Congregation Or Shalom of Lake County (formerly Hawthorn Jewish Congregation) was incorporated in August 1977 - the fruition of the vision of 15 founding families who dreamed of forming a new congregation and religious school in Lake County. For 10 years, members met at the homes of fellow congregants, a local movie theater, the YMCA and various churches for services and religious school.
In 1981, the congregation was renamed Or Shalom, meaning “Light of Peace.” A permanent home was purchased in 1987 at 21 Hawthorn Parkway in Vernon Hills. We are grateful to our founding members for their foresight and generosity that made the dream of a permanent home a reality. As our membership and school grew, modifications and an addition to our building were made until our continued growth necessitated the construction of a new building.
In 2009, we moved into our beautiful building which was constructed on land that was our former parking lot. We are proud of our history and the dedication and generosity of past and current members. Our congregation honors the legacy of our founders by ensuring that Or Shalom continues to meet the spiritual, social and educational needs of the Jewish community in our corner of Lake County.
Domestic abuse can happen in any family and to any individual, including Jewish families. Domestic abuse has no boundaries; it affects all types of relationships and cuts across all ethnic and socio-economic lines. The range of abusive behavior includes sexual, psychological, verbal, physical and financial abuse.
Population studies of the lifetime prevalence of relationship abuse in the United States generally fall in the range of 25-30 percent. While there are no reliable estimates of the incidence or prevalence of domestic abuse in the Jewish community, clinical and other data support the assertion that domestic abuse is a significant and under-recognized issue that impacts Jewish homes and families.
Ten years ago a committed group of Jewish and secular organizations and dedicated advocates in the metropolitan Chicago Jewish community came together to create a coordinated response to the issue of domestic abuse in Jewish families. Today with the participation of over 50 community agencies and organizations, and under the auspices of Jewish Child & Family Services, the JCARES coalition educates, advocates and collaborates to promote safe, peaceful Jewish homes. Toward that goal, congregations are critical partners in identifying, preventing and responding to family violence.
The Partnership for Safer Synagogues program engages congregational leadership in learning and dialogue about healthy families and relationships and the multitude of issues that can adversely impact women, men, children and families – domestic violence, child abuse, unhealthy teen dating relationships, substance abuse and mistreatment of elders.
JCARES received funding from the Michael Reese Health Trust to conduct a pilot program in 2010. Since then, in our Chicagoland community, 53 board members, lay leaders and congregants, rabbis, cantors, educators and other professional staff at six Chicagoland congregations have graduated from this program, including Or Shalom representatives.
Or Shalom’s team members attended seven intense learning sessions. They heard from expert presenters, listened to abuse survivor stories, asked questions, expressed concerns and shared ideas. And then they thought about the best way to transform their new knowledge into an action plan that addresses the interests and needs of the Or Shalom community. The plan includes informational programs on various topics, additional staff training, Friday night speakers, and school policies that deal with issues such as bullying.
On behalf of JCARES, Jewish Child & Family Services, and all of our partners, it is my pleasure to recognize Or Shalom’s congregational team and award them their safer synagogue certificates of completion. Thanks to each team member for your time and caring and many thanks to Or Shalom for clearly demonstrating your commitment to healthy, peaceful Jewish homes, families and relationships.
And, finally . . . We are pleased to give Congregation Or Shalom this official JCARES safer synagogue certificate that you can proudly hang on Or Shalom’s wall so all will know that this congregation values a safe and healthy community.