Category Archives: events

Shavua tov! Looking forward to Shabbat Lech Lecha.

Shavua tov — a good new week to you.

Join us on Shabbat evening at 5:45pm for our Jewish Cuisine event — a vegetarian / dairy potluck supper, a Kabbalat Shabbat service led by Rabbi Rachel, and a talk on Jewish cuisine by author Darra Goldstein! Hopefully you’ve already RSVP’d to the office so we know you’re coming.

Join us also on Shabbat morning at 9:30am for Shabbat Lech Lecha. We’ll be reading from parashat Lech Lecha, and services will be led by Rabbi Lori Shaller.

If you’d like to read some commentaries on this week’s Torah portion, here are a few:

  • And here are commentaries from the Union for Reform Judaism: Lech Lecha.

Wishing you blessings,

Rabbi Rachel

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Shavua tov! Looking forward to a very special Shabbat.

Shavua tov – a  good week to you! The coming Shabbat is going to be special in several ways.

A MUSICAL SHABBAT WITH RABBI RACHEL & RABBI DAVID

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Rabbi David Evan Markus, my ALEPH co-chair, will be co-leading Shabbat services with me over the February 27 weekend. Those of y’all who were with us at the end of August last time he visited may remember the beauty and sweetness he brings to the bimah. Expect music, harmony, teachings, and an extra helping of joy. Please join us for Friday night services at 7:30pm on Friday February 26, and Saturday morning services at 9:30am on Saturday February 27.

On Friday night we will begin with a potluck Shabbat dinner at 6:30pm — we are still seeking a host who can organize cleanup and lock the building at the end of the evening, so if that’s you, please let me know!

This week we’re reading parashat Ki Tisa.
return-to-shabbatIf 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: Ki Tisa at the URJ.

Even once Shabbat draws to its close, there will be other exciting happenings in our community next weekend.

A TALK BY RABBI JILL HAMMER, AUTHOR OF THE HEBREW PRIESTESS

518QFADpahL._SX331_BO1,204,203,200_rabbi_jill_hammerCBI is joining with Rimon and Temple Anshe Amunim to present a visit to the Berkshires fromRabbi Jill Hammer, co-author of The Hebrew Priestess, a groundbreaking book about women’s spiritual leadership from antiquity to today. Rabbi Jill will speak at 7pm on Saturday February 27 at Temple Anshe Amunim, 26 Broad Street in Pittsfield. She’ll read from the book, talk about how it came to be, answer questions, and sign copies of the book. Don’t miss this!

WRITE SONGS OF LOVE WITH BERNICE LEWIS

linderpix-450211Local resident (and nationally known singer / songwriter) Bernice Lewis will present a workshop on “How to Write a Jewish Love Song,” co-presented by Jewish Federation of the Berkshires.  11 a.m. to 2 p.m. Sunday February 28, $10.00, includes a kosher style buffet lunch. Bring your instrument or just your voice. Bring a smart cell phone to record your song, and a notebook and writing tool! Bring your sweetie! RSVP’s requested by February 24to office@cbiweb.org or by calling (413) 822-5267.

We hope you’ll join us for one or all of these special events!

A very special weekend in late February

Dear Congregation Beth Israel members and friends,

I’m writing this morning to let you know about three wonderful things which will be happening in our community over the weekend of February 26-28.

A Musical Shabbat with Rabbi Rachel & Rabbi David

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Rabbi David Evan Markus, my ALEPH co-chair, will be co-leading Shabbat services with me over the February 27 weekend. Those of y’all who were with us at the end of August last time he visited may remember the beauty and sweetness he brings to the bimah. Expect music, harmony, teachings, and an extra helping of joy. Please join us for Friday night services at 7:30pm on Friday February 26, and Saturday morning services at 9:30am on Saturday February 27.

A Talk by Rabbi Jill Hammer, Author of The Hebrew Priestess

518QFADpahL._SX331_BO1,204,203,200_ rabbi_jill_hammerCBI is joining with Rimon and Temple Anshe Amunim to present a visit to the Berkshires from Rabbi Jill Hammer, co-author of The Hebrew Priestess, a groundbreaking book about women’s spiritual leadership from antiquity to today. Rabbi Jill will speak at 7pm on Saturday February 27 at Temple Anshe Amunim, 26 Broad Street in Pittsfield. She’ll read from the book, talk about how it came to be, answer questions, and sign copies of the book. Don’t miss this!

Write songs of love with Bernice Lewis

linderpix-450211Local resident (and nationally known singer / songwriter) Bernice Lewis will present a workshop on “How to Write a Jewish Love Song,” co-presented by Jewish Federation of the Berkshires.  11 a.m. to 2 p.m. Sunday February 28, $10.00, includes a kosher style buffet lunch. Bring your instrument or just your voice. Bring a smart cell phone to record your song, and a notebook and writing tool! Bring your sweetie! RSVP’s requested by February 24 tooffice@cbiweb.org or by calling (413) 822-5267.

I hope you’ll join us for some or all of these special happenings at CBI.

Blessings to all,

Rabbi Rachel

Two groundbreaking books; two inspirational talks in one evening – Aug 13 at CBI

ZaslowsOn Thurs., August 13th at 7:00 pm, Rabbi David Zaslow and Debra Zaslow will speak about their recently published books at Congregation Beth Israel. The event is co-sponsored by All Saints Episcopal Church and Congregation Beth Israel. The talk is free and open to the public. Both Rabbi David Zaslow and Debra Zaslow are gifted speakers, known for their ability to inspire and entertain, and both are longtime participants in Jewish Renewal, the trans-denominational movement to revitalize Judaism within which Rabbi Rachel was ordained.

