A Few Words from Rabbi Craig Marantz

Shalom Chevrei:


The sun is shining. The air is warming. The snow is melting. I dare feel a bit of optimism as we begin seemingly to turn the corner pandemic-wise. Of course, as we approach one year of social distancing, I recognize just how lonely and disconnected some of us feel and have felt throughout; and I honor the passionate yearnings to return to 5959 North Sheridan Road. But I also appreciate just how much we have evolved as a center for Jewish engagement. For those of you who have helped make it that way, I thank you for your presence and participation.


Given the complexities of this Covid-Age, I don’t generally recognize such positives and blessings as silver linings to this strange and enduring time. After all, just about all our progress has taken place online, a digital space that is not always perfectly accessible to each of us - no matter how hard we all try to make it so. Or, as I have learned, our virtual village is among others vying for your precious attention and exhausting it. The truth is, though, whatever momentum we have achieved this year really counts because it gives us vital direction for the future.


As we begin in a broad sense to reflect on re-entry to some semblance of normal, we will likely think about hybrid engagement - ways to involve you in person at Emanuel Congregation and remotely with online offerings. Lifelong Jewish learning, spirituality & prayer, community-building and other aspects of our congregational mission will all likely take place in this dual-like universe. Also, we want to make sure that we do whatever we can to improve our prospects to better involve and inspire you going forward.


In this spirit, I aspire for us to create a special task force called the Adult Learning, Engagement, & Retention Team (ALERT). The work of this team will be pragmatic and strategic - planning & practicing transition, dreaming up and realizing versatile, mission-driven engagement, and figuring out how to better retain our membership and fortify our future as a 21st-century legacy congregation.


Your love, loyalty, and leadership over the years - and especially through this pandemic - has done much to help Emanuel Congregation survive. For that, I am so grateful. To thrive, to really flourish over the long-run, I know we can still raise our game as a mission-driven, ground-breaking, spiritually entrepreneurial center for Jewish life. ALERT will summon our awareness from the ground up as to how best to go about this essential effort.


If you have any curiosity or inquiries about ALERT, let’s talk: (860) 966-5669, or rabbimarantz@emanuelcong.org.