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  • Emma Kowalenko & Anthony Bilotti @ The Kol Hadash FUNdraiser!

    Join You're Being Ridiculous on Sunday, June 23 at Bella Via Ristorante in Highland Park to benefit Kol Hadash Humanistic Congregation! The evening will feature stories from a mix of talented (and BRAVE) members of Kol Hadash AND a few storytelling super talents from Chicago. You're Being Ridiculous is excited to feature Emma Kowalenko and Anthony Bilotti at this special performance ... learn a little about Emma and Tony here and get your tickets!

    There came a sunny day in July, July 4th, the year,1976.
    One lass, in Chicago she lived, 26 years old then.
    Fifteen years she had been, in the U.S.A. that is.
    A lad, in Philadelphia he lived, 25 years old then.
    All his life he had been, in the U.S.A. that is.
    Converged, at noon, under William Penn’s City Hall statue.

    Why, the bi-centennial celebration convergence, of friends, and friends of friends?
    A pact Anthony known as Tony had made with high school
    friends, back in 1968, brought them there then.
    They had pledged that eight years later, at noon, on July 4th 1976,
    they would meet no matter where life would take them.
    And they did.
    The men, catholic school buddies, made their way,
    to meet, greet, hug, peace signs, all around, real men hugged then.
    Hugged at noon, under William Penn’s statue.
    Star Spangled Banner sung, difficult melody tackled,
    tears flowing.

    Emma there with mutual friends, Rick and Diane,
    Rick one of Tony’s pals going back to grammar school,
    and, a couple other friends of friends, entered the circle,
    the camaraderie, the meet, greet, peace signs all around.

    The dozen friends and friends of friends, re-united, united
    walked with the crowds, toward the Philadelphia Museum of Art.
    Fourth of July Parade, floats, balloons, high school bands,
    Samosa sandwiches delicious on the tongue, they marched
    toward the museum steps where, as sun gave way to mellow darkness,
    they sat to watch the fireworks display. And,
    an errant unsuspected flash of color display, sped toward
    star filled sky, an aahhh from the crowd, gave way to feet shuffling
    away, and Emma and Tony together, their friends lost in the melee,
    waited. No friends to be seen, had a pizza, pepperoni, extra cheese, and…
    the rest is history, as they say.

    What is your favorite thing about Kol Hadash?

    Tony: Kol Hadash members are always friendly, open and welcoming, regardless of the time or place we get together, be it at a service or social gathering. Of course, the Rabbi's words are always thought-provoking and meaningful, not ritualistic.

    Emma: My favorite thing about Kol Hadash is the sense of identity that it has given me through the openness of the Kol Hadash Community, Rabbi Adam Chalom’s thoughtful, and importantly, thought-provoking “sermons” – all  without the heaviness of religiosity.

    What are you most looking forward to this summer?

    T: We have been going to Morocco and Italy for the past several years to meet family and friends, this summer again!  We enjoy exploring new cities/towns on our own, not part of any organized tour.

    E: I have finally finished my book on organizational health (three years in the making - now on Amazon) Puliziotta’s Organizational Health and Fitness – Lessons Learned and Strategies for Zapping the DYSfunctional Virus,  and am looking forward to enlarging my “language” skills in the realms of website enhancement, teaching the topics in the book, e-learning modules, etc. And, of course as Tony mentioned in his email, our traveling in this summer to continue our re-discovery in the last four years of Morocco after 40 years away, and the continuous pleasure of being in Italy. Never enough Italia!

    Do you have a favorite memory about Kol Hadash?

    T: We knew we had found a home after years of checking out other congregations, none of which felt right for us. When Emma first heard about Kol Hadash and we met with Rabbi Dan Friedman in 2005, we became Kol Hadashers! 

    E: Many favorite memories -- our first meeting Rabbi Dan Friedman, singing in the choir, the 5k run/walks for A Safe Place, the community service work  with PADS, Feed My Starving Children, and St. James Church, the Winers get togethers, and of course the Adult Bnai Mitzvah in 2009, which I had the great pleasure and opportunity to study for and take part in. That for me was life changing!