Countless Ways to Participate
No matter what your age or place in life is, there is a community for you at Oak Park Temple.
Join a Committee, a Chavurah, or The Women of Oak Park Temple; hang out with us on Sunday mornings; participate in a youth program or adult education class; or hear some great music from Mameloshn or Tsimmis.
If you or a family member is in need, or if you wish to volunteer to help others in need, please reach out to the Oak Park Temple Caring Community.
You will always feel a part of something at Oak Park Temple.
What Do You See When You See Oak Park Temple?
Oak Park Temple Caring Community
The Caring Community of Oak Park Temple is made up of volunteers who are here to assist our Temple members as needed. There are four groups within the Caring Community:
- Bereavement / Ozerim – Shiva preparation and follow-up after a loss.
- Drivers – Getting people to appointments and Shabbat Services
- Life Cycle – For those needing advice regarding anything from Brit Milah to college information, interfaith marriage, etc.
- Bikur Cholim – Visiting the sick, sending meals to homes, grocery shopping, helping with a new baby. etc.
If you know someone who can benefit from any of these services, please contact any of the names on the right or the Rabbi or Cantor. You can also email email@example.com or call the Temple office at 708-386-3937.
Please also use the same contacts on the right if you are interested in volunteering in any way for the Caring Community.
Caring Community Contacts
Caring Committee Chairs
Karen S. Gillett 708-955-3477
Ali Mandell 773-213-4334
Maurie Stern 708-771-3242
- Bereavement / Ozerim – Vanessa Klugman, Amy Pokras
- Drivers – Meg Ross, Craig Silverman
- Life Cycle – Amy Drescher-Crumply, Julie Lulu
- Bikur Cholim – Stewart Goldman, Liz Simon, Jen Trudell
Sunday Mornings @ Oak Park Temple
Members and prospective members visiting Oak Park Temple on Sunday mornings will find a vibrant community with something for everyone!
The Bagel Boys sell bagels, lox, almost every bagel topping you can imagine, coffee, juices, and other drinks in the Temple rotunda. Grab a bagel and coffee, bring your newspaper, tablet or computer, and relax in the rotunda or upstairs in the library. You can schmooze with friends, hold an impromptu committee meeting or pretend like you’re getting work done. The Temple even offers free wi-fi to members.
You can also take your bagel and coffee upstairs to one of our Adult Education classrooms, where you can join one of a number of Torah Study classes. You don’t need to read Hebrew–you can just jump right in. Learn more on our Adult Education section.
Parents of school-age children can drop off their kids at Religious School, while parents of younger kids can enjoy inexpensive babysitting (as long as they stay in the Temple).
It’s a safe bet that something more will be happening: a bake sale in the rotunda, signups for the annual Temple retreat or other events, a book sale or rummage sale in the community hall, or a special guest speaker.
Come join us on Sunday mornings!
The Bagel Boys:
We’re Looking for
a Few Good Machers!
The Bagel Boys of Oak Park are a group of irreverent do-gooders who rise to the challenge of providing physical sustenance (in the form of bagels, lox, beverages and sarcasm) for our congregants and guests on Sunday mornings. We have a proud heritage, spanning more than two decades, of creating a special Sunday morning Oak Park Temple ambiance that spreads like a good schmeer. And now you can be at the center of the storm!
Join us for fun, fellowship, laughter, tears and bonhomie. Make life-long friends, support Oak Park Temple, and get to know the bagel preferences of OPT congregants. You get to pick your bagel first!
Echad al Echad:
Creating Lasting Bonds with Israel
Echad al Echad (literally “One to One”) is our initiative designed to strengthen the bonds between Oak Park Temple and the Reform movement in Israel.
Founded in 2007, Echad al Echad is a partnership between Oak Park and Kiryat Tivon, a town 20 miles east of Haifa and one of a few dozen communities in Israel with a Reform synagogue, Congregation Ma’alot Tivon. Echad al Echad has been locally recognized with Oak Park Temple’s Best New Initiative Award in 2007 and nationally with ARZA’s Gittelsohn Award in 2008.
