RRABBI-GOLDHAMER-2abbi Dr. Douglas Goldhamer is Senior Rabbi of Congregation Bene Shalom, President and Professor of Mysticism at Hebrew Seminary, Skokie.

Rabbi Dr. Douglas Goldhamer was ordained at Hebrew Union College in 1972, and together with Chicago deaf leaders, he established Congregation Bene Shalom/Hebrew Association of the Deaf in 1972. For the past 45 years, he has been the only full-time rabbi serving a deaf Jewish community in the United States. In 1992, Rabbi Goldhamer founded the Hebrew Seminary, where he currently serves as President and Professor of Jewish Mysticism. Goldhamer has also served as Associate Professor of Philosophy at Gallaudet University, Washington, D. C. He has lectured on philosophy, Jewish mysticism, and prayer throughout the United States.


RabbiChenPortraitRabbi Shari Chen is Congregation Bene Shalom’s Assistant Rabbi.

She was ordained at the Hebrew Seminary in 2005. Rabbi Chen has served as the Director of the Religious School at Bene Shalom for over 12 years. She has taught and served as a school board member at Congregation B’nai Emunah and participated in interfaith services at Sedgebrook Communities. Rabbi Chen has lectured at the Bernard Horwich JCC and led worshops at the Chicago Association for Young Children’s Education. She has also lectured and is an Inclusion Training Specialist with National Louis University’s Leadership Training Program. Rabbi Chen teaches our B’nai Mitzvah students and adult Hebrew classes.

CantorCharportraitCharlene Brooks has served as the Cantorial Soloist and Musical Director of Bene Shalom for the past eighteen years. Having studied under Sr. Rabbi Dr. Goldhamer’s tutelage, she is currently studying in the rabbinical program at the Hebrew Seminary.

In addition to leading the congregation in the traditional liturgy, Charlene has enhanced our services with her own original songs. Ms. Brooks has initiated and conducts the popular Musical Shabbat Services held monthly, and has created an original musical Purim Program each year, that is enjoyed by young and old alike. Leading Yom Hashoah Services, the Holocaust Remembrance Day, at Bene Shalom as well as a Cultural Diversity program for St. Francis Hospital in Evanston, is very  personal to her as the daughter of two Holocaust Survivors.

Ms. Brooks also teaches Jewish songs in the Bene Shalom Religious School and leads the Children’s Signing Choir. This is a group of youngsters who learn to sing and sign liturgy as well as other related music. They participate in the High Holiday services as well as many other services during the year. Charlene is proud to have led Passover Services at the Evanston Council for Jewish Elderly for many years.

Ms. Brooks studied voice with renowned teachers such as Ed Farran and Gillian Kelly of VoiceQuest. In addition she is well known in the Chicago and Midwest area for her theatrical and cabaret performances, at theaters such as the Metropolis and Skokie Theatre. Charlene Brooks has been married to Ken Clinkman since 1981.