JCC Chicago is a 2016 recipient of a Gendler Grapevine Project grant. The primary goal of their Outdoor Shabbat and Holiday Program is to engage families in unique Jewish experiences that will bridge the connection between Judaism and the environment.


On Friday, June 17, 2016, over 150 people gathered at the Lake County JCC for a fun, free S’more Shabbat celebration under the stars. The program was geared towards families with young children, infants to third grade, with older siblings in attendance as well. In addition to parents and children, several families brought grandparents. The program included time for families to eat a picnic dinner, participate in a musical Shabbat celebration, and enjoy s’mores making and eating. This event was co-sponsored by Temple Chai and Big Tent Judaism, bringing a new audience to the Lake County JCC to experience Shabbat outdoors as a diverse community.


JCC Chicago is hosting the first Family Shabbat on the Lake on August 5th at the Evanston Lighthouse ‘Beach’ Picnic Shelter. This event is free to the community, and the program includes welcoming Shabbat together through kiddush and hamotzei and then participating in crafts and other activities together.


Through this new initiative, JCC Chicago has also developed a partnership with the Chicago Botanic Garden (which is located in the northern suburbs) and will host a Sukkot and possibly a Tu B’shvat family event on the garden’s grounds!