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crop-gb-vayikra-1Shabbat shalom to our precious Beth El community. We would love to see you at 7 p.m. this evening for warm and familiar kabbalat shabbat services. Leave your weekday worries behind and uplift your soul and spirit.

BETH EL SECOND NIGHT SEDER – SATURDAY MARCH 31 AT 6:30 PM. Email us to save your spot! Details below.

Cantor Ben-Moshe’s weekly message:

This Shabbat is Shabbat Hahodesh, the first Shabbat of the month of Nissan, and also the first day of Nissan. This week we also begin the reading of Sefer Vayyikra, the Book of Leviticus. Vayyikra is sometimes called Torat Hakohanim, the Teaching of the Priests, as it deals mainly with the laws of sacrifices and of ritual purity. Our parshah begins with the laws of the ‘olah, the burnt offering, which could be a bull, a sheep or a goat, or a dove, depending upon the means of the person making the offering. For each type, the Torah describes the smoke of the sacrifice as being “a sweet aroma for Hashem”. The commentators note that if one is sacrificing a dove, one would hardly describe the smell of burning feathers as a “sweet aroma”, but rather that the offering of a dove by a person of modest means is just as sweet to God as the offering of a bull by the rich and powerful. While we no longer offer animal sacrifices as worship, the principle still stands, that before God rich and poor are equal, and equally beloved. As we draw closer to Pesah, the festival of liberation for formerly despised slaves, let us always remember that God is as close to the downtrodden as to those upon whom fortune has smiled, and may the day of liberation soon come to all of humanity. Shabbat Shalom and Hodesh Tov.

Opportunities to help with Beth El Passover Preparation. Please “answer the call” and let us know if you can help us prepare for the second night seder.

Sunday March 18 during Hebrew school 10-12
Thursday March 22 6 p.m. onwards.
Sunday March 25 Beth El Spring cleaning day and cooking – 12 to 2 p.m.
Thursday March 29 6 p.m. onwards

Sunday School this weekend, Sunday March 18.

Candle lighting in Austin is at 7.22 p.m.

Sunday school is this Sunday March 18 at 10 a.m.

SAVE THE DATE: Congregation Beth El’s 2nd Night Seder.

PASSOVER ACROSS AMERICA!

Saturday March 31 at 6:30 PM.

In partnership with the National Jewish Outreach Program, Congregation Beth El is proud to host a second night seder, open to the Austin Jewish Community. Please RSVP to save your spot for our fun and interactive second night seder, with delicious kosher food, wine and friends. Led by Cantor Ben-Moshe. info@bethelaustin.org

Congregation Beth El Sisterhood Book Club

Join us as we read By Light of Hidden Candles by Daniella Levy.

We will be meeting at the home of Gail Ellenbogen on Wednesday, March 21 to discuss the book and socialize.

The Congregation Beth El Sisterhood invites all Jewish women to join us for any of our events. Please bring a friend. It is our hope to provide programming to bring us all together. For more information about our events and becoming more active, please contact Shereen Ben-Moshe at shereen@homewyrks.com.

“True greatness is showing respect to the people other people don’t notice. The people who show respect win respect.” Rabbi Lord Jonathan Sacks

