FVJN eNews Online!

January 8, 2012

Services, education, volunteer opportunities, and more!

President’s Corner

Fox Valley Jewish Neighbors,

Please allow me to start off our February eNews with a thank you that cannot possibly fit on this page…

Our tireless and founding President for the past seven years, Nancy Sohn, has become President Emeritus of FVJN.  Though unlikely that she will take it, she now has the opportunity to have a moment’s peace and have others help manage the organization.  No amount of recounting her incredible accomplishments could possibly convey the contributions she has made to FVJN over the years, but I will at least attempt to note some of the highlights.

It is only through Nancy’s extensive commitment and efforts that a small group, meeting in individual homes, has grown to now serve hundreds in the tri-cities area and beyond, all from our own 3rd Street space.  While she will no doubt point out that there were others present from the beginning, and there certainly were, Nancy alone took up the helm, offering unwavering support and consistent guidance in directing the group towards what it has become today.  She was, after initially bringing individuals together to establish a sense of Jewish community, willing to take up the leadership role to turn that group of individuals into a cohesive community-building entity.  FVJN was born!

In case forming an organization is not exhausting enough, Nancy continued to guide the group from infancy to the present.  She oversaw numerous board transitions and gracefully navigated the competing pressures that a small group, with limited funds, encounters.  As the group continued to grow, she nurtured and supported others who grew the group through the addition of offerings for the benefit of all our community members.  Today FVJN is fortunate to provide a religious school, adult social and enrichment opportunities, as well as religious services for all interested.  There is little doubt that such outgrowths are directly attributable to Nancy’s steadfast commitment to FVJN and serving our ever-growing community.

We are thrilled to have Nancy continuing as President Emeritus on the Board and we hope she will continue to guide and grow the organization for years to come.  Her contributions cannot possibly be overstated.  FVJN could not have thrived and grown as it has without your incredible leadership!  Thank you, Nancy, for seven amazing years as President!

We also thank Rabbi Fred Margulies, Mike Simon and Trisha Margulies as their service on the Board completes, though certainly not their contributions to FVJN and our ever-growing Jewish community.

Should anyone have suggestions or questions, please contact us at the email addresses listed below.  As I begin my term as President, I appreciate any insights you would like to share.  We look forward to continuing to grow FVJN to serve the needs and interests of our community and welcome you joining us for specific events or volunteering to help us in our larger undertaking of instilling a greater sense of Judaism in our community.

Warmest wishes,


Tammie Weinberger


Mark Your Calendars!

Feb. 25: FVJN Volunteering at NIFB

Feb. 26: FVJS at FVJN

Feb. 26: FVJN Film Club

March 13: FVJN Book Club


FVJN Volunteers at Northern Illinois Food Bank!

Feb. 25, 9 – 11 a.m.

On Saturday, February 25, from 9 to 11 a.m., some FVJN families and individuals will have the opportunity to work a Youth Volunteer session at NIFB (Northern Illinois Food Bank).

If you wish to participate please let Rachel know, ASAP (mry98@aol.com). For this session, volunteers can be as young as 8 years of age. If you’ve done this with us before, you know how fun it is, and it’s a terrific way to help our greater community!


FVJN Film Club

Feb.26, 4 to 6 p.m.

Free (Bring snacks, if you wish!)

Hiding and Seeking

Filmmakers: Oren Rudavsky, Menachem Daum

http://www.pbs.org/pov/hidingandseeking/ for trailer and more info

This award-winning documentary tells the dramatic and emotional story of a Jewish father who journeys with his two ultra-Orthodox sons back to Poland to try to find the Christian farmers who hid their family from the Nazis. To his sons, this is a land where people are beyond redemption. The father hopes that if they can find examples of decency among the Poles his sons will recognize the potential for goodness in all people.

FVJN’s film and discussion group is free and open to all. We’d love to have your vote on films you’d like to see.

Please click http://www.fvjn.org/fvjn-film-club/ for film suggestions and additional information.



**Special Guest Stars: Our FVJN Volunteers!**

March 9, 6:30 p.m.

Please join us for a family service especially for our FVJS students!

Special FVJN volunteers will also be honored during the evening!

The evening will begin with a vegetarian potluck. Please bring non-meat dishes, only. Please RSVP asap and let Rachel (mry98@aol.com) know what you will bring (so we can plan accordingly):

If your last name begins with:

A – G: Salads or side dishes

H – N: Main dishes

O – T: Desserts

U – Z: Beverages

Service will continue throughout the year.

Please see our calendar at www.fvjn.org.

Our services are always interfaith-friendly.


FVJN Book Group

May 8, 7 p.m.

The FVJN book club selection for March 13 is Kosher Chinese: Living,

Teaching and Eating with China’s Other Billion, by Michael Levy.  Our book for May 8 is Walking the Bible: A Journey by Land through the Five Books of Moses, by Bruce Feiler.  The book club is open to all.  Feel free to join atany time.  Just mark your calendar and come to FVJN at 7 p.m.!

The most recent book discussed, The Invisible Bridge, by Julie Orringer, was given a thumbs up by all!

