Congregation Or Chadash was founded on the principles of rationalist, halakhic Judaism. Our minyan is a participatory one in which everyone, including the rabbis, volunteers their services. Men, women and children are welcome and encouraged to take any part in the service that halakha allows.
Who We Are
We are a place where Jews may worship together in an atmosphere that maximizes our ability to forge a relationship with G-d. We aspire to be a synagogue that makes every visitor, from the moment he or she enters our shul, feel welcome and appreciated. We are not judgmental of our fellow Jews, and we welcome all to our synagogue and accord honors in our services without regard to affiliation or non-affiliation of our members and guests. We want our congregants and guests to enjoy each other’s company, linger over kiddush, laugh with one another, and be comfortable in our shul.
Congregation Or Chadash was founded by Rabbi Eliezer Cohen z”l over two decades ago, when his prior pulpit was eliminated by the merger of two synagogues. Intent on maintaining a platform for their outlook on Torah Judaism, Rabbi Cohen, eight of his former congregants, and members of other congregations who shared their views began meeting in different homes each Shabbat and Sunday morning. The group incorporated under the name “Or Chadash”—a new light—to indicate that this minyan offered something different from others in the Oak Park area.
One of Or Chadash's founding precepts is that women have a place in the synagogue. A woman served as the first president—a conscious choice to demonstrate that this is permitted by halakha. At Or Chadash, women recite kaddish in the presence of a minyan, bentsch gomel, read from the liturgy, open the ark, and deliver summaries of the week's Torah portion and haftara—all activities permitted by halakha.
After a number of years as an itinerant minyan, Or Chadash found its current home sharing space with the Lubavitch Cheder on Coolidge Highway in Oak Park. With a sanctuary, social hall and children’s playroom, Or Chadash is able to accommodate a growing congregation.
Rabbi Cohen left this world on August 31, 2013. While this was a devastating loss, the view was expressed that Rabbi Cohen expected his students to manage in his absence, and that Or Chadash should do so as well. The shul has continued and grown, building on the foundation of rationalist halakhic Judaism laid down by our teacher of blessed memory.