Today is September 22, 2020 -

Congregation Beth Israel

A spiritual oasis for the Jewish community

6 Dundee Park
Andover, MA 01810

(978) 474-0540

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The Leadership’s Corner


From Jonathan Brody

As I sit here today, I am working through the book “How to be an Antiracist” by Ibram X. Kendi and I think
many of you are probably doing the same, as we prepare for our book discussion on Sunday, September 13th
I have read the first chapter “Definitions” three times to try and get my head around the difference between
a racist, non-racist and antiracist, and then moved onto the equally challenging “Dueling Consciousness”,
“Power”, and “Biology” chapters. I realize that I have a lot of work to do and imagine that many of you are
probably coming to the same conclusion. I want to thank Caren and her Programming Committee for choosing this book, and also choosing for our congregation to tackle this very controversial topic that is facing our country today.

Today, as I write this, it is the first day of the month of Elul which is the month leading up to our “High
Holydays”. We are supposed to use the weeks prior to the holidays as a period to reflect on ourselves, to
practice humility and t’shuvah (repentance), and to think about how we can each become a better person. So,
the timing of reading this book and becoming introspective on this topic is very timely.

The last time I wrote an article for the newsletter, I believe it was just after Passover. In that article I dis-
cussed how it was a challenge and, in some ways, sad by having limited family and friends at the Seder table,
but ultimately it was a positive experience by having two Zoom Seders and all the unique positives that came
with it. Those similar challenges are facing the congregation and our individual families today as we think
about how we will enjoy and get the most out of our high holiday services. Our “Back to Shul Task Force’
has been working very hard, and meeting weekly, to figure out how to safely balance this Covid pandemic
into our weekly spiritual lives at CBI, and ultimately, how we present appropriate and spiritually fulfilling
High Holiday Services for our members, extended families, and friends.

The Task Force is a diverse group with experience in membership, religion, medicine, technology and social
consciousness, and they are working hard to piece together what they believe will be a positive experience for
everyone in just a few short weeks. While there is a lot of work being done by a lot of people, it is such a
blessing to see many members take such an active role and become involved in something to benefit the entire
community. More importantly, many on the Task Force have not served on committees before. Those of you
attending the service physically or spiritually will find a mix of live Zoom services interspersed with pre-
recorded segments. We will have the Rabbi, Jeff and a small number of members at the shul, Cantor Harris
from her home, Terry davening from his home and everyone else participating from their homes. We are also
using technology to help create the best experience possible where a large screen TV and several microphones
connected to our sound system will allow those physically in attendance to see and hear those who are on the
Zoom, and vice versa. I would like to thank Caren, who is chairing the Task Force, and my fellow members –
Amy Sherr, Burt Ochs, Elaine Winic, Jim Shainker, Merle Roesler, Rabbi Howard Mandell, Rick Pike, Tanya
Gould, Jeff Tye, and Mindy Harris for rallying together in these challenging times.

From a personal perspective, regarding the upcoming holidays, similar to Passover, it will be sad not to have
my extended family and fellow members sitting with me at services and sharing with me beautiful and
delicious meals prepared by Ellen. I guess the silver lining will be….more brisket for me!