Finding Our Voice

Posted by on Jun 9, 2020 in Latest News | 0 comments

DCL’s Drash from Rabbi Julie Schwarzwald, Director of Congregational Learning


But let justice well up like water, Righteousness like an unfailing stream.

–Amos 5:24

Having spent the last three months in various forms of quarantine as a result of the pandemic, we woke up two weeks ago to learn of the wrongful death of George Floyd – the most recent example of racial injustice. This past weekend, many of us joined local rallies to stand together – while socially distancing – to share our outrage. We hope that this time, things will change. And we ask ourselves once again, how did we get to this place?

To educate our children with the understanding that we are all created b’tzelem Elohim, in the image of God, is to emphasize our mission to accept each individual as they are – to recognize that they are exactly as they are meant to be. We can learn from our children. You’ve seen the pictures/memes of children who look different from one another meeting each other and immediately playing together. Youth who have been in class together for years simply accept each classmate’s learning needs and are often able to ignore anything that could be disruptive – and will tell adults, “That’s just how they are.” 

Social justice and social action have long been components of Judaism and have found their place in congregational education. As Rochelle and I have discovered with weekly preschool Shabbat, it can be challenging to find tangible activities for our youngest learners that demonstrate this. We need to fully integrate the value of b’tzelem Elohim into our curriculum, with regular conversations about how our tradition, our history, and our values and commandments inform our daily life. 

A song that we have sung all year in BBRS has been echoing in my head all week. Elana Arian composed “I Have a Voice” with teens at URJ Kutz Camp last summer. What a powerful anthem for our time.

I have a voice

My voice is powerful

My voice can change the world


I will open my eyes 

I will not look away 

I will use this gift I’ve been given

Every day


I will give of myself 

I will reach out my hand

I will use this heart I’ve been given

To take a stand


I will fight for the truth 

I’ll stand up for what’s right

I will use this strength I’ve been given

To be a light


I have a voice

My voice is powerful

My voice can change the world

Professional development is essential as we look toward the next school year. While we maintained connection and celebrated successful conclusions to our school years, we know that this pandemic has brought to the forefront a necessary revolution in education. Every BBRS and CBI Preschool teacher will attend the NewCAJE virtual conference this summer with an emphasis on learning new tools for online and distance learning while exploring philosophy, pedagogy, and best practices. I am investigating the best technology to continue to make our education accessible to all. Mila Naiman and I will also attend the USCJ New Directors’ Institute as we prepare to take on leadership of the preschool following Rochelle’s retirement. 

As we continue planning various scenarios for the upcoming school year, we keep in mind how to offer increasingly accessible Jewish education, with righteousness and justice for all.

Rabban Shimon ben Gamaliel used to say: on three things does the world stand: On justice, on truth and on peace.

–Pirkei Avot 1:18


May we find them soon,

Rabbi Julie


Posted by on Jun 5, 2020 in Latest News | 0 comments

An Important Message from Rabbi Paul Resnick and Cantor Lorna Wallach:




Dear CBI Family,

March 13th the CBI building closed. The closure was unprecedented. The TEAM and Board quickly jumped into action and created and implemented a plan of engagement.

The CBI family has been strengthened through ZOOM engagement, calls and communal sharing of good times and sad times as well. And COVID-19 seemed to have taken over the airwaves, every one of our conversations… our lives. How we shop for food became a topic in many a forum. How we were going to do our sedarim was the topic just eight weeks ago. That quickly became … How were we to celebrate our Tikkun for Shavuot?

We all know of friends, colleagues and family members who have had the virus inflict pain and sickness and some who have succumbed to it. Unemployment is hitting one in four American workers. 1 in 4. 25%. It is not just out there. It is here.

Then there was/is discussion of when is it going to end? When would we be able to get back to normal? Is there going to be a new normal? Will we ever need to work in an office full time again?

But then after our celebration of Shavuot and Shabbat we heard of the news of the brutal and senseless killing of George Floyd.

Protests started. People needed to react. There is much pent up frustration from the communities of color with justice not being given to ALL Americans. We were and we are at a tipping point. And this is NOT a black/brown issue. It is an American issue.

There was/is violence. Rubber bullets and teargas are being used against some. The VAST MAJORITY of Americans though are peacefully expressing our Constitutional right to free speech, to protest.

Most protests are calm and have a purpose. The goal is to raise the issue of social injustice in America for people of color. And to think of a solution to a problem that has plagued our society for many, many years. We cannot remain silent; we need to speak out for legislation and oversight so there will not be people killed by police as a result of the color of their skin.

Some say that police use brutal force too quickly. Unwarranted use of force is unacceptable. Though we also need to support law enforcement. Attacks specifically directed against police officers are also not acceptable.

