Recent Happenings

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

Women’s League Central Great Lakes Region Spring Conference

Posted on April 24, 2018

Beth El was proud to host this years Women’s League Central Great Lakes Region Spring Conference. From start to finish, the event was filled with engaging presentations and discussions, prayer, and socializing. The conference began on Sunday afternoon with the Opening Plenary. Later that evening, the conference attendees and many Beth El congregants joined together to honor Karen Weiss at the Valued Volunteer Dinner.

On Monday, the day began with Shacharit, followed by several breakout sessions with our own Ali Drumm and Rachel Kamin. Artist Howard Schwartz gave a tour of his current work in the Rissman Kol Ami Collection. Rachel Heger spoke about “I Support the Girls” and guest speaker Hazzan Steven Stoehr spoke at the Torah Fund Awards Lunch. The conference continued on Tuesday, when attendees took a trip to the Illinois Holocaust Museum for a docent-led tour.

Kol hakavod to Sisterhood Co-Presidents Rachel Ferber, Mary Ellen Bowers, and Karen Weiss for their hard work organizing this tremendous event!

Pre-School Trip to Israel

Posted on April 19, 2018

At 9:00 this morning, after having their passports stamped, our Steinberg Preschoolers boarded an El Al airlines flight to Tel Aviv! Carefully following safety instructions, they landed at about 9:20, and headed off to destinations throughout Eretz Israel. They visited a vineyard in Rishon L’tzion, where they learned about products that come from grapes! Fun activities included stomping grapes, carrying grapes across the room on a spoon, and a tasting room where they sampled grape juice, grape jelly and grapes! They visited the Negev where they rode camels, sat in a Bedouin tent, and played in the sand. There was a trip to Eilat, where tropical fish from the sea swam all around them! Just to make sure they could appreciate the incredible history of ancient Israel, students had a chance to build walls with bricks, legos and other materials. In Tel Aviv, the children decorated the walls of the city as “street art” and made jewelry. And finally, after working up an appetite, our travelers were able to sample traditional falafel just as it might appear from a cart on the streets of Jerusalem. Thank you to each and every teacher in the Steinberg Pre-School along with our parent auxiliary team that helped create this unforgettable travel experience for our pre-school children!

Yom HaShoah

Posted on April 12, 2018

Our Yom HaShoah observance began with a moving rendition of “My Zadie” by Hazzan Tisser. Joe Adler introduced Beth El Holocaust survivors Ruth Fischer, Amos Turner, Edith Turner, Ruth Stern, and Nicole Terry who lit six memorial candles in memory of the 6 million. Nicole Terry shared her childhood memories being hidden in a convent in France, and how her Jewish identity was as important to her then, as it is now. High school students Gabriella Cooperman and Emma Halfin spoke about their experiences in Poland last year and how deeply impactful it was to visit the places where so many Jews had perished. They were both grateful to the Men’s Club for giving them the opportunity to take this trip, which will forever stay in their memories. Through pictures submitted by the participants of the March of the Living trip currently taking place in Poland, we were able to see some of the sights that Rabbi Kurtz and the Beth El group had witnessed that same day! The evening concluded with “Eli, Eli,” inspired by a poem by Hannah Szenes, and beautifully led by Tovah Goodman, Gabriella Cooperman and Emma Halfin. 


Pre-School Seders

Posted on March 21, 2018

The Steinberg Pre-School held two consecutive Seders on Tuesday and Wednesday for our 3-4 year-olds followed by our 2 year olds. Students, their parents, and grandparents were all invited to participate in a short Seder where they read and sang songs from the haggadot, tasted the traditional food of Passover, and danced together as we all hope to celebrate next year in Jerusalem! Each table in the room was adorned with special Pesach symbols created by the students, which included Elijah’s cup, decorated plates, flower centerpieces and Miriam’s tambourine.  The Seder even included a hunt for afikomen, which was found by Mrs. Katz and Mrs. Zacharias.  A special thank you to the Paul S. & Sylvia Steinberg Parent Auxiliary  who worked hard to make these special Seders come together. We wish you all a wonderful and meaningful Pesach!