The members of Congregation Beth Shalom celebrate the major Jewish holidays and festivals throughout the year.
Our High Holy Days services in the fall are led by the Rabbi and our cantorial soloist, Zach Weiss. Our choir, Koleynu, led by Harvey Blau, sings at selected High Holy Days services. The prayer book used for these services is Mishkan HaNefesh: Machzor for the Days of Awe.
Services are held on Erev Rosh Hashanah (with an oneg afterward) and on both days of Rosh Hashanah. The shofar is blown on both days, but we read Torah only on the first day. During the afternoon of the first day, a Taschlich ceremony is held during the afternoon during which congregants meet to symbolically cast away our sins in DeKalb’s Kishwaukee River. On a day between Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur, a Kever Emet – Memorial Service is held at the Congregation’s cemetery, Garden of Shalom in the Fairview Park Cemetery in DeKalb. Yom Kippur services begin with Kol Nidre and continue throughout the day of Yom Kippur, including the Yizkor service. We conclude with Neilah.
Our observance of other holidays in the fall include building and decorating a sukkah for Sukkot (with the help of students in the Religious School) and holding a potluck dinner in the sukkah. The students also play a lively role in our celebration of Simchat Torah.
The Hanukkah Shop is open late in the year to supply congregants and members of the community with candles, menorahs, gelt, and gift items for the holiday. (A range of general Judaic items are also sold.) A Hanukkah party and potluck dinner is also held at which congregants sing Hanukkah songs, bring their own menorahs to light together, and enjoy homemade latkes. We also participate in the Great Menorah Showcase, in which congregants design and make their own menorahs.
Purim is another time of celebration. Like Jews everywhere, we delight in making noise at Haman’s name when the Megillah is read. Our Religious School students may dress up, play carnival games, and perform a spiel. Meanwhile, we send shalach manos to our friends and, at a potluck dinner, partake of homemade hammantaschen.
On the second night of Passover, the Rabbi leads us as we take part in a congregational Seder, during which we sing, drink, play games, and find the Afikomen.
From year to year, we also celebrate other holidays, including Tu B’Shvat, Lag B’Omer, and Shavuot.