Welcome! We’re thrilled you found your way here. If you’re exploring the possibility of coming by for a service or event, we encourage you to read on, then come and check us out in person! We love meeting new people and we’re happy to show you around.
About Am Shalom
What does Am Shalom mean?
Am Shalom means “people of peace,” and we like to think that this is part of our mission – to bring peace to the world as we build our community.
What is special about Am Shalom?
Am Shalom really is a “neighborhood shul,” even though our members come from many communities. It feels warm and welcoming, and very “heimish,” which is a Yiddish word that means “cozy.” Community and spirituality are woven together here.
What are the benefits of membership at Am Shalom?
There is a great difference between having someone show up to officiate at a life cycle event and having a multi-year relationship with the same clergy who have been involved in your family’s life for years. A member has entree to everything and every person within the staff and community of Am Shalom. While many in our community have opted for a fee for service - i.e. baby naming, wedding, funeral - membership at Am Shalom gives you access 24/7 to our clergy and team.
We are part of the Reform movement, the largest liberal branch of Judaism in the world. As a movement, we are constantly evolving and changing, meeting the needs of our congregation throughout their lives. In our rapidly changing world, there is something safe and comforting within the walls of 840 Vernon Avenue.
Will my life be better if I’m a member of Am Shalom?
People who pray for a new car to appear in their driveway rarely receive that new car. However, those who pray for strength, understanding, perception and comfort are rarely disappointed.
(In other words, yes!)
Who Is Welcome?
Who is welcome at Am Shalom?
Everyone is welcome at Am Shalom. Singles, couples and families, young and old and in between, native Chicagoans and transplants, Cubs fans and Sox fans, interfaith families, LGBTQ Jews and their families, and Jews of all hues!
As it says in our prayerbook:
May the door of this synagogue be wide enough to receive all who hunger for love, all who are lonely for fellowship.
May it welcome all who have cares to unburden, thanks to express, hopes to nurture.
May the door of this synagogue be narrow enough to shut out pettiness and pride, envy and enmity.
May its threshold be no stumbling block to young or straying feet.
May it be too high to admit complacency, selfishness, and harshness.
May this synagogue be, for all who enter, the doorway to a richer and more meaningful life.
Anyone is welcome to stop by and give our services or programs a try without a formal commitment. We hope you’ll find something that speaks to you and join our community as a member!
Will my spouse or family member of another religious background be comfortable and welcome at Am Shalom?
We think so! More than 20% of our families are interfaith families, and all are welcome to fully participate in everything that we do on and off the bimah (the raised platform in the sanctuary where services are led). Family members of another religious background participate to the fullest extent that they are comfortable. If you’d like to connect with some of our interfaith families about their experience at Am Shalom, please contact Alyssa Latala at 847.835.4800 or email@example.com and she’d be happy to put you in touch.
Is Am Shalom accessible to people with disabilities?
Our main entrance is wheelchair accessible. If you’re coming by car, pull into our circle drive off of Vernon Avenue for the closest access. Our sanctuary has a wheelchair ramp for access to the bimah.
We offer assistive hearing devices for the hearing impaired. They are available near the sanctuary door; please inquire with the staff member stationed nearby.
We are pleased to livestream Shabbat services, High Holy Days services and other special events for those unable to attend in person. Livestreaming is available here.
Large print prayer books are available at the entrance to the sanctuary. Please inquire with our staff if you’d like a large print prayer book.
The library is open during services for anyone desiring a smaller or quieter environment.
What if I can’t afford membership dues?
We strive to make membership accessible to all who wish to participate. If our membership rates are not doable for you, please reach out to Zoe Sherman, our Director of Financial Management, at 847.835.4800 x 204. Your conversation will be confidential.
Services and Events
When are services?
Shabbat services are held Friday evenings at 6:30pm in our sanctuary. During the summer months, we gather outdoors in our beautiful Perlmutter Courtyard. Torah Study Minyan meets on Saturday mornings at 9:00am. Our “Almost Daily” Minyan meets Mondays and Thursdays at 5:45pm in the chapel.
Can I come if I’m not a member?
Yes! Our Shabbat services and most holiday services are open to the community. Passes are required only for certain High Holy Days services.
What are your services like? And what should I wear?!
Our Friday night services have a variety of flavors, but they’re always welcoming of service attendees of all ages. Sometimes our Junior (Ruach) Choir will sing, or our Teen Band (Shir Chadash) will play, and sometimes Koleinu, our Adult Choir, will sing. Sometimes there’s a sermon and sometimes a story. There are uplifting moments, and quiet moments, and soulful moments, and community moments. We might celebrate a baby or a marriage, an upcoming trip to Israel, or a special anniversary. We might remember a loved one who has died or share a communal sadness. Our services give us a chance to reconnect with our community each week, and share our stories, our lives, and our prayers.
Friday nights aren’t a fashion show, but many people choose to dress nicely for services. Come in jeans, or come dressed to the nines – however you’re comfortable, just come!
Our Saturday morning Torah Study Minyan is a more casual approach to prayer around the library table. There might be a little more Hebrew than Friday night, or a discussion about the prayers as we offer them. After a brief Shabbat morning prayer service, we spend about half an hour studying the Torah portion of the week. The conversation is always lively and enthusiastic, and no prior experience is necessary. Dress on Saturday mornings is casual, and there are bagels too!
What other programs or events are there?
Where to begin?! Am Shalom offers an array of adult learning opportunities, a book discussion group, movie nights, special musical events, travel experiences, volunteer opportunities, social events for 20s and 30s – there is always something going on around here! You can peruse our calendar here.
I don’t know anyone – how do I meet people?
Being a first-timer isn’t easy! We want to make it less overwhelming for you to find a place here. One way to do this is to just jump in – come to a Shabbat service, pack lunches at our Feeding the Hungry program, or sign up for an adult learning opportunity. You’ll meet some friendly people, and the next time you walk through our doors you’ll already know some faces. Introduce yourself to our staff and clergy when you come to an event; we are happy to connect you with others as well!
Do I need to be a member to send my child to Religious School?
Yes, we believe that our religious school is an integral part of the whole fabric of our community. We offer so many opportunities beyond the classroom for our families and students! The one exception to this is our PreK program, which is open to the community and a perfect Sunday morning drop-off program to get your little one ready for religious school.
How do I register for Religious School?
Religious School registration is available here: http://www.amshalom.com/school-reg or you can contact Rabbi Phyllis Sommer, our Director of Congregational Learning. She would be happy to guide you through the process for your Pre-K through high school student!
High Holy Days
Does membership includes High Holy Days passes?
Yes, your membership includes entry to the full offering of High Holy Days services for yourself and your immediate family.
Sign Me Up
How can I find out about upcoming programs?
Sign up for one - or more - of our email lists to get the latest info straight to your inbox! KOLbytes is our weekly listing of what's coming up, or you can choose to hear from us based on your specific interests. Click here to sign up.
How do I join?
When you’re ready, click here to fill out the membership form. If you have any questions, or would like to come in for a tour, please contact Alyssa Latala, our Director of Engagement, at 847.835.4800 or firstname.lastname@example.org.