Today is 09/27/2021 -

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

Happy (almost) 5782! May we all look forward to a better year in terms of health, happiness, prosperity, and being truly connected with others, so that each of us may enjoy our most meaningful lives that we can. Rabbi Mandell recently sent out some special thoughts and tips that may help us do just that as we approach our new year and put in the hard work to change ourselves for the better. In this way, we hopefully leave the above items much less to chance and more to the result of our own efforts.

As many of our sages have suggested over the centuries, we should hear the sounds of the Shofar, not just at Rosh HaShanah and Yom Kippur but especially in the month before (Elul) our High Holydays. Let these ancient sounds serve as our own personal wake-up call in the way in which we live our lives. In the process, we may be able to also have a positive impact on others, especially in the way they view Judaism and Jews in general.

Unfortunately, as we know only too well, from almost daily news events, the rise of antisemitism has grown significantly in recent years, not only in the U.S., but throughout the world. This is evidenced in part just by the statistics kept by organizations like the ADL and others. Our youth are regularly being bombarded with antisemitic activity not only on college campuses, but even high schools and elementary schools. Many individuals, organizations, and even governments are trying to combat this scourge throughout the world but the increasing prevalence of antisemitism though has made this a very difficult and challenging task.

As our great Sage, Rabbi Hillel is often quoted from Pirke Avot, chapter 1, “If I am not for me, who will be? If I am for myself alone, what am I? And if not now when?” With this in mind, our CBI programming committee will be looking to provide multiple opportunities so that each of us may gain more knowledge of what antisemitism is, how and where it manifests, and actions we as individuals and as a community can take to help fight this very serious and consequential challenge. There are many worthy and meaningful causes which we can choose to support, but if we don’t even recognize the insidious forms antisemitism often takes, (ex. “The Jews are the ones that created Covid, so they could make a profit from it”), we may easily be pushed into the category of “the other”. Marginalization doesn’t usually take long to follow! Check out the “working definition” and the 11 examples of antisemitism from the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance which has been over 20 years in the making. There is still much controversy between the definition itself and the examples clarifying it. working-definitions-charters/working-definition-antisemitism Despite its perceived deficiencies, it at least serves as a starting point for discussion. Should you have any suggested speakers, or programs on this topic, please contact Caren Jacobson or Amy. Remember, if we don’t tell our own story, others will be happy to tell it for us and it is likely not to be the one that is the truthful story or even one we would want told!

Many thanks to our Programming Committee for providing us with many engaging and enlightening programs throughout the past year especially, even in the midst of all the Covid challenges. Thanks also to our Back to Shul Task Force keeping us safe and our Technology Committee for providing many enhancements to allow for improved Zooming experiences. Thanks to our CBI Cares Committee and our Social Action Committee for all their efforts throughout the year. Thanks to our Strategic Planning Committee for guiding us towards our future. Thanks to all those who have helped Amy with a myriad of tasks. Thanks to our professional staff: Rabbi Mandell, Amy Sherr, and Roger Roy (our custodian). My very grateful thanks to our Board of Directors and to each and every one of you who have participated in (and usually enhanced) so many of our CBI activities and services. Thanks also to Jon and Ellen Brody for hosting our recent Sangria tasting party. Together, WE Are CBI!

On behalf of your CBI Board of Directors, we hope to see you (maybe even in person) not only at our High Holyday services, but throughout the coming year in whatever niche(s) feels most comfortable for you!!

L’Shanah Tovah u’Metucha!

Jeff Tye, President