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There is so much that 4,000 years of tradition and wisdom can teach us.  Young or old, observant or not-so-much; whether you already know a lot or are just starting out – you’re not alone. Jump in. No wrong answers –

"With the knowledge and empathy I have gained at the Friday Study Group, my understanding of life has also grown. We are a community where I can live my values."-Carol Cohen

 This week's learning

May
26
Thu
Is There a Jewish God That an Atheist Can Believe In?
May 26 @ 4:00 pm – 5:30 pm

Thursday, May 26th, 4:00pm

Is there a Jewish God that an atheist can believe in?
Join us for this joint class with the Jewish Secular Community of Asheville and CBI.
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May
27
Fri
In-person & Online Friday Noon Study Group
May 27 @ 12:00 pm – 1:00 pm
In-person & Online Friday Noon Study Group

Friday, May 20 12-1  

Last Friday, we concluded our discussion of  S. Yizhar’s 1949 novella Khirbet Khizeh.  The group focused upon:
  • The reception of the book over the years: Military censors tried but failed to ban the story in 1949. Instead, it sold in unprecedented numbers. In 1964 Israel’s education ministry incorporated the story into the school syllabus, but students were tested less on the story’s central moral struggle and instead asked them to analyze the form and aesthetics of Yizhar’s writing. In 1978, a filmed version of the story precipitated a ferocious debate. Prime Minister Menachem Begin regarded the film as anti-Israel propaganda. One journalist wrote that,  “Even if the Fatah Information Bureau were headed by a genius, he couldn’t have come up with a better one than this.”  Nonetheless, the novel found new audiences when it was finally translated into English in 2008.
  • The book as an early example of what has come to be known in Israel as the SHOOTING AND CRYING” genre, wherein a soldier in uniform expresses remorse for following orders undertaken throughout their service.  We discussed the implications and alternatives in this regard (conscientious objection, questioning/contesting orders of superiors) and the universality of this theme in literature written before and after Yizhar’s novel.  For a video on how recent IDF veterans reflected on this issue, see: https://truthout.org/video/shooting-and-crying-israeli-soldiers-after-their-service/             and https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=e0z9ebiuUaU
  • What motivated the behavior of the soldiers depicted in the novella:  peer pressure/moral individualism vs. collective authority; training/inculcation that the enemy is inferior; a response to atrocities carried out by Arabs against Jews.  Books that detail what the soldiers may have witnessed or experienced include Siege in the Hills of Hebron and The Six Days of Yad Mordechai.
  • The continuing relevance of this novella in light of present events in Israel (settlements, death of Al-Jazeera journalist).
Participants agreed that conversation about this book and its relevance could continue for a long time–and without resolution in what one writer identified as a “toxic ecosystem.”
This Friday we will begin our discussion of Dara Horn’s 2021 National Jewish Book Award-winning essay collection,  People Love Dead Jews:  Reports from a Haunted Present.  The book challenges us to confront reasons why there might be so much fascination with Jewish deaths and so little respect for Jewish lives unfolding in the present.  We will share initial impressions of Horn’s book and discuss its Introduction and first two chapters.
Now in its 23rd year, our informal discussion group meets in person from 12-1 in CBI’s small chapel (with an option on Zoom for those who cannot attend in person).  All are welcome to attend regardless of their level of expertise.  Copies of Horn’s collection should be available in local bookstores and through the internet.  If you have questions, please contact Jay Jacoby at jbjacoby@uncc.edu.
 

 

 

      

 

 

 

 

 
 

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May
29
Sun
Torah on Tap: Jews, God, and Pandemics @ CBI
May 29 @ 4:00 pm – 5:30 pm
Torah on Tap: Jews, God, and Pandemics @ CBI | Asheville | North Carolina | United States

Jews, God, and Pandemics

We’ll be discussing the history of plagues and pandemics to see how they’ve affected Jews throughout history and how it has helped shape our understanding of God.

Join us for Torah on Tap this Sunday (4pm – 5:30).

