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A Few Words from Jessica Katz, Director of Operations

Happy Monday friends,

Today is my very favorite day of the year. I have a tradition of talking to my mom throughout the day, asking her "am I here yet? What was happening now?" I eventually arrived around 10:30pm on July 15, 1986. I was so premature I didn't make it to my own naming, which held at Or Torah in Skokie- a congregation that my family had no connection with. They were around the corner from where I grew up- that was enough, at the time.

Many of you have heard me talk about the fact that my family was not a part of a congregation when I was growing up. My Jewish journey was wholly centered around traditions in the home, an excellent early childhood program at Mayer Kaplan JCC (of beloved memory) and a grade school education at Solomon Schechter in both Skokie and Northbrook. It was a good balance, for the most part... until I was given the chance to learn what kehilla really means.

When I began working at Emanuel, I had never experienced the nuances of Sunday school, of watching fellow congregants celebrate Bnai Mitzvahs or weddings or observe shiva. This past Thursday was my 3rd anniversary of my first day here at Emanuel, and being a part of the logistical planning process for holy days, congregational events, for your children's births and Bnai Mitzvot, for simchas and sadness, has changed me so much- for the better. Assisting the Emanuel community has undoubtedly made me a better person, and a better Jew. I learn from my colleagues on a daily basis, I now better understand and support the tenets of the URJ, and I derive unadulterated spiritual fulfillment from making sure your experiences at Emanuel are comfortable, warm, welcoming and safe.

To that end, I look forward to continuing and expanding upon my cooperative efforts with both our security and building committees in my 4th year as an Emanuelite- as well as supporting our board of trustees and my colleagues as we work collaboratively to celebrate Emanuel's 140th anniversary in a myriad of meaningful ways. As I said in my remarks at this year's annual meeting in May- making sure our congregation is safe is one of the ways I pray. Stay tuned for updates on the upcoming replacement of the Michigan Room windows and Thorndale doors, as well as some long overdue parking lot work that will come to fruition largely due to the dedicated efforts of our building committee.

Please consider helping me celebrate my favorite day of the year by making a donation to an organization I have become more involved with directly due my work at Emanuel- Care For Real, co-founded by our very own Rabbi Schaalman (z"l) and a longtime staple of the Edgewater community.

Here's to a magical 140th year!

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