Find a way to be a part of this great program. Please contact us for more information.
firstname.lastname@example.org – 312-505-9212
email@example.com – (708) 703-0974
Echad al Echad Co-Chairs
Annual Summer Teen Exchange Program
The flagship activity of Echad al Echad is an annual summer teen exchange, where Oak Park Temple and Kiryat Tivon teens visit each other’s city every other year. Every effort is made to run the program as cost efficiently as possible, with an eye towards making this an integral part of our community. When the Israelis visited us this summer, they were housed in OPT homes. We utilized public transportation whenever possible, and we worked hard to find in-kind donations to decrease the financial support needed from the Temple community. Similarly, when our teens visit Israel on alternating summers, they will pay only airfare, and our Israeli partners will cover the rest of the expenses.
Since 2007, there have been groups of Israeli teens hosted by Oak Park Temple families for two weeks each and 3 groups of Oak Park Temple youth who have visited Kiryat Tivon. A recent itinerary was typically hectic, including: a visit to the DuPage County Fair (complete with a demolition derby); a Lake Michigan sail generously contributed by OPT member Ben White; the Miracle Mile; the Willis Tower; a cross-cultural discussion led by OPT member Mark Kaufman; Chinatown; an FLW tour led by OPT member Sue Blaine; the Field Museum and MSI. We enjoyed Shabbat services at OPT and toured KAM synagogue in Hyde Park. Ironically, the only activity we didn’t get around to was going to the beach (due to the weather)!
Teens and adults on both sides of the Atlantic have found their bonds deepening with time:Israeli teens visiting the United States have returned to our community to see their American “families,” and OPT Echad al Echad alumni have done the same. Adults traveling through Israel have stopped in Kiryat Tivon to visit, and some Oak Park Temple congregants have even become international members of Ma’alot Tivon.
From the onset, we had hoped that these one-to-one connections between our congregation and Kiryat Tivon would lead to a deeper understanding and closeness with Israel. That hope has come true.
More About OPT & Israel
ARZA – Association of Reform Zionists of America
ARZA is the Zionist organization of the Reform Movement. It reaches out to all Reform Jews in the U.S. to help foster a better understanding of Israel and to support the Reform Movement in Israel. It is a vital part of our movement, as no matter what our political views are, Israel is a central part of our identity.
Reform Zionism can be interpreted to be many things to many people, even within our congregation. Now, over 65 years after the establishment of the state, we need to work to support the democracy and to ensure that Israel is a place that embraces Jews of all backgrounds and streams in a pluralistic environment. Zionism today is not only about making aliyah, but is about understanding what Israeli society is today and how it can be improved in the future. It is also about visiting Israel to see what an amazing country it is.
ARZA can help us better understand what is happening in Israel especially as it relates to the Reform Movement. One way it does this is by supporting Israel programs in congregations across the US. There are speakers available from Israel and from here, that help educate congregants of any age group.
At Oak Park Temple, we have hosted a number of speakers, including the Israel Consulate General and an expert from the Israel Ministry of Tourism. We also have a special connection with Kibbutz Lotan and have had Alex Cicelsky, Kibbutz Lotan founder, visit Oak Park Temple several times.
Our sister congregation, Maa’lot Tivon, receives funding and support from ARZA. And our Echad al Echad, student exchange program with Maa’lot Tivon has received awards from ARZA at a national level.
Support of the Reform Movement in Israel fosters social justice, equality, religious pluralism and values that are important to Reform Jews.
From the Oak Park Temple Policy Manual…
Our Reform Jewish commitment requires that we be of service to our community. The Temple is resolute in promoting and safeguarding the rights and well-being of all humanity. As part of that commitment, we support the State of Israel and encourage the freedom of Jews throughout the world.
Who are The Women of Oak Park Temple?
The Women of Oak Park Temple is a women’s organization that gathers together in friendship for programs that support the Temple and the larger community, for social activities, for learning and spiritual growth, and above all for personal enrichment, so that each woman may fulfill her potential as a person within a Jewish environment.
Within the Congregation, The Women of Oak Park Temple is the collective presence, voice, and strength for women of all ages and varying stages in life. It is a place where women can meet and work together for the benefit of the Congregation and its members. Here, women can initiate and develop projects in which they have an interest. The Women of OPT provides an outlet for the creative energy, talent, and leadership potential of its members. The Women of OPT also gives women a worldwide identity through its affiliation with Women of Reform Judaism, a federation of 100,000 members throughout the United States, Canada, and overseas.
To join The Women of Oak Park Temple, please download our membership form. You can drop it off or send it to the Temple office. Also consider a Little Sister Membership, which provides an opportunity members to include their daughters and granddaughters in the wonderful work performed by The Women of OPT.
