For about 2000 years, the synagogue has been the center of Jewish life. The synagogue has been the place where our people would gather for inspiration, for learning and for friendships. It has been the center of Jewish life at a time where there was no physical home for our people.
From Israel to Europe, from Africa to the Americas, from the Caribbean to Oceania, our people wandered, trying to establish roots, carrying a Torah scroll and a prayer book with them. Assembling a quorum of ten adults to form a minyan, they would pause from their journey. Putting down their few physical belongings, they would get together to pray, to study, and maybe just to schmooze as they enjoyed each other’s company. They did not have much. But they had their synagogue, their most treasured possession, and they kept it against all odds, making it flourish.
We as a people are “alive and kicking” thanks to the synagogue. The synagogue as such has survived because it contains within itself several meanings and functions.
It is a Beit Tefilah, a House of Prayer, where we try to communicate with the Almighty in a participatory mood, open to all, in a creative and unpretentious atmosphere.
It is a Beit Midrash, a House of Study where we come to learn Torah, God’s word, as we try to improve our beings. It is a place where teaching is both formal and informal, where everybody strives to be a teacher and nobody ever ceases to be a student.
It is a Beit Knesset, a House of Assembly, a heimish place where we try to reach out to one another, stressing our concern for Klal Yisrael with people, our people. It is a house that is inclusive, where there is a spirit of sharing and total openness, a place of warmth and caring, truly a “home away from home.”
B’nai Tikvah expresses those ideals of Judaism. B’nai Tikvah is the paradigm of that ideal synagogue, where all venues, i.e., prayer, Torah and Klal Yisrael, are available to everyone.
B’nai Tikvah epitomizes a place where everybody is welcome; a place for the old and also for the young; a place for singles and also for couples; a place for those who want to pray and also a place for those who want to study; a place where people can talk to God and also a place where people can talk to each other; a place in which we can happily celebrate the pride of our Jewish lives and also a soothing place when we are in need of comfort and support; a place where we can be inspired and moved to action, as we strive to help the most needy; and a Jewish home in which we will keep aglow the eternal light that our people received at Sinai and that after 3200 years remains with us at B’nai Tikvah.
I hope this web site will serve as a key. The key that will allow us to open the doors of this beautiful and warm home we know as B’nai Tikvah. May it be the key to an ongoing renewed and creative Jewish life.
RABBI ALEX FELCH
Rabbi Alex was born in Buenos Aires, Argentina.
He is a graduate of the Hebrew University of Jerusalem, where he specialized in the fields of Bible and the History of the Jewish people.
He studied at the Conservative Seminario Rabinico Latinoamericano (Rabbinical Seminary of Latin America), being one of the youngest ever ordained rabbis at that institution.
Rabbi Alex has studied clinical psychology at the University of Puerto Rico and has been a visiting lecturer at the Seminario Rabinico Latinoamericano, the Evangelical Seminary of Puerto Rico and Connecticut College.
He has an eclectic rabbinic style that has been shaped by the fact that he has lived in five different countries and has had to interact with people in four different languages and cultures.
He has served the Jewish community in several roles by developing innovative educational programming. He has been instrumental in the creation of a Jewish Montessori pre-school and a supplementary Jewish High School.
While in Puerto Rico, Rabbi Alex became the “chief Rabbi” of la isla del encanto, (“the island of Enchantment” as Puerto Rico is known), or as he jokes, “the only Rabbi in Puerto Rico.” Being the only full-time Jewish professional in the whole island, he became the “unofficial” spokesperson for the Jewish community and State of Israel, due to his close contact with the Israeli Consulate in Florida.
Rabbi Alex has led several missions to Israel and also has led humanitarian missions to Cuba, working with the rejuvenating local Jewish community.
He has also participated in the return to Judaism of the Jews of Iquitos, Peru, featured in the documentary film, “The Fire Within”.
Rabbi Alex is a past President of the Rabbinical Assembly (Chicago Region), and has served as Board member in the Executive Council of the International Rabbinical Assembly. He is currently a Vice-President of the Chicago Board of Rabbis.
Rabbi Alex has been co- chairman of the Synagogue-Federation Commission, a key committee of the Jewish United Fund/Jewish Federation of Chicago.
After moving to the continental United States, Rabbi Alex served in Connecticut and has been since 1999 the spiritual leader of Congregation B’nai Tikvah in Deerfield, Illinois, where he lives with his wife and three children.