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They Are Coming And We Need You!

02/02/2023 03:22:36 PM


Guest Blogger, Cathy Campbell

What a year it has been for refugees finding a new home in Austin.  What a year it has been for the Jewish community assisting these refugee families!    And, what a year it has been for interfaith and community partnerships.

When a group of us from the Jewish Community learned that thousands of Afghan refugees were being airlifted to the United States as the Afghan government fell to the Taliban, we knew we had...Read more...

Let My People Go

01/25/2023 04:43:04 PM


Rabbi Kelly Levy

I’ll begin this week’s blog with a joke: “Hey Siri, do you have free will?” Siri responds, “I have been programmed to say yes.”

While this may not be the joke of the century, I do hope it made you smile a little bit. And, perhaps, maybe it made you think more deeply about the concept of free will?

So, why bring up this big and...

"What Do You Stand For? How Far Would You Go?"

01/18/2023 04:17:26 PM


Rabbi Steve Folberg

Dear Ones,

This past Sunday, I asked our Confirmation (10th grade) students a rather unusual question. "Is there a righteous cause that is so important to you that you would consider engaging in an act of nonviolent civil disobedience to further that cause? Is there any principal or civil right so important to you that you could imagine peacefully protesting, even if it got you briefly arrested, let's say, for...Read more...

Hineni, Here I am

01/12/2023 01:09:22 PM


Sarah Avner, Cantorial Soloist

For the past several weeks we have been reading the story of Joseph as the book of Genesis finally comes to its end. The story of Jacob, his favorite son Joseph, and the band of brothers is so exciting that Tim Rice and Andrew Lloyd Webber crafted a musical based on the tale in 1968: “Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat”.

Fast-forward to 1985, three years after the...

The End and The Beginning

01/05/2023 12:31:37 PM


Happy 2023! We are nearly one week into the new year, and I can feel a buzz of excitement in the air. People are ready for something different, something fresh, something new. Of course, many have made resolutions and commitments for the year to come or turned over a new leaf for a fresh start. But, just as we begin something new, we recognize that something else had to end.

As we begin another lap around the sun, I can’t help but...Read more...

Miracle on 38 1/2 Street

12/21/2022 12:22:16 PM


Rabbi Kelly Levy

Even though we are halfway through Chanukah, the smell of latkes still lingers in the air (and most likely will continue to for weeks at this rate). My fingers are sore from spinning dreidels, the wax continues to collect in layer upon layer on our Chanukiah, but the joy and excitement for this holiday remains.

Personally, I felt extremely uplifted seeing so many smiling and...Read more...

Hanukkah 2022

12/15/2022 08:06:22 PM


Rabbi Steven Folberg

Unlike many other Jewish holidays, Hanukkah doesn't have its own section in the Talmud, as does, for example, the festival of Pesach. Instead, it is touched upon in the section on Shabbat. The rabbis are talking about what kinds of wicks and what kinds of oils make good candles for Shabbat. And the conversation eventually meanders into talking about Hanukkah lights.

When the passage gets around to...

The December Dilemma 

12/08/2022 04:09:41 PM


Rabbi Kelly Levy

“Oh, the weather outside is muggy,

And sadly, it’s still buggy.

But as long as you re-member

It’s December, it’s December, it’s December.”


Well, I may not be a great song writer, but I do know that it’s the time of year...Read more...

Hebrew School, it is awesome.

12/01/2022 03:48:51 PM


Sarah Avner, Cantorial Soloist

Shalom Chaverim,

One of the absolute privileges of my work here at CBI is the opportunity to teach a Dalet (6th grade) Hebrew class on Wednesday afternoons. Some of you might remember your own Hebrew school experiences as young children. Some of you might be experiencing this phenomenon through your children, for the first time and some of you might have all of this behind you as...Read more...

“Being a Great Ancestor (Like Abraham)”

11/17/2022 10:13:13 AM


Rabbi Steven Folberg


One of my favorite wise sayings is this: "The finest achievement to which one can aspire is that of being a good ancestor." That's not an exact quotation, and it grieves me that I can no longer remember where I first heard it, but it reflects a deep and uplifting truth, whatever the original source might be.

At the beginning of this week's Torah portion, Hayei Sarah (the Hebrew means, The Life of Sarah), the...Read more...

The Gift of Life 

11/10/2022 09:20:59 AM


Guest Blogger: Adam Sadovsky

This week marks the annual Organ Donor Shabbat, a time to honor those who have given the gift of life to others with their own body. To celebrate those who have given this gift, Adam Sadovsky, CBI past president shares his experience with donating stem cells. Please consider participating in the Jewish value of P’kuach Nefesh, “preserving a life” by joining an organ donor or living donor registry.

