As I shared with some of you a couple Shabbat mornings ago, I recently had the opportunity to attend a conference put on by the Julis-Rabinowitz Program on Jewish and Israeli Law of Harvard Law School. The title of the conference was “Progressive Halakhah”, which seems to have been intentionally ambiguous. Among other topics, sessions touched on the relationship between technology and halakhah (roughly meaning Jewish law), use of halakhah to effect social change, the achievement or achievability of change within halakhah, and the relationship between halakhah and morality.


Speakers and participants included several close friends and teachers of mine and other prominent rabbinic, communal, and academic leaders spanning nearly the entire spectrum of Jewish affiliation, practice, and belief. A full array of relationships to halakhah were on display, such as:

  • “I don’t actually observe halakhah, so I’m not sure why I was invited to speak here.”
  • “Yes I observe halakhah, and of course it can’t change!”
  • Halakhah is perfect. Why would we want it to change?”
  • “Where there’s a rabbinic will, there’s a halakhic way!”
  • “Well, I don’t know if that’s true, but it certainly is true that where there isn’t a rabbinic will there won’t be a halakhic way.”
  • “Traditional halakhah ended with the loss of Jewish autonomous government; anything we do now can at best be call ‘post-halakhic’ or ‘neo-halakhic’.”
  • Halakhah is the language of Jewish practice, so it has to be part of the process of building and reinvigorating Jewish communal life today.”


And on and on.


For many of us, what was most exciting about the conference was the opportunity to hear figures engage each other who might never otherwise speak. There were many expected points of divergence as well as surprising areas of commonality. It has reminded me how important and enriching it is to expose oneself to a variety of approaches to Jewish life and thought.


As one step in that direction, I plan to hold a series of community education events on Shabbat afternoons over the coming months. One set of sessions will explore different approaches to the interpretation of biblical texts, with a focus on literary analysis. We will use some of the most dramatic stories about King David as our jumping-off point.


These sessions will take place immediately after Shabbat morning services on January 12 and 26 and February 9.


Another series will be devoted specifically to exploring the modern Jewish religious movements: a bit about their histories, some of their key thinkers, and the range of ways that they differ from one another. To my mind, one of the most fertile areas of this study is the consideration of the lessons each of them has to offer us as we fashion our collective Jewish future.


Wishing all of us a (Gregorian) new year of broadened horizons and new ideas!


Rabbi Zehavi



Shabbat Candle Lighting Times   

Friday, Jan.   4  – 4:07pm  

Friday, Jan. 11  – 4:14pm

Friday, Jan. 18  – 4:22pm

Friday, Jan. 25  – 4:31pm


Service Times:

Fridays: 6:00 pm

Saturdays: 9:30 am

Thursdays: 7:15 Morning Minyan



Community Education Series:

Reading King David: Literary and Other Approaches to Biblical Narrative

Immediately following Shabbat morning services January 12, January 26, and February 9th



All are welcome to attend!


Education Committee

  Will meet on Sunday, January 6, at 9:00am

Rabbi Search Committee

  Will meet on Thursday, January 17, at 7:00pm




The Susman family welcomes the community to a Kiddush Luncheon after services on Saturday, January 5th,

in celebration of Mandy’s conversion to Judaism. We hope you can join us!

Please RSVP to SJ in the office if you plan to attend.




Kylee’s Kare Kits Gift-Wrapping Party was a great success!

We had a full parking lot of volunteers to help wrap, and gifts were distributed to about 300 children. Everyone was very appreciative of CAA donating our Social Hall for this event. Many people expressed how much it meant to them that the synagogue wanted to assist even though it was not for one of our holidays!

Read about the event on the Sentinel & Enterprise’s webpage Dec 18, 2018

Thank you to everyone who came by to help out, and for the thorough clean-up!



We have worshippers who can’t find transportation to services!


Rafael is looking for transportation to Friday and Saturday services from Pleasant St in Fitchburg. If you are available to help out, please contact Rafael or SJ in the office. Thank you!



We have a worshipper who would be grateful for transportation to Saturday services.  He is coming from Fernwood Drive, but could meet at a more central location if necessary.

Please contact the office so I can connect you! Thank you!



