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Beth El – Keser Israel Events for May 2024

July 4, 2024
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A Year with Martin Buber: Wisdom on the Weekly Torah Portion

Spirituality In Our Relationships: Hiding in Plain Sight 

Rabbi Dennis Ross of Congregation Mishkan Israel will draw from his latest book, A Year with Martin Buber/Wisdom from the Weekly Torah Portion to discuss spiritual opportunities that so often pass unnoticed.

Part of the Jewish Publication Society’s Daily Inspiration Series, the book explores the fifty-four weekly Torah portions and eleven Jewish holidays through the eyes of Buber, one of the great twentieth-century Jewish thinkers. 

Details about this Shabbat Schmooze on May 11 with Rabbi Ross are at

Discussion of the Book of Ruth

The May Prayer and Liturgy discussion with Rabbi Carl Astor will focus on the Book of Ruth, in preparation for Shavuot. Join the group on Wednesday, May 15 at 7:30 pm on Zoom. Hebrew proficiency is not required. This is not a class, but rather an open forum to learn together and share ideas. 

Rabbi Astor moved to Westville from New London, where he served as rabbi of Congregation Beth El from 1981 to 2013, retiring after 32 years as Rabbi Emeritus. 

Email to request the Zoom link.

Yom HaShoah program 

Attorney Raphael Prober will discuss his 15 years of pro-bono work representing Holocaust survivors in their pursuit of justice from the French rail company responsible for deporting 76,000 Jews and thousands of others towards the death camps. 

A new five-part documentary podcast Covering Their Tracks tells the story of Leo Bretholz’s daring escape from a moving train bound for Auschwitz, and the fight he led for accountability from the rail company some 70 years later. Ultimately, more than $60 million was paid into a compensation fund for the victims and their families.

This presentation is Thursday, May 16 at 7:30 pm on Zoom. Email to request the link.

Lag BaOmer Kumsitz

BEKI’s annual celebration of Lag BaOmer, the 33rd day of the Omer, will be on Memorial Day, Monday, May 27. The folk-custom is to sing around a campfire at a “kumsitz,” meaning “come” and “sit.” The program will include niggunim—which have no words—as well as traditional American songs and Jewish songs, all from song sheets. The raindate is May 28. Consult for details.

Conversation about ADUs

BEKI’s Green Team will lead a Zoom conversation Wednesday, May 29 at 7:30 pm about the new Accessory Dwelling Unit [ADU] ordinance in New Haven, featuring guest speaker Laura Brown, Executive Director, City Plan Commission, City of New Haven (& co-author of the new ordinance).

Real estate agent Rebecca Weiner says that ADUs increase neighborhood density, lessen housing price pressure, and foster greener living and a more sustainable community.

“I feel that no part of the city is riper for this transition than Westville,” she explains. “Probably 4-6 times per month, I get calls from people who want to rent in Westville, but who just cannot find any place they can afford.”

“Meantime,” she adds, “also probably 2-3 times per month, I get calls from Westvilleans who are finding their big homes a bit much to manage financially and otherwise, but who are not yet ready to sell. Even if they did, that would create housing for just a different family wanting a big home.”

“This conversation,” she notes, “is to create some community momentum around the idea of ADUs. Single-family homes can have ADUs added without totally changing their character.”

Email to request the Zoom link.

Keith Richter: Nature Photography Exhibition 

The nature photographs of BEKI member Keith Richter are featured in BEKI’s upstairs gallery through May 26. Richter’s photography is a blend of his two passions: abstract art and nature. He seeks to capture the ways in which abstract art mimics nature through shapes, colors, and patterns. Email to arrange time to view the exhibition.

Learn with the Rabbi

Rabbi Eric Woodward leads a discussion of the weekly Torah portion on Thursdays. Talmud class meets May 5 & 12 and other select Sundays. Details at

Children’s Programs

Children's Havura, K-2 Kehila, and Junior Congregation, all led by parent or grandparent volunteers, meet each Saturday. For more information, consult Education Director Annie Norman-Schiff at

<span class="fineprint">BEKI is located at 85 Harrison Street (corner of Whalley Avenue - Route 63 - in Westville)</span>

This is an opinion not necessarily endorsed by the Woodbridge Town News.

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