More about The Women of Oak Park Temple
What We Do
The Women of Oak Park Temple provides the opportunity for its members to participate in activities or programs that are valuable to them, their families, their Congregation and their community. Our sisterhood has a long history of helping many aspects of Congregational life. Areas in which we contribute support to the Temple community include:
- Religious School
- Glasser Preschool
- B’nai Mitzvah
- Kabbalat Torah
- New Members
- Youth Group/Camping
- Temple Directory
- Women of OPT Shabbat Service
- Annual Temple Donation
- Purchase of New Prayer Books
- College Outreach
- Kitchen Maintenance
- Shure Memorial Library
- Ozerim – Helping Hands
Jewish Organizations that We Support
- Women of Reform Judaism
- United States Holocaust Museum
- Illinois Holocaust Museum
- Olin Sang Ruby Union Institute
- The Ark
- World Union for Progressive Judaism
- Jewish Braille Institute
- Magen David Adom
- Maot Chitim
- YES Fund
Ways to Get Involved
- Gift Shop
- Rummage Sale
- Treats in a Jar
- Ozerim – Helping Hands
- New Year Greetings
- Women’s Passover Storytelling
- February Dinner Program
- Little Sister Events
- Book Group Discussions
- Maccabee Market
- Honey Cake Baking
- Ladies Night Out
- Health/Fitness Events
- Bake Sales
The Women of OPT Ozerim gives help to members of OPT when they need it: setting up and cleaning up shivas, providing meals during an illness or times of hardship, providing rides during illness, lending a helping hand (i.e. meals) when a new baby first arrives home, or visiting when a friend is needed. For further information, please contact Amy Pokras.
Tributes are a great way to help support The Women of OPT. The cost is $5.00 for a regular card or $10.00 for a gold seal. Send a tribute to a friend who is sick, a relative who has had a simcha or to let someone know you care. Please email Florence Weese for more information.
The By-Laws were amended in April 2014 by the Oak Park Temple Sisterhood (the former name of Women of Oak Park Temple).
Download our By-Laws (PDF format).
Board of Directors
- Lauren Levrant, President
- Cindy Gould & Susan Cicelsky, Co- Executive Vice Presidents
- Kathy Bezinovich, Fundraising Vice President
- Win Fox, Programming Vice President
- Barbara Bernard, Corresponding Secretary
- Gail Bieschke, Recording Secretary
- Lorrie Applebey, Treasurer
- Kathy Madura, Past President
- Marsha Cooper
- Amelia Topol Hardy
- Iris Martin
- Ruth Milstein
- Bobbi Montejo
- Lissa Schwartz
- Florence Weese
Download job descriptions for Officers, Board Members and Chairpersons – Updated March 2015 (PDF document).
OPT is excited to offer the Wise Aging program, a groundbreaking series of 8 workshops designed for congregants age 50+.
In our youth-oriented culture, the inevitability of our aging is lost amongst fear and denial. It is the elephant in the room! As we age, amid shifting roles, physical changes and loss, there is opportunity for discovery, resilience and joy. We will meet regularly to discuss, actively listen, share in small groups, study, journal and reflect. We will develop a deeper sense of well-being, cultivate wisdom and connect with others.
Sessions are based on expert resources and delivery developed for the Institute for Jewish Spirituality by Rabbi Rachel Cowan and Dr. Linda Thal.
Congregants Barbara Hausman and Marc Blesoff have been trained by the Institute for Jewish Spirituality to facilitate the Wise Aging program.
The Ultimate Kindness:
Chevra Kadisha of Oak Park Temple and West Suburban Temple
“The highest act of gemilut chesed (lovingkindness) is that which is done for the dead, for there can never be any thought of repayment.”
– Tanhuma Vayehi 107A
Life in Community
We live our lives as Jews engaged in a rich tapestry of rituals, from the weekly cycle of Shabbat to the annual cycle of holiday celebrations, from birth through Bar and Bat Mitzvah, life-partnership, to the end of life. We observe all of these in community, multiplying joy and easing sorrow in the company of family and friends.
The depth of sorrow that we feel over the death of a loved one and the simple, irrefutable fact of death itself can be overwhelming. Our faith and hopes are shaken. Death challenges us on personal and communal levels. We turn to each other for support.
How do Jews Face Death?
