Monthly Archives: November 2015

Shavua tov! Looking forward to Shabbat Vayeshev – including Kabbalat Shabbat!

Shavua tov – a  good week to you!

Since the coming weekend is a First Friday weekend on the secular calendar, we’ll celebrate Shabbat both on Friday night (with Kabbalat Shabbat services led by Rabbi Rachel at 6pm) and Saturday morning (with Shabbat morning services  led by Rabbi Rachel where we’ll read from parashat Vayeshev.)return-to-shabbat

If you’d like to read some commentaries on this week’s Torah portion, some links follow:

And here’s the URJ’s compilation of commentaries on this week’s Torah portion: Vayeshev.

Here are a few of the melodies we’ll be using on Friday night:

Shalom Aleichem, melody by Shneyer, as recorded here by Cantor Jeff Klepper:

(If you can’t see the embedded audio player, you can go directly to the audio file.)

Yedid Nefesh (though we may sing it in English, here’s the melody):

(If you can’t see the embedded audio player, you can go directly to the audio file.)

Lecha Dodi:

(If you can’t see the embedded audio player, you can go directly to the song online: Lecha Dodi.)

Many thanks to our shamashim, the members who host our Shabbat services each week. If you would like to join that group, please contact Pattie Lipman.

We hope to see you soon at CBI!

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Shavua tov! Looking forward to Shabbat Vayishlach.

Shavua tov – a  good week to you!

This coming Shabbat morning, services will be led by Rabbi Pam Wax and we’ll read from parashat Vayishlach. We’ll also celebrate our member Marc Jaffe as he is called to the Torah as a bar mitzvah, honoring his lifetime as a son of the commandments.return-to-shabbat

If you’d like to read some commentaries on this week’s Torah portion, some links follow:

And here’s the URJ’s compilation of commentaries on this week’s Torah portion: Vayishlach.

Many thanks to our shamashim, the members who host our Shabbat services each week. If you would like to join that group, please contact Pattie Lipman.

We hope to see you soon at CBI!

CBI Joins the ALEPH Network!

NetworkMemberDear Congregation Beth Israel members and friends,

One of the reasons I delight in serving CBI is that ours is such an inclusive community. Our members come from Jewish backgrounds ranging from Reform to Orthodox, and a variety of non-Jewish backgrounds, as well. We proudly align with the Reform Movement in its commitment to modernity and pluralism, values near to my heart. (And I continue to be honored that the Union for Reform Judaism regularly shares my writings on the Reform Judaism blog, and that my words appear in the new Reform machzor, too.)

The Reform Movement understands that modern Jewish life is changing – becoming more porous, innovative and experimental. In the 21st century, Jewish denominational lines and boundaries are becoming less important than they were a generation ago. Across the board, Jewish life today is increasingly trans-denominational, creative, and focused on re-forming and renewing Judaism to meet the needs of today and tomorrow.

That’s where my other role, as co-chair of ALEPH: Alliance for Jewish Renewal, comes into play. Jewish Renewal is a trans-denominational movement to revitalize Judaism, and is the context within which I was ordained a rabbi.

My two spiritual homes, Congregation Beth Israel and Jewish Renewal, have long been connected by virtue of my service in both places. Now our connection has become more concrete. I could not be more delighted to be sharing with you the news that our community is now part of a new collaborative initiative called the ALEPH Network.

The ALEPH Network is an alliance of organizations, individuals, shuls, and more at the vibrant cutting edge of Judaism. The ALEPH Network is not a denomination. It’s a sign that the person or institution to which it is attached is doing innovative, heart-centered, spiritual, meaningful work. It can be congruent with denominationally-affiliated congregational life (as in our case — we remain a proud affiliate of the Union for Reform Judaism) and also with organizations, institutions, and individuals who are independent or post-denominational.

Being part of the ALEPH Network connects us with other creative, innovative, and thoughtful people, organizations, and communities around the world. We will reap the benefits of that connection in a variety of ways, among them sharing ideas and materials and engaging in joint programming.

(On the joint programming front, a spring holiday retreat is already in the works! This retreat will be for members of CBI and other ALEPH Network folks in the region, and we’ll receive a substantial discount because we’re doing it together. More on that soon.)

There are also other perks of joining the ALEPH Network. In 5776 our leadership will be invited to join a brand-new online space for ALEPH Network members. We’ll have the opportunity to promote our events and happenings to other Network members. We’ll also receive the benefit of early registration for ALEPH telecourses and for the ALEPH Kallah. I look forward to sharing more about these things, and other benefits of Network membership, in coming months.

