Parashat Korach – Jewish Education

Shabbat Shalom and we so look forward to seeing you all tonight at 7 PM via zoom and in person in our beloved shul. Please let us know if you would like to attend in person services? All health and safety measures will be in place.
Meeting ID: 847 168 183

Password: 010620

Hazzan Ben-Moshe’sWeekly Message:In Pirkei Avoth 5:19 we read “A controversy for Heaven’s sake will have lasting value, but a controversy not for Heavens sake will not endure. What is an example of a controversy for Heaven’s sake? The controversy (debates) of Hillel and Shammai. What is an example of a controversy not for Heaven’s sake? The controversy (rebellion) of Korah and his confederates.”

This saying points to our parshah this week, Parshat Korah, which recounts the attempt of Korah the Levite and Dathan and Aviram of the Tribe of Reuven to wrest leadership from Moshe and Aharon. Theirs was a very different “controversy” from that of Hillel and Shammai. The latter honestly disagreed about several points of Jewish Law, and debated their viewpoints. Ultimately, each accepted the outcome of those debates, whether they won or lost. Korah, Dathan and Aviram were interested only in self-aggrandizement, and thus when they lost their defeat was total. This saying also points out a logical fallacy which is all too common-the propensity to blame both sides in a dispute. It is very easy to use the words of Mercutio in Shakespeare’s “Romeo and Juliet”-“A plague on both their houses!” It feels to us unfair to take one side over another-but sometimes one side is absolutely in the wrong. Korah et al were wrong-there was nothing in their rebellion that was justified, even though they falsely claimed overreach on the part of Moshe and Aharon. We should certainly try to judge fairly at all times-but sometimes fair judgement requires coming down firmly on the side of righteousness and justice. Shabbat Shalom.Hazzan Yitzhak Ben-Moshe

Candle lighting in Austin at 8:19 PM.

Annual Meeting July 12Also, save the date. Our annual “state of the shul” meeting will be held on Sunday, July 12, at 4:30 p.m. .

We plan to discuss shul business and elect officers for the upcoming year. To nominate a current member as an officer, please send an email to Bob Miller, secretary and chair of the nominating committee at

Nominations should be submitted as soon as possible and no later than 7 days before the board meeting. The meeting is open to all – they are always a great deal of fun and very inspiring. We are blessed to be part of this small, yet vibrant and truly chesed filled congregation.

Again, we would like to send Shannon and Jay our deepest condolences on the loss of Shannon’s beloved mom Marlene Hyatt. We have such fond memories of Marlene joining us at the High Holidays and wish the whole Shapiro family many beautiful memories and comfort in these hard days.

Mazal Tov to Bam Rubenstein on his ordination to the Rabbinate this week. We are so proud of your huge accomplishment. We are all looking forward to when we can bring out the Torah and celebrate as a congregation by giving you an aliya as Rav Yehuda Leib ben Rafoel v’Shoshana!

Our next Tanach class is June 30!
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Save the Date. Let’s have a fun afternoon at Town Lake this summer, where each family rents a canoe or kayak and enjoys each other’s company together. The prefect Social Distance event.

Gone….But not….

by Jared Brudno

Please take the opportunity to visit us here and explore and share in what we have discovered. I promise you you won’t be disappointed. There’s so much more I can say and so much more I would like to say. But let’s save that for another time. Just know how much we feel and know that you at Beth El are as much a part of all this as we are. That’s kind of mysterious but absolutely true. It’s a blessing we could never imagine. It’s a blessing we will hold dear for the rest of our lives. Our journey is your journey and yours is ours. That’s the wondrous thing about our nation is that we are all traveling together to the same destination. Thank you for traveling with us and for allowing us to travel with you.

One last note. My father Walter’s, of blessed memory, yahrzeit was on Adar 16 near Elaine Shapiro’s passing. I meant to get to minyan for Kaddish Yaton, but alas didn’t. So in his honor I just want to say a few brief things about my father and mother Benetta of blessed memories and also about the founders of Beth El. I think it also relates to the recent passing of Elaine Shapiro of blessed memory and all those of our founders and ancestors who preceded her. My father was a good Jew, a soldier, and a lawyer. He and my mother upheld the highest levels of truth, morality and justice their whole lives. My father was an assistant prosecutor at the War Crimes Tribunal in Nuremberg and presented the case against Alfred Rosenberg and his agency of the nazi campaign whose mission was to loot and destroy Jewish and other cultures completely. My mother was an art historian at the Dallas Museum of Fine Arts for many years, so they were like-minded in cultural affairs. They knew how grievous cultural crime was and continued to fight similar attacks on our culture and others and on moral humanity their whole lives. In the 1950’s and 1960’s they were outspoken opponents of McCarthyism, the American Nazi party, the John Birch society, and the KKK in Dallas, so much so that we had to leave town for a while for a couple of years because of terroristic threats against us. My father you see had openly publicly debated them on their values and left them looking foolish. We left because his associates and our friends warned us that if we stayed our lives were at risk. One of his associates remarked, “Walter you need to get out of town for a while because if you stay they are going to kill you.” I used to see some of the threatening postcards in a little box on the desk in our house saying things like “why don’t you get your Jewish Commie ass out of town?” My father was a magnificent orator and a master in debate. My mother was also very clever and outspoken against anything she perceived as not being good and correct.

