Monthly Archives: March 2014

Shavua tov! Looking forward to Shabbat Metzora

Dear Congregation Beth Israel members and friends,

Shavua tov / a good week to you! This week we’re reading parashat Metzorah  in the book of Leviticus. The name of the Torah portion is a hyperlink; click on it to be taken to the Torah portion in English if you want to read the portion before coming to Shabbat services.

Traditionally, we spend each week studying a new Torah portion, and then read from that portion on Shabbat, the culmination of the week, before beginning a new portion on Sunday again. If you would like to read some commentaries on the Torah portion, here are some which Rabbi Rachel has shared over the years (some written when Metzorah was read as part of a joint portion with Tazria:)

And here’s a link to the Union for Reform Judaism’s page for this Torah portion, which contains several different Reform commentaries:

return-to-shabbatThis Shabbat, our shaliach tzibbur (prayer leader) will be Rabbi Rachel. During this service we’ll offer a special welcoming blessing for our new members who have joined in recent months. All are welcome; please join us!

We extend a hearty thank you in advance to this week’s service host, Darlene Radin. If you would like to join the shamashim (“helpers”) who welcome people to our Shabbat services and who host our light kiddush afterwards, contact Pattie Lipman.

We also thank our member Helene Armet for the home-baked challah!

We hope to see you soon at CBI. Have a great week!

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Shavua tov! Looking forward to Shabbat Tazria

Dear Congregation Beth Israel members and friends,

Shavua tov / a good week to you! This week we’re reading parashat Tazria  in the book of Leviticus. The name of the Torah portion is a hyperlink; click on it to be taken to the Torah portion in English if you want to read the portion before coming to Shabbat services.

Traditionally, we spend each week studying a new Torah portion, and then read from that portion on Shabbat, the culmination of the week, before beginning a new portion on Sunday again. If you would like to read some commentaries on the Torah portion, here are some which Rabbi Rachel has shared over the years:

And here’s a link to the Union for Reform Judaism’s page for this Torah portion, which contains several different Reform commentaries:

return-to-shabbatThis Shabbat, our shaliach tzibbur (prayer leader) will be Rabbi Hoard Cohen.

We extend a hearty thank you in advance to this week’s service hosts. If you would like to join the shamashim (“helpers”) who welcome people to our Shabbat services and who host our light kiddush afterwards, contact Pattie Lipman.

We also thank our member Helene Armet for the home-baked challah!

We hope to see you soon at CBI. Have a great week!

Shavua tov! Looking forward to Shabbat Shmini

Dear Congregation Beth Israel members and friends,

Shavua tov / a good week to you! This week we’re reading parashat Shemini in the book of Leviticus. The name of the Torah portion is a hyperlink; click on it to be taken to the Torah portion in English if you want to read the portion before coming to Shabbat services.

Traditionally, we spend each week studying a new Torah portion, and then read from that portion on Shabbat, the culmination of the week, before beginning a new portion on Sunday again. If you would like to read some commentaries on the Torah portion, here are some which Rabbi Rachel has shared over the years:

And here’s a link to the Union for Reform Judaism’s page for this Torah portion, which contains several different Reform commentaries:

return-to-shabbatThis Shabbat, our shaliach tzibbur (prayer leader) will be Rabbi Pam Wax.

We extend a hearty thank you in advance to this week’s service hosts. If you would like to join the shamashim (“helpers”) who welcome people to our Shabbat services and who host our light kiddush afterwards, contact Pattie Lipman.

We also thank our member Helene Armet for the home-baked challah!

We hope to see you soon at CBI. Have a great week!

Giving thanks in the present moment: parashat Tzav

thank-youHere’s the d’var Torah I offered at my shul yesterday for last week’s Torah portion, parashat Tzav. (Cross-posted to Velveteen Rabbi.)


We read in this week’s portion that one who offers a korban for the purpose of thanksgiving must eat that offering on the day when it is offered.

Korban: this is the Hebrew word we translate as “sacrifice.” But the root connotes not giving-up but drawing-near.

One who seeks to draw-near to God for the purpose of thanksgiving must eat that offering on the day when it is offered.

Drawing-near to God: we can understand this yearning.

