We’d love to share about our decision to pray at the historic Vic Theatre this year. You may have heard Pearl Jam or Common or the Indigo Girls play there, but PRAY there? 

For the past four years we held High Holidays at another historic Chicago building, the Preston Bradley Center, which was built in 1926 as the People’s Church, in one of Chicago’s most diverse Northside neighborhoods. We enjoyed praying there both for the approachable grandeur of its sanctuary (large depiction of Jesus and disciples not withstanding) and its affordability, which helped us keep ticket prices low, while still covering our direct costs for High Holidays. We also loved being in a space that has served as a home for many spiritual and religious communities, arts & culture organizations, and social justice movements over the years, and which is currently home to a men’s shelter, a free meal program that serves lunch every weekday, an independent arts center and theater, several small religious communities, and the Lakeside Pride Marching Band. The building had personality.

But if you’re one of the over 2,000 that have prayed with us at Get Higher in years’ past, you know the building had some limitations. First and foremost, the space is not ADA accessible and was very challenging for people who use wheelchairs, walkers, had strollers, or other mobility devices. The main bathrooms are difficult to get to and the shallow lobby doesn’t offer much room to take a break, hang out or schmooze. Lastly, and hardest to work around, there’s no air conditioning. With temperatures in September 2017 regularly soaring into the high 90s, the space became uncomfortable, and for some people, dangerously hot. Many of you let us know your feelings on the matter, and we took you seriously.

So in true Mishkan form, we’re experimenting! Rabbi Lizzi is always talking about the importance of shaking things to keep things fresh, so we’re taking our own advice. After much scouring, we settled on the Vic (woohoo!!), a historic concert venue in Lakeview with a similar seating capacity as Preston Bradley, mere blocks from the Brown, Purple and Red Line Belmont stop, and within walking distance for many of our community members. It has ADA compliant seating areas, entrances and bathrooms, and ample space in its second floor lobby for people to spread out, kibbitz and chill. AND it has air conditioning (woohoo again!). And Joan Jett, The Red Hot Chili Peppers, Ray Charles, The Beastie Boys, and Phish played here, demonstrating the space’s versatility. Need we say more? FOR SURE, a post-denominational Jewish spiritual community can get our prayer on in here, and take the space to a whole new spiritual level.

That said, this move is expensive, and we need your help. In order to cover costs we’ve increased ticket prices slightly (offering reduced or free cost tickets to whomever needs them–and of course, Builders get tickets for free!), but that won’t get us all the way there. We’re taking a seasonally appropriate leap of faith and counting on you– our community of Mishkanites– to support us as we level up. Your support, of any amount, will help us to create a transformative High Holiday experience and pray in a space that is more accessible, safer, and quite literally cooler.

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