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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...
March 2022 | Adar-II 5782

From Rabbi Rachel
Dear Congregation Beth Israel members and friends,

This month brings Purim, our festival of costumes and masks and merriment. (Join us for An Encanto Purim on March 16 — there are details later in this newsletter!)

When my son was little, he used to confuse the names Yom Kippur and Purim. One year he was very excited to wear a costume to Yom Kippur... until I regretfully informed him that Yom Kippur was not the costumes and silliness holiday!

He didn't know it, but he was following in the footsteps of our sages. Tradition creatively misreads the name Yom Kippurim (Day of Atonements) into Yom K'Purim (a Day Like Purim). It's an aural pun, because both names contain the syllable "pur." In the name of our spring festival, "purim" are the lots that the evil Haman cast to determine the date of our people's putative destruction. In the name of our fall festival, "pur" comes from the root of the word "kapparah," atonement.

In this piece of wordplay, our tradition connects two days that might seem to be the most disparate celebrations in our year.

On Yom Kippur we wear white, we fast from food and drink, and we engage in repentance and introspection, "answering our souls" and looking at who we've been and who we want to be. On Purim we wear costumes, we eat and drink and make merry, we send gifts of food (mishloach manot) to others, we retell the raucous and over-the-top story of Esther and Haman and Mordechai. What on earth could these two days have in common?

One answer is the idea of casting lots (or drawing straws or rolling dice) — the sense that things can change in an instant, and everything might hinge on a seemingly random choice. In the Purim story, of course, Haman casts lots to determine our fate. And traditionally on Yom Kippur we read about the high priest drawing lots to determine which goat will be sent into the wilderness and which will be sacrificed to God.

Both Yom Kippur and Purim remind us that every status quo may turn out to be fragile — that the world might change on a dime.

In recent days I've spoken with many of you about Russia's attack on Ukraine, and about the feelings evoked in many of us by this realization that there is war in Europe again. What can we do in the face of such uncertainty? What can we rely on when life seems random?

I think these two festivals, taken together, give us an answer. Yom Kippur invites us to respond to life's seeming randomness with spiritual practice, answering to our souls, confessing our mis-steps and trying to be better. And Purim invites us to respond to life's seeming randomness by cultivating joy, sharing our abundance with others, and using our human agency to create change, especially when God's presence may seem hidden. (Like in the story of Esther, where God's name is never mentioned — though our mystics find divine Presence permeating the narrative.)

Solemn spiritual practice, and raucous joy. Turning our lives around, and using our agency to protect the vulnerable. Confessing where we've screwed up, and sharing our abundance with others. The two approaches to life's uncertainty epitomized in these two festivals balance each other, and they can balance us, too. No matter how life's kaleidoscope turns, these two approaches can help us find (or make) meaning in how the pieces fall.

Blessings to all for a meaningful Purim,

Rabbi Rachel

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

Dear Congregants and Friends,

Good news — we are opening our doors to in-person worship and programs once again! The decreasing COVID-19 numbers in our community and the fact that the local risk level has moved from high to low means that we can once again meet in person. To ensure the safety of our most vulnerable, we will continue to require masks for everyone ages 2 and up. We will also keep seating spaced apart for those who wish to continue to practice social distancing. For those who are not able to attend in person for whatever reason, most services will continue to include a Zoom option.

The Board of Directors will revisit these guidelines regularly and adjust as needed. Our goal is to balance the needs of everyone in our community. Please check the weekly CBI Announcements for the latest information and Zoom links.

It is important that all those planning to attend services in person RSVP using the CBI website. (Please visit our calendar section at https://cbiberkshires.com/calendar-services/.) This is part of our new security procedure. The front door will remain locked and there will be an usher at every service. When you RSVP, you will immediately receive an email confirmation that you can show the usher on your cell phone at the door. If you don’t know you’re coming until the last moment, that’s fine — just take a minute to RSVP from your cell phone when your plans finalize.

Last Saturday, we were thrilled to welcome over 30 people — from babies in arms to grandparents — to our newly launched Family Services, led by Rabbi Jarah Greenfield. Our sanctuary rang with the voices and songs of the youngest members of our community, along with their families. We will hold these interactive services, appropriate for children of all ages, families, and adults, once a month through June, as a pilot. All are welcome to join in these joyous services.

