Please note that most of our programming has transitioned to being held virtually. For a full, regularly updated schedule, check our calendar.

Basic Judaism: An Intro to Jewish Life, Text, and Ideas

Weekly on Tuesdays at 7:30 PM

This is an overview course in broad strokes about Jewish life, culture, belief, non-belief, and thought. Designed in a 24 week module, this course will attempt to give the participants a solid background to the ideas, practices, and expressions of Jewish life from ancient times to the present, and serves as a prerequisite for conversion at CBE and in many other communities. The course is primarily taught by Rabbi Matt Green, with some guest teaching by other CBE clergy.

Chevrah Torah Study with Rabbi David Kline

Weekly on Saturdays at 11:15 AM (year round) over Zoom

An engaging weekly discussion and exploration of the stories, themes, and lessons from the weekly Torah portion. New students are always welcome!

Jewish Thought with Rabbi Joe Schwartz

Weekly on Mondays at 9:30 AM over Zoom

Lunch and Learn

Weekly on Thursdays from 12:30 to 1:30 PM over Zoom
Check our calendar for specific dates

In each session, we will examine concepts in Jewish political thought. We will explore big themes in political thought such as monarchy, democracy, dissent, welfare, and so on, through the lens of biblical, rabbinic, medieval, and modern Jewish texts. As in years past, will continue the tradition of holding this class every other Thursday. Bring lunch for yourself and Rabbi Green will supply the learning.

Meditation Group

Weekly on Thursdays at 7:30 PM over Zoom

CBE hosts a meditation class every week on Zoom. The group is open to people with all levels of experience and our participants span the range. Beginners will be completely comfortable. Those with experience will also enjoy our wonderful teachers. Click here to learn more!

Mussar

Weekly on Tuesdays at 7:30 PM over Zoom
Check our calendar for specific dates
Zoom links are updated weekly. For up to date information and links, please email Gary Shaffer at mussar@cbebk.org

Mussar seeks to improve our relations with others and ourselves. The class is discussion based and focuses on character traits, or middot, such as patience, generosity, gratitude, anger, and humility. The method is to study these traits and put into practice what we study. The goal is to make us not just more insightful, but to effect a change in behavior by making the heart feel what the mind knows. We draw upon both classic and modern Mussar writings, though no prior knowledge of Mussar or Hebrew is required.

Parsha Study

Weekly on Wednesdays at 7 PM
Taught by Rabbi Timoner, join us for an exploration of the weekly Torah portion. We’ll examine the parsha, alongside both classical and contemporary commentaries. No experience, Hebrew, or Torah knowledge necessary. No registration needed.

Book Group

Join us for a discussion of a book or books determined by this lay-led group. All are welcome! If you have any questions, please email cbebookgroup@cbebk.org

The CBE Book Group has been privileged to welcome several acclaimed authors to speak about their works. To view recordings of some of these talks, including conversations with Jamie Bernstein, Matti Friedman, Yousef Bashir, David Maraniss, and Helen Fremont, click here.

Tuesday, July 20, 2021 - A Woman of No Importance: The Untold Story of the American Spy Who Helped Win WWII by Sonia Purnell

A New York Times Bestseller Chosen as a Best Book of the Year by NPR, the New York Public Library, Amazon, the Seattle Times, the Washington Independent Review of Books, PopSugar, the Minneapolis Star Tribune, BookBrowse, the Spectator, and the Times of London Shortlisted for the Plutarch Award for Best Biography of 2019 “Excellent…This book is as riveting as any thriller, and as hard to put down.”—The New York Times Book Review. “A compelling biography of a masterful spy, and a reminder of what can be done with a few brave people-and a little resistance.”—NPR. A never-before-told story of Virginia Hall, the American spy who changed the course of World War II from the author of Clementine. In 1942, the Gestapo sent out an urgent transmission: “She is the most dangerous of all Allied spies. We must find and destroy her.” The target in their sights was Virginia Hall, a Baltimore socialite who talked her way into Special Operations Executive, the spy organization dubbed Winston Churchill’s “Ministry of Ungentlemanly Warfare.” She became the first Allied woman deployed behind enemy lines and–despite her prosthetic leg—helped to light the flame of the French Resistance, revolutionizing secret warfare as we know it. Virginia established vast spy networks throughout France, called weapons and explosives down from the skies, and became a linchpin for the Resistance. Even as her face covered wanted posters and a bounty was placed on her head, Virginia refused order after order to evacuate. She finally escaped through a death-defying hike over the Pyrenees into Spain, her cover blown. But she plunged back in, adamant that she had more lives to save, and led a victorious guerilla campaign, liberating swathes of France from the Nazis after D-Day. Based on new and extensive research, Sonia Purnell has for the first time uncovered the full secret life of Virginia Hall-an astounding and inspiring story of heroism, spy craft, resistance, and personal triumph over shocking adversity. A Woman of No Importance is the breathtaking story of how one woman’s fierce persistence helped win the war.

