Suburban houses of worship look to beef up security amid rising hate crimes

Some suburban houses of worship are looking to beef up security amid a rise in hate crimes and incidents of Islamophobia and antisemitism.

The Illinois Emergency Management Agency earlier this year announced $20 million in grants awarded to 116 nonprofit organizations statewide through the 2022 Nonprofit Security Grant Program. Several suburban mosques, synagogues, churches, temples and schools are among the recipients.

"Definitely, there is a concern (about security)," said Abdulgany Hamadeh, chairman of the Council of Islamic Organizations of Greater Chicago.

Hamadeh said the Muslim community is on edge after a threatening letter was sent recently to Aqsa School in Bridgeview and the Oct. 14 fatal stabbing of 6-year-old Palestinian-American boy Wadea Al-Fayoume in Plainfield, in which a 71-year-old man has been charged with a hate crime.

Whether hiring extra security guards or installing cameras, the grant money needs to be spent on exactly what the mosques applied for once received, Hamadeh said.

The council's security task force is helping train mosque leaders on security protocols and providing sensitivity training to police departments.

"Also, we are offering a seminar, and we are going from (mosque to mosque), on what to do during this crisis," Hamadeh said.

The next seminar is 8:15 p.m. Friday at the Islamic Center of Wheaton.

Interfaith service

The Coalition of Elgin Religious Leaders will host a vigil for the Middle East at 7 p.m. Monday at Elgin City Hall.

It is an expression of solidarity with all the victims of the current Israel-Hamas war and provides a safe and supportive place for prayer, meditation and contemplation, organizers said.

Attendees may bring a candle or glow stick but no flags or signs.

The coalition's annual "Coming Together" Community Interfaith Thanksgiving Service will be held at 4 p.m. Sunday at First Christian Church, 1125 Summit St., Elgin.

Representatives of various faith traditions will offer readings, prayers and a seasonal message to strengthen a sense of hope and compassion. Refreshments and fellowship will follow the service.

This year's freewill offering is designated for Elgin-based Centro de Informacion. For details, call (847) 902-9476.

'Queer Eye' host talk

Karamo Brown, culture expert on the Netflix show "Queer Eye" and host of a nationally syndicated talk show, will draw from his experiences and work in social services to address mental health, especially for young people, Tuesday during this year's Roland Quest Lecture at Elmhurst University.

On his podcast, Karamo talks with people from around the world who call in for advice or share their feelings about life issues. His 2019 memoir, "Karamo: My Story of Embracing Purpose, Healing, and Hope," explores how his life challenges allowed him to transform the lives of those in need.

Karamo was the recipient of the 2018 Human Rights Campaign Visibility Award, and he meets with members of Congress on policy and legislation supporting LGBTQIA+ youth and their allies.

NBC Chicago medical and health reporter Lauren Petty will moderate the "Mental Health Matters" talk, which begins at 7 p.m. in Hammerschmidt Memorial Chapel, 190 Prospect Ave., Elmhurst.

Admission is $15 and free for Elmhurst University students, faculty, staff and alumni. For tickets, visit

Children's film premiere

The world premiere of a narrative short film "Color of Autumn," by award-winning director Aimiende Negbenebor Sela, screens Tuesday at Academy Qualifying Chicago International Children's Film Festival in Chicago.

The film is adapted from a short story by Chicago writer and social justice arts practitioner Constance Nicole Frierson. It features music by Charlie Peacock, a four-time Grammy Award-winning, multiformat jazz and pop recording artist, composer and record producer, and a song performed by Ruby Amanfu, a recording artist, producer and Grammy, Soul Train and BET Award-nominated songwriter.

"Color of Autumn" is set in 1966 Chicago and tells the story of a sheltered Black 8-year-old girl growing up on the South Side. The film sparks important conversations about racism, loss of innocence, Black masculinity, peer pressure and hate speech.

The screening begins at 11:45 a.m. at FACETS, 1517 W. Fullerton Ave., Chicago. After the screening, Sela and Frierson will participate in a live question-and-answer session.

In-person and virtual screening tickets can be purchased on the Chicago International Children's Film Festival website at

Celebrating world cultures

Elgin Community College will recognize the rich cultures and heritage of its international students during International Week running Monday through Friday.

The Elgin college has more than 80 international students from more than 35 countries. International Week events will be held at ECC's campus, 1700 Spartan Drive. They are open to the public.

• Parade of Nations and opening ceremony, 10:45 a.m. to noon Monday from Building F, International Lounge to Building B, Jobe Lounge. It features a musical performance by traditional Korean drummers.

• Education access and practice globally, 2-3:30 p.m. Tuesday in Building E, Room E125, Seigle Auditorium. A panel of ECC's international students share their educational experiences in Mexico, Spain, the Caribbean and Venezuela.

• Movie night, 6-9:30 p.m. Tuesday in Building B, Room B180/181, Community/Heritage Rooms. Join for an international film examining class inequality and economic injustice in society.

• Immigrant Women's Roundtable, 10:30 a.m. to noon Wednesday in Building B, Room B182, Alumni Room.

• Diwali "Festival of Lights" celebration, 11:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. Wednesday in Building B, Jobe Lounge. Henna and rangoli art activities, music and food from Touch of Spice food truck.

• International street fair, 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. Thursday in Building B, Jobe Lounge, presented by ECC student clubs and organizations.

For information, visit

Palestinian convention

After its earlier venue was disrupted, American Muslims for Palestine is moving its 16th annual convention Nov. 24-25 to the Tinley Park Convention Center, 18451 Convention Center Drive, Tinley Park.

The Virginia-based group's earlier planned convention at the Hyatt Regency O'Hare Chicago was canceled by the Rosemont hotel, citing multiple threats the hotel received about the gathering.

It's one of the largest pro-Palestinian gatherings in the U.S., titled "Gaza's Resilience: The Ongoing Nakba" referencing the current Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

Tickets cost $30. Register at

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Karamo Brown, from the Netflix show "Queer Eye," will talk about mental health, especially among young people, Tuesday during this year's Roland Quest Lecture at Elmhurst University. Courtesy of Karamo Brown
Elgin Community College celebrates the cultures and heritage of its more than 80 international students during International Week starting Monday. Courtesy of Elgin Community College
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