In 1954 a group of Jewish families on the North Shore, led by Rabbi Jacob Weinstein, began to meet at each other's homes every other week 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, its members setting out on a path of exploration of Judaism through prayer, education, and social action.
Legend has it that Solel, which translates as Pathfinder, came from a suggestion by the congregation's first full-time rabbi, Arnold Jacob Wolf.
As the membership grew rapidly, the need for a permanent home became compelling. By August of 1962, ground had been broken on property along Clavey Road in Highland Park. The building was completed in time for Rosh Hashana Services in 1963.
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 returns 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. Presently he is the Rabbi-Emeritus of Congregation Hakefah in Glencoe, IL. Rabbi Dov Taylor came to the pulpit of Congregation Solel in 1984 from Congregation Ohabei Shalom in Brookline, MA.
In January of 1957, a religious school was established by the approximately seventy affiliated families. Children are challenged in Solel's classrooms, learning both Hebrew language and Jewish history. The intent has always been 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 FROM VELKE MEZIRICI:
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 Shoa while the Jewish community of Velke Mezirici has perished.