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Celebration and Renewal

04/18/2024 03:51:10 PM


Rabbi Steve Folberg


Dear Ones,

My heart is very full as I sift through all the vivid memories from the Gather in Gratitude celebration of this past weekend. The Friday night Shabbat service, the Gala fundraiser on Saturday night, and the picnic on Sunday, floated on a river of love, memories, gratitude and shared experience. I am grateful beyond words to all of you who attended one or more of these events. Let me again offer my special...Read more...

23 Years with Rabbi Folberg

04/11/2024 08:13:50 AM


Sarah Avner, Cantorial Soloist

Shalom Chaverim,

In June of 1998 a very green, sure she knew everything, pre-frontal lobe still forming, just one year married, 25-year-old Sarah Avner and her husband Jonathan moved to Austin, Texas. As high school sweethearts whose story was ready for an adventure the opportunity for Jonathan to take a job far from home and in a new country was just what this couple thought they...Read more...

Layers of Civilization

04/04/2024 08:36:53 PM


Rabbi Steve Folberg

Dear Ones,

Since it was confirmed 18 months ago that my tenure as the Senior Rabbi of CBI would conclude at the end of June 2024, I had a feeling the time would move quickly, but I had no idea just how subjectively speedily those 18 months would pass. Here we are: it is April 4 as I write these words, and the end of June is just under two and one half months away. I am deep into the process of sorting through the contents of my...Read more...

Other Duties As Assigned

03/29/2024 01:24:29 PM


Sarah Jew, Director of Community Engagement

So, what does a Director of Community Engagement do? It's no joke when I say "a little bit of everything." The most recent version of my job description includes duties revolving around member onboarding and engagement, communications through our calendar, email lists, website, and social media, program development, and logistical support for events. I truly love what I do and feel so lucky I get to give back to the community I grew up in by...Read more...

Are you a Purim Jew or a Passover Jew?

03/22/2024 12:47:37 PM


Rabbi Steven Folberg

Dear Ones,

As a Rabbi of nearly 40 years, I sometimes think of this time of year in the Jewish calendar as a snowball rolling down a hill, getting bigger and bigger, faster and faster, or as a runaway train with no brakes. Anybody who works in a synagogue would be able to relate to this sensation of accelerating busyness encapsulated in a rush of special days.

It starts with Purim in late winter or early spring, followed...Read more...

Reflections from our Recent Trip to Israel

03/14/2024 10:59:43 AM


Sarah Avner, Cantorial Soloist

Shalom Chaveirim,

Today my husband and I are just three weeks returned from our most recent trip to Israel. I find myself reflecting more on our time there than any of our previous visits. This makes sense, given the current state of both the country post-October 7th and our own hearts. In the following paragraphs I hope to share a few of my reflections.

This was the first...

Wait, what month is it? 

03/07/2024 12:57:19 PM


Rabbi Kelly Levy


Happy March, everyone! Like all of you, I’ve been enjoying the beautiful bluebonnets appearing throughout the city and trying to make the most of this warm weather before it gets too unbearably hot to be outside. Speaking of a new month, did you know that this year’s Hebrew calendar is special? While 2024 was a leap year in the secular Gregorian calendar, it is also a...Read more...

Its Ways Are Ways of Pleasantness and All Its Paths Are Peace

02/29/2024 02:04:24 PM


Rabbi Steven Folberg

Dear Ones,

Two weekends ago, I received an email from a member of our community who attends the Weekday Meditation Service each Wednesday afternoon. “Can you stop by the Temple sometime on Sunday? Some of us have something for you.”

When I arrived at the Temple, I was greeted by a group of 15 or so members of our community. It was a warm afternoon, and some of them were...Read more...

Jewish Disability Awareness and Inclusion Month Guest Blog

02/22/2024 05:15:35 PM


Lise Byars George

Happy Jewish Disability Awareness & Inclusion Month! My name is Lise, and I’m privileged to have the title of Student Services Coordinator for CBI’s Sunday School. When I first took on the role in the Fall of 2021 it was partially due to convenience. We live in San Marcos, and so taking our kids to Sunday School means we are driving close to an hour each way. So, when Carly sent out a call for teachers and staff for Sunday School, I...Read more...

The Importance of Remembering Black History in Our Jewish Community

02/15/2024 12:06:23 PM


Misha Powell

In a Jewish community, we constantly read the Torah to remember the history of our ancestors so that it may never be forgotten. This is very important because if one were to forget the struggles and strife that their ancestors went through, then they will not know who they are or where they are going in the future. Additionally, those that oppress the minority population are working twice as hard to make sure that the minorities forget their...Read more...