The killing of George Floyd has brought our society to a more unpredictable time than in several generations. Many of us feel a sense of being overwhelmed. Pandemic. Uncertainty. Unrest.

Chancellor Eisen of the Jewish Theological Seminary released the following statement this week, and I share an edited version with you:

This is a devastating and dangerous moment in our country, the history of which is so stained by racial injustice.

We believe that every person and institution must assume responsibility to create a more equitable and just society. Jewish tradition forbids us to remain silent in the face of racial injustice. “Do not stand idly by while your neighbor’s blood is shed.” (Leviticus 19:16).

We call on each member of the JTS community, and the entire Jewish community, to do all in their power to respond to this moment of crisis by taking action to build a more just world. We can lift our voices, train our students, and work in partnership with alumni, lay leaders, and our friends and family in the Black community.

Rabbi Abraham Joshua Heschel reminded us pointedly that “morally speaking, there is no limit to the concern one must feel for the suffering of human beings, that indifference to evil is worse than evil itself, that in a free society, some are guilty but all are responsible.”

As a show of solidarity in the fight for justice for all, we will be placing a banner in front of our building at the beginning of next week with the following message:

צֶ֥דֶק צֶ֖דֶק תִּרְדֹּ֑ף

Justice, justice shall you pursue – Deuteronomy 16:20

We stand against racial injustice

May we continue to pray for God’s sheltering presence to shine down on all Americans. And let us say, Amen.

Shabbat Shalom,

Rabbi Paul F. Resnick Cantor Lorna Wallach

Sharing Music … Together

Posted by on Jun 2, 2020 in Latest News | 0 comments

A Note from Cantor Lorna Wallach:

Where does your mind take you when you hear music? Are some melodies more emotive for you than others? Each of us, no doubt, has songs strongly associated with our memories and feelings. For many of us, this is true of Jewish music, too! Does your heart swell with pride when you hear Hatikvah? Or when the Hava Nagila melody is amplified at a ball game? Can you close your eyes and actually see the golden glow of the Kotel when you hear the poetic words of Naomi Shemer’s song, Yerushalayim Shel Zahav? Even if you never lived in “Anatevka”, do you feel as though you are in that town when you hear Sunrise, Sunset? Without Jewish music, it’s hard to experience the serenity of Shabbat, the silliness of Purim, the pathos of Kol Nidre, or the joy of Simchat Torah. Through music we can express the greatest praise and thanksgiving to God.

Music is one of the greatest gifts given to humanity. I believe that we have all experienced the power of music, and especially songs, at some point in our lives. It is universal. Rabbi Sampson Raphael Hirsch defines song as “an inspired or rapturous expression of what some external event has revealed to the inner self, that which the physical eye cannot see, but what has become clear to the mind’s eye.”

There are few songs mentioned in the Torah. Even the word for “song,” (shir) is found quite infrequently. On Shabbat Shirah (which usually occurs in January), we read Shirat HaYam in Parashat Beshallach and the Song of Deborah (Judges 5) in the Haftarah. Shirat HaYam, The Song of the Sea, is the first example recorded in the Torah of communal spontaneous prayers by the Jewish people. The Israelites have safely escaped the Egyptian army, and are free on the other side of the now chariot full Red Sea. And they look at Moses, and up to God, and declare their belief in God’s power, and in Moses’s ability to advocate on their behalf. And they were all so ecstatic that they began to sing. First Moses and the men, and then Miriam and the women.

There is something very powerful and uplifting about singing together – whether in unison or with other voices in harmony. As the Cantor of CBI, one of my greatest joys and pleasures is to sing WITH you at services in our beautiful sanctuary or chapel. One of my greatest frustrations and yearnings from having to be socially distanced for all this time is the absolute impossibility to be able to sing together, even with just one voice, on Zoom! But even though your voices are muted during our virtual services, I now rely more on watching the Zoom participants sing. Seeing this helps me feel the energy and connectedness of our virtual community as the gallery view of faces is displayed on my Zoom screen!

One of my greatest joys and pleasures during this pandemic has been sharing music with the many of you who tuned in to my Music in May series each Wednesday morning this past month. I enjoyed putting together the weekly programs, based on different themes such as honoring our mothers and other important women in our lives, songs of gratitude, songs of Jerusalem and songs of community, including Jewish songs in Hebrew, Yiddish, Ladino and English and also some non- Jewish songs! I loved that some of you sang along at home and also shared with us your own personal connections and memories about some of the songs I sang.

Although May has come to an end, I am excited to let you know that I will continue my Music on Wednesdays series starting again next Wednesday, June 10th. I invite all of you to zoom in for June Tunes at Noon (please note the time change!). Come once or each week, as we share a half hour (approximately) of beautiful, uplifting, fun and perhaps nostalgic and emotional songs.