Tuesday August 24, 2021 - The Art of Leaving by Ayelet Tsabari

Winner of the Canadian Jewish Literary Award for Memoir Finalist for the Hilary Weston Writers’ Trust Prize for Nonfiction An unforgettable memoir about a young woman who tries to outrun loss, but eventually finds a way home. Ayelet Tsabari was 21 years old the first time she left Tel Aviv with no plans to return. Restless after two turbulent mandatory years in the Israel Defense Forces, Tsabari longed to get away. It was not the never-ending conflict that drove her, but the grief that had shaken the foundations of her home. The loss of Tsabari’s beloved father in years past had left her alienated and exiled within her own large Yemeni family and at odds with her Mizrahi identity. By leaving, she would be free to reinvent herself and to rewrite her own story. For nearly a decade, Tsabari travelled, through India, Europe, the US and Canada, as though her life might go stagnant without perpetual motion. She moved fast and often because—as in the Intifada—it was safer to keep going than to stand still. Soon the act of leaving—jobs, friends and relationships—came to feel most like home. But a series of dramatic events forced Tsabari to examine her choices and her feelings of longing and displacement. By periodically returning to Israel, Tsabari began to examine her Jewish-Yemeni background and the Mizrahi identity she had once rejected, as well as unearthing a family history that had been untold for years. What she found resonated deeply with her own immigrant experience and struggles with new motherhood. Beautifully written, frank and poignant, The Art of Leaving is a courageous coming-of-age story that reflects on identity and belonging and that explores themes of family and home—both inherited and chosen. “The Art of Leaving is, in large part, about what is passed down to us, and how we react to whatever it is…[It] is not self-help—we cannot become whatever we put our mind to—yet it suggests that we can begin to heal from what has broken us, if we only let ourselves…Tsabari’s intense prose gave me pause.” (New York Times Book Review)

Tuesday September 21, 2021 - The Shadow King by Maaza Mengiste

Shortlisted for the 2020 Booker Prize, and named a best book of the year by the New York Times, NPR, Elle, Time, and more, The Shadow King is an “unforgettable epic from an immensely talented author who’s unafraid to take risks” (Michael Schaub, NPR). Set during Mussolini’s 1935 invasion of Ethiopia, The Shadow King takes us back to the first real conflict of World War II, casting light on the women soldiers who were left out of the historical record. At its heart is orphaned maid Hirut, who finds herself tumbling into a new world of thefts and violations, of betrayals and overwhelming rage. What follows is a heartrending and unputdownable exploration of what it means to be a woman at war. “Lyrical, remarkable.” ― New York Times Book Review, Editors’ Choice “Capacious.… adopts the register of myth to shape an epic of nationhood and resistance.” ― The New Yorker “Unforgettable.… [A] propulsive read that captures a historical moment from a fresh perspective.” ― Time “[The Shadow King] is written in a key of pride and exaltation, and its characters have the outsize form of national heroes.… Stirring.” ― Sam Sacks, Wall Street Journal

Wednesday October 27, 2021 - Eva and Eve by Julie Metz (We will also have a Zoom event with Julie Metz, date TBD.)

