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Life Cycle Events

Rituals are us to mark the transitions from one state of being in our lives to the next. These rituals, for the community at JRC, are about making explicit that which is implicit. We observe and mark these important moments in our members’ lives — the transition to becoming a parent and welcoming a child into the covenant of the Jewish people; welcoming a child into the covenant of the Jewish people through B’nai/B’rit Mitzvah; creating a partnership between two people who want to be married in a public, sanctified way; choosing Judaism; marking the end of life for a person who dies and for the people left behind to mourn through the traditions of funeral and shiva — but those aren’t the only life cycle moments that matter.

There are other moments in our lives that we need to acknowledge that are less visible, moments that we didn’t know would need a ritual but that feel less complete without one. Some of these rituals we create together at JRC mark a divorce; a retirement; a move from one home to another; the experience of coming out as gay or transgender; healing from illness; and many other moments of self-reflection or discovery. Judaism is a wellspring of experiences and actions and blessings that tangibly give us a way to mark the passage of time. What we commit to doing together is to create, witness and share these moments of transition together, in community.

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Joining in Marriage

Mazel tov! We are delighted to celebrate with you! Our Rabbis and Cantor officiate at Jewish weddings for both Jewish-Jewish and Jewish-nonJewish couples, for all sexual orientations and gender identities. Every wedding is unique, and we are excited to be part of this moment with you. Weddings for members and their children are included in your JRC membership. For those who are not (yet!) members, our clergy are happy to make an arrangement to officiate. Our clergy walk everyone through the process of wedding ceremony planning, learning about rituals like ketubah, kiddushin, erusin, chuppah and sheva brachot, and crafting the ceremony that meets your needs.

Note it’s helpful to be in touch with our clergy before you confirm your wedding date, if you are committed to a particular officiant. Please contact Rachel Sherman (rsherman@jrctogether.org) to make an appointment with the clergy to plan your ritual. And if you’re looking for a beautiful place to hold your wedding and reception, click here to learn more about our Building Rentals.

Becoming a Parent and Welcoming a Child

There are lots of ways to create a family! Whether through pregnancy, anticipating a birth, the process of fostering and adoption, fertility or the many ways to acknowledge a new family member, we are here for you.

Our clergy officiate at naming rituals, welcome rituals, brit milah (alongside a mohel/mohelet/physician – ask us for our referral list!), for infants and older children. We celebrate and support our members in the transition to parenthood. Rituals can take place at home, in the synagogue, and in the context of a Shabbat or holiday service. We create these rituals together. Contact Rachel Sherman (rsherman@jrctogether.org) to make an appointment with the clergy to plan your ritual.

Choosing Judaism

Some people are born Jewish, and others become Jewish. Others feel Jew-ish, or are part of a Jewish family. We welcome anyone who is exploring Judaism to join us for services, programs, or events – no experience or prior knowledge required! If you are considering becoming Jewish, if you are in the process of conversion or you have questions about becoming Jewish, please be in touch with Rachel Sherman  to schedule an appointment with the clergy. Each path is unique, and we welcome you.

Becoming B'nai/B'rit Mitzvah

What does it mean to be a Jewish adult? What does being Jewish mean to me? We journey alongside our tweens and teens as they embrace the part of themselves that is Jewish and celebrate by being called to the Torah as Bar/Bat/Bnai/Brit Mitzvah. Over clergy and teachers guide our emerging teens and their families through the process of learning Hebrew and Torah/Haftarah trop, leading tefillot/prayers, exploring the meaning of their Torah portion through both ancient and contemporary lenses, engaging in Social Justice activism, and wrestling with Jewish identity.

Experiencing a Death

When a death occurs or is anticipated, your JRC community and clergy are here for you. If you need to reach us immediately, please call or text 847-409-1432 and a member of the clergy will get back to you as soon as possible. When the office is open, call 847-328-7678 or email info@jrctogether.org.

JRC clergy officiate at funerals, shiva and memorial services for our members and their 1st degree relatives. We also officiate for other family members by arrangement. When a death occurs, contact the JRC office immediately. We work with funeral homes for burials and cremations and other circumstances, and we have capacity to lead online rituals using Zoom/Facebook Live and other technology. We also encourage our members whose loss takes place out of town to hold a night of Shiva with their JRC community upon return.

If you are in need of a Funeral Director, JRC would be happy to put you in touch with JRC’s plan through Chicago Jewish Funerals. Pre-planning is always a good idea.

For support when experiencing a death or loss, JRC’s Chesed’s community is here to support you with shiva help, meals, and navigating other elements following a death.

Other Rituals

Our lives are full of moments of transition and change. Big events like divorce, coming out, retirement or a new endeavor, or small daily moments like moving from workspace to homespace can be opportunities for spiritual and Jewish connection. Our clergy will work with you to develop ways to make this moment meaningful.