Parashat Shelach Lecha and The Catcher was a Spy

Yoga Class THIS Sunday at 10 am – June 30 at Beth El. FREE and open to all – led by Rachel!

Song filled and joyful services! Tonight @ 7PM! Cantor Ben-Moshe’s Weekly Message. This week we read Parshat Sh’lah L’kha-which tells the story of the spies who were sent to scout the Land of Israel, and the condemnation of the People of Israel to wander in the desert for forty years. The parshah though closes with a completely different subject-the commandment to wear tzitzith, the ritual fringes on the corners of the tallith. The commandment of course is for the fringe to include a royal blue (t’cheleth) thread. This royal blue dye was derived from a marine snail, a species of murex, but is indistinguishable from indigo to the naked eye. Since unscrupulous dealers were passing off indigo as the more expensive murex dye, the Sages decreed that the blue thread was optional. The murex dye has recently been rediscovered (and can be distinguished from indigo by chemical analysis), but t’cheleth threads in tzitzith are still uncommon. The color is now most recognizable in the blue star and stripes of the flag of the State of Israel. Shabbat Shalom.Hazzan Yitzhak Ben-MosheShabbat candle lighting at 8:19 p.m.

Our next Chai Mitzvah adult class is Thursday July 25 at 7PM at Beth El. Please join us. Come learn about the Jewish perspective on Leadership. The class is free and open to all and you will leave inspired! Scott and Shereen are amazing Leaders of this program! Our Next Sisterhood Book Club Selection is The Catcher was a Spy! A fascinating book & Movie! Tuesday August 27 at 7 PM Location at Doris’s home.Parashat Hashavua with Rabbi Peter Tarlow: The name of this week’s parashah is “Shalach” or “Shalach l’chah. You will find it in the Book of Numbers 13:1-15:41. This section is an example of how difficult it is to translate the Hebrew text into a foreign language. The non-Hebrew reader will miss the irony of this section. The word following “shalach/send forth” is the dative “l’chah” meaning approximately “for your own sake”. To the non-Hebrew reader this use of the dative case may seem superfluous but the Hebrew reader will immediately connect this section to the section in Genesis called “Lech l’chah” In Lech l’chah (Go forth and get out of there for your own sake) G-d sends Abraham into the land of Canaan with the words “Lech l’chah” now in the current parashah G’d tells Moses to “send them (the spies) out into the land for your own sake”. Despite their linguistic similarities there are, however, great differences between the two statements. In Abraham’s case, he owns the challenge, and seeks to fulfill the mission. In the case of the spies, ten of them flee from the challenge. Lech l’chah is about trust, the basis of the relationship between G-d and His people. This week’s parashah Shalach l’chah is about seeing only part of the story and living a life of negativity. It reminds us that facts are the basis of reality and not feel-good policies that in the end do more harm than good. The text illustrates this point in the majority report (given by ten of the spies). They state (13:33): “Vanhi v’eiyneynu k’Chanavim v’chen hayiny b’eineyhem”. The Hebrew once again is hard to translate into western languages, but we might render it as “we made ourselves (we chose to see ourselves) as grasshoppers (insignificant pests) and they saw us in the same way. Here pessimism abounds. Police is to be made on the basis of feelings rather than facts. Perhaps the text is stating: do not assume, G-d has demonstrated numerous reasons for you to trust Him, but once again, there is a return to negativity and the “sky is falling” mentality. How directly is this week’s parashah speaking to us today? How many of us assume the worst, and live in a world of doomsday? Shalach l’chah then is more than a command given by G-d to Moses, it is also a question and a challenge. The Hebrew is stating: send yourself out, dare to explore, and remember that negative thoughts often result in negative actions. Perhaps the difference between Abaham’s Lech l’chah and the spies’ Shalach l’chah is that Abraham was a man who trusted G-d; the spies on the other hand, were pessimists who chose to react rather than act. Are you a person who trusts G-d or is a slave to fear?

Parashat Behar – weekend services

Services tonight at 7 PM. Services this Shabbat morning starting at 9 a.m. with Psukei De Zimra, followed by the Torah service at 9:45, children’s story time with Morah Shereen’ and a lovely sit down lunch or bagels, lox , lentil soup and salads. We would LOVE to see you! As always, everyone is welcome at Beth El. You will be greeted with a warm smile!

