Welcome the Jewish New Year with Congregation Kneseth Israel

"Wake up!," the shofar cries.

Congregation Kneseth Israel, 330 Division St. in Elgin, is happy to announce its preparations for the High Holy Days.

"We are happy to welcome guests from outside our immediate congregation. No tickets are required," said Dick Johnson, president of the congregation.

"We are in full preparation mode. For some, this is the culmination of a summer of work. For others, it is a chance to reconnect and re-engage. It is our busiest season of the year. It offers us a wake up call and a fresh start. It is like the new school year with new notebooks and unbroken crayons. It is a chance to recognize our blessings," said Rabbi Margaret Frisch Klein, now entering her seventh year at this congregation.

Every year, the congregation does something a little bit differently. This year the services will add two additional pieces of music sung by the choir. Music will be enhanced by the beautiful voice of the cantorial soloist, Stephanie Burak Gothmann.

Said Stew Levin, "Can you hear the holidays approaching? The CKI choir is blessed individually and collectively that our prayers are best expressed in song. We are thankful to sing at the service of our CKI family, Rabbi and cantorial soloist."

Each year, the rabbi has picked an overarching theme that comes out of the texts we read. The focus this year will be on being part of the covenant, the unique relationship that G-d has with each of us. Five community members will speak about their understanding of covenant and their place in it. Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur gives us the opportunity to think about what we want to do differently this new year than last year. What do we want to keep just the same? What do we want to learn this year? How can we make the world a better place? And how do we improve our relationships. Our relationships with our families. With friends. With neighbors. With the wider world. And with God. It is about supporting one another in our journey around the sun again. It's about being positive. "Yes, we can do that. We can find a way."

People come to synagogue at the High Holidays for many reasons. Some come to pray. Some come to hear the beautiful music. Some come to let the words wash over them. Some come to learn. Some come to teach their children. Some come to remember. Some come to be part of the community. Some come out of a sense of obligation and responsibility. Some come to regain a sense of balance. Some come for the cookies or the apples and honey.

Children come to services as well. Said Heather Baumann Weiser, "Our children's services and family services are highlights of the year and provide an opportunity for the younger members to participate in a meaningful service with reflection, song, and story."

Whatever your reason, that's great. Come be part of it!

Throughout the season, they will weave in this theme of "Being Part of the Covenant."

All services are listed below.

Selichot will be at 7 p.m. Saturday, Sept. 1. It will feature the movie "Coco" as well as remembering ancestors and the Yizkor Memorial Prayers.

Erev Rosh Hashanah service will be 7:30 p.m. Sunday, Sept. 9. It will be followed by the annual "Apples and Honey Fest." Rosh Hashanah morning services will be held on Sept. 10-11. On the first day, baby-sitting and a children's service are included.

Tashlich and Family Service will be at 5 p.m. on the first day of Rosh Hashanah at Elgin's Lords Park between the pavilion and the bridge. Bring a lawn chair for this brief, hands-on, interactive service.

There will be a brief sunrise walk on the second day of Rosh Hashanah at 6:15 a.m. at the Jelke Bird Sanctuary in West Dundee. Bring your dog, a shofar and something for breakfast.

Kever Avot will be at Bluff City Cemetery in Elgin at 11 a.m. Sunday, Sept. 16. This brief ceremony gives all a chance to remember those who came before, whether they are buried at Bluff City or not.

Once again, the synagogue will be collecting nonperishables from the Community Crisis Center on Kol Nidre. The prophet Isaiah asks in our Yom Kippur reading, "Is this the fast I desire? No. Rather it is to give bread to the hungry, clothes to the naked, free the captive."

Kol Nidre will begin at 6:15 p.m. Tuesday, Sept. 18.

Can't fast? There are always snacks available in the rabbi's on Yom Kippur day. While many fast on Yom Kippur, some should not for health reasons. Pekuachnefesh, preserving a life, is a high value in Judaism. Feel free to enjoy the quiet, a bagel and a glass of juice. The study session on Yom Kippur at 4 p.m. Thursday, Sept. 20, will look at covenant in more depth.

Jonah will be extra special this year. Come to the afternoon service and find out how. And attend a special Shabbat service where Rabbi Steven Bob, who wrote a book about the Book of Jonah will come share his insights. The story of Jonah really encapsulates all the high holidays. Creation. Abraham. Forgiveness. Teshuvah. Those who have been studying on Shabbat afternoon have found it fascinating.

Break-the-fast will be at 7:30 p.m. Wednesday, Sept. 19. This is a lovely tradition at CKI. The food is always fantastic and no one has to rush home on an empty stomach.

For questions, call (847) 741-5656 or visit

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