It was never my ambition or aspiration to be a rabbi. I went to university to study economics. I then switched to philosophy. I also had a fascination with the great British courtroom lawyers, legendary figures like Marshall Hall, Rufus Isaacs and F. E. Smith. To be sure, relatively late, I had studied for the rabbinate, but that was to become literate in my own Jewish heritage, not to pursue a career.
What changed me, professionally and existentially, was my second major yechidut – face-to-face conversation, – with the Lubavitcher Rebbe, in January 1978. To my surprise, he vetoed all my career options: economist, lawyer, academic, even becoming a rabbi in the United States. My task, he said, was to train rabbis. There were too few people in Britain going into the rabbinate and it was my mission to change that.
What is more, he said, I had to become a congregational rabbi, not as an end in itself but so that my students could come and see how I gave sermons (I can still hear in my mind’s ear how he said that word with a marked Russian accent: sirmons). He was also highly specific as to where I was to work: in Jews’ College (today, the London School of Jewish Studies), the oldest extant rabbinical seminary in the English-speaking world.
So I did. I became a teacher at the College, and later its Principal. Eventually I became – again after consulting with the Rebbe – Chief Rabbi. For all this I have to thank not only the Rebbe, but also my wife Elaine. She did not sign up for this when we married. It was not even on our horizon. But without her constant support I could not have done any of it.
I tell this story for a reason: to illustrate the difference between a gift and a vocation, between what we are good at and what we are called on to do. These are two very different things. I have known great judges who were also brilliant pianists. Wittgenstein trained as an aeronautical engineer but eventually dedicated his life to philosophy. Ronald Heifetz qualified as a doctor and a musician but instead became the founder of the School of Public Leadership at the John F Kennedy School of Government at Harvard. We can be good at many things, but what gives a life direction and meaning is a sense of mission, of something we are called on to do.
That is the significance of the opening word of today’s parsha, that gives its name to the entire book: Vayikra, “He called.” Look carefully at the verse and you will see that its construction is odd. Literally translated it reads: “He called to Moses, and God spoke to him from the Tent of Meeting, saying …” The first phrase seems to be redundant. If we are told that God spoke to Moses, why say in addition, “He called”?
The answer is that God’s call to Moses was something prior to and different from what God went on to say. The latter were the details. The former was the summons, the mission – not unlike God’s first call to Moses at the burning bush where He invited him to undertake the task that would define his life: leading the people out of exile and slavery to freedom in the Promised Land.
Why this second call? Probably because the book of Vayikra has, on the face of it, nothing to do with Moses. The original name given to it by the sages was Torat Cohanim, “the Law of the Priests”[1] – and Moses was not a priest. That role belonged to his brother Aaron. So it was as if God were saying to Moses: this too is part of your vocation. You are not a priest but you are the vehicle through which I reveal all My laws, including those of the priests.
We tend to take the concept of a vocation – the word itself comes from the Latin for a “call” – for granted as if every culture has such an idea. However, it is not so. The great German sociologist Max Weber (1864-1920) pointed out that the idea of vocation, so central to the social ethic of Western culture, is essentially “a religious conception, that of a task set by God.”[2]
It was born in the Hebrew Bible. Elsewhere there was little communication between the gods and human beings. The idea that God might invite human beings to become His partners and emissaries was revolutionary. Yet that is what Judaism is about.
Jewish history began with God’s call to Abraham, to leave his land and family. God called to Moses and the prophets. There is a particularly vivid account in Isaiah’s mystical vision in which he saw God enthroned and surrounded by singing angels:
Then I heard the Voice of the Lord saying, “Whom shall I send? And who will go for us?” And I said, “Here am I. Send me!” (Isaiah 6:8)
The most touching account is the story of the young Samuel, dedicated by his mother Hannah to serve God in the sanctuary at Shiloh where he acted as an assistant to Eli the priest. In bed at night he heard a voice calling his name. He assumed it was Eli. He ran to see what he wanted but Eli told him he had not called. This happened a second time and then a third, and by then Eli realised that it was God calling the child. He told Samuel that the next time the Voice called his name, he should reply, ‘Speak, Lord, for your servant is listening.’ It did not occur to the child that it might be God summoning him to a mission, but it was. Thus began his career as a prophet, judge and anointer of Israel’s first two kings, Saul and David (1 Samuel 3).
These were all prophetic calls, and prophecy ended during the Second Temple period. Nonetheless the idea of vocation remains for all those who believe in Divine providence. Each of us is different, therefore we each have unique talents and skills to bring to the world. The fact that I am here, in this place, at this time, with these abilities, is not accidental. There is a task to perform, and God is calling us to it.
The man who did more than anyone to bring this idea back in recent times was Viktor Frankl, the psychotherapist who survived Auschwitz. There in the camp he dedicated himself to giving people the will to live. He did so by getting them to see that their lives were not finished, that they still had a task to perform, and that therefore they had a reason to survive until the war was over.
Frankl insisted that the call came from outside the self. He used to say that the right question was not “What do I want from life?” but “What does life want from me?” He quotes the testimony of one of his students who earlier in life had been hospitalised because of mental illness. He wrote a letter to Frankl containing these words:
But in the darkness, I had acquired a sense of my own unique mission in the world. I knew then, as I know now, that I must have been preserved for some reason, however small; it is something that only I can do, and it is vitally important that I do it… In the solitary darkness of the “pit” where men had abandoned me, He was there. When I did not know His name, He was there; God was there.[3]
Reading Psalms in the prison to which the KGB had sent him, Natan Sharansky had a similar experience.[4]
Frankl believed that “Every human person constitutes something unique; each situation in life occurs only once. The concrete task of any person is relative to this uniqueness and singularity.”[5] The essence of the task, he argued, is that it is self-transcending. It comes from outside the self and challenges us to live beyond mere self-interest. To discover such a task is to find that life – my life – has meaning and purpose.
How do you discover your vocation? The late Michael Novak argued[6] that a calling has four characteristics. First, it is unique to you. Second, you have the talent for it. Third, it is something which, when you do it, gives you a sense of enjoyment and renewed energy. Fourth, do not expect it to reveal itself immediately. You may have to follow many paths that turn out to be false before you find the true one.
Novak quotes Logan Pearsall Smith who said, “The test of a vocation is the love of the drudgery it involves.” All real achievement requires backbreaking preparation. The most common estimate is 10,000 hours of deep practice. Are you willing to pay this price? It is no accident that Vayikra begins with a call – because it is a book about sacrifices, and vocation involves sacrifice. We are willing to make sacrifices when we sense that a specific role or task is what we are called on to do.
This is a life-changing idea. For each of us God has a task: work to perform, a kindness to show, a gift to give, love to share, loneliness to ease, pain to heal, or broken lives to help mend. Discerning that task, hearing God’s call, is what gives a life meaning and purpose. Where what we want to do meets what needs to be done, that is where God wants us to be.

