History

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Origins
In 1954, a group of Jewish families on the North Shore, led by Rabbi Jacob Weinstein, began meeting at each other's homes to discuss a variety of Jewish issues. The informal group initially regarded itself as the North Shore branch of Congregation KAM. Congregation Solel was founded in 1957, when its members set out on a path of exploration of Judaism through prayer, education and social action.

Name
Recollection has it that Solel, which translates as “pathfinder,” came from a suggestion by the congregation's first full-time rabbi, Arnold Jacob Wolf.

Synagogue
Membership grew rapidly, and the need for a permanent home became more pressing. Ground was broken in August 1962 on property along Clavey Road in Highland Park, and the building was completed in time for Rosh Hashanah services in 1963. We added the chapel in 2001 and the new administrative wing in 2010.

Rabbis
Our first rabbi, Arnold Jacob Wolf, served from 1957 through 1972. He left the congregation to become the Jewish Chaplain at Yale University and then rabbi of KAM-Isaiah Israel in Hyde Park, IL, until his retirement. He returned to Solel from time to time to present adult education courses. His successor, Robert J. Marx (1973 through 1983), previously directed the Chicago office of the Union of American Hebrew Congregations. He currently serves as Rabbi Emeritus of Congregation Hakafah in Glencoe, IL.

Rabbi Dov Taylor came to the pulpit of Congregation Solel in 1984 from Congregation Ohabei Shalom in Brookline, Mass. As our Rabbi Emeritus, he currently serves as the first full-time rabbi of the Woodstock Area Jewish Community at Shir Shalom in Woodstock, Vermont. Rabbi Evan Moffic joined Congregation Solel in 2009 as our fourth congregational rabbi.

School
In January of 1957, approximately 70 affiliated families established the Religious School. Children are challenged in Solel's classrooms, learning both Hebrew language and Jewish history. We strive to make religious education fresh and exciting, recognizing that each generation has a responsibility to renew the creativity that has been the school's hallmark since its inception.

Torah Scroll
Congregation Solel is custodian of a Torah Scroll from the Czech town of Velke Mezirici; it is on permanent loan. The scroll is a survivor of the Shoah, while the Jewish community of Velke Mezirici has perished.

Art
Congregation Solel's building contains precious graphic representations of our faith in various pieces of artistic Judaica.