Until then, here are some quotes about singing that I hope resonate with you and inspire you!

“Wake up, live your life and sing the melody of your soul.” — Amit Ray (Indian author, master teacher of meditation, yoga, spirituality)

“Some days there won’t be a song in your heart. Sing anyway.” — Emory Austin (inspirational female speaker)

“I don’t sing because I’m happy; I’m happy because I sing.” — William James (late 19th cent. American philosopher and psychologist)


Cantor Lorna Wallach

Teamwork Makes the Dream Work

Posted by on May 19, 2020 in Latest News | 0 comments

A Message from CBI’s Executive Director, Harvey Brenner:


Dear Congregants,

As you are aware, while the staff and clergy of CBI, are quarantined and not functioning at ‘normal’ levels, we each are sharing what may have been our monthly Bulletin articles.  Each week, one of us is circulating a column or letter that carries some message of learning, torah, hope or “derech eretz” to you.

It’s now my turn, and since this sort of ‘outreach’ was originally my idea, you’d think I would have an easy time of selecting a subject, composing my thoughts and circulating the email.  Nothing could be further from the truth!

I guess, I’m somewhat stymied because I still find it unsettling to come to our building, check the mail, answer messages, pay bills, etc., all without the company of others.  No classes, services, students, preschoolers, teachers or members are present; just me, and a few of the maintenance people who have diligently sanitized (and are now repairing, repainting and sprucing up) the building, preparing for our eventual reopening.  I guess I miss the stimulation and ‘organized chaos’ that is the heart-beat of a thriving, active, high-functioning synagogue (one that is rich with activity and learning).  Without people, we’re just four walls and some religious artifacts and furniture.  Simply put, I miss you!

Anyway, here goes…..

On our last trip to Israel, as a participant in my NAASE Executive Director’s annual conference, my wife and I (and our group of ~100 directors and spouses/partners) visited several “Yad b’Yad” schools, day care centers and communities throughout the northern half of the country.  Here, side by side (hand in hand, is the literal translation) Israelis and Arabs live, work and socialize together, all in an attempt to foster greater fellowship and tolerance through better understanding.  Arab kids sit together with Jewish Israelis, all taught by either Arab or Israeli teachers (or both!) and very quickly, lines of demarcation and difference fade away.  Friendships form and hatred vanishes.

So one afternoon, about 25 executive directors and some of their school administrators were sitting together “schmoozing” and sharing what their job requirements and scope were versus what ours was.  They didn’t seem to have an equivalent of an ‘executive director’ at Yad b’Yad, so it was after much trial and error that I shared the following “job description” which seemed to resonate with them and with which they could connect: “I do everything the clergy won’t do, the educators can’t do, the maintenance folks forgot to do and the lay leadership doesn’t have time to do!”

Admittedly, it was said, (a bit sarcastically) with my tongue planted firmly in my cheek, but in ruminating about this column over the past few weeks (in the confines of that empty, Corona Virus-quarantined building) it has made me more aware of the truth of the statement more than ever before.

We, the leaders, educators and staff struggle almost daily to maintain meaningful connections to you, our congregation.  We try to create ever more meaningful opportunities to interact with you and for you to interact with each other, all while maintaining proper ‘social distancing’. Scheduling ZOOMeetings and learning sessions on two separate ZOOM accounts, “Free Conference Calls” on two call-in centers and disseminating all the various links, meeting IDs and connectivity information, are just a few of the “Covid Congregation Director Duties”.

We hope that you and your families are finding the offerings to be stimulating, informative, meaningful and beneficial, all while keeping ‘halacha’ and ‘best practices’ in mind.  While I don’t contribute programming to these efforts, I coordinate and monitor everything else behind the scenes to make it all possible.  Together, we schedule them, arrange for the technology to be available and then publicize the event(s) to you, the congregation.  I’m available if/when there are the inevitable glitches to fix the problems so that, as the old adage goes, “the show must go on!”

I love what I do and I take great pride in seeing the fruits of our combined and collective labors.  The phrase, “Teamwork makes the dream work”, resonates within all of us on staff as we are all better because of our relationships with each other and with you, our ‘Kehilla Kedosha’, or ‘Holy Community’.

I pray every day that this congregation be spared pain, suffering or loss and that we can return to “normal” (is “full” a better word?) operating levels as quickly as possible.  May HaShem continue to favor us with God’s Blessings and deliver us to the other side of this pandemic safely, together and very soon!

M’Chayil l’Chayil!