Please consider a donation to Austin’s friendly neighborhood shul! Your tax deductible donation (T’rumah) helps us immensely. You can sponsor a kidish lunch for $100, co-sponsor Passover, or just help those in our shul who need an extra hand.
Every dollar does good! Every volunteer is treasured

Shabat across americaDinner is almost ready – YOU ARE INVITED! Shabbat Across America, hosted by Congregation Beth El is tonight. Join us for a Friday night dinner and services at the special time of 6:30 p.m. Traditional Shabbat diner of matzah ball soup, chicken, sides and ruach (“spirit”, “yidishkeit”, “Texas Friendliness”!)

Shabbat morning services are also THIS Shabbat morning, March 10 at 9 a.m. We gratefully acknowledge Hal and Elaine Jacobs for sponsoring the delicious Kidish in memory of Hal’s beloved parents Sam and Sarah Jacobs of blessed memory whose yahrzeit is this month.

BETH EL SECOND NIGHT SEDER – SATURDAY MARCH 31 AT 6:30 PM. Email us to save your spot!

Cantor Ben-Moshe’s weekly message:

This week we close out the reading of Sefer Sh’mot , the Book of Exodus, with the combined parshot of Vayyak’hel/P’kudei. In addition, we read the special maftir for Shabbat Parah as we continue our preparations for Passover. Our parshot exhaustively detail the construction and assembly of the Mishkan, the Sanctuary in the desert which would accompany the People of Israel in their wandering, but begin with something different-a reiteration of the commandment to observe Shabbat. The Torah says “You shall not kindle fire in any of your habitations on the Day of Shabbat.” Of course, the plain meaning of the verse is that fire may not be lit on Shabbat-which is what we light candles before sunset, so that we may have light without desecrating our holy day. The Hassidic masters had a deeper interpretation as well-that one should not kindle the fire of anger on Shabbat. Shabbat is a day of peace, of living in harmony with the world around us, especially with our families and community. It is praiseworthy to make an extra effort to control one’s temper on Shabbat, and to refrain from speaking or acting in a way that expresses anger or annoyance. Then Shabbat will truly reflect our greeting-“A Shabbat of Peace”-Shabbat Shalom.

