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In this month's newsletter you'll find information about upcoming events, as well as Notes from the Rabbi, Shabbat candle lighting information, and more...
December 2022 | Kislev 5783

From Rabbi Rachel
Dear Congregation Beth Israel members and friends,

This year, the b-mitzvah students and I are studying Jewish values. At the start of the school year we focused on teshuvah, repentance or return — the value at the heart of the Days of Awe. After that, we began a unit on b'tzelem Elohim: the idea that we are all made in the image of God. As the capstone on that unit of learning, I'm showing them a documentary called Praying With Lior, about a young man with Down syndrome who is preparing to become bar mitzvah. Here's a trailer for the film for those who are curious. (If you want to watch the film, it can be streamed at Plex or Tubi with a few ads.)

The movie expresses many of the Jewish values in our curriculum. At the top of the list is the one we're studying now, b'tzelem Elohim. Most of us may not know anyone with Down syndrome, and Lior may seem different or strange. Our tradition teaches that he is absolutely made in the divine image, no less (or more) than anyone else.

But in this film and in the real communities and people therein, I also find gevurah, strength of character. I find achrayut, community-mindedness and responsibility for each other. I find hakarat ha-tov, seeing the good, cultivating gratitude, and appreciating our blessings. All of these will be part of our b-mitzvah curriculum in the spring semester. In a bigger sense, they are part of everyone's spiritual curriculum — values that Judaism asks all of us to cultivate and strengthen.

I hope that my students will take a few lessons away from the film. One is that as a community, we have a responsibility to and for each other. Another is that all of us, including people with disabilities and people who are neurodivergent, can and should be full participants in community life. A third is that becoming b-mitzvah is about growth and meaning, no matter who we are.

For those of us who are older than thirteen, I hope that these lessons still hold true. Community-mindedness, inclusion, and the invitation to growth and meaning are core to Jewish life at any age.

The word chanukah means dedication (as in chanukat ha-bayit, the dedication of a new home.) May the lights of the coming Chanukah — and the flames of our second annual Chanukah bonfire, see below! — inspire us to rededicate ourselves to these values. And in that merit, may our winter be filled with the lights of wholeness and hope.

Blessings to all,

Rabbi Rachel

If you would like to schedule a meeting with Rabbi Rachel,
please use our
contact form to arrange a time.
From the President

Dear Congregants and Friends,

In this season of gratitude, I want to thank all of you for being members of the CBI community and for all you do to strengthen and sustain our community. I also thank you for honoring me by re-electing me to my second one-year term as president at the recent Annual Meeting.

We have a busy and exciting month ahead. I want to highlight a few upcoming events in addition to our regular Shabbat services.

Start the December holiday season by experiencing a meditative sound bath on Sunday, December 11 at 10am, led by Chaya Schneider at CBI. The sounds of crystal bowls, Koshi chimes, and the gong will help reduce stress, facilitate deep relaxation, and promote physical, emotional, and spiritual healing as we enter this busy season. Kindly RSVP here.

Bring your children to CBI for a Chanukah cookie baking and decorating program on Sunday, December 11 at 1pm. Professional baker Caleb Wolfson-Seeley will again guide this popular program. Kindly RSVP here so we will have enough cookie dough for all. Don’t miss the fun!

And for everyone of all ages, join us on Sunday, December 18 (the first night of Chanukah) at 5:30pm for our Second Annual CBI Chanukah Bonfire & Celebration! We’ll sing Chanukah songs around the bonfire, drink hot apple cider and enjoy homemade donuts and latkes. Our CBI choir will help lead the songs. And for the kids, we’ll have a rousing dreidel-spinning contest, so help them get ready! Dress warmly and bring a camp chair, if you have one. RSVP here and let us know if you can help with clean-up.

Calling all book lovers: Our CBI Book Club meets virtually once a month, facilitated by CBI member Suzanne Levy Graver, John Hawley Roberts Professor of English, Emerita at Williams College. Our next meeting is on Wednesday, December 21 at 7:30pm. We will be discussing American Pastoral by Philip Roth, a challenging but wonderful novel. Winning the 1998 Pulitzer Prize in Fiction, many readers regard it as Roth’s finest and most ambitious novel. Please feel free to join us for an engaging conversation, whether or not you have time to finish the complete novel.

