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CBI Newsletter: December 2016 / Kislev 5777

In this month's newsletter you'll find Notes from the Rabbi, a report on book-making last month and information about an upcoming visit from sofer (Torah scribe) Kevin Hale, service times for Shabbat, First Friday Potluck and Shabbat Services, words from our new Board President, and more!

From Rabbi Rachel: entering Kislev


 Dear Congregation Beth Israel members and friends,

Every month as I prepare the newsletter, one of the things I do is look up the times for lighting Shabbat candles and making havdalah each week. I know that some of us in this community bentsch licht ("bless light") at the halakhically-mandated times, and others of us light candles at the time when we can gather with loved ones to begin Shabbat even if (in summer) the sun may not yet have set, and (in winter) the sun may have set long before. 

As I copied and pasted the times for Friday candle-lighting and Saturday havdalah for the month of December and the month of Kislev, I felt a ripple of relief when I saw the times begin to tick back upwards again. This is the month that gets as dark as this latitude can get. The shortest days are ahead of us, and the longest nights... and so, too, is the day when the earth's orbit begins to carry us back toward more light. 

As the days get darker, many of us yearn for more light. In Jewish Renewal we speak often of the "four worlds" of assiyah (action and physicality), yetzirah (emotion), briyah (thought), and atzilut (essence or spirit.) In assiyah, the world of action and physicality, we are experiencing a season of diminishing llight. But we may also be experiencing diminishing light in other realms. Maybe we feel on an emotional or spiritual level that the dark is rising. 

Enter the festival of Chanukah -- which begins this year on the 25th of Kislev, as always (which on the secular calendar falls on the 25th of December, which means our first candle will be lit on December 24.) Chanukah comes to remind us that bringing light into the world is a collaboration between us and the Source of All. Chanukah has two stories: a military tale about the guerilla Maccabbees fighting Antiochus' army and winning, and a spiritual tale about lighting a cruse of oil and restoring holiness to the Temple. Our sages long ago chose the second of those stories to valorize, not the first. 

On the first night of Chanukah we light one tiny candle against the darkness -- the literal darkness of assiyah, the world of physicality in which we live, and also the emotional darkness we experience in yetzirah, and the intellectual darkness we experience in briyah, and the spiritual darkness we experience in atzilut. And on the second night, there is more light. And on the third night, more light still. At Chanukah we use a physical action (lighting candles) to remind us of a spiritual truth: we can partner with God to bring more light into the world. 

This is our task as Jews and as human beings. And while we may sometimes feel that we are not up to the task -- the darkness is so great; how can our little actions make a difference? -- the Chanukah story teaches otherwise. The Chanukah story teaches that when we take the leap of faith of believing in ourselves and believing in what we can do, we can work miracles. We may think of faith as something we are asked to have in God, but Jewish tradition also teaches (via the daily liturgy -- notice the modah / modeh ani prayer we say at the start of Shabbat morning worship) that it works the other way around. God has faith in us. May we live up to that faith in us as we do what we can to bring light to our world, now and always.

Blessings,

Rabbi Rachel

ps: Because Chanukah falls so late this year, we won't be having our usual Shabbat Chanukah party... so join us on Friday December 2 for Kabbalat Shabbat and a potluck supper which will include latkes!

Don't Miss our New & Prospective Member Brunch!

December 10, 11am

in celebration of our new members
and in welcome of prospective members who we will encourage to join us that morning to see what a warm, open, and spiritual community we are.

Come to daven (pray) at 9:30
and join us for lunch afterwards.


Please RSVP to the office
(office@cbiweb.org)
so we know how many tables to set up.

CBI is a proud member of the Union for Reform Judaism



and also a proud member of the ALEPH Network

Don't Miss Sofer (Torah scribe) Rabbi Kevin Hale
on Sunday December 11!



This will be our next Hand in Hand family education event. 

Rabbi Kevin Hale, a Sofer (scribe), will be teaching about writing a Torah and we will all learn calligraphy. The event will also feature illuminated manuscripts, bookmaking, and a history of Jewish books. We hope you can join us! All ages are welcome.

Please RSVP to David Arfa, our Hebrew school director, at maggiddavid@gmail.com.
Ride Share

Are you are in need of a ride to and from CBI to attend services or events? Are you in need of a ride for local errands or appointments? The CBI community wants to help.  Please let Jack know what your needs are. If you are able and willing to share rides or give rides, please send information on your availability to Jack (office@cbiweb.org)
President's Column

December represents a time of transition at CBI, as new officers and board members assume their roles and retiring officers and board members transfer their knowledge. With Thanksgiving just behind us, it seems like an opportune time to give thanks to those who are leaving the board.

