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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.

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.

  • A Close Look at Torah

    with Rabbi Andrea London
    Fridays, October 20- June 8 (No class November 24, December 8, 22, & 29, January 12 & 26, March 30, April 6)
    9:30 a.m. - 10:35 a.m.
    There are many ways to interpret Torah and the nuances of meaning tha...

  • With Rabbi Andrea London

    Shabbat,  November 11, December 16, January 20, February 3, March 10, April 14, May 12, June 9
    3:30–5:30 pm This class meets at Rabbi London's home.

    Once a month on Shabbat afternoon at Rabbi London'...

  • with David Zarefsky
    Tuesday,  January 9 | 7:30 p.m. - 9:00 p.m.
    Sessions are expected to focus on the place of the United States in the world, including relationships with Israel, the nature of the social contract, and the prin...

  • with David Zarefsky
    Thursdays, November 30 and December 7, 7:30 – 9:00 p.m.
    Would you like to enhance your worship experience through greater understanding of its content and form? This two-session class designed for
    beginners w...

  • with Esther Fox
    Friday, December 8, 9:30 – 10:30 a.m.
    Longtime congregants Ada Golbus and Esther Fox are familiar faces at Beth Emet programs, classes, and events. Join us as Esther shares the world of untold changes that occur...

  • Jewish Mindfulness Meditation

    with the Center for Jewish Mindfulness at Orot
    Tuesdays at 7:30 p.m. at Beth Emet (please note this class will NOT meet: April 4, April 11, April 18, May 30, and July 4)

    Rabbi Jordan Bendat-Appell, Rabbi Sam Feinsmith, or o...

  • One Jewish Evanston Rosh Chodesh Kislev

    Sunday, November 19 at 10:00 a.m. at JRC (303 Dodge, Evanston)

    The program will feature both liberal and traditional Rosh Chodesh morning services, some great learning, and a delicious catered kosher brunch. Special guest ...

  • with Rabbi Peter Knobel

    Fridays October 20 - April 13 | 8:00 – 9:00 a.m (No class, November 24, December 29, January 5, March 30, & April 6)

    This year we will continue reading Tractate Avodah Zarah, which deals with idolatr...

  • with Barry Scott Wimpfheimer
    Fridays, December 8 and 15, 10:45 a.m. – 12:15 p.m.
    The Talmud began as an oral text, the byproduct of ancient rabbinic learning practices. By choice it remained oral, long after writing technology ...

  • with Sam Polsky
    Tuesday, November 28, 7:00 – 9:00 p.m.
    A flavorful and elegant terrine of (gefilte) fish, a succulent brisket preparation using the professional sous vide cooking method, and an
    oven baked chicken that tastes lik...

  • with Rabbi Herbert Bronstein
    Fridays, November 17 and December 1, 10:45 a.m. – 12:15 p.m.
    For ages, stories about the prophets Elijah and Nathan have figured in Jewish observance and their deeds have inspired and formed Jewish ...

  • with Rabbi Daniel Azulay
    Tuesdays, October 24 through December 12, 9:30 – 10:30 a.m.
    We will engage in conversational Yiddish, the language that was spoken in the home. On occasion we will refer to written material as well. The...

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