A new synagogue, led by Nancy Diamond Landsman of Buffalo Grove, a long-time fixture in the North Shore Reform Jewish community, is beginning to call a Deerfield church home.
Congregation Ahavat Olam has started to gather for Friday night Sabbath worship at Christ United Methodist Church.
After this Friday's service from 6:30 to 7:30 p.m., worshippers will discuss the vision for the congregation and formalize details for High Holy Day services, which begin in mid-September.
Landsman, a cantor studying to be a rabbi, was with Am Shalom, a Reform congregation in Glencoe, for more than two decades.
About a dozen families, most of who belonged to Reform congregations from around the North Shore, began talking about forming a new synagogue earlier this summer, according to Landsman. She said members had expressed concern that their large congregations had made worship less intimate. Some felt disconnected from their spiritual leaders, while others noted that the cost of membership, plus religious school, had put synagogue life out of reach for them.
Families will be welcome. Interfaith families, gays and lesbians, singles and seniors who might have felt set apart from the synagogue they had joined before and people who had remained unaffiliated with a temple are encouraged to attend and join, Landsman said.
Landsman said they will try new avenues to make worshippers feel connected to their faith and their congregation.
Services will be led by worshippers, in addition to Landsman; there will be plenty of music. There will be more interactive sermons. A social action committee could be started; members are starting to discuss the formation of a religious school.
"We're in the beginning stages," Landsman said. She is currently getting her rabbinical degree from the program affiliated with the Hebrew Seminary of the Deaf in Skokie.
"Ahavat Olam is the name of a prayer, meaning 'Everlasting Love'” Landsman said. “People here will feel spiritually connected and embraced in the warm, participatory congregation we're trying to create."
For more information, contact Landsman at NDLandsman@gmail.com.