Monthly Archives: May 2013

This Sunday: the first Mexican Jewish film at CBI, plus Super Sunday!

This Sunday is a special day twice over. First of all, it’s Super Sunday. If you want to join the group of CBI congregants who will be carpooling down to Jewish Federation, contact the Ranzers. Please support Jewish Federation — they do so much to support us!

If you’re not going to be at Super Sunday, or if you’re going at 8am and might be ready for a break by 11, join us for the first installation of this summer’s Bagels, Coffee, & Films at CBI.

This year, member Chaim Bronstein has organized a film series featuring Mexican Jewish movies. Join us for bagels, coffee, and movies projected on a big screen (a really big one — a whole wall in our darkened, comfortable classroom) and then conversation! Each film will begin at 11:11 on a Sunday morning, giving you time to show up, get your coffee and bagel, and schmooze a little before the movie begins.

This week we will also be collecting donations for Jewish Federation — so you can come to the movie and also give some tzedakah to Federation while you’re here!


June 2, 2013, 11:11am
Nora’s Will

Nora’s Will is a tale of lost faith and eternal love from one of Mexico’s most talented filmmakers. When his ex-wife Nora dies right before Passover, José (Fernando Luján) is forced to stay with her body until she can be properly put to rest. He soon realizes he is part of Nora’s plan to bring her family back together for one last Passover feast, leading José to reexamine their relationship and rediscover their undying love for each other.

The CBI community is invited to an interfaith walk in Pittsfield, commemorating the end of slavery


The 150th anniversary of the Emancipation Proclamation

Walk with us!
Saturday, June 22 – 1pm

From the Samuel Harrison House Museum
82 Third Street, Pittsfield MA

To the Second Congregational Chruch
50 Onota Street, Pittsfield MA

a moment for inter-faith community and solidarity

For more: Lift Ev’ry Voice.

Congregation Beth Israel NEWSletter!

Dear Congregation Beth Israel members and friends,

It is with great delight that I share with you this newest edition of our NEWSletter, now edited by Chris Kelly-Whitney. You may download it as a pdf file here:


CBI-Newsletter-JuneJuly2013 [pdf]

and it will also be available on the Newsletter page of the CBI website.

In this edition of the NEWSletter, you’ll find: a From the Rabbi column, a schedule of service times and service leaders, thank-yous and get well wishes, updates from the Cemetery Committee and Chesed (Caring) Committee, Lunch Bunch dates, volunteer opportunities, mazal tovs / congratulations to our members who have happy news, condolences to those who have suffered losses, information about our Bagels & Films series this summer, an ongoing column called Avodat b’Simchah / Serving With Joy, information on Operation Paperback and on our book discussion group, and more!

A paper copy of the newsletter will be on its way to you as soon as we can get the mailing prepared & out the door. The deadline for the next issue of the newsletter is July 10; that issue will cover August and September of this year, and will come out in late July.

Beginning with the October/November newsletter, we hope to move to a distribution model where the newsletter is shared digitally as a PDF (via email and on our website) and we only mail out paper copies to those who don’t have computer access or who specifically request “hard copy” instead of digital. (I know that we announced this shift a year ago and never moved forward with it; this summer it’s finally going to happen.)

Over the summer, please let the office know if you would like to continue receiving the newsletter on paper. We’re making this shift primarily for environmental reasons; please consider the environment as you choose whether or not to remain on our “hard copy” newsletter list.

Enjoy the newsletter. May your Shabbat be sweet and full of life!


Rabbi Rachel

Education job openings at CBI

There are two job openings in CBI’s education department; please disseminate widely, and if you are inclined to apply, please do so!

Congregation Beth Israel, a reform congregation located in North Adams, MA, seeks to fill two positions in its education program. Applicants may apply for either or for both positions. For more information about CBI, please visit our website at To apply, please send a cover letter and resume to our Education Committee at: Applications will be accepted through May 31, 2013.

1. Lead Teacher, Aleph Tav

Aleph Tav is our Hebrew and Judaic Studies program for 1st through 4th graders. It runs from 3:30-5:15 on Monday afternoons during the school year, with half of each session spent on Hebrew, and half on Judaic Studies. The Aleph Tav teacher is responsible for both curriculum development and teaching both portions of the class, along with assistance from either older students or assistant teachers.

Qualifications desired are graduate-level training in education or equivalent experience, and experience in Jewish education. Pay is commensurate with experience.

2. Education Administrator

The Education Administrator coordinates activities for all of CBI’s education programs, ranging from a monthly preschool-age program through adult education. Duties include preparation of financial reports and budgets, preparation of applications and reports for foundation grants, tracking tuition payments and supply purchases, and communicating with parents and the Board regarding the Education Program. The Education Administrator works closely with the rabbi, the Education Committee, the Family Educator, and Lead Teacher of Aleph Tav to administer the program.

