Congregation Beth El–Keser Israel

85 Harrison Street, New Haven, CT 06515-1724 | P: 203.389.2108 |

Our banner is based on BEKI’s stained glass, designed in 2008 by Cynthia Beth Rubin. For information on this and other of Cynthia’s work, go to: <a href="" target="_blank"></a>. Artisan Fabrication by JC Glass of Branford, CT


BEKI Families Weekly Newsletter

Happy Yom Ha’Atzmaut!

Join Us This Week For Children’s Havura and K-2 Kehila

Children’s Havura will meet at 10:15 am this Shabbat morning, led by the Levine-Rodwin family.

Junior Congregation will meet at 11:15 am, led by Klara Oppenheimer.

(Junior Congregation will meet again next week, April 24. Older kids are very welcome to join K-2 Kehila!)

For both services:

  • Meet in the BEKI courtyard

  • Bring your own lawn chairs and blankets as desired; folding chairs will be available. You are also welcome to bring your own water and snacks.

  • Masks are required for all adults and for children 5 and up.

  • The building is available for restroom use. Air purifiers will be running in the classroom which holds the folding chairs and preschool bathroom.

There is ample room in the courtyard, so anyone can come. Contact me with any questions:

Fun with the Parsha: Quarantining, Then Coming Back Together Again

This week’s double parsha, Tazria-Metzora, is often considered a difficult one. It talks about various things that could make a person tameh, or impure. Being tameh was a temporary thing, a bit like being dirty–you could take steps to get clean again. The main negative thing about being tameh is that you weren’t allowed to go into the Temple in Jerusalem until you fixed it. These rules are not very practical for us any more, because we don’t have a Temple and we get close to God in other ways.

The major thing in this double parsha that can make you tameh is an illness called tzara’at. Tzara’at was a skin disease, like a rash. The Torah has many rules about what to do when people have this illness, including separating them from other people, so that the disease will not spread. This is kind of like a quarantine, something we are familiar with because of COVID-19. Even if the sick person didn’t do anything wrong, they need to stay away from the community for awhile, so that other people won’t get sick, too.

The best part of this double parsha, in my opinion, is what happens once the sick, separated person gets better. The priest has special rituals to do, so that the person is no longer tameh. They can rejoin the community. They can go in the Temple if they want to. And they can touch and hug people again.

We are getting closer to a time when we can all do the same!

  • Rejoining regular life as a community, after being separated for everyone’s safety, is a big deal! What will your family do to celebrate being close to people again? Will you go to a favorite restaurant or sport or museum? Will you go on vacation? Will you visit people you haven’t seen in a long time?

For older kids: Get into the gross skin disease details, and what we might actually learn from them about fixing mistakes and repairing a community, in this video (via BimBam)


Yom Ha’Atzmaut Drive-Through Event TODAY, Thursday April 15, 4-6 pm–Pick Up “Israel-In-A-Bag”

Unfortunately, due to rain, the JCC cannot hold a full, outdoor Israel Fair for Yom Ha’Atzmaut. But! You are welcome to drive through at the JCC and pick up your family’s Israel-In-A-Bag gift. The bag will have all the giveaways and activities from the fair: Bamba snacks, crafts to do at home, an Israeli passport to fill with stickers, and more.

Register here to pick up your Israel-In-A-Bag from 4-6 pm today. Or, if you want to arrange to pick it up at another convenient time, email

Bag pick up is at the JCC in Woodbridge, 360 Amity Road.

Meet Our Second Rabbi Finalist Online! Sunday, April 18

Our second rabbi finalist, Rabbi Eric Woodward, is “visiting” BEKI this weekend. Come meet him at a series of Zoom gatherings for parents AND kids!

Rabbi Eric Woodward

Sunday, April 18, 10:30 am: Kids and parents 0–9

Sunday, April 18, 2:00 pm: Kids and parents 10+

Register online for meetings with Rabbi Woodward here.

Jewish eBook of the Week

Jewish Children’s eBooks through the Public Library App Hoopla: Hoopla is an app for your phone or tablet, as well as on a computer at You can make an account using your public library card.

You can check out free eBooks and audiobooks on Hoopla, from the selection your library has purchased. The New Haven Public Library offers a number of Jewish kids’ books on Hoopla, and libraries in the suburbs should as well.

Celebrate Yom HaAtzmaut with Engineer Arielle and the Israel Independence Day Surprise, by Deborah Bodin Cohen. This was going to be the book shared at today’s Israel Fair, before rain changed the plans. Follow the route of Jerusalem’s light rail as Engineer Arielle drives a train full of people celebrating Israel’s independence.

Schedule for Upcoming Outdoor Shabbat Services

From now on, we will gather for two outdoor family Shabbat services every week in the BEKI courtyard. Children’s Havura will meet at 10:15 am. At 11:15 am, the service will alternate between K-2 Kehila, for Kindergarteners through Second Graders, and Junior Congregation, for Third through Sixth Graders.

Families are welcome to come to the service that suits them best on any given week. Older and younger siblings are always welcome!

Here is the upcoming schedule:

April 17

10:15 am Children’s Havura

11:15 am K-2 Kehila

April 24

10:15 am Children’s Havura

11:15 am Junior Congregation

May 1

10:15 am Children’s Havura

11:15 am K-2 Kehila

May 8

10:15 am Children’s Havura

11:15 am Junior Congregation

For Older Kids Only: Adventure Park at the Discovery Museum, RESCHEDULED to Sunday April 25, 3-6 pm

BEKI Kadima, our youth group for 4th-7th graders, is going climbing at the Discovery Museum in Bridgeport! We have rescheduled to April 25 due to rain on the original date. Explore the park’s aerial trails on rope bridges and zip lines. This is an outdoor activity where all staff and patrons will be wearing masks (more information available at

Subsidized tickets are $10 per child. This event requires an RSVP to Annie Norman-Schiff at You are welcome to join us, even if you did not sign up for the event the first time.

Congregation Beth-El Keser Israel

85 Harrison Street, New Haven, CT 06515-1724


Annie Norman-Schiff
Youth and Family Programming Director
Congregation Beth El-Keser Israel
85 Harrison Street
New Haven CT 06515

Join me for (online) coffee to talk about kids, teens, and families at BEKI!

Useful Resources

Leading Childrens’ Services


High Holy Days Program for BEKI Kids
Weekly Parsha Videos
Answers to Questions You’re Embarrassed to Ask

The United Synagogue of
Conservative Judaism

PJ Library:
Free Jewish Children’s Books


Upcoming Events