Our Core Values:


Yehi Or- Let there be light” (Genesis 1:3).

The first and most important purpose of our existence on earth, the Torah describes, is to create light. Mishkan strives to create an environment where each person can be moved, inspired, learn something, be challenged, taken on a journey, and brought to a higher emotional, spiritual, intellectual and moral place. Every event includes elements of Torah study, music and meaningful social encounter that build a greater sense of enlightenment, broadly construed, and every Shabbat and holiday event has something that participants can take home for further study. We aim to generate, stoke and spread light.

Self Expression

Ahalelah Yah b’hayai– I will praise The Source with my life” (Psalm 146).

Practicing a living spiritual tradition means animating the words, forms and rituals created by our ancestors with each person’s own life experiences, passions, talents, loves. Too many religious experiences feel like we leave our real selves at the door when we walk in. At Mishkan we create containers for real self-expression through music, text, meditation, breath, and through creating a space that is comfortable enough for us to laugh, cry, dance, sing out, be silent, pray… whatever is real for each person. This is a safe space to be one’s self.

Radical Inclusivity

Karov Yah l’kol korav– God is close to anyone who calls out” (Psalm 145).

Any person regardless of background is welcome and invited to find meaning, inspiration and community at Mishkan. The ancient Mishkan in the desert brought together the Israelites from across the spectrum of the community, and so do we: young, young-at-heart, total novices alongside people with different skills and abilities, LGBTQ Jews, people in interfaith relationships, Jews-by-Choice, from all denominational backgrounds, people who aren’t Jewish. We believe everyone’s birthright is to connect in this way. We facilitate deep connection with Torah and Jewish prayer by providing transliteration guides, by explaining rituals and translating Hebrew, even having community members sign at times when there’s a non-hearing person in the room. We will always do our best to accommodate unique needs, whether for disability access, allergies, or other individual circumstances, to make participation at Mishkan more accessible for all.


L’taken Olam b’malkhut Shaddai– To repair the world according to God’s vision” (Siddur).

We believe that to make religion matter, we must take the energy and inspiration we derive from our spiritual practice out to a world that desperately needs more light, more justice, more goodness, and more peace. Working with local community organizing groups, service agencies, and taking inspiration from the many people in our community involved in the work of social change, Mishkan is constantly working toward greater social justice, locally, nationally and globally.


Ki m’tzion tetze Torah/Because wisdom emanates from Zion” (Michah 4:2).

The love and longing for the land of Israel has been a central spiritual value for Jews since the first call to Abraham. Mishkan recognizes our unique role as a Jewish spiritual community in the diaspora to create an environment where everyone can explore their own authentic, informed, and personal relationship with Israel– the historic land, the Biblical ideal, the diverse global people, and the modern State that brings all these complex dimensions into a vital contemporary reality.  We approach the State of Israel with love and amazement at its achievements, and a desire to work toward fulfillment of its founding ideals as described in its Declaration of Independence: to “ensure complete equality of social and political rights to all its inhabitants irrespective of religion, race or sex; guarantee freedom of religion, conscience, language, education and culture; to safeguard the Holy Places of all religions; and to be faithful to the principles of the Charter of the United Nations.” We are committed to creating space in person and online where grace, generosity of spirit and respect guide our conversations about Israel/Palestine, and believe that hearing and honoring diverse viewpoints makes our community stronger.

Our 2018 – 2022 Strategic Priorities:

We are committed to focusing on these areas as we take our organization to the next level. If you feel moved to help in one of these areas, let us know. We want you to be involved! Read more about Rabbi Lizzi’s reflections on the strategic planning process on the Mishkan Blog.

The Mishkan Experience – ועשו לי מקדש

We will continue to show the world what’s possible for inspired, down-to-earth, serious Jewish spiritual practice.

This priority is about maintaining the sense of playfulness, inclusivity, creativity, and smart Jewish content that has built Mishkan thus far, and creating a design approach that enables us to do more programs and serve more people while preserving our commitment to extremely high quality across the spectrum of our work. The Mishkan Experience includes everything we do: Shabbat and holiday celebrations, High Holidays, and all Jewish learning, community and justice programs, including family programs and Mensch Academy. It’s a feeling, it’s an approach, and it’s something we want to make sure stays strong as we grow.

Community of Mutuality – ושכנתי בתוכם

A Community of Mutuality is a more committed, relational community in which people feel connected to one another, inspired to reinvest their energy back into the community and put it in the service of building a more loving world.

The Community of Mutuality is one in which everyone feels a sense of ownership and belonging, where each person experiences their investment of leadership, engagement, and time as vital and necessary to the health of the whole. The Community of Mutuality is our revolutionary response to the ethos of radical individualism in the secular world, and the fee-for-service consumer culture in many religious organizations. This intentional effort will help people find the intellectual, spiritual and social connections that they crave, create pathways for each person to share their unique gifts with others, and foster the building of meaningful horizontal relationships between people at Mishkan and creating more fulfilling experience for all.

Developing & Empowering Leadership

Great lay leadership and sustainable, meaningful growth are mutually reinforcing.

Developing and empowering lay leadership is essential for individuals to grow as Jewish leaders, and for Mishkan to stay relevant, healthy, sustainable, and to continue to grow our impact given limited resources. We will continually identify leaders to take on significant roles that will enable our impact to grow, while maintaining the intimacy that is at the heart of the “Mishkan Experience.” We will design and implement an approach to leadership development that provides satisfying growth opportunities for Mishkanites within the context of our values and vision.

Financial Sustainability

We want to be here for the long haul and will do what it takes to make that financially possible.

As Mishkan enters its next phase, we aim to achieve the financial sustainability that will provide the organization with the necessary stability to plan for the future, to foster continued innovation, and to propel strategic growth for the organization. We will determine and operationalize the proper balance of revenue sources in our funding streams. We will identify new revenue channels and engage all levels of leadership in development, creating a culture of generosity and mutual commitment at every level of the organization.

Operational Excellence

Mishkan will be an awesome place to work and work with.

We will build a high performing organization in which the people, processes, culture, financial systems, marketing, and technology are guided by our vision and mission, with the values of this spiritual community felt at every level. We will align our investments in people and infrastructure with our strategic priorities so that we build a sustainable organization that provides lay leaders and staff with the resources they need to deliver consistently high quality programs and services, and deliver on our high standards for interacting with our community. We will maintain and develop the energy, enthusiasm, and professional skills of our talented staff, ensuring the organizational stability that is a critical part of sustaining our work in the long term.

Support inspired, down-to-earth STRATEGIC Judaism in Chicago

The Torah describes a giving process to build the Mishkan based on peoples’ openness of heart. In 2018 and 2019 Project Accelerate is giving Mishkan a 1:2 match for gifts directed towards the operationalization of the strategic plan. For every dollar you give, Project Accelerate will give 50 cents. Become part of the Mishkan story.