Thanksgiving: we can understand that outpouring.

But what can we make of the exhortation to eat the meat of the sacrifice on the day when it is offered, and not to set any of it aside until morning?

Perhaps this comes to teach us that one who seeks to draw-near to God for the purpose of saying thank You needs to be in the moment. Give thanks for what is, right now, and experience that thanksgiving wholly. Don’t hold some of it over until tomorrow: give yourself over to thanksgiving now.

And, a corollary: trust that tomorrow there will again be blessings in your life which merit the giving of thanks.

As I say every Friday morning in meditation: focus on the breath as it comes and goes. And when your mind inevitably drifts to something in the past, or something in the future, that’s okay; it’s what minds do. Just gently notice that, and on the next exhale let it go and return to right here, right now.

Drawing-near to God in thanksgiving seems to require that same kind of mindfulness, that same cultivated ability to be in the moment and to offer thanks from this moment. There is so much to be thankful for: right here, right now.

Shavua tov! Looking forward to Shabbat Tzav

Dear Congregation Beth Israel members and friends,

Shavua tov / a good week to you! This week we’re reading parashat Tzav, the second portion in the book of Leviticus. The name of the Torah portion is a hyperlink; click on it to be taken to the Torah portion in English if you want to read the portion before coming to Shabbat services.

Traditionally, we spend each week studying a new Torah portion, and then read from that portion on Shabbat, the culmination of the week, before beginning a new portion on Sunday again. If you would like to read some commentaries on the Torah portion, here are some which Rabbi Rachel has shared over the years:

And here’s a link to the Union for Reform Judaism’s page for this Torah portion, which contains several different Reform commentaries:

return-to-shabbatThis Shabbat, our shaliach tzibbur (prayer leader) will be Rabbi Rachel. (And of course, on this coming Saturday night we’ll celebrate Purim — don’t miss that!)

We extend a hearty thank you in advance to this week’s service hosts. If you would like to join the shamashim (“helpers”) who welcome people to our Shabbat services and who host our light kiddush afterwards, contact Pattie Lipman.

We also thank our member Helene Armet for the home-baked challah!

We hope to see you soon at CBI. Have a great week!

Save the Dates: Spiritual Study Group during the Counting of the Omer!

ColorfulOmerChartIt’s almost Purim, and one month after Purim comes Pesach — and after Pesach comes the magical season of the Counting of the Omer!

In Jewish tradition, the period of the Omer — the 7 weeks between Passover and Shavuot — is a time for deep spiritual work, a time to take stock of oneself and refine one’s qualities and characteristics as we prepare ourselves to re-experience the revelation of Torah at Sinai.

This year, CBI is offering a chance to meet weekly during the Counting of the Omer to engage in some of that spiritual work together.  Join Rabbi Rachel for a spiritual study group which will explore texts from our tradition as a way of opening up the texts of our souls and hearts. We’ll meet in the rabbi’s study on Friday afternoons at 3pm, every week between Pesach and Shavuot, starting on Friday April 18th.

All are welcome!

Shavua tov; looking forward to Shabbat Vayikra!

Dear Congregation Beth Israel members and friends,

Shavua tov / a good week to you! This week we’re reading parashat Vayikra, the first portion in the book of Leviticus. The name of the Torah portion is a hyperlink; click on it to be taken to the Torah portion in English if you want to read the portion before coming to Shabbat services.

Traditionally, we spend each week studying a new Torah portion, and then read from that portion on Shabbat, the culmination of the week, before beginning a new portion on Sunday again. If you would like to read some commentaries on the Torah portion, here are some which Rabbi Rachel has shared over the years:

And here’s a link to the Union for Reform Judaism’s page for this Torah portion, which contains several different Reform commentaries:

return-to-shabbatThis Shabbat, our shaliach tzibbur (prayer leader) will be Rabbi Pam Wax.

We extend a hearty thank you in advance to this week’s service hosts. If you would like to join the shamashim (“helpers”) who welcome people to our Shabbat services and who host our light kiddush afterwards, contact Pattie Lipman.

We also thank our member Helene Armet for the home-baked challah!

We hope to see you soon at CBI. Have a great week!