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Here at Etz Chaim we have core values that as a congregation we embrace. They are: Torah, Volunteerism, Extended Family, Respect, Process, and Excellence.

As you can see…right after Torah, the most important value is Volunteerism. What exactly does that mean? In Hebrew the word ‘ne-dab’ means to volunteer…to offer freely.

Webster’s New World Dictionary defines volunteerism as: “The theory or practice of being a volunteer or using volunteers as without pay, in social agencies, charitable organizations, etc.”

The American Heritage Dictionary defines volunteerism as “use or reliance on volunteers, esp. to perform social or educational work.”

Hmmmm….then what is a volunteer? Webster tell us it’s: “(1) a person who chooses freely to do or offer to do something; (2) to freely choose to offer or give without being asked or obliged.”

American Heritage defines it as: ”(1) a person who performs or offers to perform a service of his or her own free will; (2) to do charitable or helpful work without pay.”

This is what Etz Chaim is all about…always was and always will be. People giving of their time, and skills, freely and not expecting anything in return.

Our Executive Board, our Board of Directors, our affiliates (Brotherhood and Sisterhood), our 16 committees, our subcommittees are all made up of volunteers. At any given time, all these volunteers along with many other congregants bake for our onegs, provide meals for Shivahouses and ill congregants, fix faucets, clean up our gardens, put on bar-b-ques, organize social events, organize learning events, and even mop the floors!

Our volunteers always answer the call to help. 

Our volunteers are the backbone of Etz Chaim. Won’t you join us?


Congregation Etz Chaim has numerous committees and members’ backgrounds vary greatly. Participating in a committee helps members to learn, grow, and contribute to the Congregation.  

If you would like to join any of the committees listed below, contact the President of the congregation.

The Inclusion Committee
addresses the needs of all members and is available to help coordinate any requested adaptations. At Etz Chaim we are committed to accessibility and disability inclusion as we are grounded in the belief that all are created b’tselem Elohim (in God’s image). B’tselem Elohim reminds us of the importance of equal access and equal opportunity. Inclusion is a mindset, an attitude, and a way of thinking. The Inclusion Committee seeks to make Etz Chaim a more welcoming, accessible, and inclusive community by sensitizing the synagogue community to the needs of congregants with differing abilities and by reducing existing barriers to each member’s full participation. We recognize that inclusion is a process and a journey we take together. 

 The Lifelong Learning Committee (LLC)
develops programs for adult congregants who wish to expand their knowledge of Judaism, current events, Israel, Hebrew, and Torah. Programs, classes, and events are led by rabbis, lay leaders, and outside experts.  Previously, we’ve held programs on Israel, adult Hebrew and B’nai Mitzvah classes, interfaith presentations, weekly Torah study, author talks, and artist/scholar-in-residence weekends.  The LLC collaborates with other committees such as the Library and Social Action Committees to present programs. It also partners with other congregations and Jewish institutions when applicable.

 The Social Action Committee 
and Enviornmental Task Froce plan activities to engage the congregation in Tikkun Olam (repairing the world).

Many of the Social Action Committee’s projects involve outreach into the community beyond Etz Chaim and the Jewish world. Some are even beyond the Western hemisphere! Read more about our Tikkun Olam efforts.


 The Facilities Committee 
ensures our facilities are safe, secure, attractive, and energy efficient. The committee is responsible for all synagogue infrastructure as well as landscaping. It also administers the landscape/facilities fund and the building maintenance fund.  

The Caring Committee 
supports members in times of need be it arranging rides, providing meals in times of illness, assistance with shiva, visiting the sick, and more. If you know of someone who is in need of our services, please fill out our Community Support Request From or call the office directly at 630.627.3912.

The Retreat Committee 
plans the annual retreat to Oconomowoc, WI. Every spring, the Congregation blocks off a weekend devoted to learning, spirituality, and friendship.  

The Ways and Means Committee
is the primary party responsible for fundraising. That includes not only dues and fees, but also the sale of Manna gift cards that donate a portion of the proceeds to the Congregation. There are hundreds of retailers available, so you are sure to find whatever you need, be it gas, groceries, or gifts.

The Membership Committee
is the first place prospective members turn when they have questions about the Congregation. This committee is also responsible for welcoming new members and strengthening the bonds between existing congregants. Among events the Membership Committee plans are the Prospective Member Open House, Congregational Hanukkah dinner, membership recognition Shabbat, and more.

 The Youth Committee
oversees four youth groups and college outreach. The committee believes establishing Jewish connections at a young age is important for leading a Jewish lifestyle in the future. Youth groups range from infants to seniors in high school. And for college students, the Youth Committee sends them care packages throughout the year.

 The Facilities Committee
ensures our facilities are safe, secure, attractive, and energy efficient. The committee is responsible for all synagogue infrastructure as well as landscaping. It also administers the landscape/facilities fund and the building maintenance fund.  

The Religious School Committee
is a group of dedicated parents, teachers, and volunteers that meet once a month to support the Religious School staff in accomplishing their mission, as outlined in the Religious School handbook. The committee is responsible for organizing several annual events such as holiday programming and a teacher appreciation brunch.  

The Ritual and Religious (R&R) Committee
reviews and guides the Congregation in worship and ritual observances. The committee discusses current practices and explores ways to enrich and improve upon worship services.  The committee keeps in mind issues like the physical set-up of the sanctuary, the use of the prayerbook, the impact of music, and sanctuary etiquette.

Mon, May 20 2024 12 Iyar 5784