In December 2003, a few Skokie families gathered together in a private home for a Friday night service based upon the Shira Hadashah service they had experienced in Yerushalayim. Our goal was to capture the spirituality and enthusiasm we found in Israel. Since then, we have not missed a Shabbat. While we began meeting on Friday nights, we soon moved to include Shabbat morning tefillah, and by 2006, we met on the High Holidays. From the first, Temple Beth Israel opened their doors to us, and we remain very grateful to them for their warm hospitality. Creating and participating in this minyan has generated a heightened consciousness of our Jewish beliefs, which makes all of our work worthwhile and meaningful. We hope you will join us at our weekly Shabbat morning tefillah, or at some other upcoming event.
At Kol Sasson, women may lead kabbalat shabbat, pesukei dezimrah, the Torah service, and fully participate in the Torah reading. This is done in the context of a traditional minyan with ten men and a mechitza. See below for a detailed discussion of the halakhot surrounding women’s participation in Torah reading and in leading some parts of the service.
What began as a small group of a handful of families meeting on Friday nights has now grown to become an influential part of the greater Jewish community. We have nearly 70 member units, and we continue to rapidly grow. While we are gratified by our continued growth, we are proudest that each individual member of our diverse community is welcomed, respected, and challenged.
To support, encourage, inspire, and transform Jewish lives.
To be a vibrant, inclusive, thoughtful, observant and generous community with joyful tefillah.
Our Guiding Principles:
- Utilize critical inquiry in our approach to Jewish life within the traditional framework of halacha;
- Encourage men and women to participate in ritual and leadership roles;
- Imbue tefillah with beauty and kavanah;
- Cultivate high-quality family and intergenerational experiences;
- Support and nurture our community.
Kol Sasson is fortunate to receive halakhic and spiritual guidance from our Rabbinic adviser, Rabbi Dr. Marty Lockshin. Dr. Rabbi Marty Lockshin received his ordination from Yeshivat Mercaz HaRav Kook and his Ph.D. from Brandeis University. He teaches in Humanities and the Department of Languages, Literature and Linguistics at York University in Toronto. His primary area of scholarly expertise and writing is the history of Jewish biblical interpretation, particularly the interplay between tradition and innovation. Most of his research has been centered on those medieval biblical commentators who valued tradition intellectually, who lived traditional lives and who still innovated unabashedly in their understanding of the Bible. Outside of the academy, Marty is also interested in tradition and innovation. He writes widely in the popular Jewish press about the phenomenon of Jewish “modern Orthodoxy” in North America and Israel. Marty spends sabbaticals (and as much time as possible when not on sabbatical) doing research in Israel. He was one of the founders of the Toronto Partnership Minyan and he currently serves as its head rabbi.
The Halakhic Basis for Our Minyan
- The Jewish Feminist Orthodox Alliance discusses partnership minyanim and lists many throughout the world
- Women in the Modern Orthodox Shul is written by our Halakhic advisor, Rabbi Martin Lockshin
- Mendel Shapiro, Qeri’at ha-Torah by Women: A Halakhic Analysis
- Daniel Sperber, Congregational Dignity and Human Dignity: Women and Public Torah Reading
- The Kabbalat Shabbat Memorandum – a Response to Partnership Minyan naysayers by R’ Daniel Sperber
Kol Sasson in the News
- A New Way of Praying
- Orthodoxy Needs Partnership Minyanim
- The Growth and Development of an Independent, Observant Minyan
- Partnership minyans grow among the Orthodox grassroots, despite leaders’ condemnations
- Finding the West Town Minyan Spirit at Kol Sasson
- Partnership Minyanim in the United States, a Master’s Thesis
- Judaism without walls
- The Growth and Development of an Independent, Observant Minyan
- Partnership Minyanim Attractive Not Just For its Feminism
Kol Sasson’s Kashrut Community Standard
Kol Sasson is an inclusive, halachically observant community; we welcome all Jews, and we respect each person as an integral part of our community.
Kashrut is a central value for Kol Sasson, and all of our communal events follow standards of kashrut intended to ensure that the largest number of members is comfortable eating. We also recognize that, as has been the case in many Jewish communities throughout history, Kol Sasson members observe a range of kashrut standards in their own homes.
Food served at any communal Kol Sasson event must be prepared using certified kosher products on utensils and appliances that are kosher (see additional resources section for more information). Communal events include all formal events coordinated by Kol Sasson and advertised through our weekly emails. Many communal events (including kiddushim and community lunches) occur at shul and are catered, while others such as seudot shlishit, onegei Shabbat and the Purim party take place in private homes. Everyone contributing cooked food to a communal event in a private home must adhere to this standard in the preparation of his or her contribution.
While we require all ingredients and supplies used in preparing food for communal events to be kosher, it is possible for participants to contribute food irrespective of one’s personal practices. The simplest way is to provide packaged food that is certified kosher. Kol Sasson recognizes the kashrut certifications listed here, on the CRC or ASBI websites. Any food brought to an event in a community member’s home must be purchased, transported, and prepared/reheated in a manner that is consistent with being shomer Shabbat (see additional resources section for more information). People can cut and bring fruits and vegetables that are washed in a normal fashion.
Below please find some specific guidelines (in no way comprehensive, please see links below for additional information):
- Cheese and dairy products: All cheese and cheese-based products need reliable supervision, even cheese which is 100% vegetarian. Fresh milk, fresh cream, half-and-half and butter (grades AA and AAA) do not require supervision.
- Canned vegetables: Canned vegetables need reliable kashrut supervision.
- Frozen fruit and vegetables: Except for artichoke hearts, Brussels sprouts, and all products coming from China (which always need supervision), frozen fruit and vegetables are all kosher as long as there are no extra flavorings or stabilizers – beyond salt or baking soda or the like – and have no added oils.
- Canned and bottled fruit: Canned fruit – including cranberries and apple sauce – meeting the following criteria are kosher without supervision: not made in China, no artificial or natural flavors or colors. The following are acceptable additives: sugar, heavy or light syrup, high fructose corn syrup, citric acid and ascorbic acid (vitamin C).
- Fruit juices: Grape juice, pink grapefruit juice, prune juice and tomato juice always need reliable supervision. Other 100% pure fruit juices – apple, orange, pineapple, grapefruit, etc – with no added natural or artificial flavorings or added “fruit juice” do not need supervision.
- The Kashering Primer — Passover 2016
If your kitchen does not conform to the community kashrut standard detailed above and you would like to make changes to meet the standard, there are complicated procedures that you can follow. The best option is to consult a local rabbi or another expert in Jewish law. The above link provides general procedures for kashering and includes some other links, as well. (Note that the procedures outlined at the link above are for Passover, but are valid during the rest of the year, as well.)
- Food may be reheated on Shabbat only if all four of the following conditions are met: (1) the food was totally cooked before shabbat; (2) the food is solid, not liquid; (3) the reheating is done on a device such as a warmer or hotplate (i.e. not something that you could use for cooking raw food); (4) the warmer or hot plate was turned on before Shabbat. On Yomtov all reheating is allowed as long as the heating device was turned on before Yomtov.