The author of the New York Times bestselling memoir Perfection returns with an unforgettable account of her late mother’s childhood in Nazi-occupied Austria and the parallels she sees in present-day America. To Julie Metz, her mother, Eve, was the quintessential New Yorker. Eve rarely spoke about her childhood and it was difficult to imagine her living anywhere else except Manhattan, where she could be found attending Carnegie Hall and the Metropolitan Opera or inspecting a round of French triple crème at Zabar’s. In truth, Eve had endured a harrowing childhood in Nazi-occupied Vienna. After her mother passed, Julie discovered a keepsake book filled with farewell notes from friends and relatives addressed to a ten-year-old girl named Eva. This long-hidden memento was the first clue to the secret pain that Julie’s mother had carried as a refugee and immigrant, shining a light on a family that had to persevere at every turn to escape the antisemitism and xenophobia that threatened their survival. Interweaving personal memoir and family history, Eva and Eve vividly traces one woman’s search for her mother’s lost childhood while revealing the resilience of our forebears and the sacrifices that ordinary people are called to make during history’s darkest hours. “Eva and Eve maps a wide arc, pulling a Jewish family’s past in wartime Vienna into the present era with vivid and dramatic detail. The story of political repression, terror and dissolution, then arrival and retrieval in a new country, is full of astonishing and unlikely twists of fate, showing again that individual destiny may be the greatest mystery of all. Metz’s journey to recover the past offers a model for connection and self-understanding—as well as a testament to the strengths of an America that is just and fair to all.” —Dani Shapiro, author of Inheritance: A Memoir of Genealogy, Paternity, and Love “Julie Metz’s Eva and Eve is a beautifully written ode to her mother who escaped the Nazis as a child in Vienna in 1940. With an artist’s eye for detail and a detective’s tenacity, Metz brings to life four generations of her family with great sensitivity and intelligence, and offers a timely meditation on political power gone awry.” —Helen Fremont, national bestselling author of After Long Silence and The Escape Artist.

Tuesday November 23, 2021 - The Orchard by David Hopen

A National Jewish Book Award Finalist A Recommended Book From: The New York Times * Good Morning America * Entertainment Weekly * Electric Literature * The New York Post * Alma * The Millions * Book Riot A commanding debut and a poignant coming-of-age story about a devout Jewish high school student whose plunge into the secularized world threatens everything he knows of himself Ari Eden’s life has always been governed by strict rules. In ultra-Orthodox Brooklyn, his days are dedicated to intense study and religious rituals, and adolescence feels profoundly lonely. So when his family announces that they are moving to a glitzy Miami suburb, Ari seizes his unexpected chance for reinvention. Enrolling in an opulent Jewish academy, Ari is stunned by his peers’ dizzying wealth, ambition, and shameless pursuit of life’s pleasures. When the academy’s golden boy, Noah, takes Ari under his wing, Ari finds himself entangled in the school’s most exclusive and wayward group. These friends are magnetic and defiant—especially Evan, the brooding genius of the bunch, still living in the shadow of his mother’s death. Influenced by their charismatic rabbi, the group begins testing their religion in unconventional ways. Soon Ari and his friends are pushing moral boundaries and careening toward a perilous future—one in which the traditions of their faith are repurposed to mysterious, tragic ends. Mesmerizing and playful, heartrending and darkly romantic, The Orchard probes the conflicting forces that determine who we become: the heady relationships of youth, the allure of greatness, the doctrines we inherit, and our concealed desires.

Tuesday December 28, 2021 - The Polish Boxer, Monastery, and Mourning by Eduardo Halfon*

