Never before has a synagogue community been as important to the individual Jew as it is today. We live in a world of increasing complexity, greater isolation, and profound alienation. In contrast, our congregation strives to be a place that supports its members with love and compassion, provides a safe haven from the forces that buffet us in our daily lives, and addresses the profound spiritual yearnings that we have.
I believe in the Shabbat services as a central expression of the character and mission of the synagogue. I have guided it to be not only a vehicle for prayer and teaching, but a pastoral experience as well. There is great power in the traditional life cycle ceremonial observances which take place during services. The more personal and expanded observance for namings and B'nai Mitzvah enables us to be a part of the simcha.
Creating ways for people to participate brings them closer together. It has made us a more supportive and appreciative community. The involvement of the young, the holding of hands across the aisles, the clapping and singing - it is thrilling and uplifting. We walk out humming and smiling! All of this makes Shabbat a joyous experience.
I hope you will visit us. Come to our religious services and experience their beauty. Get to know me and the other members of the professional staff. Meet the members of our congregation. I know that you will find us welcoming and our services stirring and exhilarating.
I look forward to meeting you. Please call me or email me with any questions you may have about Congregation Beth Israel's special traditions and the many wonderful activities we offer. I also hope you will become a member of the CBI family. I know you will find here, as we do, a great place for seeking God, studying Torah, and nurturing your Jewish soul.
Rabbi Michael Berk
I think you'll also enjoy this wonderful "Welcome" video. I think it captures our spirit well!