jewish path towards this, is through education. “You shall teach these things repeatedly to your children, veshinantam levanecha, speaking of them when you sit in your house, when you walk on the way, when you lie down and when you rise
up.” (Deuteronomy 6:7)

Former Chief Rabbi of Great Britain, Lord Jonathan Sacks, points out that at the very brink of the Israelites’ walk to freedom from their Egyptian slave-masters, Moses, their leader, gathers them together and talks about their duty to pass on the memory of the Exodus to their children and to future generations. “And when your children ask you, ‘What do you mean by this rite?’ you shall… explain to your child on that day, ‘It is because of what the Lord did for me when I went free from Egypt…’” (Exodus 12-13)

Rabbi Sacks asks, why this obsession with education that has stayed with the Jewish people throughout the millennia? And he answers, “Because to defend a country you need an army. But to defend a civilization you need schools. You need education as the conversation between the generations. Whatever the society, the culture or the faith, we need to teach our children, and they theirs, what we aspire to and the ideals we were bequeathed by those who came before us. We need to teach our children the story of which we and they are a part, and we need to trust them to go further than we did, when they come to write their own chapter.”

The Hebrew word for education is chinuch. The Talmud associates this word with the word chen, grace. That education, in the Jewish tradition, is the act of drawing-out, revealing the unique inner beauty, the chen, of each and every student.

And the Torah is called the Book of Life, Sefer ha’Chayim. That is something you get intimately involved with. It is a relationship. A meeting place. An organic process that weaves life and learning together. Where we meet God.

And so, at its core, Jewish education, and Judaism itself, from its very beginning, is based on the the exchange of a world of ideas. To seek that which speaks to our very souls.

Blessed are You God, King of the Universe, Who has sanctified us through His commandments, and commanded us to be immersed in the words and in a life of Torah.

Rabbi Tom

Vice President’s Report: Building Our Future

MCJC Connections
March/April 2018 * Adar/Nissan/Iyar * Volume 5778

By Rob Perbohner

Thank you to Jack Fishman for the opportunity to fill in for the President’s Column in this issue. It is a busy time at MCJC as we continue to transition and evolve in the various areas we serve. I have analogized our congregation as resting on a three-legged stool. Each leg represents a crucial piece of our synagogue and community.

As announced by email to members, Rabbi Tom Samuels has been retained for continued Rabbinic leadership at MCJC. Rabbi Tom and MCJC agreed to a fixed two-year term with an additional two option years. This provides our community with continuity in spiritual leadership, and gives Rabbi Tom the ability to further shape our ritual experience.

Our Ritual Chair, Gene Lindow, has worked closely with Rabbi Tom and the full committee to continue to evolve our service structure and guide our religious experience. A number of new faces have joined the committee, and have contributed regularly to our services.

Our Hebrew School also has been evolving, as we have seen fewer students in the school. With retirements from some of our long-standing teachers, we operate with a leaner staff. Our teachers, working with the Rabbi, continue to fine tune our curriculum, and further refinements for next year are being considered after input from our parents. Our goal is to combine a challenging and rewarding experience along with assuring a strong Judaic knowledge in preparation for both their B’nai Mitzvah and adulthood.

We face the same challenges as other synagogues with secular commitments and activities conflicting with traditional Hebrew school requirements. Nevertheless, MCJC remains committed to educating our children in Jewish life and experience. One recent development is that Rabbi Tom is beginning a dedicated B’nai Mitzvah class for students in the 4th grade and above. This will both strengthen the bonds between the kids and their readiness to become Jewish adults.

Obviously, a key factor in the health of our synagogue is attracting and retaining members. As synagogues throughout our area vie for a smaller pool of Jewish families, our hope is that our unique approach to Jewish life and learning will continue to attract new members, while keeping our current members active.

Rabbi Tom has focused on enhancing the meaning and love of Judaism. His approach has caused us to stretch our learning, and also accept new perspectives and practices. Our hope is that this experience can be shared by more in our community.

We will soon introduce our new website, which will re-introduce MCJC to the world. This website, created by Leslie Cook with assistance from many, provides an avenue to better share who we are and what we offer. We will also focus on rejuvenating a formal membership committee to reach out and recruit potential members.

Finally, we are preparing for a major fundraiser in April which all members will be asked to support. We need your assistance to maintain our operations!

As this will be my last chance to speak to you in the newsletter before my term ends as Vice-President, I thank you for allowing me the opportunity to serve MCJC. Thanks to Jack for his strong and reasoned leadership over the last four years and also to the rest of our officers and Board Members. Our Board has faced some difficult issues, but each member has contributed to find solutions and keep MCJC strong.

In the coming months, we will need more of our members to volunteer for committee and leadership roles. We need you to take an active role in MCJC activities and programs. We have seen newer members step up and fill roles that others retired from after many years.

Our Operations Committee has done a spectacular job in handling events and day to day functions. Special thanks to Jill Purvin and Dara Turnball for taking leadership, along with Lea Grover. Further thanks to George Sachs, who has spent countless hours nursing our new boiler through a bumpy road. He has been our David with a Goliath of issues.

I look forward to seeing great achievements for our little synagogue. It has been the strength of our members and their continued support that has maintained our relevance for our members and our greater Jewish community. Let’s all resolve to support MCJC as a dynamic center for Jewish life, learning, and love in the greater McHenry County area.

Religious School News: The School Year Continues!

MCJC Connections
March/April 2018 * Adar/Nissan/Iyar * Volume 5778

By Jennifer Schwartz

The children have jumped head first into more writing and reading in these past months.

Zoe and Aiden show off their Torah-making project.

