(Click here for our schedule of events)
Cantor. Scholar. Social Activist. Teacher. Rabbi. Mensch.
All of these words, and many more could be used to describe Makom Shalom’s spiritual leader, Rabbi Cantor Michael Davis. First, though, we should start with the title – because chances are you won’t find too many congregations led by someone who has been ordained as both Cantor and Rabbi. Indeed, Rabbi Michael has been a nationally recognized cantor for over 20 years. Rabbi Michael was born in England and grew up in Israel, where he trained with the Chief Cantor of the Great Synagogue of Jerusalem and in leading Israeli seminaries. He moved to Chicago in 1998, and has been the Cantor at two north suburban synagogues, as well as establishing Reform Cantors of Chicago.
Rabbi Michael is more than a beautiful voice though; he is truly an engaging and outstanding teacher of both children and adults. When the Illinois Holocaust Museum and Education Center was established, Rabbi Michael initiated and developed the first three years of Yom Hashoah programming at the Center. As a Cantor on the North Shore, he played a key role in teaching and preparing hundreds of young people for their Bar and Bat Mitzvah ceremonies. He has trained rabbinic students for the past seven years at the Hebrew Seminary in Skokie, and more recently at SVARA, training future rabbis in classic Hebrew and Aramaic text. In 2015, he received smicha, rabbinic ordination, from Rabbi Douglas Goldhamer at the Hebrew Seminary.
Our community prides itself on being open to spiritual seekers from many faiths, and also for bringing our faith into the world through acts of tzedakah (charity) and tikkun olam (social justice). How appropriate that Rabbi Michael and Makom Shalom would come together! He was a national clergy leader of the Hyatt Hotel workers campaign, working from 2010-2013 on their behalf to secure a fair contract. He organized Jewish and Christian clergy to interview workers and meet with executives of the hotel, and his leadership was featured on the front cover of the Chicago Tribune Business Section. In December 2015, Rabbi Davis represented the Jewish community at the nation’s largest gathering of Muslims. His rabbinic advocacy for peace and justice in Israel/Palestine has received the recognition and praise of Archbishop Desmond Tutu. This past winter, he took part in a vigil against violence in our city, addressing other faith leaders at Old St. Pat’s Catholic Church.
Rabbi Michael truly lives a life that embraces interfaith understanding and social action. Writing on his website, he says “There is new, exciting Interfaith work going on all around us. The new Interfaith transcends social and economic class. It allows us to escape our bubble of safety and push beyond our social comfort zone.” We encourage you to read more of Rabbi Michael’s wise and inspiring words at his website, http://www.rabbimichaeldavis.com/interfaith-through-social-action/.
Above all, though, is the gentle grace that Rabbi Michael brings to the pulpit and our community. He is warm, funny, creative, courageous, generous, engaging, and inspiring. We encourage you to check our events calendar and come meet Rabbi Michael for yourself -- and see what adjectives you would add!
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Makom Shalom was founded in 1991 by Rabbi Allen Secher, based on a vision of Judaism infused with spirituality and spiritual meaning. Makom Shalom in Hebrew means "Home of Peace." Our congregation was named by Rabbi Zalman Schachter-Shalomi (z'l), one of the founders of Jewish Renewal. We are committed to Jewish spiritual renewal, creatively updating traditional religious practices and making them more meaningful and relevant.
Our warm Jewish Renewal congregation's services and activities are accessible to everyone regardless of their knowledge of Judaism or Hebrew. Interfaith couples and their families feel at home and welcome at Makom. And Makom's members are actively involved in Tikkun Olam, healing the world and the community. We have lay led services and other programming that create a rich and lively environment.
For the most part, we hold Shabbat services on the 2nd and 4th Friday of each month at Epiphany UCC, 2008 W. Bradley, in Chicago (in the Church community room off of the west courtyard). See our Location page for directions.