After 4 years at the helm (one as co-chair), Pattie Lipman is stepping down as President. Her time leading CBI was one of prosperity and energy. Under Pattie’s leadership, we have strengthened our ties with the Federation and increased our involvement with other local religious organizations (e.g., through our involvement with Berkshire Interfaith Organizing). We have formalized many of our processes, updating policies regarding building use and fees for lifecycle events, re-vamping our membership application, welcome packet, and promotional materials, and reviewing financial policies. Our education program has grown and stabilized with the hiring of a new education director, and our adult learning offerings have greatly increased. Pattie has also ensured that we have strong leaders on many of our committees and has done countless little things to help ensure the smooth functioning of the synagogue. She has done all this with little recognition and not enough thanks. So, thank you, Pattie, for all that you have (and will continue) to contribute to CBI!

Also stepping down from the board after a long tenure is Bill Levy. Bill has served the congregation in numerous ways. In addition to serving as co-president for one year (with Pattie) as well as vice-president before that, Bill has served as the board’s liaison with the Rabbi and has been the point person for negotiating the Rabbi’s contract. He is instrumental in planning and organizing High Holiday services and has also served as our “Torah expert,” recently negotiating the sale of an unused Torah. Bill, too, has served CBI in numerous little ways (and probably other “big” ones that I am neglecting). While he will continue to carry on many of these duties (thank you!), we will miss his sage advice and calming presence during board meetings. We thank both Bill and Pattie for their hard work and dedication to CBI and hope that they will continue their involvement even if they are not formal members of the board.

We also welcome Allen Kushnet back to the board after a long absence and Roberta Sullivan to the board. Steven Green and Chris Kelly will be stepping up as vice-presidents, and Laura Thompson has taken over the role of secretary.

We look forward to serving the congregation and please let us know of any ideas or concerns that you have. We look forward to working with you to continue CBI’s positive trajectory.

Elizabeth (Liz) Miller
President, CBI
Support CBI with a donation... thank you!
Great things are happening at the CBI Community Hebrew School! Learn more about our religious school, see the school calendar, and more on our CBI Community Hebrew School website.
Because our office administrator is away for a few days, this month's newsletter doesn't have birthday and anniversary information, or thanks to those who donated during October. Sorry about that: we'll aspire to return to that usual feature in our December newsletter!
Annual Meeting Held November 15th



CBI’s Annual Meeting was held on Tuesday, November 15. Approximately 20 people attended.The event began with socializing over pizza with sides and desserts provided by the board. This year, the meeting format was altered to allow for more socializing and discussion. An annual report was mailed to all congregants prior to the meeting and a general question and answer period replaced the usual reading of reports. (Financial and membership status was still reported.)

The meeting began with a singing and an opening blessing led by Rabbi Rachel. Liz Miller then made several announcements about upcoming events and provided the membership report. Sue Hogan gave the financial report. There was a question and answer period in which ideas regarding increasing attendance at services, programs for young children, and speakers (among other topics) were discussed. Some added addendums to information included in the annual report. Amy Filson provided an update about Take and Eat. Jane Shiyah provided an update
about Chesed. We also recognized Jane as the Aleph Tav teacher in the Hebrew School program (a fact inadvertently left out of the education section of the annual report). Liz Miller highlighted the work of several committees not included in the annual report (e.g., Chesed, Chevra Kadisha, website, shmira, PR, spiritual life).

Following the discussion period, we recognized out-going president, Pattie Lipman, and out-going board member, Bill Levy. We then held the annual election. Congratulations to the new leadership team – Liz Miller (president), Chris Kelly (first vice president), Steven Green (second vice president), Sue Hogan (treasurer), and Laura Thompson (secretary). Congratulations, too, to new board members Allen Kushnet and Roberta Sullivan, and returning board members, Chaim Bronstein and David Pomerantz.
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Service Times

First Friday of the (secular) month: 6pm potluck, Kabbalat Shabbat service to follow (around 6:40).

