1.847.537.1771 info@templechai.org

Life Cycle Events

Our Temple Chai clergy, staff, and congregation are your extended Jewish family. We are all here to share the joys of life with you and to provide comfort and support amidst your sorrows.

Birth & Birthdays

B’rit Milah & B’rit Bat
B’rit milah, (literally, “covenant of circumcision”), also called a bris, refers to a religious ritual through which male babies are formally welcomed into the Jewish people. According to Jewish tradition, it is a parent’s obligation to circumcise a son and offer a threefold blessing for the child: a life enriched by Torah, the wedding canopy (chuppah), and good deeds. Today, a mohel or mohelet is routinely designated by parents to fulfill this custom. – See more here. Ceremonies that celebrate the birth of a daughter and her entry into the covenant of the Jewish people are known by a variety of names, including b’rit bat and b’rit chayim. They are a wonderful opportunity to celebrate our daughters and are an important part of liberal Judaism’s egalitarian approach to Jewish tradition. – See more here. If you would like to celebrate a B’rit Milah or B’rit Bat here at Temple Chai, please contact our Director of Programs and Operations – Deb Greenswag at (847) 537-1771 ext. 222
Baby Naming at Temple Chai
At Temple Chai, we customarily celebrate a child’s naming during Friday evening Shabbat services with the exception of the monthly Family Service. We welcome member as well as non-member families to celebrate a naming in the sanctuary. Also, schedule permitting, the clergy will conduct a naming ceremony at a congregant’s home.For more information on scheduling a baby naming ceremony at Temple Chai during a Friday night Shabbat service, please contact the temple office, and ask to speak to Deb Greenswag, our Director of Programs and Operations.
Send a complimentary JBaby packet to any Jewish newborn (up to 1 year old) in the greater Chicagoland Jewish community, courtesy of the JUF and Temple Chai. This packet includes gifts and useful information on raising a Jewish baby in Chicago.
ChaiCares – Mazel Tov
Temple Chai clergy, staff and congregation are your extended Jewish family and we are here to share the joys of life with you. If you would like a Chaicares announcement about a recent birth sent out to the membership, please contact the temple office.
Birthdays at Temple Chai
Please join us once a month during our Friday evening Kaballat Shabbat worship for Birthday blessings. Celebrants will be called up to the bimah for a blessing by the clergy. We encourage you to bring a wrapped gift for a child in need. Please check our calendar to find out when birthday blessings will be celebrated each month.

The School Years

You shall love the Eternal your God with all your mind, with all your strength, with all your being. Set these words, which I command you this day, upon your heart. Teach them faithfully to your children; speak of them in your home and on your way, when you lie down and when you rise up. (Deuteronomy 6:5-9)These words, which form the beginning of the Ve’ahavta prayer, teach us that love of God and learning are closely related. The education of a Jewish child is a joint venture, shared by both family and the Jewish community. Children begin to build their Jewish identity by what they experience at home. Certainly, for the very young, the most effective teacher of Torah is the parent. One’s basic values and attitudes towards life are acquired in the home. While parents are our first teachers, there will be many other teachers in our lives, and Judaism accords them special honor. Learning and scholarship are supremely valued in the Jewish tradition.

Most children receive their formal Jewish education in a synagogue religious school, attending after school and/or weekend classes. In these classes, children study Hebrew, Bible, and Jewish history. They celebrate Jewish holidays and reinforce Jewish values. Students experience Jewish culture via art, music, dance, drama and literature.

Every religion has ceremonies to mark rites of passage. Ceremonies mark important learning milestones; Consecration marks the beginning of formal Jewish study, bar/bat mitzvah the entry into adolescence, and Confirmation the approach to adulthood.