I say all of this to remind myself and hopefully you as well how important all those who came before us and all of us are. The founders of Beth El made a courageous decision to maintain the traditions of Traditional Conservative Judaism. I’m sure it cost them a price socially and in other ways which we may never know of. I know it cost them a lot of time, money and effort. There’s lots of different ways to approach Judaism, but our founders wanted to make sure that the values of antiquity were preserved, treasured, and unsullied. As some of our last founding members leave us, I think it’s important for us to remember what we are doing, why we are doing it, and how those before us made it possible. If not for our ancestors and their unwavering courage and dedication to stay close to the truth of Torah no matter what, where would we be? I see what the founders did in establishing Beth El in the same courageous manner and aspect that my parents did in revealing untruths, maintaining morality, and speaking out, no matter what the cost. Ashreinu, Ma Tov Chelkeinu, U’ma Noim Goroleinu, U’ma Yofo Y’rushoseinu. Translation: We are happy, how goodly is our lot, and how pleasant is our fortune and how beautiful our heritage.

Maybe I’ll have courage and understanding to fight the same corrosive ideologies in our world and our time to preserve and restore the treasure of our ancestors. The Parsha near the week of my father’s yahrzeit spoke about the new Tablets Moshe made. Defending the people standing in harm’s way, willing to sacrifice everything for everyone, so it was for Moshe, so it was in some way for my father and mother, although I’m not in anyway comparing them to Moshe and so it was for Elaine and Morris Shapiro and all the other founders and leaders and congregants at Beth El. So may it be for us b’Ezrat Hashem. Without you where would we all be?

Beth El can now accept donations of stocks through a brokerage account. Please contact our treasurer at

