Our mission is to reimagine and breathe new life into Judaism.
We create radically inclusive spaces for Jewish spiritual practice and community, focusing on engaging, educating, and empowering people across the spectrum of identity, background, age, and belief. We are re-invigorating Judaism for the 21st century and leading people in Chicago and beyond toward more purposeful, more connected, and more inspired lives.
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.
“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.
“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.