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Women of Temple Sholom


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Women of Temple Sholom (WTS) is a dynamic community of women of all ages and stages of life. We have been upholding the mission and values of Temple Sholom since 1903 through social action, spirituality, worship, education, connections and friendships.  With a variety of programs and activities, we are able to support major women’s causes locally and globally to strengthen the influence of progressive Reform Judaism.  A portion of our annual $36 dues also supports the important work of our umbrella organization, Women of Reform Judaism (WRJ). 


WRJ (Women of Reform Judaism)

For over 100 years, WRJ has had an illustrious and extensive history of being at the forefront of social action and change, advancing the role of women in Jewish life, and supporting the growth of Reform institutions around the world. Today, hundreds of WRJ-affiliated sisterhoods like WTS (Women of Temple Sholom) gain access to a vast network of membership, programming, and leadership resources as well as the opportunity to network with thousands of other women and make a difference around the world. WRJ continues to work tirelessly to support important social justice issues while bringing women together to develop personal relationships, facilitate strong leaders, and create a joyful community of faith.
WRJ considers numerous criteria to determine which issues will take precedence over others. It takes an “Education to Action” approach to our advocacy.

Current High Priority Issues are:

  1. Economic Justice and the Reform Pay Equity Initiative
  2. Reproductive Health and Rights
  3. Gender-based Violence
  4. Israel
  5. Global Affairs
  6. Civil Rights, Racial Justice & DEI (Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion)

WTS is in WRJ Heartland District West which will be having its first regional event since the District structure was reorganized officially becoming Heartland District last summer. The event will be held at OSRUI (Olin Sang Ruby Union Institute) in Oconomowoc, WI between November 18-19, 2023. We hope to see you there!


Annual WTS Events

  • Annual kick-off event
  • WTS Shabbat
  • Women’s Seder 

Speaker Series

Expert and engaging speakers on contemporary hot topics included:

  • Modern Jewish Feminism 
  • American Jews and Israeli Issues with Anat Hoffman and Noa Sattath, two activist leaders from Israel Religious Action Committee (co-sponsored with Adult Ed)
  • The Notorious RBG exhibit at the Illinois Holocaust Center (co-sponsored with Adult Ed and Sholom Justice)

WTS Steering Committee

Nadine Abrahams, Marla Burrough,
Cyndi Bergstein, Pamela Bondy, Joan Field, Beth Inlander, Amy Kleinman, Debby Levinson, Marilyn Oskin, Julie Paradise.  Clergy liaison Rabbi Rena Singer.

Learning, Action & Social Programs 

  • Expert and engaging speakers on contemporary hot topics included
  • Movie nights with accompanying discussions
  • Book and poetry discussions 
  • Creation of a digital holiday cookbook as a gift to new WTS members
  • Toiletries, clothing and food collections to benefit local organizations
  • Topics included
  • The rise of antisemitism
  • Illinois’ efforts to end gun violence
  • Sex trafficking in Chicago 
  • Reproductive rights and the Jewish imperative
  • Cooking demonstrations
  • Covid-19 coping strategies

Organizations WTS has supported

Upcoming Events


WTS Seder Handout 2021


WTS Shop for a Cause 2019


WTS Kick-off Event 2019


The Sisterhood of Temple Sholom (now called The Women of Temple Sholom) has played a vital role in the life of the Temple since its creation in 1903. Our women have provided strong and innovative leadership that over the decades has helped shape the Temple, its community, its programming, financial support, interfaith activities, social action, education, spiritual and social life. Sisterhood’s role has changed with the times and with the needs of the Temple. In the early years, most women did not work and there were few opportunities for women to participate in the formal Temple governance. Sisterhood was instrumental in providing a community and social hub, programming for women as well as the entire Temple, support of the Temple’s operations, and key financial support for the institution.