Mitzvah Makers

Hi all. Thanks to those of you who visited our website last week: We need people to click and stay for a bit. It is a fairly new website, so the more traffic it has, the easier it will be for folks to find our sweet and small shul when they are searching Google. Check out the videos, and share the website with friends. NOW FOR SOME NEWS YOU CAN USE!Shabbat Shalom and we so look forward to seeing you all tonight at 7 PM via zoom. Please know that we are going back to having a combination of in person and zoom services next week, according to all the health and safety guidelines from the City Of Austin. Please let us know if you are interested in attending in person services. ID: 847 168 183Password: 010620Hazzan Ben-Moshe’sWeekly Message:This week’s parshah, B’ha’aloth’kha, begins with the commandment to make a menorah, a lamp with seven bowls, which is to be lit every night by the Kohanim. This is the Ner Tamid, the Eternal Light. There was always supposed to be light in the Sanctuary, and the priests were responsible for seeing that it stayed lit. This is the last part of the Torah reading on the eighth day of Hanukkah. As a “Kingdom of priests and a holy People”, we are metaphorically responsible for keeping the light kindled. The light which we are to spread is the light of Torah-and especially now, when we see darkness around us, we should spread that light. It is the light of love for all of our fellow humans, without exception. We should do live our lives that we teach Torah-which shares the same root in Hebrew as “or”, light-with our every word and our every action. May God’s light shine through us always. Shabbat Shalom.Hazzan Yitzhak Ben-MosheCandle lighting in Austin at 8:12 PM.Thank you to our amazing Mitzvah Makers Claudia, Sabrina, Frankie, and Shelley for lovingly baking and delivering challah this week. Please let us know if you would like fresh challah on Fridays – we are doing this all summer! Also, also let us know if you would like to help make, or deliver challah. All social distancing guidelines are being followed meticulously. And a huge thank you to our awesome children Mitzvah Maker for making and sending such gorgeous letters to folks in our community! Such acts of chesed make us so proud of our sweet Sunday school children. Here are our beloved Doris and Herschel saying thank you on our zoom services last week.\Sisterhood Book Club via zoom Sunday June 21 (NEW DATE) at 7 PMWe will also be starting a Jewish ethics class this summer inspired by Pirkei Avot (The Ethics of our Sages). The first class is June 16!Join Zoom Meeting the Date. Let’s have a fun afternoon at Town Lake this summer, where each family rents a canoe or kayak and enjoys each other’s company together. The prefect Social Distance event. GONE…..BUT NOT…… Part 3by Jared Brudnohe last thing I wanted to do was to get involved in another major construction project. Gracie and I had talked about that the last major house construction project we were involved in for three years was our last one. So much for that. The house we bought needs some work. Not a lot, but it will take some time. But as I got started on the work I became enthusiastic about it. Fifteen years ago because of various problems I’ve caused in my life, I didn’t have much. I didn’t have any tools, and I hadn’t been involved in carpentry at the level that I like in quite a while. Now I have more tools and equipment than I’ve ever had, and more ability and enthusiasm for the talent that Hashem has given me than ever. The work we did at Beth El was a major part of that journey. I had an immediate family but I didn’t have an extensive one like I do now since marrying Gracie and attending Beth El. Gracie also wanted to return to her hometown for many reasons like family, the beach, the culture. I grew to like Brownsville after our many visits here, and when Gracie began to really pursue living here I thought it was a good idea. I really liked the calmer atmosphere and universally friendly people here. The reality of that initial excitement faded a bit once I realized how much work it would be and all the what if’s along the way. In the course of her looking for a house I began to notice a fair amount of historical restoration going on here, something I’ve been heavily involved in in years past and really love. For many reasons Brownsville is beginning to revive. it was kind of on the down slide when we first began to visit 10 to 12 years ago. Historical restoration has always been how I want to use my experience and talents. I love old stuff. I love making stuff by hand. Old stuff speaks to me about the past and the people of the past and the best part of culture and values of the past. I love the way old things were made with such fine quality with skilled hands. I can be terminally nostalgic at times. Those are some reasons I love being a Jew. Our antiquity is filled with nothing but the finest quality. Our Torah is made physically and spiritually created in the finest unparalleled manner by the finest Creator and craftsman. Just the physical act of making and scribing a Sefer Torah fascinates me. Of course the craftsmanship of our Creator has no equal. I hope to be involved in some of the historical restorations projects here.Gracie and I are on our way to Israel as soon as that becomes possible. Even though our journey has taken us 350 miles south instead of 6000 miles east, moving to Brownsville is on the road to there. Our house is about 2000 sq. ft. It has a small apartment which is separate from the house but attached to it. That gives us the opportunity to leave the main house with Raul and Gracie’s dad and for us to have our own private place so we can come and go as we please. The care that Gracie’s dad needs is even better here for many reasons. He’s eligible for 750 hours of Respite Care which would allow us a little more freedom and give him what he needs. Once we are hopefully approved to make Aliyah then we have a place for caregivers to stay or to rent or for us to return to on occasion.Brownsville historically had a thriving Jewish community. As is so true with smaller cities this is not so true today. However, one again antiquity speaks for itself. The house we bought is just a few blocks from the original Orthodox shul here. This neighborhood used to be full of Jews. I see some of the older houses and imagine perhaps who of our nation built it and used to live there. The original Orthodox synagogue here was interestingly enough named Beth El. it is now since moved and transitioned over the years into a reform congregation. South Padre Island has an Orthodox shul called interestingly enough on a personal level Shoova Yisrael. Return Israel. How appropriate considering Gracie’s and my return to Judaism and Raul and Dad’s return to Brownsville. It’s a congregation of mostly Israeli businessmen serving the tourist trade on the Island. We’ve been there a few times and have always been welcomed warmly. Interestingly enough the Rabbi there is from Tveria and lives a few blocks from the house we rented a few years ago there. I met him a while back and he really made us feel at home. He’s only there certain time of the year. His wife’s family is from Mexico. For us it’s just like spending Shabbat in Israel including the food. So our 350 mile journey south is more on the way of our 6000 mile journey east than we could have expected.

Services, Challah Deliveries and Happy Father’s Day

Shabbat Shalom and Happy Father’s Day! Thank you to our special Mitzvah makers this week! Jakob, Cecy Gomez, Sabrina, Bob Miller and Miriam! PLEASE let us know if you would like some yummy fresh challah delivered to your home next week. Please let us know if you’d like to help drive.Shabbat Shalom and we so look forward to seeing you all tonight at 7 PM via zoom and in person in the synagogue. Please let us know if you would like to attend in person services? All health and safety measures will be in place.

Our deepest condolences to Esther and David on the loss of Esther’s beloved brother Sol Bleiweis this week. Sol was a survivor of Auschwitz and has such an amazing and inspiring story. Please listen to this beautiful interview of him:

And this article:

Hazzan Ben-Moshe’sWeekly Message:This week we read in Parshat Sh’lah L’kha of Moshe sending spies (or scouts) to the Promised Land. Moshe sends one man from each of the twelve tribes-each of them a prominent man, mentioned by name. The haftarah, from the Book of Joshua, also deals with spies-two, sent by Joshua to scout out Jericho before laying siege to that city. These two men are not named.

