The Joys of a Small Congregation:

  • We Have a Sense of Family
  • We Have a Sense of Tenacity
  • We Have a Sense of Involvement
  • We Have a Sense of Personal Responsibility to the Congregation
  • We Have a Sense of Tolerance
  • We Have a Sense of Humor
  • We Have a Sense of Intimacy with our Rabbi
  • We Have a Sense of Continuity
  • We Have a Sense of Community

And we do it with all the enthusiasm and energy we can summon.

Adapted from Being a Small Congregation is Different
By Mary Hofmann Congregation Etz Chaim, Merced, CA

Related Thoughts from Beit Ahavah Members:

“I didn’t even know how much Beit Ahavah meant to me until my mother died. Rabbi Riqi was right by my side when I needed her. Then, a huge number of congregants showed up for the shiva at my house – too many to comfortably fit in my house! I feel so supported by the Beit Ahavah community and now I want to give back.”

“Beit Ahavah is my spiritual home where I am able to lean on my multi-faith community both in good times and hard times.  In these troubled political times BA has been especially meaningful as one of the few places that I feel safe and held.”

“I have been involved with Beit Ahavah since the very beginning.  What drew me to it, and keeps me a part of it, is the feeling of being an integral part of a Jewish community that accepts and values all ways of being Jewish, including a commitment to social justice.”




Klara Grape Memorial Music Fund Kabbalat Shabbat with special guests Mak’hela

Friday, March 17, 2017, 6:00 – 7:30 pm

Mak’hela, whose name means “chorus” in Hebrew, seeks to build bridges through
the universal language of music. The 30-voice chorus draws its repertoire from all
facets of the Jewish world, including songs in Hebrew, English, Yiddish and Ladino.
Led by Music Director Dr. Elaine Broad Ginsberg and accompanied by Jamie
Goodnow, the group includes members from all over the Pioneer Valley and
performs throughout New England.

Long-time Beit Ahavah member Klara Grape joined Mak’hela in its very first
season and remained a dedicated member of the chorus for well over a decade.
She especially enjoyed participating in the Zimriyah International Choral Festival
in Jerusalem. Both Mak’hela and Beit Ahavah are honored to salute Klara’s
legacy and the Music Fund that bears her name.

Please join us for this special service – the first of several musical events Beit
Ahavah will provide with the support of Klara’s Jewish legacy: The Klara
Grape Memorial Music Fund.   Klara’s fund is an outgrowth of her strong
commitment to the Create A Jewish Legacy program of the Jewish
Endowment Foundation.  Scroll down on the Beit Ahavah
Homepage for details on how to donate
to the fund.


Parent Workshop: Post-Election Worries, Anti-Semitism, and Hate Speech

With Dr. Margaret Miller, Wednesday, January 11, 7:00 p.m. at Lander-Grinspoon Academy in Northampton

A Parent Workshop with Dr. Margaret Miller, an experienced child psychologist, to address your growing concerns on how to talk with children about post-election worries, anti-Semitism and other hate speech. She is also a founding Beit Ahavah member and head of our Tzedek Tzedek Social Justice Committee. Please join us! All are welcome.

This workshop is offered in the Upper Valley on Wednesday, January 11, 7:00 p.m. at Lander-Grinspoon Academy in Northampton, and offered in the Lower Valley on Monday, January 9, 7:00 p.m. at the Springfield JCC.

Sponsored by Jewish Family Service of Western MA and PJ Library of the Jewish Federation of Western MA.

Please join the Facebook event here and share with friends

Community Chanukah Celebrations

BEIT AHAVAH wishes you a joyous Festival of Lights
A freiliche Happy Chanukah

SATURDAY, DECEMBER 24, 5:45 – 7:30 p.m.
Spread the Light: Community Chanukah event with Chinese food & movies!
Co-sponsored by CBI, Beit Ahavah, Lander-Grinspoon Academy and PJ Library!