As we continue planning for the coming months, I am eager to hear what you are looking for from CBI and how you would like to get involved. Please contact me at president@cbiberkshires.com — I would be happy to set up a time to talk.

Wishing you a good month ahead,

— Natalie Matus

Shabbat Morning Service
Every Saturday at 9:30am (unless proceeded by Kabbalat Shabbat or otherwise noted)
Please note that regular Shabbat Morning Services will NOT be held on December 31

Kabbalat Shabbat
One Friday evening per month at 7pm
Upcoming Dates: December 16, January 20, & February 17
For Zoom information, please check our weekly announcement emails or contact the CBI office.
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UPCOMING EVENTS

Friday, December 2, 5:45pm: Kabbalat Shabbat & Zuckerman Bar Mitzvah
Rabbi Rachel and her family invite the CBI community to celebrate with us as we call Drew Zuckerman to Torah as a bar mitzvah! Multi-access Kabbalat Shabbat service will be held at 5:45pm, led by Rabbi David Markus. All are welcome to join us onsite, but you must RSVP via our website if you plan on attending; please wear a mask. Service will still be available online for those who wish to participate on Zoom — no RSVP is required.

For Zoom information, please check our weekly announcement emails or contact the CBI office.
Please note that our First Friday Zoom Gathering,
originally scheduled for Friday, December 2, has been canceled.
We look forward to seeing you virtually at our next gathering on Friday, January 6!

Saturday, December 3, 9:30am: Shabbat Morning Service & Zuckerman Bar Mitzvah
Rabbi Rachel and her family invite the CBI community to celebrate with us as we call Drew Zuckerman to Torah as a bar mitzvah! Multi-access Shabbat morning service will be held at 9:30am, led by Rabbi David Markus. All are welcome to join us onsite, but you must RSVP via our website if you plan on attending; please wear a mask. Service will still be available online for those who wish to participate on Zoom — no RSVP is required.

If you responded "yes" to the brunch after the Zuckerman bar mitzvah on Saturday, please COVID-test before coming to shul. Visiting family members are all doing the same. Anyone who tests positive or who feels ill is asked to stay home and participate via Zoom. Rabbi Rachel and her family thank you for your diligence and care.
For Zoom information, please check our weekly announcement emails or contact the CBI office.

Saturday, December 10, 9:30am: Multi-Access Shabbat Morning Service
Multi-access Shabbat morning service will be held at 9:30am. All are welcome to join us onsite, but you must RSVP via our website if you plan on attending. Singing will be permitted, so please wear a mask during service. (Please note that we will not be holding a kiddush / oneg at this time.) Service will still be available online for those who wish to participate on Zoom.

For Zoom information, please check our weekly announcement emails or contact the CBI office.

Sunday, December 11, 10am: Meditative Sound Bath Experience
In this meditative sound bath experience led by Chaya Schneider (Sound Healing Academy Level I certified), crystal bowls, koshi chimes, and the sound of the gong will help reduce stress, facilitate deep relaxation, and promote physical, emotional, and spiritual healing. You can feel free to lie down or stay seated in a comfortable position for the duration of the experience. Please bring a yoga mat, blanket, pillow, eye pillow, water bottle, and anything else you would like to ensure your comfort. This event is onsite only; please RSVP via our website if you plan on joining us.

Sunday, December 11, 1pm: Cooking with Caleb – Let’s Make Cookies for Chanukah!
Join professional baker Caleb Wolfson-Seeley as we prepare for Chanukah! Families will learn how to make cookies and be able to take them home to enjoy together. Please RSVP online by Friday, December 9 if your family plans to attend; masks are required. This event is free for all!

Funding to help make CBI’s family education programs free to all has been provided by the Harold Grinspoon Foundation

Friday, December 16, 7pm: Multi-Access Kabbalat Shabbat Service
Multi-access Kabbalat Shabbat service will be held at 7pm. All are welcome to join us onsite, but you must RSVP via our website if you plan on attending. Singing will be permitted, so please wear a mask during service. Service will still be available online for those who wish to participate on Zoom.

For Zoom information, please check our weekly announcement emails or contact the CBI office.

The annual North Adams menorah lighting will be held on Sunday, December 18 at 5pm. All are invited to attend this ceremony at City Hall, with Rabbi Rachel sharing a few words to mark the start of the Chanukah.

Following the ceremony, please join us back at CBI for our Chanukah Bonfire & Celebration at 5:30pm!