We are thrilled to welcome two new families to CBI this month — Shaina Adams-El Guabli & Brahim El Guabli, and their children Ilyas and Naseem, from Williamstown; and Shira Sternberg & Kfir Kol, with their children Maple and Zoe, from North Bennington, VT. Shaina and Shira have jumped right in, helping us develop engaging programs for young families across the northern Berkshires and southern Vermont.

We would like to expand our programming and want to have your input into what programs you would like us to offer. Please look for a survey in your email in the next two weeks and complete it promptly. We’ll use these results to develop new programs.

I hope you’ll join us for our upcoming worship services and events. Wishing you chag sameach as Purim approaches.

Warmly,

— Natalie Matus

Shabbat Morning Service
Every Saturday at 9:30am (unless proceeded by Kabbalat Shabbat or otherwise noted)

Kabbalat Shabbat
One Friday evening per month at 7pm
Upcoming Dates: March 18 & June 17
For Zoom information, please check our weekly announcement emails or contact the CBI office.
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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.

UPCOMING EVENTS

Saturday, March 12, 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 bring a mask to wear 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; those joining digitally are invited to get a digital copy of the siddur, available as a free flipbook at the publisher’s website, or as a Kindle download for your Kindle, phone, tablet, or computer.

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

Daylight Saving Time begins on Sunday, March 13 — don't forget to "spring" your clocks forward one hour!

Sunday, March 13, 1pm: Cooking With Caleb: Let’s Make Hamentaschen for Purim!
Hamentaschen taste better when you make them yourself! Join professional baker Caleb Wolfson-Seeley for a fun and free family event! Roll out dough, fold and stuff them with treats, and bake them in our oven. We’ll read Purim stories and enjoy our Hamentaschen together. Masks and RSVPs are required in order to attend.

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

Wednesday, March 16, 6pm: An Encanto Purim!
Join us as we retell the story of Esther, interwoven with and enlivened by the melodies of Disney's Encanto, in a play featuring this year's Hebrew school students. Masks and RSVPs are required; costumes are optional. All children in costume will be invited into a costume parade during the Purim play and will get to parade before the "King."

Friday, March 18, 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 and wear a mask if you plan on attending. We'll start our services by blessing candles, so be sure to have candles and matches or a lighter on hand if you wish to participate over Zoom!

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

Sunday, March 20, 2pm: Journey Into Judaism Zoom Class
CBI's Journey Into Judaism class will meet over Zoom.

Saturday, March 26, 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 bring a mask to wear 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; those joining digitally are invited to get a digital copy of the siddur, available as a free flipbook at the publisher’s website, or as a Kindle download for your Kindle, phone, tablet, or computer.

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

Friday, April 1, 7:30pm-8:30pm: First Friday Shabbat Zoom Gathering
Stay connected with 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, and partake of our challah breads. All are welcome! Please RSVP online so we will know to expect you. Our Zoom room will open at 7:20pm, so please plan on joining us early!

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

Saturday, April 2, 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 bring a mask to wear 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; those joining digitally are invited to get a digital copy of the siddur, available as a free flipbook at the publisher’s website, or as a Kindle download for your Kindle, phone, tablet, or computer.

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

A Brief Note About Adar & Yahrzeit Observance

In a "normal" year (where there is no leap year), all Adar yahrzeits are observed during the one month of Adar. In a leap year (like this one), any yahrzeits that happened in Adar-I (e.g. if someone died during a leap year) are observed during Adar-I, and any that happened during a non-leap-year or during Adar-II of a leap year are observed during Adar-II.

Hebrew School Update

While the pandemic has surely presented challenges this year, our Hebrew School remains active and our students are engaged. We started using a new curriculum that makes it easy to switch from in-person to remote learning and back again, as needed. We hope to continue with in-person learning for the remainder of the school year.

We’re lucky to have Williams College student Sophia Sonnenfeldt teaching our Ne’arim Class for grades 3-5. Students are picking up material quite quickly. They can recognize and demonstrate solidified knowledge of a lot of different letters, vowels, and words. They are on track to be comfortable with the entire alphabet and reading and understanding full sentences by the end of the year. Students have also learned many vocabulary words related to various Jewish holidays, customs, objects, and history. They have a deep memory of each of these words and how they relate to the physical and spiritual rituals of Judaism.

