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Presidents of 
House of Israel - United House of Israel - Congregation Beth Israel

                            photos by Len Radin
Warner Smith
Eugene Wein
Joanne Ranzer
David Ranzer
Pattie Lipman
Liz Miller
Bob Bashevkin
Darlene Radin
Howard Wineberg
Mark Gold
Amy Filson
President Chris Kelly
March 27, 2020

Dear Congregation Beth Israel members and friends:

I wanted to share with the CBI community as well as the northern Berkshire Jewish community what our synagogue is doing in response to the coronavirus crisis.

On February 29th, the synagogue Board of Directors and Rabbi Rachel started discussing preparations for a possible COVID-19 pandemic. R’Rachel and I continued closely monitoring the situation in our county and in the Commonwealth of Massachusetts. Over a period of two days - March 12 & 13 - the CBI leadership made a number of decisions we deemed necessary to protect the health and well-being of our community.

We decided to:

* Close the CBI Hebrew School through April vacation (since extended to align with the closure of public      and private schools in Massachusetts)

* Begin live-streaming our Shabbat services (information on how to virtually attend services is available on    our website, in the weekly email, on our Facebook page, and in R’Rachel’s recent message)

* Cancel the community second night Passover seder

* Cancel all other scheduled CBI community events (until further notice)

* Cease preparing and delivering meals through the Take and Eat program

* Direct our janitorial service to perform a deep cleaning and sanitization of the synagogue building

* Close our synagogue for two weeks (since amended to “until further notice” to align with “stay-at-home”     directive issued by Governor Charlie Baker and the Massachusetts Department of Public Health)

* Transition our two “essential” employees - R’Rachel and Ollie Jones - to working remotely.

During the time while our synagogue is closed, we ask that any business you have be conducted by phone, email, and postal mail. We also ask for your patience as response times may be slower than normal.

We did not take these actions lightly; we knew doing so would cause a disruption of the usual kinds of connection we, as a community, have with one another. We made these changes out of an abundance of caution and to protect everyone, especially the most vulnerable among us.

CBI leaders will continue to monitor the situation and we will communicate with you through all the channels we currently use. If you would like to be added to our mailing list, please send an email to 

Recently, R’Rachel wrote, “When the work becomes overwhelming, we need each other more.” This is so very true. Please know we are using every tool at our disposal to help us stay connected so we may offer the support you need during this difficult time. Your wellness of body, mind, and spirit and your safety is our primary concern.

I urge you to reach out to fellow congregants, friends and neighbors. Make an offer to pick up some groceries for someone when you’re making a run to the store. Let your family members know that you’re thinking of them. Say “I love you” more. Practice loving-kindness in all you do. And ask for help when you need it. 

I offer this: May the Holy One of Blessing grant skill, compassion, wisdom and protection to all those who are working to fight this sickness. May all who are ill be healed. May this virus be soon eradicated from our world. May we find light in the darkness and may we all be blessed with good health, love, and peace.


— Chris Kelly