Consecration generally takes place at the beginning of kindergarten, or whenever a child begins his or her Jewish education. The ceremony is often held as part of the Simchat Torah celebration, though some synagogues may hold it at other times of the year. This is a lovely and meaningful ceremony for children and families alike. A large talit (prayer shawl) may be held over the students while they sing a song or recite the Sh’ma (the declaration of Jewish faith). The children are blessed by the clergy and are often given a certificate and a miniature Torah. How wonderful to being a child’s Jewish education with a celebration. – See more at: http://www.reformjudaism.org/consecration#sthash.OJQmylAx.dpuf

Whereas the Bar and Bat Mitzvah focus on an adolescent’s newfound responsibility for performing Jewish rituals and commandments, the confirmation ceremony signifies his or her understanding of Jewish religious values and principles. This year-long period of study with the rabbis, taking place during 10th grade, culminates with a meaningful ceremony during the festival of Shavuot; traditionally the time Jews received the Torah at Mount Sinai.

It is the expectation that all B’nei Mitzvah students will continue their Jewish education at least through Confirmation. Please contact Laura Perpinyal, Director of Congregational Learning for more information.

B'nei Mitzvah

Adult B’nei Mitzvah Program
Adult Hebrew for Prayer Reading (Level I)
Tuesdays, 7:30 – 9:00 p.m.
This class is designed for those who would like to learn basic Hebrew reading skills. You will learn the aleph.bet and gain skills that will allow you to read the Siddur (prayer book) without being dependent on transliteration.

Adult B’Nei Mitzvah Study (Level II)
Tuesdays, 7:30 – 9:00 p.m.
Not everyone celebrated their Bar or Bat Mitzvah at the age of 13. A perfect program if you want to learn more about Judaism and Hebrew as an adult, and to finally become a Bar or Bat Mitzvah! Students need to have basic Hebrew reading skills to join this class, which will begin in the fall. If you do not have Hebrew reading skills, consider taking the Hebrew for Prayer Reading class first.

Questions or for more information please be in touch with Laura Perpinyal, Lperpinyal@templechai.org or 847-537-1771 ext 228

Youth B’nei Mitzvah Program
The ceremonies called Bar and Bat Mitzvah (lit. “son” or “daughter of the commandment”) mark and celebrate a fundamental life change; moving beyond childhood. The beginning of adolescence is a momentous transition, one that many cultures have marked with ritual and ceremony. The b’nei mitzvah (plural form) ceremonies are also family rituals; moments in which the generations of the family can rejoice together.

The clergy at Temple Chai strive to make each bar and bat mitzvah service a unique and meaningful experience for the entire family. We are very proud of all our b’nei mtizvah students.

Students must be enrolled in our religious/Hebrew school for two years prior to their bar/bat mitzvah.

B’nei Mitzvah Resources:

For more information regarding B’nei Mitzvah at Temple Chai, please contact our B’nai Mitzvah Cordinator, Charla Silver.


Conversion Studies
Becoming a ger or a giyoret (a convert to Jew by choice) is the ultimate act of identification and connection with the Jewish people. The Jewish attitude toward conversion has changed dramatically over time. Today, clergy and Jewish organizations welcome and even solicit interest from non-Jews interested in conversion. Although many people begin by taking an Introduction to Judaism class, the primary experience of becoming Jewish is private study with a rabbi. This process, whhich also includes various ritual opportunities, usually takes about one year.

The Union of Reform Judaims (URJ) offers two classes that allow you to find out more about Judaism:

Taste of Judaism: Everyone, Jewish or not, is welcome at this free three-session class for beginners that explores the topics of Jewish spirituality, ethics, and community values.
Introduction to Judaism: In this 16-to-20-week class (duration depends on location), you’ll learn the fundamentals of Jewish thought and practice. This course is perfect for interfaith couples, non-Jews considering conversion, and Jews looking for an adult-level education.

If you have any questions, please contact the Temple Chai front office.

Conversion Rituals
In preparation for the conversion ceremony, many individuals spiritually prepare themselves by means of immersion in a mikvah, a spiritual bath. The path to conversion culminates with an opportunity to share this special moment with the congregation, usually during a Friday evening Shabbat service.

For more information regarding the rituals for conversion, please contact the temple office.

Weddings & Anniversaries

The clergy at Temple Chai strongly encourage families to consider having an aufruf (wedding blessing) in the sanctuary prior to the ceremony as a way of sharing their personal joy with the congregation. At Temple Chai, aufrufs are usually held during Friday evening Shabbat services.