Volunteer Corner

Our Volunteers Rock!

Our FVJN Board members really do make our organization work! From organizing and attending events, maintaining our building, our school, our space, developing and implementing our annual calendar and more, we couldn’t do it without you!


FVJN Lazarus House Volunteer Project

Your chance to volunteer!

Bethany Kural has arranged with Lazarus House, a homeless shelter in St. Charles, for FVJN to provide dinner once-a-month. Please consider helping with this FVJN Volunteer Project!


1. Go to Lazarus house some time the week before the first Wednesday of the month and “shop between 9am and 9pm” for donated items. Supplement from your own home as needed OR shop on your own at your own expense.

2. Prepare a dinner meal of your choice that will feed 85 guests.

3.  Deliver the prepared meal to Lazarus House on the Wednesday you signed up for.  The preferred time for drop off is between 6-6:45 p.m., but if needed can be dropped earlier and kept warm in their ovens.  Please specify to staff that your food is for the dinner meal.


*Cook with others!

*Large casseroles as well as stews in large pots are good.

*Do the cooking a bit at a time and/or ahead of time

*Buy big casseroles (e.g. from Costco)

We still need volunteers to cover April 4 and May 2! Please respond to Bethany asap!




Fox Valley Jewish School (FVJS)

Last Sunday, 2/5, FVJS students met at Pushing the Envelope Farm, located at Continental Envelope, in Geneva. The day’s activities and experiences focused on the Jewish holiday of Tu Bishvat, and featured the movie “The Giving Tree,” food tastings and holiday explanations with Rabbi Fred, art projects with Miss Leslie, and more!


Jewish FAQ!

Tu B’shevat starts today, Feb. 8!

From “Tu Bishvat: The Greening of Judaism”

Originally a time for farmers to record the age of their trees so they would know which trees were old enough to harvest, (Tu Bishvat) has become a time to connect Jewish values of taking care of the earth with contemporary concerns about pollution, climate change and the preservation of the environment.

Judaism has always seen trees as sacred. The Torah itself is called a “tree of life.”

In the book of Genesis, humankind is instructed to be  shomrei adamah, caretakers of the Earth, and of all God’s creations.

The most common seder is the meal we share on Passover, but seder just means “order” in Hebrew; any meal with a set lineup or procedure can be a seder.  Kabbalists in the Middle Ages revived Tu Bishvat, elevating it to be a joyous holiday. As a new year for the trees, they felt it deserved a new year’s feast. With that, they created a seder.

Shvat is the name of a winter month in the Jewish lunar calendar.

Tu is 15. Every letter in the Hebrew alphabet is also a number:

T (tet) = 9 and U (vov) = 6.

The “Bi” means “of ” or “with”.

Now you know how to decode the name. Tu BiShvat is both a date

and the name of a holiday celebrated on that date (like our 4th of July).

Visit http://www.interfaithfamily.com/holidays/shabbat_and_other_holidays/TuBishvatBooklet.shtml where you can download your own copy of  “Tu Bishvat: The greening of Judaism,” filled with all sorts of historical information, as well as activities for all!


Tu B’shvat Seder: Discover the Plant World Through Spices

Feb. 8, 6 – 9 p.m.

Head over to Pushing the Envelope Farm to learn about Tu B’shvat through exploring spices. This event includes a potluck, so bring fruit or a vegetarian dish to share.

For more information about this and other programs please visit http://www.pushingtheenvelopefarm.org/calendar.

Cost: $5 if you sign up at least a week in advance, $15 at the door. Please RSVP to GenevaFarm@gmail.com

Pushing the Envelope Farm is located at: 1700 Averill Road, in Geneva.


Thursday, Feb. 9, 2012 at Fox Valley Jewish Neighbors

Program on Living Waters for the World Ministry, 7:00 p.m. Free.

Loy & Linda Williams have been privileged to work in Guatemala on this project of sustainable micro water systems. They will share how lives are impacted by teaching local leaders to teach others in the community.


Pledging for Friends

FVJN participant Kimberly Fivelson is walking in the Avon 2-Day Breast Cancer walk in June and could use your support. Please take this opportunity to honor the women you love by donating to the cause. Every donation really helps, big or small. Donations can be made online at www.avonwalk.org (click on “Join Us” à “Find a Walker/Team” and then type in her name) or email her at kimberlyfivelson@gmail.com with any questions.


March 3: Concert: “Kadosh: A Celebration of Jewish Choral Music”                                                                                 (from http://www.newclassicsingers.org)

New Classic Singers continues its 30th season with KADOSH, a celebration of Jewish choral music, on Saturday, March 3, at 8 pm, at Christ the King Catholic Church in Lombard. Music Director and Founder Lee Kesselman will conduct the 32 voice adult ensemble and guest instrumentalists as it presents its third concert of Jewish choral music in its history.

Christ the King Catholic Church is located at 1501 S Main Street, Lombard.

“The Hebrew words Kadosh, Kiddush and Kaddish all stem from the same roots,” says Kesselman. “Much of our concert will sing the prayer texts that come from these words. The Kadosh text gave birth to the Sanctus movement in the Christian Mass. Kiddush is the prayer over the wine. And Kaddish has become best known as the prayer for the dead. Our program will circle around these texts and some of the Christian prayers that grew from them.”