Chanukah is a time to experience light in the darkness — let’s come together as a whole Jewish community Upper Valley and light up the night together! This 1st night of Chanukah celebration is a collaboration between Congregation B’nai Israel of Northampton, Lander~Grinspoon Academy, Beit Ahavah ~ The Reform Synagogue of Greater Northampton and PJ Library — ALL WELCOME!! Schedule of candles, Kosher Chinese dinner, movies and dance below.

We will sing and we bask in the glow of the light from hundreds of menorahs. Please bring your own menorah if you can to add to the light. And given that this year, the first night of Chanukah falls on Christmas Eve, we are going to honor the age-old tradition of eating Chinese food and going to the movies! Celebrated local chef PENGYEW CHIN will prepare a delicious kosher Chinese feast. After the meal we will screen two films, one for kids and one for teens/adults. And then we will finish the night with a Dreidel dance party!

Ticket Cost: $10 person and $5 for kids under 12.

*Please also bring an item for our Jewish Family Service of Western Massachusetts Winter Clothing Drive for the over 100 new refugees families in our area. Bring: new and gently-used coats, hats, gloves, scarves and boots.

5:00-5:45 p.m. Community Candle Lighting, Havdalah & Chanukah Singing with Felicia Sloin and Rabbi Jacob Fine, Rabbi Justin David and Rabbi Riqi Kosovske.
5:45-6:30 p.m. Delicious Kosher Chinese Food Buffet, with local beer for purchase.
5:45-6:30 p.m. Dreidel Games for all and games for young children kids with PJ Library.
6:30-8:30 p.m. Movies (one for elementary age and one for pre-teens and adults)!
8:30 p.m.-late night Dreidel Dance Party!

*Please bring your own menorah if you can. We will have some extras.

Congregation B’nai Israel, 253 Prospect St, Northampton, MA
FRIDAY, DECEMBER 30, 5:45 – 7:30 p.m.


The Famous Beit Ahavah LATKE FACTORY!
Volunteer cooks needed 3:00-5:00 p.m.

* DAZZLING MENORAHSBring your menorahs & candles
* Chanukah & Shabbat Songs & Dreidel Games
* Vegetarian Potluck Dinner & LATKE FACTORY!

* Storytelling with Robert Harris

Latkes are fryin’ @130 Pine Street in Florence

All are welcome.


“Day is Same as Night” – Saturday, November 19, 2016

A Program of Yiddish Music of Labor, Love, and Loss, from the early 20th century

Join us for an emotional and moving walk down the pathways of our shared past history. 

Laurie Israel, a versatile Hilltown Musician, will be performing a benefit show for Beit Ahavah, the Reform Synagogue of Greater Northampton in Florence, Massachusetts, on Saturday, November 19, 2016, at 7:00 p.m. The name, “Day is Same as Night” is from the title of a Yiddish labor song. This program will consist of seldom heard and unusual Yiddish music from 1903 to the mid 20th century.  Laurie will be singing and accompanying herself on guitar, piano, and accordion.  Songs will be sung in Yiddish and English, with translations available.  Members of the Beit Ahavah congregation will perform readings from the period chosen by Laurie and designed as a supplement to the music and meaning of the concert.  One of these readings is a letter written by Laurie’s grandfather to her father in 1943.  Another segment will consist of songs and piano pieces inspired by the horrific Kishinev Pogrom of 1903.

Laurie Israel has extensive experience in performing many types of music on a number of instruments.  She is a baroque cellist with Ensemble Suave, a Boston-based baroque performance group, which has performed in the Boston Early Music Festival.  Laurie is also a folk musician, performing on guitar with voice.  Her specialty is Yiddish songs of love, loss, and labor, as well as American popular, folk, and labor songs, from 1880 through 1950.  She explores rare and seldom performed music, finding them in collections and in on-line university library website archives.  As part of her work, Laurie has made fresh new translations of Yiddish lyrics.

