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About Congregation Sukkat Shalom

Sukkat Shalom is a unique and innovative congregation serving a diverse group of individuals and families within an intimate spiritual home. Our specific mission is outreach to the intermarried, the unaffiliated, and all those searching for a meaningful Jewish life.

Sukkat Shalom means a “sukkah of peace.” A sukkah is open; it has no roof or permanent walls. The image of the sukkah reminds us that our spiritual life is open to others and to God; it is flexible and dynamic.

As a community open to new ideas, Sukkat Shalom welcomes all who are seeking creative models for Jewish life. Sukkat Shalom challenges many of the assumptions made by the traditional synagogue model. From worship to education, Sukkat Shalom experiments and innovates.

We have established a full program of innovative family education, meaningful and creative worship, adult discussion and study, interfaith couple support groups, and holiday observances.

Worship is a time of meditation, individual spirituality and inspiration. As a community we are challenged by engaging exchanges of ideas that respect the depth of knowledge of both Jewish professionals and congregants.  As more people seek personal spiritual growth, the synagogue should become a sanctuary where one can pursue that quest individually and communally.

Sukkat Shalom is a progressive congregation in which to explore Jewish thought and search for personal meaning freed from the confines of a strict ideological definition of Judaism. A great strength of Sukkat Shalom is our openness to the diversity of our members’ personal lives.

Jewish education similarly demands a dramatic change in design. Sukkat Shalom has developed an educational curriculum with the primary goal of teaching Judaism as a family process. Parents and children attend each session together in order to support and nurture the spiritual identities of all participants. Parents are empowered to be the key agents for transmitting Jewish values and traditions to their children.

Dedicated to a critical examination of old assumptions, the congregation has abandoned the traditional fixed membership dues system. We recognize that individuals and families vary in their ability to support the congregation’s fiscal needs. Therefore, Sukkat Shalom relies on the voluntary financial contributions and generosity of its members.

We invite you to join us in this exciting and dynamic community!

The Members of Congregation Sukkat Shalom


In the spring of 1995 fifteen families joined together to start a new congregation on the North Shore of Chicago. These families had been meeting informally for a number of years under the leadership of Rabbi Samuel Gordon. Originally they came together as a support group for intermarried couples with young children, but soon families consisting of two Jewish partners joined the group as well. The founding principles were that children and parents would learn together, formal worship was often replaced by shared Shabbat meals, and that discussions and learning would be at the highest intellectual level – always stimulating, provocative, and challenging.

By the fall of 1995 approximately one hundred people came to the Wilmette Junior High School for our first High Holy Day services. Family School began at the same time. As word spread, more and more families sought to join this innovative community that welcomed diversity and responded in new ways to ancient traditions. Soon Judy Buckman joined the congregation as executive director, and under her leadership the program of service to our members continued to expand.

In the early years worship was held at the Community Recreation Center, other park district buildings, various women’s clubs, and even in private homes. It soon became clear that we wanted sacred space in which to join in prayer. First at the Wilmette Community Church, and then at First Congregational Church of Wilmette, we were welcomed by our neighbors to share their sanctuaries and now we have our own sacred space open to all. Sukkat Shalom continues to work closely with the diverse faith communities of Wilmette to create a culture of mutual respect and understanding. Our congregation is proud to take a leading role in insuring that Jews, Christians, Muslims, and Bahai can join together in education, spiritual growth, and social justice.

As Sukkat Shalom has grown certain key values have remained a vital part of our mission. We remain a small and intimate congregation in which the senior staff knows each member, and there is a sense of family and community. Life long learning is a defining element of our program and involves all members of all age groups. Worship is dynamic and inspiring. We recognize and celebrate that we all come from diverse religious backgrounds but share an authentic quest for spiritual meaning and depth within the world of modern Judaism.

Wed, August 15 2018 4 Elul 5778