Several times a year, CBSRZ invites authors, many of whom are local, to participate in our Books & Bagels series. Topics are wide ranging, from historical novels and modern fiction, to political non-fiction and religion, to cookbooks and children’s books.

Please join us for bagels, hot coffee, readings and conversations with great authors. Books will be available for purchase and autographing.

Books & Bagels events are free and open to the general public.


House of Peace and Justice

Sunday, October 29, 2017

11:00 a.m.


House of Peace and Justice:  The First 100 Years of CBSRZ, written by Ellen Nodelman, is a newly illustrated book profiling 100 years of Jewish farming and community in the shoreline-lower Connecticut River area, and will be released during a celebration on Sunday, October 29, 2017, at 11:00 am at CBSRZ. 

The launch event, which is free of charge, will feature three speakers:  Ellen Friedman, Jon Joslow, and Michael Price, representing Rodfe Zedek, the JCC/Beth Shalom, and the merged CBSRZ.  Rabbi Marci Bellows will moderate a session for long-time community members to share memories, and author Ellen Nodelman will read selections from her new book as well.  Brunch will be served.

RSVP for the complimentary brunch and pre-order a book ($27 +applicable fees) below. Books will be available for pick-up on the day of the event. Books will be $36.00 each if purchased on the day of the event.



Suzanne Levine

Sunday, April 23, 2017

9:30 a.m.



Things are almost never what they seem. Hence, the title of Suzanne Levine’s second book of poetry, “Grand Canyon Older Than Thought,” in which she examines the difference between appearances and reality in her own life, in the lives of others, and in our environment.

The best-selling novelist Amy Bloom says, “Suzanne Levine’s new collection is wry. Moving. Surprising. A little autumnal (in a Parisian way). Like Szymborska, Levine is a poet of consciousness, loving the world while seeing every dark and light inch of it. You can peer in Grand Canyon for a long time and be glad of it.”

The public will have a chance to do this as the poet reads from her book in a free Books & Bagels program on Sunday, April 23, at 9:30 a.m. No tickets or reservations required.

Levine’s first book, “Haberdasher’s Daughter,” also published by Antrim House, was a finalist for the Eric Hoffer Award and she has contributed to many literary publications since earning her MFA at Vermont College.

Abigail Pogrebin

Sunday, March 5, 2017

9:30 a.m.


Abigail Pogrebin spent an immersive year studying, experiencing and writing about every single Jewish holiday — including each obscure festival and all six fasts–for the first time. Her lively, personal, deeply-researched book, My Jewish Year: 18 Holidays, One Wondering Jew, chronicles what she discovered, how it changed her, and why she believes the Jewish calendar is a blueprint for life, regardless of faith.

Reviews available at:

Publishers Weekly

David Gerber

Sunday, January 22, 2017

9:30 a.m.

David Gerber, whose new book, The Inventor’s Dilemma: The Remarkable Life of H. Joseph Gerber tracks the innovative life of his father, the founder of Gerber Scientific.

Tracy Kleinberg, chair of the CBSRZ program committee, says, “The story of H. Joseph Gerber illustrates how inspiration and courage can overcome prejudice and obstacles to create work that benefits everyone.”

In this “highly recommended” book by the American Library Association, David Gerber provides part biography of his father and part exposition of the work that occupied so much of the elder Gerber’s life (1924-1996) including the development and introduction of automated technologies to a wide range of manufacturing industries, including optical, aerospace, automotive, and apparel.

The author illustrates his father’s ever-tenacious drive from his humble beginnings in Vienna, harrowing escape from Nazi-occupied Austria, his ability to overcome American discrimination toward “enemy alien” immigrants, and his successful pursuit of secondary and higher education despite language and financial barriers.

He utilizes a wide range of published and unpublished sources to detail how his father founded Gerber Scientific Instrument Company (GSI) in 1948 and how it succeeded where contemporaries failed, namely through partnerships with a diverse number of manufacturers and a systems-based approach to industrial operations. A large percentage of the text is appropriately devoted to Gerber’s hard-fought efforts in overcoming manufacturing executives’ skepticism and labor union leaders’ aversions to introducing automation technology to the apparel industry.

This program is free and open to the public.  No advance registration is necessary.

Cindy Brown Austin

Sunday, November 6, 2016

9:30 a.m.

The author of “Cinders” reveals the human consequences of racism and poverty in her upcoming reading in Chester.

As the presidential election intensifies, campaigns have focused on inner-city issues of poverty, drugs,and crime. Most of these arguments are based on statistics rather than the kind of real-life insight offered by people who have survived the worst city neighborhoods.

Cindy Brown Austin, author of the new acclaimed memoir, “Cinders,” brings that inside view to Chester in a free program on Sunday, November 6, at 9:30 a.m., as part of Congregation Beth Shalom Rodfe Zedek’s long-running Books & Bagels series.

She grew up in one of Hartford’s toughest projects as the self-described “love child” of an African-American mother and Jamaican father. In the project, gangs proliferated, violence was the norm, and the sting of racism was prevalent whenever she tried to lift herself out.

Cindy’s appearance at the synagogue was arranged by our Program chair, Tracy Kleinberg, who says, “What an incredible learning opportunity for our community to have someone come and speak about being on the front lines of issues like racism and poverty, especially in today’s political and social climate where it is of the utmost importance to begin to listen and understand each other.  The more people who can engage in conversation about the very real situations in underserved communities the better off we will be as a society as a whole.”

This event is free and open to the public, no advance registration is required.

“Cinders” is available on

Stephen Davis & Jon Lukomnik

Sunday, May 22, 2016

9:30 a.m.

A rare treat – – to have the President of our Congregation as the featured author in a Books & Bagels program. Board President Stephen Davis and one of his co-authors, Jon Lukomnik, school us on the faults of the financial system and how to fix them, as they discuss their new book What They Do With Your Money: How the Financial System Fails Us, and How to Fix It. Copies will be available for purchase, with a portion of every purchase donated to CBSRZ.  If you want a sneak peak, you can check it out on

Gavriel Rosenfeld

Sunday, May 1, 2016

9:30 a.m.

Gavriel Rosenfeld presents Building after Auschwitz: Jewish Architecture and the Memory of the Holocaust with a slide show. Check out Business After Auschwitz and Gavriel’s most recent publication Hi Hitler! on Amazon.

The Human Library Project

In conjunction with the Chester Library

Sunday, March 6, 2016

9:30 a.m.

Small roundtable discussions with experts in various fields. Come check out a “Human Book!” For more information about The Human Library, please read this article from The New Haven Register.

Amy Bloom

Sunday, January 31, 2016

9:30 a.m.

Paperback copies will be available for purchase, with a portion of the purchase price donated to CBSRZ.  To check out Lucky Us online, click here.






Friday Evenings

  • 7:30 (Spring, Summer, Fall)
  • 5:45 (Winter)

First Fridays

  • 7:00 First Friday Fun
  • 7:30 First Friday Service


  • 9:00 Weekly Holy Scrollers Torah Study
  • 10:30 2nd Saturday Shabbat Morning Service & Potluck Kiddush Luncheon


  • 8:00 Wednesday Morning Minyan


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