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Adult Education 2020 - 2021

A year focusing on Jewish Choices and Values

Cantor Sarra's Spring Classes

For these three classes, the ZOOM link is: 
You will receive the password via email or you will find it in the STAR-Lite or you may email  For the two 3 session classes, you may attend one, two, or all three sessions.

Singing Out of Egypt

Monday, March 22nd at 7 PM


During Passover, we take the journey out of Mitzrayim (Egypt, or literally the “narrow place“) and into the wilderness, on our way to the Promised Land. Through the songs we sing at our Passover Seder, we’ll take a leap out of our own Mitzrayim - the individual and collective places where we feel stuck - and into freedom. If you’d like to share a melody from your own Seder table, please bring it!


Laila Tov: Good Night Meditation Circle 

Three Mondays, March 8, April 5 and June 7 from 7:00-7:30


Join Cantor Sarra for a guided meditation, simple breathing, and a few easy stretches for a peaceful night’s sleep. We’ll finish each evening with the Shema and prayers for our friends and loved ones. For all ages!


“Mi Gibor - Who is Strong?” (Pirkei Avot, Sayings of Our Sages): Jewish Meditation and Courageous Living 
Three Mondays, April 26, May 3, May 10 at 7 PM


How can we live a life of fearlessness and true courage? With a shot of chesed (lovingkindness) and a pinch of g’vurah (boundaries), we’ll find our recipe for confronting the challenges of life. Through breathing, mindfulness and Mussar (Jewish ethical teachings), we’ll grow in strength to help ourselves and the world around us. 

For all classes, feel free to sign up for one, two or three sessions. All are welcome! 


Lunchtime Talmud with Rabbi Mike EXTENDED ♦ Thursdays through May at 12:00 to 1:00 pm


Join Rabbi Mike for some noontime learning and discussions for Talmud beginners and up, Thursdays in March.

Talmud is the core of the Jewish people’s rabbinic tradition, and the root of some of our deepest wisdom. We’ll be studying Brachot, which discusses foundational Jewish prayers, such as the Shema and blessings over food, and the idea of intention during prayer. To make the class as accessible as possible, we’ll use the new edition from Koren Publishers, which includes color pictures.  

You can buy: 

  • a physical copy of the Talmud from a local bookshop
  • a physical copy from the publisher by clicking here 
  • a PDF file from the publisher for $9.95 by clicking here 

If the group is interested, we may continue past March

You will receive the ZOOM link via email or you may check the STAR-Lite or email


Ongoing Programs

Celebrating Rosh Chodesh with Leann Shamash ♦ Monthly 

Join CBE's "Rosh Chodesh Group", a monthly women's group that celebrates each new Hebrew month and discusses Jewish topics from women's perspectives. This is a wonderful opportunity to enrich our lives spiritually as we connect with the Jewish calendar and with one another. Contact Leann for specific dates and session content at

Jewish Meditation with Cantor Sarra

See above for class descriptions, dates and times.  And here is a recording that you can follow on your own.  Join Cantor Sarra to relax your mind and nurture your spirit. This recording includes guided meditations, teachings, and chanting. New and experienced meditators will appreciate this! Original program- March 27, 2020

Shabbat Torah Study
Leader: Rabbi Mike
Shabbat mornings.Currently offered via Zoom. Watch for announcements in Star-Lite or see our online calendar.

Rabbi Mike leads us in a short Shacharit service, which is followed by study and discussion of the weekly parsha.  Various translations and commentaries are employed, as well as the rabbi’s own insight.

Bible and Bourbon with Rabbi MikeBible & Bourbon
Leader: Rabbi Mike
One Sunday night a month. Currently offered via Zoom. Watch for announcements in Star-Lite or see our online calendar.

A casual come-as-you-are time to talk Torah and have a drink with friends! Join us in congregants’ homes as Rabbi Mike presents a short text with lots of time to discuss and socialize.  Click HERE for the list of dates to add to your calendar!

