||The mission statement of Beth Chaverim , “House of Friends” reads as follows: it is a place for individuals and families to explore their Jewish heritage and traditions, to learn to think critically and independently about religious and theological issues and to develop meaningful and relevant Jewish identities through education.
Established in 2003, Beth Chaverim is committed to education as the means to develop Jewish identity and social action as the way to be a responsible member of the community. Located in Deerfield Illinois, Beth Chaverim is made up of families and individuals from Chicago and its surrounding suburbs. It is a community of caring individuals who want to express their Judaism in a personally meaningful way, and explore theological questions in an open, thoughtful environment.
It is said that knowledge is power. Perhaps a more accurate formulation of this axiom is that knowledge is empowerment. With a Jewish education, an individual is empowered to claim his or her Jewish identity and make it meaningful and relevant to his or her life. Beth Chaverim’s mission statement encapsulates the importance of Jewish education; indeed we recognize that it alone is the means to developing a meaningful Jewish identity. Jewish education is the key ingredient of Jewish continuity, as one generation passes on its wisdom to the next. Beth Chaverim is proud to create an environment for the honest questioning of life's essential issues. There are no unthinkable thoughts nor any unaskable questions. Only in this way can we hope that our children eventually will become freethinking individuals who affirmatively take ownership of their Jewish identity.
The community houses a religious school which meets meet weekly on Sunday mornings for grades kindergarten through high school. It is appropriate to identify what we teach at Beth Chaverim, and the rationale for the curriculum offered. All our students will learn about the Jewish holidays as they occur over the course of the liturgical calendar. They will learn what our tradition offers in terms of observance and celebration in general, and how Beth Chaverim Humanistic Jewish Community celebrates them in particular. It is one of the wonders of Judaism that there is no single way to be Jewish. There is a full rainbow of Judaism, and we are but a small part of the arc.
We are affiliated with the Society for Humanistic Judaism. Humanistic Judaism was established in 1963 to provide a humanistic alternative in Jewish life. The Society for Humanistic Judaism (SHJ) was founded in 1969. Jewish communities throughout the United States and Canada are affiliated with the SHJ. The International Federation of Secular Humanistic Jews was established in 1986. In a little more than 30 years, Humanistic Judaism has spread to every continent.
Beth Chaverim is led by Rabbi Jodi Kornfeld. As the leader of Beth Chaverim, Jodi is committed to leading by ethical and moral example, listening to the voice of the community and displaying compassion and sensitivity to the community's needs. As an effective communicator, Jodi has a wonderful capacity for instilling a deep knowledge of Judaism, making the knowledge relevant for the community, and fostering a sense of togetherness through communal learning and celebration.
Jodi's experience includes directing a Humanistic Jewish school, teaching religious school, publishing articles on Jewish educational subjects, and presenting at local educational conferences as well as coordinating a national conference for Humanistic Jewish educators. She has a Master's degree in Jewish Studies from Spertus College, 2003 and is a Doctoral candidate at Spertus College. She is a Rabbinic candidate at the International Institute for Secular Humanistic Judaism, and will be ordained October 2009.
For more information, please contact the community at www.bethchaverim.net