Skokie – When the new Kehilat Chovevei Tzion shul is soon completed near Church Street and Crawford Avenue, it will represent a first in the Chicago area.
The shul will take on the rare and ambitious responsibility of hosting minyanim for both Ashkenazi and Sephardi Jews.
“Our congregation noticed that we were not adequately tending to the needs of the entire Jewish community,” said Rabbi Shannan Gelman. “Jews from Morocco, Iran and other Middle Eastern countries who came to the United States to escape religious persecution have been challenged to fully integrate into a largely Ashkenazic community.”
The shul is an impressive success story, evolving from a few Skokie residents getting together in their basements for Shabbos tefillos in 2005 to a 31,000 square foot facility soon to open at 9220 N. Crawford Ave.
Rabbi Gelman was hired as rov in 2006, and there is now 160 member families.
The new 31,000 square-foot shul features two botei medrash side by side, offering minyanim and programs to each group as well as shared spaces for the entire community. In addition, it includes a full social hall, seven classrooms and separate meat and milk kitchens.
Its mission, representatives say, is to provide “a meaningful connection to traditional values and rituals in a warm, welcoming and inclusive setting.”
The building is dedicated to Sy and Anne Okner, two pillars of the Jewish community who were deeply committed in their lifetime to Jewish education and communal growth.
The shul will hold a grand chanukas habayis of their new facility at 9:30 a.m. Aug. 18 at 9220 North Crawford Ave.
Read a full report at Sun Times.