The older classes have been using their Hebrew reading skills to read and write Valentine’s Day related words and make Valentine’s Day presents for their families.

They have also used their Hebrew writing skills and collected “Mitzvah points” by writing Refuah Shlemah cards for Mrs. Janowitz while she is out. They have been working so hard extending their Hebrew knowledge beyond memorization!

Assembling prayers!

The children have also been coming together on Wednesdays for large group activities. One Wednesday, Mrs. Eskoz hosted a wonderful activity focusing on the children taking large print words and creating familiar prayers. The children were able to create and successfully read the Shema as well as many food blessings.

March 4 is a big event for us all…the Purim carnival! The teachers have planned a fun-filled, family event with food, games, and prizes. Megillah story-telling will start at 9:30 a.m., and we plan on seeing you there with your creative costumes and your groggers ready.

By zeevveez from Jerusalem, Israel – Purim Exhibition at Heichal Shlomo in Jerusalem (17), CC BY 2.0,

Gabbai’s Corner: When, Where, Why?

MCJC Connections
March/April 2018 * Adar/Nissan/Iyar * Volume 5778

By Gene Lindow

We are fast approaching the half-way point of the Jewish Year —Passover. It seems like we just finished the High Holidays. For me, this is my time for revisiting not only my goals and convictions regarding Judaism, but also my moral compass for how to interact with everyone I come in contact. I have so much to concentrate on, but that is who I am.

Pesach to me is very special, for it has been a “command performance” for decades that we get together and retell the story of the Exodus. My better half, Sandy, feels that the Seder should be in the home if at all possible, therefore she VOLUNTOLD herself over twenty years ago to host it. She continues to do an incredible job—todah!

This year Rabbi Tom is going to lead the second night community Seder at MCJC, and he wants it to be even better than last year – in attendance as well as in inspiration. To get us to grasp the significance of the holiday, Rabbi Tom is discussing with his Wednesday classes the topic of Pesach. But what about Shabbos?

Many of us work and are unable to attend the mid-day classes. Therefore, the Ritual Committee has come up with a five-week trial period (which has already begun) where we will have three aliyahs instead of seven during Shabbos. We’ll have more discussion/learning of the parsha and the upcoming holiday, and still end at the normal time.

We are trying different approaches to Judaism not to upset anyone but rather to try to get more people engaged. The Saturday morning attendees are truly enjoying the additional, thought-provoking, two-way conversations. PLEASE join us on Shabbos morning. I promise to respect your wishes of whether or not you would like an honor.

Passover, as you know, is an eight-day holiday here (diaspora) but only seven in Israel. The seventh day this year is also Shabbos, so to make it easier for your participation, we are going to hold the Yizkor service during that Saturday morning service on April 7. There are four times during the year that we recite the memorial prayers, and Passover is one of them.

I look forward to receiving your feedback regarding these temporary adaptations in the service, for we are looking at all options to make the practice of Judaism more relevant for you and your family at MCJC.

MCJC Social Action Committee Update

MCJC members prepared and served dinner for the homeless of McHenry County and for PADS volunteers this past December 27 and January 24 at Redeemer Lutheran Church in Woodstock. Fifty-four PADS guests and ten PADS volunteers were fed on December 27, and forty-three PADS guests and fourteen PADS volunteers were fed on January 24. Gene Lindow and his Trio Grille Restaurant, Leslie Cook, Ellen Morton, Amy & Ben Llaneta, Marian Weiss, Brian Silver, Lisa Chiodo, Rachel Bailenson, and Eva Hoffman provided food for the dinners, and Amy & BJ Llaneta, Brian Silver, Lisa Chiodo, and Bruce Weiss served the meals. The meals were delicious and were much appreciated by the PADS guests and volunteers. Watch your enouncements for dates of future dinners.

MCJC has adopted Ridgefield Road between U.S. Route 14 and Country Club Road, and has agreed to pick up litter on Ridgefield Road on a regular basis for a two-year period. Until winter set in, Bruce Weiss picked up litter from Ridgefield Road roughly every ten days and usually picked up between three to five five gallon cans of litter. In addition, MCJC has adopted the Bike Trail along U.S Route 14 between Ridgefield Road and Lucas Road, and has agreed to pick up litter on the Bike Trail once a month for a one year period. Until winter set in, Lizz & John Dewey picked up litter from the Bike Trail once a month, and usually filled one large, black garbage bag.

Howard Frank, MCJC Social Action Committee member, works every Wednesday in support of Habitat For Humanity, McHenry County. In the past two months, Howard has worked at the following Habitat For Humanity, McHenry County building project sites: a duplex home in Wonder Lake, an energy efficient two bedroom home in Cary, and a single family home in McHenry. Hats off to Howard for his work with Habitat For Humanity, McHenry County!

If you would like to lend a hand in any of these efforts, contact Bruce Weiss at

MCJC Book Club Report

MCJC Connections
March/April 2018 * Adar/Nissan/Iyar * Volume 5778

The MCJC Book Club meets every other month to discuss a Jewish themed book. It meets next on Thursday, March 15, at 7 pm, to discuss Bertrand Court by Michelle Brafman.

Bertrand Court is a captivating novel told in short story form, intertwining seventeen narratives about the secrets of a cast of politicos, filmmakers, and housewives, all tied to a suburban Washington, D.C., cul-de-sac.

This book is available in paperback format at libraries and bookstores, and online at Amazon, Alibris, and other book sites.

Rachel Kamin will again be our facilitator for this program.

The next book will be And After The Fire by Lauren Belfer, to be discussed May 10, 2018. For more information, please email

The Jewish Heart of McHenry County