Category Archives: events

Jewish Values, Trans Inclusivity, and “Yes on 3” – Three Events With Rabbi Mike Moskowitz

There’s a lot happening at CBI next week! On Monday 10/15 at 7:30pm we’ll hear from speaker Kenneth Stern on Antisemitism In America: Past and Present. On Saturday 10/20 at 5:30pm we’ll gather for our 125th Anniversary Gala. And in between, there’s this:


What do Jewish texts say about trans inclusivity, and can we square the value we place on human rights and dignity across the spectrum of gender expression and sexual orientation with Jewish tradition? Spoiler: yes we can!

Come learn how with Rabbi Mike Moskowitz, Scholar-in-Residence for Queer and Trans Issues at Congregation Beit Simchat Torah in New York City and also a co-founder of Bayit: Your Jewish Home with Rabbi Rachel (and with CBI Board member Steven Green).

Together we’ll open up some of what Jewish tradition teaches about trans rights and human dignity, and then we’ll explore the implications of those teachings for voting in Massachusetts this fall.

10/17: Torah discussion & study with R’ Mike Moskowitz at CBI, 7:30pm
10/18: Lunch & Learn with R’ Mike Moskowitz at Williams, 12pm
10/18: Torah discussion & Study with R’ Mike Moskowitz at Knesset Israel in Pittsfield, 7:30pm

Free and open to the public — all welcome.

Co-presented by Congregation Beth Israel, Knesset Israel, the Williams College Jewish Association, Keshet, and Congregation Beit Simchat Torah.

It’s one month until Pesach! Here are two amazing programs we hope you won’t want to miss.

Dear all,
I hope your Purim was wonderful!
From Purim to Pesach there is one month — and sure enough, the first seder is four weeks from tonight.
We have two amazing events coming up at CBI for which I hope you’ll join us. One is a Shabbaton (a Shabbat retreat) over the Shabbat before Pesach, March 24-25, featuring special guest Rabbi David Markus. And the other is our second-night community seder on Saturday March 31.
Please plan to join us — and please RSVP as soon as you are able so we can plan appropriately!
Information on both is enclosed.
Blessings to all for a sweet Shabbat,
Rabbi Rachel
Shabbat HaGadol: Prepare Your Heart & Soul for Freedom
Facebook event page where you can RSVP if you’re a FB user
(if not, please RSVP by emailing
Shabbat HaGadol (1)
Second Night Community Seder
Facebook event page where you can RSVP if you’re a FB user
(if not, please RSVP by emailing

Prepare your heart and soul for freedom: March 23-24 Shabbaton at CBI

Shabbat HaGadol (“The Great Shabbat”):

prepare your heart and soul for freedom!

March 23-24, 2018

Shabbat HaGadol is the special name given to the Shabbat before Passover. Join us for a Shabbaton (an immersive Shabbat experience) featuring Rabbi David Markus and Rabbi Rachel, aimed at helping you prepare your heart and soul for the Festival of Freedom. 

Friday Night March 23:

  • Shabbat Dinner (location and details TBD)

Saturday March 24:

  • 9:30am Shabbat morning davenen (prayer) – Parshat Tzav (Eternal Flame)
  • 11:30am Leisurely potluck Shabbat lunch
  • 1:00-2:00 Prelude to Liberation
  • 2:15-3:15 Intro to Jewish Angelology
  • 3:30-4:30 Contemplative practice (Four-Angel Mincha / bedikat chametz)
  • 4:45-5:45 Angels in the Outfield: Transcendence and Liberation
  • 6:00-7:00 Time of Yearning: niggun and story
  • 7:09pm Havdalah at sundown

We’re exploring the possibility of kids’ programming during the day on Shabbat so that families with children can fully participate. Stay tuned for more information. For now, please save the date and plan to join us!

(For more information see the weekend’s Facebook Event Page.)

Shavua tov! Looking forward to Shabbat Bo and our Shabbaton

Shavua tov — a good new week to you. Happy Martin Luther King Day! If you’d like to hear excerpts from the “I Have a Dream” speech set to haftarah trope by Rabbi David Evan Markus you can do so here.

Join us on Shabbat morning at 9:30amWe’ll be reading from the Torah portion known as Bo, and services will be led by Rabbi Rachel.

And join us after morning services for our daylong Shabbaton! Here’s our schedule for the day:

9:30: morning davenen

11-12: potluck Shabbat lunch (bring a vegetarian / dairy dish to share)

12-1: What we talk about when we talk about God

1-2:30: Sense of Wonder (David Arfa)

2:30-3:30: Jewish contemplative practice (Steven and Rose)

3:30-4:30 Eit ratzon (“a time of will”) and holy time – teaching, poetry, and song

4:45: Havdalah (sunset 4:43)

All are welcome to join us for some or all of our Shabbat of learning and togetherness.

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:  Bo.

Wishing you blessings,

Rabbi Rachel

Save the date: a January 20 Shabbaton


Dear Congregation Beth Israel members and friends,

Save the date: we’re planning a special Shabbaton (an immersive Shabbat gathering of learning, joy, and togetherness) on January 20. This Shabbaton is taking place thanks to the students in my Journey Into Judaism class, and is open to the whole community.

The day will begin at 9:30am with Shabbat morning services. After services there will be a potluck Shabbat lunch at the synagogue (please RSVP by January 12 so we know how many places to set at the table!) — bring a vegetarian / dairy dish to share.

Following our leisurely Shabbat lunch we’ll gather for an afternoon of learning. (Stay tuned for more information on that.)

We’ll close with se’udah shlishit (the “third meal” of Shabbat — in this case, we will “dine” on song, poetry, and teachings about the very special qualities of the final hours of Shabbat) and havdalah (the ritual that ends Shabbat and ushers in the new week) at 4:45pm.

Please save the date and plan to join us! If you’re a Facebook user, feel free to RSVP via the event page: A Sweet January Shabbat.

Blessings to all —

Rabbi Rachel

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

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.



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.


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!


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 or by calling (413) 822-5267.

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