SACReD Gathering: Strengthening Religion and Reproductive Justice

02/08/2024 07:51:01 PM


Reverend Angela Tyler-Williams


Shabbat Shalom, my friends at Congregation Beth Israel! I must start with a note of deep gratitude to you for sharing Rabbi Kelly Levy with me and the work of SACReD for over four years! Rabbi Levy is a founding member of this alliance that grew out of Texas to change the culture around faith and Reproductive Justice across the country.

We believe that in a SACReD world, religious...

Refugee Shabbat Guest Blog

02/01/2024 06:33:38 PM


Sherry Blum, President of Austin Jews and Partners for Refugees


Last year, Cathy Campbell wrote a guest blog in this bulletin about the growth of Austin Jews and Partners for Refugees from a grassroot effort originating in the Jewish Community into a thriving non-profit with hundreds of volunteers of all faiths and dozens of faith-based community organizations that assisted almost a thousand Afghan refugees to begin their new lives in...Read more...

CBI's Future, My Future, and... Trees!

01/25/2024 03:32:26 PM


Rabbi Steve Folberg

Dear Ones,
Today, Jews all over the world celebrate Tu B’Shevat, “The Birthday of The Trees.” It is the time in the land of Israel associated with trees of all kinds awakening from their winter slumber, sap rising in the trunk as tender buds of leaves begin to form on the branches. 

Trees provide such a potent reminder of change, transition, and renewal....Read more...

Supporting Lone Soldiers

01/18/2024 03:00:02 PM


Sarah Avner, Cantorial Soloist

Since fall of 2017, when we dropped Jacob off at O’Hare airport in Chicago and handed his immediate care over to the State of Israel, many people have asked me “how do you do it?” “Don’t you miss him?” “Will he go to college here, in America, when he comes home?”

And then, after a family visit to Israel in December of 2018, Rebekah, our youngest, made the same choice - attend high school in Israel through Naale at the...Read more...

Being Jewish During Christmastime 

12/21/2023 12:03:50 PM


Rabbi Kelly Levy


It’s beginning to look a lot like that time of year when Jews start to feel a little left out… Whether it’s your kid’s classroom “holiday party,” or the constant Christmas songs playing in every single store, or even just the decorations on every window, we are continuously reminded that Christmas will be here very soon.

Like...

"Simultaneously Dancing At Two Different Weddings"

12/15/2023 11:32:32 AM


Rabbi Steven Folberg

Dear Ones,

There is a lovely, old Yiddish expression that translates into English as, "You cannot dance at two weddings at the same time." This is a colorful way of saying, "You can't be in two places at once.”

But Dr. Leonard Kravitz, a seminary professor of mine, used the expression in a more metaphorical vein. "All of Jewish life in the diaspora," he would...Read more...

Chag Chanukah Sameach!

12/07/2023 01:24:41 PM


Sarah Avner, Cantorial Soloist

Shalom Chaverim.

Tonight, Thursday, December 7th, marks the first night of Chanukah. Jews around the world will light their chanukiot according to their tradition. Some will use candles while many will use oil. Most will follow the teaching of Hillel by adding light each evening while some might follow that of Shamai, beginning with all 9 candles (including the Shamash) and...Read more...

I have returned. 

11/30/2023 09:54:49 AM


Rabbi Kelly Levy


Friends, just a few weeks ago I wrote a blog about my upcoming trip to Israel. Since then, I went on a powerful and epic journey, returning in time for Thanksgiving with my family. While it will certainly take some time to process the entirety of the trip (and I may never fully process everything I experienced), I am looking at different ways to bring what I learned to our...Read more...

Finding  Gratitude Amidst the Rubble

11/16/2023 08:34:31 AM


Sarah Avner, Cantorial Soloist

Friends, the weeks that have followed since October 7th have been best described as beyond challenging and on an emotional level the words “it’s just so much” have left my lips more than once. Over 240 Israeli’s are being held by their terrorist captors, specialists continue the heartbreaking work of trying to identify the remains of over 300 of those murdered, and antisemitic, anti-Islamic, and anti-Israel...Read more...

My Trip to Israel 

11/09/2023 02:41:14 PM


Rabbi Kelly Levy


This past summer, I received an email from a rabbinic colleague and friend of mine encouraging me to apply to a brand-new rabbinic fellowship. I took a few minutes to check out the website and decided this could be a great opportunity. I applied, had some intense interviews, and after a few weeks, I found out I was accepted into the pilot cohort of the Amplify Israel...Read more...

