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Posted by mgw on March 28, 2017 in events, General, home

Karen St-Laurent is traveling all the way from Montreal to delight your hearts and souls with her spiritual chants. You will find yourself singing and possibly dancing to Karen’s beautiful voice and her talented musician Daniel at the basse and Gotta at the drums. Traditional Kirtans are originally from Indian and chanted in Sanskrit. In addition to chanting in Sanskrit and Hindi, Karen also incorporates chants from various traditions such as Judeo-Christian, African and Native-American chants and gives them beautiful fresh melodies with a twist of rock and folk that has made her famous in Montreal and through out the Quebec province.

We want to share this event with our Cambridge neighbors, introduce them to our unique community and let the chants do their magic!

A brief Havdalah service led by Liza will mark the end of Shabbat before the concert.


Purim Story Slam

Posted by Penina on March 10, 2017 in events, Holidays


Ki Tisa as a Song of Longing (Mar 16, 2017)

Posted by Penina on February 19, 2017 in events, Ruach HaYam

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Ruach HaYam Workshop at Congregation Eitz Chayim, Cambridge, MA
March 16, 2017.  See end of post for logistics.

This study is led by Penina Weinberg.

Parashat Ki Tisa is a Song of both longing and danger. First, the longing. Previous to our parsha, Moses has gone up to the top of Mount Sinai, entering the cloud of God’s presence, to remain with God for 40 days (Ex 24:18). While Moses is up on Mount Sinai encountering the Divine, the children of Israel wait expectantly at the foot of Mount Sinai for Moses to return with God’s prescription for a holy life.

Now the period of time is coming to an end and more »

Tziporah and the Awesome Fusion of Aaron and Moses (Feb 16, 2017)

Posted by Penina on January 31, 2017 in events

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Ruach HaYam Workshop at Congregation Eitz Chayim, Cambridge, MA
February 16, 2017.  See end of post for logistics.

This study is led by Penina Weinberg.

There is a mysterious and awe-filled encounter between YHVH and Moses, as Moses returns from Midian to Egypt to undertake the deliverence of the Hebrew slaves from Pharaoh (Exodus 4:24-27). It appears that YHVH seeks to kill Moses and that Moses’ wife Tziporah, a Midianite priestess with overtones of Osiris, performs a magical and life-saving circumcision. Immediately afterwords, YHVH sends Aaron from Egpyt to join Moses in the wilderness. Aaron meets Moses and kisses him. From now on, Aaron will “speak Hebrew” for Moses. Moses is both Hebrew and Egyptian and stuggles to come to terms with his existence as a hybrid being. Tziporah’s magical/priestly ritual forms a crucible for Moses, enabling him to essentially fuse with Aaron.

We will do a close reading of the text to uncover more »

Kabbalat Shabbat, 1/20/17 – Parashat Shemot

Posted by Penina on January 16, 2017 in events, General
On Kabbalat Shabbat, 1/20/17, we begin the book of Exodus, wherein Moses is birthed by 5 women, in defiance of the Pharaoh.   Moses, with the help of Shiphrah, Puah, Jocheved, Miriam, and Pharaoh’s daughter, will come to liberate the Israelite slaves from the yoke of Pharaoh.  On January 20, we may wish to pay particular attention to where liberation comes from, how it comes about, and the essential partnership of women.  Please join us for a brief discussion of Parashat Shemot with Lay Leader and Hebrew Bible scholar Penina Weinberg.  A festive oneg will follow the service, as we celebrate our possibilities as a people.
Infancy of Moses (Detail) from the Dura Europos Synagogue 
Pay attention to what the Egyptian bible scholar Magdi Gendi** says about Pharaoh (bold is mine): “His main concern is to stay in power… He keeps believing that he is the wise king although he is mocked by the marginalized people… In fact… the people who defy his command are the marginalized people and even his own daughter… The Exodus narrative is a timeless one.  A Pharaoh character exists in every generation.  Pharaoh’s character represents a tyrant who oppresses the powerless people, who denies their rights to live, who bases his decisions on speculations, and sees the blessing to them as a threat to  him.  Pharaoh is a character who has a stubborn heart, full of arrogance and power.  Pharaoh is a character who refuses to learn from experience and believes that he is the wise one.”
**Brenner, Athalya, and Gale A Yee, eds. Exodus and Deuteronomy. Texts @ Contexts. Minneapolis: Fortress Press, 2012.  Gendi, Magdi S. “Pharaoh as a Character in Exodus 1-2: An Egyptian Perspective.”
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A True Leader – Moses and the Five Women who Birthed Him (Jan 19, 2017)

Posted by Penina on January 14, 2017 in events, General

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Ruach HaYam Workshop at Congregation Eitz Chayim, Cambridge, MA
January 19, 2017.  See end of post for logistics.

This study is led by Penina Weinberg.

Join us for a queer look at Moses and the five powerful women of Exodus 1-2 who birthed/midwifed/nurtured the great leader of the Hebrew people. Despite contrary decrees by the powerful Pharaoh of Egypt, the women used their wits to gain power when they lacked authority. They launched Moses as a prophet and leader, and Miriam became a prophet herself. At the end of the book of Exodus, we will see that their efforts led to another quintuplet of women who changed their world: the daughters of Zelophehad – Mahlah, Noa, Hoglah, Milcah, and Tirzah.

As we sit upon the eve of destruction, what can we learn about faith, resistance, persistance, and feminine and non-elite power, by a deep reading of this story?