Mid Week Bible Study 
Facilitator: Waky

Wednesdays 2 – 3 p.m

A group of adult students has been studying Jewish texts together for several years. All are welcome; the chevruta style of learning, where we all share our thoughts on a wide perspective on the texts.  No previous knowledge is required nor is Hebrew a necessity.  Drop-ins are welcome.


Past Classes and Events 

Tikkun L'eil Shavuot ♦ Sunday, May 16 ♦ 7:30pm

Can you study late into the night?  Join us for an evening of learning from Rabbi Mike and Cantor Sarra and congregants.  

Click the link below to sign up and you will receive the ZOOM link and password or check the Star-Lite.

Shavuot is the historical marker of Moses receiving the Torah on Mt. Sinai. But, according to legend the Israelites overslept the morning of the giving of the Torah. To "repair" our behavior on the night of the original Shavuot, the kabbalists created a gathering, called Tikkun L'eil Shavuot ("Repairing the Night of Shavuot"), in which we stay up all night learning. Please join us for a full night of learning,

We will start with a short Shavuot service (scheduled for 5:30 to 6:15 pm; hopefully outdoors and hybrid via zoom).  Check Star-Lite or the website calendar for the ZOOM link and password for the service.

After a break, we will reconvene at 7:30 pm, on Zoom,  with teachings from Rabbi Mike and Cantor Sarra, and from our congregants. Teachings could be Torah study, Jewish topics, music, movement, creativity and more.  Last year we learned how to bake cheesecake and about the Italian Jewish community.

If you have something you'd like to teach, please contact Waky at by May 11, 2021. Each speaker will have up to 20 minutes to share their teaching. 

This program is funded by the CBE Adult Education Fund. Additional donations to the Adult Education Fund can be made at:
Questions?  Email



Yom HaShoah event with a CBE Connection ♦ Wednesday, April 7 ♦ 7:00 pm

When Yitzhak Ziv (Itzale) arrived in Israel in 1949, not long after the Holocaust, he was taken in by Zilpa Buchaltzev, CBE congregant Ronny Almog's grandmother.

Itzale was one of the only surviving relatives from a small town in Lithuania, who escaped through the forests of Siberia. This year, CBE will hear Itzale tell his story of survival and overcoming, from his exile from his home in Lithuania through his teenage years in the Siberian labor camps, and eventually his unification with his family in Israel.

This will be a recording of Yitzhak Ziv's telling of his story last year when he was 93, just a few months before his recent passing. The recording is in Hebrew with English subtitles. Amir Ziv, Yitzhak's son, will join us for Q&A.

Check the Star-Lite for ZOOM information or click "sign up here" to receive the ZOOM information by email.



Scholar in Residence ♦ February 12 - 14, 2021

Learn with our 2021 Scholar in Residence, Ruth W. Messinger, social justice consultant, educator, and former CEO of American Jewish World Service (AJWS)

All sessions are open to the public; advance registration is requested.

There is no charge for these events. Donations are accepted.  For non-CBE members, we request a donation (suggested $36).  Donations to the Adult Education Fund can be made by clicking HERE and selecting Adult Education Fund in the dropdown menu.

About the Speaker:

Ruth W. Messinger works as a social justice consultant in the Jewish community in New York, engaged with issues of race/racism, voting rights, immigration and the environment, and teaches civic engagement and organizing. From 1998 to 2016 she was the CEO of American Jewish World Service (AJWS), an international human rights and development organization which she continues to serve as its Global Ambassador. Previously, she had a twenty-year career in public service in New York City. She is married to an educator and has three children, eight grandchildren and three great grandchildren. 

