Anshe Tikvah
P.O Box 2455
Northbrook, IL 60065
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Date: August 21, 2005
Section: Neighbor
Edition: Cook,D7,L4
Page: 1

Cantor brings people together in new congregation
  Ruth Gesmer Silverman Daily Herald Correspondent

A new area Jewish congregation is attracting plenty of attention and there are no signs that it will abate any time soon.

Cantorial soloist and Wheeling resident Rob Jury, 26, the spiritual leader of Anshe Tikvah (people of hope), is fielding dozens of phone calls and e-mails every day from area residents seeking information.

The congregation marked its sixth week of Shabbat services Friday with close to 70 members in attendance.

Jury expects to start leading regular Saturday morning services, which feature Torah discussions instead of sermons, before Labor Day.

"We have formed a new Jewish congregation whose goal is to be a non-judgmental community based on warmth, compassion, love of Judaism and communal participation," Jury said.

Members come from Buffalo Grove, Arlington Heights, Long Grove, Wheeling, Deerfield, Palatine, Round Lake Beach Vernon Hills, Northbrook and Downers Grove.

Members sing the entire service using contemporary, Israeli, American folk and Hassidic melodies, accompanied by Jury, who plays guitar, mandolin, flute and bouzouki.

Jury characterizes the new group's practice as post- denominational, rather than Reform, Conservative, Reconstructionist, Renewal, or Orthodox Judaism.

"We are more interested in the trunk and the roots than in branches, so we are combining multiple elements into our worship and educational programs," he said.

Buffalo Grove resident, Bruce Scher, the academic dean and director of college counseling at the Chicagoland Jewish High School, in Morton Grove, said he loves the entire experience at Anshe Tikvah.

"It's a community that is based on respect for each other, a love of religion and a sense of passion for caring for others. This brings an opportunity that makes it an extended family. On all occasions, people will be there to support you.

"We are taught to do for others as we do for ourselves. It's not where you pray, but the people with whom you pray. Rob Jury creates a spirit of comfort, spirituality, and inclusion among a diverse group of people who all have a sense of belonging. This is very unusual," he said.

Jury, who hopes to be fully invested as a cantor in May, holds a degree in political science from the University of Illinois, Chicago. He is finishing his cantorial studies with Rabbi/Cantor Shlomo Shuster.

By the High Holy Days, which begin the evening of Oct. 3, Jury said he expects to see about 150 families at services, which will be held at Stevenson High School in Lincolnshire.

The congregation currently holds services at the Park West Clubhouse, off Milwaukee Avenue in Deerfield.

Congregational leaders would prefer to see membership top out at about 300 families.

"There are already large congregations with 900 families in the area," he said. "We want to remain a smaller community where everyone knows everyone else, where people whose children are grown can be comfortable, where individuals, couples and families can sing and worship together, dine together, learn together, and celebrate special moments together."

This year, religious and Hebrew school classes will be held at Longfellow School in Buffalo Grove on Sunday mornings and one night a week.

In a departure from conventional congregational practice, High Holy Day services will be open to all, with a suggested donation of $118.

For information on the congregation, call (847) 917-7725, or visit the Web site,

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