At a dinner at the Ideal Club, a suggestion was made to the temple Board of Directors that the women be allowed to form an organized society to work for the religious and social betterment of the Temple, and the Ladies’ Auxiliary of the North Chicago Hebrew Congregation (later named Temple Sholom) was created. Starting with 40 women, the group grew in strength and importance, and by 1967 had nearly 1,400 members.1909 In anticipation of the move to a new, larger home at Pine Grove and Grace, the Ladies’ Auxiliary urged the Temple Board of Directors to change the name of the synagogue to Temple Sholom, a Sanctuary of Peace.


Temple Sholom was one of the founding members of the national federation of Temple Sisterhoods.


The Ladies’ Auxiliary had 24different committees at this time,including those for Museum, Red Cross, Coffee,War Service, and Loyalty. It sponsored an annual National Defense Day program, a Patriotic Pageant and a card party.


The Ladies’ Auxiliary was renamed Temple Sholom Sisterhood. A major activity that began that year was delivering Chanukah Baskets to Jews living in poverty.


Sisterhood published a cookbook.


At the dedication of the new Temple, the Sisterhood presented the organ as well as equipment for the community center, the result of four years of raising $50,000 for the project. Sisterhood consistently raised important funds for the Temple, including religious school and camp scholarships through its gift shop, market days, annual luncheons, and other fundraisers.


Sisterhood became very active in interfaith affairs, sending women to help at the Salvation Army and hosting interfaith services and functions, including an annual Interfaith Day program. This decade also saw the formation of a Business and Professional Women’s Group to meet the needs and schedules of women who were entering the workforce.


Temple Sholom’s Bea Hollobow was named President of the National Federation of Temple Sisterhood, a very important and prestigious position.


Sisterhood sponsored a highly successful interfaith program on Religions of the Orient, which included representatives of 70 different churches and synagogues. Sisterhood created many striking needlepoint projects for the Temple, including the Ark doors for Temple Beth Am, which are hanging in Bettie Port Hall; the panels for our Chuppah, which hang in the Beit Midrash; and a series of beautiful and colorful Torah covers. Sisterhood provided much-needed support for Temple activities in the years when most women did not work outside the home. Men heavily dominated the formal Temple governance structure, but women made their mark and contributions primarily through Sisterhood. There were several women on the Temple Board, including the Sisterhood President holding an ex-officio position. Sisterhood women also provided support for the Temple’s operations in a time when staff levels were very limited.

1970s & 1980s

As women’s lives began changing, the traditional role of and participation in Sisterhood was challenged. Many women were invited to participate in Temple governance including serving on the Temple Sholom Board of Directors.


Sisterhood hosts Temple Sholom’s first Women’s Seder.


With membership declining and an inability to find leadership, Sisterhood ceased operation, donating its remaining funds to the Temple but with $5,000 set aside to fund a new Sisterhood in the future.


The hiatus was short-lived. A new group approached Rabbi Aaron Petuchowski about restarting a group for Temple women, and in this year, the new Sisterhood was formed. It was originally called Women of Reform Judaism (WRJ) to reflect the national title and to provide a signal that this was a “more modern” group, with Rachelle Crane, a Gan Shalom mother, serving as its first President.


The name was formally changed back to Sisterhood in a desire to reconnect with the past. In this new era, WRJ provided a way to create community and programming for women across generations. The revitalization of Temple Sholom Sisterhood launched new worship activities from a woman’s perspective, including monthly Rosh Chodesh study, Sisterhood Shabbat, and expanding our wonderful Women’s Seder. The new Sisterhood has also focused on learning and social justice, inviting dynamic speakers, embracing important causes and creating programs of strong interest to women. Sisterhood women were addressed by such women as Ruth Messinger of the American Jewish World Service, and clinical psychologist and parenting expert Dr. Wendy Mogul. We celebrated the 10-Year Anniversary of the Innocence Project with a film screening and panel of wrongly-convicted people. More recently, Sisterhood has focused its spotlight on the issue of sex trafficking, as well as supporting incarcerated women of Logan Correctional Center and their children. 2018 To reflect this contemporary, inclusive approach, Temple Sholom’s Sisterhood has been renamed The Women of Temple Sholom.


How to Join


Check box to pay the $36 Women of Temple Sholom Membership 
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Mon, December 11 2023 28 Kislev 5784