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Doing Jewish Differently

Kol Hadash ["new voice"] has been a warm and welcoming, full-service Humanistic Jewish Congregation for more than 20 years. Like other congregations, together we celebrate major Jewish holidays, provide a cultural Jewish education for our children, mark the Jewish life cycle from birth and Bar/Bat/B Mitzvah to weddings and memorials, run adult learning programs, collaborate on community service projects, and enjoy fun social and community service activities. But unlike other congregations, we pride ourselves on Doing Jewish Differently.

See how below!


Humanistic Philosophy: People Not Prayer

We share a human-centered, secular philosophy that focuses on this world, this life, and what people can do for themselves and for each other. This approach harmonizes our Jewish life with our everyday life, agreeing with the many American Jews who do not believe in the omnipotent and intervening God of the Bible and traditional prayer book. We believe that people have both the power and responsibility to improve our lives and the world around us. If the supposedly “divine” commandments of Jewish tradition were actually written by people, then we are free to choose what speaks to us and helps guide us today.


Cultural Judaism: We Say What We Mean and Mean What We Say

Humanistic Judaism celebrates major Jewish holidays and lifecycle events, interpreting them in a secular and cultural context rather than a traditionally religious one. We read meaningful poetry and prose that resonate with our Jewish cultural heritage and encourage reflection and meditation. We sing Jewish songs in English, Hebrew, and Yiddish – always providing translations and transliterations (pronunciation in English letters). Bottom line: We read, say and sing what we truly believe!


Different from Other Liberal Judaisms: Consistently Focused on Humanity and the Natural World

While Reform, Reconstructing, and Humanistic Judaism  recognize the importance of human action and the evolution of Jewish practice to fit today’s values, Humanistic Judaism consistently expresses its non-theistic approach in everything we do. Rather than praying to or relying on a god, we focus on what humans can know and can do (that’s why we’re called “Humanists”!). Kol Hadash is a comfortable home for people and families who identify as Culturally Jewish, Just Jewish, Jew-ish, Not Religious, Secular, Humanistic, Atheist, and/or Agnostic. No prior knowledge or Jewish literacy is needed; come as you are!

Full Inclusivity: We Celebrate Jewish Life with Our True Selves in All Our Diversity

Humanistic Judaism embraces and celebrates the reality of intercultural and interfaith partnerships, LGBTQIA+ individuals and families, and families in every form and variety. Children of intercultural/interfaith families can be both Jewish and something else, rather than either/or. And all family members are fully welcome to participate in all Kol Hadash programs, services, and life cycle events.


Membership: No Financial Barriers -- Everyone Self-Selects Their Own Contribution

Membership in Kol Hadash is about meaning, not money. We welcome everyone, regardless of ability to contribute financially. This is another example of how we live our values with consistency and integrity. All members anonymously select whatever contribution level is commensurate with their financial ability, sense of value, and desire to advance the mission of Kol Hadash.


Holiday Celebrations: We Replace Worship with Belief in Human Power and Responsibility

Our cultural holiday celebrations adapt familiar Jewish traditions, rituals and blessings to be consistent with our secular philosophy. We have services and/or celebrations for all the major Jewish holidays, including Rosh Hashanah, Yom Kippur, Sukkot, Hanukkah, Tu B’Shevat, Purim, and Passover. We also have twice-monthly Friday evening adult Shabbat services. And we have special holiday services and celebrations for children and families.


Rabbi Adam Chalom: The Full Package -- Engaging, Innovative, And Scholarly!

Rabbi Adam Chalom has served as the full-time rabbi of Kol Hadash since 2004. He is a dynamic and illuminating speaker, a clear and inspiring teacher, and a warm and approachable presence at Kol Hadash. He is also a source of compassionate and caring support through difficult times, and a leading voice in the international movement of Humanistic Judaism. He earned a B.A. in Judaic Studies from Yale University; a Master’s Degree and Ph.D. in Hebrew and Jewish Cultural Studies at the University of Michigan; and his rabbinic ordination from the International Institute for Secular Humanistic Judaism (IISHJ).