Centuries of Jewish ritual have sought to provide comfort at the time of greatest bewilderment and sorrow. A funeral brings a community together to share in pain and memory. From shiva (the observance of the first week of intense mourning) through yahrzeits (yearly anniversaries of the death), Jewish tradition walks us through a model healing process.
Kavod HaMet (Respect for the Dead) and nichum avelim (comforting the bereaved) are some of our tradition’s most sacred tenets.
Why is a Chevra Kadisha Necessary?
Judaism asserts that each individual has innate dignity, a spark of the Divine. We are all said to be created in God’s image. Judaism further asserts that death does not remove this holiness. Our bodies retain a remnant of the divinity they once housed.
Since we all come into the world the same, Judaism holds that we should all leave the same – rich or poor, blameless or somewhat less so, rabbi or laborer–we all return to the earth in the end. Over the centuries, a beautiful and powerful ritual, called Tahara, has arisen by which we sanctify this return. This ritual is the work of the holy society, the Chevra Kadisha.
When requested by the family of a deceased member in the community, a small group of volunteers comes to the funeral home and performs the ritual, which include the following basic steps:
- Rechitza – gentle washing of the deceased.
- Tahara – ritual purification, through the pouring of water accompanied by spoken or chanted prayer.
- Halbasha – dressing the deceased in simple white garments.
Why a Chevra Kadisha in our Community?
When a person dies, Chevra Kadisha members (men for a male, women for a female) visit the funeral home and prepare the body of the deceased for burial according to the centuries-old customs of our people. The Chevra Kadisha embodies our shared communal values of gemilut chesed (performing acts of lovingkindness), egalitarianism, individual participation in ritual life, and the teaching of tradition from one generation to the next. The Chevra Kadisha affirms both our ability and our need to take this mitzvah into our own hands by honoring the dead and by comforting the living who remember them.
About the West Suburban Chevra Kadisha (WSCK)
The WSCK was established in 2013 by Cantor Julie Yugend-Green of Oak Park Temple and Rabbi Robin Damsky, former Rabbi of West Suburban Temple. It is a volunteer organization composed of members of both synagogues. The Chevra Kadisha is supported by grants from both congregations and individual contributions.
How to Request a Tahara
Any member of either Oak Park Temple or West Suburban Temple need only ask their clergy or funeral director to contact the Chevra Kadisha. We have working agreements with several area funeral homes. The funeral directors and/or clergy will contact the Chevra Kadisah to arrange tahara.
The WSCK serves the needs of our member communities. As resources permit, we are open to serving other Jews in need.
For More Information
While the details associated with any specific tahara are kept in the strictest confidence to maintain respect for the deceased and their loved ones, the leaders and members of the Chevra Kadisha are happy to discuss our mission and work.
To learn more or to volunteer, please contact Cantor Julie Yugend-Green at 708-386-3937 or at JYGOPT@comcast.net.
Join a Chavurah
It doesn’t matter whether you have belonged to Oak Park Temple for two months or for twenty years; there is a place for you in a Chavurah. Individuals and families come together in a group formed based on interest, proximity, demographics or other factors of their choosing. This is your opportunity to feel connected to other Jews when you are outside of the Temple. For families with youngsters it is an opportunity for your children to form bonds with other Jewish children.
Your Chavurah will turn acquaintances into friends. The group will vary in size from approximately 14 to 20 adults. Over the course of your Chavurah’s existence you may have people who move or people who attend sporadically, but you will have a strong core and a viable number to participate in each of your group’s activities.
How and what your Chavurah chooses to do is entirely up to your group. Activities range from pot luck meals to celebrating Jewish holidays to attending plays, concerts, parks and zoos together. Your group can be your vehicle for celebrating Jewish holidays at Temple and in your home. Your Chavurah can be whatever its members want it to be.
Every year we seek to establish new Chavurot groups. Sometimes these groups sprout by members taking the lead and forming their own groups. If you are interested in becoming part of a Chavurah or in forming a new group please contact Joyce Smoler at 708-345-8770 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Join a Committee
One great way to stay active in the Oak Park Temple community is to join a committee.
Whether it’s helping us expand our membership, planning a special event, engaging in social action initiatives or just socializing with your Temple friends, committees are a great way to stay engaged with the needs of our community while staying close to your fellow Temple Members.
Participation on a committee is open to all our membership. Any member interested in a particular committee is encouraged to contact the chair of that committee. Please also use the form below to reach out to the Temple or a committee head to express your interest in joining and helping.