Cantor Ben-Moshe’s Weekly Message:

This week’s parshah, B’har, contains one of the most famous quotes from early US history-the verse on the Liberty Bell. “Proclaim liberty throughout the land and unto the inhabitants thereof.” וקראתם דרור בארץ לכל ישביה
This verse was taken as an endorsement of American independence from Britain, but the verse originally referred to the proclamation of the Yovel, the Jubilee Year that came every fifty years. During the Yovel, land returned to its original owners, debts were cancelled and indentured servants were freed. The Yovel is an important reminder to us-liberty is not a one time event, but must be constantly renewed. A just society must always look to the liberty of all people at all times, and the playing field must be constantly leveled. In this way we can live up to the high standard which our Torah sets for us. Shabbat Shalom.

Hazzan Yitzhak Ben-Moshe

Candle lighting at 8:06 PM

Wonderful FREE Yoga this Sunday May 27 at 10 AM with Yoga Instructor and Beth El member Rachel. Please join us for an hour of Yoga for all abilities, which will include a short, but uplifting Jewish meditation component by Hazzan Ben-Moshe. Thank you to Rachel and Tzahi.

Free and open to all – all levels and abilities, members and non-members. Wear comfortable clothes and bring a mat or towel.

Sofia’s Bat Mitzvah

Friday Night Live! Tonight @ 7PM! 
Shabbat Morning Services this Shabbat at 9 AM. Please join us as we celebrate Sofia’s Bat Mitzvah. Mazel tov to her family, Yosef, Claudia, Vania and Nathan. There will be a delicious meat kidush immediately following services, sponsored generously by Sofia’s family. “Shabbat Shul Storytime” with Morah Shereen for the children during services.

Cantor Ben-Moshe’s Weekly Message.

The end of this week’s parshah, Tzav, details the ordination ceremony for Aharon and his sons as Kohanim, priests. Moshe offers his last sacrifice as his brother takes over that role, and the trope, the cantillation note over the word “vayish’hat”, “and he slaughtered” is sharsheret, a long, drawn-out tone that is used only four times in the Torah, and always indicates hesitation. Moshe is sad that he has to give the sacerdotal function away. Transfer of power is not easy. In the Megillah which we just read on Purim, the king takes his signet ring from Haman and gives it to Mordechai, signifying the transfer of power as prime minister. In the Megillah, Haman has to die in order for Mordechai to take his place. The Torah describes an orderly transfer of power. May all people everywhere be blessed to live under a system which transfers power not through assassination or violent revolution, but through democracy. All of the human family deserve this. Shabbat Shalom.
Hazzan Yitzhak Ben-Moshe 
Shabbat candle lighting at 7:26 p.m.

Thank you to all who helped make our Purim Party so much fun and so very meaningful.

From the teens who organized the children’s arts and crafts stations, to the Hazzan for a great Megilla reading, to the wonderful families that attended.

As Yosef mentioned, without you guys, we are just a building.

With you all, we are a community/kehilla!

A few photos of our Beth El campout last weekend. Save the date for the fall campout in November 23-25.

Please Join Us: Wednesday May 1
Internationally acclaimed Guest Speaker Itzhak Brook. Beth El at 7 PM. All are invited!

You’re Invited: Second Night Seder at Beth El.
Please send your RSVP’s to
It fills fast – but there’s always room for you!

Shabbat shalom – Sunday night Shake the lulav – sing some songs!

Friday Night Shabbat Services

Tonight 10/14, at the regular time of 7:00 PM.

Our next Shabbat morning services are a week away Saturday OCTOBER 22.

Sunday October 15, Hebrew school at 10 AM with the children helping to decorate the sukkah for the evening party!

Sukkot services, sing a long and dinner Sunday evening October 15 at 6:15 PM. Services in the sanctuary at 6:45. Dinner immediately following.

Simchat Torah Monday October 15 at 7:15 PM. Come and dance with the Torah!

