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INTRODUCING RABBI CRAIG MARANTZ, Emanuel Congregation's Next Senior Rabbi

Emanuel Congregation is delighted to announce the selection of its next senior Rabbi, who will join our community following Rabbi Zedek's retirement in June. At a lively community forum on Sunday February 7, the Emanuel community ratified the Board of Trustees' recommendation to hire Rabbi Craig Marantz. Emanuel president, Jill Gardner, and Rabbinic Search Committee chair, Marlene Dodinval, described the rigorous and diligent process that the 12-member search committee undertook over the last six months to find Rabbi Marantz.

Some of the highlights of Rabbi Marantz include the following:

  • Over 17 years as a Jewish educator and congregational leader.

  • He is revered by those who know him as kind, caring, gentle, flexible, a great listener, and a visionary.

  • His wife, daughter and son are active participants in their synagogue community. The Marantz's host an annual new member party at their home and Kabbalat Shabbat in their backyard sukkah.

  • Rabbi Marantz integrates his zest for art and music into worship.

  • He is passionate about social justice. Last year he along with three of his congregants joined the America's Journey for Justice March from Selma to Washington last year to support the NAACP's fight against racism.

  • He utilizes innovative and creative programs to engage congregants in building and strengthening community, prayer and ritual practice, lifelong learning, youth and teen engagement, social justice, and shared leadership.

  • At Emanuel Congregation Rabbi Marantz will help renew and re-envision the congregation for the realities of the 21st century in our diverse, urban setting.

As Jill explained Sunday morning, the search committee members believe that the needs of Emanuel Congregation align beautifully with what Rabbi Marantz wants to accomplish in his rabbinate.

Following is a message Rabbi Marantz sent to Jill and the congregation:


Dear Jill and Members of the Emanuel Family:

The prophet Isaiah tells us those who place hope in the Holy One of Blessing renew their strength. They will soar on wings like eagles (Is. 40:31) Well, I am delighted to tell you that, thanks to your invitation to serve the Emanuel Congregation my faith feels stronger, my strength revived, and I am soaring with happiness. I'm so happy and blessed to become your next Senior Rabbi. I am eager to meet you and get to know you better, what excites you to wake up in the morning and make a difference. During my recent visits, I am grateful to have met some of you along with your wonderful search committee, officers, trustees, and professional staff. I felt so warmly welcomed and inspired.

I love how Emanuel is so diverse. I look forward to collaborating with Cantor Friedman, Rabbi Manewith, Elizabeth Cohen and Ruthie Seidner, as well as Rabbis Schaalman and Zedek and the rest of the staff. I am eager to study Torah with you. And pray with you. And, with your help, build kehillah kedoshah (sacred community). And, I feel called to the city of Chicago, a meaningful urban platform from which to guide you in pursuit of tzedek (justice) and chesed (grace and loving-kindness). I am humbled by your confidence and look forward to the next chapter of my career and the life of my family. My wife Betsy and our children, Cara and Jared, and I can't wait to join you. We're looking forward to the beginning of many years together. Thank you again.


Rabbi Craig Marantz


Rabbi Marantz will officially join Emanuel as Senior Rabbi on July 1, 2016. We will soon begin thinking about all the different things we need to do to welcome Rabbi Marantz and his family to Chicago and Emanuel and to find as many opportunities as possible for him to meet all of you.

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