Harvey M. Brenner, FSA, FTA

This Virtual Classroom Adventure

Posted by on May 12, 2020 in Latest News | 0 comments

A Message from our Director of the CBI Preschool:

There are many wonderful gifts and challenges associated with early childhood education which educators deal with every day.  For the past several weeks we at CBI Preschool have undertaken the most adventurous one yet—the virtual classroom with youngsters under five years old.  It is turning out to be an amazing journey!

The beauty of young children is that they are busy, inquisitive and active people.  Sitting in front of a ‘screen’ is not exactly their idea of fun but we are trying to keep them engaged.  The teachers are holding Zoom classes with their students, inviting them to do projects, listen to stories, sing songs and share conversation as everyone tries to focus on everyone.  They reach out through FaceTime a few times a week and send out daily emails with greetings and ideas for activities.  Staff members have been delivering craft projects to the kids at home (leaving them at the curb) and some have been mailing packets through the post office.  Teachers are reading and posting stories to the CBI Preschool Facebook page which can be accessed at each parent’s convenience.  Our Shabbat program on Friday mornings with Cantor Wallach, Rabbi Julie and I bring everyone together at the end of the week with stories, songs, and virtual hugs.

Does this work for everyone?  It depends on who you ask.  Some children really enjoy seeing their teachers online and interacting with them.  Others find it very difficult to ‘see’ their friends and not be able to physically be with them.  The teachers are spending endless hours coming up with activities and messages for their students, trying to find ways to keep everyone busy and involved.  We hear from parents who appreciate our efforts but find it very hard to take advantage of the offerings while trying to balance their work and life responsibilities. 

We all look forward to the day when we can be together in our classrooms, doing and sharing everything that we’ve basically taken for granted before.  Until then we’ll keep Zooming and FaceTiming and working together to get through this crazy time!


Be well and be safe,

Rochelle Baron

CBI Preschool Director

Connecting the Dots in Jewish Education … Appreciation and Community

Posted by on May 5, 2020 in Latest News | 0 comments

DCL’s Drash
Rabbi Julie Schwarzwald, Director of Congregational Learning

“Not all superheroes wear capes, some have teaching degrees.” – Unknown Author

This week is Teacher Appreciation Week, and we owe tremendous gratitude to our amazing CBI teachers – both BBRS and CBI Preschool – for how they have embraced the challenges of online education over the last seven weeks. The technology we are using to stay connected to our families was new to almost every teacher. They are finding creative ways to finish the year with some learning while understanding the challenge we all face in merging our home-school-work lives so completely.

Whether we are able to learn together in person again sooner or later, this experience will create an educational revolution. The revolution is not one of technology, however; the discussion about technology in education goes back to the very beginning. Time and again, we hear about the magic that will happen to education when we have every classroom using horn books – blackboards – pencils – overhead projectors – mimeographs – photocopiers – handheld calculators – personal computers – the internet – interactive whiteboards – and so on. Yet in many ways, much of education is little changed from the beginning of public schools. The continuing overarching goal of education is the transfer of knowledge from one person, the “teacher,” to another, the “student.”

The revolution that I think we are primed to embrace is that of truly moving toward a constructivist approach to learning. What we have seen from our Zoom classes is that it is hard to sit in front of a screen and absorb information – learn – in a meaningful way. Constructivist learning theory is not new; the idea of students engaging in active learning is not new. What has changed is the environment in which we are now tasked with providing opportunities to engage with Judaism and with our kehillah/community.

The possibilities and opportunities presented by distance learning are tremendous. It allows for greater flexibility of scheduling and frees up time for families. We have seen that it is a gift to students with anxiety, hyperactivity, or other challenges that make it difficult to sit in the classroom. Learning Hebrew decoding and prayers does not happen when students only practice once a week; online apps and games offer ways to master material with just a few minutes each day.

And yet, that is not what Judaism is about. Judaism is about community, about being together in times of simcha and times of comfort. Judaism is about connection. So is the best education. When students are engaged in active learning of ideas of interest to them and topics driven by them, when class time is spent in personalized learning and experiential programming, when our children enjoy spending time together in community, then exciting education happens.

All of that is not dependent on technology, although the technology of 2020 provides amazing access to information that can be used to enhance learning and understanding. What makes the magic happen is teachers. Teachers who put the social and emotional aspects of learning ahead of rote acquisition of content are the revolution – they are our superheroes.

Embracing Jewish education through the lenses of social, emotional, and character development means shifting our emphasis to focusing on authentic experiences of celebrating holidays, ethical living following Jewish values, and finding a spiritual connection. It means giving our passionate and compassionate teachers the ability to empower students to take an active role in their learning. It means thinking about ways to use all that technology has to offer as a tool, to enhance building connection. It means flipping the learning – having students prepare and read outside of class, so that when they meet together – in person or online – they can engage in deepening their understanding and applying their knowledge to projects and deep discussions, in order to internalize what they have learned. It means that their time together is spent in connecting with one another.

