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For the love of Elul 

09/14/2022 04:05:15 PM

Sep14

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

Sep8

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...Read more...

Welcome to the month of Elul!

09/01/2022 12:53:27 PM

Sep1

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

Aug24

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...Read more...

How a summer adventure inspires Selichot programming.

08/18/2022 12:48:56 PM

Aug18

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...

Shabbating

08/11/2022 10:48:23 AM

Aug11

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

Aug2

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...Read more...

"Hello Mother, Hello Father..."

07/28/2022 02:20:00 PM

Jul28

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

Jul20

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

Jul13

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

Jul6

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

Jun30

Sarah Avner, Cantorial Soloist

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

FOR THE EXPANDING GRANDEUR of Creation,

worlds known and unknown, galaxies beyond galaxies,

filling us with awe and challenging our imaginations,

מודים אנחנו לך

Modim anachnu lach, (we thank You)

Read more...

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

06/23/2022 05:01:44 PM

Jun23

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...Read more...

Some Thoughts on Juneteenth 

06/16/2022 09:14:55 AM

Jun16

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...

"Summertime, and the livin' is easy"

06/09/2022 04:37:13 PM

Jun9

Rabbi Kelly Levy

Even though we haven’t quite reached the summer solstice, with the temperature soaring into the 100’s every day this week, it’s safe to say that summer is officially here! And of course, summer brings a plethora of bugs, outdoor activities, and my favorite: the Book of Numbers.

Just last week, we started this new book of Torah. It is my favorite book because of the amazing...Read more...

"I'll Take Jewish Holidays for 500, Alex"

06/02/2022 05:48:54 PM

Jun2

Rabbi Steven Folberg

Imagine a Jewish person named Charlene. Charlene is a contestant on the classic game show, Jeopardy. Imagine that one of the categories that day is Jewish Religion, and that she decides to go for broke and take "Jewish Holidays for 500."

Alex Trebek (may his memory be a blessing) says, “Sukkot, Simchat Torah, Purim, Yom Hashoah and Shavuot.”

Charlene confidently mashes her buzzer and declares, “What...Read more...

Chazak, chazak, v'nitchazeik

05/26/2022 10:39:13 AM

May26

Sarah Avner, Cantorial Soloist

This past Tuesday, May 23rd – three years ago - was a monumental day in our family’s history. Our daughter, Rebekah, attended her last day of middle school. Here is what I wrote to go along with a photo of her first day of kindergarten and, of course, a photo from that last morning of middle school:

“In order to have a new beginning there needs to be an ending. Today is not...Read more...

We Will Not Go Back

05/19/2022 09:59:38 AM

May19

Rabbi Kelly Levy

Just a few days ago, I had the great honor and privilege of speaking at the Jewish Rally for Abortion Justice in Washington, DC. I was asked to speak because of the work I do to help promote reproductive justice and freedom in this country, but also because I serve as a rabbi in Texas. Along with my friend and colleague, Rabbi Josh Fixler (Congregation Emanu El in Houston), we spoke to thousands of Jews who support...Read more...

Finding Holiness

05/05/2022 03:26:28 PM

May5

Sarah Avner, Cantorial Soloist

Our Torah portion for this week, Kedoshim, begins with the following words:

“Adonai spoke to Moses, saying: Speak to the whole Israelite community and say to them: You shall be holy, for I, your God Adonai, am holy.” (Leviticus 19:1-2)

What follows are several verses of commandments...Read more...

Challenging Torah Makes for Good Conversation 

04/28/2022 02:54:03 PM

Apr28

Rabbi Kelly Levy

We’ve reaching the moment in Torah that I personally dread reading, more than any other verse in the entirety of our sacred text. As I explained last week during Friday night services, we are reading the second half of Parashat Acharei Mot in order to align our weekly Torah reading with the rest of the Jewish world.

This half of the portion is filled with laws and commandments...Read more...

Making Your Teacher Proud

04/20/2022 10:26:54 AM

Apr20

Rabbi Steven Folberg

Dear Friends,

A Rosh Hashanah sermon that I delivered a number of years ago explored the bonds of mutual respect and mutual affection that – in the best of circumstances, at least – exist between teachers and their students. In that sermon, I retold a story about John Wheeler, of blessed memory, a brilliant physicist who was for many years was on the UT faculty. According to the story, a young person once asked Professor Wheeler...Read more...