Sunday, December 18, 5:30pm: Chanukah Bonfire & Celebration
Folks of all ages are welcome to join us on the first night of Chanukah for our Second Annual CBI Chanukah Bonfire & Celebration! We’ll sing Chanukah songs around the bonfire, drink hot apple cider, and enjoy homemade donuts and latkes. The CBI choir will help lead the songs, and we’ll have a rousing dreidel-spinning contest for the kids! Dress warmly and bring a camp chair if you have one. Please RSVP via our website if you plan to attend.

Funding to help make CBI’s family education programs free to all has been provided by the Harold Grinspoon Foundation

Wednesday, December 21, 7:30pm (EST): CBI Book Club
For December, the CBI Book Club will meet virtually to discuss American Pastoral by Philip Roth. Winning the 1998 Pulitzer Prize in Fiction, many readers regard it as Roth’s finest and most ambitious novel. It tackles the subject or what happened to America in the decades between World War II and Vietnam, between the complacencies of the 50’s and the confusions of the 60’s, 70’s and 80’s. With the story of Seymour "Swede" Levov, Mr. Roth has chronicled the rise and fall of one man’s fortunes and in doing so created a resonant parable of American innocence and disillusion. Seymour Levov’s evolving and complex devotion to his beloved daughter Merry, whose increasingly radical political convictions lead her at age 16 to commit her first terrorist act, in large part drives the plot. The increasing tensions today between the ways older and younger generations view America give American Pastoral a resounding quality. For more information and to RSVP, please email Suzanne Levy Graver at sgraver@williams.edu; information about how to join online will be provided upon RSVP.

Saturday, December 24, 9:30am: Multi-Access Shabbat Morning Service
Multi-access Shabbat morning service will be held at 9:30am. All are welcome to join us onsite, but you must RSVP via our website if you plan on attending. Singing will be permitted, so please wear a mask during service. (Please note that we will not be holding a kiddush / oneg at this time.) Service will still be available online for those who wish to participate on Zoom.

For Zoom information, please check our weekly announcement emails or contact the CBI office.

Saturday, December 31: Please note that we will not be holding regular Shabbat Morning Service at CBI this weekend. Please click here for a list of local Kabbalat Shabbat and Shabbat Morning Services available to join over Zoom and in-person; for more information, please visit their websites.

Friday, January 6, 7:30pm (EST): First Friday Shabbat Zoom Gathering
Stay connected with CBI friends and neighbors, or meet new ones, as we gather together around the Zoom table to celebrate the Jewish traditions of Shabbat and light the candles and bless the wine and challah. Please RSVP via our website if you plan to attend.

For Zoom information, please check our weekly announcement emails or contact the CBI office.

Saturday, January 7, 9:30am: Multi-Access Shabbat Morning Service
Multi-access Shabbat morning service will be held at 9:30am. All are welcome to join us onsite, but you must RSVP via our website if you plan on attending. Singing will be permitted, so please wear a mask during service. (Please note that we will not be holding a kiddush / oneg at this time.) Service will still be available online for those who wish to participate on Zoom.

For Zoom information, please check our weekly announcement emails or contact the CBI office.
For even more upcoming events, read on!
Adult Education in 5783

Spiritual Writing: Midrash and Making Meaning

Midrash are interpretive stories that explore the blank spaces in Torah, often offering answers to questions of meaning, character, and inner life. We’ll read some classical midrash and explore what driving questions fueled the sages. Then with guided writing exercises, creative prompts, and gentle feedback, we’ll also write and share our own midrashic responses to the Torah stories at hand.

This adult education class taught by Rabbi Rachel Barenblat will meet on Zoom from 7-8:30pm on Thursdays: January 26; February 2, 9, & 16; and March 2 & 9. Tuition is $72 for members of CBI and TBE, and $108 for non-members. Registration is available via Google Forms.

Journey Into Judaism

Journey Into Judaism is an adult education class for anyone exploring Judaism and Jewishness. The program is open to those on a conversion journey and to those who are already Jewish and want to learn more about our traditions and teachings. Taught by Rabbi Rachel Barenblat over Zoom, the class is offered in association with the Miller Introduction to Judaism program. Tuition is $180 for members of CBI and TBE, and $360 for non-members; there is an additional $30 fee for the textbook.