The Singers will sing music by famous Jewish composers including Lewandowski, Leonard Bernstein, Salamone Rossi, Kurt Weill, and Max Janowski. There will also be a special section devoted to songs by Debbie Friedman, the beloved songwriter/singer who died last year. The program will close with a selection of popular Klezmer-style songs, featuring Don Jacobs, clarinet, Rich Armandi, bass, and Steve Hawk, drums.

NCS will also premiere a new work by Kesselman, Kaddish for My Father, written especially for this concert. Kesselman’s father died when he was 20 years old and this work is a tribute to him, composed for chorus, clarinet and piano.

New Classic Singers has been entertaining DuPage audiences with the finest in choral singing and repertoire. Members include solo vocalists, educators, and other fine singers from through the Chicago area. The ensemble is known for its imaginative programs and vocal excellence. NCS concerts have been an annual treat for DuPage audiences since 1982.

Director Kesselman is widely known as a conductor, composer, and arranger. His choral music is performed internationally and his leadership of NCS has made the ensemble a beacon of choral music in the Chicago area. He brings a unique composer’s perspective to his work as music director.

Tickets for New Classic Singers are available through our online ticker order form (http://www.newclassicsingers.org), or at the door. Special rates are available for students, seniors, and groups.


6th Annual Pasta for Posies

Geneva Beautification Celebrates Volunteers (like FVJN’s Marci and Mike!) Who Care for the Gardens of Geneva!

Wed., March 7, 5 – 8 p.m.

Join us for the 6th Annual Pasta for Posies Spaghetti Supper on March 7, 2012 from 5 to 8 p.m. The event will be held at Riverview Banquets located at 1117 N. Washington (Route 25) in Batavia.

Tickets are $10 for adults and $5 for children (under 10) when purchased in advance. Tickets will be $12 for adults and $6 for children at the door.

For more info: http://www.plantgeneva.org/


Check out InterfaithFamily.com!

We’re excited to tell you about the first hybrid online/in-person class InterfaithFamily/Chicago will be offering this year: Raising a Child with Judaism in your Interfaith Family! A one-of-a-kind, eight-session class for interfaith parents thinking about whether and how to bring Judaism to their home, their lives and their parenting. This class runs February 27 through April 27. Register now!


Where Do You Give?


American Jewish World Service is delighted to announce the arrival of Where Do You Give? a project designed to reimagine the future of tzedakah. Our national design competition officially opens today.

Enter this design competition at www.wheredoyougive.org/about and reimagine the traditional tzedakah box. You could win $2500 and a chance to travel with AJWS! The deadline to submit is March 1, 2012.


Registration for Taglit-Birthrght Israel Chicago Community trips run by Shorashim Opens February 15!

Are your congregants ages 18-26?  Are they ready for an Israel experience?  Please share this exciting Birthright opportunity with them.

Travel to Israel with Israelis on a Chicago community trip through Shorashim, a partner of JUF. Registration for Taglit-Birthright Israel opens on Wednesday, February 15 at 10 am EST. Priority registration for returning applicants opens Tuesday, February 14 at Noon EST.

Check out http://www.israelwithisraelis.com/ for more information.


Calling all high school sophomores and juniors!

Apply now for Great Jewish Books, the Yiddish Book Center’s new free summer program for rising high school juniors and seniors. Spend a week at the Center reading, discussing, arguing about, and falling in love with some of the most influential and essential works of Jewish literature.

  • Explore modern works by the likes of Franz Kafka, Sholem Aleichem, Philip Roth, Isaac Babel, Grace Paley, and many others…
  • Learn from outstanding teachers from top universities as well as from prominent and prize-winning writers…
  • Develop skills for literary analysis and self-expression that will prepare you for college…
  • Meet other teens from across the country who love to read and who care about Jewish culture…
  • Get an early taste of university life — see what it’s like to live, eat, and play on the campus of one of America’s finest liberal arts colleges…
  • Discover the connection between modern literature and ancient traditions…

Great Jewish Books will be chock-full of social, cultural, and educational opportunities. The program runs from July 29 to August 5, 2012. Applications must be received by March 15, 2012. Tuition, room, meals, and books will be provided for accepted students through a generous grant from Michael Steinhardt.

Learn more and apply now at www.yiddishbookcenter.org/great-jewish-books.


Please Continue to Support FVJN

Thank you to all of you who donated to the annual FVJN Fundraiser! Your generosity will help fund programs, education, operating costs, and more, throughout the year.

FVJN gratefully accepts donations throughout the year. You can easily donate right on our website: www.fvjn.org, or by sending a check to: FVJN, PO Box 8, Geneva, 60134.

Fox Valley Jewish Neighbors

Officers/Directors 2012

Tammie Weinberger, President

Mim Evans, Vice President

Barb Anderson, Secretary

Nancy Cox, Treasurer

Nancy Sohn, President Emeritus

Greg Cibura

Mike Yackley