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CBS Festival Day concludes 40th anniversary celebration

By Stacey Dresner

WESTBOROUGH – Nearing the end of the yearlong celebration of its 40th anniversary, Congregation B’nai Shalom is planning a May 19 music festival, and the whole Westborough community is invited.

“We’ve had a number of events that were spread throughout the year,” said Rabbi Rachel Gurevitz. “The culminating event is the music festival and we are calling it our 40th Anniversary Festival Day.  The event is designed to be accessible to everyone – all ages. It’s also for anyone who has not been directly touched by any aspect of the 40th anniversary events and celebrations to this point. You don’t have to buy an expensive ticket to go; its meant to be a very inclusive event.”

The festival will present music from a “wonderful line-up of musicians,” children’s activities, a roving magician and food trucks.

B’nai Shalom began celebrating its 40th anniversary last Simchat Torah. 

“We passed the Torah around to everyone in the congregation from those who joined in the 70s through to those who had just joined us,” the rabbi recalled. “It was a wonderful way to kick off because it really involved all ages and all generations. The lovely thing was that the way we had people circled in that room passing the Torah the people who been in the congregation the longest ended up standing next to people who had just joined the congregation. That was a lovely moment of people being able to see and appreciate each other and what each generation has brought to the life of the congregation.”

At Chanukah, the 40th anniversary was celebrated with an artist-in-reisdence weekend with Susan Levitan, a ketubah artist, calligrapher, and paper-cutting artist.

“But she’s also a specialist in Yiddish storytelling and song so we had all of those dimensions that we could,” Rabbi Gurevitz said. “She did a Saturday evening concert that appealed to more of our older members and she ran a storytelling and art workshops Sunday morning for all of our religious school kids and a paper-cutting workshop open to everyone.” 

The “pinnacle” anniversary event took place over the weekend of March 15-16.

B’nai Shalom’s founding Rabbi Deborah Hachen came to a special Friday night service where she was named CBS’s Rabbi Emerita.

“That night was very special,” Rabbi Gurevitz said. “She is in California and has not been in our congregation for close to 14 years but a year ago she did retire from the full-time rabbinate.  She was with our congregation for 24 years. It’s always been kind of home base for her. We just thought it would be a lovely thing to make that connection official and honor her that way.”

That evening Rabbi Hachen was presented with a specially commissioned piece of artwork created by Susan Levitan, who had led the Chanukah weekend. They also blessed CBS founding members under a chuppah.

Rabbi Daniel Freedlander, president of the World Union of Progressive Judaism, addressed the congregation and his wife, Rabbi Elyse Frishman, led a meditative Shabbat morning and Torah study.

“The fun piece was a big party Saturday night in The Haven in Boston,” the rabbi said. “It was a lot of fun and enormously successful.”

More fun should be had at Festival Day, which will run on May 19 from 11:30 a.m.-3:30 p.m.

“We are wanting our entire congregation to show up and be a part of that but we are also promoting more widely to the whole community as a kind of thank you to the town of Westborough for being our home for the last 40 years. So we hope it will bring in many people,” Rabbi Gurevitz said.

For more information about Congregation B’nai Shalom’s Festival Day, go to

CAP: CBS Westborough: Founding members of Congregation B’nai Shalom in Westborough were blessed under the chuppah during a special 40th anniversary Shabbat weekend in March.

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