After 17 years, one Jewish congregation in Wilmette will finally be moving into a permanent worship space where it hopes to provide even more spiritual resources to the community.
"We want to be another religious presence in the community," said Rabbi Samuel Gordon of Sukkat Shalom. "We've chosen this building as part of our mission."
Congregation Sukkat Shalom is scheduled to relocate to 1001 Central Ave. on Sept. 1. The new building will include an expanded sanctuary, better lighting within the sanctuary, and an entire kitchen for the social hall area, where Gordon hopes to hold Thanksgiving dinners as part of the Sukkat Shalom's focus on interfaith diversity.
Spiritual Home for All
The congregation is also involved in several social justice projects, including Habitat for Humanity, and the Night Ministry. Recently, Sukkat Shalom has teamed up with the First Presbyterian Church of Wilmette for a program called the Family Promise, which provides living space for homeless families in a synagogue or church.
"We want to be a spiritual home to all, whether they were born as Jews, whether they converted to Judaism," Gordon said. "Whether they are living in a home where Judaism is practiced, or whether they are just interested in the Jewish practice and life and learning."
Sukkat Shalom began as a Jewish inter-married support group under the guidance of Rabbi Gordon. In 1995, the families, along with Jewish couples, decided to form a congregation with the first High Holy Day services taking place at Wilmette Junior High School.
Over the years, Sukkat Shalom has expanded into a progressive synagogue with more than 300 households dedicated to diversity in faith, and has shared spaces with the Wilmette Community Church, First Congregational Church of Wilmette, and the Church of the Latter-Day Saints.
Building Purchased with Donations
In May, Sukkat Shalom bought the building from the First Church of Christ, Scientist. It will be upgraded to comply with current Americans With Disabilities Act standards, with new elevators and handicapped-accessible restrooms.
"We've certainly made it accessible to those with special needs .... Everyone, no matter what their physical needs might be," Gordon said.
Gordon didn't specify how much the building cost, but said that all the funds for the purchase and renovation of the new synagogue were donated by members of Sukkat Shalom.
"It was through the great generosity of our congregates, who have been very emotionally invested," Gordon said. "They have chosen to, financially, help make this a reality."
Sukkat Shalom will be moving its congregation into the new building on Sept. 1. Dedication ceremonies will occur on Oct. 13, 14, and 15.