|SAVE THE DATE!
SPECIAL BETH EL PICNIC & KAYAKING EVENT
SUNDAY OCTOBER 14! Please join us Sunday October 14 at Brushy Creek Park for an afternoon of kayaking and games. Bring a dairy or parev dish to share. Promises to be so much fun! Everyone is welcome! Huge thank you to Shereen Ben-Moshe for organizing this wonderful event, and Families in Nature for sponsoring the canoes.
Rabbi Peter Tarlow’s weekly Parasha:
With the close of the month of Tishre we once again turn to our weekly Torah readings. The challenge of reading the text yearly and constantly finding new interpretations and meanings to an ancient text is both arduous and exhilarating. In a sense this constant rereading of the text reminds us that moderns fail when they believe that everything that is old is worthless, that only the new has value. In ancient texts we find universal insights that present to us classical wisdom. To quote the book of Kohelet (Ecclesiastes): “Ayin chadash mitachat ha’shemesh” (there is nothing new under the sun). To be wise then is to ask timeless questions.
This first parashah is called Braysheet (Genesis 1:1- 6:8). Even the name is open to interpretation. Does the Bible’s first word mean: “In the beginning of..?” or “In a beginning of…?” What comes after the “of”? That too is not clear. This text then reminds us that to be certain is to be foolish; that only G-d knows truth, we know barely an approximation of truth.
We see the brilliance of this proposition in the Hebrew text. Reading this first parashah in the original Hebrew we soon come to realize that the more we know and the more often we read the text, the less we are certain. The Hebrew text is written in such a way to be certain that we are never certain, that be alive is to live with doubt and to understand that reality is a process and not a fact.
This week’s parashah contains timeless tales. The Torah’s first parashah (Braysheet) forces us to ask the most fundamental of questions: How did we get here? For what purpose did G-d create the universe? Does free will exist? Is evil a necessary component of life?
The lessons of Genesis are invaluable for those living in this age of absolute certainties. We, who live in an age of never-ending media, have come to understand that more news does not mean better news. Often the reality is quite the opposite Today few of us know what is or is not true. Have we forgotten that the person presenting “truth” often determines the perception of that truth?
Ours is an age when political discourse has turned ugly and false certainty is ubiquitous. The book of Genesis reminds us that wisdom comes not with answers but with the framing of questions. How well do you ask questions of others and most importantly of yourself?
In these days of new beginnings, when once again we confront and intellectually struggle with our most ancient and fundamental of texts, let’s take the time to question our assumptions and realize that only G-d has all the answers.
Beth El Partners with the Austin Jewish Film Festival:
The Testament. 7:30 PM
Tuesday, October 30
Regal Arbor 8 @ Great Hills
Director: Amichai Greenberg
Austria, Israel, 2017
Narrative, 96 minutes
Hebrew | German | English | Yiddish (with subtitles)
“A mystery involving a religious historian and his family. He is willing to risk everything to discover the truth.”
Yoel Halberstam, a senior Holocaust researcher, is in the midst of a legal battle with powerful forces in Austria concerning a massacre of Jews that occurred during WWII. An influential family of industrialists on whose land the murder took place is planning a real estate project on the very same property. Yoel suspects that their aim is to bury the affair for good, but he can’t find the conclusive evidence that would stop the project. Meticulous in his quest, Yoel toils in the basement of the Holocaust Institute in Jerusalem. While investigating the incident, Yoel examines classified testimonies of Holocaust survivors, and he is shocked to discover a testimony he never knew existed—one given by his mother in which she confesses to a substantial secret from her past. With his personal and professional life at stake, Yoel secretly pursues the lead, risking everything—career, wife and son, even his own beliefs—to solve the mystery about his identify. Community Partner: Congregation Beth El.
The Austin Jewish Film festival runs from Saturday, October 27 – Friday, November 2 at the Regal Arbor theater, with some additional dates and venues described in the full schedule at AustinJFF.org.
Complete details on all movies, including descriptions, trailers, etc. can be found on the Festival/Films page. Use discount code AFAUSTIN18 for 10% off all tickets and passes purchased online.