By Bonnie Bader
The light in Israel is brilliant. It floated over the Mediterranean, the Sea of Galilee, the Jordan River (which is neither deep nor wide). It reflected off the Dome of the Rock, emanated from the candles held in the Church of the Holy Sepulcher, and reflected off the Kotel; men and women praying in their separate sections. The light danced off faces: white, beige, brown, black, sparkling in the blue and brown eyes.
The light in Israel is mystical. Wandering through the cobbled streets of Tzfat, one of the four Holy Cities, I took in the blue doors, gobbled down a delicious Yemenite sandwich, and visited art galleries with work inspired by the messages of Kabbalah, and old synagogues each with its own story.
By Rabbi Rachel Timoner
I remember the first Dyke March, organized by the Lesbian Avengers in 1993 during the LGBT March on Washington. I was there, and I remember feeling that I was finally free — that we dykes could claim all of who we were — our full and complex identities, our bodies, our love, our commitments to equality and justice for all — and be utterly unashamed. It, and the subsequent marches since all over the country, have been profoundly liberating for so many people.
By Emily Sachs
Parshah B’midbar begins with an accounting/a census of military age Israelite men.
“So Moses and Aaron took those men, who were designated by name, and on the first day of the second month they convened the whole community, who were registered by the clans of their ancestral houses—the names of those aged twenty years and over being listed head by head.” Numbers 1:17
As the mother of a twenty-year old, whom we named for Jonah, the reluctant but effective prophet to the people of Ninevah, I think a lot about who counts, who serves, and what courage, service and peace-making look like.
After a comprehensive and thoughtful process led by a committee chaired by Danielle Mindlin with members Leslie Lewin, Marc Sternberg, Mara Getz Shaftel, and Jonathan Spear, and in close consultation with our clergy team and Yachad staff, we are thrilled to welcome Tehilah Eisenstadt to CBE as our new Director of Yachad and Family Engagement, effective July 15.
We are thrilled to welcome Alan Herman as our Executive Director and Chief Operating Officer, effective July 15.
Rabbi Leora Ezrachi-Vered recently joined us as part of her Golden Fellowship through HUC-JIR, which brings Israeli rabbinical students and recently ordained Israeli Reform Rabbis to intern in North American Reform congregations. Read Rabbi Ezrachi-Vered’s heartfelt reflection to CBE.
In the past week you may have noticed me around. I’ve had the good fortune to be able to visit CBE as a “Golden Fellow” (thanks to the generosity of the Hebrew Union College- Jewish Institute of Religion), getting to know your wonderful community, learning from your spiritual leadership and joining activities.
A CBE member for 30 years, Carol Shuchman organizes our annual Respite Bed Shelter, which she helped to launch eight years ago. The five-week shelter – operated in conjunction with CAMBA – is hosted in the Rotunda; it provides 12 homeless men with a warm, safe place to sleep, and a hot, protein-based meal prepared and served by CBE families and volunteers.
One of my favorite aspects of the seder is that we eat reclining. In this one move, the seder invites us to act out the release of stress from the body. The four questions tell us that on other nights we might eat sitting upright — tense — our minds on the work or hardships of the day, full of worry about what tomorrow will hold. But tonight, the freed slave experiences the psychic safety to recline, and we re-enact that sense of emotional and physical release. When my kids were little, they’d decorate their own special pillows for this purpose, which led them to nestle in to the shoulders or onto the laps of their neighbors. We’d make sure that everyone around the table had a pillow in order to fully lean on one another. This leaning on others reminds us that we’re connected, and the people around us can help hold us up.
The Jewish coming-of-age ceremony stretches to accommodate the new gender fluidity…
Rabbi Timoner recently wrote an op-ed for the Forward on Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s upcoming appearance at the AIPAC Policy conference, expressing major concern for Netanyahu’s recent embrace of the controversial, extremist Jewish Power Party.
Dear CBE Community,
As we prepare for Shabbat, our hearts are broken from the murderous hate that killed 49 Muslims during prayer at two mosques in Christchurch, New Zealand. Before killing and wounding innocent worshippers, the murderer released a manifesto citing American white nationalism as his inspiration. With Pittsburgh still so clear in our memories, we know how threatened and vulnerable all Jews felt after our own people were targeted in one of our holy places. We also know what it felt like when the larger community stood with us to make clear that we were not, and would not be, alone. We remember in particular how the Muslim community encircled us with their love and support.
Rabbi Rachel Timoner recently appeared on an episode of the Beliefs Podcast, a weekly news podcast covering religion, faith, and ethics. Rabbi Timoner and Dr. William Baker had a meaningful conversation about progressive activism, Zionism, the great potential of the progressive Jewish movement in America, and the crosswinds and squalls for American Jews during the Trump Administration.
CBE is excited to announce its first annual Unleavened Plays Festival.
The Festival is seeking six 10-minute plays, each reflecting the underlying theme of “PLAGUE(S).” The plays will be performed as an evening of staged readings at CBE on Sunday, April 14, 2019 — the weekend before Passover begins, as people around the world begin to think about the Jewish people’s efforts to escape Egypt and head out into the desert toward freedom.
Rattlestick Playwrights Theater, in partnership with CBE and Brooklyn Jews, opened their search to commission a new play focusing on the American Jewish experience. The commission is looking to support an emerging, early-career playwright in creating a new work that will encourage meaningful dialogue around the complexity of being Jewish in America.
