What are B’Chavana services like?

First and foremost, our services are very musical. Rabbi Belgrad is an accomplished guitarist and we have a number of members who are musicians in their own right. Our Friday and Saturday services feature a mix of Hebrew and English prayers, lots of music, Torah reading, communal learning and lively discussion. It is not an unusual occasion during some of our musical sections to hear B’Chavana members singing in three-part harmony. Our joyful music is one of the most uplifting characteristics of the B’Chavana worship experience. We also feature the sharing of personal reflections and creative prayers. Our potluck Shabbat dinners are always a highlight of each gathering.

When and where are services held?

Services are held the first and third Friday nights of the month and the fourth Saturday morning. When there is a 5th Saturday night, we schedule Havdalah and a social program. Friday night and Saturday morning services are scheduled in our members’ homes. High Holiday services are held in a nearby church that we transform into a beautiful sanctuary.  We also try to schedule 1 or 2 Saturday mornings annually in outdoor settings such as parks.

Are nonmembers welcome to services and programs?

Yes – our services and holiday celebrations are open to everyone without cost (with the exception of High Holidays, when nonmembers are encouraged to buy tickets and to participate with us). Other programs, such as book groups, are open to everyone with a fee for nonmembers to help defray our costs. Contact Rachel Levin for further details about our learning programs. ([email protected]).

Are there social functions available that are not related to services?

Yes, in addition to celebrations for Purim, Hanukkah and other Jewish holidays, B’Chavana members have had nights at Ravinia Festival, visits to local Museums, and played bocci at Pinstripes to name a few. In June of 2014 we traveled to Israel and in June of 2018 we will travel to Eastern Europe.

Is there a dress code when attending Shabbat Services?

In keeping with Jewish tradition, we ask for relatively modest and respectful dress. At the same time, casual dress for Shabbat is the norm (khakis, golf shirts, blue jeans, skirts and dresses) and for High Holidays we suggest suits, sport coats, dresses – as well as a tallit for men and women. Dress is more casual during the summer months when the weather is warmer. We do meet outside at some of the members’ homes so comfort is important.

Does this community have programming for children?

B’Chavana does not have a formal religious school or B’nai Mitzvah program. Children are welcome but the majority of our congregation is comprised of adults. The children that do attend participate fully in the programs of the community – which serves as one avenue for their learning and Jewish growth.


What is the cost of membership?

We don’t assess dues. Rather, we ask for self-determined membership gifts. We recommend that each individual contribute $1000 as a sustaining amount to ensure that we make progress towards reaching our budget goal. We ask that those who can afford to be more generous do so. Likewise, those who cannot reach that amount contribute what they are able to afford. There is no additional cost for B’Chavana members to attend High Holiday services.

What is expected of members of B’Chavana?

While of course each member’s level of involvement is different, we are seeking committed members who are willing to share of themselves, are willing to volunteer to help others, to participate, to learn and to worship. Woody Allen once said that 90% of life is “showing up” – we’re looking for people who will do that, bringing their unique experiences, gifts and talents to our learning and celebration. A great deal of what goes on is built on the skills of our members, including music, teaching and administration


Does the Rabbi (or B’Chavana) charge a fee for weddings and funerals?

While there is no charge for members, it is customary that members offer the rabbi an honorarium.

Is there a recommended amount for the Rabbi’s honorarium for life cycle events?

Yes. But since it is an honorarium, the custom and practice is for members to talk among themselves concerning what’s appropriate. For weddings, the Rabbi also offers pre-marriage counseling for a fee.