1984 - 1992
And Jack begat Henry, who begat Donald, who begat Joel, who begat George.
Our new president wrote that the New Year should be a year of commitment and participation. He sent out a questionnaire to the entire congregation looking for ideas for new programs and how CBS could best serve their needs. Cantor Sam Waidenbaum joined the staff and another New Year began with hope and excitement. A single parent group was formed and the youth program with the Rabbi created an intergenerational Family Study Session involving contemporary, controversial issues facing the Jewish community. Men’s Club and Sisterhood threw a Chanukah party for the entire Congregation and they followed that up by bringing the traveling troupe of Second City to Rosner Hall.
Our relationship with the North Suburban Jewish Community Center expanded from just being pre-school to include joint programs for the adults. Our social action community offered inspiring programming for Soviet Jewry. The school offered truly a one-of-a-kind program with “Festival of Faith,” which was joint educational venture between Our Lady of the Brook Religious School and our own school. There were booths depicting the culture and rituals of each religion and almost 1,000 people came through the building for this event.
In June of 1986, CBS dedicated the new Sim Shalom Prayer Book. It was the new prayer book of the Conservative movement, which combined weekday and Shabbat services, as well as portions of holiday services.
The building projects were getting completed that fall as we installed the menorahs and chairs on the Bimah, the Beit Midrash finally got a permanent Ark, Ner Tamed and seating, and the Marvin Dishler Tree of Life was installed in the foyer. Everything just kept growing.
In August 1987, a flood damaged much of the original CBS building. Hit hardest were the library and the youth lounge. Nearly one-third of our books were destroyed and the youth lounge had to be entirely redone. This happened six weeks before the High Holidays but it was hardly noticeable as we recovered from this flood and rebuilt.
After extensive meetings by the High Holiday Evaluation Committee, new rules were developed for our High Holiday services in March of 1988 that created a parallel service and many policies that we still love today. Rosh Hashanah 1988 brought Cantor Steve Stoehr to CBS who said “to lead a congregation of families in prayer is a task to cherish and approach with much respect.”
In the fall, CBS presented an unforgettable evening of musical entertainment featuring Itzhak Perlman. It was a great evening of entertainment.
As our congregation grew, a new issue presented itself: How to reach out to the children of our members who were getting married. So a one-year complimentary membership was offered to all newlywed congregation children as our way of saying “that we share in your joy and want our children to feel that both they and their spouse are welcome at Beth Shalom.”
As another year grew to a close, the president wrote:
“It may be my last bulletin article but my love and support for Beth Shalom will continue forever.”
And all was good at Congregation Beth Shalom.
It was not Purim but we spent a lot of time discussing the King. CBS brought in Alan King to perform at Glenbrook North. It was called “King Comedy Night” and it was a great fundraiser and great night for Beth Shalom.
Our Sisterhood has always delivered Shabbat Welcome baskets to our new members. But in June of 1990, the Sisterhood and Social Action Committee helped deliver these baskets to 360 Russian Jewish families who had recently arrived from the Soviet Union. “The purpose is to extend a warm welcome and have an opportunity to get a glimpse of each others culture.”
A Sisterhood Committee that began to flourish during this time was the Mitzvot Committee. It provided assistance and service to members here and when needed concerning illness and death. One of their responsibilities at the time was to deliver Shabbat candlesticks to patients at Glenbrook Hospital. This committee in one form or another still exists to this day and along with the Sabbath Fund Committee, which provides for the needy Jewish families of the Chicago community, are the backbones of what became our Social Action Committee. There are many people who give of their time and concern with these projects and I applaud them for their continued support.
A new position was created at this time and Mordechai Haber became our Ritual Director. He has been working as our Bar/Bat Mitzvah tutor for a number of years. And all was good at Congregation Beth Shalom.
As the years progressed, we tried sign language at services so that we could give equal access to all. We visited Miss Saigon as a fundraising project, we continued Shabbat with a story on Shabbat evening and Torah for Tots on Shabbat morning, Men’s Club road rally and Treasure Hunt continued to bring people out in droves and Youth Group held a program called Woodstock for the whole region and Ronnie Rice brought us music of the 60’s. Our Art Fair was something new and a huge success. This program got many new people involved who had not volunteered before. Working side by side with the “old standbys” the volunteers’ core began to grow.
Cantor Stoehr continued to bring fresh talent of his fellow cantors from around the country in his Cantorial concerts. Year after year he would bring to the congregation different and innovative music to enjoy.
Then, we celebrated our 25th anniversary. We started the year with an ice cream social and the CBS Klezmer Band entertained us. It was a great start to our 25th year. In October 1991, we created our own Genizah on the grounds of CBS. A Genizah is a place for the disposal of religious material in a proper fashion. Our school had participated in a Genizah at Shalom Memorial Park years before but this would be a first at 3433 Walters.
During the 25th anniversary year, I asked each of the past presidents to write one bulletin article (not one of their favorite tasks). It was a pleasure each month to read what the past presidents had to say. Everyone looked forward to the next months’ bulletin just to see their columns.
One Shabbat evening, October 18th, 1991, everyone was invited to the celebration of our 25th anniversary. All the past Sisterhood Presidents participated in the lighting of the Shabbat candles, all the past Men’s Club Presidents led the Kiddush and all the past congregation Presidents either spoke or lead an English reading. It was truly an amazing night.
During that year we created the Learners Minyan, which took the davener page by page through the Saturday morning service in Siddur Sim Shalom. It taught the member what the prayers meant, why they are said as well as traditions, melodies and customs. They met in the Beit Midrash and joined the main service for Torah Reading.
On June 14, 1992 we held our Silver Jubilee with a multi media-show, live show and retrospective. There was a film and slide show highlighting the congregation’s early years with segments from past awards, theatrical productions and dinner dances. A year that started with an ice cream social and jazz concert, a magnificent Shabbat Service and culminated with this Silver Jubilee made our 25th anniversary a truly memorable year. And all was good at Congregation Beth Shalom.