A Periodic Review | Edition 5
April 2020
It is hard to believe that it is just over 40 Days and 40 Nights since we embarked on our shelter in place journey. While not sheltering us from a literal flood, our metaphoric BJBE Ark has buoyed and connected us during a period where we have been required to be physically isolated from each other. The world has changed with incredible and unimaginable rapidity before our very eyes. BJBE has responded, as a community, with love and ingenuity with numerous offerings, each in service to our core values: Torah (Jewish Learning), Avodah (Worship & Spiritual Practice), G'milt Chasadim (Acts of Loving Kindness), Community, and Israel.
 
In this Special Edition of  ChaiLights  we provide an overview of key highlights over the past “Forty Days and Forty Nights.” The BJBE team thanks each and every one of you for your support, your engagement, your ideas, and your generosity of spirit and all else.
 
Before we update you on our Portals, we want to share a quick fiscal stewardship update.
  • We’ve worked with diligence, expediency and precision to steward our financial resources.
  • We are ensuring that we minimize expenses. We've reduced expenses in the maintenance area, security, bima flowers, utilities, and other.
  • Due to the responsiveness of BJBE’s board and staff leadership and our partnership with Wintrust/Barrington Bank, we successfully applied for and received a Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) loan, authorized by the CARES Act. We know many other synagogues did not move as quickly as us and did not receive funds. We expect most of this loan to convert to a grant. 
  • We’ve taken the first step under the Economic Injury Loan program and will determine appropriate next steps as we hear back from the SBA.
 
Below, please see our updates on each of our Portals. We’d love your feedback. Please email  Anne Robbin  with reactions and ideas. And, make sure to keep up with BJBE's social media channels for pictures and information!
Learning at BJBE spans the generations - from early childhood to K-12 to lifelong learning through our adult education programs.
Our Virtual Jewish Learning Center, also known as our JLZ (Jewish Learning Zoom) kicked off in mid-March!
  • For the past 5 Sundays, we’ve gathered for Boker Tov, our all school Sunday morning assembly (averaging 102 Zoom families and hundreds of views on Facebook). Activities have included matzah making, Passover trivia, and figuring out how to practice Judaism creatively. We also begin and end our time together with some music! Boker Tov is streamed on Facebook Live, so any congregants can join!
  • JLC Sunday students have met in their classes for three weeks. Teachers are engaging students virtually through stories and games. Kids also have the opportunity to share something with their class community each week.
  • JLC AfterSchool is continuing weekly with one-on-one and small group Hebrew lessons. During “Spring Break” we had pop up Hebrew, where students learned modern Hebrew words for body parts by playing Shimon Omer (Simon says) and for furniture by “visiting” Missy’s living room and kitchen.
Pictured to the right: Keegan Wener & Peanut taking part in JLZ.
The Chava Center has taken the virtual early childhood program to new levels! With weekly themes spanning the school, teachers are providing opportunities to engage with students around literacy, numeracy, movement, music, fine motor, baking, art, science, Judaic, and caring connections. Here are some of the ways the Chava Center is making it count:
  • 18 amazing professional educators
  • 6 classrooms running an average of 14 Zoom calls per week
  • Butterfly Kits delivered to 93 homes with the potential to hatch 372 butterflies
  • Facebook posts to celebrate Havdalah each Monday (currently at a high of 407 views) and Shabbat each Friday (current high at 489 views)
  • BJBE PJ Havdalah currently at 391 views on Facebook
  • Chava Center Zoom Seder had 183 households participating
  • Countless Facetime and phone calls with families
Pictured above: Chava Center families take part in the Chava Center Zoom Seder.
Our Adult Ed offerings have continued. During the past few weeks, learners have come together to learn how to lead an online seder, and weekly, to investigate the poetry, theology, and meaning of our prayerbook. For this Yom HaShoah, Holocaust Remembrance Day, we were honored to bear witness to the testimony of Holocaust survivor Ida Paluch Kersz. She shared with us her story of hidden children, righteous gentiles, and reunion. Her life's mission is to share her story so that we can truly say never again. Click here to watch her presentation.
Worshiping together--apart. This has become our new normal. While our services have long-been live-streamed, worship while quarantined has brought a new spin. Clergy leads from their homes, and congregants connect via Zoom and Facebook Live. Since we've started congregating via zoom we've had:
  • 6 Friday Night Shabbat Services (averaging 136 households participating via Zoom)
  • 6 Saturday Kol Shabbat Serrvices (averaging 90 households participating via Zoom)
  • 1 Community Seder (329 devices logged into Zoom)
  • 1 Yizkor Service (88 households participating via Zoom)
Why was April 9, 2020 different than all other nights? April 9 was the BJBE Community Second Seder, and it was unique from all other seders past. Clergy, leading from their homes, were joined by almost 100 BJBE households for a Seder unlike any attended before. In addition to an evening of song and ceremony, participants had dinner together via "breakout rooms" to help recreate the joyous experience of sharing the festival meal together.
Prior to the seder, the "youngest" of several families recorded a video of the Four Questions. Click the video to the left to view. Above, world clouds from prompts during the Zoom Seder.
The holiday of Passover concludes with a Festival Service on the final day. In addition to the singing of Hallel (songs of joy), and the reading of Song of the Sea from the Torah, we remember loved ones whom we've lost during the Yizkor service. Click t he image to the right to view the moving video, produced by Alek Kopulsky, BJBE Coordinator of Youth and Family Engagement, shown during this year's service featuring text by Rabbi Karyn Kedar and music by cellist Andy Snow and pianist Beatriz Helguera-Snow.
These unprecedented times have resulted in increased needs and opportunities to perform acts of Tikkun Olam. The Social Action/Social Justice Team has been busy during the quarantine trying to meet some of the needs of our most vulnerable neighbors. Currently, through generous donations from members:
  • Project Nourish is packing and delivering 300 "socially distant" lunches each month with pre-packaged proteins, fruits, and desserts
  • We purchased $350 of needed items for Sue's Pantry in Vernon Hills
  • PADS has distributed gift cards and other items donated by BJBE congregants to 131 clients currently housed in hotels
  • 44 pints of blood were donated during our Spring Blood Drive
  • BJBE Sisterhood handed out 1,000 masks during their Acts of Kindness Day
In addition, individual congregants have stepped up by making face shields, hand sewn masks, providing meals to frontline workers, and more. Click here to read about some of our Everyday Heroes who are making a difference locally. Email Dani Glass to tell us about other ways our community is making a difference.