Our committees/affiliates are listed below:
- Adult Education Committee
- Bagel Boys
- Chevre Hiddur Mitzvah
- Echad al Echad
- Endowment Committee
- Finance Committee
- Glasser Preschool Board
- Membership Committee
- Nominating Committee
- Religious School Committee
- Seniors Committee
- Shure Memorial Library
- Social Action Committee
- Women of Oak Park Temple
Volunteer for a Committee
OPTY: Oak Park Temple Youth
The Purpose of OPTY Shall Be:
- To help Jewish teens stay connected to Judaism in a fun, safe, and open environment.
- To provide a way to meet other Jewish high school students.
- To do the work of “Tikkun Olam,” repairing the world.
- To foster a Jewish community specifically for teens.
The Oak Park Temple Creative Community (OPTCC)
The Oak Park Temple Creative Community offers Temple members creative experiences and opportunities to enhance our Jewish living.
Membership in this group is open to any Temple member who is creative or simply enjoys creativity. Two meetings are held per year: one in fall to discuss activities and the other in spring to elect officers. Karen Muriello is the current chairperson. The group tackles special projects as requested or suggested. The Virtual Art Gallery below provides an online, museum space for the many visual artists of Oak Park Temple.
To join or to be added to our mailing list, please contact Karen Muriello.
Suburban Thursday Afternoon Retirees (S.T.A.R.)
Suburban Thursday Afternoon Retirees (S.T.A.R.) is a joint effort between Oak Park Temple B’nai Abraham Zion and West Suburban Temple Har Zion (WSTHZ) that meets weekly on Thursdays at WSTHZ from 1 pm to 3 pm, except on Jewish and National Holidays. The group is open to all people in the area interested in learning about many varied topics such as Judaism, politics, health, art, music, senior living, services available in our communities, public safety issues, senior scams, etc.
S.T.A.R. was started by Sheryl Stoller, emeritus Rabbi’s Gerson and Mirelman, Annabel Abraham and Hene Waterbury (both from WSTHZ) and others. We have guest speakers – rabbis, cantors, historians, doctors, social service folks, and reps from senior buildings. We often visit, discuss and share items of interest to the group, such as current events of local, national and international importance. We have trips to Chicago Symphony, and we have been guests at our various senior buildings. WSTHZ provides coffee, tea and goodies.
MameLoshn – Oak Park Temple’s Yiddish Singing Group
Oak Park Temple’s Yiddish singing group, MameLoshn, is dedicated to preserving and maintaining Yiddish culture through the beautiful music created in past generations.
Learn what’s new in the Yiddish world and go to YiddishPOP to learn a bisl Yiddish with a maidel (a girl) and her chaver (friend) Mobi der Robot (a robot – of course).
See and Hear MameLoshn
Read More About MameLoshn
From Union for Reform Judaism’s “Torah at the Center” – V.10 Edition 1 on p. 10.
MameLoshn in the Press
- Chicago Tribune: Lively Yiddish Songs and Stories Honor Maurice Sendak
- Wednesday Journal: MameLoshn’s shtick for Hanukkah is all the Buzz
- Oak Park – River Forest Patch: Yiddish Singing Group Celebrates Chanukah at the Buzz
Tsimmis: Oak Park Temple’s Acoustic Band
- An old Yiddish expression meaning “a commotion”
- A delicious side dish with sweet potatoes, carrots, prunes, raisins, sugar, and cinnamon
- Oak Park Temple’s Acoustic Band!
Celebrate Shabbat on the 2nd Friday of every month with Tsimmis!
Our ruach-filled Shabbat service will be enhanced by the beautiful accompaniment of acoustic guitar, mandolin, bass, percussion and piano. Come sing and clap along with us!
Learn more about 2nd Fridays and join us for this joyous service!
Zimrei Ha’am: Adult Choir of Oak Park Temple
Add your voice to the most marvelous choir around!
Zimrei Ha’am sings during Shabbat and Holiday services, as well as concerts and special events.
Rehearsals: Sundays 10:30 – 11:30 am
Where: sanctuary of Oak Park Temple
Director: Cantor Julie Yugend-Green
Auditions, as well as the ability to read Hebrew and/or music, are not required for participation in Zimrei Ha’am. All that’s required is a love of singing, and the desire to have a great time!