Sunday School: Our Goal Is Cultural Literacy and Critical Thought, Not Indoctrination

Our Sunday School students explore the entire range of the Jewish experience and are encouraged to think critically and decide for themselves what “Being Jewish” and “Doing Jewish” means to them. We are distinct in emphasizing asking questions rather than memorizing answers, making choices rather than obedience, and focusing on people rather than faith.  We have weekly Sunday School classes for 1st through 9th grade Confirmation, with formal Hebrew learning beginning in 5th grade. We also offer monthly Adult Tot programs and a no obligation  "Sunday School Try Out."

Bar/Bat/B Mitzvahs: Completely Customized To Be Meaningful to the Student and Their Family

Every B Mitzvah service (a gender-inclusive term for Bar/Bat Mitzvahs) is devoted to only one student, and the B Mitzvah is the only reason for the gathering. Rather than having to read the assigned Torah portion of the week, students choose their own Hebrew reading based on what they find meaningful. (Don’t worry, Rabbi Chalom guides students in this process.) Their focus can be on a Torah or other Hebrew text and commentary, or they can speak on a topic, issue or person from the Jewish experience. Rabbi Chalom works one-on-one with each student for several sessions to research and prepare their presentation and to find their related community service project. All family members can participate fully in our B Mitzvah ceremonies.

Life Cycle Events: Rooted in Jewish Traditions, but Not Limited by Them 

At Kol Hadash, celebrations of life are created with and for the individuals and families observing them. They are personal and personalized, open to today’s diversity of Jewish experiences and families, and deeply moving. These include: Babynaming; Bar/Bat/B Mitzvah, Confirmation, Weddings (including intercultural, interfaith, and same-sex marriage), Funerals and Memorials, and Choosing to Become Jewish.



Haven’t Heard of Us? We’ve Been Here for a Long Time!

Kol Hadash was founded in 2001 by 100 members of Congregation Beth Or, the first Humanistic Jewish congregation in the Chicago area. With the movement’s roots dating back to the early 1960s, we now have member families spanning three generations! Kol Hadash is a member of the Society for Humanistic Judaism, which has more than 10,000 members in 30 congregations throughout North America.





Have questions? Interested in learning more? Rabbi Adam Chalom is always happy to talk with you in person, by email or phone (847-383-5184,, or you can contact our Administrator, Jeremy Owens (



Please join us for our upcoming events


Guests are always welcome!

Upcoming Events

All Events
  • Friday ,
    JunJune  14 , 2024
    Zoom Shabbat Service: Vows and Violations -- Nasso (Numbers 4:21-7:89)

    Friday, Jun 14th 7:30p to 9:00p


  • Monday ,
    JunJune  17 , 2024
    Women's Group: Canasta

    Monday, Jun 17th 11:45a to 2:00p
    If you like to kibbitz, come to canasta. You like the company of other awesome Kol Hadash women. All are welcome. For more information about all WE Group activities, contact Joyce Hirsch (


  • Tuesday ,
    JunJune  18 , 2024
    SciFi Book Club: All Systems Red and Artificial Conditions by Martha Wells

    Tuesday, Jun 18th 7:30p to 9:00p
    This month we will discuss two novellas: All Systems Red and Artificial Conditions by Martha Wells. All are welcome to join us even if you didn’t finish or read the book. Everyone is welcome - always. Questions? Contact David Hirsch


  • Friday ,
    JunJune  21 , 2024
    Values in Action at Highwood Food Bank

    Friday, Jun 21st 2:45p to 5:00p
    Join us at the Highwood Food Bank as we load groceries into cars. The Highwood Food Bank has permanently moved to the Fort Sheridan Metra Station, south of the corner of Sheridan Road and Old Elm Road, east side of the tracks. Volunteers will park west of the Starbucks in spaces facing the tracks (no cost to park). Email if you are interested in volunterring with us, or have any questions.


  • Monday ,
    JunJune  24 , 2024
    Women's Group: Canasta

    Monday, Jun 24th 11:45a to 2:00p
    If you like to kibbitz, come to canasta. You like the company of other awesome Kol Hadash women. All are welcome. For more information about all WE Group activities, contact Joyce Hirsch (



Wed, June 12 2024 6 Sivan 5784