As we close out this year and begin planning for a number of possible scenarios for next year, I am deeply appreciative of the effort of our teachers to embrace our new reality and begin to think creatively about ways to continue learning and connection when we can only be together in virtual space.

“One looks back with appreciation to the brilliant teachers, but with gratitude to those who touched our human feelings. The curriculum is so much necessary raw material, but warmth is the vital element for the growing plant and for the soul of the child.” – Carl Jung

Rabbi Julie Schwarzwald

Hatikvah – Deep Within My Heart

Posted by on Apr 28, 2020 in Latest News | 0 comments

Dear CBI Community,

The beginning of Hatikvah, Israel’s National Anthem, speaks of a yearning deep within the heart of the Jewish soul. Truth be told (and not that I try to hide this fact), every time I sing or hear Hatikvah, it always touches something deep in my heart. Whenever an Israeli athlete wins a medal in the Olympic Games, I swell with pride hearing the rousing instrumental rendition of Hatikvah that gets played for the medal ceremony. Several occasions stand out in my memory where I have literally been overcome with emotion when singing Hatikvah. In 1989, during my first year of Cantorial School which was spent studying at The Jewish Theological Seminary’s Beit Midrash in Jerusalem, my “class” of five Cantorial students was invited to sing Hatikvah at an event at the Knesset. I only wish I had a recording of that!

At each of my children’s High School graduation from the Golda Och Academy, as the choir led everyone in singing Hatikvah, I remember feeling so emotional, not just because my children had reached this milestone in their lives, but also because I felt so fortunate that Mike and I were able to give our children the gift of a Jewish education in an environment that cultivated a strong connection to the land and people of Israel.

When I attended my first AIPAC policy conference in 2017, I was completely blown away by the experience of singing Hatikvah together with around 18,000 people gathered in the Washington DC Convention Center early on the first morning of the conference. 18,000 is a LOT of voices!

More recently, I was also overcome with emotion when, at the end of our CBI Yom HaShoah commemoration just last week (on ZOOM), after our guest speaker, Goldie Jacoby, a Holocaust survivor, had described her harrowing story of survival, strength, courage and faith, she led us in the singing of Hatikvah. When someone asked her why she had settled in America after the war rather than in Israel, she said that even though that’s how things worked out, while her heart is in America, her soul is in Israel. Goldie certainly has a special appreciation of what Hatikvah (The Hope) means and of what a blessing and miracle it is to be “ahm chofshi b’artzaynu” (a free nation in our land).

As we celebrate Yom Ha’atzmaut (Israel’s Independence Day) this week, here is some interesting background information about Hatikvah. [Compiled from Dulcy Leibler (reproduced from the World Zionist Press Service, of the former WZO/JAFI © Department of Information) and from Dr. James Loeffler in his article for]

Hatikvah was originally a nine-stanza Hebrew poem entitled Tikvatenu (Our Hope). Its author, a 19th-century Hebrew poet, Naftali Hertz Imber (1856-1909), was born in Złoczów, a town in Austro-Hungarian Galicia. Inspired by the Hibbat Zion movement of early Zionism, Imber originally wrote the poem in 1878 while living in Jassy (Yash), Romania.

As a young man, Imber wandered Eastern Europe for several years before settling in Palestine in 1882. There he worked as personal secretary and Hebrew tutor to Sir Laurence Oliphant (1829-1888), an eccentric British author, politician, world traveler, and Christian Zionist. In the 1880s, Oliphant’s mystical religious beliefs inspired him to launch various philanthropic efforts to encourage Jewish resettlement in the historic Land of Israel. Imber first published Tikvatenu in an 1886 collection of his poetry, Barkai, (Morning Star), issued in Jerusalem and dedicated to Oliphant.

By the time Imber left Palestine in 1888, his poem had become a song (soon renamed Hatikvah, Hebrew for “The Hope”) thanks to the early Zionist pioneers in the Jewish farming community of Rishon-le-Zion. The melody arrived courtesy of a Romanian Jewish immigrant named Samuel Cohen, who adapted it from a Moldavian folk song, Carul cu Boi (Cart and Oxen).

The origin of the Hatikvah melody is under dispute. It can be clearly heard in Smetana‘s composition The Moldau/Ma Vlast (My Country) which was based on a Moldavian folk tune.  Samuel Cohen was from Moldavia and the Moldavian tunes were commonly used. During the 1880’s in Palestine, many tunes and adaptations became folksongs, no one thinking of copyrights. The Tikvatenu melody thus quickly became anonymous, and Imber’s association with it, all but forgotten.