Friday, February 12

Shabbat Service at 6:15 PM

Followed by:

How Did I Get to This Judaism, and What it’s Like to Live It

How Ruth Messinger Found the Jewish Roots of Fighting City Hall — in conversation with Rabbi Mike Rothbaum

Saturday, February 13

10:30 am • Study with Ruth Messinger

Parashat Mishpatim — Lessons on Life from Shmattes and Donkeys


Sunday, February 14

10:15 am - guest speaker Ruth Messinger for Brotherhood Breakfast ZOOM meeting

What Does It Mean to Live With Social Justice in Your Life?  Rewards and Challenges



Mussar and Miracles with Cantor Sarra ♦ Monday, November 30 at 7:00 pm

Mussar, the spiritual art of Jewish ethical living, is a path of wisdom and a guide for the way we choose to act in the world. This time of year offers a special opportunity to include Mussar and enhance our Chanukah celebrations. Through Chanukah stories and the light of our everyday miracles, we will experience Mussar teachings about gratitude, faith, and freedom.

Jewish Book Month Author program with Sarah Hurwitz, author of Here All Along ♦ November 15 ♦ 7:00 pm

We are thrilled to welcome nationally renowned speechwriter and Jewish author Sarah Hurwitz to CBE for our Jewish Book Month event on Sunday, November 15. Sarah will be in conversation with Rabbi Mike, discussing her personal journey and what it means for American Jews today. A Q&A will follow.

Sarah Hurwitz was a speechwriter for Hillary Clinton, President Barack Obama, and head speechwriter for First Lady Michelle Obama. In this memoir, Ms. Hurwitz describes how she rediscovered Judaism as an adult. Ms. Hurwitz will talk about why Judaism matters in these difficult times.


Jewish Meditation Series with Cantor Sarra ♦ Mondays November 9,16, 23 ♦ 7:00 to 8:30 pm

V'ahavta L'reyacha Kamocha: Love Your Neighbor as Yourself

These famous words from the Torah are at the heart of so many traditions around the world. How can we access and experience that love from an authentic place? Through Jewish teachings, breathing and meditation, we will connect with the still, small, and powerful voice of love that lies within.

Grandparenting Through a Jewish Lens with Leann Shamash ♦ 5 sessions: October 19, 26, November 2, 9, 16 ♦ 7:00 to 8:30 pm

An online Hebrew College class.  Leann Shamash was the director of education at CBE for 15 years) 

Register and Pay on the Hebrew College website HERE

The cost is $80/person and $130 per couple. Hebrew College offers financial assistance for people who need it (please contact Ahava Rosenthal (

Grandparenting can be a rewarding and challenging experience. But in these days of social distancing amid the fear of a pandemic that seems to stretch far ahead of us, being an active grandparent has become especially fraught. In Grandparenting Through a Jewish Lens, you’ll explore how Jewish wisdom can help us navigate our roles in our children’s and grandchildren’s lives, both in the day-to-day reality of living with COVID-19 , as well as in contemplating what being reunited with our families will look like. We will also explore our personal grandparenting journeys: what came before us, what we will leave behind, and how we can share our personal stories with our grandchildren.

Great Arguments in Jewish History: Generational Jewish Debates and What They Say about Jewish Values with Rabbi Mike  ♦ Starting October 28 at 7:00 to 8:30 PM

Throughout the millennia of Jewish history, the Jewish world has split into factions, each with differing ideas about the role of Jews and Jewishness.  Whether explicit or not, these visions of the Jewish future have been based on Jewish values.  Join us as we discuss these landmark arguments in Jewish history, and how to see them as models for discussing Jewish life in our day.

Classes to prepare for High Holidays - Via ZOOM

To obtain the ZOOM link and passwords, please check the latest STAR-Lite or you may call Ezra at 978-263-3061, ext 1 or email or

  • This is Your Life: A Personal Spiritual Inventory for the High Holidays with Rabbi Mike ♦ Tuesday, August — NOTE changed dates — Thursdays. September 3, September 10 ♦ 7:00 - 8:30 PM

    Join Rabbi Mike for a set of workshops to look at our past year and explore ways to return to our best selves.  We'll look at traditional and modern texts, think about our personal stories, and have opportunities for reflective writing, as we look forward to a year of blessing and renewal.  Sign up HERE.
  • Meditation for a Sweet New Year with Cantor Sarra ♦ Monday, August 31 ♦ 7:00 PM

    Join Cantor Sarra for an evening of meditation and song to prepare our minds and open our hearts for the new year.  Experienced meditators,  those who are trying it for the very first time,  and everyone in between are all welcome!  Contact cantor sarra with any questions (  Sign up HERE.
  • Challah in the Round: a Special way to start the new year with Ellen Krueger ♦ Sunday, August 30 ♦ 4:00 PM

    In preparation for the High Holidays, Ellen Krueger will lead a session on the Customs and Foods of the New Year. It is called Challah in the Round: a Special way to start the new year.  She will talk about the custom of why a round challah and show different ways to make them.  Sign up HERE so we can send you Ellen's recipe ahead of time!

