Listen to the “Inside The Skev” podcast with Rabbi Ari Hart from Skokie Vallery Agudath Jacob hosted by Aaron Masliansky


In this episode, we sit down with Rabbi Ari Hart. Rabbi Ari is a local Skevanston resident, and a a true community builder. He leads the Skokie Valley Agudath Synagogue, which is a modern Orthodox Jewish Synagogue in Skokie, Illinois. Rabbi Ari grew up in Evanston, and now lives in Skevanston with his wife Becca, and has two young children.

The episode walks us through Rabbi Ari’s background which didn’t start in the traditional manner for an Orthodox Rabbi. Rabbi Ari discusses why he enjoys the dynamic role of being a pulpit Rabbi.

The conversation then turns toward Rabbi Ari’s push towards social justice. We discuss his role in co-founding Uri L’Tzedek, which is an Orthodox social justice organization. More information about them can be found here:

The discussion then goes towards Skevanston, and what brought Rabbi Ari back home. He talks about his vision for Skokie Valley, the changes taking place, and why he finds communal life so important. He discusses how the synagogue is more than just a place for prayer. It is a building to bring the community together no matter your beliefs, sexual preference, gender identity or physical or mental abilities.

Rabbi Ari also discusses the events that he is leading including community shabbat dinners; daily prayer services; the green team in partnership with Kol Sasson Congregation ( to make the building more sustainable; the relationship with Rohingya Refugee Community including an ESL program with young Rohingya mothers and hiring a member of the community; “The Known and the New,” series on Jewish intellectual history; and many more programs.

If you want to find out more, come see Rabbi Ari at the synagogue located at 8825 E. Prairie Road, Skokie, IL 60076. They have weekly services Saturday at 9AM, and daily services as well. You can find them online at and on Facebook at and you can find Rabbi Ari on Facebook @arihart.

Proud to see the Skokie community turnout at Vigil Against Hate

It was an honor to be invited to attend this Monday’s “Vigil Against Hate” in response to the weekend’s ‘Unite the Right’ rally in Charlottesville, Virginia. We applaud Skokie Valley Agudath Jacob for hosting this event which worked to unite all members of the community “in a statement of protest against anti-Semitism, racism and bigotry in all forms.” The synagogue noted that Skokie, with a sizable population of Holocaust survivors, relatives and descendants, has a notable history of confronting Nazi ideology.

“Nazism, the KKK, and white supremacists’ evil and violent ethos must be confronted from every corner of our society,” said SVAJ Rabbi Ari Hart. “All people of moral conscience are called at this moment to say: hatred will not be tolerated.”

The non-denominational and non-partisan gathering was led by leaders of local community and faith groups. “The hatred we have seen can make us afraid,” Hart said. “But when we join together in love, respect, and a commitment to be there for one another, we are stronger than any hate.” 

Skokie Jewish Community Holds Day of Mourning For Gun Violence in Chicago, Terror In Israel

SKOKIE, IL — Tisha B’Av, the Jewish day of mourning that falls each summer, is a sober and difficult day of remembering the brokenness and suffering of the past and of today. This year, Skokie Valley Agudath Jacob (SVAJ) and the broader Skokie Jewish community reflected on recent terror attacks in Israel and on the ongoing gun violence in Chicago.

“Tisha B’Av is a time when we reflect on the destructive power of hatred in our history and around the world,” said Rabbi Ari Hart, head rabbi of SVAJ.

“This day is about remembering the suffering of our past and moving forward with love and light in whatever ways – both big and small – that we can.”

On Monday, July 31st at 8 p.m. the synagogue held a vigil for recent Israeli victims of terror, remembering their lives, their stories, and their heroism.

Following the vigil, the community read from the book of Lamentations, which describes the pain and suffering of Jerusalem when the holy city was destroyed 2,000 years ago.

Afterwards, Tamar Manasseh, founder of Mothers Against Senseless Killing (MASK) and Chicagoan of the year in 2016 spoke about her work fighting against gun violence on the South Side of Chicago.

The next day – Tuesday, Aug. 1st at noon – prepared a BBQ meal with toys and games to support the work of MASK. Though the Jewish community itself was fasting, they delivered the meal and supplies to MASK volunteers on the South Side and joined in the spirit of fellowship and love that MASK is creating.

“MASK does incredibly important and effective work in curbing gun violence in Chicago neighborhoods”, said Skokie resident and SVAJ member, Adrianne Burgher. “I am so proud of this partnership and truly grateful for the opportunity to lend our support to the greater Chicago community.”

The event took place at Skokie Valley Agudath Jacob Synagogue, located at 8825 E. Prairie Road in Skokie.