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Farewell 2021, Hello 2022

12/29/2021 12:57:04 PM


Sarah Avner, Cantorial Soloist

Here we are…just two sleeps away from waking up on January 1st, 2022. Around this time every year I think back to a first-grade memory when I have returned to school after winter break, and I cannot remember to write the new year at the top of my page. I am frustrated by this as I do not enjoy the need to continuously erase and rewrite the year.

This remembrance makes me wonder:...

The Little Latke   That Could

12/21/2021 04:07:33 PM


Guest Blogger: Gaylon Finklea Hecker

 A firebombing at the synagogue’s front door couldn’t do it. Even a worldwide pandemic couldn’t do it. But a shortage of the lowly, frozen, shredded potato almost brought down the Congregation Beth Israel (CBI) Brotherhood’s much-anticipated, long-awaited annual latke-brisket Chanukkah dinner this year. 

Don’t worry kids. Don’t panic grownups. This...

How Good Are Your Tents, Jacob...Even Now

12/17/2021 10:28:25 AM


Rabbi Steven Folberg


On Wednesday night, we held a Service of Healing, a vigil, if you will, in the CBI parking lot. We wanted to provide an opportunity for expressing and validating the intense emotions that we know so many of you have experienced in the wake of the hate crime that has seriously damaged our sanctuary. 

It was quite dark by the time we began to assemble. Some people brought lawn...Read more...

A Trip To Israel

12/09/2021 09:24:24 AM


Sarah Avner, Cantorial Soloist

A week ago today I was landing back in Austin from a 10 day adventure with my family in Israel. Putting aside the cold turned Acute Bronchitis that was affecting my physical self, my mind was in a whirlwind as it took some time to process all that we had seen, heard, smelled, and tasted during our time together.

This trip had no real plan or timeline for what we would do while we...Read more...

The Unsung Hero of Chanukah 

12/02/2021 09:56:51 AM


Rabbi Kelly Levy

As the Chanukah candles continue to add more light into our world, and as the latke smell continues to seep through every room in our homes, I want to tell you the story of a real Chanukah hero. You might be thinking of the Maccabees. Or you might be thinking of the oil that lasted for 8 days. But, in fact, I want to tell you all about Judith.

Some of you may have heard about or...

Transgender Awareness Week

11/18/2021 08:47:01 AM


Sarah Avner, Cantorial Soloist

In our first book of Torah, the creation story, we read:

וַיִּבְרָ֨א אֱלֹהִ֤ים ׀ אֶת־הָֽאָדָם֙ בְּצַלְמ֔וֹ בְּצֶ֥לֶם אֱלֹהִ֖ים בָּרָ֣א אֹת֑וֹ זָכָ֥ר וּנְקֵבָ֖ה בָּרָ֥א אֹתָֽם׃

So God created the human beings in [the divine]...

"This too shall pass"

11/10/2021 03:31:51 PM


Rabbi Kelly Levy

During my first year of rabbinical school in Jerusalem, a group of friends and I bought rings engraved with Hebrew phrases. My best friend selected “Gam Zeh Ya’avor,” “This too shall pass.” I remember looking at her ring each day thinking, “What exactly does she want to pass?” It wasn’t until a few years later that I started to understand what this phrase meant.

For...

Be  Remembered for  Kindness

10/28/2021 09:15:23 AM


Sarah Avner, Cantorial Soloist

In this week’s verses of Torah, Chayei Sarah (Life of Sarah), Abraham mourns the death of his beloved:

“Sarah's lifetime-the span of Sarah's life-came to one hundred and twenty-seven years. Sarah died in Kiriath-Arba-now Hebron-in the land of Canaan; and Abraham proceeded to mourn for Sarah and to bewail her.” (Genesis...Read more...

"A Day Without Laughter is a Day Wasted"   -Charlie Chaplin 

10/20/2021 04:35:44 PM


Rabbi Kelly Levy

“…so Sarah laughed inwardly…” (Genesis 18:12).

In this week’s Torah portion, Parashat Vayeira, Abraham and Sarah learn that they will soon become parents. At the ages of 90 and 95. Honestly, if I was Sarah, I would have laughed, too! It’s hard to imagine doing anything strenuous at the age of 90, let alone have a baby.

And so, Sarah...

"Gosh, I don't know, I'll have to think about that..."

10/14/2021 09:43:08 AM


Rabbi Steven Folberg

Happy Thursday, Everyone,

In Saturday morning's Torah portion, Lech Lecha, meaning, "go forth," God famously instructs Abram and his wife, Sarai, "Go forth from your land, your birthplace and your ancestral home (literally, "your father's house") to the land that I will show you."

