Parashat Ki Tetze

Friday Night Shabbat Services
Tonight 9/16, at the regular time of 7:00 PM.
Shabbat morning services are next Saturday September 25.
Check out the High Holiday schedule at
We’ll have a Beth El work day September 25 12:30-3:00 to get the shul beautified for the High Holidays.
Sunday school September 18 at 10 AM.
Slichot only a week away. Saturday September 25 at 8 PM. We’ll start with Havdallah. Kids can wear PJ’s and as always are welcome in the sanctuary with us.
Candle lighting in Austin is at 7:15 PM Please note that you can light candles at shul just before services.
Cantor Ben Moshe’s Message
This week we read Parshath Ki Tetze, which begins with a set of rules for dealing with captive women. A captive woman may not simply be abused, as was the common practice among soldiers worldwide until fairly recently (and unfortunately still occurs at times even in our day). Rather, she must shave her head and wear unattractive clothing for a month-then, if her captor still desired her he could marry her, and if not he was to set her free. In an age when women were regarded as spoils of war, this was an important protection. Needless to say, this law is no longer applicable in our day-civilians are no longer considered spoils of war, and may not be taken captive in this way. However, there is still a spiritual lesson to be learned from this law. Rabbi Alan Lew, z”l, in his book “This Is Real, And You Are Completely Unprepared”, points out that this law illustrates the importance of sitting with our impulses. We have strong drives in our lives-some of those drives can be destructive, at least when taken to excess. But if we wait to act on an impulse-perhaps we feel like eating, but if we wait we realize that we weren’t actually hungry-then the impulse might pass without our indulging it. In this way we may avoid situations in our lives where we say or do something that we come to regret. Self discipline and impulse control are important spiritual precepts in our Tradition, and practicing them can lead us to more fulfilling lives and better relationships with our fellow human beings and with God. May we always seek to control our inclinations, especially as we approach the most holy time of the year. Shabbat Shalom.
Hazzan Yitzhak Ben-Moshe
Sunday school is this Sunday September 18 at 10 AM. Honey cakes will be baked as a Tzedakah project. Learning and fun will continue.
Looking for sweet volunteers!
We will be making honey cakes with the children at the Beth El Religious School soon and need a few volunteers to come help the children. No experience is necessary, just the desire to do this mitzvah.
We plan on making many cakes and then delivering them to some of our congregants and friends to wish them L’Shana Tovah.
Here is what we need:
*Volunteers to help with baking
*Volunteers to make deliveries
*Donations of ingredients
If you can help with any of the above,
please email Shereen Ben-Moshe at
Have a beautiful day!
Shereen Ben-Moshe
Beth El Board meeting will be this Sunday evening, September 18 at 7 P.M. at Beth El. We will plan for the High Holidays and for the year ahead. All members are welcome to join.
Happy September birthdays to Carmen Rodriguez, Kay Shapiro, Judith Golden, Doris Hochman, Orli Carmel and Gail Ellenbogen. May you have an amazing and blessed year ahead. If we don’t have your birthday, please do send it to us.
Jewish Family Service presents Personal Development Series
Maintaining Emotional Well Being : September 21, 2016 at 7:00pm
Are you hard on yourself or others? Do you tend to overthink things? This educational development workshop offers the skills to strengthen emotional balance and peace-of-mind. Topics will include increasing self-acceptance, practicing flexible thinking, emotional problem-solving and developing self-care habits.
Coping Better with Stress: September 28, 2016 at 7:00pm
Stress is unavoidable and it’s up to us to react in ways that don’t end up making a bad situation worse. This personal development workshop will offer creative, scientifically-tested skills for coping through tough times. Don’t let life take you by surprise – learn some new ways to cope with those inevitable speed bumps!
Meets in the AJA Library, Room 226
For more information, contact Emma Howitt at
512-250-1043 or
All sessions are 7:00-8:30pm
Did you know that if you make a purchase at the Agudas Achim gift store, you can designate 10% of the sale to go towards your congregation, Beth El. This week they sent us a lovely check as many of our congregants have indeed been shopping for their Judaica there and designating Beth El as the recipient. What a great deal!
High Holiday letters, schedule and statements will be going out this week and next. Please let us know if you did not receive one. We appreciate all our members, supporters and community.
PLEASE donate generously to Beth El! We keep expenses barebone, but rely on the generosity of our members and community to maintain this beautiful Jewel in the Austin Jewish Community.