Beit Ahavah was created in 1997 by a group of Jewish men and women who sought to build a Reform Jewish community in the Northampton area. This small group developed a vision of an inclusive community where worship and study would be spiritually enlivening and meaningful. The congregation of Beit Ahavah, which has now grown its membership to approximately 80 families, is known for its emphasis on social justice and action, fostering community spirit, and valuing diversity.  Beit Ahavah is inclusive of people from all backgrounds, and is known for its support of and sensitivity to interfaith families and the LGBTQ population.

Suggested donation is $18, more if you can, less if you cannot. All proceeds support Beit Ahavah!

For information, contact Beit Ahavah at, or call (413) 587-3770, or contact Laurie Israel at or (617) 719-8312.

Open Sukkahs & Celebrations! October 16 – 25

Continue your celebration of the High Holydays with us in the Sukkah at Beit Ahavah: 

  • Sunday, October 16, 1st Night Sukkot Dinner in the Beit Ahavah Sukkah, 5:00 p.m.
  • Friday, October 21, “Refuge & Refugee” Sukkot Shabbat Early Evening Service at 6:00–7:30 p.m.
  • Saturday, October 22, Shabbat Morning Jewish Renewal Service in the Sukkah led by Rabbi Riqi and Randy Furash Stewart, 10:00 a.m.–Noon
  • Sunday, October 23, Sukkot Harvest Festival at CBI Abundance Farm, 1:00–5:00 p.m.
  • Sunday October 23, Simchat Torah celebration ~ dancing with the Torahs, 6:00– 7:00 p.m.

Photos of the sukkah, past and present, can be found on the Beit Ahavah Facebook album: Sukkot at the Love Shack.

Highlights – September 2016

 Upcoming Events at Beit Ahavah and Around the Valley
Services and events are held at 130 Pine Street, Florence, unless otherwise noted.
High Holydays 5777 are around the corner! Click for More Info

Sunday, September 18, 10:00 – 11:00 a.m.  Apple-picking for Families with young children (ages 0-6), at Art in the Orchard, 82 Park Hill Rd, Easthampton.  Help spread the word and invite new families!  Join Amy Meltzer, Marlene Rachelle, Rabbi Riqi, Judi Wisch, Lois Peirent and more for singing, apple-picking, shofar blowing and a fun outing.  For more info, contact Amy Meltzer at

Sunday, September 18, 1:00 p.m. to 5:00 p.m.  RUACH Kick-Off & Community Gleaning Trip with Rachel’s Table, for grades 3-8 and families, adults and teens welcome.  SPACES AVAILABLE.  Travel by bus to a farm in Williamsburg or Amherst to glean fruits and vegetables and deliver to a food pantry.  Additional drivers will carpool.  This is a great Tikkun Olam project – all welcome.  Please RSVP to Rabbi Riqi for trip details.

Thursday, September 22, 4-5:30 p.m.  1st day of Hebrew Havurah, for grades 3-7, taught by Moreh Kenny Hahn, Rabbi Riqi and others.

Friday, September 23, 5:15 p.m. to 6:00 p.m. NEW DATE! 
Tot Shabbat & Tot Sha-Potluck returns, led by Marlene Rachelle with Rabbi Riqi, plus Shabbat Ice Cream Party for a sweet New Year.  Tot Shabbat is the monthly musical hour welcoming the Sabbath for families with kids ages 0-6 & their friends.  Bring a nut-free vegetarian dish to share, and pizza is provided.

Friday-Saturday, September 23-24 – A Bar Mitzvah Weekend and “Poetry of Elul Shabbat” featuring poetry and liturgy to bring us into the new year season of the soul – see below for details.

Friday, September 23, 6:00 p.m. Early Kabbalat Shabbat Service, led by Rabbi Riqi Kosovske (on the 4th Friday of the month), Parshat Ki Tavo.  The D’var Torah will be “Poetry of Elul” by poet Dane Kuttler who will share from her book “The Social Justice Warrior’s Guide to the High Holy Days.”  More information about Dane’s work is at  The Oneg is sponsored by Julie Reiss.

Saturday, September 24, 10:00 a.m. to 12:00 p.m. Shabbat Morning Service and Bar Mitzvah Celebration of Theo Abrams, Parshat Ki Tavo, followed by a Kiddush lunch sponsored by the Abrams-Fantini.  All are welcome!

