Passover 2020, Kulanu Jewish Community Havdallah

How different this Passover is from all other Passovers! On all other Passovers we celebrate with family and friends gathered around the table-on this Passover we will celebrate with family and friends on FaceTime or Zoom. But celebrate we will – including our annual tradition of the second night seder on Thursday evening at 6:30 PM. Just as at the first Passover in Egypt, we look forward to a time of freedom and liberation. We of course miss the physical presence of family members and fellow congregants-and as at all holidays, we especially miss those who are no longer with us. But they live on in our memories, in family tunes for the Seder or in a treasured old recipe. May we all have a joyous holiday, and as we say “Next year in Jerusalem”, we will also say “Next year together!” Hag Kasher V’Sameah.

Hazzan Yitzhak Ben-Moshe

Please let us know if you would like the PDF of the Beth El Hagaddah (by Rabbi Rosenbaum) and we will happily send it to you. We will use it on the second night seder.

Please come to Friday night services via zoom this Friday April 10 at 7 PM. LAst week the sound was great thank you to a new mic generously donated by Craig and Jyl. It was so heartwarming to to see our congregants via zoom!

Congregation Beth El – Friday night Online Services

Please note that there is no Sunday school this week, due to Passover, and Sunday school resumes for all our BERS April 19. From Pre K to our Bnai Mitzvah

This Saturday night – April 11 at 8:30 PM join the whole Austin Jewish community, including our very own Hazzan Yitzhak Ben-Moshe, in a community wide Havdallah PASSOVER edition.

Thank you to the awesome ladies who joined us for the Sisterhood Passover Exchange and cooking demo. We all had such a great time, as well as learnt some lovely recipes (which we shared in the Whattsapp group). Please let us know if you would like the recipes. We are planning a Beth El movie watchparty on Sunday evening April 12 at 7 PM. Details to follow.
Thank you so much to our dedicated and talented SUNDAY SCHOOL educators who so lovingly taught our children again last Sunday. Rachael joined every class to teach them Passover songs with her amazing guitar and sweet voice!

Friday services via Zoom, Sunday School Rocks on via Zoom

Dear Congregants,

We hope you had a great week all things considered. We want to remind each and every one of you that even though we may need to be “physically distant”, there is no way we are being “socially distant” from our beloved congregants. Please reach out to us if you need anything at all – from meals on the go, to just a phone call to say hello. We want to hear from you!

Please check every Friday evening at 6:45 PM for a link to be able to live stream our beautiful Kaballat Shabbat services. We will also post it on our Facebook page. Let’s make this homeshuling experience awesome!

If you would like a PDF version of our Friday night services, please email us ASAP at and we will happily send you a copy for free. Those lovely Friday night transliterate books were dedicated to the late Morris and Elaine Shapiro, who will be beaming down at us knowing that we are using and sharing them with the congregation that they helped found.

Sunday school BERS, we will be keeping to our regular Sunday schedules and meeting “virtually” with our amazing morot starting THIS Sunday March 29. PLEASE be on the lookout for a Zoom invitation from your class teachers. Contact Iris at for any questions please.

This Saturday night at 8:30 PM join the whole Austin Jewish community, including our very own Hazzan Yitzhak Ben-Moshe, in a community wide Havdallah.
Cantor Ben-Moshe’s Weekly Parashah:

This Shabbat we begin the reading of Sefer Vayyikra, the Book of Leviticus. The Latin name stems from the fact that this book deals largely with the duties of the Kohanim, who were of the Tribe of Levi. Actually, an alternate name in Hebrew is Torath Hakohanim. The parshah begins with the laws of offering an ‘olah, a sacrifice which was entirely burned on the altar for God. We read how to sacrifice a bull, or a sheep, or a goat, and we are told that the smoke of these sacrifices is a “reiah nikhoah”-“a sweet savor” to God. And then, the Torah describes the ‘olah of two doves-which was offered by someone who couldn’t afford a bull, a sheep, or a goat. The Torah states that the entire bird was burned on the altar, including the feathers. No human would say that the smell of burning feathers is savory or pleasant-but this sacrifice is also called a “sweet savor”. Why is this? Because the offering of a poor person was just as pleasing to God as a bull offered by a wealthy person. In God’s view, we are all equal, whatever means we have. We do not believe in the so-called “Prosperity Gospel”-that the rich are more favored by God. We are all, down to the “hewer of wood and the drawer of water” precious to our Creator. Shabbat Shalom, and Hodesh Tov-a good and blessed New Month of Nissan.
Hazzan Yitzhak Ben-Moshe

Shabbat candle lighting time in Austin 7:29 PM

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.