Read Rabbi Timoner’s d’var Torah on the upcoming Women’s March on Washington.
We find ourselves this week in the second parasha in the Book of Exodus. At the opening of last week’s Torah portion, we meet a new Pharaoh who doesn’t know Joseph. “Look, the Israelite people are much too numerous for us,” he says. “They might side with our enemies.” So he oppresses us ruthlessly with labor that makes our lives bitter, but we continue to increase and spread out until the Egyptians come to dread us.
Distinguished writer, Ta-Nehisi Coates and Chris Hayes of MSNBC’s All In with Chris Hayes, recently sat on the bimah in the main sanctuary to discuss the current political climate in America.
Fabiano Caruana will be the first American to compete for in the World Chess Championship since Bobby Fischer in 1972! Shortly after moving to the Park Slope area, Caruana’s parents enrolled him in CBE’s after school program where he was first introduced to the game of chess.
Rabbi Rachel Timoner sat down with Joel Berg, CEO of Hunger Free America and host of “America, We Need to Talk” on WBAI Radio, to discuss the current climate of anti-Semitism in America, what we as Jews (and as people) can do to eliminate it, and the importance of welcoming and embracing the other. Rabbi Timoner’s interview begins at 01:05.
Rabbi Matthew L. Green is this week’s featured guest on ReformJudaism.org’s weekly Torah podcast, On the Other Hand: Ten Minutes of Torah. Download the most recent episode to hear him chat with Rabbi Rick Jacobs about what the weekly bible portion means in modern life: apple.co/1Rr87Nc
Farewell Speech from Rabbi Marc Katz
Marc’s Last Lap Farewell Event, June 3, 2018
The amazing thing about the Jewish tradition is that there is a prayer for everything. There is a prayer for new beginnings, a prayer for seeing lightning and a different prayer for the rainbow after the storm. There is a prayer for seeing a beautiful person, and prayer for smelling a flower, even a prayer for using the bathroom.
But my favorite prayer has always been the prayer of endings, because it completely defies expectations.
Bringing Young Ideas to Veteran Institutions
In 11th annual installment of The Jewish Week’s 36 Under 36 special section, CBE’s Assosiate Rabbi, Matt Green was recognized as one of the The New Bridge Builders; a group of leading changemakers reaching across divides and edging the Jewish community forward.
A Message from Rabbi Rachel Timoner
Dear CBE Community,
I know that many of us are experiencing a range of thoughts and emotions about what’s been happening in Israel. Yesterday, as the American Embassy was moved to Jerusalem and as 60 Palestinian people were killed at the Gaza border fence, Rabbi Rick Jacobs released this statement, which I support, on behalf of the Reform movement. Meanwhile, Rabbi Sharon Brous was with Rev. William Barber and many leaders of the Reform movement in Washington, D.C. launching the Poor People’s Campaign. She said these words about poverty in the United States, words that speak to my heart about Israel and the Palestinians. Perhaps they will speak to yours.
Last month, we shared the bittersweet news that Rabbi Katz will be leaving CBE at the end of June to lead Temple Ner Tamid in Bloomfield, New Jersey. You can see that announcement and Marc’s beautiful letter to the congregation here. Four weeks ago, we were thrilled to announce that Matt Green will become CBE’s new Assistant Rabbi after he is ordained in the spring. You can see that announcement and read about Matt’s stellar achievements here. Today, we share the exciting news that CBE is expanding our clergy team with a third rabbi, and to introduce you to Rabbi Rebecca Epstein.
Washington, DC – On Wednesday, January 17, Rabbi Rachel Timoner joined Bend the Arc Jewish Action, the Religious Action Center of Reform Judaism, the Anti-Defamation League, and other clergy, leaders, and grassroots volunteers from across the Jewish community in a historic act of Jewish civil disobedience.
More than 100 participants occupied the Russell Senate Office Building on Capitol Hill to demand that congress include a clean DREAM Act in the government funding bill.
Dear CBE Community,
We hope that you’ve had a chance to read Rabbi Marc Katz’s announcement last week. While it is not possible to ever replace Rabbi Katz at CBE, and while his imprint will remain on our community and on our lives for many years to come, we are grateful to have an extraordinary new rabbi ready to serve our community in his own unique way. We are thrilled to share the wonderful news that Matt Green will be CBE’s new Assistant Rabbi beginning on July 1, 2018.
To My CBE Community,
At the funeral for 32-year-old Heather Heyer, may her memory forever be a blessing, Heather’s mother said:
Tablet discussed how CBE’s Sukkah, which featured educational materials from HIAS, was especially designed to bring awareness about the world refugee crisis.
Bklynr published an article about when rocker legend Patti Smith visited CBE’s Brooklyn by the Book event and performed “Because the Night” in our very own CBE sanctuary.
Bklynr covered CBE’s Brooklyn by the Book event which featured author Toni Morrison who discussed her most recent book, God Help the Child.
The Observer’s piece talks about Rabbi Timoner’s new role at CBE and her focus on social justice activism.
The JTA features CBE’s Hebrew language immersion summer camp for kids, Ha’Geemnasia as a fun, effective, and enlightening way for children to learn Hebrew and about Israeli culture.