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12/01/2023 05:25:52 AM


Rabbi Weill

Dear Friends,

“How shall we sing the Lord’s song in a foreign land?” (Psalm 137:4). The Israelite’s asked this question during their Babylonian captivity. How could they celebrate during a time of sadness, duress, and alienation from their homeland?

We might now ask related questions: How can we celebrate Thanksgiving when 240 of our fellow Jews – children, toddlers, babies! – are held hostage by terrorists capable...Read more...


11/22/2023 01:52:12 PM


Rabbi Weill

Dear Friends,

It may have been the largest gathering of Jews in American history, or perhaps in modern times, or perhaps ever. Either way, the rally in Washington, D.C., in support of Israel this Tuesday was huge in size and mammoth in impact for the 290,000 who attended, as well as for those who turned in via live stream.   

I was there along with EHNT president, Judge Shelley Sutker Dermer, and a few other members...Read more...

"The True Believer"

11/16/2023 02:36:18 PM


Rabbi Weill

Dear Friends,

I have been in regular contact with friends in Israel. One told me his young adult daughter has gone from funeral to funeral for the last three weeks. The family of another, on a kibbutz in the Upper Galilee, may have had to evacuate with their very infirmed father. The terrorist mass murder perpetrated against the Jewish state was – and is – a mark of sheer barbarity.

In 1951, Eric Hoffer, a longshoreman and...

Very Special MAGEN DAVID ADOM Speaker At EHNT This Shabbat

10/26/2023 10:59:19 PM


Rabbi Weill

Dear Friends,

This Shabbat morning, we will host at services Yoni Yagodovsky, director of international relations of Magen David Adom.

Mr. Yagodovsky has been involved in the response to almost every mass-casualty incident around Jerusalem for the last quarter century. His association with MDA began as a youth volunteer in 1975. He has been chief of international relations for twenty years.

Mr. Yagodovsky...

"Ta'anit Tzibbur"

10/19/2023 01:37:33 PM


Rabbi Weill

Today, Cantor Gale and I are joining in a global "ta'anit tzibbur," a communal fast from sunrise to sundown. The fast draws attention to the perilous plight of the more than one hundred Israelis held hostage in Gaza. Some of those captives are very close to members of our community. 

In an email announcing the fast, The Hadar Institute of New York writes, Jews "have a...Read more...

"In Solidarity With Israel"

10/12/2023 10:03:44 AM


Rabbi Weill

Dear Friends,

In sadness and dismay, Ezra-Habonim, the Niles Township Jewish Congregation stands in solidarity with our Israeli sisters and brothers. The large-scale invasion into Israel’s sovereign territory, and the specific targeting of civilians, is nothing less than terrorist mass murder. Nothing could ever justify such malevolence and brutality. 

We mourn for those who have been killed and we pray for the safe...Read more...

"We Stand With Israel"

10/10/2023 04:31:18 PM


Rabbi Weill

Dear Friends,

I am writing this on Shabbat and on a festival day. We do not usually do this, but Israel is under attack. 

The situation is very serious. I wish there were something more we could do. Yes, we will send messages to family and friends who are there. Yes, we will pray. Yes, we will provide any support that may be helpful.

And yes, we will celebrate Simchat Torah tonight and tomorrow. In the face of...Read more...

"Simchat Torah"

10/08/2023 11:28:48 AM


Rabbi Weill

Dear Friends,

The finale of the Tishrei Marathon is Simchat Torah, and it will brim with joy. We will unroll a Torah scroll, locating highlights from "in the beginning" to the death of Moses. We will dance around the sanctuary with Torah scrolls, demonstrating that it is indeed a "tree of life to those who hold fast to it." We will enjoy the music of the sensational Cantor Gale, the rocking Koleinu Band, and Kehillat Shalom's famous...Read more...


10/05/2023 09:13:42 PM


Rabbi Weill

Dear Friends,

On Sukkot we read in Torah:

   וּשְׂמַחְתֶּם לִפְנֵי יְהוָֹה אֱלֹֽהֵיכֶם שִׁבְעַת   יָמִֽים.... בַּסֻּכֹּת תֵּֽשְׁבוּ שִׁבְעַת יָמִים כָּל־הָֽאֶזְרָח   בְּיִשְׂרָאֵל  

“And you shall rejoice before the Lord your God…You shall dwell in sukkot seven days, every...Read more...

"We Need Each Other"

09/28/2023 06:15:50 PM


Rabbi Weill

Dear Friends,

We need each other.

We need each other now as tumult within Israel continues and as manifestations of antisemitism

We need each other as hate crimes against fellow Americans – often gun violence – persists.

We need each other as environmental degradation persists.

We need each other as vitriolic political rhetoric persists.

