What makes Am Yisrael different?
You need only come into our building to see. Both our founding and current Rabbis have been true visionaries. Rabbi William Frankel created a congregation in 1968 that resonates with values and ideals that are relevant today. Rabbi Debra Newman Kamin has added her own stamp to his vision, making Am Yisrael uniquely her own.
Founded by Rabbi Frankel and a devoted start up group of eighteen families, Am Yisrael is dedicated to being the liberal voice of the Conservative movement. When Rabbi Frankel retired in 1994, the congregation chose Rabbi Debra Newman Kamin, who was serving as Associate Rabbi, as the new rabbi. Am Yisrael was the first Conservative congregation in the Chicago metropolitan area to be headed by a woman, and, at that time, the largest Conservative congregation in the country to have that privilege.
In Rabbi Newman Kamin’s words, “I would describe us as progressive traditionalists. We are committed to the Jewish tradition and are affiliated with the Conservative movement, but we follow the Israeli calendar. We have adopted the triennial approach to Torah reading, and we use musical instruments in our prayer services. Our services are focused and run for a reasonable length of time…All this enhances the beauty and attractiveness of our services and synagogue life in general.”
Am Yisrael is completely egalitarian and has been since its inception. We strive to be a congregation that includes all persons, embracing differences of marital status, family structure, sexual orientation, gender and its expression, age, mental and physical health and ability.
We hope you'll explore our website and contact our staff directly if you have questions or want to learn more. We encourage you to attend any of our programs that interest you, or just stop in our building to say hello and get to know us.