Hatikvah was sung at the conclusion of the Sixth Zionist Congress in Basle in 1903, the last congress presided over by Theodor Herzl, who died tragically the following year. The anthem was sung at all subsequent Zionist Congresses, and at the 18th Congress, held in Prague in 1933, it was officially confirmed as the Zionist anthem.

Another candidate for Zionist anthem in 1897 was Psalm #126, the Shir Hama’alot before Birkat Hamazon (Grace after Meals), which speaks of the Return to Zion. Indeed, it was more popular in the early years, and both were often sung, even after adoption of Hatikvah.  Hatikvah also carries echoes of lines from the Prophet Ezekiel 37:11.

Even as Hatikvah grew in popularity, not all Zionists favored it for the movement’s anthem. Theodor Herzl disliked the song, and in 1897 he launched the first of several international competitions, all ultimately unsuccessful, to produce a serious alternative.

One of Herzl’s objections to Hatikvah was the bohemian figure of Imber himself. Despite his personal charisma, literary talents, and Zionist convictions, Imber was a perpetual “ne’er-do-well,” described by one contemporary as “a vagabond, a drunkard and a Hebrew poet.” In fact, after leaving Palestine, Imber lived in London and Boston, before dying of alcoholism in abject poverty on New York’s Lower East Side in 1909, despite repeated efforts by Jewish communal leaders to help him.

His poem has lived on, becoming the unofficial anthem of Jewish Palestine under the British mandate. At the Declaration of the State of Israel on May 14, 1948, Hatikvah was sung by the assembly at its opening ceremony. It wasn’t until November 2004, however, that a law was passed by the Knesset, formalizing Hatikvah’s status as Israel’s National Anthem.

It is The Hope. It is OUR HOPE. Let us celebrate and rejoice in it! But let us also remember those throughout the years who made the ultimate sacrifice to make the dream a reality and let us continue to work to keep it alive for eternity.


Cantor Lorna Wallach

Yom HaZikaron & Yom Ha’Atzmaut 2020 Message from Rabbi Resnick

Posted by on Apr 27, 2020 in Latest News | 0 comments

Dear CBI Community,

Boker Tov. Good Morning. I hope that everyone is doing OK in these crazy and sometimes scary times. It has been very encouraging to see many of you at our evening services and adult education sessions. If you need any spiritual/emotional or financial support, or just want to say “hello,” please reach out by emailing me at

This week, starting tonight, we will be marking two significant dates on our Jewish calendar, Yom HaZikaron and Yom Ha’atzmaut. 

Yom HaZikaron [Monday night and Tuesday] is a very important day on the Israeli calendar. It is dedicated to remembering fallen soldiers and people who were killed in terrorist attacks. Everyone in Israel has someone to remember — a dad, a child, a mom, a cousin and/or a friend. Israel is a small country; 24,969 Israeli Jews have been killed in war and attacks from pre-state to today, and over 30,000 have been injured. 

Literally, the entire country comes to a halt for a moment of silent tribute to the fallen so that “their memories will be for a blessing!” [Join the Masa event below for the moment when the nation comes to a standstill.] 

The solemnity of the day is shattered by the joy of Yom Ha’Atzmaut [Tuesday night and Wednesday]. We just read in the Haggadah that we went “from despair to light.” That is what happens in Israel between the two days. It is very powerful to be a part of that.

Yom Ha’atzmaut is Israel’s “July 4th” when all Jewish Israelis celebrate.  Israelis are off from work, there are enthusiastic musical celebrations and BBQ’s all over the country in celebration of 72 years of the Jewish State.

We can participate in these days by connecting with our services and programs here at CBI and elsewhere. BOTH days are meaningful and both days teach us what it means to be a Jew in 2020.

Yom HaZikaron Programs

TODAY – Monday, April 27th

Masa Yom HaZikaron Memorial Ceremony at 12:50 p.m. EST

On the eve of Yom HaZikaron, we will commemorate IDF soldiers and victims of terror at the largest virtual ceremony for the Jewish world, live-streamed on Facebook. The ceremony will commence together at the time of the siren of Yom HaZikaron in Israel (during the day here in NJ). CLICK HERE for more information or here for Masa Facebook Page.

CBI Erev Yom HaZikaron Maariv Service from 8:00-9:00 p.m.

Join for a candle lighting and a reading PLUS listen to Ofer Livne and Rebecca Finkel as they speak about their experiences serving in the Israel Defense Forces. A fitting tribute on Yom HaZikaron. It is a tradition to light a memorial candle for fallen Israeli soldiers and citizens.  CLICK HERE for the Yom HaZikaron Service.

