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.
Cost: $325 for CBE members / $425 for non-members
Click here to register and for more information

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!

Mishkan HaSeder: Preparing for the Journey with a Poetry Haggadah

Tuesdays 10-11:30 AM, February 16 through March 23 over Zoom
Join Jessica Greenbaum, award winning poet and the co-editor of the first ever poetry haggadah just printed by the Central Conference of American Rabbis. We will spend the six weeks leading up to Passover investigating the haggadah’s choices of poems—over 80 by 70 poets of all stripes—that face each page of haggadah text.
Click here to learn more and RSVP. Zoom information and instructions on how to acquire Mishkan HaSeder will be provided upon RSVP.

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

On April 21, 2020, we were delighted to virtually welcome author Jamie Bernstein to CBE to discuss her memoir Famous Father Girl. She was in conversation with CBE Book Group lay leader Linda Quigley. The conversation was recorded via Zoom, click here to watch.

On June 28, 2020, we were delighted to virtually welcome author Matti Friedman to CBE to discuss his novel Spies of No Country: Secret Lives at the Birth of Israel. He was in conversation with CBE’s Assistant Rabbi Matt Green and CBE Book Group lay leader Linda Quigley. The conversation was recorded via Zoom, click here to watch.

On October 18, 2020, we were delighted to virtually welcome Yousef Bashir to CBE discuss his novel The Words of My Father: Love and Pain in Palestine. He was in conversation with CBE’s Assistant Rabbi Matt Green and CBE Book Group lay leader Linda Quigley. The conversation was recorded via Zoom, click here to watch.

On January 19, 2021 we were delighted to virtually welcome David Maraniss to CBE discuss his novel A Good American Family: The Red Scare and My Father. He was in conversation with CBE Book Group lay leader Linda Quigley. The conversation was recorded via Zoom, click here to watch.

Tuesday, February 23, 2021 - Apeirogon by Colum McCann

New York Times Bestseller “A quite extraordinary novel. Colum McCann has found the form and voice to tell the most complex of stories, with an unexpected friendship between two men at its powerfully beating heart.”—Kamila Shamsie, author of Home Fire From the National Book Award–winning and bestselling author of Let the Great World Spin comes an epic novel rooted in the unlikely real-life friendship between two fathers. Bassam Aramin is Palestinian. Rami Elhanan is Israeli. They inhabit a world of conflict that colors every aspect of their lives, from the roads they are allowed to drive on to the schools their children attend to the checkpoints, both physical and emotional, they must negotiate. But their lives, however circumscribed, are upended one after the other: first, Rami’s thirteen-year-old daughter, Smadar, becomes the victim of suicide bombers; a decade later, Bassam’s ten-year-old daughter, Abir, is killed by a rubber bullet. Rami and Bassam had been raised to hate one another. And yet, when they learn of each other’s stories, they recognize the loss that connects them. Together they attempt to use their grief as a weapon for peace—and with their one small act, start to permeate what has for generations seemed an impermeable conflict.
This extraordinary novel is the fruit of a seed planted when the novelist Colum McCann met the real Bassam and Rami on a trip with the non-profit organization Narrative 4. McCann was moved by their willingness to share their stories with the world, by their hope that if they could see themselves in one another, perhaps others could too. With their blessing, and unprecedented access to their families, lives, and personal recollections, McCann began to craft Apeirogon, which uses their real-life stories to begin another—one that crosses centuries and continents, stitching together time, art, history, nature, and politics in a tale both heartbreaking and hopeful. The result is an ambitious novel, crafted out of a universe of fictional and nonfictional material, with these fathers’ moving story at its heart.

Tuesday, March 23, 2021 - The Escape Artist by Helen Fremont

A luminous family memoir from the author of the critically acclaimed Boston Globe bestseller, After Long Silence, lauded as “mesmerizing” (The Washington Post Book World), “extraordinary” (The Philadelphia Inquirer), and “a triumphant work of art” (Publishers Weekly, starred review). “[A] crackling second book, The Escape Artist is a standalone work. Graceful, gracious, and engrossing.” — Alexandra Styron, The New York Times Book Review A luminous new memoir from the author of the critically acclaimed national bestseller After Long Silence, The Escape Artist has been lauded by New York Times bestselling author Mary Karr as “beautifully written, honest, and psychologically astute. A must-read.” In the tradition of Alison Bechdel’s Fun Home and George Hodgman’s Bettyville, Fremont writes with wit and candor about growing up in a household held together by a powerful glue: secrets. Her parents, profoundly affected by their memories of the Holocaust, pass on to both Helen and her older sister a zealous determination to protect themselves from what they see as danger from the outside world. Fremont delves deeply into the family dynamic that produced such a startling devotion to secret keeping, beginning with the painful and unexpected discovery that she has been disinherited in her father’s will. In scenes that are frank, moving, and often surprisingly funny, She writes about growing up in such an intemperate household, with parents who pretended to be Catholics but were really Jews—and survivors of Nazi-occupied Poland. She shares tales of family therapy sessions, disordered eating, her sister’s frequently unhinged meltdowns, and her own romantic misadventures as she tries to sort out her sexual identity. Searching, poignant, and ultimately redemptive, The Escape Artist is a powerful contribution to the memoir shelf.

Tuesday, April 20, 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.

Tuesday, May 25, 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, June 22, 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, July 20, 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

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 (Click here to watch a recording of our conversation with the author)

The Parisian by Isabella Hammad

Famous Father Girl by Jamie Bernstein

Disoriental by Négar Djavadi

The Imposter: A True Story by Javier Cercas

Go, Went, Gone by Jenny Erpenbeck

Salt Houses by Hala Alyan

Inheritance by Dani Shapiro