Illinois General Assembly - Full Text of HR0503
Illinois General Assembly

Previous General Assemblies

Full Text of HR0503  102nd General Assembly




HR0503LRB102 20415 ECR 29276 r


2    WHEREAS, Throughout the fall of 1871, a group of
3Austro-Hungarian Jews assembled in a second-story loft above a
4dry goods store in Chicago; on the eve of Simchat Torah,
5October 8, 1871, these men congregated at the home of Moses
6Hirsch on Milwaukee Avenue; and
7    WHEREAS, At approximately 9 p.m., as the men discussed the
8details of the upcoming holiday, a fire ignited in a barn in
9Chicago's crowded West Division; as their meeting concluded,
10the 15 men stepped outside to find the city in flames;
11undeterred and even inspired by the disaster, the men vowed to
12meet again that very Shabbat, now under the banner of an
13officially named congregation Gemeinde Rodef Sholom, meaning
14"a gathering place for those who pursue peace"; a new
15congregation, the first to meet in Chicago after the Great
16Fire, was born; and
17    WHEREAS, In the beginning, the fledgling minyan rented
18space in an assembly hall at the corner of Peoria and Ohio
19Streets; in April of 1872, Gemeinde Rodef Sholom purchased the
20wood frame of an old Norwegian Lutheran church on the corner of
21Huron and May Streets; the synagogue then moved the structure
22to land it had purchased on the corner of Huron and Peoria
23Streets; and



HR0503- 2 -LRB102 20415 ECR 29276 r

1    WHEREAS, In June of 1873, a powerful windstorm destroyed
2the synagogue; through the selling of bonds, the members of
3the congregation quickly raised money, and a new structure was
4speedily erected not far from the synagogue's original plot on
5the corner of Huron and May Streets; with a new building,
6Gemeinde Rodef Sholom became Beth El, meaning "the House of
7God"; and
8    WHEREAS, In 1902, the synagogue purchased three adjoining
9lots at Crystal Street and Hoyne Avenue; there, the
10congregation built a much larger building for worship as well
11as a separate structure with a gymnasium and rooms for a Sunday
12school; Temple Beth El became the first synagogue in Chicago
13to house its religious school and its sanctuary in independent
14buildings; and
15    WHEREAS, In the 1920s, Temple Beth El built a new
16structure at Palmer Square and Sawyer Avenue in the Logan
17Square neighborhood; the Palmer Square facility began as a
18humble clapboard house in the middle of a large vacant lot but
19eventually grew to accommodate the richness of activity and
20spirit; and
21    WHEREAS, Temple Beth El, like almost every synagogue in
22Chicago, felt the effects of the stock market crash; by 1931,



HR0503- 3 -LRB102 20415 ECR 29276 r

1the synagogue was in financial ruin; by 1932, it defaulted on
2its mortgage, and the property was foreclosed; nevertheless,
3the congregation remained resilient in the face of great
4difficulty; dues continued to be collected, and social and
5religious programming continued to be offered on a tentative
6basis at the Palmer Square facility; and
7    WHEREAS, As Temple Beth El entered the 1950s, a greater
8proportion of members now resided closer to Rogers Park than
9to Logan Square; with this information, Rabbi Weissberg
10successfully advocated for the synagogue to make a move;
11ground was broken at the intersection of Touhy and Albany
12Avenues for the Touhy Avenue facility in 1956; and
13    WHEREAS, By 1970, Temple Beth El reached milestone
14membership numbers, including over 800 families; plans were
15developed for construction and refurbishment of the Touhy Ave
16building; on October 9, 1971, a centennial gala took place to
17mark the synagogue's anniversary followed by a yearlong
18celebration with landmark events spaced throughout 1971 and
191972; land was purchased in Northbrook on Walters Avenue to
20house a religious school and small chapel; and
21    WHEREAS, In 1987, Temple Beth El purchased 3610 Dundee
22Road in Northbrook to develop into a multi-phase expansion
23project that would be completed over approximately 10 years;



HR0503- 4 -LRB102 20415 ECR 29276 r

1on November 13, 1988, a groundbreaking ceremony was held to
2begin building Beth-El's current home, where it will celebrate
3its 150th anniversary year; therefore, be it
6we congratulate Temple Beth El on its 150-year anniversary as
7a congregation; and be it further
8    RESOLVED, That a suitable copy of this resolution be
9presented to Temple Beth El as a symbol of our esteem and