Tuesday, April 28th

Stronger Together on Israel’s Yom HaZikaron 2020 by The Jewish Agency for Israel Shlichim (Israel Emissaries)

Join the Jewish Agency for Israel Shlichim (Israeli emissaries) to honor the soldiers who gave their lives serving Israel by engaging in meaningful online programming via Zoom led by North American Shlichim. While we may not be able to commemorate these fallen heroes at in-person community events this year, we can unite virtually to pay tribute – Every one of us, together. Click here:


Yom Ha’atzmaut Programs

Tuesday, April 28th

CBI Erev Yom Ha’atzmaut Maariv Service from 8:00-9:00 p.m.

Join Cantor Wallach as we celebrate singing Hallel – traditional service for holidays – and festive Israeli songs! Please wear blue & white to add to our festivities! CLICK HERE for the Yom Ha’atzmaut Service.

NOTE: BBRS students are being treated to a wonderful Yom Ha’atzmaut program on Tuesday afternoon with The Bible Players from 4:00-5:00 p.m. Be sure to check your BBRS emails from Rabbi Julie!

Wednesday, April 29th

Worldwide Celebration of Israel’s Independence Day from 2:00 – 3:00 p.m.

Don’t miss the Global Yom Ha’atzmaut hosted by Jewish Federations of North America featuring Matisyahu, film star Joshua Malina, the Brothers Platt (Ben, Henry and Jonah), celebrity musicians, exclusive scenes from Israel’s official celebration on Mt. Herzl, a special performance of “Hatikva,” and more. Livestreamed through Facebook or YouTube. Register here. 

I look forward to seeing you at these events. How amazing it is to commemorate and to celebrate the rebirth of a Jewish state and be able to be free to be a part of that. And despite the uncertain times we are living through today, we should try to take some time to participate in these days.   



Rabbi Paul Resnick


P.S. If you are on Facebook, please be sure to join our celebration of Israel through your eyes! We are collecting favorite family photos on the CBI Facebook Page from your trips to Israel. Pictures may include family members or just be one of your favorite places in Eretz Yisrael!

Rabbi Resnick’s “Virtual” Drash on Parashat Parah (3/13/20)

Posted by on Mar 16, 2020 in Latest News | 0 comments

On Friday, March 13, CBI made the difficult decision to close the building to communal prayer in response to COVID-19 and the desire to implement “social distancing” in our community. That evening, Rabbi Paul Resnick and Cantor Wallach led on online abbreviated “service” with some Torah, praying and singing and a time to connect before Shabbat. Here are Rabbi Resnick’s brief remarks to the “virtual” CBI community.

Happy Friday the 13th. Though there is not a lot to be happy about as we live through some very challenging times. We are living with a plague — a mageyfa – in the truest sense of the word.

However, the eternal optimist that I am, this also gives us a unique opportunity to look to our closest family and friends, and to look inwards to ourselves in a way that we have never done so in the past.

I do not recall a time in my lifetime that synagogue after synagogue, school after school, institution after institution has closed their doors of their buildings. (Of course last night at Shoprite it was more crowded than ever before — I had to wait for a shopping cart!)

This is truly unprecedented. We are all reacting differently. Some of us are scared. Some of us will feel secluded. Some of us will retreat. Some of us think that this will pass shortly. For most of us we will go through ups and downs.

Of course, we might be in this situation for a while. We can only take it day by day.

As a kehillah, a holy community, we could try to rise to the challenge and I pray and I hope that when we look back at this it will just be one of those memories that we have in our bank of memories. Perhaps, we will recall the extra time we got to spend with our families or the time we got to read or write.

Today, and next week and for the foreseeable future, let’s try to get something good out of this crisis. Let’s be careful. Let’s wash our hands. And let’s do that often.

This Shabbat we read the interesting and unique extra reading for this week’s parasha. We read Parshat Parah. In fact, we are taught by our Halachic codes that we can read this at home. We can read it without a minyan!

Numbers 19:1-22 is what we read. It is the extra reading assigned to tomorrow’s reading in a lead up to Pesach. Yes, Pesach is coming up in a few weeks, but we can hold off on that for a while. I digress.

Let’s focus on today and tomorrow and the next day and take it day to day.

I want to share a teaching that I learned this week from my former camper, Rabbi Jeffrey Fox. He teaches us the following, with some of my own additions:

The obligation to read Parashat Parah is at least as strong (if not stronger and older) than Torah reading every Shabbat. This is a very powerful thought based on age old teachings.

The custom used to be that this special parshiyot replaced the regular weekly Torah reading. Can you imagine that? That would mean a very short reading tomorrow!