Saturday afternoon, September 24, 4:00 – 6:00 p.m. Shabbat Poetry Salon. Join us for our first Shabbat Poetry Salon, for “Branches & Roots – Poetree of Life” with spoken word poet Rachel Kann of Los Angeles.  More information about Rachel’s work is found at  Held at the home of Kenny Hahn and Sharon Saline.

Saturday, September 24, 8:00 p.m. – 9:30 p.m. Community Slichot Service: “Tools for Healing Self, Other & World,” to prepare for the Holidays.  Led by Rabbi Andrea Cohen-Kiener of Temple Israel of Greenfield, Rabbi Riqi Kosovske, Rabbi Justin David (CBI) and Rabbi Ben Weiner (JCA), with Cantor Diana Brewer and visiting Poet Rachel Kann of Los Angeles.  A Havdalah and musical program, service and refreshments. This year Slichot is hosted by Temple Israel of Greenfield at 27 Pierce Street, Greenfield.

Sunday, September 25, 3:30 to 5:30 p.m., 1st Day of RUACH! Ruach means spirit, wind, energy, breath and life.  Join us for the new format of RUACH, the Beit Ahavah Community School with Parent Orientation & Shmooze. New format– “RUACH LAB” for grades 3-7 led by lead teacher Sonia Wilk, and “RUACH ARTS” for K-2.  Contact Rabbi Riqi or Jodi Page-Lacoff, YOFIE chair, for more information or to register.  “Have you signed up??”

Friday, September 30, 7:30 p.m. Musical Kabbalat Shabbat Service, led by Rabbi Riqi Kosovske (on the 5th Friday of the month), Parshat Nitzavim.  The Oneg is sponsored by Terese Katz.  The B’nei Mitzvah Class Families Shabbat Dinnerwill precede the service at Beit Ahavah at 6:15 p.m.

Pioneer Valley Jewish Film Festival Has Started

It may still be snowing outside, but one sign of spring, the Pioneer Valley Jewish Film Festival, has begun.  The festival screens films in locations throughout the Valley through April 14.

The festival organizers explain that they are “… proud to present 24 outstanding films from 14 countries, including the United States, Israel, France, Germany, United Kingdom, South Africa and Uruguay. Our films provide a unique window into Jewish themes and values — exploring Jewish identity and presenting the richness of Jewish life, history and culture across the globe.”

Check out this “at a glance” calendar to learn about films and locations.

Shabbat Services During Rabbi Riqi’s Sabbatical

Our rabbi Riqi Kosovske began her sabbatical a few weeks ago.

A rabbi is often granted a sabbatical leave after six or seven years of service to the congregation.  The leave provides the rabbi an opportunity to seek spiritual and physical reinvigoration.  It is a time for a rabbi to pursue spiritual nourishment and a change in perspective, to deepen relationships with self, family, Jewish study, and God.  It is also a time of spiritual growth for the congregation and a time for the congregation to re-energize lay leadership and develop our leaders.

As part of this process, we have invited community members and guest rabbis to lead shabbat services during the sabbatical.  The schedule so far is posted below:

Shabbat Services Schedule during Rabbi Riqi’s Sabbatical 2016


Date Start Time Service Leader(s) Special Notes
Friday 1/8/16*

*2nd Friday of the month

7:30 p.m. Kenny Hahn Tot Shabbat at 5:15
Friday 1/15/16 6:00 p.m. Levi-Donnelly Family Jewish Camp-style Musical service
Friday 1/29/16 6:00 p.m. Rabbi Efraim Eisen Community Supper
Friday 2/5/16 7:30 p.m. TBA
Friday 2/19/16 6:00 p.m. Ruth Barham Meditation service
Friday 3/4/16 7:30 p.m. Lisa Prolman Tot Shabbat at 5:15
Friday 3/18/16 6:00 p.m. Rabbi Saul Perlmutter
Saturday 3/26/16 9:30 a.m. TBA with Jody Rosenbloom Shabbat B’Yachad-Shabbos Sugar Shack Lunch
Friday 4/1/16 7:30 p.m. Sherri Meade Tot Shabbat at 5:15
Friday 4/15/16 6:00 p.m. Kenny Hahn
Saturday 4/16/16 10:00 a.m. Rabbi Efraim Eisen Elijah Lopez-Reiss Bar Mitzvah
Friday 5/6/16 7:30 p.m. Randy Furash-Stewart Tot Shabbat at 5:15;