We appreciate the way everyone in the congregation has come together to continue to make a "difference from a distance." 
Pictured above (from left to right): Scott Glieberman modeling a 3d printed face mask, Mark Brodson delivering food to frontline workers, and Mark Jacobson building a wheelchair ramp for Rabbi Shapiro.
T he BJBE Caring Community has been hard at working helping our congregants who need a helping hand. Since March 15:
  • 78 congregant volunteers have offered to help with the Caring Community’s COVID-19 outreach efforts
  • 57 of these volunteers have made calls on as many as three occasions to check-in on all congregants, wish a happy Pesach, offer assistance with virtual Seders, and offer help accessing shabbat services by phone. 
  • Over 30 of these volunteers (more than enough!) offered to pick-up facemasks provided by Sisterhood on 4/21 and deliver them to congregants who couldn’t drive themselves
  • Over 6 grocery shopping volunteers, many of whom have made multiple trips for the same household.
Staying connected when physically apart is critical during this time of self-isolation. All congregants receive "BJBE Connects" daily in their inbox and can also view it on Facebook. Each day, a member of BJBE Clergy or Staff shares a message to buoy the spirit and lift up the soul.
Sisterhood, a key part of our community, has worked on many wonderful programs over the last few months. We are certainly planning to get back to the events that bring us together, but for now we are working on what we can do while we're not together. We continue to meet, online of course, and we join in many BJBE virtual programs. We have reached out to our Sisterhood members and we have shared the gift of kindness by providing more than 1000 masks to the congregation!We hope you will find this time to be thoughtful and kind-and if you need a virtual hug-think of Sisterhood and our smiling faces!
Molly Hershenhouse and Lara Kunz
Pictured above, Doris Schyman volunteers to hand out masks; Sandee Holleb pictured on right driving through to pick up.
Community has never been more important, and at BJBE, it is always our central value. On March 27, we launched Virtual Villages at BJBE t o provide opportunities for interaction and camaraderie. There are Villages for everyone across a variety of topics: folk-singing, happy hour for parents, podcast discussions, politics & policy conversation, family song-sessions, pilates, and more. Currently, there are 15 Villages and 97 BJBE households participating. Click here to see the full list with descriptions and sign up. Groups meet weekly.
Pictured above: participants of MENSches Making Meaning Virtual Village
BJBE Senior Youth Group got creative this week with a Bob Ross paining class! We followed along with his instruction using whatever supplies we had at home, and shared our finished works in the end ( pictured to the right )!
At BJBE, Israel is not simply a committee or program; it is a core value. One of the ways we express this is through our commitment to providing a robust Hebrew curriculum for adults. During this period, Ezra Kedar has been continuing with his Hebrew classes over Zoom, working with his students virtually.
In December, several families went on the BJBE Family Israel Trip. Our families strengthened their relationships with each other, with BJBE, and with Israel while having a fun trip-of-a-lifetime. On March 26, trip participants held a virtual reunion to catch up with one another.
Pictured to the right: Participants from the 2019 BJBE Family Israel Trip