Temple Beth Israel
3601 W. Dempster Street, Skokie, IL 60076
Shalom u’vracha – hello and welcome! Thank you for taking the time to read about Temple Beth Israel. I’d like to share a bit about myself and my vision for TBI.
I believe the synagogue, our synagogue, Temple Beth Israel, is a bold countercultural response to the challenges of our day. In fact, my rabbinate is shaped by the conviction that the kind of sacred, authentic community that we intentionally foster here is the Jewish response to the challenge of radical individualism. Allow me to explain:
After having created the world, God declared,
לא טוב היות האדם לבדו. (Gen 2:18)
Lo tov heyot ha’adam levado.
It is not good for the human being to be alone.
This was true for the very first human being, and it holds true for us as well. It’s no coincidence that a minyan, a group of ten Jewish adults, is required in order to utter our most important prayers, and to read from our holy Torah scroll. We are social creatures. We need to laugh and cry together. Mourn and celebrate together. Work and play together. Struggle and grow together. As Jews, we live best when we cycle through life and the Jewish calendar together. Simply put, by design, we need to be part of a community. We need to care for more than just ourselves and our own families, and we also need to be cared for by others. Temple Beth Israel offers the framework for this kind of authentic community. It is here that we live our Jewish lives.
As a third generation Reform Jew, I come from a long line of synagogue goers. I grew up immersed in a sacred and vibrant synagogue community, and was deeply impacted by my time as a camper, counselor, unit head, and now faculty member at Olin-Sang-Ruby Union Institute. These experiences started me on a path toward the rabbinate. After graduating from Indiana University, where I met my husband, Albert, I studied at Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institute of Religion where I earned a master’s degree in Jewish Education along with rabbinic ordination.
After ordination, I had the blessing of serving as the Assistant and then Associate Rabbi at Congregation Shalom in Milwaukee. It was in Milwaukee that I truly learned how to be a rabbi, and it was in Milwaukee that Albert and I became parents. Though the Milwaukee Jewish community continues to hold a special place in the hearts of my family, I felt called home to Temple Beth Israel. This is where Albert and I have chosen to plant our roots, and raise our family. I feel so privileged to get to spend each day shaping the kind of community in which I am proud to raise my own children.
We are a community with a deep commitment to Torah and Israel. Here we strike a thoughtful balance between tradition and innovation. Temple Beth Israel is a community of Reform Jews, and their families, who take our commitments to both Judaism and Social Action seriously. And, we are a community of diverse people that enjoy spending time together.
As the rabbi, here at Temple Beth Israel, I feel blessed to be able to walk with people on their journeys. I am allowed a window into the most intimate moments: moments of mourning and celebration, moments of growth, moments of grappling and moments of spiritual insight. Moments of laughter and moments of tears, and moments where the laughter and tears flow one into the other. What I love about this community is that I alone do not experience these moments; rather, everyone who is part of the Temple Beth Israel community is invited to share in these moments of deep connection.
I’d love the chance to meet with you, so that I can learn more about you and your own journey.
For over two decades I have had the honor of sharing my educational vision with the Temple Beth Israel community. After graduating from the Hebrew Union College Jewish Institute of Religion with a Master’s in Jewish education, I began my professional career in St. Louis, serving as the Director of the Commission on Reform Jewish Education. While in St. Louis, I met and married my husband, Rabbi Jim Sagarin.
With no family in the area, we made our way north to be closer to my Wisconsin (Go Badgers!) family. I became the Director of Education at North Shore Congregation Israel in 1988 where I remained until joining the staff at Temple Beth Israel in 1995.
In the course of my tenure at Temple Beth Israel, I have led the schools through accreditation through the Association of Reform Jewish Educators. This is something about which I am very proud.
Our schools are dynamic and creative. We offer programs for all ages and all learning abilities. Our professional faculty works closely with me as we grow and develop a vast array of learning opportunities.
The schools are only part of my responsibility at Temple Beth Israel. As Director of Congregational Learning I work to bring a robust and diverse array of Adult Learning opportunities to our dedicated community of learners. I work with our affiliates and other groups to provide meaningful and inspiring learning for all.
My goal is to bring Jewish learning for Jewish living to you and your family in ways that meet your needs and enhance the life of your family. We had the pleasure of raising our two children in the TBI community, a place where they were nurtured and supported and became adults in the eyes of the Jewish community. I would love to help your family experience the values, support, and learning our community has to offer. Please do not hesitate to call on me at anytime to share ideas and to get to know the educational program at our congregation in a deeper way.
About Rabbi Weinberg
“In reflecting on my years of service as rabbi of Temple Beth Israel, it is tempting to look back with particular pride at some singular event or some unusual program. And there are many such events or programs to vie for honorable mention. But, in fact, I am most proud of the ongoing, steady, core program of our congregation and of my rabbinate: namely, to engage and involve Jews in active Jewish living; the study, worship, and community that provides a context and vocabulary of words and rituals, with which to express the deepest yearnings of our souls, cope with life’s challenges, rejoice in life’s gifts and, together, work to make the world a better place.”
Since Rabbi Michael Weinberg came to Temple Beth Israel in the summer of 1987, he has endeared himself to the entire congregation – touching the hearts, challenging the minds, and stirring the souls of young and old alike. Building on the foundation laid by his gifted predecessors, Rabbi Weinberg has distinguished himself as the principle teacher and spiritual leaders of our congregation. He brings deep knowledge of tradition and a profound love of Torah to his teaching in the classroom, from the pulpit, in meetings, in informal settings, on retreats, and on Israel trips. In addition to teaching, Rabbi Weinberg has worked closely with the lay and professional leadership of Temple Beth Israel and its affiliates, assisting, guiding, and inspiring in virtually every aspect of congregational life.
Born and raised on the south side of Chicago, Rabbi Weinberg is a graduate of the University of Chicago and was ordained by the Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institute of Religion in 1980. Before coming to Temple Beth Israel, Rabbi Weinberg served for five years as Assistant Rabbi and Director of Education at Emanuel Congregation in Chicago and for two years as Rabbi of Sinai Temple in Michigan City, Indiana.
Rabbi Weinberg’s talents have been tapped by many organizations outside our synagogue. He has served in a leadership role in numerous local and national Jewish and inter-faith organizations. He has long been active on the faculty of the Olin-Sang-Ruby Union Institute camp with special attention to Chalutzim – OSRUI’s flagship intensive Hebrew immersion program. Currently Rabbi Weinberg is part of the Shalom Hartman Institute’s Rabbinic Leadership Initiative and serves as co-chair of the Rabbinic Action Committee of the Jewish Federation of Metropolitan Chicago.
Rabbi Weinberg is married to Jody Weinberg, a Learning Disabilities Specialist and active participant in the life of our congregation in her own right. Together they are proud parents of three children and exceedingly proud grandparents of seven wonderful grandchildren.
Temple Beth Israel has a rich and exciting history. Get to know us by browsing our historic timeline.Learn More