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Celebrating 100 years

Incorporated in 1922, Congregation B’nai Israel will joyously celebrate its centennial in 2022.  Special events are planned to mark this landmark milestone.  Rooted in the legacy of its founders, membership still includes multi-generational families, along with many others who have migrated to our area. 


  Watch video above and then read about our history in:  A History of Congregation B'nai Israel, The First Hundred Years. 



Join us in celebrating our Anniversary

on Thursday, October 13 7pm -10pm.


Join Us


E-Torah from Congregation B’nai Israel

May 13 2022

Iyar 12 5782


No, Handmaids are not an “Old Testament” practice


The potential overturning of Roe V Wade has given rise to a great deal of discussion regarding "handmaids"-the phrase made popular by author Margaret Atwood. The other day, Michael Steele, former RNC chair, made the astonishing assertion on MSNBC that the "handmaid" is an "Old Testament" institution embraced by conservatives as opposed to the more progressive "New Testament" views shared by those on the left. This is an old anti-semitic trope-the idea that the “Old Testament” is a corpus of harsh laws while the “New Testament” a book of love and forgiveness.  This is rooted in the idea of “supersessionism-the notion that Christianity, a religion of love, arose to replace Judaism, a religion bound by harsh legal strictures.  This is nothing more than an ancient, and deadly, anti-semitic canard.

The fact is that the use of surrogate mothers to provide children for an infertile couple does appear in the Hebrew Bible, but it is hardly held out as an example to emulate or as a practice for all time.  Notably, it appears twice in the book of Genesis-first in the story of Abraham and Sarah (Genesis 16) and the story of Jacob and his wives (Genesis 29).  Even a cursory examination of these stories shows that the institution of using a woman as a surrogate mother emerges from the agonizing pain of the seemingly infertile wife and is an act of desperation, not as a matter of course and accepted practice.  Further, the pregnancy of the surrogate mother leads not to happiness and joy, but inevitably to pain, jealousy, sorrow and strife.  Nowhere in the Hebrew Bible is surrogate motherhood, “handmaids”, if you will, held out as an example to emulate and celebrate.

Indeed, in one of the noteworthy departures from the use of a “handmaid”, Isaac prays on behalf of his infertile wife, Rebecca, and she conceives and gives birth.  (Genesis 25).  The ancient sages see this act of prayer by Isaac as noteworthy and as an example of profound love.

If the Christian right has indeed adopted the notion of the “handmaid” as praiseworthy (or even if it is just in the imagination of Margaret Atwood that they do) this idea has no bearing in actual Hebrew Biblical literature, and to say otherwise is nothing but rank anti-semitism and an old anti-semitic trope.


Shabbat Shalom


Rabbi Doug Sagal




Since 1922, Congregation B’nai Israel (CBI) located in Monmouth County, has served as a religious, cultural and educational synagogue for Jewish residents of the greater Red Bank area. Multi-generational and egalitarian, CBI is a place for prayer, spirituality, shared observance, Judaic learning and social mingling...a place to honor life-cycle events and celebrate Jewish holidays. A member of the conservative movement, CBI is dedicated to guiding our children and ourselves to appreciate the values, customs and history of our Jewish heritage, to live a life of mitzvot, to support Israel and to transmit the love of Judaism and pride in our Jewish identity to succeeding generations - L'Dor Va'Dor.

service times



  • Kabbalat Service ~ 7:30 pm
  • First Friday of month: 6:00 pm wine & cheese, 6:30 pm service


  • Shabbat Service ~ 9:30 am
  • Havdalah - 7:30 pm



  • Morning Minyan ~ 8:00am



  • CBI is listed as an eligible charity on AMAZON SMILE! Go to Amazon Smile and select Congregation B'nai Israel (make sure it's our address) as your designated charity and make your purchases. Bookmark the Amazon Smile link so you can easily go through Amazon Smile when shopping.
Mon, May 16 2022 15 Iyyar 5782