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OUR HISTORY

                                        

Congregation Solel and Lakeside Congregation for Reform Judaism were independently founded in the 1950’s with the similar purpose: to be supportive communities that embrace individual beliefs and customs and foster personal and spiritual growth within the context of Reform Judaism.

Congregation Solel was first called KAM North and most of its members had been members of KAM on Chicago’s south side. Its first services were held in the old Winnetka Post Office in the mid 1950s before building its home in Highland Park. Lakeside Congregation founders had mostly been members of Chicago Sinai Congregation, and held its first services in the Highland Park Presbyterian Church. First organized as the School for Judaism in the early 50s, it became Lakeside Congregation, renting space in local schools until building its home in Highland Park.

Two Reform congregations with a commitment to social justice, led by illustrious rabbis like Rabbi Arnold Jacob Wolff, a true original, and a tireless worker for social justice. He and Rabbi Joseph Ginsburg who had moved to Lakeside Congregation, from Peoria where he was the rabbi when the congregation there was bombed by white supremacists, became friends and colleagues in the North Shore Fellowship of Rabbis. Lakeside members having left the city, stayed connected to issues of housing justice and created a day camp for inner city youth. Members of Solel were also dedicated to civil rights and Rabbi Wolff became a friend of Dr. Martin Luther King.

When Dr. King came to Chicago in 1966, the North Shore Fellowship of Rabbis invited him to speak, and Congregation Solel offered its sanctuary, the largest at the time in the North Shore, for the event. Though Dr. King’s speech was not recorded, it was no doubt a call to open and equal housing opportunity in Chicago’s suburbs. It is a topic that remains potent today, but was an open wound on the North Shore where Jews and African Americans often stood together for equal opportunity.

 

These two congregations grew up together from the mid-twentieth into the twenty-first century. They had well known rabbis, activists and academics and pastors, who always knew each other and often worked together in the community. Rabbis like Robert Marx, and Dov Taylor, Alan Secher and Charles Levi,  led our community with distinction. Rabbi Dov Taylor remains our Rabbi Emeritus, and we welcome his occasional visits to town as a Scholar-in-Residence. Rabbi Secher has been a speaker at our Adult Enrichment seminars from his home in Whitefish, Montana.

In 2019, Rabbi Ike Serotta Lakeside’s rabbi since 1998, and Rabbi Evan Moffic Solel’s rabbi since 2010, friends and colleagues, had the vision of bringing these two notable communities together under one roof. Starting with a small core of past presidents, growing into a task force of members, a combined board and ultimately hundreds of volunteers working together, a new larger and stronger congregation, Makom Solel Lakeside was born: a new breed of congregation which honors our collective history and focuses our energy on building the future.

We are forward thinking, broad-minded, and committed to life-long learning and passionate about issues of importance to our community, nation, and world. Our religious leaders have more than 50 years of combined clergy experience meaning almost a century of experience leading meaningful worship.  

We have a great clergy team including our extraordinary Cantor Jay O’Brien, and remarkable educational leaders for children and adults, Ashley Plotnick and Vanessa M. Ehrlich RJE. Our Administrative team led by Holly Krakow keeps all the balls in the air and our board and committees are always working to strengthen our Makom, our holy home.

We have a great history and we are poised for a great future. We support the Reform Movement through active participation in URJ and WRJ. We welcome all who want to be part of the community, and hope that we can provide a sense of true belonging to all who come through our doors.


 

Thu, August 18 2022 21 Av 5782