Classes will be held at 2pm on Sundays: January 15 & 29; February 12 & 26; March 12 & 26; April 9 & 23; May 7 & 21; and June 4 & 18. Registration is available via Google Forms.

Actors & Singers Wanted for Passover 5783!

CBI will be presenting a Greek tragedy in April for Passover! In 250 BCE a Jewish poet in the Greek city of Alexandria in Egypt wrote Exagoge (Exodus). This Greek tragedy is an amalgam of Jewish and Greek culture. It presents Moses as a tragic hero and will include music composed and directed by Adam Green. The play will be directed by Dr. Len Radin. There are three adult speaking roles and a number of singing roles for the Greek Chorus. Rehearsals will start in January. For more information, please contact Len by email at lenradin@gmail.com.

Shabbat & Havdalah Times

If you want to light Shabbat candles and make havdalah at the halakhically-accepted times, the times for the upcoming month can be found below:


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

December 9 light at 4pm
December 10 havdalah at 5:01pm

December 16 light at 4:01pm
December 17 havdalah at 5:02pm
Chanukah 5783
December 18 (1 Candle): 4:53pm
December 19 (2 Candles): 4:53pm
December 20 (3 Candles): 4:53pm
December 21 (4 Candles): 4:54pm
December 22 (5 Candles): 4:54pm
December 23 (6 Candles): 4:04pm
December 24 (7 Candles): 5:05pm
December 25 (8 Candles): 4:56pm
December 30 light at 4:09pm
December 31 havdalah at 5:10pm

January 6 light at 4:15pm
January 7 havdalah at 5:17pm


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!

Hanukkah Light & Rhythm - Candle Dipping and Drumming Workshop. Saturday, Dec. 10, 12-3pm located at the Unitarian Universalist Fellowship, 108 School St., Bennington, VT. Come make your own colorful, hand-dipped beeswax Hanukkah candles and then join a lively drum circle co-led by Rabbi Jarah Greenfield and Otha Day in anticipation of the Festival of Lights. This workshop, geared toward families with children ages 3 and older (teens and adults are also welcome) will engage the heart, hand, and spirit to personalize the rituals of Hanukkah and experience Jewish music in a whole new way, in concert with West African rhythms. This event is brought to you by Kesher Shalom: Jewish Families of Southern VT and Western MA and is free. Advanced registration is required. Please email rabbijgreenfield@gmail.com for registration details.
First Friday Shabbat Zoom Gatherings Return!
Stay connected with CBI friends and neighbors, or meet new ones, as we gather together around the Zoom table to celebrate the Jewish traditions of Shabbat and light the candles, bless the wine & challah. We'll meet one Friday a month through May 2023 at 7:30pm — please join us!

Upcoming Dates:
January 6,
February 3,
March 3, April 7,
& May 5

Please click here to RSVP for January!
Family Shabbat Services
Upcoming: January 14, February 11, March 25, April 15, & May 13 at 9:30am
Young Family Storytime & Havdalah
Upcoming:
January 21 & February 4  at 4pm
Click here to RSVP for any of our upcoming Family Events!
Funding to help make CBI’s family education programs free to all has been provided by the Harold Grinspoon Foundation
In response to the devastating humanitarian crisis unfolding in the Ukraine, The Jewish Federation of the Berkshires has joined with Jewish Federations across the country to support crisis relief efforts for the 200,000 Jews living there. 100% of your gift will provide direct relief through the American Jewish Joint Distribution Committee (JDC), the Jewish Agency for Israel (JAFI), and WORD ORT – all of whom are currently working on the ground in Ukraine. Assistance will include food, shelter, medicine, and other basic needs to help the most vulnerable, setting up displaced person camps, and providing assistance with making aliyah to Israel. The needs are extraordinary. DONATE HERE
Have items for the January newsletter?
Please submit them to office@cbiberkshires.com by December 23.

Our Labyrinth Is Open Even When The Shul Isn't!

You are welcome to come anytime during daylight hours and walk our meditation labyrinth. It is a beautiful practice that can be calming and centering. (Here's more about our labyrinth and about the practice of labyrinth walking.) During this time of pandemic, we ask that if you see others using the labyrinth, you maintain "social distancing" and stay six feet apart from each other.