This class more »

Calendar and Cosmos: Meah Select Spring 2017

Posted by Penina on December 24, 2016 in Adult_ed, events, Meah_select

Calendar and Cosmos: Time as Sacred Dimension in Judaism
Instructor: Rabbi Nehemia Polen, PhD
Ten Wednesdays 7:00 – 9:00 p.m. Starting 2/8/17
Class Calendar
Cost $360    Register for this class

Financial aid and information about class:
Sara Brown (617) 559-8708

Our course will trace how natural cycles of time structure the rituals and experiences of Judaism.  We will learn about the evolution of the Jewish calendar and will examine calendar controversies in Jewish history, as far back as the Bible and the Dead Sea Scrolls. A special focus will be early narratives about the sun and moon, as expressed in rabbinic texts and the Kabbalah. The Talmudic myth of the moon’s diminution will serve to frame a discussion of the total solar eclipse that will take place in the United States this summer.  Our course aims to cultivate a deeper appreciation for the natural rhythms of our amazing universe and how they impact on our social and spiritual experience of life.

Rabbi Nehemia Polen, PhD  is a leading expert in Hasidism and Jewish thought. A widely published author, his books include “The Holy Fire: The Teachings of Rabbi Kalonymus Kalman Shapira, the Rebbe of the Warsaw Ghetto” (Jason Aronson Inc., first ed., 1977); “The Rebbe’s Daughter” (Jewish Publication Society, 2002), based on Polen’s research as a National Endowment for the Humanities fellow and recipient of a National Jewish Book Award; and “Filling Words With Light: Hasidic and Mystical Reflections on Jewish Prayer” (Jewish Lights Publishing, 2004), written with Lawrence Kushner. Polen holds a doctorate from Boston University, where he studied with and served as a teaching fellow for Nobel Laureate Elie Wiesel. Prior to his career in Jewish academia, Polen served for 23 years as a congregational rabbi.

High Holy Days 2016 Schedule

Posted by mgw on August 3, 2016 in events, General, High Holy Days, Holidays

We enter the month of Elul before you know it – our preparation time for Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur. We invite you to come reflect with us, and to welcome the New Year together as a community.

We are very excited to be holding our High Holy Days services this year for the first time in our own sanctuary! Please note, however, that due to space limitations, seats for Kol Nidre in the sanctuary will be reserved for members and guests whose paid registrations are received in the office by September 23, and who arrive before 8 pm.  Arrivals after 8pm may be seated in the lobby or parlor.

Selichot – Sat, Sept 24 – 8:00pm
Erev Rosh Hashanah –Sun, Oct 2, 7:15pm Kiddush; 7:30pm service
Rosh Hashanah (1st day)** – Mon, Oct 3, 9:30am. Lunch after services
Rosh Hashanah (2nd day) – Tue, Oct 4, 10:00am. Followed by POTLUCK lunch and Tashlich by the river
Kol Nidre – Tue, Oct 11, 7:30pm
Yom Kippur **– Wed, Oct 12, 9:30am service; 4:00pm Yizkor; 5:30pm Ne’ilah. Havdalah and potluck break fast follow
** On 1st day Rosh Hashanah and on Yom Kippur, Rabbi Liza Stern will conduct children’s services at 9:30am on the second floor


For Eitz Chayim members**, there is no additional cost to attend services. The fee for adult visitors is $200 per person for one or all services. If you join Congregation Eitz Chayim during the coming year, that fee will be applied toward your annual donation pledge.  If you have not pre-registered, bring registration form and check to the door for services.


Childcare will be available for 1st day Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur day services

The High Holy Days at Eitz Chayim are a time of community.  We share meals, stories, collective confessions.  We mourn together and hear the call of the shofar together.  We hope you will participate as fully as you are able, and we invite you to volunteer.  Participating in the activities is a wonderful way to enrich your experience, and to get to know other members of our community.

We look forward to seeing you soon and to wishing you L’Shana Tovah in person.

Wish to help? Contact Penina Weinberg: ◦ For questions about registering, contract the office: (617) 497-7626

Rebecca, Isaac, Jacob and Esau: A Queer Look at Family, Love, Jealousy and Gender in the Hebrew Bible (February 25, 2016)

Posted by Penina on February 7, 2016 in events

Ruach HaYam Workshop at Congregation Eitz Chayim, Cambridge, MA

Join us for an interactive study of the Rebecca, Isaac, Jacob and Esau. Study will be led by Penina Weinberg. 6:45 pm for schmooze. Bring veggie snacks if you wish.

Study will begin promptly at 7:15pm.

Congregation Eitz Chayim 136 Magazine Street, Cambridge, MA

February 25, 2016

RSVP here

We’ll do a close reading of the story of Isaac, Rebecca, Jacob and Esau. We’ll follow through on what we learned from Song of Songs 8:6

For love is as strong as death [“The love which Isaac bore to Esau” –from Song of Songs Rabbah]

Jealousy as harsh as Sheol [“The Jealousy which Esau bore against Jacob” –from Song of Songs Rabbah]We will study the way in which Rebecca may be seen to inherit the mantles of both Abraham and Sarah, and to occupy a gender space both male and female. We will consider whether Jacob can be read as transgender and/or as a person whose true voice is never heard.

more »

Chanukah Celebration – 12/6/15

Posted by admin on December 4, 2015 in events, Holidays

Chanukah Program for EC Students, Families & Congregants 

Sunday, Dec 6, 2015
10am to 1pm
Join us as we welcome in the Chanukah season!


Coffee, tea, juice.

There will be a singalong, led by the talented Joanna Schubert!!

Menorah building workshops led by artistic members of the EC community. Our Annual Menorah contest is coming up! (Get a jump on the competition!)

 Chanukah tales told by Rabbi Stern 

Lighting of our Congregational Menorah on the steps of EC!

And, the Kesher@EC Chanukah Store will be open for all your holiday needs!