The students spent significant time learning Jewish values, such as the abstract concepts of forgiveness, repentance, mitzvot, self-love, body image, role models, environmental care, and communal responsibility. These topics are part of units centered around Teshuvah (Repentance / Return) and Be’tzelem Elohim (Made in the Image of God). They have also made these values more concrete in their lives by reflecting on their own relationships with themselves, their families, and their friends. Students wrote their own prayers of thanks for various things they love about themselves and others, and engaged in discussions about the tangible impacts they can have on others and the world around them.

Our Hebrew School students are quite passionate about the value of tzedek (justice) and have expressed interest in being able to do a project together to raise awareness of and money for a cause that they collectively are passionate about. Most recently they reviewed the major holidays, the time of year they fall during and values, stories, and practices that are attached to them. Students have all shown remarkable recall and retention of new information about these traditions.

The B-Mitzvah class, for students in grades 6 and 7, is taught by Rabbi Rachel Barenblat. During Hebrew time, students have been practicing Shema, V'ahavta and Torah blessings, and learning about prayers in the Shabbat morning service. This spring many of the B-Mitzvah students are spending Hebrew time working on their assigned Torah portions.

Their Judaics studies focused on Pirkei Avot (a classic text of Jewish ethics, written down around the year 200) via a graphic novel that contains the full text of the book, translated into English. The class is discussing Jewish ethical teachings and how they apply to our lives today. Students are learning about the mitzvah of tzitzit (wearing fringes on our garments to remind us of the mitzvot). They also studied Psalm 150 and wrote their own psalms of praise. Now, they are beginning to learn about midrash (interpretive stories) and writing their own midrash on the beginning of Genesis.

Earlier this year they made tallit katan (a kind of fringed undershirt) to experiment with the experience of wearing tzitzit during the day. This month they will be tye-dying their own ritual gear — yarmulkes / kippot for everyone, and tallitot for the seventh graders who are approaching the age of B-Mitzvah.

Two of our older students with little or no prior Hebrew knowledge are studying Hebrew independently, using a program offered by ShalomLearning. Supervised by Susan Mahler, a parent volunteer, they are progressing through the alef bet and we expect that they will be able to join with the other students to continue their Hebrew studies with others in the B-Mitzvah class by next year.

Students approaching their B-Mitzvah work one on one with Rabbi Rachel to prepare for their ceremony. With Rabbi Rachel they study their assigned Torah portion and read commentaries, explore its meaning in context and in their lives today, and write a d’var Torah (“word of Torah,” e.g. a teaching) about the Torah portion to share during Shabbat services. They discuss Jewish identity and practices and what it means to them to become a “Jewish adult.” They also practice reading or chanting from Torah, which is an “unpointed” scroll (no vowels or musical markings).

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:


March 11 light at 5:36pm (18 minutes before sundown)
March 12 havdalah at 6:37pm (42 minutes after sundown)

March 18 light at 6:44pm
March 19 havdalah at 7:45pm

March 25 light at 6:52pm
March 26 havdalah at 7:54pm

April 1 light at 7pm
April 2 havdalah at 8:02pm


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!

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

Family Shabbat Services
Three Saturday mornings at 9:30am:
April 9, May 21, & June 4

Join together with other families in a joyous celebration of Shabbat through songs, stories, prayers, movement-based activities, and more related to the week’s Torah portion. There will be roles for young children and for older kids to engage with active participation. All are welcome!
MASKS & RSVPS ARE REQUIRED TO ATTEND

Cooking With Caleb
Professional baker and father Caleb Wolfson-Seeley will teach your family to make a seasonal treat to enjoy together!
Sunday, March 13, 1pm: Let's Make Hamentaschen for Purim!
Sunday, April 10, 1pm: Let's Bake Matzah for Pesach!

Omer / Torah Yoga
Around the Labyrinth
Sunday, May 15 at 1pm

Yoga teacher Jen Burt will lead a family-friendly Omer / Torah Yoga session outdoors at CBI’s labyrinth. All levels of experience are welcome!

Funding to help make CBI's family education programs free to all has been provided by the Harold Grinspoon Foundation.
Click here to RSVP for these events online!

Join us for An Encanto Purim! at 6pm on Wednesday, March 16. We'll retell the story of Esther, interwoven with and enlivened by the melodies of Disney's Encanto, in a play featuring this year's Hebrew school students. Masks and RSVPs are required; costumes are optional. All children in costume will be invited into a costume parade during the Purim play and will get to parade before the "King."

Click here to RSVP!