These situations demand a broad...

"Tisha b'Av"

08/23/2023 09:54:46 PM


Rabbi Weill

Dear Friends,

Today is a dark day - the darkest - on the Jewish calendar: Tisha b’Av, the Ninth of Av. On this day, according to tradition, calamities befell the Jewish people, including, most prominently, the destruction of the first and second Temples. And so today we fast. Besides Yom Kippur, it is the only full-day fast of the...Read more...

Folk-Rock-Torah: I Walk The Line

02/20/2023 02:03:27 PM


Rabbi Weill

Dear Friends,

Frequently, following Wednesday evening minyans, I offer “Folk-Rock-Torah.” It consists of my reading a bit of original “light verse” that alludes both to that week’s Torah portion and to a song. As I’m reciting the verse, people try to guess the song. Then, using Youtube or Spotify, I play the song. We on the minyan – via Zoom – sing and sway along. You should check it...Read more...

Israel: Improve It, Don't Forsake It

01/12/2023 07:16:58 PM


Rabbi Weill

Dear Friends,

Land – one particular land – is fundamental to our Jewish story, our history, and our relationship with God. God’s very first communication to the very first Jew, Abraham, discusses the Promised Land.

It is fascinating that we are a people deeply connected to that small strip of land, and yet we have spent so much of our long history beyond its borders.  

Our return to that land and the...

Folk-Rock-Torah -- Va'yishlach

12/10/2022 04:28:09 PM


Rabbi Weill

Dear Friends,

In this week’s Torah portion, Va’Yishlach, Jacob and Esau reunite after two decades apart. Jacob is terrified because, when last they were together, Esau wanted to kill Jacob for his theft of their father’s blessing. Jacob is relieved that Esau no longer harbors vengeful designs. Still, when Esau suggests that they travel together, Jacob demurs. He understood it was wiser to remain separate.

Each Wednesday...

Thanksgiving: We Celebrate During Fretful Times

11/17/2022 04:05:44 PM


Rabbi Weill

Dear Friends,

“How shall we sing the Lord’s song in a foreign land?” (Psalm 137:4).  The Israelite’s asked this question during their Babylonian captivity. How could they celebrate during a time of sadness, duress, and alienation from their homeland?

We might ask a related question: “How shall we celebrate Thanksgiving in our own troubled land?”

How will we sit joyfully, enjoying the blessing of...

Reflection On Kristallnacht

11/11/2022 05:37:39 PM


Rabbi Weill

Dear Friends,

Today is the eighty-fourth anniversary of Kristallnacht, the two-day Nazi-sponsored pogrom against the Jews.

Last night we commemorated this dark day with an examination of what the Nazis considered “degenerate” art and music. Amy Claver offered a thorough description of how that campaign impacted one particular Jewish composer, Hans Gal. Gal was lucky; he escaped.

But on Kristallnacht, nearly one...

Let's Learn Together

11/07/2022 09:19:13 PM


Rabbi Weill

Dear Friends,

In the Mishnah’s Pirkei Avot, Ben Zoma opines that the truly wise one is “ha’lomeid m’kol adam,” the one who learns from every person. Bartinuro, the medieval commentator on Pirkei Avot, refines Ben Zoma’s statement with, “Af al pi sh’hu katan mimenu. Even though that person is lesser than he.” In other words, the truly wise ones are willing to learn from anyone at all, regardless of social status or...Read more...

Asylum-Seekers In Skokie

10/14/2022 06:10:00 PM


Rabbi Weill

Dear Friends,

As you may know, the Village of Skokie is housing scores of asylum-seekers from Venezuela. They were bused to Chicago from the states of Florida and Texas -- a deeply cynical political ploy. The state of Illinois has sought the assistance of local municipalities in providing assistance to these asylum-seekers. Skokie is one such municipality.

Village officials recently contacted me and the Niles Township Clergy...Read more...


09/29/2022 04:33:24 PM


Rabbi Weill

Dear Friends,

What a pleasure to be together for Rosh Hashana services this week. Having so many in our building, along with everyone online, enhanced our sense of community. Being in the fold of the community is one of the very special aspects of the High Holy Days. 

After Rosh Hashana services, a congregant told me he was so happy to see our congregation "thriving." Indeed we are!

May we all thrive together. May...

Music Echoes

09/08/2022 07:21:40 PM


Rabbi Weill

Dear Friends,

The new EHNTJC brochure includes the line "music echoes off our walls." 

How true that is!  And what I appreciate about our echoing music, besides our talented musicians, are the voices -- our voices -- joining in.

This Friday night, join in! Cantor Gale will once again lead the musically superb and spiritually uplifting Shabbat Ruach service. Cantor will be supported by the resplendent voice of...Read more...