We experience many kinds of leave-taking in the course of a lifetime. And as it was for Abram and Sarai, so it is for us. The destination – "the...Read more...

"Fill Your Words With Radiance"

10/07/2021 02:33:55 PM


Rabbi Steven Folberg

Some of the most beautiful and interesting Jewish commentaries on verses of Torah grow out of the fact that the meaning of certain Hebrew words has changed over time. For example, the Hebrew word Nefesh means "life, person, breath or individual" in the Torah, but by the time Rashi and the other greats are explaining the deeper meanings of the text in the middle ages, the word Nefesh has come to mean "soul." This opens the door to a lot of...Read more...

Creation and Creativity

09/29/2021 05:40:47 PM


Sarah Avner, Cantorial Soloist

בְּרֵאשִׁ֖ית בָּרָ֣א אֱלֹהִ֑ים אֵ֥ת הַשָּׁמַ֖יִם וְאֵ֥ת הָאָֽרֶץ׃

When God began to create (or “In the beginning God created.”) heaven and earth— Genesis 1:1

Here we stand at the beginning of a new cycle of Torah. On Monday evening Rabbi Folberg read the end of Devarim (Deuteronomy) and Rabbi Levy read from the beginning of...Read more...

Sukkot- A Time For Joy 

09/22/2021 12:50:56 PM


Rabbi Kelly Levy

Zaman Simchateinu, Moadim L’Simcha, Chag Sameach, Happy Sukkot! We have so many ways of greeting one another during this holiday, and all express the joy we find during the “Feast of Booths.” Sukkot, one of the Shalosh Regalim (the pilgrimage festivals) celebrates the fall harvest and reminds us of our ancestors’ travels through the desert.

There is something sweet and...

Bring the Children

09/09/2021 06:06:17 PM


Ken Davidson

Several years ago, Jerry Seinfeld related what he called “the greatest Jew joke” he had ever heard: “Two gentile businessman meet on the street. One of them says, ‘How’s business?’ The other one says, ‘Great!'” The point of Seinfeld’s joke is if the businessmen had been Jews, they would have found something to complain about.

In my line of work it is not unusual for me to find myself the recipient of complaints by...Read more...

Hin'ni - Here I Am

09/01/2021 04:28:16 PM


Sarah Avner, Cantorial Soloist

Today is September 1st. In just 5 days we will officially bid farewell to 5781 and welcome in 5782.

We have been taking time, during the month of Elul, to prepare ourselves for the holy weeks ahead. The work of Cheshbon Hanefesh, the “accounting of our souls” is serious and important work. According to the article linked in the words above we human beings come equipped with the...Read more...

The Beginning of the Chagim 

08/24/2021 02:00:11 PM


Rabbi Kelly Levy

I have a distinct memory from childhood of sitting in the sanctuary of my synagogue very late at night, with the lights dimmed low, holding a melting candle in my hand. I listened to the haunting music, and I watched the rabbis, wearing long, white robes, carrying the white Torah covers onto the Bimah. I observed the flame from my candle glinting across the stain glass windows, and I wondered what we were doing in...Read more...

Al shlosha d’varim ha-olam omed.  “On three things the world stands…” 

08/17/2021 10:09:10 PM


Ken Davidson

Our Torah portion for this week, Ki Teitzei, contains 74 commandments, more than any other parashah. These commandments in this parashah deal with a variety of subjects including family, treatment of animals, and business ethics, concluding with the commandment to remember Amalek’s killing of the old, weak, and infirm during the Israelites’ travels in the desert. The specific subjects of these commandments are diverse, but a common theme...Read more...

Experiencing Elul through words, our breath

08/10/2021 02:52:08 PM


Sarah Avner

This past Sunday evening we welcomed in the Hebrew month of Elul. With a very new moon in the sky, we know that we are now just 4 weeks from Rosh Hashanah, the head of the New Year. If you haven’t read Rabbi Levy’s blog from last week, then I suggest you do so now. She lays out a wonderful plan of doing the work this month demands of us through our senses.

Her first suggestion...

Preparing our Bodies and Souls

08/03/2021 11:32:19 AM


Rabbi Kelly Levy

It may be hard to believe, especially with the intensity of the summer heat at an all time high, but fall is just around the corner. And with it, we can all look forward to slightly cooler days, a new school year, and of course, the High Holy Days. The end of summer also means that the new Hebrew month of Elul begins this Sunday. Elul, the month that immediately precedes the High Holy Days, offers each of us the opportunity for...Read more...

Tue, August 16 2022 19 Av 5782