Berkshire Jewish Community Security Training Opportunity

STOP THE BLEED
Thursday, March 17 at 1pm (EST) via Zoom

Are you prepared for the unimaginable? No matter how rapid the arrival of professional emergency responders, bystanders will always be first on the scene. A person who is bleeding can die from blood loss within five minutes, so it's important to quickly stop blood loss. This training provides community members with the skills of how to prevent loss of life through applying emergency first aid.

LEARNING OBJECTIVES:
• Understand why bleeding is the #1 preventable death after an injury & how to save a life
• Identify when life-threatening bleeding is occurring
• Be able to recognize different types of injuries
• Learn how to control bleeding when someone is injured & while waiting for first responders to arrive

CLICK HERE TO REGISTER

CBI's First Friday Shabbat
Zoom Gatherings Continue!

Please join us for the return of our First Friday Shabbat Zoom Gatherings! Stay connected with 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, and partake of our challah breads. We will meet on the first Friday of each month through April via Zoom at 7:30pm–8:30pm. All are welcome! Please RSVP online so we can know to expect you.

Upcoming Dates:
Friday, April 1
at 7:30pm


Please check CBI's weekly announcement emails or RSVP online for Zoom information!

Our Zoom room will open at 7:20pm, so please plan on joining us early!

Join us on Saturday, April 16 at 6pm for a lively, musical, meaningful, heart-filled Second-Night Community Zoom Seder! Like last year, the seder will be co-led by Rabbi Rachel Barenblat and Rabbi David Markus and will be open to members of our two shul communities, CBI and Temple Beth El of City Island. Expect music, meaning, tradition balanced with innovation, and most of all connectedness as we rejoice in our festival of liberation even in these constricted times.

Click here to RSVP!
Have items for the April newsletter?
Please submit them to office@cbiberkshires.com by March 25.
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.
Joanne Ranzer
Aryeh ben Malkah
Rachel Shiyah-Satullo
Shira Bat Malka
Tziviah Miriam bat Chaya Liba
Shoshana bat Shoshana
David Frazer
Judy Weber
Mark Penner
Yocheved Shoshana bat Hana
Lois Simpson
Chuck Beard
HaRav Aviva Elisheva bat
Gavriela Simcha ve-HaRav Simcha
Cindy Polinsky
Terrie Babcock
Chris Kelly
Jami Pytko
Margaret Larabee
Dave Mangun
Amalia bat Elka
Kobey bat Bina v'Yonatan
Eva Rollnik
Rachael Hermann
Karl Levy

Mary Ann Calhoun
David ben Rivka
Jack Troia
Kathy Goodrich
Nachama bat Shayna
Fran Snavely
Mary Kirby
Rori Bergere
Bruce Dumouchel
Jane Ostacher
Larry Jowett
Susan Hogan
Katie Polebaum-Freeman
haRav Fraydel Rivka bat Zlata Rayna
Harry Sheehy
Bil Mikulewicz
Peter Murphy
Julie bat Arline
Fred Golob
Shoshana bat Mindy
Alan Calhoun
Channah bat Rachel
Stella Saks
Gloria Rutberg

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 March!
Shaina Adams-El Guabli
Rabbi Rachel Barenblat
Judy Bookbinder
Rich Cohen
George Drasin
Richard Dubow
Adam Green
Lori Guy
Isaac Herrmann
Bob Hertzig
John Hogan
Susan Mahler

Cameron Miller
Kayla Miller
Ed Oshinsky
Isabel Rosenthal
Howard Saunders
Joe Small
Ben Sosne
Jeff Strait
Audrey Thier
Bob Werbel
Shira Wohlberg

Happy Anniversary!

Judy Bookbinder & Larry Fischer
Bill Levy & Karen Kelly
Howard & Debbie Wineberg

THANK YOU TO THOSE WHO MADE RECENT DONATIONS!
Jerrold & Carol Jacobs … in memory of Morris Jacobs and Estelle & Daniel Goldman
Carol & Ed Oshinsky … for the Rabbi's Discretionary Fund in memory of Sherry Wein
Beth Sands … in memory of Dr. William Leon Sands and Arthur & Edith Rosenthal
Howard & Debbie Wineberg … in memory of Florence Wineberg
DONATIONS WELCOME!

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

Ongoing Support for CBI
Building Fund
Cemetery Fund
Rabbi's Discretionary Fund
Education Fund
Take & Eat
The L'Dor V'Dor Legacy Society
Upkeep & Care for CBI's Pollinator Garden
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