Candle lighting in Austin is at 6:41 PM
Cantor Ben Moshe’s Message

As we move past Yom Kippur and towards Sukkoth, we read Parshat Ha’azinu, the penultimate parshah of the Torah. Moshe gives his last instructions to the People of Israel in the form of a song. Music is of course a potent aid to memory-this is why we chant our prayers and our Torah readings. Music in fact activates the right brain, which adds to the processing of language in the left brain. Singing engages all of our mental faculties. As we enter the Season of Rejoicing, the Festival of Sukkoth, let us always try to have a song in our hearts- a song of praise and gratitude to God. Shabbat Shalom and Hag Sameah. Hazzan Yitzhak Ben-Moshe

Happy 69th wedding anniversary to Morris and Elaine Shapiro! Pictured with Cantor Ben-Moshe sounding the shofar. We were all so happy to see Elaine at services and wish them both much nachas together!

Happy October birthdays to: Herschel Hochman, Iris Daniel, Patrice Jones, Natalie Bowers-Benderly, Amanda Golden, Elyse Tarlton and Rachel Union.

Please send us your birthday so we can give you a shout out.

You will learn…
Sukkot has all the ingredients for one large-scale party: a special place to have the party (sukkah), decorations, guests (our friends and family as well as Ushpizin, food and special party equipment (a lulav and etrog). The three basic mitzvot for Sukkot are:
1) Live in the sukkah, which at its minimum means having a nosh in a sukkah.
2) Shake the Lulav & Etrog, also called “gathering together the four species.”
3) Rejoice during the holiday. That is not a typo: we are actually commanded to rejoice!! It is so important a mitzvah that it is even more important than dwelling in the sukkah. For instance, if there are bees in the Sukkah, or it’s raining too hard, one does not have to dwell in one’s sukkah…but you have to be happy – it’s Sukkot.
We will be making decorations to beautify our sukkah, just in time for the congregational Sukkot dinner, later Sunday evening following services!
If you LOVE making decorations, I encourage you to make one with your family and bringing it this Sunday to put up in the Beth El sukkah!
See ya soon!

