Parashat Shoftim

Please note an important change of Shabbat morning services – we are having shabbat services THIS Saturday September 6! We hope to see you TONIGHT at 7PM for Kaballat Shabbat

THIS Saturday morning September 6, starting at 9 AM. We will have the Torah service at 9:45 AM and children’s/teen story and discussion at around 10:30. This week’s delicious kidish lunch is sponsored by Bam Rubenstein in loving memory of his beloved father Ralph of blessed memory. See the photo below of Ralph serving in the Korea conflict at Passover.

Cantor Ben-Moshe’s Parashat Hashavua:

This week’s parshah, Shof’tim, includes instructions for military commanders. They are commanded to instruct their soldiers before battle-if any man is betrothed but not yet married, if any man has built a house or planted a vineyard and not yet benefited from them, he is to go home. If any man is afraid, he is to go home. This, so that they will not be a distraction to their comrades and undermine the campaign. Rabbi Alan Lew, of blessed memory, explains that this is not merely an ancient military strategy, but a lesson for us today as well. There are many things in our lives which distract us, which keep us from doing what we need to do. During this month of Elul, when we are examining ourselves as we approach the High Holidays, we should ask ourselves what is distracting us, claiming our attention. We should then take care of these things so that we can concentrate on the important work of t’shuvah, of turning from wrong and doing what is right. Shabbat Shalom.

Hazzan Yitzhak Ben-MosheShabbat candle lighting at 7:30 p.m.

Photo of Bam’s dad Ralph Rubenstein z’l, in Korea, during the Korean Conflict, during Pesach, with a box of matzah at his feet.

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Check out the High Holiday Schedule at Beth El!

The next sisterhood book! Get your copy and start reading this fascinating book.

“And There Was no King In Israel – A Journey Through the Book of Judges”

New and exciting class presented by Cantor Ben-Moshe starting October 29. Save your spot. Free, but register early.

Please consider sponsoring a kidush lunch. Send us a note at and we can plan to cook your favorite treats.

Sunday School This Sunday September 8.

Phone: 512-231-0266 | Email:


Parashat Re’eh and Great Sisterhood Event

Song filled and joyful Kabbalat Shabbat!

Tonight at 7 PMCantor Ben-Moshe’s Parashat Hashavua:This Shabbat is Shabbat R’eh, as well as the beginning of the month of Elul, the month which leads up to Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur. R’eh is always read near the beginning of Elul, and the parshah begins with words that are appropriate to the season. “See, this day I set before you blessing and curse.” At this time of year, we become keenly aware that we must make a choice, between blessing and curse, good and evil. Elul is a time of introspection, a time to examine our lives and look to what needs improvement. The truth is that there is always room for improvement, that even the most saintly person is not perfect. There is a deeper truth here, though. The verse says “this day”-not only the day on which Moshe spoke these words to the People of Israel, nor even the beginning of Elul. “This day” means any day and every day. Every day the choice is set before us, to do the right thing or not. We humans are given that choice-we do not act according to instinct, but we transcend our instincts in order to act according to conscience. Let us do so, not only at the High Holiday season, but “this day” and every day. Shabbat Shalom and Hodesh Tov, a Good Month of Elul.Shabbat candle lighting at 7:38 p.m.📷Check out the High Holiday Schedule at Beth El!📷Weekly Parasha from Rabbi Lord Jonathan Sacks📷Please consider sponsoring a kidush lunch. Send us a note at and we can plan to cook your favorite treats.📷Sunday School Starts September 8. To register, please go to our website

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?

In the Sands of Sinai

Services tonight @ 7PM! We’ll light candles together just before services.

Cantor Ben-Moshe’s Weekly Message.

This week is Parshat Sh’mini as well as Shabbat Parah, one of the four special Shabbatot that lead up to Passover. The parshah and the maftir both deal with death-the death of Aharon’s elder sons, Nadav and Avihu in the parshah, and the ritual of the Red Heifer in the special reading. The purpose of the maftir reading is to prepare us for Pesah-in ancient times, we would have been required to be in a state of purity in order to partake of the Paschal sacrifice. To participate in the ritual without the proper preparation was a grave offense-perhaps as grave as the offense of Nadav and Avihu in offering an unauthorized incense offering. The Temple no longer stands, the sacrifices are no longer offered nor are the laws of purity in force. Nonetheless, we should prepare ourselves for Pesah-not only physically by cleaning our homes, but also spiritually by cleaning out that which is stale in our lives, coming to the Season of Our Liberation refreshed and light. Shabbat Shalom.

March 31 – 12:30 PM Whole Wheat Challah Baking Class – learn to make the softest, most delicious whole wheat challah and learn about the Jewish blessing of Eshet Chayil. With Iris Kohn-Wiener

April 7th – Men’s Club BBQ @ Beth El @ 3:30 PM

April 14 – Beth El Passover cleaning day at 12 noon. “All hands on deck” – “many hands make light work”…you get the message! PLEASE come out and lend a hand as we clean the shul for Passover.

