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.

  • Shabbat, April 27 at 9:30 a.m

    Children ages three to eleven are encouraged to attend to Beth Emet’s Shabbat morning Kahal service with their adult family members to participate in a musical prayer service. During...

  • YWCA Stand Against Racsim

    Wednesday, April 24
    Vigil/Stand at 1:30-1:50 p.m. on Ridge and Dempster
    Discussion: 2:00-3:00 p.m. at Unitarian Church of Evanston (1330 Ridge Ave., Evanston)

    As civil and human rights continue to be eroded for imm...

  • Sundays, April 28 and May 5 | 9:30 a.m. - 11:00 a.m.
    with Rabbi Andrea London and Marci Dickman

    Anyone who is a parent knows that parenting is simultaneously stressful and fulfilling, exhausting and invigorating, frus...

  • Passover Food Drive

    Sunday, April 7 - Friday, May 3


    Pre-Passover Food Collection to benefit Connections for the Homeless
    The Tzedakah Fund Committee will be collecting all unopened, non-perishable food items that will be donated to C...

  • Avodah to honor Rabbi Andrea London as Partner in Justice 2019

    Thursday, May 16 at 6:30 p.m. at Cafe Brauer (2021 N. Stockton Drive, Chicago)
    Join Avodah in honoring their 2019 Partners in Justice honoring the accomplishments of David Axelrod, Rabbi Andrea London, and Jessica ...

  • Parent-Child Book Group: Anything is Possible

    A Parent-Child Book Group on Anything is Possible: A Child’s Journey to America and Hope - a young reader's historical novel by Barbara Stock
    Thursday, May 23 | 5:00 p.m. - 7:00 p.m.
    For children in grades 4 and 5 w...

  • Israel Trip with Beth Emet, Second Baptist Church, and Grace Lutheran Church


    Beth Emet Synagogue, Second Baptist Church, and Grace Lutheran Church are taking an interfaith, dual narrative (Palestinian and Jewish guide) to Israel and the West Bank. Travel with Rabbi London and Pastors Nabors ...

  • New course just added!
    with Eli Rosenblatt, PhD
    Tuesday, May 7 at 7:30 p.m.

    How have Jews interacted with and responded to the color line? How did Jewish radicals, reformers, rabbis, and laypeople think about racial concepts ...

  • 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 ...

  • With Rabbi Andrea London

    Shabbat, 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 practices that combine pr...

  • with David Zarefsky

    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 principles of fed...

  • Drumming for Self-Renewal

    with Linda Schneider
    Wednesday, June 12; 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 break fr...

  • with Lindy Rubin and Hyma Levin
    Monday, May 6, 7:00 – 9:00 p.m.
    Lindy and Hyma will collaborate to explore the story of King David, first as text and then as interpreted and portrayed by renowned artists throughout the ages. We...

  • with Claire Sufrin
    Fridays, May 3 and 10, 10:45 a.m. – 12:15 p.m.
    This course will explore different aspects of the relationship between religion and literature. We’ll begin with the biblical story of the Binding of Isaac and c...

  • with Hyma Levin
    Wednesdays, May 22 and 29, 7:00 – 9:00 p.m.
    Enjoy the story of Ruth as we explore the relationship of an older woman and a younger woman seeking to preserve themselves in ancient Israel. Is this story a cute fol...

  • 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 Ben Frommer
    Fridays, May 17 and 24, 10:45 a.m. – 12:15 p.m.
    The Nuremberg Tribunal and other courts punished many architects of the so-called Final Solution, while thousands of other Holocaust supporters escaped punishment...

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