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.

Wednesday, May 26, 2021 - Family Papers: A Sephardic Journey Through the Twentieth Century by Sarah Abrevaya Stein

Named one of the best books of 2019 by The Economist and a New York Times Book Review Editors’ Choice. A National Jewish Book Award finalist A superb and touching book about the frailty of ties that hold together places and people.”—The New York Times Book Review An award-winning historian shares the true story of a frayed and diasporic Sephardic Jewish family preserved in thousands of letters. For centuries, the bustling port city of Salonica was home to the sprawling Levy family. As leading publishers and editors, they helped chronicle modernity as it was experienced by Sephardic Jews across the Ottoman Empire. The wars of the twentieth century, however, redrew the borders around them, in the process transforming the Levys from Ottomans to Greeks. Family members soon moved across boundaries and hemispheres, stretching the familial diaspora from Greece to Western Europe, Israel, Brazil, and India. In time, the Holocaust nearly eviscerated the clan, eradicating whole branches of the family tree. In Family Papers, the prizewinning Sephardic historian Sarah Abrevaya Stein uses the family’s correspondence to tell the story of their journey across the arc of a century and the breadth of the globe. They wrote to share grief and to reveal secrets, to propose marriage and to plan for divorce, to maintain connection. They wrote because they were family. And years after they frayed, Stein discovers, what remains solid is the fragile tissue that once held them together: neither blood nor belief, but papers. With meticulous research and care, Stein uses the Levys’ letters to tell not only their history, but the history of Sephardic Jews in the twentieth century.

Wednesday, June 23, 2021 - I Want You to Know We're Still Here: A Post-Holocaust Memoir by Esther Safran Foer

“A beautiful exploration of collective memory and Jewish history.”—Nathan Englander “Esther Safran Foer is a force of nature: a leader of the Jewish people, the matriarch of America’s leading literary family, an eloquent defender of the proposition that memory matters. And now, a riveting memoirist.”—Jeffrey Goldberg, editor in chief of The Atlantic. Esther Safran Foer grew up in a home where the past was too terrible to speak of. The child of parents who were each the sole survivors of their respective families, for Esther the Holocaust loomed in the backdrop of daily life, felt but never discussed. The result was a childhood marked by painful silences and continued tragedy. Even as she built a successful career, married, and raised three children, Esther always felt herself searching. So when Esther’s mother casually mentions an astonishing revelation—that her father had a previous wife and daughter, both killed in the Holocaust—Esther resolves to find out who they were, and how her father survived. Armed with only a black-and-white photo and a hand-drawn map, she travels to Ukraine, determined to find the shtetl where her father hid during the war. What she finds reshapes her identity and gives her the opportunity to finally mourn. I Want You to Know We’re Still Here is the poignant and deeply moving story not only of Esther’s journey but of four generations living in the shadow of the Holocaust. They are four generations of survivors, storytellers, and memory keepers, determined not just to keep the past alive, but to imbue the present with life and more life.

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.

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)

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