April 20 – Beth El Annual Second Night Seder – RSVP ASAP to to reserve your spot.

Wednesday May 1- 7 PM at Beth El – Author Yitzhak Brooks – Israeli soldier and physician. See below. 
Sunday school is this Sunday at 10, followed by a whole wheat challah making class and Eshet Chayil Study! Please join us.

Coomunity News! Come to IGNITE at the J! April 14.!

Parashat Vayyehi

Friday night services this week at 7:00 p.m

Shabbat morning Services – Saturday December 22 at 9 a.m. Torah service at around 9:45 a.m., with children’s services running concurrently. The lunch is generously sponsored by Javis (Sarah) and this week features super healthy salads in addition to cholent, homemade wholewheat challah, and delicious apple crisp for desert. Thank you Shabbat Chefs Claudia, Iris, Shereen and Miriam.

Please Mark Your Calendars!

January 10 Adult Chai Mitzvah Class at 7 PM

January 17 Sisterhood Mandala Painting & Meditation Class with Miriam at 7PM

January 20 Tu B’Shevat Seder at 4:00 PM with AIC

February 1 Friday Night Shabbat Dinner & Service at 6:30 PM

February 7 Chai Mitzvah Class at 7 PM

February 16 PJ Havdallah & Movie Night at 6 PM

February 28 Sisterhood: Book Night – The Boston Girl

March 1 Friday Night Shabbat Dinner & Service at 6:30 PM

March 14 Chai Mitzvah Class at 7 PM

March 17-18 Congregational Camping Trip at Tejas Park

March 20 Purim Party
Cantor Ben-Moshe’s Weekly Message:

Our parshah, Vayyehi, concludes Sefer B’reshith, the Book of Genesis, with words of blessing-specifically the blessings of Ya’akov/Yisrael for his children (which are echoed in Moshe’s blessings for the People of Israel). Many of these blessings include comparisons of the sons to animals-Yoseph is a bull, and Asher is a snake, for example. Amusingly, the comparison of Benyamin to a wolf led to a legend in the Midrash that he was actually a werewolf. The most famous of these of course was the comparison of Yehudah to a lion. The Lion of Judah appears on the seal of the City of Jerusalem, and indeed on the mantles of our sifrei Torah. Our Sages used the lion as an exemplar of courage-“Be brave as a lion”,

“Be a lion’s tail rather than a fox’s head”. May the strength and courage of our ancestor Yehudah, who gave his name to the Yehudim, the Jews, reside in us as well, and let us live up to the words which we will chant on Shabbat at the conclusion of the reading of Sefer B’reshith-“Hazzak, hazzak v’nit’hazek”-Be strong, Be strong and we will strengthen each other. Shabbat Shalom.
Hazzan Yitzhak Ben-Moshe

Shabbat candle lighting times are at 5:17 p.m.

Thank you Anat Inbar and Reagan De Marines for an amazing class this last Sunday. Anat taught us the most delicious burekas recipe and Reagan about the benefits of high quality oils, like Do Terra essential oils. We all made our own relaxation sprays or rollers and left feeling amazing.

Parashat Hashavua by Rabbi Dr. Peter Tarlow

This week, we conclude our yearly reading of the Book of Genesis with the parashah named Vayechi (Meaning: “He lived”). Just as in the case of the section called “Chayei-Sarah (Sarah’s Life) that tells of Sarah’s death, so too does this week’s parashah ironically called “He lived” speaks about Jacob’s death,

You will find this portion in Genesis chapter 47:28 – 50:24. The section is a summary of the Joseph stories, and also in a some sense, it functions as a summary of for the entire Book of Genesis.

Called “Vayechi” meaning “he lived” the parashah deals with Jacob’s death, the blessings of his (Jacob’s) sons and grandson’s (Joseph’s sons), the mourning period for Jacob, the reconciliation between Joseph and his brothers, and finally the death of Joseph.”

Genesis ends as it began. It is a book of wanderings. From Adam and Eve’s expulsion from Eden through Abraham’s journey to the land of Israel to Joseph’s death in a foreign land, the theme of wandering, both physical and psychological, is an ever-present constant. Genesis’ often unstated but always present, leitmotif is: how do we find order in a chaotic world?

Genesis is a realistic book open to a myriad of interpretations. One possible interpretation of the book is the notion that to live creatively is to realize , that life is a dynamic process always pushing us ahead.

This first book of Hebrew Scripture teaches us that for actions produce reactions, and to be alive is to struggle and to grow. Life’s successes come from our desire to push forward, never to be satisfied with our accomplishments but rather always to strive for more. Truly to be alive is to do no less.

Genesis argues that creation and creativity come from the depths of “tohu va’vohu” (total chaos). The book suggests that one way to understand the force that is G’d is by understanding the divine principle of: “reverse entropy.” Genesis teaches us that G-d is able to take the chaos that is life and create order from it.

The book then ends with the same question that it began: Are we so satisfied with our lot that we are afraid to move forward? How do we take the chaos out of our lives and turn that chaos into creative order? What do you do?

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