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.

  • Gun Violence and Youth Activism a Panel Discussion featuring David Hogg

    Gun Violence and Youth Activism a Panel Discussion featuring David Hogg, Parkland Student and Co-founder of March for Our Lives
    Thursday, February 21 at 7:30 p.m.
    David Hogg is an American author and student who sur...

  • Parents & Kids Night Out at Beth Emet

    Saturday, February 23 at 5:30 p.m.
    Our last Parents and Kids Night Out at Beth Emet was such a success, we're doing it again! We will do Havdalah together as families in the Lobby. Then, we'll split up: parents wil...

  • Saturday, March 2 | 9:00 a.m. – 3:00 p.m.
    Spend a meaningful Shabbat at Beth Emet exploring the middah (soul trait) of “Generosity of the Heart.” Begin your Shabbat with a period of meditation, followed by Kahal wors...

  • Baking a Difference


    Sunday, March 10 | 12:00 p.m. - 2:30 p.m.

    Beth Emet families are invited to participate in the upcoming family mitzvah event, Baking a Difference. Just in time for Purim, we will be making hamantashen and donating ...

  • Purim Carnival

    Sunday, March 17
    10:00 a.m
    . – Purim Carnival Open to Families with Members with Special Needs -  games and accommodations for children with special needs!
    10:30 a.m. – Purim Celebrations for Families with Young Chil...

  • Purim Spiel and Megillah Reading 5779

    Mamele Mia! Dinner with Abba & Ima
    An ABBA-inspirted Purim Speil and Megillah Reading
    Wednesday, March 20 at 7:00 p.m.

  • A Close Look at Torah

    with Rabbi Andrea London
    Fridays through June 7 (No class April 19 and 26)
    9:30 a.m. - 10:35 a.m.
    There are many ways to interpret Torah and the nuances of meaning that are often overlooked. We will continue our learning from ...

  • Thursdays, March 7, April 4, and May 2
    7:30 p.m. - 9:00 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 include Beth ...

  • With Rabbi Andrea London

    Shabbat, February 9, March 9, April 6, May 11, and June 1
    3:30–5:30 pm This class meets at Rabbi London's home.

    Once a month on Shabbat afternoon at Rabbi London's home, explore Jewish spiritual prac...

  • Current Politics

    with David Zarefsky
    Monday, March 11; Tuesday, June 4 | 7:30 p.m. - 9:00 p.m.
    Sessions will focus on the place of the United States in the world, including relationships with Israel, the nature of the social contract, and the ...

  • Hebrew 1

    with Nancy Fink

    Sundays, Through May 12 (No class February 17; April 21)
    11:00 a.m. - 12:00 noon
    Master the Hebrew alphabet and learn how to sound out printed Hebrew. Connect Hebrew language to Jewish prayer, ritual, and tra...

  • Hebrew 2

    with Bluma Stoller
    Sundays, through May 12 (No class February 17; April 21)
    10:30 a.m. -11:50 p.m.

    For learners already able to sound out Hebrew words. Improve your reading fluency. Explore the themes and structure of the Sh...

  • Hebrew 3

    with Dorit Flatt
    Sundays, through May 12 (No class February 17; April 21)
    11:00 a.m.-12:00 noon
    For learners who have completed Hebrew 2 or an equivalent, including the basic ability to read and write Hebrew words. Explore gra...

  • Mindful Torah: Engaging with Middot

    facilitated by Marci Dickman
    Monthly,  March 4, April 1, and May 13, 7:00 – 9:00 p.m.
    This Torah study program will guide us to realize our best selves in everyday life. Participants will receive weekly emails from Rabbi Ma...

  • with David Shyovitz
    Fridays, February 22 and March 1, 10:45 a.m. – 12:15 p.m.
    Repentance (t’shuvah) is a central theme of biblical and rabbinic tradition—but its meaning has not remained static over the course of Jewish history...

  • with David Gottlieb
    Fridays, March 8 and 15, 10:45 a.m. – 12:15 p.m.

    The patriarch Isaac is probably the least studied and least understood major figure in the Bible. We will look at the arc of Isaac’s life, beginning with th...

  • with Rabbi Peter Knobel

    Fridays through June 28 | 8:00 – 9:00 a.m (No class April 19 and 26)

    Meeting in person in October, and through Zoom online thereafter, we will continue reading Tractate Avodah Zarah, which deals with...

  • with Rabbi David Rosenberg
    Friday, February 15, 10:45 a.m. – 12:15 p.m.
    The b’rachah (blessing) is one of the great literary achievements of the rabbinic tradition. HaMotzi, Shehecheyanu, and other blessings have a broad appeal...

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