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posted: 8/6/2014 3:20 PM

Temple Chai embarks on new membership drive

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  • Cathy Schwartz, Temple Chai's director of Member Services.

    Cathy Schwartz, Temple Chai's director of Member Services.
    Courtesy of Temple Chai

Submitted by Julian Schreiber

Temple Chai, a Reform Jewish congregation in Long Grove, is embarking on an ambitious membership drive, Pathway to Membership at Temple Chai.

"Our goal is to make it easier for families, couples and individuals of all ages to become temple members and participate in the many opportunities the temple offers," said Cathy Schwartz, the temple's director of Member Services.

"While Temple Chai has over 900 family members, we believe that we have a lot to attract unaffiliated families, couples and individuals regardless of age, said Schwartz.

"The clergy, Senior Rabbi Stephen Hart, Associate Rabbi Barry Cohen, and Cantor Scott Simon bring innovation and variety to our worship and programming. Our clergy and staff implement relational Judaism by taking the time to learn what members and prospective members need from the temple, and by continually designing and redesigning programs to respond to those needs," she said.

The connecting theme for each of the temple's programs is "Hineini: I'm here to make a difference by acts of kindness."

Schwartz emphasized that Temple Chai's goal, as reflected in its new mission statement, is "to support our members wherever they are on their Jewish journey." Consistent with its mission, the Chai Center of Temple Chai presents many ongoing programs that focus on members' well-being. The temple also is home to several small Chavurah groups of families, couples and individuals of all ages with common interests that enjoy social, cultural and mitzvah activities while on their Jewish journey.

Temple Chai also offers lifelong learning opportunities for adults that address real life concerns; religious and Hebrew schools for children; and a community high school for teens. Worship services blend tradition with innovation and include rock, jazz and folk Shabbats. Adult, preteen and teen choirs, youth groups, a men's club and a sisterhood all flourish at the temple.

The temple's streaming Friday night services are preceded by a community Oneg designed to integrate all who attend -- members and guests alike -- into a welcoming community before beginning to worship.

"Temple Chai continually fosters inclusiveness," said Schwartz. "We respect the diversity of our congregants, and we specifically design outreach programs for our interfaith members."

Schwartz explained the Pathway's four steps to membership:

• First, if families with preschool children join the temple, they will pay dues at a greatly reduced introductory rate until their oldest child enters first grade. Thereafter, dues will increase gradually until this child enters third grade.

• Second, the temple is initiating a Sunday preschool for 3- and 4-year-olds of both members and nonmembers. New members will receive a one year tuition incentive for preschool.

• Third, the temple's Pathway is focusing not only on families with young children, but also on families with older children and couples and individuals of all ages. Those who join the temple will receive a dues reduction of 33 percent during their first year of membership.

• Finally, the temple's existing members are not forgotten. If a member refers a family, a couple or an individual to the temple, that member will receive a thank you incentive.

"We want temple members to interact with clergy, staff and each other in a relaxed welcoming environment and hope that the four step Pathway will bring in additional members to enjoy this environment," Schwartz said. "Our goal is to make Temple Chai an integral part in each member's daily life."

For further information, contact Cathy Schwartz, (847) 537-1771, ext. 230 or

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