Bess in Townsend has lost her rides to services—if anyone was able to help, even occasionally, she would appreciate it! She hopes to attend Friday and Saturday services. Please contact the office. Thank you!



“Yahrzeits for January 2019”


Jan 1-5:  Ann Chernoff, Diane Christy, Liba Sarah Cohen, Elizabeth Forgelman, Eleanor Garber, Lillian Garston, Eleanor Lustig, Rose Medoff, Marjorie Pariser, Samuel Resnick, Sylvia G. Rome, Fannie Charney Shuman, Samuel Silverstein, Jennie Tankel


Jan 6-12: Doris Braune, Mark Claman, Annie Cohen, Morris Dubinsky, Edward Fields, Harry Gerber, Louis Gutman, Etta Jacobson, Louis Jaffe, Max Levine, Sonia Lew, Elliot Linsky, Rabbi Eric Lowenthal, David Lubin, Anita Messerman, Anne Parnes, Samuel Poppel, Sarah Pulda, Jay Rome, Miriam Rosenberg, Anne Sacks, Helen Salny, Henrietta Schear, Gussy Shack, Ida Shane, Julia Weller, Dora Winthrop, Ida Witzky, Seymour Yalen


Jan 13-19: Nathan Bass, Lewis Brodsky, Sadie Burnim, Irwin Casper, Etta Dansky, Sol Flamholtz, Abraham Friedman, Morris Glick, Lawrence Hausman, Lester Kahn, Noah Kirk, Isadore Levine, Ida Lewis, Joseph Litsky, Laby Lowis, Joseph Miller, Minnie Miller, Albert Moak, Max Poppel, Etta Porter, Martha Roth, Netty Sachs, Max Sandrof, Rebecca Schechtman, Freda Selig, Rubin Sidlower, Evelyn Silberberg, Hyman Solomon, Theodore Stern


Jan 20-31: Louis Bernhardt, Anna Bernstein, Gabriel Caplan, Frieda Cohen, Myer Cohen, Nathan Cohen, Dora Dell, Norman Feingold, Samuel Feigar, Noel Feldman, Charlotte Fichman, Lovick Frankel, Minnie Gerber, Sophie Goldberg, Harry Gotthelf, Brenda Green, Gussie Gruber, Barnet Katzman, Nelly Kurianski, Morris Jacobson, Jacob Jakubowitsch, Sarah Jakubowitsch, Joseph Long, Anna Mankoff, Irving Medoff, Jacob Penan, Edward Portnoy, Joseph Rome, Morris Schwartz, Joseph Shack, Abraham Shane, Richard Shapiro, Rabbi Joseph Shragowitz, Louis Slarskey, Harry Sobel, Hyman Aron Student, Sarah Winthrop, Sarah Wolfson, Dora Wyse, Milton Zais



                         CALENDAR FOR JANUARY 2019


 Tuesday, January 1: Office Closed

                                    No Religious School

Thursday, January 3: Morning Minyan 7:15am

Friday, January 4: Kabbalat Shabbat 6:00pm

Saturday, January 5: Shabbat service 9:30am

                                    Luncheon to follow–please RSVP to SJ in the office

Sunday, January 6: Education Committee meeting 9:00am all welcome!

Thursday, January 10:  Morning Minyan 7:15am

Friday, January 11:   Kabbalat Shabbat 6:00pm 

Saturday, January 12:  Shabbat Service 9:30am

                                       Reading King David: Literary and Other Approaches to Biblical Narrative 

                                       Directly following services

Monday, January 14: Executive Board meeting7:00pm, Board meeting 7:30pm

Thursday, January 17: Morning Minyan 7:15am

              Rabbi Search Committee meeting 7:00pm all welcome!

Friday, January 18: Kabbalat Shabbat 6:00pm

Saturday, January 19: Shabbat service 9:30am

Sunday, January 20: No Religious School

Monday, January 21: Office Closed

Tuesday, January 22: Tu B’Shevat Seder

Thursday, January 24: Morning Minyan 7:15am

Friday, January 25: Kabbalat Shabbat 6:00pm

Saturday, January 26: Shabbat service 9:30am

                                      Reading King David: Literary and Other Approaches to Biblical Narrative 

                                     Directly following services

Thursday, January 31: Morning Minyan 7:15am




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