Category Archives: Pesach

Shavua tov, moadim l’simcha, looking forward to Shabbat Shemini!

Shavua tov — a good new week to you!

And: moadim l’simcha — wishing you a festival of rejoicing on these days of Pesach!

Monday is the seventh day of Pesach, the day when tradition says we crossed the sea. (For more on this, see: The seventh day: crossing the sea.) Join us at 10am for a short meditative and poetic service with Yizkor led by Rabbi Pam Wax, a chance to remember our beloved dead.

Also join us on  Shabbat morning at 9:30am for Shabbat morning services. This week we’re reading Shemini. If you’d like to read some commentaries on this week’s Torah portion, here are a few:


And here are commentaries from the URJ: Shmini at the URJ.

Wishing everyone a sweet and liberating continuation of Pesach —

Rabbi Rachel


Shavua tov! Looking forward to Pesach and to Shabbat Shirah!

Shavua tov — a good new week to you.

Join us on  Shabbat morning at 9:30am for Shabbat morning services led by Rabbi Lori Shaller.

This week is Pesach, so our Torah reading will be the reading for the Shabbat which falls during Pesach. It will also be Shabbat Shirah (the “Shabbat of Song”)! If you’d like to read some commentaries on Torah and Pesach, here are a few:

Hopefully you’ve already RSVP’d for tomorrow night’s Second Night Community Seder. If not, please do so immediately — we’ve already set up tables (thank you Jen Burt!) and we need an accurate count.

If you’re still looking for a haggadah for Pesach, here is a link to mine, which is available as a free download: Velveteen Rabbi’s Haggadah for Pesach.

Wishing everyone a sweet and liberating Pesach —

Rabbi Rachel

Save the Date: Second Night Community Seder


Don’t miss our Second Night Community Seder!

Tuesday, April 11, 6pm

$21 for adults, $9 for kids

if you can donate more, please do, so that all who are hungry can come and eat

Please RSVP to the office by April 3.

(And if you’re a Facebook user, feel free to also indicate that you’re coming on the Facebook Event Page!)

Shavua tov! Looking forward to the remainder of Pesach and to a bar mitzvah.

Shavua tov – a  good week to you! And chag sameach, a joyous festival. I hope that everyone’s Pesach has begun with sweetness.

CBI is both part of the ALEPH Network, and affiliated with the Union for Reform Judaism. As a Reform-affiliated community, we observe seven days of Pesach. (All communities in Israel do the same. Outside of Israel, Conservative and Orthodox communities observe eight days of Pesach… but at CBI for the last several years we have followed Reform custom of observing a seven-day festival of Passover.) Therefore, following Reform custom, we’ll divide the Torah portion Acharei Mot into two halves, and will read from the first half this coming Shabbat as we celebrate the bar mitzvah of Jeremy Guy, and from the second half the following week.

Please join us on Shabbat morning as we call Jeremy Guy to the Torah as a bar mitzvah! If you’re looking for commentaries on this week’s Torah portion, here are a few:


May this week of Pesach be meaningful and sweet for all of us!

As we move from Pesach to Shavuot, we enter into the journey of counting the Omer — the days which connect our festival of liberation with our festival of revelation. If you’re looking for Omer-counting resources, there are a few more copies of Rabbi Rachel’s Toward Sinai: Omer Poems available at the synagogue. There are also a variety of places online where one can sign up for daily Omer teachings via email or Facebook — I especially like the Omer teachings at A Way In at Mishkan Shalom.

Don’t forget to register for the Shavuot retreat at Isabella Freedman! As members of an ALEPH Network community we receive a substantial discount; include the registration code VELVETEEN and you’ll get a $150 discount on that retreat.

Blessings to all,

Rabbi Rachel

Save the date: second-night community seder on April 23!


If you already know that you can join us, please RSVP now so that we can get an early head count and an early sense of how many people to prepare for. Thank you!

Save the Date: A Very Harry Potter Purim!

A New Design

And while we have your attention… mark your calendar for the second-night community seder at CBI on Saturday, April 23 —

and for the amazing Shavuot retreat at Hazon, June 10-13, at Isabella Freedman Jewish Retreat Center in northern Connecticut!

Shavua tov! Looking forward to Pesach!

Dear Congregation Beth Israel members and friends,

Shavua tov — a good week to you! This is a special week indeed, because it culminates not only in Shabbat, but also in Pesach, the festival of our liberation.

At Pesach we gather to retell the story which is most central to who we are. “Once we were slaves to a Pharaoh in Egypt, and the Holy One of Blessing led us forth from there with a mighty hand and an outstretched arm…” The haggadah teaches that in every generation, one must see oneself as though one had personally been liberated — not just our ancestors once-upon-a-time, but also us, even now.

Every year someone asks me whether I think our people were actually, historically, slaves to a Pharaoh in Egypt. I suspect we probably weren’t — at least not in the way that our story indicates. But to me, that question misses  the point.

What’s important to me is that this is the story which we have told about ourselves for thousands of years. This is the story around which Jewish peoplehood coalesced, the story that makes us who we are. Once we were enslaved, and now we are free. Once we lived in constriction, and now our hearts know expansiveness. Once we labored under cruel conditions (whether enslavement to a Pharaoh, or grueling credit card debt, or the emotional straitjacket of grief) and now we are given the opportunity to let our hearts open and to feel ourselves free.

I love Pesach not only because I love the songs (though I do!), not only because I love the foods (though I do!), not only because I love my memories of childhood seders with my extended Texas family (though I do!), and not only because I love the fact that this is a dinner party centered around storytelling, poetry, and song (though I do!) I love Pesach because its message speaks to me anew every year.

Where have you felt enslaved in the last year? And what changes would you need to make — in the tangible practical world, in your emotional world, in your mind, in your spirit — in order to experience freedom as we ring in Shabbat and Pesach this Friday night?

If you’re in need of a free, downloadable, printable haggadah for the first night of Pesach, you’re welcome to peruse The Velveteen Rabbi’s Haggadah for Pesach.

Join us on Shabbat morning at 9:30am for Shabbat and Festival morning services which I will lead. We’ll sing the usual prayers of Shabbat, plus the celebratory psalms of Hallel, and during the oneg (joyful kiddush) we’ll delve into a Torah study text about Pesach.

And join us on Shabbat evening at 6pm for our Second-Night Community Seder (which I will also lead.) Please, if you are joining us and have not yet RSVP’d, let the office know today! And please sign up for one of the many volunteer opportunities which happen around the seder; contact Steven Green and Rose Ellis to volunteer, or reach out to us at the synagogue office.

Wishing you joy in our journey toward liberation,

Rabbi Rachel