The rabbi’s son holds up a pineapple at our community seder. The pineapple symbolizes welcome and inclusion.
Photo by Len Radin.
Congregation Beth Israel strives to be inclusive. We welcome Jews and spiritual seekers of all stripes, dual-heritage families, unpartnered people and families of all configurations. We welcome Jews of Color. We welcome LGBTQIA folks and their families as well as straight folks and their families. As one of our high holiday anthems exhorts, “Come, come, whoever you are!”
Who is a Member?
Our community is made up of people and families of all sorts. Our membership includes Jews and their immediate family members. Since 2000 we have been affiliated with the Reform movement; we welcome Jews of every denominational background. All members may participate in our education programs, in receiving spiritual counseling from our rabbi, in our social events, and in our religious services. And most of our programming is open to members (those who formally join the synagogue and pay dues to support our continued existence) and non-members alike. If you are not yet a member of CBI but would like to join, please contact us and we’ll get a membership application sent to you right away! (And please don’t let fiscal concerns hold you back from joining.)
Community worship is one of the cornerstones of Jewish life. Congregation Beth Israel is committed to the creation of worship experiences that are meaningful, authentic, and inclusive. Whether or not you are Jewish, we welcome you to join us in services. Our prayerbooks (and, in this pandemic time, our slideshare siddur / prayerbook) always include transliteration and translation so that everyone can read and sing along whether or not they are fluent in Hebrew.
Non-Jewish parents and family members are invited to participate in children’s b-mitzvah ceremonies and in bris and naming ceremonies. Marriage ceremonies for dual-heritage couples may be conducted in our synagogue at the rabbi’s discretion. All are welcome to wear a kippah / yarmulke as a spiritual practice of cultivating awe and awareness. We ask that those who are not Jewish refrain from wearing a tallit (prayer shawl) because the tzitzit (fringes) on the corners signify acceptance of the mitzvot (commandments).
In all of our educational programs, we invite the participation of Jews and non-Jews. We particularly encourage the involvement of non-Jewish parents in their children’s Jewish learning and Jewish family experience.
All members of the congregation are encouraged to participate in our decision-making processes and are eligible to serve as members of the Board. Non-Jewish members of the Board are asked to abstain from voting on issues that deal with specifically religious issues, such as hiring a rabbi or the conduct of services. Our bylaws stipulate that the President and Vice-President of the Board must be Jewish. All other Board positions are open to all members.
Inclusive Burial Policies
Paying honor to the dead is a central value in Jewish tradition. Honor is given to the memory of all our loved ones, Jewish and non-Jewish. The congregation maintains a cemetery in Clarksburg for the burial of our members. There is a section of our cemetery in which both Jews and non-Jews may be buried together, and a section in which only Jews may be buried. Non-denominational funeral services for non-Jewish members may be conducted in the synagogue and at our cemetery. We welcome our Jewish members to recite the Kaddish in honor of their non-Jewish relatives, and we also welcome non-Jews to recite Kaddish in honor of their Jewish relatives, if they so wish.