Parashat Re’eh

Book club photoFriday Night Shabbat Services
Tonight 9/2, at the regular time of 7:00 PM.
Our next Shabbat morning services are a week away Saturday September 10.
Check out the High Holiday schedule at
Candle lighting in Austin is at 7:33 PM
Cantor Ben Moshe’s Message
This week’s parshah, Re’eh, begins with the words “See, I set before you today a blessing and a curse”. The Book of Deuteronomy talks of choices throughout-blessing and curse, life and death. Our ancestors likely took this literally, that God would either bless us or curse us, make us live or kill us. However, there is another way to look at this verse. We can choose to look at our lives as either a blessing or a curse. We can see the positive things in our lives, and be hopeful and therefore blessed, or we can be fearful of all the perceived negatives in our lives and regard ourselves as cursed. Our attitude determines our situation to a large extent. This weekend begins the month of Elul, the lead-up to the High Holidays. May we enter the New Year that is to come with joy, gratitude and blessing. Shabbat Shalom v’Hodesh Tov.
Hazzan Yitzhak Ben-Moshe
Thank you to Gail Ellenbogen for hosting an absolutely fascinating Book Club evening. We had the pleasure of hearing from Joyce Lit who works for the Jewish Book Council and helped the author in her upcoming tour of the US. A last minute surprise was also being joined by Yael Shacham who shared stories from Israel about the author Sarit Yishai-Levi whom she knows personally. It made for a fascinating discussion. The following link is from Joyce with more info about the author.…
YASHER KOACH to all the great kids and teachers on a fantastic first day of Hebrew School last Sunday! The children delighted in seeing all their friends and welcomed some new smiling faces to the classes. I had the pleasure of substituting for Morah Anat in Kitah Alef. Our morning centered on getting to know each other, writing our names in Hebrew, and creating a mitzvah tree. We read a PJ Library favorite, “Michael Says No!” and then created a list of classroom rules to help the class run smoothly. In Kitah Bet, our new teacher, Morah Lital reviewed the Hebrew alphabet with her class, practiced some writing, and made beautiful necklaces. Meanwhile, Kitah Gimel spent an hour with Morah Bev discussing Jewish history, and then an hour with Hazzan Ben-Moshe in the sanctuary reviewing some prayers. In the future this group will be working on strengthening their Hebrew reading and writing skills.
A fun, meaningful morning was had by all!
Remember, there will be no class next Sunday, in observance of Labor Day. The teachers look forward to seeing all the students on Sunday, September 11, as each class begins to learn about and prepare for Rosh Hashanah.
We wish all our cuties a terrific WEEK #2 in school this coming week!
Shereen Ben-Moshe
Grandpa Abe :They are the Future
I see something in our congregation that I feel is just wonderful. It’s all the new life we’ve got started. When I mean new life, I mean all the children we have. We have them at nearly every age and they all are enjoying Judaism. We have some of the best singers anywhere around. The kids just sing their hearts out. The children have really done well in their studies at Sunday School being taught by some wonderful teachers. I was speaking to one of the parents and the dad was telling me that they had to rearrange their vacation so the children wouldn’t miss Sunday School. It wasn’t his doing. It had to do with the children. They wanted to attend. It’s wonderful to see the children wanting to get all the knowledge they can. Although I see the children having fun, I also see them taking it very seriously. When I was younger (that was before dirt) we would ask the teacher if we could go to the restroom and never return. Before we knew it the whole class was out of the room. Need I tell you how much we learned. Now we pay the price. I am so glad to see these children grow up in such a fine synagogue as ours. They are the future. “Train up a child in the way that he should go and when he is old, he will not depart from it.” Proverbs 22:6
Dor ‘l Dor,
Grandpa Abe
Thank you to Galit Lavie and Refael Eizraelov who kindly donated a complete and brand new set of the Zohar from the Kaballah Center of Dallas. Beth El has a lovely library and this is an amazing addition to our collection.
Rabbi Peter Tarlow of the Center for Hispanic-Jewish relations weekly parasha:
This week’s parashah is called “Re’eh” (See). You will find it in the Book of Deuteronomy 11:26-16:17. This section is part of Moses’ great summation speeches emphasizing blessings and the curses. The section begins with a strange Hebrew grammatical phrase: “Re’eh, Anochi noten lifnechem hayom brachah uklalah/See, I am giving you today (right now) a blessing(s) and a curse(s).” The power of this sentence is lost on the non-Hebrew reader. The command (see) in the singular, as if it were saying to us: “Each one of you, take the time to see”. The verse also uses a present participle, a verbal form the Bible rarely uses. When the Bible does use this tense, it is expressing a sense of on-going continuity, as if to say, -every single day both blessings and curses are placed before you. It is up to you to decide where you are going in your life, do you want the blessings or the curses?
This week’s section is filled with challenges. It challenges us to make the right decisions. It challenges us to develop a sense of group spirit. It challenges us to observe G’d’s festivals, and it challenges us to be wise enough to distinguish between ‘false prophets’ (poor leaders or the trends of the time) and real prophets (people who place the national good before their own economic gain).m
We can interpret these verbal structures plus challenges on both the micro and macro levels. On the micro level the text provides us with a reminder that when things go wrong, it is we who must take responsibility and seek ways to turn our lives around. Taking personal responsibility is the first step toward teshuvah (or personal redemption). It is incumbent on us to ask: How did I not see the mistakes that I was making? Is the parashah teaching us that to be an adult is to view the world through reality rather than make-believe? Is the text reminding us to appreciate the blessings that come into our lives even during the hardest of times? Does our self-centeredness blind us to finding solutions to the challenges in our lives?
On a macro (group) level the section reminds us that (1) we dare not believe everything we see (or hear) and (2) that there must be a balance between the individual’s desires and the national good. In an age of dishonest media and a public that has been educated to be uninformed, these two admonitions are warnings and challenges that we need to take more seriously than ever.
This week’s parashah reminds us that false leadership can make us believe (Re’eh = See) that good is evil and evil is good. The media’s often poor (or dishonest) coverage of the news is an example of such a warning. How often does the media create untrue realities by turning small events into large crisis and then underreporting major news stories? How often has the media placed its own agendum ahead or truth or taken facts out of context so as to make good seem evil and evil appear as good? This week’s parashah reminds us to see/read with a careful eye and to question whatever we are told.
Re’eh teaches us that when we allow ourselves to be deceived, when we simply believe without questioning then in the end chaos will become crises. Moses warns us concerning the consequences not only of our singular actions but also of our collective actions when he states at the beginning of the parashah (Deut:11:26 and 11:32): “Behold I place before you a blessing and a curse …”.
How we act then touches not only our singular life, but also the lives of all with whom we live. Do you question not only what the media tell us what they do no? Do you take the time to ask why some stories are emphasized and others are underreported? Can democracy survive if the media are not honest? What do you think?