Qualifications desired are graduate-level training in education or equivalent experience, experience in Jewish education, and prior administrative experience. This is a full-year salaried position which averages 10 hours/week. Pay is commensurate with experience.

Join us for Shavuot and revelation: May 14-15

Dear Congregation Beth Israel members and friends,

Tomorrow night at sundown we enter into one of the most special holidays of our year: Shavuot.

Shavuot comes at the end of the 49 days of the Counting of the Omer. We have counted every day between the second night of Pesach and now, eagerly crossing days off on our calendar like children anticipating a birthday.

On Shavuot, we celebrate the revelation of Torah: both the once-upon-a-time revelation which our tradition tells us took place at Sinai, and the ongoing revelation which still streams into creation now if we are only willing to open our hearts to listen.

Shavuot is one of the Shalosh Regalim, the Three Great Pilgrimage Festivals when we used to walk en masse to Jerusalem to make offerings to God at the Temple. This year I invite you to make your own small “pilgrimage” to our places of holy gathering and to join with community in receiving the Torah you most need this year.

On Tuesday evening we’ll celebrate Shavuot at the Williams College Jewish Religious Center with the Bennington and Williams Jewish communities. We have an amazing line-up of learning scheduled for the evening — not to mention the espresso milkshakes! Please join us. (The schedule appears below.)

And on Wednesday morning we’ll celebrate Shavuot at CBI with services led by Rabbi Pam Wax, including a Yizkor / memorial service, beginning at 10am. Please join us. (Information about that appears below, too.)

A midrash holds that at Sinai, for the revelation of Torah, the souls of every Jew who would ever live were all present together. May this Shavuot connect us with our ancestors and our descendants, with Jews celebrating Shavuot around the world, and with God.

See you at Sinai!

Reb Rachel / Rabbi Barenblat

Schedule for our Tikkun Leyl Shavuot
(our Shavuot Eve Study Session)

8:30pm: Short-and-sweet festival ma’ariv (evening service) led by Cantor Bob Scherr

Schedule of learning (starting at 9pm, running until we’re done; there is no obligation to stay the whole time, so come for what you can!)

Rabbi Pam Wax: Counting the Omer and Acquiring Torah: A Mussar Intensive

Rabbi Howard Cohen: Accepting the yoke of heaven, accepting the yoke of mitzvot

Chaim Bronstein: Pirkei Avot and our relationship to government

Cantor Bob Scherr: Book of Ruth – chanting and teaching

Zoe Burt: Body modification and Jewish tradition

Robyn Kozeirok: Women of the Wall

Rabbi Jarah Greenfield: Mountains and Fields in the Landscape of Revelation

Jen Burt: Raising a Family on Tradition or Faith?

Rabbi Rachel Barenblat: After the summit, the climb: a Hasidic teaching about the ascent to Shavuot

Sarah Zager: Lo Ba’Shamayim Hi: Revelation in Modern Jewish Thought

…and more!


Shavuot Morning at CBI

10:00 am: Festival shacharit (morning service) at CBI led by Rabbi Pam Wax

Please join us for the Shavuot festival service on Wednesday morning, May 15 at 10 AM. This holiday celebrates the giving of Torah and will include a dramatic reading of the Ten Commandments, Hallel, a yizkor memorial service, and a brief rendering of the Book of Ruth, the scroll associated with Shavuot. To commemorate this holiday on which dairy foods are eaten, delicious chocolate cheesecake imported from NYC will be served at kiddush!

April / Sivan Education Newsletter

Dear Congregation Beth Israel members and friends,

Attached please find our most recent education newsletter, compiled by Education Coordinator Susan Federspiel. It features updates from all of our religious education programs and showcases what the Hand in Hand, Aleph-Garten, Aleph-Tav, and Ne’arim students learned and did during the month of April 2013 / Iyar 5773.

CBI Sivan Newsletter [pdf]

This issue, and all future installments of the CBI Education Newsletter, will also be shared here on the From the Rabbi blog, so if you misplace your copy, you can find them there under the “education newsletter” tag.

Also: please join us on Shabbat morning, May 18, when our Aleph-Tav and Ne’arim students will help lead the Shabbat morning service (dairy/veg potluck lunch to follow.)

Enjoy the newsletter!

Blessings to all,

“Reb Rachel” (Rabbi Rachel Barenblat), Cheryl Sacks, Heather Levy, and Susan Federspiel

May 18: Family Service & dairy potluck lunch



Please join us

for a special end-of-the-year

Family service and dairy potluck lunch

May 18, 9:30am (lunch to follow)

Our Aleph-Tav and Nearim students will participate in the leadership of the service. We will also welcome Albert Stern from Jewish Federation of the Berkshires who will share  afew words about this year’s campaign.

Please RSVP to Susan Federspiel at