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Our Clergy & Staff

Rabbi Ari Margolis

IMG 7437 copy 2Welcome, and thank you for taking the time to find out more about our fantastic family that we call Congregation Or Shalom. As our rabbi, it is my privilege each and every day to spend time journeying alongside so many wonderful people, learning what drives us as individuals and as a community and creating opportunities for meaningful connections. The warmth and energy of this community inspired my family to come to Vernon Hills – I want to help you find your spark that can add to the light of peace that shines at Or Shalom.

I am always looking for an opportunity to get out of the building to meet up for a cup of coffee or hot chocolate — just click here to email me and let me know some times that work for you!

More about Rabbi Margolis

Our rabbi, Ari Margolis, came to Congregation Or Shalom in 2015. He is quick with a smile, ready to listen and primed for jumping in and supporting the Jewish journeys of each of us in our Or Shalom community. Prior to his time with us, Rabbi Margolis served Temple Beth Or in Raleigh, NC as the associate rabbi and educator, where he reenergized the religious school program, created connections and innovated new programming.

Rabbi Margolis earned his undergraduate degree from Northwestern University in the field of chemical engineering. Though he is no longer spending his days tinkering with differential equations, he enjoys trying to engineer a sense of community, learning and  tikkun olam (healing the world) wherever possible. Ever the optimist, Rabbi Margolis also patiently awaits the time in which his beloved Cubs will enter the Promised Land of another World Series. Rabbi Margolis and his wife, Rachel, who is also a talented Jewish educator, are parents of three daughters – Laila, Adaya and Eliora.

To connect with or follow Rabbi Margolis:

Email –

Facebook –

Twitter –

Blog –


Cantorial Soloist Laurie Akers

Laurie is a Deerfield, Illinois native and is proud to serve as Congregation Or Shalom’s cantorial soloist and music director. Following graduation from the University of Michigan’s acclaimed Musical Theatre program, Laurie spent ten years performing in Broadway touring and regional productions. In addition, Laurie was honored with the title of Miss USO, in which she spent a year traveling globally to visit US Military troops as a US ambassador. Laurie is a celebrated Jewish Rock Radio artist and serves as the host of the Chicago Sings Jewish Rock Radio series, which brings together cantors and musicians from over 20 congregations in the Chicagoland area to create, share and celebrate original Jewish music.

Her song, Stand Strong, served as the anthem for the March of Our Lives rally in suburban Chicago and the RAC’s Illinois launch, and the choral version of this piece was recently premiered at Temple Emanu-El in New York City. This same piece was recently chosen to be part of Transcontinental Publication’s new social justice songbook, Chazak V’Ematz: Jewish Songs of Hope and Protest. In addition, three of her liturgical pieces were chosen to be a part of Transcontinental Publication’s new Shabbat Anthology, as well as their upcoming Nigun Anthology. Laurie was recently commissioned to compose music for some of the most esteemed congregations in the country including Park Avenue Synagogue in New York City.

Laurie’s diverse musical performances include participating as a soloist alongside Keith Urban, the Illinois Holocaust Museum’s annual Kristallnacht program, The Book of Ruth at BHBE, Broadway Barks with Bernadette Peters, “Imagine More”, a celebration of influential Jewish women in New York City, and “Israel’s Gone Platinum” celebration at the North Shore Performing Arts center. She is currently pursuing cantorial ordination through the Cantors Assembly. Laurie recently released her first album, The Key of We, which can be downloaded on ITunes, Apple Music and CD Baby. Laurie and her husband, Brad, have three children, Levi, Ashton and Isaac.

Lora Zygman, Executive Director

Lora spent 8.5 years at Hebrew Union College, the seminary of the Reform Movement. Serving a congregation in the Reform Movement makes this executive director role even more meaningful. During those years, her portfolio changed and grew many times.

Lora was born in Israel and grew up in Chicago. She has a very large, loud Israeli family, and 27 first cousins. They have cousins’ nights and laugh, a lot. She is blessed with three children who make her proud. Alex is 29, she lives in the city and works at Hawthorn Middle School North a the school social worker. Eli is 26, he lives in Northbrook and works in marketing. Zoe is 19, is studying at Boston University. 

Lora is a life-long learner and has been studying Torah with the same teacher and other Torah lovers for over 14 years. Also, she used to own a bakery, so you may see baked goods in the office...please come by to say hello and help us eat them all! She practices yoga and loves Ted Talks and podcasts. She has three rescue dogs and works to help rescues. 

Please do not hesitate to reach out if there is anything she can do to assist you or just to say hello!


Marcia Cohen, Education Director

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Our Education Director, Marcia Cohen, has been involved in Jewish Education in the Chicago Area for the past 18 years, and has been director of Or Shalom’s Religious and Hebrew school program since 2001. Whether through teaching Family School on Sunday mornings, working with b’nai mitzvah students, helping students with special needs or running retreats, Marcia gets to know each student and his/her family personally. Marcia's goal is to instill a positive Jewish identity in each student. She earned a bachelor’s degree from the University of Pennsylvania and her master’s degree from the Johns Hopkins School of Advanced International Studies. In addition to her responsibilities at Or Shalom, Marcia is a past president of the Chicago Association of Temple Educators, and served as co-chair of the Midwest Conference for the Advancement of Jewish Education.


Lauri Holmes, Director of Financial Services 



Jennifer Daniels-Lake, Director of Engagement & Clergy Relations



Stephanie Friedman, Temple Office Administrator



Wed, December 2 2020 16 Kislev 5781