The Polish Boxer covers a vast landscape of human experience while enfolding a search for origins: a grandson tries to make sense of his grandfather’s past and the story behind his numbered tattoo; a Serbian classical pianist longs for his forbidden heritage; a Mayan poet is torn between his studies and filial obligations; a striking young Israeli woman seeks answers in Central America; a university professor yearns for knowledge that he can’t find in books and discovers something unexpected at a Mark Twain conference. Drawn to what lies beyond the range of reason, they all reach for the beautiful and fleeting, whether through humor, music, poetry, or unspoken words. Across his encounters with each of them, the narrator – a Guatemalan literature professor and writer named Eduardo Halfon – pursues his most enigmatic subject: himself. Mapping the geography of identity in a world scarred by a legacy of violence and exile, The Polish Boxer marks the debut of a major new Latin American voice in English. Eduardo Halfon, a native of Guatemala, has been cited as among the best young Latin American writers by the Hay Festival of Bogotá. He is the recipient of Spain’s prestigious José María de Pereda Prize for the Short Novel and a Guggenheim Fellowship. The Polish Boxer, his first book to appear in English, was a New York Times Editors’ Choice selection and finalist for the International Latino Book Award. Halfon is currently the Harman Writer in Residence at Baruch College in New York and travels frequently between his homes in Nebraska and Guatemala.
Monastery
Best Translated Book Award Longlist Reader’s Digest Great New Book World Literature Today Holiday Gift Guide Recommendation “Eduardo Halfon is a brilliant storyteller.” —Daniel Alcarcon, author of At Night We Walk in Circles In Monastery, the nomadic narrator of Eduardo Halfon’s critically-acclaimed The Polish Boxer returns to travel from Guatemalan cities, villages, coffee plantations, and border towns to a private jazz concert in New York’s Harlem, a former German U-Boat base on the French Breton coast, and Israel, where he escapes from his sister’s Orthodox Jewish wedding into an erotic adventure with the enigmatic Tamara. His passing encounters are unforgettable; his relationships, problematic. At once a world citizen and a writer who mistrusts the power of language, he is pursued by history’s ghosts and unanswerable questions. He is a cartographer of identity on a compelling journey to an uncertain destination. As he draws and redraws his boundaries, he confronts us with the limitations of our own.
Mourning
Edward Lewis Wallant Award Winner Kirkus Prize Finalist Balcones Fiction Prize Finalist PEN Translation Prize Longlist “A feat of literary acrobatics.” ―New York Review of Books In Mourning, Eduardo Halfon’s eponymous narrator travels to Poland, Italy, the U.S., and the Guatemalan countryside in search of secrets he can barely name. He follows memory’s strands back to his maternal roots in Jewish Poland and to the contradictory, forbidden stories of his father’s Lebanese-Jewish immigrant family, specifically surrounding the long-ago childhood death by drowning of his uncle Salomón. But what, or who, really killed Salomón? As he goes deeper, he realizes that the truth lies buried in his own past, in the brutal Guatemala of the 1970s and his subsequent exile to the American South. Mourning is a subtle and stirring reflection on the formative and destructive power of family mythology, silence, and loss.
*Please try to read 2 of the 3.

Tuesday January 25, 2022 - The King of Warsaw by Szczepan Twardoch

A city ignited by hate. A man in thrall to power. The ferociously original award-winning bestseller by Poland’s literary phenomenon―his first to be translated into English. It’s 1937. Poland is about to catch fire. In the boxing ring, Jakub Szapiro commands respect, revered as a hero by the Jewish community. Outside, he instills fear as he muscles through Warsaw as enforcer for a powerful crime lord. Murder and intimidation have their rewards. He revels in luxury, spends lavishly, and indulges in all the pleasures that barbarity offers. For a man battling to be king of the underworld, life is good. Especially when it’s a frightening time to be alive. Hitler is rising. Fascism is escalating. As a specter of violence hangs over Poland like a black cloud, its marginalized and vilified Jewish population hopes for a promise of sanctuary in Palestine. Jakub isn’t blind to the changing tide. What’s unimaginable to him is abandoning the city he feels destined to rule. With the raging instincts that guide him in the ring and on the streets, Jakub feels untouchable. He must maintain the order he knows―even as a new world order threatens to consume him. Szczepan Twardoch is the author of the bestselling novels Morphine, Drach, and The King of Warsaw. He is the recipient of numerous honors for his work, including the Brücke Berlin Preis, Le Prix du Livre Européen, and Nike Literary Award: Audience Award. Rights to his novels have been sold in over a dozen countries. The King of Warsaw is the first of his books to be translated into English. A TV series based on the novel is being produced by Canal+. He lives in Pilchowice, Upper Silesia. “Not just a good read but a welcome reminder of the full range of Jewish life in interwar Poland…a lush panorama of characters who range from the wholesome to the grotesque…Twardoch has an uncanny ability to pluck real-life events and people out of history and slot them into his fictional depictions of gangland Warsaw in 1937…He manages to create a truly believable simulacrum of interwar Warsaw, its streets, its clattering markets, its whorehouses, its upscale restaurants, and its denizens—Jews and Poles of all persuasions—all of which sucks the reader into an atmosphere in which Jewish and Polish Warsaw abutted one another, were intertwined, and yet were also completely separate. He doesn’t shy away from depicting harsh Polish antisemitism but does avoid the tangled thicket of religious culture because this story is one of secular Jews, though they are certainly not entirely denuded of tradition. Moreover, Twardoch is completely dedicated to his characters. He is never done with exploring their personalities—at least not until he kills them off…Twardoch has reached deep into Poland’s blood-soaked earth and has seized its Jewish history with both hands. In doing so, he has created a stunning portrait (recently adapted for Polish television) of a multicultural Poland that no longer exists…As it homes in on one of the city’s forgotten Jewish subcultures, The King of Warsaw also touches on many others. An intense, provocative read, it lifts the massive stone sitting on Warsaw’s history and reanimates what squirms beneath.” —Jewish Review of Books

