CBI@Home - June news from Congregation Beth Israel

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CONNECT VIRTUALLY WITH CONGREGATION BETH ISRAEL Even with the necessity of physical distancing during this time of pandemic, Congregation Beth Israel remains a source of spiritual connection, community, friendship, inspiration, and learning. You are part of our community and we are with you. Your CBI clergy and staff are committed to offering a wide variety of programs, to being here with you for your life cycle events, to fostering a continued sense of community—and to answering any questions you may have. Because things are changing rapidly, the best way to keep abreast of all things at CBI will ALWAYS be the CBI website (www.bethisrael-pdx.org). We’ve broken down where on our website you may find information about everything that we do—and have included convenient, scannable QR codes to get you there! Simply open your phone’s QR code reader, hold the device over the code, and away you go! If you need help learning how to do this, please call us at 503-222-1069. Remember, you can always use the web address that we have included as well. Need help navigating our website (or in working through other technical issues)? We are here to help. If you don’t have a computer or an email address, give us a call as well. We will find a way to keep you connected with all things CBI. If you do have an email but aren’t yet receiving our weekly Beneath our Dome and Virtual Connections emails, let us know and we will make sure you do!

Shabbat and Holiday Services

Virtual Connections

We are currently conducting all of our Shabbat and Holiday Services virtually, either via our CBI Webcast or Zoom. A full schedule, including links to these services, may be found at www.bethisrael-pdx.org/connections/. If and as we begin to transition to inperson services in the months to come, details will be found there as well.

Each week at CBI sees an exciting collection of virtual programs for our community, opportunities that range from Talmud study to yoga to jam sessions to cooking to just hanging out! A full calendar, complete with links to each program, may be found at www.bethisrael-pdx.org/connections/

Connecting with Clergy

Religious School and Educational Programming

While there is no way to duplicate the ease and unplanned joy of running into each other on the CBI campus or catching up with a chat after our weekly services, we are happy to introduce a new way to connect: office hours. Held weekly, these are your opportunity to virtually meet with your CBI clergy securely and privately to discuss whatever may be on your mind. Sign up at www.bethisrael-pdx.org/office-hours/

CBI’s arts-integrated Religious School delivers joyful Jewish learning to students from pre-kindergarten through twelfth grade. Go to www.bethisrael-pdx.org/ education/religious-school/ for updates on programming, summer learning opportunities, enrollment, and our plans for the coming year.

Social Action @ CBI


Despite social distancing, CBI’s Social Action committee is going strong! Learn about our continued work to support our community partners and Portlanders in need, the success of this year’s virtual Mitzvah Day(s), and find links to future meetings at www.bethisrael-pdx.org/ community/social-action/

Your WRJ/Beth Israel Sisterhood is committed to supporting our community in these challenging times. Sisterhood can connect you to social action projects, to other women in the community, and is a wonderful resource for all things Jewish in Portland. Whether we meet you masked face to masked face, or see you in a tiny box on a Zoom call, know that we are here for you. Keep up with all things Sisterhood at www.bethisraelpdx.org/community/wrj-bi-sisterhood/


Annual Meeting Wrap Up

Keep in touch with CBI Brotherhood (www.bethisrael-pdx.org/community/ brotherhood/) as they make plans for the coming year.

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Our 162nd Annual Meeting took place on May 27; for details on all the information shared there, go to www.bethisraelpdx.org/about/annual-report/


What Have We Learned? We read in Pirke Avot (Ethics of our Ancestors, 2:4) the saying of Hillel: Al Tifrosh Min haTzibur – Do not separate yourself from the community. This seems a rather strange statement to hear during a pandemic and the realities of “Stay Home. Save Lives.” Even as we begin to open the state and emerge from our mandated isolation, we still can feel separated from community. Masks, limited size gatherings, physical distancing - all still keep us separated. It is possible that Hillel’s statement was aimed at those who chose to pray at a distance from the congregation. While technically permissible, Jewish prayer is not limited to one location, Hillel notes that it is not advisable. Community is the primary concern of Judaism, not the individual. We pray in a minyan to remind ourselves that we are a part of the community, not apart from it. But maybe we are coming to a new understanding of community. Maybe we are reminded of our responsibilities to each other. As we look back on the last few months and look forward with uncertainty at the months ahead, it is appropriate to ask what we have learned from living

in this time of quarantine. How will our synagogue, our Jewish identity and practice, our community, be changed? We have only glimpses at the moment. But through the pain and sacrifice, through the fear and anxiety, through the caution and precautions, we are learning the high value of community. Using technological tools we barely knew existed we have learned new ways to connect. Our synagogue services have been held online and have revealed an intimacy to prayer we might not have noticed before. Jewish education has moved online for the time being and has revealed a depth and inspiration we might not have accessed before. Barriers of space and time have melted away. We gather at communal moments or at moments of our own choosing to gain strength and inspiration, so needed in this time of uncertainty. We might be isolated, but with community we are not alone. We clergy miss our sanctuary. We miss seeing you in person. We miss giving a needed hug or sharing a private spontaneous conversation. Technology cannot replace physical presence. At the same time, as we do our part to halt the spread of infection, we are more

Very Thoughtful People We are so appreciative of all who contribute to our many tribute funds; the ongoing list may be found at www.bethisrael-pdx.org/ support/very-thoughtful-people/

closely attuned to the needs of others. Judaism teaches us not to be concerned with our needs alone, or even with those of our families alone. We are connected to a wider circle of concern which links us all. We have learned that even with all that divides us, we still share a common humanity. Our circle of concern is larger and more diverse than we know. Our sacrifice of physical distancing continues to save the lives of those we may never meet. They are part of our community, too. Al Tifrosh Min haTzibur – Do not separate yourself from the community. Connect and be connected. We have learned much already. And we will be together again, soon. Rabbi Michael Z. Cahana Cantor Ida Rae Cahana Rabbi Rachel L. Joseph

Seasons of Life CBI is a center of celebration and of remembrance for every important event in a Jewish person’s life; share in your community’s joys and sorrows at www.bethisrael-pdx.org/ seasons-of-life/

High Holidays As summer begins and Oregon is slowly starting to lift some restrictions on movement, we are carefully planning what “reopening” looks like for our congregation. This is a national conversation and we are engaged with other synagogues and the Reform Movement on best practices. The overwhelming sense is that gatherings of many hundreds in a sanctuary will not be possible or advisable this Fall. Our commitment is to protect the vulnerable in our community AND to support the religious and spiritual needs of our congregation. We are actively planning new ways to joyfully experience the High Holidays, physically separated while emotionally connected. We will be sharing more details and even some “sneak peeks” throughout the summer at www.bethisrael-pdx.org/high-holidays-5781/

Looking Ahead We don’t yet know what our gradual return to in-person connections will look like, but as we come to decisions, you can find information at www.bethisrael-pdx.org/covid19/, on our Facebook page (www.facebook.com/ bethisraelpdx/), and via our weekly newsletters, Beneath Our Dome and Virtual Connections. If you are not receiving these emails and wish to, email tracy@bethisrael-pdx.org.


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Congregation Beth Israel


1972 NW Flanders Street Portland, OR 97209-2097

CBI @ WORK We’re working safely from home and ready to connect with you. Wondering who to reach out to with a question or idea? Find out at www.bethisrael-pdx.org/who-you-gonna-call/

Rabbi Cahana

Cantor Cahana





Rabbi Joseph








Dallas and Susie

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