Beth El Second Night Passover Seder

Just a reminder that the Beth El Annual Second Night Seder is tonight at 6:30 PM. 
 Passover Zoom Link:

Meeting ID: 859 6871 3636
 From Shereen and Hazzan Ben_Moshe:

Hag PesaSameah Beth El Friends,

We hope this finds everyone well and looking forward to the Festival of Freedom.  We hope that this will be the last time that we celebrate together virtually, and that next year will be, if not in Jerusalem, at least in person.  We pray that we will be able to gather with extended family, and together as a congregation for the second night of the holiday.  In any case, may our matzah be crisp, our knaidlach either fluffy or dense, as you prefer, our haroset sweet, and may we all enjoy old family recipes as well as new ones.  And of course, may we all remember and give thanks for our People’s liberation from bondage.  Hag Kasher v’sameah!

Here are some tips on how to prepare for Pesach:

Clean all hametz food items from the house-eat up/throw out/donate/put aside to be sold.
Clean the house, but not obsessively.  Dirt isn’t hametz!
Since Pesah begins on Saturday night, things are a little different.  B’dikat Hametz (searching for hametz) is done Thursday evening, and Bi’ur Hametz (burning hametz) is done on Friday, preferably by about 11:30AM.  Hametz may be eaten Friday evening and Saturday morning until 11:30-but it’s easier to eat kosher for Pesah food on Shabbat and use egg matzah (which can’t be used for the Seder) instead of bread.  If you do eat bread on Friday evening/Saturday morning, any leftovers should be put in the garbage or compost by 11:30.  The Seder should not begin until the end of Shabbat, 8:10PM at the earliest, and Kiddush includes the paragraph for Havdalah.
Join us for the 2nd Night Seder via Zoom:
We hope you will join us for this year’s interactive seder.
Getting ready for the evening:Prepare your dinnerPrepare your Seder plateSet your table (Elijah’s cup, candles, wine, pillows for reclining, Afikomen bag, matzah, matzah cover)Haggadah – bring your own or a copy of the Beth El Zoom Haggadah (included in this packet)Agenda for the evening – 6:30 pm 6:30 PM  Welcome & let the Seder begin!We will take a 30-minute break for dinner and then come back on to proceed with the Seder.Turn off your cameras or enjoy your dinner and chat with others who are also enjoying their dinner via Zoom.Seder resumesSing-a-long – join us for some of our favorite Pesah songs! 
We look forward to seeing you Sunday evening! 
Hag Kasher v’sameah from the Ben-Moshe household (Hazzan Yitzhak, Shereen, kids and dogs).

Holocaust Remembrance Day

Shabbat Shalom to you all! In honor of Holocaust Remembrance Day, we have invited fellow congregant and BERS mom, Jami, who will share with us some inspiring stories of her family members who survived the Holocaust. Jami will say a few words during tonight’s Dvar Torah.

Tonight’s Friday evening services will begin at 7 PM. Can’t wait to see you in person or on zoom.

 Cantor Ben-Moshe’s Weekly Message:
  Parshath B’shallah is usually the parshah read near T”u Bish’vat.  While the main story, of the crossing of the Sea of Reeds and the Song of the Sea is the main focus, there is a small story near the end of the parshah that fits in nicely with the time of year.  After B’nei Yisrael cross into the desert, they come to a waterhole called Marah, or the Bitter One, because the water was very alkaline and too bitter to drink.  God points out a tree which, when thrown in the water, balances the Ph and makes it fit to drink.  This anecdote is an illustration of just how useful trees can be.  Indeed, our lives are scarcely imaginable without trees, and it is fitting that we have a holiday, minor though it is, to celebrate them.  It should be a point of pride that the one country in the world that has more trees today than a century ago is Israel.  From the very beginning of our People’s return to the Land, planting trees has been a priority.  The beautiful forests in Israel today are the result of this dedication.  Shabbat Shalom.
 Shabbat candle lighting time 5:48 PM
Sunday school BERS meet this weekend. 

Enjoy some photos of our sweet BERS and this week’s seasonal cooking with Sabrina and amazing celebration of Tu Be Shevat. Thank you to her and the Hazan who led us in mindful meditation, for a truly inspiring evening! 
Sisterhood Book Club: 
Austin  Jewish War Vets Post 757 is very interested in gaining new members.  We meet monthly on Zoom and would like to invite all of your veterans to our meetings.  They are  welcome to sit-in as guests.To join in our next JWV Zoom meeting pleasecontact: Charlie Rosenblum Commander, Post 757Jewish War Veterans of the United StatesAustin, (254) 368-5715 
Tu Be Shevat Parasha from Rabbi Peter Tarlow. Many decades ago when I was a graduate student a new holiday was invented: Earth Day.  Considering that Jews had been celebrating “earth day” for thousands of years I found it a bit odd that the media and university intellectuals saw this holiday as new and innovative. Our Biblical tradition provides great respect for the land and all that it contains.  On Thursday, just as we have done for thousands of years before the birth of “Earth day” we once again celebrated Tu b’Shvat: The New Year of the Trees and our relationship to nature.  Traditionally, this holiday is the day that trees begin to bloom in the land of Israel, and each year we plant thousands of saplings throughout the land.  Tu b’Shvat is a more than the mere planting of trees, it is also a time to  stop and contemplate our relationship to G-d through nature. From its very inception Judaism has incorporated the ideas of ecology into its religious tradition. Thousands of years before the Western world rediscover the importance of ecology Tu b’Shvat’s taught us that there is a relationship between the natural world and the spiritual.  On Tu b’Shvat we celebrate not only the importance of nature but also through the “divine tree of life” (the Torah) we creatively symbolize the unity of matter and energy, of the spiritual and the material.This holiday gives life to the psalmist’s words: “l’Adoshem ha’aretz umloah, tevel v’yoshvei-va/The earth is the Lord’s and the fullness thereof, the world and all who dwell with in it”. (Psalm 24:1).This week’s Torah portion also reinforces our relationship to G-d and nature.   This week’s portion is B’Shalach (Exodus 13:17-17:16). Dealing with Israel’s liberation from Egypt, and the  successful crossing of the Red Sea (Sea of Reeds), it would appear that this section has nothing to do with Tu b’Shvat.  Yet this section of contrasts serves to remind us of our dependency not only on G-d but also on the world that G-d has given us. Coming from the banks of the Nile river, having crossed a sea and now in the midst of the desert, the flight from Egypt has left an eternal mark on the Jewish people.  To be in the Sinai desert, a place without trees, Jews came to understand that trees are life and clean potable water is a blessing from Heaven.This is the first parashah to take us on the long 40-year zigzag journey through the desert.  Along the way, we learn that this was to be a journey of opposites: where the ecstasy of revelation confronted the desert’s tedious boredom, where the wonder of manna would be contrasted to the consistency of thirst, and where the vision of Israel was contrasted to the starkness of the Sinai Peninsula.  From this week’s section until the end of the Deuteronomy, we, the readers, wonder if G-d’s is not teaching us in a roundabout way that to be a people we cannot depend on miracles but rather only on our inner spiritual fortitude, that to ignore the land, is to put oneself in peril.   The Sinai experience taught us that knowledge, like freedom, is liberating, and freedom is not squandering the gifts of nature but protecting and persevering nature for future generations.  Happy Tu b’Shvat!

