Today is 07/14/2024 -

Congregation Beth Israel

A spiritual oasis for the Jewish community

6 Dundee Park
Andover, MA 01810

(978) 474-0540

  • Find us on Facebook

The Leadership’s Corner

By Jonathan Brody, Vice President


I spent a lot of time this past week thinking about our special community here at CBI. I know we are small and that, in itself, creates some serious challenges, but the benefits outweigh those challenges and then some. Some members physically come and go, but I don’t think anyone truly leaves this community.

This held true last Friday when we had a beautiful Shabbat Chai service where Bashert was able to perform live and in person at the shul for the first time in over 2 years. People had the option to come in person or attend via Zoom and combined we had well over 40 people in attendance. Personally, it brought me much joy to be able to play music again with my 6 “partners in crime” and to pass that joy on to those in attendance as we welcomed in the bride of Shabbat.

So let’s talk about our geographically diverse, but very strong COMMUNITY.

During the service, we had the opportunity to wish Tanya and Jeremy the best as they retire to Plymouth and Sanibel Island. With Jeremy performing with Bashert just like he always had (technically he hadn’t missed a live performance since he moved), and as we all caught up with both Tanya and Jeremy in the social hall, it was as if nothing had changed, and they had just been away on a long vacation. Strong friendships along with strong shared experiences lead to a strong community.

We have long time members such as Robin Insuik and Leslie and Dave Silverstein who also have physically moved away from our community, but in some ways are more active than ever before. One of the silver linings of Covid is that without the pandemic we would have likely not gone to the virtual Zoom experience to the extent that we have in place today. A desire to stay in touch, to truly care what is going on with your fellow congregants, and to stay connected, all lead to a strong community.

Other examples include my two sisters, Linda and Barbara, who both live outside of our physical area, but feel a close connection and truly welcomed by everyone here, they became members. Barbara is a regular fixture most Saturday mornings and during other virtual events, and they both spend most holidays at CBI. Welcoming extended family, various levels of the religious spectrum, and diverse backgrounds all lead to a strong community.

Beth and Peter Edelstein are also physically moving from our community. It is sad as parts of the community move away, but with technology and the strong connections that have been built over the years, we hope that they, too, will stay connected with us. A desire to continue to build relationships that have been in place for years, to allow people to expand their horizons, meet them on their terms and support them as they move on to new journeys in life, all lead to a strong community.

Our community’s good friend, Judith Chaloff, is back in the area and she separately contacted both Amy and me when she returned. We hope to be able to see her in person soon to reconnect and I bet a similar experience will occur where it will feel like she was just on a long vacation. A willingness to reach out, make that first phone call, “like” and forward that recent CBI Facebook communication. That all leads to a strong community.

Another example of our special community is how Ellen and I and our entire family were comforted when Ellen recently lost her mother, Phyllis, of blessed memory. Not only did the community help us make minyan each night during Shiva, but we also received a wonderful meal from the Board and another from some dear friends. The Board actually pushed out the Board meeting a week to help accommodate our Shiva schedule. Not to mention all the well wishes and donations that were made in my mother-in-law’s memory, and recently a care package was received from the CBI Cares Committee. Caring for others. Helping to allow others to fulfill obligations and allow each member to practice Judaism in their own way. That all leads to a strong community.

While all of that was going on, the Congregation also had three wonderful events take place in a week’s time. The week started off with an amazing member potluck dinner that took place at Robin and Mike Rose’s house on Saturday night. That was followed by the third installment of the Antisemitism series featuring Dr. Rachel Fish, and that was followed by an educational bird watch the following Sunday in the fresh air of Plum Island. What congregation that you know of does all that, let alone one of our size? I would argue that because of our size is why we can. Enough of us want to be part of this. Want to pray together, want to learn together, want to watch birds, and learn from each other, and just hang out and socialize. Learning together. Eating and praying together. Following one other down a dirt and windy path. That all leads to a strong community.

To those of you who have not yet actively participated, please come and join us. We also need to reach out to others to join our community. (Not too many, but a few more would be nice)! Encouraging others to participate. Helping others to participate. That all leads to a strong community.

As we head into our Annual Meeting at the end of the month; as we head into the summer; as we start the next CBI chapter without our beloved Amy Sherr keeping us straight and on the right path, let’s think about our CBI Community. How wonderful it is. How important it is that we nurture and care for it. How we can make it stronger and better. How we can stay connected to old friends and make new friends even if we aren’t physically together. I know we sometimes use the tag line, “CBI, where everyone knows your name” from the old “Cheers” show. Another show quote comes to mind when I think of our wonderful collective group, “One for all and all of one” from “The Three Musketeers.” Let’s build and grow our Community Together.

Enjoy your summer. Ellen and I will be taking a lot of long weekends to spend time with family and friends. I hope you get to do the same.