Parashat B’Reshith – In a Beginning

Friday night services, TONIGHT October 5, at the regular time of 7 p.m.

Sunday morning at 10 a.m. our BERS continue Sunday Fundays!

We have a really action packed October:

Thursday October 11: Chai mitzvah Adult program. Please read below.

Sunday October 14: Beth El and BERS fall picnic canoe and kayaking afternoon. Details are included below.

October 18 at 7:30 p.m. “Mama Mia Here We Go Again!” Sisterhood movie night at the home of Juliette!

Sunday October 21: Men’s Club Fall BBQ cookout at Beth El at 2 p.m.

Tuesday October 30 Beth El co-sponsoring a movie at the Austin Jewish Film Festival : The Testament.

 Cantor Ben-Moshe’s Weekly Message: 

This week we return to the beginning, reading the first parshah of the Torah, B’reshith.  Our parshah deals with the Creation of the universe, and especially with the creation of humanity.  Interestingly, the common translation of the word בראשית,  “In the beginning”, is technically incorrect.  The correct translation is “in *a* beginning”.  Many commentators have posited that this was merely the latest in a series of creations by the Holy One.  From the point of view of science, this is comprehensible-if before the Big Bang all matter and energy were concentrated in one point, that the material universe is expanding, and that one day entropy will cause the universe to collapse on itself and become a small point again, then perhaps Creation happens again and again.  The constant is the Creator-the One Who makes creation happen.  A truly humbling thought-one that can give some small insight into the vastness and wonder of Creation.  Shabbat Shalom.

Hazzan Yitzhak Ben-Moshe

Shabbat candle lighting times are at 6:53 p.m. 

Sunday School continues this Sunday morning, October 7, at 10 a.m. Last week the children were able to see a real Torah scroll up close, and learn about all the different parts of the Torah, including its “mantel”, “breast plate”, “crown” and “yad”.  The children also made edible Sukkot with healthy parsley “schach”, and in addition, enjoyed the beautiful Beth El sukkah

October 21 – Fall BBQ at 2:00PM

November 17 – Movie Night at 6:30PM

December 9 – Cook latkes for CBE Hanukkah Party at 4:00 PM

A Personal Journey to Share with Friends

Coming Soon – Join our Chai Mitzvah Adult study group!

Chai Mitzvah combines study, ritual and social action, providing the framework for a meaningful Jewish journey.

There are five components to the nine-month Chai Mitzvah experience:

Group study – meet monthly with a set curriculum

Independent study – choose a Jewish topic you would like to explore

Ritual – choose a ritual or spiritual practice to incorporate into your life

Social Action – either individually or as a group, choose a local volunteer opportunity

Celebrate! At the end of the nine months, acknowledge the journey with a celebration, receive a certificate, and have a tree planted in Israel in your honor through Chai Mitzvah’s partnership with Jewish National Fund.


To learn more, or to join our Chai Mitzvah group, contact Shereen Ben-Moshe,




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

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.