Safe Fasting for Yom Kippur ♦ Monday, September 21 ♦ 7:00 PM    

Yom Kippur is coming up, which means a mandatory fast! But what even IS a mandatory fast? How do you prepare for it so you don't feel absolutely awful? How do you deal with fasting at home when you don't have synagogue services in real life to distract you? What if you have a medical condition and you CAN’T fast – what then? And what if you need to ease yourself into fasting, or do a partial fast? And what do you make for that seudah ha-mafseket that isn’t going to leave you craving MORE during Yom Kippur? 

Learn about the different types of fasts throughout the Jewish year, other things that are forbidden on Yom Kippur, tips for mindfulness to help you get through fasting at home, spiritual alternatives to fasting, pre-fast meal recipes, and even a Talmudic tip on how much you can or should eat if you do have to eat that day (hint: puff up your cheeks!). This class will help you learn how to fast safely and healthfully, give you an idea of what to do if you can’t fast, and hopefully help you avoid that caffeine headache. It will be taught by Aurora Carruthers-Grey (Remy and Kenzie’s mom), who although is a recent convert to Judaism, has been focusing on safe fasting practices for ten years. Make this the easiest of easy fasts! 


Conversational Hebrew Class with Instructor, Ronny Almog via ZOOM ♦ Four Tuesdays,  May 5,12, 26, ,June 2 ♦ 7:00 PM

Email Ronny at to let him know if you are interested and what your level of Hebrew knowledge is!

All levels are welcome, even those who are just starting out with Hebrew.  Each week, we'll dive into a topic, like holidays, family, or eating out.  We'll have fun, practice speaking Hebrew with each other, and learn some grammar along the way.

Instructor:  Ronny Almog.  Ronny is a native Hebrew speaker who moved from Israel to the United States four years ago with his husband, Emil.  He is a playwright, software engineer, and former math teacher.  He lives in Maynard and recently joined Congregation Beth Elohim.

Join via ZOOM!

Link - TBD.  

Password will be required.  To learn the password, check the latest STAR-Lite or contact Ezra Habif at 978-263-3061, ext 1 or


Tikkun Leil Shavuot ♦ Thursday, May 28 ♦ 8:00 PM to Midnight

Shavuot is the historical marker of Moses receiving the Torah on Mt. Sinai.  But, according to legend, the Israelites overslept the morning of the giving of the Torah. To "repair" our behavior on the night of the original Shavuot, the kabbalists created a gathering, called Tikkun Leil Shavuot ("Repairing the Night of Shavuot"), in which we stay up all night learning.

For many years, CBE has hosted a tikkun at the shul, but this year we’ll be online. Please join us for a full night of programming, including:

•A short Shavuot service;
•Teachings from our rabbi and cantor;
•Teachings and other offerings from congregants;
•Music, movement, creativity; and
•Online cooking demonstrations, teaching why we eat dairy on Shavuot
Register and let us know if and what you want to teach or lead!

Jewish @ Home with Rabbi Mike and Cantor Sarra ♦ Wednesdays May 6, 13, 20, 27 ♦ 7 PM

These days, we find ourselves conducting our personal and professional lives at home. Luckily, many Jewish rituals are designed to be performed in the home. Join Rabbi Mike and Cantor Sarra for an exploration of Jewish home rituals (the morning and bedtime Shema, blessings over food, mezuzah, tzedakah and more) and their relevance for us today. All are welcome!  