Every Saturday: 9:30 a.m. Shabbat Service, followed by kiddush around 11am

Meditation minyan on Friday mornings, 9am


Friday December 2
is a First Friday!
Join us for a potluck dinner at 6pm
(vegetarian / dairy dishes please)



followed by Kabbalat Shabbat
("Welcoming the Face of Shabbat")
services around 6:45.

This month we'll add extra festive sweetness to our potluck and our service because Chanukah falls in late Kislev / December -- we'll have latkes at the potluck, so let us know if you want to help fry!

Please RSVP
to this month's hosts
Steven Green & Rose Ellis
so they know how many chairs
they should set up:
stevengreenlawoffice@gmail.com

Shabbat and Havdalah Times


If you want to light Shabbat candles and make havdalah at the halakhically-accepted times, here they are:

December 2 light 4:01 (18 minutes before sundown)
December 3 havdalah 5:00 (42 minutes after sundown)

December 9 light 4pm
December 10 havdalah 5pm

December 16 light 4:01pm
December 17 havdalah 5:02pm

December 23 light 4:05pm
December 24 havdalah 5:05pm

December 30 light 4:10pm
December 31 havdalah 5:11pm

If it is your practice to light candles at a different hour of the day (perhaps not quite so early as halakha indicates during the winter, and not quite so late as halakha indicates during the summer), that's also a legitimate Reform Jewish choice. What's most important is that you're finding a way to incorporate Shabbat into your life.
Book-making Fun at First Hand-in- Hand Event of the Year


On Sunday, October 9, the Hebrew School’s Hand-in- Hand program kicked off with a fun book-making event for all. In contrast to past years, the Hand-in- Hand program has been expanded to include family education for our youngest members (3-6 years old and their parents) from 10 –10:45 am, followed by bookmaking for all members young and old. Each month, students (and family members) will learn new skills that can be applied to the art of bookmaking.

This month, the focus was on book-making itself. We started with a visual history of bookmaking. We saw pictures of the oldest Torah scroll, fan books, old bookmaking studios, and more. It was amazing to see what aspects of writing and creating books have stayed the same and what has changed!

Then, it was time to put our learning into practice. We made three different types of books. Two accordion-style books and a small, folded book. We made covers for the books using cut-outs from wallpaper. The textures and patterns were so well-suited for our purpose and made very elegant looking book covers. In future months, we will learn more about techniques that can be used on the inside of the books, such as illuminated manuscript writing. In the meantime, we shared stories about favorite childhood memories and favorite relatives. One participant shared the idea of filling the pages of her book with different Jewish values. Another talked about creating her own “personal Torah” – a story of herself (just as the Torah is the story of the Jewish people).

Overall, a great time was had by all. As one participant said, “It was a great experience. We got to eat food and I enjoyed being able to make my own book and to be able to write in it.”



The next Hand in Hand event will be on December 11 and will feature a visit from Torah scribe Rabbi Kevin Hale -- see elsewhere in this newsletter for details.
PJ Library Pajama Drive


Between now and December 8, please drop off new kids' pajamas to CBI -- there is a collection box in the foyer.

These will be given to families in our community who can't afford warm winter pajamas for their kids this winter.
Have items for the January newsletter? Please submit them to rabbibarenblat@gmail.com by December 20. 
December Birthdays & Anniversaries

Birthdays
 
Levi McGuire     Marsha Landry     Mark Feder     James McAllister     Katie Rose Radin     Susan Gold     David Kelly-Whitney     Jim Callahan     David Rothschild     Tela Zasloff     Jackie Rich     Heidi Sarah Schrage     Michael Smith     Barbara Bashevkin     Robert Kraus     Ron Turbin     Caleb Strait     Joel Lentzner    

Anniversaries

Ron & Judy Turbin     Pattie Lipman & John Huffaker
We're Grateful to All Who Donated in November!

High Holiday Appeal:  
     

Helene & Stuart Armet        
Elizabeth & Madeline Cohen        
Richard & Anna Jo Dubow        
Chris Kelly & Maude Rich        
Aaron & Joyce Harrison        
Laura Schoenbaum & John Gerry        
Michael & Pamela Smith

General Donations:        

Mitchell Burgin      
 In memory of Lillian Glickman

Sandra Hirsh Golding        
In memory of Samuel Hirsh
CBI on Facebook: 
https://www.facebook.com/CBINorthAdams

From the Rabbi blog: http://congregationbethisrael.wordpress.com






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Congregation Beth Israel · 53 Lois Street · North Adams, MA 01247 · USA

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