Joining the ALEPH Network is a way of expressing gratitude for the many benefits of involvement with ALEPH which we’ve been receiving for years, among them the service of ALEPH-trained clergy and student clergy, use of Jewish Renewal liturgical materials and melodies, the availability of Jewish Renewal spiritual technologies such as hashpa’ah (spiritual direction) which I offer to members of our community, and more. Until now, there was no fiscal way for us to thank ALEPH for Jewish Renewal’s melodies, materials, and spiritual modalities. Now there is, and I am delighted that we are taking part.

And finally — joining the ALEPH Network is a small way of “giving back,” financially, to the organization which ordained me and made it possible for me to serve as your rabbi.

I know that the other ALEPH-trained folks who serve here (among them student Hazzan Randall Miller, Rabbi Lori Shaller, and Maggid David Arfa) join me in delight and gratitude that CBI has become part of the ALEPH Network. I look forward to continuing to share with y’all the countless spiritual gifts I have received from being part of Jewish Renewal.

Wishing you blessings for a week of sweetness and joy —

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Rabbi Rachel

Shavua tov! Looking forward to Shabbat Vayetzei

Shavua tov – a  good week to you!

This coming Shabbat morning, services will be led by Rabbi Rachel and we’ll read from parashat Vayetzei. We’ll also celebrate our new and prospective members at our annual New And Prospective Member Brunch; please RSVP to the office if you haven’t already! return-to-shabbat

If you’d like to read some commentaries on this week’s Torah portion, some links follow:

And here’s the URJ’s compilation of commentaries on this week’s Torah portion: Vayetzei | URJ.

Many thanks to our shamashim, the members who host our Shabbat services each week. If you would like to join that group, please contact Pattie Lipman.

We hope to see you soon at CBI!

Shavua tov! Looking forward to Shabbat Toldot.

Shavua tov – a  good week to you!

This coming Shabbat morning, services will be led by Rabbi Lori Shaller and we’ll read from parashat Toldot (“Generations.”) return-to-shabbat

If you’d like to read some commentaries on this week’s Torah portion, some links follow:

And here’s the URJ’s compilation of commentaries on this week’s Torah portion: Toldot | URJ.

Many thanks to our shamashim, the members who host our Shabbat services each week. If you would like to join that group, please contact Pattie Lipman.

We hope to see you soon at CBI!

 

Greeting the Beloved on Friday night

Dear Congregation Beth Israel members and friends,

Tonight will bring one of our First Friday Shabbats — we’ll begin at 6pm with candle-lighting and a potluck, and continue with Kabbalat Shabbat services after dinner, around 6:40.

In addition to the two beautiful melodies from Nava Tehila which we’ll be using tonight (which I sent out earlier this week — Shalom Aleichem and Lecha Dodi), we’ll be singing another of my very favorite Shabbat songs: a medieval love poem by R’ Eliezer Azkiri called Yedid Nefesh.

Our mystics imagined God as the cosmic Beloved, yearning for connection with creation even as we yearn for connection with divinity. Shabbat is the time when we and God meet in love.

Tonight we’ll sing Yedid Nefesh in English, using Reb Zalman z”l’s singable English translation which captures much of the poetry of the Hebrew. “You who love my soul,” the song begins, “sweet source of tenderness…” I am always moved by that way of describing the Holy One of Blessing: not as Lord, not as King (nor as Queen), but as the One Who loves us with infinite tenderness.

This love song imagines that tonight, as we welcome in Shabbat, our tired souls can bathe in divine light and find comfort. “My heart’s desire is to harmonize with yours,” writes R’ Eliezer (as rendered by R’ Zalman.) Imagine our hearts singing in harmony with the Source of All! That’s what our mystics thought that Shabbat is meant to provide.

For those who read music, here’s sheet music for the Yedid Nefesh we will sing tonight: yedid nefesh [pdf] Join us tonight for dinner and/or for Kabbalat Shabbat services where we will receive the face, the presence, of Shabbat; the presence of the divine Beloved; and the presence of the answering love within us which Shabbat can call forth.

Shabbat shalom —

Rabbi Rachel

 

Two melodies for Kabbalat Shabbat

Dear Congregation Beth Israel members and friends,

This weekend, which will be the first Friday of November, we’ll hold a First Friday Kabbalat Shabbat service.

Here are two of the melodies you’ll hear this Friday evening. Both come from Nava Tehila, the Jewish Renewal community in Jerusalem.

Shalom Aleichem – the song welcoming in the angels of Shabbat

(If you can’t see the embedded audio player, you can go directly to the song online: Shalom Aleichem.)

Lecha Dodi – “Come, my beloved, let us welcome the Shabbat bride”

(If you can’t see the embedded audio player, you can go directly to the song online: Lecha Dodi.)

Wishing everyone a joyous journey into Shabbat,

Rabbi Rachel