From The President

Dear Congregants and Friends,

Though winter still has its grip on us here in the Berkshires, CBI continues to provide light and community with its ongoing Shabbat services and programs for adults, children, and families, both in-person and remotely via Zoom. I want to highlight some of what we have accomplished in recent months and what’s coming up.

Our monthly Friday night Kabbalat Shabbat services, led by Rabbi Rachel Barenblat, are enhanced by our choir, who bring beautiful melodies, some traditional and some newly composed, to our services. Families gather for once-a-month Shabbat morning services led by Rabbi Jarah Greenfield. Children fill the classrooms and sanctuary Monday afternoons for religious school. We are also blessed to have monthly Shabbat morning services led by Rabbi Pam Wax and occasional services led by cantorial soloist and CBI member Ziva Larson. CBI is so fortunate to be able to draw on the spirituality and wisdom of such talented Jewish professionals. We had a wonderful community Chanukah celebration, with music by the bonfire and homemade latkes and donuts.

In addition to our regular services, we continue to celebrate Shabbat together at home via our First Friday evening Zoom gatherings. The Adult Programming Committee plans and sponsors monthly programs, including our Meditative Sound Bath, which took place last Sunday, and our monthly book club on Zoom. This month, the CBI Book Club will feature an appearance on Wednesday, February 15 by author Aaron Tillman. On Sunday, February 22 at 4pm, Dr. Brahim El Guabli, Williams College Assistant Professor of Arabic Studies will give a presentation on “Reckoning with Loss: Moroccan Jews Return in Literature & Film.” Look for more information on all our upcoming programs in our weekly CBI Announcements.

We are very excited to announce that we will be holding an in-person Community Passover Seder, led by Rabbi Rachel, on Thursday, April 6 — the second night of the holiday. Jen Burt and her family will once again be catering. Please mark your calendar and plan to attend! We can’t wait to celebrate together.

Thanks to significant funding from the Jewish Federation of the Berkshires, CBI enhanced its security through several improvements to our existing systems. The Board is continuously evaluating and updating our systems. We thank all those Board members and other CBI members who usher, and those who RSVP to services and programs to let us know to expect you. Our goal is to be a welcoming and inclusive community at the same time as we strive to keep everyone safe. Everyone has a role to play — both in welcoming people and remaining alert to our surroundings and anything troubling or unusual.

And finally, we are reimagining what a Jewish education should look like with the help of our parents, Education Committee, teachers, and Rabbis. We have applied for an Education Grant from the Jewish Federation of the Berkshires and are waiting to hear back from them. We are planning an exciting collaboration with Kesher Shalom, a group of unaffiliated young families from southern Vermont and northern Berkshires.

I hope you will participate in our many offerings and lend a hand by volunteering. I’d love to hear what interests you — please contact me at [email protected].


— Natalie Matus