Tuesday February 22, 2022 - Against the Loveless World by Susan Abulhawa

2020 Palestine Book Awards Winner 2021 Aspen Words Literary Prize Finalist “Susan Abulhawa possesses the heart of a warrior; she looks into the darkest crevices of lives, conflicts, horrendous injustices, and dares to shine light that can illuminate hidden worlds for us.” —Alice Walker, Pulitzer Prize–winning author
In this “beautiful…urgent” novel (The New York Times), Nahr, a young Palestinian woman, fights for a better life for her family as she travels as a refugee throughout the Middle East. As Nahr sits, locked away in solitary confinement, she spends her days reflecting on the dramatic events that landed her in prison in a country she barely knows. Born in Kuwait in the 70s to Palestinian refugees, she dreamed of falling in love with the perfect man, raising children, and possibly opening her own beauty salon. Instead, the man she thinks she loves jilts her after a brief marriage, her family teeters on the brink of poverty, she’s forced to prostitute herself, and the US invasion of Iraq makes her a refugee, as her parents had been. After trekking through another temporary home in Jordan, she lands in Palestine, where she finally makes a home, falls in love, and her destiny unfolds under Israeli occupation. Nahr’s subversive humor and moral ambiguity will resonate with fans of My Sister, The Serial Killer, and her dark, contemporary struggle places her as the perfect sister to Carmen Maria Machado’s Her Body and Other Parties. Written with Susan Abulhawa’s distinctive “richly detailed, beautiful, and resonant” (Publishers Weekly) prose, this powerful novel presents a searing, darkly funny, and wholly unique portrait of a Palestinian woman who refuses to be a victim.

Tuesday March 29, 2022 - The Tunnel by A. B. Yehoshua

A New York Times Editors’ Choice. A Finalist for the National Jewish Book Award. From the award-winning, internationally acclaimed Israeli author, a suspenseful and poignant story of a family coping with the sudden mental decline of their beloved husband and father—an engineer who they discover is involved in an ominous secret military project Until recently, Zvi Luria was a healthy man in his seventies, an engineer living in Tel Aviv with his wife, Dina, visiting with their two children whenever possible. Now he is showing signs of early dementia, and his work on the tunnels of the Trans-Israel Highway is no longer possible. To keep his mind sharp, Zvi decides to take a job as the unpaid assistant to Asael Maimoni, a young engineer involved in a secret military project: a road to be built inside the massive Ramon Crater in the northern Negev Desert. The challenge of the road, however, is compounded by strange circumstances. Living secretly on the proposed route, amid ancient Nabatean ruins, is a Palestinian family under the protection of an enigmatic archaeological preservationist. Zvi rises to the occasion, proposing a tunnel that would not dislodge the family. But when his wife falls sick, circumstances begin to spiral . . . The Tunnel—wry, wistful, and a tour de force of vital social commentary—is Yehoshua at his finest.

Books We've Read

Gun Island by Amitav Ghosh

The Escape Artist by Helen Fremont

Apeirogon by Colum McCann

A Good American Family: The Red Scare and My Father by David Maraniss

The Women in the Castle by Jessica Shattuck

Revolutionaries by Joshua Furst

The Words of My Father by Yousef Bashir

Nine Folds Make a Paper Swan by Ruth Gilligan

The Mandelbaum Gate by Muriel Spark

A Terrible Country by Keith Gessen

Spies of No Country: Secret Lives at the Birth of Israel by Matti Friedman

The Parisian by Isabella Hammad

Famous Father Girl by Jamie Bernstein

Family Papers: A Sephardic Journey Through the Twentieth Century by Sarah Abrevaya Stein

I Want You to Know We’re Still Here: A Post-Holocaust Memoir by Esther Safran Foer