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