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Jun
3
Fri
In-person & Online Friday Noon Study Group
Jun 3 @ 12:00 pm – 1:00 pm
In-person & Online Friday Noon Study Group

Friday, May 20 12-1  

Last Friday, we concluded our discussion of  S. Yizhar’s 1949 novella Khirbet Khizeh.  The group focused upon:
  • The reception of the book over the years: Military censors tried but failed to ban the story in 1949. Instead, it sold in unprecedented numbers. In 1964 Israel’s education ministry incorporated the story into the school syllabus, but students were tested less on the story’s central moral struggle and instead asked them to analyze the form and aesthetics of Yizhar’s writing. In 1978, a filmed version of the story precipitated a ferocious debate. Prime Minister Menachem Begin regarded the film as anti-Israel propaganda. One journalist wrote that,  “Even if the Fatah Information Bureau were headed by a genius, he couldn’t have come up with a better one than this.”  Nonetheless, the novel found new audiences when it was finally translated into English in 2008.
  • The book as an early example of what has come to be known in Israel as the SHOOTING AND CRYING” genre, wherein a soldier in uniform expresses remorse for following orders undertaken throughout their service.  We discussed the implications and alternatives in this regard (conscientious objection, questioning/contesting orders of superiors) and the universality of this theme in literature written before and after Yizhar’s novel.  For a video on how recent IDF veterans reflected on this issue, see: https://truthout.org/video/shooting-and-crying-israeli-soldiers-after-their-service/             and https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=e0z9ebiuUaU
  • What motivated the behavior of the soldiers depicted in the novella:  peer pressure/moral individualism vs. collective authority; training/inculcation that the enemy is inferior; a response to atrocities carried out by Arabs against Jews.  Books that detail what the soldiers may have witnessed or experienced include Siege in the Hills of Hebron and The Six Days of Yad Mordechai.
  • The continuing relevance of this novella in light of present events in Israel (settlements, death of Al-Jazeera journalist).
Participants agreed that conversation about this book and its relevance could continue for a long time–and without resolution in what one writer identified as a “toxic ecosystem.”
This Friday we will begin our discussion of Dara Horn’s 2021 National Jewish Book Award-winning essay collection,  People Love Dead Jews:  Reports from a Haunted Present.  The book challenges us to confront reasons why there might be so much fascination with Jewish deaths and so little respect for Jewish lives unfolding in the present.  We will share initial impressions of Horn’s book and discuss its Introduction and first two chapters.
Now in its 23rd year, our informal discussion group meets in person from 12-1 in CBI’s small chapel (with an option on Zoom for those who cannot attend in person).  All are welcome to attend regardless of their level of expertise.  Copies of Horn’s collection should be available in local bookstores and through the internet.  If you have questions, please contact Jay Jacoby at jbjacoby@uncc.edu.
 

 

 

      

 

 

 

 

 
 

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Shabbat HaMalka: Kabbalat Shabbat & Program
Jun 3 @ 6:00 pm – 7:15 pm
Shabbat HaMalkah – A Spiritual Journey
New Zoom service for Friday night.
Meeting the first Friday of each month (of the secular calendar) at 6:00 pm, the service will be led by Josefa and a guest speaker.
Our intention is to create an intimate space at home where, as individuals and together as a community, we’ll be able to welcome and greet the Shabbat, getting in touch with the Shabbat essence and healing power.
Through Kabbalat Shabbat’s psalms and prayers, we will step forward towards the gate of Shabbat. (We will not hold Maariv service).
Join here.  Abbreviated Siddur here.

Guest speaker (May 6):  Alan S. Baumgarten: Mindfulness and Zen Judaism

“I have been in Asheville since 1983 and a member of Congregation Beth Israel for more than 20 years. I am a family doctor now working part-time as I move into retirement. I love my work, so I am proceeding slowly. I have been very active in our medical community, my practice at the Family Health Centers and social causes. I enjoy a spiritual life both Jewish and mindfulness, fitness and martial arts, gardening, woodworking, cooking and baking, travel (haha) and most of all my family.”

