Frequently Asked Questions

 
What if I’m not (or my boyfriend / girlfriend / husband / wife / partner / child isn’t) Jewish?
 
All are welcome at CBI, period. There are a few rare instances in which we pay attention to whether or not someone is Jewish, having to do with certain formal roles in the Torah service and with who’s empowered to vote on matters of congregational religious practice. Otherwise, though, we don’t fret about who’s Jewish and who isn’t. What really matters is whether you want to “do Jewish”. 
 
What if I want to raise my kids Jewish but am not sure how?
 
There’s some good news, and some bad news. The bad news is that you can’t lead someone to a place where you haven’t been yourself. You can’t raise your kids Jewish if you don’t raise yourself Jewish. The good news is that you can do both at the same time, and we’re here to help.

What if I don’t know the prayers? What if I don’t know Hebrew?

The prayers you need are written in your heart. The words in the prayer book are amazing resources to help you access what is locked on the inside. If you want to use traditional prayers, that’s great — give it some time and keep an eye out for an intro to the siddur (prayer book) course, or make the time to do some learning with Reb Rachel, and you can pick up some skills there. But at CBI you can pray in any language you want — and, beyond that, any mode you want: words, silence, chanting, yoga. All of these can be ways of connecting with something beyond yourself.

What if I’m interested in something Jewish but CBI isn’t doing it?

Tell us what you want, and if we can make it happen, we will. Also, if you have the energy to make something happen, let us know – we are eager to get new and creative programs up and running.

 
What type of synagogue is CBI? Does it belong to a denomination?
 
CBI was founded in 1893 as an Orthodox synagogue. We were Conservative for a while, and unaffiliated for a while.  Today we’re affiliated with the Union for Reform Judaism (a.k.a. the Reform movement).  We are pluralistic, egalitarian, and eclectic.
 
 
What are CBI’s services like?
 
Often we use Mishkan T’filah, the Reform movement’s siddur (prayer book). During the pandemic, many of our Zoom services have featured a creative slideshare siddur created by Rabbi Rachel, including poetry, visual art, and video in addition to traditional prayer.  Our Shabbat morning services last for 90 minutes. Usually our services feature a mix of English and Hebrew, spoken-word and song, prose and poetry. “Special” services — contemplative services, chant-based services, poetry-themed services, and/or Rumi services — take place a few times a year and are noted on our calendar. We think our services are warm, friendly, musical, and rejuvenating; join us sometime and give them a try!
 
What if I don’t believe in God?
 
A-OK with us. If you want talk about what you mean by “believe” and “God,” that’s cool, and if you don’t, that’s cool too. Belief in anything in particular is not a prerequisite for being part of the CBI community.
 
What if I want to send my kids to learn at CBI but am not sure I want to join (yet)?
 
No problem. Our educational programs are open to members and non-members alike. At this time, we ask that families join by the time their children reach the b-mitzvah prep program, but if that raises concerns for you, talk with Rabbi Rachel and we’ll work it out. 
 
What if I don’t keep kosher?
 
We don’t police anyone’s dietary habits. We do ask that you not bring treif (pork or shellfish) to CBI potlucks. Most of our events are vegetarian/dairy, and we’ll specify if an event is a meat event rather than a dairy one (our Passover seder, for instance, is usually a meat event because people want chicken soup with their matzah balls.)
 
What if I want to check out CBI to see if it’s right for me, but I’m not ready to commit to anything?
 
You’re welcome anytime. Check out the calendar, see what’s going on, and come on by!  Come to a holiday party, a Saturday morning or Friday night Shabbat service, a first Friday Shabbat dinner or another program.  While we depend on CBI members to keep our doors open as an institution, our events are open to all.
 
Who leads services at CBI?
 

Our rabbi and spiritual leader, Rabbi Rachel Barenblat leads davenen (prayer) two Shabbats each month, one Friday night and one Saturday Morning.  On the other Shabbatot, our services are usually led by Rabbi Pam Wax or Rabbi Jarah Greenfield. Sometimes we have guest (prayer leaders) instead of, or in addition to, our usual leaders of prayer. Our google calendar usually indicates who’s leading services when.

 
What if I have a different question?
 
Email or call; we can’t wait to hear from you.