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Congregation and Guests Gather to Celebrate the 40th Anniversary of Bene Shalom and its Founder Rabbi Doctor Douglas Goldhamer's Ordination Sunday, June 10

Congregation Bene Shalom hosted their 40th anniversary gala in conjunction with the 40th anniversary of the ordination of its founder, Rabbi Dr. Douglas Goldhamer, Sunday, June 10 at Chateau Ritz, 9100 Milwaukee Ave., Niles. More than 140 people from around the Chicagoland area attended the Gala that included dinner, raffle prizes (a piece of jewelry from Golden Globe-winner Susan Blakely was won by the Executive Director Peggy Bagley) and entertainment by Charlene Brooks and The Bradley Young Orchestra. Congregation Bene Shalom is one of the few congregations to have a large hearing-impaired membership so Donna Reiter Brandwein and Karen Aguilar signed the entire night.

“This night was truly a celebration and an emotional night for all of us. To look around the hall and see so many people who have become our “family” was a feeling that surpasses words. It was a wonderful time had by all as we looked back at our successes and how we have grown from having services in multiple basements to this wonderful temple we have today filled with great people who come together to learn and to grow spiritually,” Rabbi Dr. Goldhamer said.

Executive Director Peggy Bagley said, “We could have not have asked for a better party to mark these two important anniversaries. Each one of our guests commented on how special the night was and how we truly showed how unique we are in the Chicagoland area. I am grateful to everyone who made the night a success and look forward to another 40 years of celebrations.”

ABOUT CONGREGATION BENE SHALOM
Congregation Bene Shalom is a Reform Jewish congregation that welcomes all people to come together as equals to feel the presence of God. Congregation Bene Shalom strives to create an inclusive environment that enables all to experience God and understand Jewish heritage through prayer, study of the Torah and community activities. Congregation Bene Shalom is known throughout Chicagoland as being one of the few congregations serving the deaf and hearing Jewish communities. In addition to religious services the temple also offers extensive educational and spiritual classes in a group or in one-on-one sessions.

In 1972, the newly ordained Rabbi Douglas Goldhamer, along with members of the Hebrew Association of the Deaf (HAD) founded Congregation Bene Shalom. At the time, the Congregation had 12 families and $125 in the bank, and its services were conducted in a warehouse, before moving to the basements of other temples.

The temple moved to its current location and home in 1975. Since then both the temple has grown, several construction projects later to its current state, and so has its membership.

ABOUT RABBI DOCTOR DOUGLAS GOLDHAMER
Rabbi Doctor Douglas Goldhamer was ordained at Hebrew Union College in 1972, and, together with Chicago deaf leaders, he established Congregation Bene Shalom/Hebrew Association of the Deaf in 1972. He received his Ph.D. from University of Chicago and his Doctor of Divinity degree from Hebrew Union College in Cincinnati. For the past 40 years, he has been the only full-time rabbi serving a deaf Jewish community in the United States. He is also the only rabbi to serve as Associate Professor of Philosophy at Gallaudet University. In 1992, Rabbi Doctor Goldhamer founded the Hebrew Seminary of the Deaf, where he currently serves as President and Professor of Jewish Mysticism. Together with Melinda Stengel, a licensed social worker, Goldhamer wrote This is for Everyone: Universal Principles of Healing Prayer and the Jewish Mystics, published by Larson Publications, in 1999. He is currently working on a new book based on his 2011 Kabbalah lecture series. Rabbi Dr. Goldhamer also writes regularly for the Chicago Jewish News.

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