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Balaam and Abraham

07/17/2024 05:59:35 PM



A very popular section of the Mishnah known as Pirkei Avot teaches:

Whoever possesses three things is of the disciples of Abraham, our ancestor; and [whoever possesses] three other things is of the disciples of Balaam, the wicked. A good eye, a humble spirit and a moderate appetite are of the disciples of Abraham, our father. An evil eye, a haughty spirit and a limitless appetite are of the disciples of...Read more...

Out of Darkness has Come Light

07/10/2024 05:49:00 PM


Sarah Avner, Cantorial Soloist

Shalom Chaverim,

Rabbis Levy, Young, and I get asked to participate in a lot of meaningful moments – whether they be joyful or sad – in the lives of our greater temple family. Sometimes we are naming babies, bringing two lives together underneath the chupah, or calling a young adult to the Torah. We also get to be there when a scary test...Read more...

Welcome Rabbi Young! 

07/02/2024 03:30:54 PM


Rabbi Kelly Levy


I had the opportunity to sit down with Rabbi David Young, our new Interim Senior rabbi to ask him a few questions about his rabbinate, his life, and what he's looking forward to doing during his time in Austin. Please enjoy our brief interview!


What are you excited to explore in Austin?


Follow me to GFC

06/26/2024 04:16:03 PM


Rabbi Kelly Levy


As I looked back at some of the blogs from the past few summers, I noticed that this is the time of year I often write about camp. It makes sense, since this is when I’m usually preparing to pack my kids and me for Greene Family Camp, my home away from home. I’ve had the honor of serving on faculty for 4 summers, with this summer making year number 5. Amazingly, this...Read more...

Juneteenth in the Jewish Community

06/19/2024 11:24:19 AM


Rabbi Kelly Levy

This week, the United States marked the celebration of Juneteenth. While this day only became a federal holiday in 2021, People of Color and other communities have commemorated the liberation of slaves in the U.S. since 1866. Of course, we do have to wonder why it took so long for this country to honor the significance of this date. And, we also wonder why it took so long for...Read more...

Stepping Forward

06/13/2024 01:43:15 PM


Sarah Avner, Cantorial Soloist


Shalom Chaverim,

Tomorrow evening will mark the beginning of a new era for CBI. After 18 months of anticipation, conversation, tears shed, hugs shared, and celebrations had, we will be moving forward, continuing to write the history of our beloved community.

As I write to you this afternoon, I find myself...Read more...


06/06/2024 11:44:45 AM


Rabbi Kelly Levy

*Photo caption: Rabbi Folberg and me in August 2018 enjoying ice cream on a very hot day at the mikvah

For centuries, we have looked to the wise words of our sages to better understand our experiences during life. One of the best sources of wisdom...Read more...

There May Not be Such Thing as a Free Lunch, but There is Such Thing as a Free Book!

05/30/2024 03:51:20 PM


Rabbi Steve Folberg

Dear ones,

Rabbis tend to be book lovers, which I suppose is no great surprise. Judaism is a learned tradition, and as the biblical book of Ecclesiastes (12:12) quips, "of the making of books there is no end." And over the...Read more...

Hava Nashirah - a brief recap

05/23/2024 10:46:40 AM


Sarah Avner

Shalom Chaverim,

This week I had the opportunity to attend Hava Nashira at our very own URJ’s Greene Family Camp. Over the years, I have attended this remarkable conference/retreat twice when it was hosted at its original home in Wisconsin at Olin Sang Ruby Institute (lovingly referred to as OSRUI), another URJ camp.

To say this experience was...

Why Confirmation?

05/15/2024 11:44:55 AM


Rabbi Kelly Levy


Growing up Jewish in San Antonio meant I was well aware of how I differed from the other kids. I knew that I couldn’t stay late for Brownies or Girl Scouts on Wednesday afternoons because I had to get to Hebrew school. It meant feeling like an outcast on the playground when I wanted to sing a song, specifically “Oseh Shalom,” or something else I learned while in...Read more...

From Passover to the Yoms

05/02/2024 03:49:32 PM


Sarah Avner, Cantorial Soloist

As we return to the consumption of chametz and all that we love about complex carbohydrates that are not matzah our calendar now has a focus on Israeli holidays.

In Austin we are fortunate to have a large Israeli community and Shalom Austin and the Dell JCC is the place where we can celebrate the joys and oys of Israeli life. Given all that we have been through since October 7th I...Read more...

My Favorite Passover Things 

04/26/2024 09:09:21 AM


Rabbi Kelly Levy


“Matzah, charoset, and singing with Sarah,

Seder and laughing till tears ruin mascara,

Coconut macaroons from a big can,

These Pesach goodies are better than lamb.

Blood on the doorframe

Frogs in the...

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...

Sun, July 21 2024 15 Tammuz 5784