To obtain the link and password to join this class, check the latest STAR-Lite or contact Ezra, Rabbi Mike or Cantor Sarra.


Stepping into Judaism: Exploring Jewish Tradition and Practice with Rabbi Mike ♦ Kick off Wednesday, September 18 at 7:30 PM, then, the third Thursday of each month

NOW ATTEND VIRTUALLY!  Click on the "click to register" link below to find the ZOOM link.

A course designed both for individuals exploring conversion, and Jews who wish they had a stronger Jewish background, this class will be an exploration of some basic elements of Jewish identity.

Topics will include Torah (and other classic Jewish texts), Jewish holidays, prayer, personal Jewish ethics, Shabbat, kashrut, lifecycle events, Jewish social justice, and antisemitism.

Those interested in pursuing conversion should contact Rabbi Mike beforehand.

There is no fee for this course and you may join at any point in the series. Sign up so we know you are coming!


Mini Queer Israeli Film Night via ZOOM ♦ Sunday, May 10 ♦ 7:00 PM

Congregants, Ronny Almog and Emil Ray, will be screening two of their short films, followed by a discussion. The films touch on gender identity, biblical texts and Hebrew language. They have screened in festivals around the world, including TLVFest, Montreal LGBT Film Festival and more.

For the ZOOM link and password, check the latest STAR-Lite or email


Jewish Meditation: Calm in the Midst of Uncertainty with Cantor Sarra

7 PM - April 13, Wednesday, April 29,  Mondays,  May 4 and 11

With change and uncertainty in our lives and our world, we may feel a sense of fear, anxiety, or loneliness. Yet new doors of courage, hope, and wisdom can also open for us, especially when we respond to our challenges with open hearts and minds. Over this series, we’ll practice four powerful meditations and tools that we can use anytime to fill our days and our spirit with love, calm, and joy.

Join via Zoom!

Go to:

Password will be required.  To learn the password, check the latest STAR-Lite or contact Cantor Sarra,  

Follow Cantor Sarra's Jewish meditation video below for guided meditations, teachings, and chanting.

The Book of Our Lives: Journeys Through the Jewish Prayerbook with Rabbi Mike
Tuesdays, March 3, 10, 17, 24 and 31 • 7:00 PM - 8:30 PM

NOW ATTEND VIRTUALLY!  Click on the "Click to Register" link, below, to find the ZOOM link.

At CBE, we seek to create prayer spaces that speak to the hearts of all our members. But for those of us unfamiliar with Jewish prayers, the words can get in the way. Join us as we take a deeper look into our siddur (prayer book), and unearth personal meaning, both individually and together. Cantor Spierer will join us for some of the sessions to help create familiarity with the music that animates our prayers.

Matzah and Mussar with Cantor Sarra ♦ Monday, March 30 at 7:00 - 8:30 PM

Mussar, the spiritual art of Jewish ethical living, is a path of wisdom and a guide for the way we choose to act in the world. This time of year offers a special opportunity to include Mussar and enhance our Passover celebration. Through Passover stories and the foods on our seder plate, we'll experience Mussar teachings about simplicity, gratitude, and freedom. All are welcome!.

Join via Zoom!

Go to:

Meeting ID: 588 601 352

Susannah HeschelScholar-in-Residence Weekend
with Dr. Susannah Heschel
January 31, 2020 – February 2, 2020

Dr. Susannah Heschel is the Eli Black Professor and Chair of the Jewish Studies Program at Dartmouth College. Her scholarship focuses on the history of Jewish and Protestant religious thought in Germany during the 19th and 20th centuries. She has written and edited many books, including two volumes of her father’s writings, including Moral Grandeur and Spiritual Audacity: Writings of Abraham Joshua Heschel. Dr. Heschel will discuss the relevance of her father’s teaching on prayer, spirituality, and social justice.


The Poetry and Power of the Prophets: My All-Time Favorite Haftarot ♦ Mondays, November 4, 18, 25, December 2 ♦ 7:00 to 8:30 PM

Rabbi Emeritus Lewis Mintz will teach this four week class.  Learn about the beautiful messages from the Nevi'im or Prophets that we read every Shabbat and on High Holy Days.