So, this journey begins in...

Have a little faith

11/03/2022 07:55:46 PM


Rabbi Kelly Levy

What would you do if someone told you to pack up all of your things, get in your car, start driving, and just keep going until you’ve reached an unknown destination? Would you do it? Would you stop and think for a moment about whether it’s a good idea? Would you refuse?

In this week’s Torah portion, we meet Abram and Sarai, Judaism’s first ancestors. Abram, who later...Read more...

Parking Lot Shabbat - Friday, November 4 @ 6:30 p.m.

10/27/2022 01:35:47 PM


Sarah Avner, Cantorial Soloist

“If you can’t fly then run, if you can’t run then walk, if you can’t walk then crawl, but whatever you do you have to keep moving forward.” – Martin Luther King Jr.

In just four days it will be Monday, October 31st. The one-year anniversary of the evening when an arsonist, full of hate for us, attempted to burn down our synagogue. I will forever feel gratitude towards...Read more...

Sleepovers and Radical Amazement

10/20/2022 06:34:48 PM


I saw a post somewhere on social media a couple of weeks ago relating to our just-concluded festival of Sukkot. It pointed out that in our tradition, the ten days from Rosh Hashanah to Yom Kippur are ones in which God says to us, “Get your act together! Do teshuvah!” Then comes Sukkot, the post continued, when God says to us, “Enough of that! Now… Step outside!”


As I pointed out on Tuesday night to our Living...Read more...

Becoming Ushpizin 

10/12/2022 03:24:49 PM


Rabbi Kelly Levy

Moadim L’Simchah! It’s hard to believe that we’re halfway through the wonderful celebration of Sukkot and just days away from Simchat Torah. Time has flown by these past few weeks. They’ve been a whirlwind of prayer, joy, community, and gratitude. As we continue to experience the wonder of Sukkot, I’m reminded of the lovely tradition of inviting ushpizin into our midst.

What, or rather who are ushpizin? This Aramaic word for “guests” refers to the people we welcome into our Sukkah in order to provide them with hospitality, a meal, shelter, a place to celebrate the joy of the holiday. In some traditions, ushpizin are spiritual guests, such as our matriarchs, patriarchs, and other ancestors we wish to bring into our Sukkah. Read more...


10/06/2022 10:59:49 AM


Sarah Avner, Cantorial Soloist

Shalom Chaverim,

Much of our t’fillah (prayer) is gratitude-focused. In fact, if you have ever joined us for Shabbat morning worship OR, in these past 10 days, Rosh Hashanah or Yom Kippur morning services, you would have prayed these words firsthand. We thank God for everything from our bodies working to our souls being returned to us to being made b’tzelem Elohim (in the image...Read more...

For the love of Elul 

09/14/2022 04:05:15 PM


Rabbi Kelly Levy

Last week, I looked up at the full moon and realized that we are halfway through the month of Elul. After a brief moment of panic, I remembered that this month is more than a time of frantic preparations for the High Holy Days; it’s an opportunity for personal introspection and reflection.

It might sound a bit funny, but as a rabbi, it feels harder to find moments to...Read more...

"So, Rabbi, Are You Ready for Rosh Hashanah?"

09/08/2022 01:42:40 PM


Rabbi Steven Folberg

The question that forms the title of this blog post is one that I am asked fairly regularly at this time of year. It most often pops up when I run into someone in the Jewish community at the grocery store, and it is most often offered with a good-natured and sympathetic smile, knowing what a busy time of year this is for rabbis. My two favorite answers to this question are as follows: 

"Ready for Rosh Hashanah? No! But then, who...

Welcome to the month of Elul!

09/01/2022 12:53:27 PM


Sarah Avner, Cantorial Soloist

This past Shabbat we welcomed in the new Hebrew month of Elul with psalms of praise and special Torah and haftarah readings. In the special verses that made up the maftir (end of our Torah reading for the week) we were instructed regarding the sacrifices to be made:

“On your new moons you shall present a burnt offering to Adonai: two bulls of the herd, one ram, and seven...Read more...

Goodbye, summer! 

08/24/2022 03:27:06 PM


Rabbi Kelly Levy

Annnnddd, we’re back!

To school, that is. So many of our students have returned to their classrooms, ready and engaged for a new year of learning. With the new year comes excitement, energy, anxiety, and exhaustion. And, this year, there is a sincere hope that we can return to some semblance of “normalcy.”

With the current case numbers of...

How a summer adventure inspires Selichot programming.

