Frequently Asked Questions

What is the Or Chadash story?

Congregation Or Chadash - Congregation of New Light - was founded in 1975 as a response to the discrimination and isolation experienced by Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender Jews in mainstream synagogues. 

Today Or Chadash exists to provide a warm and nurturing environment for all Jews with special services to the LGBT Jewish community. We respect the varied ways in which people express their commitment to Jewish life.  Our members come from all denominations of Jewish and non-Jewish backgrounds so our services tend to be a good mix of Hebrew and English with lots of singing.

 Where is Or Chadash Located?

Or Chadash shares space with Emanuel Congregation located at 5959 N Sheridan Road in Chicago’s Edgewater neighborhood.  We are located at the corner of Thorndale and Sheridan, 3 blocks east of the Thorndale Red Line Stop.  Service to the door is provided by the #151 Sheridan bus.  Parking is available on site for Shabbat and most holidays and other activities.

 Does Or Chadash have regular services?

Or Chadash has weekly Shabbat Services and celebrates all of the major Jewish festivals.  Service times can be found on the Services page of our website. Or Chadash uses an egalitarian liturgy and women and men share equally in both religious and administrative duties.

 How do I contact Or Chadash?

You can reach us by:

Phone:  773-271-2148
General Email: 
Office@OrChadash.org
Membership Email: 
membership@OrChadash.org
Rabbi’s Email: 
RabbiEdwards@OrChadash.org
Mail:  Congregation Or Chadash, 5959 N. Sheridan Road, Chicago, IL   60660
On the web:  www.OrChadash.org

 Does Or Chadash have a Rabbi?

Yes, Rabbi Larry Edwards is Or Chadash’s second Rabbi.  He comes to us after many years of service as a Hillel Rabbi at both Dartmouth College and Cornell University.  He is an accomplished and respected scholar and educator.  Rabbi Edwards leads services twice a month, teaches several courses a year and is available to members.

In addition we have a professional Cantorial Soloist – Judith Golden – who is with us twice a month and at the High Holy Days.  She has a beautiful voice and leads us in our traditional melodies and regularly brings us new tunes.

 Are all members of Or Chadash GLBT?

We assume our members are predominantly Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual or Transgender;  however we don’t ask about member’s sexual identity.  Membership is open to everyone.  And all friendly people are welcome at any of our services and programs.  In addition family members and friends of our members – gay and straight – regularly join us at our Shabbat and Holiday services.

 What programming does Or Chadash have besides services?

Or Chadash is a community the both plays together and prays together.  We have a full range of programming in addition to religious services.  Adult education classes are offered ranging from Torah and Talmud to Hebrew, Kabbalah, Maimonides and alternative Jewish weddings.  We have social events including holiday parties, movie, concert and theater outings, a women’s Rosh Chodesh group, social action activities, our annual benefit gala and much, much more.

 What holidays does Or Chadash celebrate?

We celebrate the High Holy Days starting with Selichot and continuing with first day Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur.  We celebrate Sukkot complete with a Sukkah decorating party (we have a fabulous Sukkah) and shake the Lulav and Etrog in the Sukkah on the Shabbat during Sukkot.  Come dance with the Torah at Simchat Torah and bring your menorah to the Shabbat service during Hanukkah (you should see all the flames) and stay for our Hanukkah oneg complete with latkes.  Our holiday celebrations continue through the Spring and each year we hold a community Seder on the second night of Passover.

 How do I become a member of Or Chadash?

A membership form is available on the Join Us page, at many Or Chadash activities or via email (Office@OrChadash.org).  We have single and family memberships as well as a full time student membership.  Membership is open to everyone.  If our dues structure would cause a financial hardship a confidential alternative dues structure can be arranged by talking to one of our officers. 

 Is Or Chadash still relevant in today’s more accepting and tolerant environment?

While other synagogues are now embracing GLBT Jews, they are not providing programming or activities that specifically cater to the GLBT community.  Or Chadash continues to offer its members educational programs and other activities that look at Judaism from a GLBT perspective.  And Or Chadash still serves as a safe space for single GLBT Jews to meet each other and start their own families.  We offer a unique opportunity to become involved in an extremely active synagogue life that no other area congregation can offer.

Or Chadash is also evolving with the times.  Rabbi Edwards strives to make Torah study and his D’var Torah(s) relevant and meaningful to our experience as LGBT Jews.  We’ve located in a growing LGBT neighborhood in Edgewater and are constantly exploring how we can improve our Shabbat services and support LGBT Jews who are seeking to marry or develop families. 

And, let’s face it, the likelihood of meeting your kind of nice Jewish girl or boy for friendship or romance is higher at Or Chadash.

Is Or Chadash handicapped accessible?

All of the areas we currently use in the building are handicapped accessible.  Most of our programs are also held at handicapped accessible locations.

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