Beth Emet - The Free Synagogue

Beth Emet is a diverse, multigenerational Reform community with a dynamic approach to Judaism. Our congregation seeks to create a spiritually vibrant, socially conscious, intellectually challenging, and deeply caring environment firmly rooted in Jewish tradition and values.

A Time to Live and a Time to Die: Resources for End of Life Issues

At Beth Emet, we are committed to caring for each other throughout our lives. The resources below along with the Yahrzeit Memorial Observance information, are designed to help you plan for and respond to the profound loss of a loved one.

Please note that the pdfBeth Emet Funeral Plan is available through participating funeral homes at a fixed cost negotiated for our members. This rate does not include or cover any cemetery costs, and other services can be arranged for an additional cost. For more information and/or to receive a copy of the plan with Chicago Jewish Funerals or Weinstein Funeral Home, please contact Bekki Harris Kaplan.

Progressive Chevra Kadisha (Burial Committee) and Tahara

Beth Emet is part of the Progressive Chevra Kadisha (PCK), a volunteer inter-congregational society dedicated to conducting the ceremony of tahara in preparation for Jewish burial. PCK is run by volunteers from Beth Emet, the Jewish Reconstructionist Congregation, Lomdim, Or Chadash, and the Egalitarian Minyan/Ner Tamid of West Rogers Park to serve the needs of members and their families.

When someone dies, PCK members visit the funeral home-- as part of the Beth Emet Burial Plan or at a family's request--and prepare the body of the deceased according to the centuries-old customs of our people. PCK members wash the body (rechitza), perform a tahara (ritual cleansing), and dress the deceased in a set of tachrichim (simple white garments) for burial. The Progressive Chevra Kadisha performs this service anonymously as g’mitlut chesed  (an ultimate act of lovingkindness) to honor the dead and to comfort the living who remember them.

To learn more about the work of the Progressive Chevra Kadisha, to inquire about arranging a tahara, or to volunteer, call 847-440-4725 or email.

Comforting Mourners in Our Beth Emet Community

Jewish law and tradition encourage us to surround mourners with a supportive community. At Beth Emet, there are many ways to provide comfort and support to those in mourning. pdfThis brief guide shares the practices of our community.

Three Kinds of Wills: A Planning Resource

pdfThis resource offers guidance for thinking and planning about end of life issues in the context of three kinds of wills: a last will and testament that discusses your wishes about the disposition of your property, a so-called living will that provides advance directives about health care decisions if the time comes when you are unable to communicate your wishes, and an ethical will that transmits your values and describes the Jewish standards you’ve lived by to the next generations.

In Lieu of Flowers...

When a loved one dies, many families suggest that memorial gifts be given to charity instead of receiving flowers. Beth Emet The Free Synagogue is honored to be a named charity.

Memorial gifts can be made to Beth Emet online, by telephone or via postal mail. The synagogue office will promptly notify the family in mourning that a gift has been received and a thank you letter will be sent to the donor. All donations are tax-deductible to the extent allowed by law.

Notify the funeral director of your wish to name Beth Emet as a suggested charity and provide the contact information at the bottom of this page. Usually this type of request is included in published death notices and in shiva information distributed by the funeral home at the time of the funeral.

Donations will support the synagogue’s ongoing programs and services or, if you wish, can be directed to a specific synagogue department. If you have questions, please contact the Beth Emet office at 847-869-4230 ext. 301.

Beth Emet Dor L’Dor Society

The Beth Emet Dor L’Dor Society encourages congregants to include the synagogue in their estate plans and recognizes those who do so. Learn more

Selected Resources for End of Life Issues

End of Life Decisions: A Discussion Guide from Reform Judaism On LineEnd of Life Decisions: A Discussion Guide from Reform Judaism On Line
Embracing Life and Facing Death: A Jewish Guide to Palliative CareEmbracing Life and Facing Death: A Jewish Guide to Palliative Care
Jewish Sacred AgingJewish Sacred Aging, as filtered by Rabbi Richard Address
End of Life GuidesEnd of Life Guides from Congregation Rodeph Sholom, New York
Shiva ConnectShiva Connect - Jewish Funeral and Shiva Information
Resource Materials Downloadable from Chicago Jewish FuneralsChicago Jewish Funerals

Jewish Funeral Homes in Greater Chicago
(check with Beth Emet office to verify availability of Beth Emet Funeral Plan)

Illinois Information on Advance Directives and Living WillsIllinois Information on Advance Directives and Living Wills

Statement of Illinois Law on Advance Directives and DNR Orders
Statement of Illinois Law on Advance Directives and DNR Orders

Links to Approved FormsLinks to Approved Forms

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Beth Emet is a diverse, multigenerational Reform community with a dynamic approach to Judaism. Our congregation seeks to create a spiritually vibrant, socially conscious, intellectually challenging, and deeply caring environment firmly rooted in Jewish tradition and values.