Our shul, like so many others, is closed. But this reading can and should still be read at home from a Chumash. Again, Numbers 19:1-22.

There are several possible messages from this reading. One is that of the parah adumah, the red heifer. There are aspects of Torah — and therefore aspects of life — that are difficult, and sometimes impossible to understand. Notice the word Rabbi Fox uses: Impossible.

We just cannot understand everything. This is a challenge for so many of us in 2020, because when we do not know something, we can just Google it or ask Siri. There is no such thing as not knowing or not understanding.

But Rabbi Fox says this parah adumah, the red heifer, is indeed one such concept. Some encounter the divine in that mystery, while for others the unknown brings anxiety. For some it is reassuring; for some it is the opposite. As my mom used to say, if we were all the same, life would be boring.

My hope and prayer is that we all be blessed this Shabbat. In Rabbi Fox’s words, that we do not understand everything and that is OK. We can try to find God in the arafel (the clouds that occlude our vision). That we might not understand what is happening now and certainly do not understand the why behind this. But we connect with the Kadosh Baruch Hu — God — and may we have a Shabbat Shalom with the ones we care about most.

Shabbat Shalom,

Rabbi Resnick


Posted by on Mar 13, 2020 in Latest News | 0 comments

Friday, March 13, 2020


Dear CBI Family,

We are writing to update you on the status of upcoming services and activities at CBI in the coming weeks. In today’s world of interconnected communities, we know all too well that we are each receiving an overwhelming amount of information and advice about the COVID-19 epidemic, a global crisis with significant implications for our local community. Our goal is to provide you with information on how your spiritual home, Congregation B’nai Israel, is addressing the current situation.

The CBI COVID-19 Task Force in conjunction with clergy, staff and lay leadership has decided on the following course of action to ensure the safety and well-being of our congregation and staff at the immediate time: The CBI facility building will be closed, effective immediately, for the next two weeks, through Friday, March 27. This is a painful decision but one in which we take comfort in knowing is being embraced by many communities of faith.

  • Shabbat Services and Daily Minyan will not be held at CBI during these 14 days. With a heavy heart, this means that Sisterhood Shabbat this weekend and Men’s Club Shabbat next weekend will not take place. We will work on setting up ways to still connect over minyan time, Torah study and connecting our community in different ways. The following Conservative Synagogues offer Livestreaming of Shabbat services:
  • All programs and activities are cancelled. There will be no events held in the facility.
  • Religious School will be suspended through March 27, following the direction of the Millburn Township Schools. Information on online, phone and video learning opportunities will be provided in the coming days.
  • The CBI Preschool will be closed through March 27 as well.

We appreciate this is difficult and troubling news for everyone in our community. These precautionary and proactive measures are being implemented by many organizations who gather in large groups to help slow the spread of the disease and for the safety and health of our congregational community … and our greater community. After this two-week period, the Task Force, clergy and staff will reassess the conditions and determine if we can reopen or if it is prudent to extend the closure into April.


While the building is closed, we are very much “open” for your spiritual well being and to provide care, comfort and companionship. The most important message we want to share is that while meetings, school and other social activities are on hold until March 27th, the community of CBI is here, open and fully functioning — just not in the building at 160 Milburn Avenue.

  • During normal business hours, please call the main number at 973-379-3811. If a staff person is not able to take your call, please follow the prompts to reach a member of the staff or clergy.
  • Rabbi Paul Resnick ( or cell 201-707-5642) and Cantor Lorna Wallach ( are available for all lifecycle emergencies.
  • Our Director of Congregational Learning, Rabbi Julie Schwarzwald ( and clergy, are available for Hebrew, Torah and other tutoring and lessons, via phone or online.
  • Our Caring Community Committee, led so ably by Laurie Kavowras ( with many, many volunteers, is here to help. If you are in need of assistance or know of someone who is – or would like to help – please do not hesitate to reach out to Rabbi Resnick, Cantor Wallach or the synagogue office.


As we move forward together in our deliberate and cautious efforts to separate physically, we want to make sure that we do our part to connect spiritually and communally, and that each individual in our congregation is safe and healthy.

In closing, we share these moving words of Rav Yosef Kanefsky:

Every hand that we don’t shake must become a phone call that we place. Every embrace that we avoid must become a verbal expression of warmth and concern. Every inch and every foot that we physically place between ourselves and another, must become a thought as to how we might be of help to that other, should the need arise.

Please be in touch as we will be in touch. Thank you for your continued support of our kehilla, our sacred community.

Shabbat Shalom – may this be a weekend of peace and good health here and around the world.


Paul Resnick, Rabbi

Lorna Wallach, Cantor

Mariela Markelis Dybner, President

Harvey Brenner, Executive Director