Weddings at Temple Chai
The wedding is the premiere life cycle event. Although the core of the ritual is simplicity itself, the customs, symbols and rituals associated with Jewish weddings encompass more than a year’s worth of celebration and joy. It is a formal opportunity to pledge love for one another and sanctify the loving partnership beneath a huppah (wedding canopy).

To learn more about the process of having a wedding at Temple Chai, please contact our Director of Programs and Operations, Deb Greenswag.

ChaiCares – Mazal Tov
Our Temple Chai clergy, staff and congregation are your extended Jewish family, here to share the joys of life with you! Please contact us to let us know when you have a simcha to share. We will send a ChaiCares greeting out on your behalf.

Anniversaries at Temple Chai
Once a month, we invite you to join other anniversary couples on the Bimah during Shabbat Services when the Rabbi will offer words of celebration and blessing. Please check the Temple Chai calendar for the service featuring Anniversary Blessings.

Illness & Aging

Pastoral Care
‌Pastoral Care is a means of providing comfort to those suffering as a result of life’s challenges, including long-term or life-limiting illness, death of a loved one, separation and divorce, or aging. Temple Chai cares about you…please notify the temple office so we can be in touch with you and support you in your time of need.

Caring Community
Around 1990, the temple community recognized the sacred obligation to help each other in times of need, and so the Caring Community was established. Initially, plants or gift cards were sent to congregants who were hospitalized to offer prayers of Mishebeirach, meals were provided to sick or homebound congregants, errands were run for the elderly, and personal calls were made to families in need to let them know that their Temple Chai community was thinking of them.

Then, in 2001, a member shared that, following a loss in her family, she received a remembrance basket during the High Holy Days to help ease her pain during that difficult time. Since that time, the Caring Community has recruited members of our congregation to gather, pack and deliver baskets of wine, challah, candlesticks, honey and other symbolic traditions of the High Holy Days to members who have suffered a loss during the year.

Today, Cindy Kaplan and her committee of volunteers continue to offer comfort and support as well as celebrating the births of the newest members through Shalom Baby. The Caring Community continues to provide a way for the Temple Chai community to reach out to all members during times of joy, sorrow and need.

For more information, please contact Cindy Kaplan.

Death & Mourning

ChaiCares – Our Condolences
Temple Chai clergy, staff and congregation are your extended Jewish family and we are here to share the joys of life with you as well as provide comfort and support amidst your sorrows. If you would like a Chaicares announcement regarding a lifecycle event such as a birth or death of a loved one sent out to the membership please contact the temple office.

Funeral & Burial
The primary principle underlying every Jewish law, ritual and custom surrounding death and mourning is kavod , a word that means “honor” and “respect.” The Jewish approach to bereavement is also based on respect for the powerful emotions of grief and loss. In the event of a death, the clergy will meet personally with the family to offer pastoral support and guidance during this difficult time.

Temple Chai offers a comprehensive Funeral Plan to help assist and support congregational families during this process. Please contact the temple office for complete information about our Funeral Plan and how else we may be of assistance to you and your family during this period of loss and mourning.

In addition, a comprehensive outline of Temple Chai’s funeral package can be found here.

The Rainbows program at Temple Chai has been offering support for over 20 years. It is open to both members and non-members. Rainbows is the world’s largest not-for-profit international organization dedicated to helping children cope with pain caused by a significant life-altering loss such as death, divorce, or other family trauma. During the past 31 years, Rainbows has helped to heal more than 2.6 million broken hearts and provides a healthy path toward healing to those who grieve. This 14-week peer support curriculum for children ages 5 through 13 meets on Thursday evenings from 7:00 – 8:00 pm at Temple Chai.

The Sisterhood of Temple Chai generously supports and funds this program. This includes training, workbooks, and supplies.

For information about the program or to get involves, please contact Edie Sylvan (phone: 847-550-1402).

Yahrzeit & Yizkor
Below is a form to help you determine when to observe a loved one’s Yahrzeit.