Mi Sheberach

CBI sends blessings for refuah shleimah (full healing) to those who seek healing. May they have the fullest recovery possible in body, heart, mind, and soul.
Amalia bat Elka
Aryeh ben Malkah
Avivah Micah bat Miryam v’Aryeh
Chuck Beard
Sue Bohl
Alan Calhoun
Mary Ann Calhoun
Channah bat Rachel
David ben Rivka
Travis Denton
Rabbi Ellen Dreyfus
Bruce Dumouchel
Eli ben Yitzchak v'Pesha
David Frazer
Fred Golob
HaRav Aviva Elisheva bat
Gavriela Simcha ve-HaRav Simcha
haRav Fraydel Rivka bat Zlata Rayna
Rachael Hermann
Susan Hogan
Chris Kelly
Keturah bat Miriam v'Yosef
Mary Kirby
Kobey bat Bina v'Yonatan
Margaret Larabee
Dave Mangun
Zowie Martin-Levesque
Olivier Meslay
Miriam bat Teya
Nick Moulton
Peter Murphy
Jane Ostacher
Mark Penner
Katie Polebaum-Freeman
Cindy Polinsky
Jami Pytko
Randall Reiner
Eva Rollnik
Gail Rudin
Deacon Frank Ryan
Erika Sacks
Ed Sedarbaum
Harry Sheehy
Shira bat Malka
Rachel Shiyah-Satullo
Shmuel ben Avraham v’Sarah
Shmuel Caleb ben Avraham v'Sarah
Shoshana bat Mindy
Lois Simpson
John Storey
Jack Troia
Tziviah Miriam bat Chaya Liba
Yocheved Shoshana bat Hana
Yonah ben Leah
CBI keeps Healing List names for a month, subject to renewal. In case of a request for confidentiality, only clergy will know; names will be kept private. To add or renew a name, please email rabbi@cbiberkshires.com.
Happy Birthday to those who are celebrating in December!
Barbara Bashevkin
Jim Callahan
Susan Gold
Bob Kraus
Joel Lentzner
James McAllister
David Rothschild
Michael Smith
Jack Sosne
Caleb Wolfson-Seeley
THANK YOU TO THOSE WHO MADE RECENT DONATIONS!
Richard & Anna Jo Dubow … in memory of Beatrice & Harold Renfield
Sylvia Lenhoff … in memory of Hyman Grossman
Steve Shapiro … in memory of Lee & Eli Shapiro
Barbara Shapiro Winer & Steve Shapiro … for the Cemetery in memory of Jay & Sheila Shapiro
SPECIAL THANKS TO ALL WHO HAVE
DONATED TO OUR HIGH HOLIDAY APPEAL!
Susan Adler
Joe & Anne Apkin
Ellen Bernstein
Robert Braun
Robin Brickman
Corry Buckwalter
The Cellana Family
Madeline Cohen
Richard & Anna Jo Dubow
Laura Dumouchel
Joele Frank
Judy & Jeff Gelfand
Susan Goldblatt
Barbara Goldstein
Ani Grosser
Jerrold & Carol Jacobs
Carole Kosover
Bob Kraus & Kathleen Morris
Steve & Sandy Kurzban
Fran & Ira Lapidus
Sylvia Lenhoff
Bill Levy & Karen Kelly
Suzanne Levy Graver
Robin Malloy
Natalie & Roger Matus
Bob & Jane Miller
Ed & Carol Oshinsky
David & Linda Paresky
Jay & Naomi Pasachoff
Arlene Penner
Debra Plafker
Darlene & Len Radin
David Ranzer
Sheila Roman & John Mueller
Charlene Rosen
Ben & Alice Rudin
Cheryl Sacks
Elma Sanders
Alexis Schaitkin
Burton Shapiro & Melinda Tanzman
Selma Shapiro
Jane Shiyah
Amely Smith
Michael & Pamela Smith
Larry & Nancy Star
Roberta & John Sullivan
The Sunog Family
Audrey Thier
David Towler
Rabbi Seth Wax
Judy Weber
Beth & Dustin Wees
Susan & Charles Welsch
Debbie & Howard Wineberg
Ellen Wineberg
Jane Yusen
DONATIONS WELCOME!

Donations to CBI are always welcome and may be directed towards:

Ongoing Support for CBI
Building Fund
Cemetery Fund
Chesed Fund
Education Fund
Rabbi's Discretionary Fund
Take & Eat (on hiatus)
The L'Dor V'Dor Legacy Society
Upkeep & Care for CBI's Grounds & Gardens
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