Monthly Archives: August 2013

The Days of Awe are almost here!

Dear Congregation Beth Israel members and friends,

The Days of Awe are almost upon  us!

If you would like to get “in the holiday mood” by listening to some of the beautiful music we’ll be singing together during this season, you can hear 19 different songs on the From the Rabbi blog at Music for the Days of Awe.

If you’ve misplaced your high holiday schedule, you can always find one at the From the Rabbi blog, here: Schedule for the Days of Awe.

And, don’t forget to join us tomorrow night for 8pm Selichot services — prayers, songs, poems, and a creative exercise designed to help us begin to let go of the old year’s misdeeds — followed by a potluck dessert reception!

All of us here at CBI wish you a sweet Shabbat (the last Shabbat of the old year!) and hope to see you tomorrow morning for services led by Rabbi Pam, tomorrow evening for havdalah and Selichot led by Rabbi Rachel, and for our many wonderful offerings during this sweet season.
May this be a season of transformation, growth, and joy.


Rabbi Rachel and the whole CBI high holiday prep team

Schedule for the Days of Awe at CBI

Days of Awe 2013 / entering 5774

Selichot: havdalah and short ritual
Saturday, August 31, 8pm
potluck dessert reception to follow

Cemetery Service, Walker Street
Sunday, September 1, 2pm

Rosh Hashanah First Evening service
Weds, September 4, 7:30pm

Rosh Hashanah First Day morning service
Thurs, September 5, 9:30am
childcare will be provided all morning
childrens’ services at 10am

Tashlich (casting bread upon the waters) to follow

Rosh Hashanah Second Evening service
Thurs, September 5, 7:30pm

Rosh Hashanah Second Day  morning service
Fri, September 6, 9:30am

Kol Nidre
Friday, September 13, 6pm
arrive at 5:30 for cello music
childcare will be provided all evening

Yom Kippur Morning service
Sat., September 14, 9:30am
childcare will be provided all morning
childrens’ services at 10am

Yizkor will follow at the end of the morning service

then, Mussar Study led by Rabbi Pam Wax

Gentle Yom Kippur yoga, 3pm

Yom Kippur Mincha service (including the Avodah service), 4pm

Book of Jonah conversation, 5pm

Yom Kippur Ne’ilah service, 6pm

Yom Kippur Break-The-Fast: after services. Please RSVP!

Help us build the CBI sukkah on Sunday, September 15, at 2pm! Sukkot begins on Weds 9/18.

Sukkot / First Friday Shabbat Potluck      
Friday, September 20, 5:30pm

(Feel free to drop in & use the synagogue sukkah any time during the week of Sukkot.)

Shemini Atzeret services, with Yizkor
Thursday, September 26, 9am

Simchat Torah details TBD.

Starting again soon: Monthly Family Services at CBI


Monthly Family Service: Third Saturdays!

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Join Reb Rachel for a song-filled and joyous Shabbat morning service (featuring some gentle teaching about the flow of the service and the meaning of our prayers) on the third Saturday morning of each month. Reb Rachel will sing simple melodies for the basic prayers and offer explanations of what the prayers mean. There will be a brief Torah reading. Services run from 9:30am until 11am with kiddush and Torah study to follow.

5774 / 2013-2014 dates: September 21, October 19, November 16, December 21, January 18, February 15, March 15, April 19, May 17.

(Those who don’t have kids are also welcome!)

Comments/questions:, 413-663-5830
53 Lois Street, North Adams MA 01247

D’var Torah for Ki Tavo – practices for entering a new phase of life

This is the d’var Torah I offered yesterday at CBI for parashat Ki Tavo, last week’s Torah portion. (Cross-posted to Velveteen Rabbi.)

When you enter into the land, Torah tells us, be conscious of where you are and what you’re doing. Bring the fruits of your labors as a gift to God. And then say, out loud, a passage which many of us may recognize from the Pesach haggadah, one which begins “My father was a wandering Aramean…

What a fascinating instruction this is to find at the beginning of parashat Ki Tavo.

The most obvious reading of this passage is that it describes practices the ancient Israelites followed when entering into the Promised Land and making sacrifices there to God. Yes: that’s one way of reading it. Absolutely.

But I’d like to suggest a second reading. This text can also offer us instructions for how to act, what to do and say, when we cross a boundary in our own lives from one phase to another.

What happens if we read this as a text about crossing the spiritual boundary between one part of our lives and the next? Continue reading

Announcing Sukkah Cycle Sunday!


sukkahcyclesunday(If you have trouble reading the text in this image, here’s the flyer as a downloadable PDF: SukkahCycleSunday4.pdf. On Sunday 9/22 we’ll travel from the Williams sukkah at 10:30am, to Bob and Susie Scherr’s sukkah at 11:30am, to the CBI sukkah at 12:45pm, to the Bennington sukkah at 2:45-3pm. This traveling Sukkot party is designed for bicyclists but all are welcome, including those who will move between sukkot by car!)

The Poetry of Prayer at the Williamstown Coffee Shop this fall/winter


The Poetry of Prayer at the Coffee Shop

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One Friday A Month, Oct-Feb, 2pm

Join poet & rabbi Rachel Barenblat for a monthly taste of the poetry of Jewish liturgical prayer. Each month we’ll explore a different prayer from the standard daily service, learning a bit about its origins but focusing primarily on its poetry. How do its metaphors and allusions aim to connect us with something beyond ourselves? How does reading the prayer as poetry free us to experience it in a new way? We’ll also look at contemporary / creative reworkings of these classical prayers. There will be plenty of time for questions and conversation.

If you have a favorite prayerbook, feel free to bring it, though copies of the prayers will be provided. All are welcome. If you know you’re coming, please email  so we can be sure to make enough copies. There is no tuition.

2-3:30pm, Oct. 25, Nov. 22, Dec. 20, Jan. 31, Feb. 28
at Tunnel City Coffee, Spring Street, Williamstown MA

offered by Congregation Beth Israel | | 413-663-5830 |

Selichot Save-the-Date!


Selichot Services

8pm, Saturday, August 31

havdalah followed by a short service of songs, prayers, and poems

immerse in High Holiday melodies,
themes, and motifs
for the first time this year!

potluck dessert party to follow
all are welcome

(bring a favorite sweet or savory dessert to share)