  • Adults and Kids Night Out at Beth Emet


    Saturday, December 7 | 5:30 - 8:00 p.m.

    Last year's Adults and Kids Night Out at Beth Emet events were such a hit that we're doing it again!

    The evening begins with Havdalah together in the Lobby, then, we'll spli...

  • November 1 - December 8

    Cleaning out your closet this fall? Consider helping our Soup Kitchen guests stay warm this winter by donating your gently used coats, scarves, hats, gloves, and boots. Please make sure pock...

  • Chanukah Concert with Cantors Cotler

    Sunday, December 15 at 5:00 p.m.
    This concert will feature many of your favorite Chanukah tunes and some new melodies as well! You’ll laugh, you’ll cry (from laughing), and you’ll revel in the stories and music whi...

  • Ivrit with Ronit

    With Ronit Levy
    Wednesdays, October 23 - November 18 | 4:30-5:30 p.m.

    A fun afternoon Hebrew class for children ages 4-6. Learn Hebrew through songs, games, dance, snack, yoga and more.

    $10 per session. Please co...

  • Celebrate & Commemorate - BE@70

     


    January 10-12, 2020

    View the weekend events and register today! 

    For 70 years, Beth Emet The Free Synagogue has created a community uniquely open to diverse understanding and expression of what it means to be a J...

  • Beth Emet Community Retreat

    February 28-March 1, 2020
    After a five-year hiatus, Beth Emet’s Community Retreat is back and better than ever! Spend a relaxing weekend with friends and family in beautiful Oconomowoc, Wisconsin, celebrating Shabb...

  •  Thinking about keeping your slate clean after Yom Kippur? Want a Jewish way to deepen your focus on your speech, behavior, and ideas? Looking to connect to people in meaningful ways? You may be looking for tikkun m...

  • Beth Emet Book Club


    facilitated by Judith Pittel
    Count to a Thousand: Negotiating life as an American in modern-day Israel 
    with author Caroline Goldberg Igra
    Wednesday, November 20 at 1:00 p.m. 
    Count to a Thousand tells the story of an A...

  • Thursdays, January 16, February 27, March 19, April 23 | 7:00 – 8:30 p.m.

    Participants study as a small group of adults studies to become b’nei mitzvah together at Beth Emet. Requirements for Adult B’nei Mitzvah at Beth Emet...

  • with David Shyovitz
    Fridays, December 13 and 20 | 9:45 – 11:15 a.m.
    The relationship between Christians and Jews has been marked by violence and mutual antagonism for much of the past 2000 years; but at the same time, Jews and ...

  • with David Zarefsky

    Tuesdays, November 12 and January 7 | 7:30 - 9:00 p.m.
    This is a continuing lecture-discussion class on contemporary public issues of interest to Jews as citizens. We will focus primarily on United States ...

  • Drumming for Self-Renewal

    with Linda Schneider
    Wednesday, December 11; 7:30 – 9:00 p.m.

    Percussion offers hands-on, non-verbal access to the spiritual and emotional while connecting with others. Treat your mind, body, and spirit to an uplifting brea...

  • facilitated by Wendy Yanow and David Futransky
    Wednesday, December 4 | 7:00 – 9:00 p.m. and repeated Friday, December 6
    10:00 a.m. – 12:00 p.m.
    What is whiteness and how does it show up in our daily lives? We hear and talk a lot...

  • with Rabbi Amy L. Memis-Foler
    Monday, December 9 | 7:00 – 9:00 p.m.
    Jewish values teach us that we are obligated to treat the sojourner with dignity. In the chapter, Imagining Immigration: The Stranger in Jewish Law and Lore, f...

  • with Jerry Kaye, Marilyn Price, and Zach Selch
    Sunday, December 8 | 7:00 p.m. – 9:00 p.m.
    An evening of telling and listening and laughing and learning that delves into the different paths a story can take and where it can go. ...

  •  Thinking about keeping your slate clean after Yom Kippur? Want a Jewish way to deepen your focus on your speech, behavior, and ideas? Looking to connect to people in meaningful ways? You may be looking for tikkun middot.

    Be...

  • with Carolyn Dinofsky
    Sunday, December 15 | 9:30 – 11:00 a.m.
    In ancient times, people regarded death and sickness as caused by supernatural hostile forces. The proliferation of superstition escalated as epidemics, earthquakes,...

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