The first scouting expedition ends in failure-ten of the twelve spies report that the Land cannot be conquered, and discourage the People, leading to forty years of wandering in the wilderness. The two anonymous scouts sent by Joshua succeed-they report that Jericho is demoralized and ready to fall. They are not concerned with their own egos, and report directly to Joshua instead of speaking in front of all the People. Quiet professionalism is the way to success. May we always be blessed with competent public servants, like Joshua’s scouts, who do their jobs without thought of fame. As the Sage Avtalyon says in Pirkei Avoth, “Love labor, avoid public leadership, and do not seek to be known to the authorities.” Shabbat Shalom.Hazzan Yitzhak Ben-Moshe

Candle lighting in Austin at 8:17 PM.

Sisterhood Book Club via zoom MONDAY June 22 (NEW DATE) at 7 PM

Topic: Sisterhood Book Club discussion and schmooze
Time: Jun 22, 2020 07:00 PM

The next Tanach class is June 30!
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Save the Date. Let’s have a fun afternoon at Town Lake this summer, where each family rents a canoe or kayak and enjoys each other’s company together. The prefect Social Distance event.

The Special Day – Happy Father’s Day from Grandpa Abe

This is a special time of the year for me. It brings back many memories and future expectations. Yes, I’m talking about Father’s Day. They really should call it Daddy’s Day. I will explain that as we go.

As you know, just anybody can be a father. And often there are many people doing this job. It takes someone special to be a daddy. You don’t need to necessarily be a father to be a daddy. A lot of men marry ladies with children already. They take on the responsibility of being a daddy. This takes someone very special. They have to have patience, love, and understanding. A lot of people say they also need the ability to stay steps ahead of the children. I have seen many father/daddies in my time. I was blessed with the world’s greatest daddy (I feel).

Let me give you a few words about my Daddy or I guess at my age, just plain Dad. My Dad was extra special. He married my Mom who already had two children. Later on in their marriage they had one more. The two children that he took in and loved were both boys. And by some miracle Mom and Dad had a little girl. I don’t think at any time that my sister was ever short on being loved. To this day we worship her. She’s very special. Dad was middle class, worked his heart out to support his family of five. He always thought of and loved his children. Love is something that comes along and it stays with you always. We, the three musketeers, or should I say, the three rascals had always loved him unconditionally.

When I was in the teenage plus years, my Mother and I would kid each other and, of course, were getting real good at teasing. One day she told me, “you know you’re going to miss your parents when we’re gone.” Me, who knew everything, and had all the answers replied, “Never.” Well, as time went by, the more that statement became true. There’s not a day that goes by that I don’t think of my parents. And especially my Dad. It sure would be good to be able to speak to them one last time.

Now that I’m pretty well aged, I have children, grandchildren, and great-grandchildren. I’m wondering as I sit here thinking about the future. Will my children/grandchildren and great-grandchildren think of me like I think of my parents?
Le Dor Ve Dor – from Generation to Generation!

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!

Purim at Congregation Beth El

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PLEASE join us tonight at 7 PM for a soulful and purpose-filled service, as we welcome in Shabbat.

Sunday School with the BERS this Sunday 3/8 at 10 AM. Our children may come in costume!

Purim is this Monday Night 3/9 at 7 PM! Come for one cool Megilla reading, live klezmer music with Klez Austin, a karaoke machine that will have us rocking into the wee hours, food, fun, children’s activities and so much more.

Cantor Ben-Moshe’s Weekly Parashah:

This week we read Parshat T’tzaveh, which among other things describes the vestments of the kohanim, the priests and especially the Kohen Gadol, the High Priest. The kohanim were to dress a certain way to enter the Sanctuary, in a manner befitting their status and role.

This Shabbat is also Shabbat Zachor, the Shabbat before Purim. On Purim, of course, we dress in costumes. The Megillah also speaks of costumes-Queen Esther dresses in her best to approach the king, as the kohanim dressed to come into the presence of God. Similarly, Mordechai is dressed in royal robes in the lead up to Haman’s downfall. Clothing and costume are not only linked to the Temple or to Purim. We too dress in particular ways for different occasions, especially for attending synagogue. We wear kippot and tallitot, on Shabbat we dress nicely and on the High Holidays we wear white. We may not be kohanim, but we too can dress ourselves to come into God’s presence. Shabbat Shalom.

Hazzan Yitzhak Ben-Moshe

Shabbat candle lighting time in Austin 6:16 PM