This class is a drop in class. You can come for any class. No charge for members,  We request that non members make a donation to the Adult Education Fund.  Sign up so we know you are coming!


Words to Shape the World:  The Language of Jewish Values with Rabbi Mike ♦ Tuesdays, October 29, November 5, 12, 19, 26 ♦ 7:00 PM to 8:30 PM

Chesed, kavod, tzedek, tikvah — the Jewish world is full of words that have influenced our lives and our communities. But what do they mean? Can we use this Jewish vocabulary to heal our broken world? Join Rabbi Mike for a discussion of our lexicon of Jewish values, and how to use Jewish values to make decisions we can be proud of.

There is no fee for this course for CBE members.  For non CBE members, we request a donation to the Adult Education Fund.  The suggested non-member donation is $36.

You may join this course at any point in the series.  You may attend one, some, or all 5 of the classes.   Please sign up so that we can plan!


Jewish Book Month Speaker, Rachel Kadish, author of The Weight of Ink, and winner of the 2017 National Jewish Book Award ♦ Sunday, November 3 ♦ 5:00 PM

Rachel Kadish's 2017 novel, The Weight of Ink, is a work of historical fiction set in London of the 16602 and of the early twenty-first century.  It tells the interwoven stories of two women: Ester Velasquez, an immigrant from Amsterdam who is permitted to scribe for a blind rabbi just before the plague hits the city; and Helen Watt, an ailing historian with a love of Jewish history.

Help us plan by signing up below.  You are welcome to join us, anyway, if you are not able to plan ahead and sign up.

There is no cost for this event.  Non CBE members are requested to make a donation to the Adult Education Fund by clicking HERE and selecting Adult Education Fund in the dropdown "TYPE" menu.


Two Spiritually Powerful and Controversial Prayers for High Holidays ♦ Rabbi Emeritus Lewis Mintz ♦ Tuesdays, September 17 and 24 ♦ 7:30PM to 9:00PM

In preparation for the High Holidays, Rabbi Emeritus Lewis Mintz will lead a two-session class and discussion on the two most well-known, spiritually powerful, and controversial prayers of the High Holy Day liturgy: Unetaneh Tokef ("In the Book of Life, it is written, who shall live and who...") and Kol Nidre.  Join one or both classes!


Jewish Meditation Series with Cantor Sarra ♦ Continuing Class

Sign up BELOW for 1, 2 or 3 sessions!

Wednesday, September 18 at 7:15 PM:   "Jewish Meditation for a Sweet New Year"

Energize your spirit and enter 5780 with a lev shalem – an open mind and a full heart. We’ll begin with 15 minutes of gentle stretching before the class. Everyone is welcome!

Monday, November 25 at 7:15 PM:  "Hodayah: Experiencing the Power of Gratitude"

Tuesday, December 10 at 7:15 PM:  "Or Refuah: Inviting the Light of Healing"

Coming in the Spring!  "Shema: Listening to Our Hearts (a four-part series)"


Rest and Delight in the Sanctuary of Shabbat; Mindfulness, Meditation and Deep Relaxation ♦ Saturday, September 7, 2019 ♦ 1 to 4 PM


In the words of Rabbi Abraham Joshua Heschel, Shabbat is a sanctuary in time, a time to lean back, rest and renew.

In this contemplative shabbat experience with Rabbi Sigal Brier we explore the relationship between mindfulness, meditation, rest and happiness. Learn from Heschel's book The Sabbath, experience the benefits of rest and renewal and learn from related neuroscience and brain research on the topic. This experiential mini-shabbat retreat will integrate breathing techniques, light movements, music, yoga nidra relaxation, mindfulness, and meditation.

All are welcome. No experience or knowledge are necessary. All activities can be done sitting in a chair or standing. If you want to lay on floor for relaxation, bring a blanket, mat or large towel and small pillow.


Wed, June 23 2021 13 Tammuz 5781