08/18/2022 12:48:56 PM


Sarah Avner, Cantorial Soloist

While on vacation this summer we dedicated 48 hours to “let’s see where the road takes us.” We left my parents home on the shore of Lake Huron, stopped in London, ON (my birthplace) to pick up my mother-in-law and then ventured onward.

Jonathan found a new Craft Gin Trail that took us first to Stratford, home of the Stratford Festival, Ken’s Chip Wagon, and Justin Bieber....Read more...


08/11/2022 10:48:23 AM


Sera Bonds, Interim Executive Director

Like many working professionals I struggle with maintaining healthy boundaries between my vocation i.e. how I make money and the rest of my life. As a proud Gen Xer, I count myself as lucky to have experienced a part of my career (I got my first email account when I was 27 and my first cell phone when I was 30) when it was expected that if you were not physically AT work then you were not working. It was also unacceptable, in the first decade...Read more...

Turning Mourning into Action 

08/02/2022 03:51:22 PM


Rabbi Kelly Levy

“By the rivers of Babylon, there we sat down and wept, when we remembered Zion” (Psalm 137:1). Like many of you, when I read this well-known verse from Psalm 137, I immediately think of this version by Boney M. from 1978. The upbeat tempo and catchy melody are beautiful, but don’t really express the devastation behind the words.

In just a few days, we will commemorate Tisha...

"Hello Mother, Hello Father..."

07/28/2022 02:20:00 PM


Rabbi Kelly Levy

As I mentioned in my previous blog from July 7, I was fortunate to spend 12 days at my home away from home, Greene Family Camp. While I have spent many, many summers at GFC, this one was unlike any other, in particular as I watched hundreds of campers and staff sing their hearts out while wearing masks.

And yet, the magic of camp still remained. The joy of bringing my daughter with...Read more...

Introduction   to Interim Executive Director

07/20/2022 03:07:12 PM


Sera Bonds

Hello CBI Community. 

Please allow me to introduce myself, my name is Sera Bonds. 

I am a: mother, southerner, Jew, activist, public health devotee, surfer, sci-fi geek, founder, wanderer, community organizer, lover of naps and swimming holes, rainmaker (i.e. fundraiser), daughter, sister, friend, and wife. Not always in that order, of course. 

And I am currently serving as the Interim Executive Director...Read more...

A Talking Donkey?!

07/13/2022 04:48:31 PM


Sarah Avner, Cantorial Soloist

Inarguably, the most famous talking donkey of our modern time is the creation of DreamWorks Shrek named, simply, Donkey. Since he first made his appearance on the big screen in April 2001, the word donkey has become synonymous with Eddie Murphy’s voice: “You might have seen a housefly, maybe even a superfly but I bet you ain't never seen a donkey fly." or “…and in the mornin' I'm makin' waffles." or “You...Read more...

Summer means CAMP!

07/06/2022 04:52:46 PM


Rabbi Kelly Levy

Many of you know that I grew up just down the road in San Antonio. That also means I had the privilege of attending Greene Family Camp each summer as a kid and later, as an adult. This Saturday, I will head back up I-35 to my home away from home for my 17th summer at GFC.

Camp has always been a huge part of my life. It helped shape my Jewish identity, it gave me the confidence to...Read more...

Modim anachnu lach...

06/30/2022 11:07:55 AM


Sarah Avner, Cantorial Soloist

In our Shabbat morning liturgy, we find this beautiful poem on the theme of gratitude:


worlds known and unknown, galaxies beyond galaxies,

filling us with awe and challenging our imaginations,

מודים אנחנו לך

Modim anachnu lach, (we thank You)


"Speaking Your Truth, Standing Your Ground, Honoring Your True Name"

06/23/2022 05:01:44 PM


Rabbi Steven Folberg

In the anthology of midrash called Koheleth Rabbah ("The Great Midrash on Ecclesiastes") we find a well-known rabbinic proverb about names:

“A person has three names:
one that they are called by their father and mother;
one that people know them by,
and one that they acquire for themselves.
The best of these names is the one we acquire for ourselves.”

The significance of the first two...

Some Thoughts on Juneteenth 

06/16/2022 09:14:55 AM


Guest Blogger: Daniela Weil

Do you know the date that enslaved Africans were legally freed by the Emancipation Proclamation? 

Answer: It was New Year's Day, 1863. 

Now another question: Were enslaved people in the US set free on that date?

Answer: No. Freedom was a process. It started in the North and as you traveled South, the acknowledgement of that new reality was not simple. Making it happen...Read more...

Mon, February 6 2023 15 Sh'vat 5783