L’Shalom, Shereen Ben-Moshe

Parashat Va’et’hanan and back to school ice cream party

Friday Night Shabbat Services
Tonight 7/19, at the regular time of 7:00 PM.
ICE CREAM PARTY! Tonight after services, we have a special back to school bash for all the kiddos and adults who love ice cream. We extend our gratitude to Gregg and Michelle Philipson for sponsoring such a fun event.
Our next Shabbat morning services are Saturday August 27 and will be in honor of Fred Miller’s 90th birthday.
Candle lighting in Austin is at 7:49 PM
Cantor Ben Moshe’s Message
With Parshat Va’et’hanan, we move past the mourning for the Temple and Jerusalem, and into the countdown to Rosh Hashanah. There are seven Shabbatot between Tish’ah B’Av and Rosh Hashanah, and on each we read one of the Haftarot of Consolation-prophecies of the rebuilding of Jerusalem and the redemption of the People of Israel. It is important to remember that for all of their solemnity, the High Holidays are a time of hope. We believe that redemption is always possible, and indeed what God desires. God is merciful and forgiving, of us as individuals as well as of our People as a whole. So let us celebrate this Shabbat and the others to come in a spirit of hope and of joy. Shabbat Shalom.
Hazzan Yitzhak Ben-Moshe
Happy birthday to Tamara Miller, Rachael Golden, Mary Butler and Alice Friedman!
The sisterhood has a book club event on Thursday September 1 at 7PM at the home of Gail Ellenbogen in Steiner Ranch. This event is open to all. Enjoy some summer reading and we will discuss together with a glass of wine. We will even get an inside scoop from Joyce Lit, member of the Jewish Book council who worked with the author of this great book. The Beauty Queen of Jerusalem by Sarit Yishai-Levi.
Please RSVP
Sunday School is fast approaching. August 28 will be our first class of the fall. We welcome Morah Lital Canaani to our terrific team of teachers. The older students with Morah Bev and Cantor Ben-Moshe will have a focus on Jewish ethics as well as bar and bat Mitzvah preparation, while the youngest students will continue their Sunday Fundays and Hebrew with Morah Anat!
Grandpa Abe : Patience and Wisdom
As we go down the road of life, we gain patience and wisdom. This is not obtained at an early age. It only comes with a lot of trial and error. As I look through our congregation, I see a lot of people who demonstrate these qualities. I don’t wish to list them as I’m afraid I might leave someone out. When I was very young, when i say young I was 29 years old, I wished to be on the cemetery committee as I had lost a child and didn’t feel that I was treated fairly by the committee. I had a long talk with the chairperson of the committee and we discussed the problem. It was explained to me that I was entirely too young to be on such a committee. It was somewhat explained to me their reasoning. But now that I’m a more mature person (emphasize on mature), better known as old), I understand. I understand that you’re dealing with families with feelings. You’re dealing with families who you know and can collect the money for the land at a later date, not in advance. I learned that a 29 year old does not have the wisdom, nor the patience, as yet to assist grieving families. These are very special traits that take a long time to achieve. It was this person, who was the head of the committee, who put the seed in my head to start understanding what life is all about. In the picture below, you will see Rascal has learned this with his friend Stinky.
Dor ‘l Dor,
Grandpa Abe
Jewish War Veterans Post 757 presents: “Perspectives on Israel’s Security: Local, Regional and Global Threats,” a Brunch and Panel Discussion. Sunday, August 21st, 2016, at 11 AM at the Shalom Austin JCAA. Panelists include Ami Pedahzur, UT Professor and expert on Israeli special forces; Davida Charney, UT Professor and executive committee member of J Street Austin; and Gregg Philipson, Executive in the technology, communications and security industries and past commissioner of the Texas Holocaust and Genocide Commission. Cost $10 per person in advance or at the door; RSVP 512-730-1223 or
Rabbi Peter Tarlow’s Weekly Parasha. Director of the Center for Jewish-Hispanic Relations.
Last week we dedicated a part of our Torah analysis to the fast day of Tishah b’Av. This week we turn to Deuteronomy’s second parashah, called Va’Etchanan and found in Deuteronomy 3:23-7:12. This week’s parashah is one of the book’s most powerful portions, and contains both a repetition of the “Aseret Ha’Dibrot” (Ten Utterances or as they are mistranslated into English: the “Ten Commandments”) and the watchword of Judaism, the Sh’mah Yisrael. While there is enough material in this one section to occupy a graduate class for a year’s worth of study, there are certain verses that serve to unify the text.
In Deuteronomy’s second parashah we see a different type of Moses. Now instead of the strong almost mystical an atemporal leader we see the temporal human Moses, a man pleading with G’d to allow him to pass over the Jordan river and enter into the Land of Israel. Here is a man who does not want to die.
What makes this parashah so special is that Moses is realistic enough to admit that it is not easy to die, that although we must all exit the stage of history few of us choose to do so. In this week’s parashah, we catch a glimpse not only into Moses the man, but we are reminded of the basic principles upon which Israel is to be found. Thus, in we find the Aseret Ha’Dibrot, the Ten Commandments in chapter 5:6-5:18 as the basis for Jewish Jurisprudence.
In Chapter 5:26 we read that G’d, speaking of Israel, states: “May they always be of such mind as to revere Me and to follow all My commandments…” It is of note that G’d must “hope” that Israel obeys. The verse implies that Israel is free to disobey. In other words, by giving the people of Israel the right to disobey, the text underscores the idea of free will. G’d can guide us, urge us, even threaten us, but G’d cannot force us to listen or to obey the law. Does this mean that the text implies that we have the freedom to choose wisely or poorly?
From the Bible’s very beginning, what distinguishes us from the other forms of life is that we have the right to listen, to understand, and to choose our own path in life. The Hebrew Bible clearly argues that each of us, as both individuals and as a collective whole, has the right to choose our life’s paths. Having made that decision the text then reminds us that we must accept the consequences of those decisions.
Perhaps that is the reason that in Deuteronomy 4:1 Moses states: Vatah Yisrael shama el ha’chukim v’el ha’mishpatim asher anochi mlamed etchem la’asot l’maan techu/Now Israel, pay attention to the statues and ordinances that I am teaching you so that you may live…” How well are we paying attention, both on an individual and on a collective basis, to what Moses has taught us? What do you think?