The Chicago Loop Synagogue was founded in 1929 to serve the religious needs of those whose professional or business activities brought them to Chicago's downtown business district. Since then, it has grown to become the city's central synagogue. It is, in a very real sense, the symbol of the Jewish religious presence in Chicago. Citywide events of religious and other significance to the Jewish community are conducted in the Synagogue, and civic and religious leaders of other faiths look to the Chicago Loop Synagogue as a source of guidance and information concerning Judaism and Chicago's Jews.
By providing a convenient place for daily worship, the Synagogue makes it possible for people from all parts of the greater Chicagoland area to make congregational prayer a regular part of their business day, as well as to observe Yahrzeit and to recite the Kaddish prayers during periods of mourning. Membership dues include the lighting of Yahrzeit candles and the recitation of Yahrzeit Kaddish prayers in memory of members' loved ones. Those whose activities bring them in or near the Loop, readily find it possible to take a few minutes to join in one of the morning, afternoon or evening daily services in the Bet Midrash of the Synagogue. Thus, it supplements the service of local congregations with which most of these worshipers are also affiliated and serves the unaffiliated as well. While the form of worship in the Synagogue is Traditional, and separate seating is observed during the morning Shabbat service and the first Mincha service Monday through Friday, all Jews, whatever their background or religious affiliation, are made to feel welcome at the Chicago Loop Synagogue.
The synagogue also serves as a place of worship for the thousands of Jewish visitors to Chicago from all parts of the world who stay in the downtown area. Many of those who attend professional or trade association conventions and meetings held in Chicago, make worship at the Loop Synagogue a regular part of their visit. Over the years, distinguished leaders of Jewish communities in the United States, Europe and Israel, have worshiped at this Synagogue while in Chicago.
In recent years, the construction of high-rise apartment buildings in and near the Loop has provided a residential population for whom the Loop Synagogue is the major religious affiliation. For these families, the Synagogue provides the customary services and facilities of any local congregation.
Throughout the year, the Synagogue conducts wide-ranging educational programming. On a year round basis, there are daily mid-day Bible study classes and Saturday afternoon Torah study sessions. On most Wednesdays, there is a lunch and learn with Rabbi Stanley Kroll or a visiting Rabbi. There is a modest charge for the lunch and reservations have to be made a day in advance with the Synagogue office.
The Chicago Loop Synagogue is justifiably proud of its famous annual Scholar in Residence program, where Jews of all denominations can join in a weekend of Jewish learning. Recent Scholars have included Rabbi Joseph Telushkin, Rabbi "Yitz" Greenberg and Dennis Prager. This past year's Scholar in Residence was Rabbi Avi Weiss.
The Chicago Loop Synagogue is also an architectural marvel. Among other features, it contains the magnificent Abraham Rattner stained glass artwork which takes up almost the entire Eastern facade of the Synagogue, Rattner lithographs in the Bet Midrash and the entry to the Social Hall and the Hands of Peace by Henri Azaz, which crowns the entrance to the Synagogue.
Again this year, world renowned Cantor Moshe Stern will lead the High Holiday services assisted by Menashe Lev-Ran and the Tel Aviv Lev-Ran singers. Cantor Stern, Menashe Lev-Ran and the choir set the proper tone of beauty, reverence and awe during this time of year.
The Chicago Loop Synagogue has been fortunate to have Stanley E. Kroll as its Rabbi since 1977. Rabbi Kroll's Devrai Torah and sermons are meaningful, educational, enlightening, relevant and thought provoking, with a large helping of humor mixed in. They are often the subject of informal discussion at the Shabbat Kiddush, where the attendees enjoy the camaraderie of the Chicago Loop Synagogue. When the occasion presents itself, Rabbi Kroll prepares a delightful Shabbat Cholent Kiddush luncheon eagerly anticipated and enjoyed by all.
Read the Hanukah issue of The Bulletin of the Chicago Loop Synagogue online!