“We Know These People, and They Know Us”

11/01/2023 04:21:34 PM


Rabbi Steven Folberg


Dear Friends,

The name of the Torah portion this week is Vayera, “God appeared [to Abraham].” This “appearance” refers to the famous story in which three wayfarers, who later turn out to be angels, visit Abraham to announce that he and his elderly wife, Sarah, are destined, at last, to have their long promised child. Sarah will name the child “Isaac,” Yitzhak, from the word meaning “laughter.” Sarah...Read more...

We are not okay.

10/26/2023 07:49:41 AM


Sarah Avner, Cantorial Soloist

Shalom Chaverim,

This week we read Parashat Lech Lecha – go forth. The opening three verses read:

וַיֹּ֤אמֶר יְהֹוָה֙ אֶל־אַבְרָ֔ם לֶךְ־לְךָ֛ מֵאַרְצְךָ֥ וּמִמּֽוֹלַדְתְּךָ֖ וּמִבֵּ֣ית אָבִ֑יךָ אֶל־הָאָ֖רֶץ אֲשֶׁ֥ר...Read more...

More Thoughts on Israel

10/19/2023 02:48:42 PM


Rabbi Kelly Levy


In my time at CBI, I don’t think I’ve ever completely articulated my feelings about Israel. I’ve skirted around the topic and offered somewhat parve statements regarding the history and challenges of Israel. I’ve attempted to meet our community where it is with this particular subject, all while keeping my opinions and beliefs somewhat on the sideline. But today, I...Read more...

My Heart is in the East

10/12/2023 01:38:27 PM


Rabbi Kelly Levy


For almost a week, my eyes have been glued to the news, waiting with bated breath to know what is going on in my beloved Israel. I have sat in fear, worried about my dear friends across the world. I have wrung my hands, hoping and praying, knowing that there was little else I could do from Austin. Like many of you, I have had conversation after conversation about what is...Read more...

Simchat Torah! The celebrating continues...

10/05/2023 01:26:19 PM


Sarah, Cantorial Soloist

Moadim l’simchah!

Since Yom Kippur I have been approached by many people who have said “aren’t you happy the holidays are over?” or “I bet you have a lot more time to do other things now that the holidays are behind you.”

The truth is, we are still “in” the holidays! They just keep coming!

Two...

And now, Sukkot!

09/28/2023 11:34:29 AM


Rabbi Kelly Levy


It was wonderful to see so many of you these past couple of weeks as we celebrated Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur in our own beautiful space. The days were truly filled with awe, not just because of the individual introspection and reflection we took upon ourselves, but because of the joy we felt in coming together as a community. During Yom Kippur, I was particularly awed by...Read more...


09/21/2023 11:14:28 AM


Rabbi Steve Folberg

Dear Ones,

As you can imagine, rabbis all over the world do a lot of stressing out over their Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur sermons, for at least two obvious reasons.

First, because the themes of the Days of Awe are so big and important.

Second, because the sanctuary is full! It’s the only time of the year you get to connect in this way with so many members of the community. So, sermon wise, the heat is...Read more...

L'Shanah Tova!

09/14/2023 05:05:22 PM


Sarah Avner, Cantorial Soloist

L’Shanah Tova!

This past Tuesday, the remarkable craftsman from Stanton Studios in Waco began and completed the installation of our new ner tamid (eternal flame). In the days immediately following the fire, as we processed what had been done to us, an idea was born: “how do we turn this tragedy into a sign of strength, defiance, that we will NOT be snuffed...Read more...

Selichot: A  Time for Kavannah 

09/06/2023 12:34:34 PM


Rabbi Kelly Levy

While I am afraid to admit it, the High Holy Days are truly right around the corner. That means we will celebrate Selichot this Saturday, the beginning of this sacred time. The word Selichot translates to “forgiveness,” which is certainly the theme of the High Holy Days. The Selichot service offers penitential prayers, or prayers that ask for forgiveness, as we begin the process of atoning for those moments in...Read more...

Curiosity Hurt The Stranger

08/31/2023 03:16:23 PM


Rabbi Steve Folberg

Dear Friends,

For my blog post this week, I want to build upon the thoughtful entries that Rabbi Levy and Sarah Avner posted two weeks ago and last week, respectively. Rabbi Levy spoke of Cheshbon Hanefesh, the ethical and spiritual self inventory that is the focus of this month of Elul, leading up to Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur.

Building on this theme of spiritual inventory, Sarah Avner urged us to acknowledge the ethnic,...Read more...

Fri, April 19 2024 11 Nisan 5784