Category Archives: weather emergency

Two updates: on winter weather, and this week’s shaliach tzibbur

On shul closure and winter weather

If the weather is inclement and it seems possible that our shaliach tzibbur (prayer leader) might be unable to reach CBI, and/or that the roads might be unsafe, please check our Facebook page for a status update which would alert you to the synagogue being closed. That page is public, and can be accessed by anyone with a web browser, regardless of whether or not one has a Facebook account. If we have to cancel services, we’ll post a message there to let everyone know. Thank you!

Welcoming a new prayer leader to our roster

The Executive Committee and Rabbi Rachel are pleased to welcome Rabbi Dennis Ross as one of our service leaders this year at CBI.  He will be our shaliach tzibbur (service leader) this Saturday morning.  Our sweet Shabbat service (parashat B’shalach) begins at 9:30 followed by a kiddush with home baked challah from Helene Armet.  The morning concludes with an insightful Torah study with Rabbi Ross.  Many thanks in advance to our service hosts and kiddush providers, Karen Kelly and Bill Levy.

Below is a brief bio of Rabbi Ross taken from an article in the Albany Times Union:

Rabbi Dennis S. Ross is director of Concerned Clergy for Choice, a multifaith advocacy group, and associate rabbi at Congregation Beth Emeth in Albany. Rabbi Ross was born in Brooklyn, graduated from Queens College and received a Master of Social Work at New York University. Ordained by Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institute of Religion of the Reform movement in Manhattan, he has served congregations in New York, Washington, D.C., and Massachusetts and taught bio-medical ethics at the University of Massachusetts Medical School. He is married to Rabbi Deborah Zecher, who serves at Hevreh of Southern Berkshire in Great Barrington, Mass., where they live. They have three children: Joshua, who works in musical theater, Adam, who lives in Israel, and Miriam, who is a senior at Clark University.

Winter weather advisory – no Hebrew school today


Dear CBI Education families,

After conferring with both of our other Hebrew school teachers, I am writing to regretfully inform you that there will be no Hebrew school today. I’m sorry! All forecasts today call for snow followed by sleet and freezing rain, and we don’t want anyone to be out on the roads when it’s not safe. (The North Adams schools have cancelled all of their after school programs as well, so we’re in good company.)

Aleph-Tav, Aleph Garten, and Ne’arim will all reconvene next week. Thank you for your understanding, and stay safe today, please!

As always, if you have questions or concerns, please don’t hesitate to reach out.


Reb Rachel

Hurricane Sandy Relief: How to Help

Dear Congregation Beth Israel members and friends,

Late last week, I met with a group of northern Berkshire clergy to talk about our community’s needs in the wake of Hurricane Sandy. (We’d planned the meeting as the storm was brewing, remembering the devastation left by Tropical Storm Irene last year.) When we met, it quickly became clear that for the most part, we in northern Berkshire are fine.

I’m grateful that our region was spared — and my heart goes out to those whose lives have been disrupted, damaged, or destroyed by the storm. Several of you have asked me what we can do and how we can help those who are suffering. In my understanding, the best way to help is to donate money to a reputable organization whom we trust to use funds responsibly and well. Here are a few options:

  • The Jewish Federations of North America has opened the JFNA Hurricane Relief Fund to contribute to recovery and rebuilding in the wake of Hurricane Sandy.  Donors are urged to contribute through the online donation form at Or, text RELIEF to 51818 on a mobile device to pledge a donation. Donors may also send checks to the national mailbox at The Jewish Federations of North America, Wall Street Station, PO Box 148, New York, NY 10268. Please indicate “JFNA Hurricane Relief Fund” on all checks or in the designation box online.
  • The American Red Cross also has a hurricane relief fund: American Red Cross Hurricane Sandy.  “The Red Cross continues to focus on reaching as many people as possible who need our help. Your help is urgently needed to continue to support relief efforts. Getting supplies and meals and water into affected areas is the top priority… Please donate today. Financial donations make the greatest and most immediate impact, helping the Red Cross provide shelter, food, emotional support and other assistance to those affected by disasters like Hurricane Sandy.”
  • The Masbia Soup Kitchen has been providing meals at shelters throughout New York City. You can donate money to their efforts here.
  • Occupy Sandy Hacks Amazon’s Wedding Registry (In a Good Way!) “Those displaced by the storm, the group realized, need blankets. They need flashlights. They need hygiene products. They need a bunch of things that are orderable — with that famous one-click efficiency — through Amazon. Now, anyone who uses Amazon can buy them those things, and have them shipped to the area hardest hit by the storm. Victims need stuff; people want to give them stuff; Occupy Sandy, via Amazon, is bringing them together.”

Thank you for caring and for wanting to help those in need. When we extend ourselves and give tzedakah, we open channels through which blessing can flow.


Reb Rachel

From the Rabbi – Preparing for the Hurricane

Dear Congregation Beth Israel members and friends,

First of all: please know that CBI’s religious education programs will not meet on Monday. Stay home and stay safe!

We are all in the path of this storm. Please prepare as you can for potential power outages, restricted water access, and other disruptions to everyday life. Rabbi Howard Cohen, who has long been involved with the fire service, tells me that emergency service providers through out the Northeast  are taking this storm very seriously. Here are some preparedness tips from the Massachusetts Emergency Management Agency.

As we batten down the hatches in anticipation of Hurricane Sandy, there are many mitzvot we can undertake for family and neighbors. Here are several.

  1. Call elderly neighbors and those who are disabled and/or unemployed, physically ill or emotionally fragile to ask if they need help bringing things in from outside, property and auto protection, make sure they secure sufficient food, water and batteries. You might bring them in to stay in a guestroom to reduce fear and isolation, ensure warmth and safety.
  2. Are you the wrong person to be alone right now? Call friends, family and neighbors and arrange to stay with them. Bring provisions, flashlights and batteries to help out. Far better safe than sorry.
  3. Make a regular check-in plan for while the storm rages, if electric goes out, and keep these calls short and reassuring so as not to lose cellphone battery power.
  4. Now and during the storm, start collecting things to donate to those who will have had major losses, talk together about a family tzedakah plan for funds to donate as well.
  5. No one to reach out to? Reach out to our Hesed Committee and to the rabbi, and we’ll do our best to stay in touch.
Reb Rachel