Recent Happenings

Emoji Shabbat on the Lake

Posted on August 28, 2018

On Friday, August 24, over 150 congregants gathered to celebrate the “happiest shabbat of all!” Members enjoyed appetizers and schmoozing along with music provided by Hazzan Tisser and friends. After shabbat services, guests were greeted by smiling emoji balloons and decor as they enjoyed a summer-time dinner straight from the grill. Our youngest members and their parents brought in shabbat “emo-jew” style with Ali Drumm, Marah Altenberg and Jeff Baden. 

A special shout out to all who helped out on this event: Pam Schlosberg, Holly Reinsdorf, Rebecca Jacobson, Debbie Fox, Jackie Mellinger, Melissa Halperin, Hazzan Tisser, Abby Lasky, and Avram Pachter.

Maxwell Street Klezmer Concert

Posted on August 17, 2018

It was a beautiful summer night to enjoy food and cocktails on the Beth El patio. Members noshed and mingled before heading into the Blumberg for a fabulous performance by the Maxwell Street Klezmer Band! Hazzan Tisser joined the band to sing several songs, before the band switched to dance music and brought the crowd to the dance floor. Click HERE if you would like to watch the entire concert. 

Israeli Scouts Tzofim Friendship Caravan

Posted on July 27, 2018

On July 26, Beth El members and friends of all ages were treated to an exciting and energetic performance from the Israeli Scouts Tzofim Friendship Caravan. Ten Israeli scouts from all over Israel danced and sang to new and familiar tunes. They shared their personal stories, as well as pride for their birthplace and its 70 year history. We are grateful to have had the opportunity to host these amazing young people. If you missed them this year, be sure to catch them next year! 

Beth El Ravinia Night

Posted on July 24, 2018

40 members of NSS Beth El gathered at Ravinia on a beautiful Monday night in July to enjoy the music of George Gershwin. It was so successful, we are already discussing plans to do it next year!

Kabbalat Shabbat on the Lake

Posted on June 10, 2018

Surprising all who attended our Kabbalat Shabbat reception on Friday, a chilly overcast day suddenly became a picture perfect one! Over 70 congregants gathered on our back patio and had the pleasure of listening to eight guitarists and a violin player “jam” to a variety of Shabbat melodies. Delicious food and drink added to a wonderful pre-Shabbat event.

B’Yachad Ner Tamid Donor Event

Posted on June 4, 2018

On Sunday, June 3rd, nearly seventy B’Yachad donors and Ner Tamid members enjoyed cocktails and hors d’oeuvres (provided by our own Circle of Life Catering) in the Blumberg auditorium, followed by a special program in the Grossinger Brickman Activity Center led by Mort Steinberg.
Chaired by Larry Pachter, Chairman of the Ner Tamid Society, and Stuart Hochwert, Vice President of Finance, this event was a donor recognition and thank you event for these special groups.
Mort Steinberg, Beth El historian, gave a presentation on “The Mansion and the Mavins – the Beginnings of NSSBE,” which was a preview of his forthcoming book “Tradition by the Lake: A Historical Outline of North Suburban Synagogue Beth El,” which will be available at our Anniversary Gala Dinner on November 4th, when we honor Rabbi Vernon and Bryna Kurtz.

*B’Yachad is an all-encompassing annual gift of $10,000 to NSSBE that includes synagogue dues, Fair Share donation, Kol Nidre Appeal donation, two extra High Holiday tickets and two tickets to our annual fundraiser.
*The Ner Tamid Society is a recognition society that honors those who have included NSSBE in their wills or estate plans.
For information about B’Yachad and Ner Tamid, please contact Judy Berkeley, Director of Development, at (847) 432-0703 or

B’nai Mitzvah Reunion

Posted on May 29, 2018

On Friday, May 25th, over one hundred Beth El members, many of whom had observed their B’nai Mitzvah or Confirmation ceremonies at Beth El, joined together for a celebratory weekend. The night began with cocktails and hors d’oeuvres on the patio, followed by Kabbalat Shabbat services and dinner. Over 30 people participated in services Friday and Saturday.

A special exhibit is now on display through June 3 in the Rissman Kol Ami Collection gallery showcasing B’nai Mitzvah celebrations at Beth El over the past 70 years. We invite everyone to stop by and take a look at the photos, albums, invitations, and other memorabilia, as well as ritual items from the Collection which have been donated in honor of these milestones in our congregants’ lives. This exhibit is a wonderful tribute to the history of Beth El, its members, and clergy.

Jeans and Jammies with Curious George

Posted on May 22, 2018

A curious thing happened at Beth El on Friday…we had some unusual visitors attend and lead our Jeans and Jammies Shabbat! There was nothing but ear to ear smiles all around as some of our youngest members were greeted and high-fived by none other than Curious George and the Man in the Yellow Hat! Together we shared songs, prayers, stories, crafts, and a great meal that included bananas (for George)! Incase you missed it, here are some great photos of all the activities. Stay tuned for more Jeans and Jammies with exciting guests in the future.

Sisterhood / Men’s Club Annual Dinner with Rabbi Kurtz

Posted on May 9, 2018

Last night the Beth El Sisterhood and Men’s Club hosted their annual dinner featuring a presentation by Rabbi Kurtz. This final dinner featured a talk entitled: Reflections on 42 years in the Rabbinate, and 30 years at Beth El.

A pre-event wine reception was hosted by Mayer Stiebel and Cara Madansky-Stiebel. Over 260 members came together to hear Rabbi Kurtz speak and share his thoughts on his personal and professional journey as a Rabbi. If you would like to watch a video of this presentation, click here.

CRS Celebrates Israel@70

Posted on May 2, 2018

The Jack and Mildred Cohen Religious School Israel@70 celebration took place on Sunday, April 29. It was the culmination of a year-long exploration with the religious school students on seven different ethnic groups that make up the fabric of Israel’s society today:  Greece, Iran, Yemen, Turkey, Iraq, Morocco and Ethiopia. This innovative program showcased the culture of each country through rich costumes, featured songs, and ethic dances performed by each of the religious school classes.  The younger students were the pioneers –chalutzim, who welcomed the new immigrants to the land of Israel. Following the program, a tasty and colorful display of food from each country was presented for everyone to taste.  I overheard a grandfather telling his grandson as they sampled the Turkish Delight: “Remember your grandmother came from Turkey……”  

A big Yosher Koach to all the children –yeladim in the Cohen Religious School. Many thanks to all of the teachers and staff of the Jack & Mildred Cohen Religious School for their hard work preparing the students for this beautiful program and to the many parent volunteers and student helpers.

Special thanks to the following people! 
Pnina Arsers for her work on all of the costumes
Zafi Ben-Joseph for the curriculum/program development
Bruria Cohen for choreographing all of the dances
Kerry Ben-Joseph – Webmaster
Samantha Lasky – photographer
Avram Pachter and Claudia Gabay for the delicious food
Hazzan Barbara Barnett, Debbie Feiger and Noreen Ohcana – Narrators