Erev Pride Shabbat

Friday 5/20/16 6:00 p.m. Rabbi Lori Shaller
Friday 6/3/16 7:30 p.m. Rabbi Efraim Eisen Tot Shabbat at 5:15
Saturday 6/11/16 Shavuot evening celebration TBA Shavuot, TBA
Friday 6/17/16 6:00 p.m. TBA
Friday 7/1/16 7:30 p.m. TBA


 Guest Rabbi Bios

Rabbi Efraim Eisen

Rabbi Efraim Eisen was a student of Rabbi Shlomo Carlebach from his formative years until Reb Shlomo left this world in 1994. He was the Rabbi for the University of Oregon, Vassar College, Mt. Holyoke, the Pioneer Valley Jewish Renewal Community and Temple Israel in Greenfield.

Together with his wife Rosalie they founded Basherte, an internationally renowned program designed to assist people to find their soul mates. While facilitating this program he wrote and produced a Cd entitled “Every Being Has a Light”. He is delighted that over 100 couples have connected through this work.

Rabbi Eisen was ordained through Aleph Alliance for Jewish Renewal under the direction of R Zalman Schachter Shalomi. He was licensed as a marriage and family therapist in 1981 and continues to practice today, integrating spiritual principles with a problem solving approach. He specializes in helping people find their soul mates and welcomes the Higher Power into his work.


Rabbi Saul Perlmutter

Rabbi Perlmutter grew up in Burlington, VT and is a graduate of Brandeis University and the Reconstructionist Rabbinical College. He also has a Master’s degree in Social Work from Yeshiva University, an orthodox institution, and has been a member of a non-denominational Havurah in the Northampton/Amherst area for over 40 years.

In August 2014, Rabbi Perlmutter retired from serving as Executive Director of UMass Hillel where they held reform, conservative and orthodox services on Friday nights. He continues to serve part-time as the rabbi of Congregation Sons of Zion in Holyoke, a liberal conservative congregation. Along the way Rabbi Perlmutter has spent over two years in Israel, one as an undergraduate and one on sabbatical with his wife Shoshana Zonderman and their children Ariela and Noam.

Rabbi Perlmutter says:   “I have enjoyed several services at Beit Ahavah and am looking forward to sharing Friday night March 18 with you!”

Rabbi Lori Shaller

Rabbi and Mashpiah (Spiritual Director) Lori D. Shaller lives on the Island of Martha’s Vineyard with her husband, Matt Pelikan, a Restoration Ecologist for The Nature Conservancy and violinist and her cat Pitzi.  She was ordained as a Rabbi by ALEPH:  Alliance for Jewish Renewal in 2015 and as a Mashpiah in 2014.  Lori has been the guest spiritual leader with various Jewish congregations and Unitarian Universalist churches; teaches; leads interfaith, clergy spiritual direction groups; and sees private clients in spiritual direction.  She is the co-founder of Educating for Spirituality, teaching religious school teachers how to en-spirit their religious school curricula.  The Jewish Women’s Archive has published Lori’s curriculum on Jewish women in the Labor Movement.

Rabbi Shaller is a fellow with Rabbis without Borders and was a participant in the Jewish and Muslim Emerging Leaders Women’s Retreat sponsored by the Reconstructionist Rabbinical College’s Department of Multifaith Studies and Initiatives.  Lori has been an educator and curriculum writer of world history, Shakespeare and curriculum design for twenty-five years.  Lori earned an A.B. cum laude from Harvard University and Masters of Teaching and Masters in American Jewish History from Boston University.