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Welcoming Joy

August 23, 2023


Rabbi Linda Potemken

“Happy Yom Kippur” is not a phrase that rolls off the tongue. We wish each other an easy fast or a meaningful day, and these are appropriate salutations. Yet contrary to popular belief, Yom Kippur has been understood as one of the most joyful days on our Jewish calendar.    The Talmud teaches that it is deeply joyful as it contains the elements of pardon and forgiveness. It is a day where we can feel the joy that accompanies...Read more...

Adding to Your Seder Plate

April 2, 2023


Rabbi Linda Potemken

All year long we are invited to reflect upon the Jewish redemption narrative through the daily liturgy, but for the week of Pesach it is front and center.  The simplest of seders can be created by exhibiting the traditional seder plate items along with matzoh and then ex­ploring their significance. Some years people add one or more additional items to signify a contemporary struggle against oppression. 

This year, I am...

Where Study Leads: BI's Spring/Summer Antiracism Offerings

May 31, 2022


Rabbi Linda Potemken

Between the festivals of Passover & Shavuot the Jewish people study a text filled with practical wisdom for life called “Pirkei Avot”, known in English as Ethics (or Chapters) of the Ancestors. One offering from this text (3:12) translates Anyone whose good deeds exceed their wisdom, their wisdom will endure. And anyone whose wisdom exceeds their good deeds, their wisdom will not endure. To paraphrase, deeds are more important than...Read more...

We Welcome the New Year

September 1, 2021


Rabbi Linda Potemken

With joy and gratitude, we welcome rabbinical students Molly Paul and Aya Baron to our professional team. Molly will serve as our Hebrew School principal and Aya will serve as our rabbinic intern, working with both rabbis and the community in multiple capacities. We are excited to bring the voices and talents of the next generation of rabbis to our community.

With sadness and some anxiety we do not welcome the Delta variant and the...Read more...

Turn My Weeping Into Dancing

July 1, 2021


Shall we hold a memorial service to mourn those lost to COVID? That question has circulated in a variety of interfaith discussion groups. Most agree that it is important to mark the losses of the pandemic, including lives lost as well as the variety of physical and emotional hardships that many experienced.

But how and when?

Judaism understands that we need time to mourn. We mourn our personal losses throughout the year at...Read more...

Answering The Call To End Racism: How To Move Forward

July 1, 2020


“Where are you?” is the first question in the Torah, posed from God to Adam, after the first couple eat from the Tree of Knowledge. The reader understands that God knows where they are physically. The question posed is deeper and existential.

Where are we right now? Among other things, we are living radically constricted lives in response to a deadly pandemic. We need comfort and strength and discipline for the long days ahead...Read more...

Using the light of Chanukah to overcome the winter blues

December 1, 2019


Rabbi Linda Potemken

Chanukah embraces the themes of religious freedom, dedication, sufficiency, sustainability, light and possibility. There are many ways to celebrate this festival. Here are a few suggestions:

Invite others to light candles with you. Relax while the candles are burning. Experiment with different latke recipes. Investigate places most worthy of tzedakah and make contributions in honor of others. Focus on the theme of religious freedom...Read more...


October 1, 2019


Rabbi Linda Potemken

These holidays invite in a wide range of human emotions. We began on Tisha B’Av, sitting on the floor in tears over historic and contemporary tragedies - encountering the destruction of the Temple through Lamentations and the calamity of injustice to migrants through empathy and protest. The High Holidays, the days of awe, are just that - awesome days to engage existential questions, hopes, fears and to continue to right our wrongs. We...Read more...

Welcome to our new rabbinic intern, Janine Julia Jankovitz Pastor!

September 6, 2019


Through the auspices of the Reconstructionist Rabbinical College Kleinbaum Internship, we are pleased to welcome to Beth Israel Janine Jankovitz Pastor, who will be serving as a student rabbinic intern with us throughout the year. 

Janine is entering her final year at the Reconstructionist Rabbinical College. She has worked as a student rabbi in several different capacities, including Hillel, chaplain, and has served three...Read more...

Turning to 5780 - A New Year

August 30, 2019


September comes quickly, with summer slipping by without our consent.

The school year resumes, the weather slowly changes and we arrive at a time of self-reflection. The Hebrew month
of Elul, the month that precedes Rosh Hashanah, is traditionally the time for spiritual preparation for the holidays.

With Rosh Hashanah arriving at the end of September, we have this whole month to prepare for the season of repentance,...Read more...

Thu, September 21 2023 6 Tishrei 5784