Holiday Greetings - when and how to use them

04/15/2022 12:12:02 PM

Apr15

Sarah Avner, Cantorial Soloist

Chag Pesach Sameach!

The trip to HEB is behind me. The brisket is in the fridge waiting to get rewarmed before dinner. The charoset has been doing the delicious thing it does while the wine macerates the apples, nuts and dates. The plan is set for rearranging our living/dining space to accommodate the tables and chairs. Its official. We are going to celebrate like it is 2019 and we...Read more...

L'chaim, to life! 

04/07/2022 04:36:25 PM

Apr7

Rabbi Kelly Levy

Numbers are a funny thing. While they have often given me great anxiety in my life (there is a reason I became a rabbi!), they also have special significance in Judaism. We often see them repeated throughout important texts, suggesting that the number has special meaning. For example, the number 7 shows up multiple times in reference to the days of creation, the number of times a wedding couple circles their...Read more...

Life is a Blessing

03/25/2022 09:16:00 AM

Mar25

Sarah Avner, Cantorial Soloist

I don’t know about you, but just two days into the City of Austin’s lifting of all COVID 19 protocols, I find myself still processing the news. While I had slowly been emerging from behind my mask: going to HEB, Purim rehearsals with our volunteers, leading worship in our sanctuary mask-free – I am surprised by how this announcement continues to feel like a miracle.

In fact,...Read more...

Spring- A season of resilience 

03/17/2022 02:49:52 PM

Mar17

Rabbi Kelly Levy

One of my favorite things to do each day is take my dog, Frank for walks around our neighborhood. I am fortunate to live in a place with many people who take great care of their lawns, so over the past couple of weeks, I’ve noticed many plants and flowers beginning to blossom and bloom. And, with the joyous celebration of Purim, I know that spring is definitely in the air!

Purim...Read more...

They Think Deeply About Important Things

03/10/2022 10:00:50 AM

Mar10

Rabbi Steven Folberg

 

It was a particularly joyful scene in Sunday School this past week. It was the first time that we had been able to meet in person ("in three dimensions," as I like to say) since last fall, before the omicron variant of COVID-19 once again forced a retreat into virtual, online learning.

While our Education Director Carly Cera and her teaching staff brought every ounce of their...Read more...

Welcome Back!

03/03/2022 08:30:26 AM

Mar3

Sarah Avner, Cantorial Soloist

Hello March!

As we move into this next month on our Gregorian calendar, I wanted to send a big thank you to our community members who shared their personal stories and experiences as we celebrated both Jewish Disability, Awareness, Acceptance, and Inclusion Month and Black History Month in February. It isn’t always easy to put our own experiences out there on a public forum but...Read more...

Seeing Color in the Jewish Community

02/23/2022 10:20:00 AM

Feb23

Guest Blogger: Rhyan Jenkins

I began my conversion during the year of 2020 while I was in Ohio. I was in unfamiliar territory, so I researched all the information I could find about converting to Judaism. The first thing I read about converting, was that it was expected for a rabbi to turn away potential converts three times “in part to reflect on whether they’re willing to deal with anti-Semitism.” (Weissman, 2015). As...Read more...

Join our Most Joyful

02/16/2022 02:27:57 PM

Feb16

Guest Blogger, Cindy Kaplan

You may know our family because of our son, Jadyn, whose presence is noticed most places he goes. Contrary to what you would expect from a guy with Autism, Jadyn is highly social. If he meets you once, he will remember you. When he feels joy, it radiates throughout his whole being. He vocalizes, his hands may flap, his smile beams so large you can see it through his KN95 mask. And there are few places he is more joyful than at CBI, with his...Read more...

"Your Judaism doesn't absolve you from racism."

02/11/2022 10:55:58 AM

Feb11

Guest Blogger: Lucy Zanker

.When I was in second grade, I switched schools. I went from a private Montessori school to a private Jewish school. I was so excited to learn more about being Jewish and be surrounded by other Jews. But there was something off. Even though I was surrounded by people like me, I still felt like I was out of place. I was. Out of the entire school, I was the only person of color. I was too young to really understand what the problem was, but I...Read more...

Fri, September 30 2022 5 Tishrei 5783