I'm in a High Holidays State of Mind

09/02/2022 07:55:17 PM


Rabbi Weill

Dear Friends,

One of the many benefits of being a rabbi is that, as the month of Elul rolls around, I’m already preparing for the High Holidays. Elul, after all, is our preparation month. It puts us in a High Holidays state of mind through the daily reading of Psalm 27, the daily blowing of the shofar, and more.

I also enter that state of mind through sermon preparation: reading, note-taking, writing, editing. (I still, by...Read more...

The Ninth of Av: Stability. Fragility. Hope.

08/04/2022 04:14:27 PM


Rabbi Weill

Dear Friends,

Stability. Fragility. Hope.

That sums up Tisha b’Av, which begins on Saturday evening.

Tisha b’Av – the ninth day of the month of Av – commemorates Jewish calamities. It is the day, according to our lore, that both Temples fell and the day the edict for our 1492 expulsion from Spain was signed.

Our sages also retroactively assigned that date to the Torah story of the spies’ pessimistic...Read more...

Horror in our Backyard on the Anniversary of Our Nation’s Founding

07/05/2022 11:46:21 AM


Rabbi Weill

Dear Friends,

A day that is supposed to bring neighbors together and reaffirm our patriotism quickly turned into unspeakable tragedy. Another mass shooting, and this one in our own backyard, in Julie’s hometown, just a few minutes from where we live.

Six have died in the most horrific way, including, perhaps, young people. We genuinely feel shock and sadness; our hearts “go out to the mourning families;” we offer “our...Read more...

America’s New Tabernacle: What Do You Think?

06/29/2022 11:40:07 AM


Rabbi Weill

Dear Friends,

The sunrises over the wilderness of Sinai. The Israelites awake and pour their coffee. When they emerge from their tents, they see before them the Tabernacle.

The Tabernacle – or Mishkan – was the portable sanctuary the Israelites transported during their journey to the Promised Land.  It was situated in the center of the Israelite camp. The tribes were arrayed around it. God’s cloud of glory swirled...Read more...

And Look Upon Them

06/25/2022 02:21:52 PM


Rabbi Weill

Dear Friends,

This week’s Torah portion, Shelach Lecha, contains the commandment of tzitzit, the fringes. These verses are part of the full Shema.

The word tzitzit is related to maitzitz, one who peers or looks. In fact, we are commanded not merely to wear tzitzit, but u’ritem oto to look upon it. By looking at those four fringes on our...Read more...

Special Shabbat June 11th

06/04/2022 11:54:35 AM


Rabbi Weill

Dear Friends,

We are privileged to benefit from each other's scholarship and wisdom. We have such an opportunity over the next couple of weeks, as congregant Dr. Steve Parker will teach material from his wealth of study and writing.

The first opportunity will be this Saturday evening. Steve will join me and Cantor Gale in leading our annual Tikkun Leil Shavuot. See additional information in this Byte message.

The...

May We Finally Act

05/31/2022 10:53:06 AM


Rabbi Weill

Dear Friends,

In this week's Torah portion, God threatens myriad awful curses upon the Israelites. The connection of those ancient curses to the contemporary curse of violence is painfully real. 

So, yes, I am once again speaking about gun violence. But my words are not enough. Neither are our prayers. May we finally act, seizing the moment and momentum to help promote reasonable gun safety measures throughout our ashamed...Read more...

Where All Of The Children Are Above Average

05/18/2022 03:29:19 PM


Rabbi Weill

Dear Friends,

Garrison Keillor would cap off each episode of A Prairie Home Companion by stating that Lake Wobegon is a place “Where … all the children are above average.”

I love the phrase, for how can “all” of anything within a specific set be “above average”? Still, I would apply that ironic line to the children in our own religious school. I have had the distinct pleasure of teaching and just spending time...Read more...

Values In Action

05/01/2022 03:49:41 PM


Rabbi Weill

Dear Friends,

We often express our values and our opinions about pressing issues of the day through emails and conversations. Some of those exchanges can be aggravating; some are fruitful. But it is certainly fruitful when we express our values through our deeds. We have been doing exactly that in recent weeks at EHNTJC.

On Wednesday, April 20,...

Chag Sameach

04/15/2022 10:44:34 AM


Rabbi Weill

Dear Friends,

On Passover we gather together to celebrate this ancient biblical holiday. To that end, all are welcome to log on to Zoom In and Zoom Out of Egypt on Friday night – first seder – at 7:30 pm.  Cantor Gale and I will lead a maariv service and focus on moments of high drama and great meaning in the Haggadah. It will last approximately 75 minutes.

On Passover we are also keenly attuned to those who suffer...Read more...

Tue, December 5 2023 22 Kislev 5784