Who We Are

Portals 2016-2017

All of us are on a quest to discover the meaning and purpose of our lives. We believe that this discovery can come through participation in a sacred Jewish community, and yet we know that each person’s Jewish journey will be different. Our mission is to help you find your own special entry point, or Portal, into Jewish life based on your particular passions and interests – so that when you walk through it, your soul will sing, your spirit will soar, and in time, you will come face-to-face with your destiny.

As you continue your quest for meaning and purpose this year, this booklet can be your guide. Here you will find the amazing variety of programs, events, classes, and worship opportunities that will take place at BJBE throughout the coming year.

Click here to download a .pdf of the 2016-2017 Portals.


Congregation B'nai Jehoshua Beth Elohim (BJBE) is the union of two congregations, B'nai Jehoshua and Beth Elohim.

B'nai Jehoshua

B'nai Jehoshua was founded in 1893 by Bohemian and Czechoslovakian Jews. The synagogue originally was located at 20th and Ashland Avenues in Chicago. Although most temple members moved from that area in the 40's and 50's, they continued their membership, traveling long distances to attend services and religious school.

Beth Elohim

Early in the year 1963, five families got together to explore the possibility of starting a Reform Synagogue in the Des Plaines-Morton Grove-Glenview area. With many new housing developments in the area attracting young Jewish families, it seemed like the thing to do - and it evidently was. Membership, encouraged by publicity and by word of mouth, grew daily. Excitement was very much in the air. We began to hold Services, with lay leaders, at what was then the Good Shepherd Church on Ballard, and we held our first Second Seder at that location.

In the spring, the establishment of a religious school was announced, members were recruited as teachers, a book sale was held, and over a hundred children were enrolled. The first High Holiday Services were held at the Sahara Motel on Waukegan Road, and Irv Glick's masterful drapings helped disguise the original purpose of the room and make it into a lovely sanctuary. Services were led by Rabbi David Cedarbaum. That year, bi-weekly Services were conducted by either lay leaders or visiting Rabbis, and held at the Glenview Community Church. Eventually Rabbi Cedarbaum became our part-time Rabbi. The ritual objects were stored at homes, the bulletin was run off in the Waitsman's basement, the library was stored at the Schlanger's home, and classes were held at Ballard School.

The Merger Begins

The Board began to look at facilities for a permanent home in 1964, but as membership grew beyond our expectations, places were either too small or too expensive. In early 1965 the Board embarked on a search for a full time Rabbi, lists were drawn up stating the qualifications we wanted, and, at that point, we were approached by B'nai Jehoshua about the possibility of a merger - if we would take their name and their Rabbi. Upon meeting Mark Shapiro, the Search Committee discovered he met all the qualifications listed, and beyond, the merger would bring a base of more mature members, plus the possibility of our own building, and the process was begun.

2016-2017 Board of Trustees

Meet the Board!

Executive Committee

PresidentGary Schaffel
Co-Executive Vice PresidentsTracy Friend
 Lisa Wilson
Vice President/TreasurerTed Belinky
Vice PresidentMichael DiCocco
Vice PresidentMarti Greenberg
Vice PresidentBrian Tenner
Recording SecretaryKim Gordon
Immediate Past PresidentBonnie Litch
Sisterhood PresidentCarol Berger

 Committee Chairs

Adult EducationAndrew Abrams
Building & GroundsBeth Chaitman
Budget & FinanceRichard Goldberg
Caring CommunityDale Busch
CommunicationsJennifer Schencker
Constitution/ParlimentarianDan Perlin
EducationMaureen Miller
Financial DevelopmentJennifer Dubinsky
IsraelMarla Goldberg
Leadership DevelopmentBarry Metzger
MembershipAbby Agnew
Past Presidents' CouncilTerri Argentar
RitualDoris Schyman
Senior Youth Group PresidentBenjamin Bluman
Social ActionSusie Selbst

Trustees at Large

Margot Andersen

Larry Letwat

Eric Bluman

Howard Rosenblum

Jennifer Cohen

Michelle Shade

David Hochberg

Sid Siegel

Carol Klein-Alexander


Trustees for Life

Bernice Waitsman

Lynn Wax

Past Presidents

Bonnie Litch

Martin Salomon z'l   

Marshall Krolick

Terri Argentar

Jim Ostach

Zelda Wise

David Wax z'l

Sandee Holleb

Albert Wagner z'l

Patti Frazin

Dr. Milton Salzer

Marvin Glanzrock

Gideon Schlessinger 

Joseph Ernsteen

Gerald Hibnick z'l

Tracy Friend

Stanley Swig z'l

Bertram Sinker z'l

Terri Argentar

Sandra Leon

Leon Rabin z'l

David Gates

Gerald Loebman

Robert Tauber z'l

Shirlee Cohen

James Harfield

Arnold Preis z'l


We are fortunate to have a clergy team made up of some of the true stars of American Jewry. Each of them maintains a national and local reputation for excellence as they nurture the spiritual needs of our community. The rabbis and cantors function in a true sacred partnership with the rest of the professional staff, the lay leadership and the Board.

Rabbi Karyn D. Kedar
Rabbi Fenster
Rabbi Jason Fenster
(starting July 1, 2017)









Cantor Frost
Cantor Jennifer Frost
Cantor Green
Cantor Rayna Green

Who We Are

BJBE is an inclusive and welcoming community. We encourage participation from all who seek a connection to Jewish life and want to be part of our sacred community regardless of religious background, race, ethnicity, gender, socioeconomic status, political affiliation, ability, age, sexual orientation, and gender identity. We encourage all to participate in our community, regardless of knowledge of Hebrew or Judaism.

Our Mission & Five Core Values

Our mission is to provide portals and platforms where people can discover the meaning and purpose of their lives. Through our commitment to Judaism and each other we have established five core values that define who we are:

TORAH (Jewish Learning) is a lifelong learning that informs us of tradition, transforms us by touching our minds and souls, and connects us to our community.

AVODAH (Worship and Spiritual Practice) is the sacred obligation to foster a sense of meaning, intention, and spirituality. We understand the importance of integrating and applying a spiritual practice into our everyday lives.

G’MILUT CHASDIM (Acts of Loving Kindness) is the obligation to give away three things: time to make the world a better place, money to ease someone’s pain, and kindness to heal a world that is broken.

K’HILAH (Community) is our central value. We aspire to build a center for Jewish life, a place for laughter and joy, for meaningful conversation and friendship.

ISRAEL is not simply a committee at BJBE. We are privileged to recognize the modern miracle of the establishment of the State of Israel. After centuries of dispersion and the Holocaust, we have a state which is a vibrant Jewish center and must be a core component of Jewish identity.


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