Parashat Ki Tavo

Cantor Ben-Moshe’s Weekly Message:

As we draw near the end of the Written Torah in Parshat Ki Tavo, the first few paragraphs remind us of the cycle of Pilgrimage Festivals. The Parshah opens with a description of the offering of First Fruits, Bikkurim, which was made on the Festival of Shavu’oth. The ritual declaration made by the farmer offering the fruit includes the words “My father was a wandering Aramean”, which we know from the Haggadah of Pesah. The Torah then goes into a similar ritual for offering the tithe that was dedicated to the Levites and to the poor, which was done every third year on the Festival of Sukkoth.

Both of these offerings, and the Festivals to which they are tied, are meant to show gratitude for what God has given us, no matter how much that may be. As we approach Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur, when we pray for blessing in the New Year, we should keep in mind that we owe gratitude for whatever our blessings may be. The year to come may indeed bring us everything we ask-more likely, as in all years, we will experience some disappointments. Nonetheless, we can, like our ancient ancestors, show gratitude for the blessings which we did receive, and live with a sense of gratitude for what we do have. Shabbat Shalom.Shabbat candle lighting times in Austin 7:31 PMSunday School is starting after the High Holidays! Sunday October 4! Be sure to sign up
FOR YOUR LISTENING ENJOYMENT: The weekly parash from Rabbi Jonathan Sacks for your listening enjoyment!

Parashat Ki Thetze – Making Time for G-d

Shabbat Shalom and see you at 7 PM:

**In person at the shul or attend via zoom:

**Sisterhood Book Club Zoom Link for Sunday evening: High Holidays are coming up. See upcoming mailer and emails for the service times.

**High Holiday class Tuesday 9/1/20 @ 7:30 PM via zoom Ben-Moshe’s Weekly Message:

Parshath Ki Thetze contains a number of laws on a number of different subjects. One of these is building codes. The Torah in our parshah states that one who is building a house must put a parapet around the roof to prevent falls (it was common in the Middle East to sleep on the flat roof of the house during the hot, dry summer). Similarly, if one is digging a pit, one must put a lid on it so that no person or animal could fall in and come to harm. There is a saying that safety regulations are written in blood. If there is a rule to prevent accidents, it is in place because such an accident has occurred. The Torah and Jewish Tradition are not only concerned with personal piety, but with the orderly running of society. The Torah demands that we concern ourselves not only with our own wellbeing, but with that of those around us. We are all responsible for one another, for each other’s safety and security. May we always be mindful of each other-within our families, our Beth El community and our community at large. Shabbat Shalom.Shabbat candle lighting times in Austin 7:40 PM

Parashat Shoftim – Sunday School Starting!

Shabbat shalom, chodesh Elul tov, and see you at 7 PM. 

The name of this week’s parshah is Shoftim, or in English, “Judges”. While the parshah deals with a few topics, the main focus is on courts of law that are to be established once the People of Israel settle in the Land. Of particular interest is the rule that no one may be sentenced to death-or indeed for any other offense-on the testimony of one witness. Two witnesses are needed to obtain a conviction in a criminal case. The Sages expanded upon this-they taught that the two witnesses had to be persons of unimpeachable moral character, that they had to witness the actual commission of the crime, and moreover had to warn the perpetrator in advance that he was about to commit a capital offense. Under these conditions, of course, a death sentence would be practically impossible. The Rabbis were of the opinion that the death penalty, while prescribed in the Torah, was so repugnant that it was to be avoided at almost all cost. Our Tradition holds that there is only One Judge who has the power over life and death. As we enter the month of Elul, the month of preparation for Yom Hadin, the Day of Judgement, let us remember who the True Judge really is. Let us not judge our fellow humans harshly. And while this is a time of reflection and self-assessment, let us not judge ourselves harshly, either. Rather, let us trust in the judgement of God, who is as Moshe said, “a compassionate and merciful God, patient and abounding in loving kindness and truth”. Shabbat Shalom and Hodesh Tov.Hazzan Yitzhak Ben-Moshe