Rabbi David Zaslow is the author of Jesus: First Century Rabbi and Debra Gordon Zaslow is the author of Bringing Bubbe Home, A Memoir of Letting Go Through Love and Death.

41RaeXMgvjL._SY344_BO1,204,203,200_In Bringing Bubbe Home Debra Zaslow writes candidly about the life-changing experience of bringing her 103 year-old grandmother into her home during her final months of life. The narrative of their time together in Bubbe’s last months is mingled with scenes from the past that reveal how her grandmother’s stories of abuse, tenacity and survival have played out through the generations of women in the family. Debra watches her expectations of a perfect death dissolve in the midst of queen-size diapers, hormonal teenagers and volatile caregivers, while the two women sit soul-to-soul in moments of stark tenderness.

This honest and powerful literary memoir illustrates the choice to bring death into the home  with family, caregivers, hospice, and all the ramifications. Zaslow offers keen insights into the process of being with a dying person on their own terms, while meeting the needs of family at the same time.

51VN6+8EBmL._SY344_BO1,204,203,200_Jesus: First Century Rabbi takes a bold, fresh look at the historical Jesus and the Jewish roots of Christianity while challenging both Jews and Christians to re-examine their understanding of Jesus’ firm commitment to his Jewish faith.  Instead of emphasizing the differences between the two religions, this groundbreaking text explains how the concepts of vicarious atonement, mediation, incarnation, and Trinity are actually rooted in classical Judaism. Using the cutting edge of scholarly research, Rabbi Zaslow dispels the myths of disparity between Christianity and Judaism without diluting the unique features of each faith.

Rabbi David Zaslow, M.S., is the spiritual leader of Havurah Shir Hadash, a synagogue in Ashland, Oregon. He is the editor of the best selling Hebrew/English prayer book for spiritual Renewal, Ivdu et Hashem B’simcha – Serve the Holy One With Joy. He travels the country leading workshops for churches and synagogues on the Jewish roots of Christianity. He is also a guitar player, poet, author, and lecturer who has been interviewed on national TV and radio. He is also the author of numerous poetry books for children and adults.

Following the author presentations there will be time for Q and A and book-signing.

Bringing Bubbe Home is published by White Cloud Press; Jesus: First Century Rabbi is published by Paraclete Press. Both books are available through Barnes and Noble, Amazon.com or from local independent booksellers — and will be available for sale at the event at CBI as well.

More information on Rabbi David Zaslow can be found at his website: , and you can get a glimpse of him on YouTube here.

More information on Debra Gordon Zaslow can be found at her website, and you can get a glimpse of her on YouTube here.

We hope you’ll save the date and plan to join us! A $10 donation is requested from those who feel able to contribute.

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Join us for our Tikkun Leyl Shavuot!

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April 19: Don’t miss The Jar of Tears at CBI

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The Jar of Tears: A Memorial from the Warsaw Ghetto – one-man storytellng performance, 3pm on April 19, for Yom HaShoah (Holocaust Remembrance Day)

This full length storytelling performance is based on the life of Rabbi Kalonymus Kalman Shapiro, known as the Rebbe of the Warsaw Ghetto.  Rabbi Shapiro wrote while in the ghetto and buried his writings in a milk jug which were found nearly a dozen years later by construction workers.  This telling re-imagines his sermons as journal entries; his diary to the Master of the World.

This portrait provides a window into his changing experiences in the Warsaw Ghetto and show his struggle to remain a compassionate leader even then, even there.

The Jar of Tears has been performed widely including in Warsaw Poland, and won the Charles Hildebrandt Holocaust Studies Award in honor of its artistic excellence, depth of vision and technical mastery.

About the performer:

Maggid David Arfa (Mah-geed; Storyteller) is dedicated to Judaism’s storytelling heritage and ancient environmental wisdom.  His latest CD of stories, The Life and Times of Herschel of Ostropol: The Greatest Prankster Who Ever Lived won a nationally acclaimed Parents’ Choice Award .  His first CD of stories, The Birth of Love: Tales for the Days of Awe, includes ancient mythology, old world Yiddish tales (set here in the Berkshire foothills), medieval folktales and other surprises.  His storytelling performance, The Jar of Tears: A Memorial for the Rebbe of the Warsaw Ghetto, won the Cohen Center’s Hildebrandt Award for Holocaust memorial art based on it’s depth of vision and artistic quality.

David’s workshop ‘Try Stories for a Change’ helps organizations build volunteers and raise funds through authentic storytelling and listening circles.  Other workshops explore the relationships between wonder, grief, hope and activism in a Jewish context.  David earned his MS in Environmental Education from Lesley College, spent a year studying traditional texts in Jerusalem, and earned degrees from Michigan State University in both Wildlife Ecology and Environmental Policy.

David lives in the Berkshire foothills of Shelburne Falls and is the Director of Education for Congregation Beth Israel in North Adams.

Don’t miss our Shabbat Chanukah & Solstice Potluck – with the Wholesale Klezmer Band!

Don’t miss our
Shabbat Chanukah & Solstice Potluck!
December 19, 5:30pm
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Bring your own menorah and candles
and a vegetarian / dairy potluck dish.
(Latkes will be provided.)

We’ll sing some Chanukah songs, enjoy a festive meal
and dance to  (or simply savor)
the rollicking tunes of the Wholesale Klezmer band!
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Please let the office know you’re coming so we know how many potatoes to peel. (Also, if you’d like to help with the latkes, let us know that too!)