A wheel-shaped calendar that features the 12 months of the Jewish calendar and the 12 months of the secular calendar.

This year is a Leap Year… twice. On the Gregorian calendar, we get February 29th, an extra day added every four years to more or less keep our 365-day calendar aligned with the sun. On the Jewish calendar, we get not an extra day but a whole extra month.

“…Nobody can bootstrap themself. Our work in this life is to free each other…”

Happy Tu BiShvat

Happy 2024! I love having two opportunities each year to begin again – first in the fall at Rosh Hashanah, then in the winter with New Year’s Day. Beginning again is a valuable spiritual practice, a reminder that we don’t have to be stuck in what was but rather can cultivate the promise of something new.

Clipart of menorahs, dreidels, and doves on a light teal background.

The big mitzvah associated with Chanukah is pirsumei nisa, “publicizing the miracle.” Tradition teaches us to place the Chanukah lights someplace where they will be seen. (Unless we fear for our lives, in which case tradition permits us to keep our light under the proverbial bushel.) We display our lights to publicize the miracle: the oil that lasted until new oil could be made; the leap of faith that led us to kindle light in the first place; the miracle of hope in times of despair.

Especially this year, holding fast to hope and to Jewish joy feels like a radical act… and a necessary one.

Challah

On the festival of Shemini Atzeret (October 7), our world tilted on its axis. Dancing with the Torah that night felt like an act of resistance, connectedness, and hope, even amidst our tears.

An illustration of an open Torah scroll surrounded by Esrog and Luluv.

Joy! Joy! Joy! As I write these words we’re about to enter into Sukkot – also known as Season Of Our Rejoicing.

Entering 5784: Erev Rosh Hashanah. Service led by R. Rachel Barenblat & Cantorial Soloist Ziva Larson. Mini-sermonettes by Dr. Suzanne Graver, Sandy Ryan, & Dr. Len Radin on the theme of "Returning."

In our tradition of inviting CBI members to speak during our Erev Rosh Hashanah service, Sandy Ryan, Dr. Len Radin, & Dr. Suzanne Graver offered mini-sermonettes on September 15, 2023 on the the theme of “Returning.”

Runway to the Days of Awe 5784: Tisha b'Av; 7 Weeks / Limbering Up; Rosh Hashanah; 10 Days of Teshuvah; Yom Kippur; Sukkot.

We’re on the runway: the Days of Awe are approaching. We’ve entered the Limbering Up time.

Runway to the Days of Awe 5784: Tisha b'Av; 7 Weeks / Limbering Up; Rosh Hashanah; 10 Days of Teshuvah; Yom Kippur; Sukkot.

July is upon us. All winter long I anticipate summer’s long daylight: the luscious green curves of our hillsides, how the pollinator garden behind the synagogue becomes a riot of color and leaf. And we’re here! We made it! This place where we are blessed to live is beautiful in all seasons, but this is the season I love the most. And… spiritual life never stands still. The wheel is always already turning toward the holidays to come.

Congregation Beth Israel & New Hope United Methodist Church

We’re writing with delight to share news of a new interfaith collaboration happening at CBI.