New female rabbi in Elgin readies for High Holiday
By Romi Herron For The Courier-News September 12, 2012 4:40PM
A new year
Rosh Hashana, the Jewish New Year and the start to what are known as the High Holidays, begins at sunset Sunday. It is among the most significant days in the Jewish faith. It is during this time that many Jews observe the sounding of the shofar, a ram’s horn that heralds in the new year.
Updated: October 14, 2012 1:48PM
ELGIN — Congregation Kneseth Israel’s new rabbi joined the Elgin congregation last month and says she looks forward to integration, not division.
“What I’ll be talking about for Rosh Hashana is that we are all part of this great endeavor called Judaism and some of (the religion’s) divisions are less meaningful now,” said Margaret Frisch Klein. “The important piece of that is the diversity.”
With a background that includes teaching and marketing, Frisch Klein’s previous roles include education director and associate rabbi at Congregation Beth Israel in Andover, Mass. She graduated from the Academy for Jewish Religion in Riverdale, N.Y., and also holds a master’s degree from Tufts University.
What drew her to Elgin is the congregation’s connection with its own visioning process, she explained. Frisch Klein is joined in her relocation by her husband Simon and daughter, Sarah Klein.
“I am really intrigued by what the congregation has done with its four pillars vision,” Frisch Klein said. “Those are lifelong learning, embracing diversity, building community and meaningful observance.”
She mentioned in particular the building community pillar and how it resonates with her goals.
“I think that piece is what the whole foundation is because people join congregation for lots of different reasons,” she said. “They want to feel connected and empowered.”
Toward that end, a congregation’s members want to know their volunteer hours are appreciated, she added.
“And they want to know that their life means something,” she said. To Frisch Klein, a rabbi’s role is one of a partner, and CKI shares that view, from her perspective.
“They were looking for a partner. I wanted a congregation that shared those ideals,” she said. “Not a hierarchical (setting) where people think, ‘The rabbi said it, so it must be true.’ ”
Also vital to her is connecting with other ministers in the area and encouraging new visitors to CKI as it celebrates 120 years of synagogue.
“I really want people to know that High Holiday seatings are free,” she said. “You don’t need a ticket to pray.”
Among Frisch Klein’s previous commitments are activities with Tikkun Olam (Rebuilding the World); Greater Lowell (Mass.) Interfaith Leadership Alliance; the Merrimack Valley Project; Girl Scouts of America; and Jewish Domestic Violence Coalition.
More information about Congregation Kneseth Israel, located at 330 Division St. in Elgin, is available online at www.ckielgin.org.