December 15, 2020
29 Kislev, 5781
A Message from Our President, Lee Zoldan
Shalom my friends,

As we close out 2020, although we accomplished very little of what we planned for this year, we still accomplished plenty. 

  • Covid-19 forced us to close our building on March 15, but almost immediately we switched our Friday night Crain-Maling Egalitarian Minyan from monthly in person to weekly via Zoom. 
  • We reopened for in-person Shabbat morning services as soon as we could get a minyan, which was right after Rosh Hashanah. In three months, that minyan has almost doubled in size. A congregant donated a plexiglass shield for the bima in the sanctuary to help keep everyone safe, and we have increased our sanitation protocols exponentially with the same safety goal in mind. 
  • We continue to poll our weekday congregants about returning to services, but so far the vast majority of them are still working from home. When they are ready to return, we will welcome them gladly. 
  • When our High Holiday minyan said they wouldn’t be comfortable joining us for in-person services this year, we donated our sanctuary to our Sephardic minyan so that beautiful space could still house Jews in prayer on the holiest days of our year.
  • We expanded the roster of our regular programming. Our Book Club continues to meet monthly, and we took advantage of Zoom to feature live discussions with two well-known Jewish authors. The weekly Yiddish classes with Gela Altman have expanded into two weekly classes. The Discussion, a lay-led, text-based conversation about current events meets monthly, and our mahjong game has proved so popular it’s moving to a weekly format. We also hosted daily candle lighting and social hour during Chanukah, plus a latke-making class via Zoom.
  • We have cosponsored programs with JUF, American Jewish Committee, the Anti-Defamation League, the Decalogue Society, the Israeli Consulate, The Standard Club, American Friends of Hebrew University, Simon Wiesenthal Center and Chabad. Pre-Covid, we even had a packed house for an in-person program featuring Rabbi David Wolkenfeld of Anshe Sholom examining how the legalization of marijuana affects the Jewish community. 
  • Every week, we provide a comprehensive calendar of upcoming events, both locally and nationwide. Countless people have told us this information has deepened their engagement with the Jewish community, and the sponsors of these programs are grateful for the additional exposure our weekly e-blast provides. 
  • We expanded our outreach like never before. Cary called every single person in our database at least twice, and Mary Lynn talked to our High Holiday congregation many many times. This gives us a very accurate picture of what our congregants need, both now and when we reopen. 
  • Finally, having our building closed enabled us to trim expenses to an appropriate level. That helped mitigate the financial strain that Covid-19 has placed on businesses around the world.

For 2021, our goal is to surpass 2019 levels of prayer and programming. I am pleased to announce we have a bar mitzvah scheduled for mid-January, and we will have more life cycle events as soon as the pandemic gets under control. We truly believe that the potential for our institution is unlimited, and we are more than willing to make the effort to achieve our goals. All we need is time, and your help.

So many of you have donated so much to us this year, it’s almost embarrassing to ask for more. But as one of my Loop mentors said, it’s not embarrassing if it’s for the synagogue, and I live by those words every day. So I will ask you one more time this year to do what you can do to help us. If you have been fortunate enough that you and your loved ones have escaped the health impacts of Covid, that is a reason to give tzedekah. If you have escaped the financial impact of Covid, that is a reason to give tzedakah. If you have escaped the mental strain of Covid, that is a reason to give tzedakah. And even if you have not escaped the physical, financial or mental impact of Covid, perhaps you can give thanks that it was not worse. Perhaps all of us can find a way to remember all the things we didn’t do that we would normally enjoy, and use some of the money we would have spent on those activities to support an institution we all care about. As long as you are here for us, I guarantee Chicago Loop Synagogue will be here for you, next year and beyond.

To donate today, click here.

Best wishes for a 2021 filled with health, happiness and peace.

Lee Zoldan
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