Guest speaker (June 3): Jessica Jacobs is the author of Take Me with You, Wherever You’re Going (Four Way Books), winner of the Devil’s Kitchen and Goldie Awards, and Pelvis with Distance (White Pine Press), winner of the New Mexico Book Award and a finalist for the Lambda Literary Award. She serves as Chapbook Editor for Beloit Poetry Journal and lives in Asheville, NC, with her wife, the poet Nickole Brown, with whom she co-authored Write It! 100 Poetry Prompts to Inspire (Spruce Books/PenguinRandomHouse). Her collection of poems in conversation with the Book of Genesis will be out from Four Way Books in 2024.
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YEP! (Youth Engagement Program)

Forget Sunday School. YEP! is an innovative and exciting multi-generational, hands-on Jewish educational experience for parents and their children. Once a week during the school year, families come together for experiential learning that that fosters deep relationships among families, our congregation and the greater community, while strengthening Jewish identity on a personal level. 

Learn more and reserve your place now!

Bar/Bat Mitzvah Preparation

One of the beautiful aspects of raising Jewish kids in Asheville is that they tend to grow up with a sense of groundedness. Their bar/bat mitzvah is not an over-the-top competition. It's just one of life's milestones. It's not a culmination of their Jewish learning and engagement - it's the beginning.

Bar/Bat mitzvah study is introduced early on, at least several years prior to the event. Our kids study with Josefa Briant, a former soloist in the Batsheva Dance Company (Tel Aviv) with a deep sense of spirituality. They meet as a class to acquire the skills needed to lead services. About a year out, kids begin studying one-one-one to learn their Torah portion and haftorah and begin to meet with Rabbi Justin to get a taste of what Jewish study with a chevruta (partner) is all about. After it's over, many decide to remain engaged. That is our measure of success.  

Post Bar/Bat Mitzvah Learning

The post b'nei mitzvah group is for those young adults 13 and over who have already become bar/bat mitzvvah. The student-led group meets the first Tuesday of the month with Rabbi Goldstein in a setting that is open, safe and confidential. Topics for discussion revolve around creating, growing and sustaining meaningful relationships and use both text study and discussion as tools with which to explore Jewish life and Jewish values.  For more information, please contact Rabbi Goldstein.

"I find it quite remarkable that people are both open and respectful! Open? That happens. Respectful? Not everywhere!! But always here!" - Judith Hoy

Learning for Adults

Do you ever wonder what it’s all about? Curious what Judaism has to say about today’s thornier problems? Always wanted to learn to speak Hebrew? Yiddish? Or maybe you just want to get more out of Shabbat and the other holidays. You’re in the right place. We get together weekly, monthly or whenever we can. Many, but not all, groups are led by Rabbi Justin. And not all take place at the synagogue.

Weekly/Monthly Learning

Click on a program to learn more

Learning Throughout the Year

Scholar-in-Residence

At least once each year, the CBI hosts a Scholar/Artist-in-Residence for a weekend. Previous scholars/artists include: Rabbi Harold Kushner; Israeli writer/entertainer, Danny Maseng; dancer and creator of MOVING TORAH, Andrea Hodos; storyteller and folklorist, Pennina Schram.  

Holiday Study

The holidays provide opportunities to deepen our understanding of who we are - as individuals and as a people. We take advantage of as many as we can, including Tu b'Shevat, Purim, Pesach, Shavuot, Tisha b'Av, and more.  

Dinner and a Movie

 Start with a dairy pot-luck dinner, add a few dozen of your friends, then settle in for a movie that's sure to make you laugh, cry, love, cringe or, at the very least, think.

"The culture of learning at CBI is vibrant, non-dogmatic, participatory, respectful, relevant, and evolving within the context of our growing congregation. The intellect and the spirit are equally honored." -Dr. Robert Kline