No Sunday School this week. We’ll see our BERS (Beth El Religious School) March 18.

Candle lighting in Austin is at 6:13 p.m.

No Sunday school March 11. Here’s a fun collage of our BERS learning all about Passover. Hands on, experiential learning is the order of the day at Sunday Fundays.

SAVE THE DATE: Congregation Beth El’s 2nd Night Seder.

PASSOVER ACROSS AMERICA!

Saturday March 31 at 6:30 PM.

In partnership with the National Jewish Outreach Program, Congregation Beth El is proud to host a second night seder, open to the Austin Jewish Community. Please RSVP to save your spot for our fun and interactive second night seder, with delicious kosher food, wine and friends. Led by Cantor Ben-Moshe. info@bethelaustin.org

Congregation Beth El Sisterhood Book Club

Join us as we read By Light of Hidden Candles by Daniella Levy.

We will be meeting at the home of Gail Ellenbogen on Wednesday, March 21 to discuss the book and socialize.

The Congregation Beth El Sisterhood invites all Jewish women to join us for any of our events. Please bring a friend. It is our hope to provide programming to bring us all together. For more information about our events and becoming more active, please contact Shereen Ben-Moshe at shereen@homewyrks.com.

See you at services at 7 PM TONIGHT!

SAVE THE DATES:

Friday March 9th – Shabbat Across America! Hosted by Congregation Beth El. Join us for a Friday night dinner and services at the special time of 6:30 p.m.

BETH EL SECOND NIGHT SEDER – SATURDAY MARCH 31 AT 6:30 PM. Email us to save your spot!

Cantor Ben-Moshe’s weekly message:

This week we read Parshat Ki Tissa, which begins with the commandment to take the half-shekel poll tax, continues on with the story of the Golden Calf, and concludes with a listing of the major festivals of the Jewish calendar. The story of the Golden Calf of course concludes with God forgiving the People of Israel, and Moshe asking God for a clear sign of Divine favor. God replies with the Thirteen Attributes of God-“Hashem, Hashem, a compassionate and gracious God, patient and abounding in kindness and truth….”. This listing of God’s attributes is central to the liturgy of the High Holidays, when we approach God confident in God’s forgiving nature. Paradoxically, the greatest sin of our ancestors gave us the greatest sign that our trespasses will be forgiven. Contrary to popular prejudice about the Hebrew Bible, our Torah clearly teaches that God is loving, compassionate and forgiving – a great teaching which we, as God’s witnesses, have passed on to the world. Shabbat Shalom.

The BERS will be meeting this Sunday at 10 a.m.

Candle lighting in Austin is at 6:13 p.m.

Enjoy photos of the Purim schpiel, which was super fun. With our deepest gratitude to Shay and Shiry Turjeman for sponsoring the food following the Megillah reading, the amazing Lilia Stan of Happy Tots Face painting, the Cantor for a great reading and to all the wonderful folks who attended!

Sunday school this Sunday at 10 am. Enjoy photos of the children baking with our Chai Mitzvah teens last week. Thank you to Yesenia, Rachel and Claudia!

Dear Beth El Community:

Israeli Ambassador to the United States, Ron Dermer, will be addresses the Austin Jewish community during his first-ever visit to the capital city.

Please join us on March 20 at 7:30pm at Temple Beth Shalom for this important event.

Click here to register for tickets.
https://www.eventbrite.com/e/austin-welcomes-ambassador-ron…

The event is free. Registration is required by March 18.
Tickets must be presented upon entering the event.
For security reasons, no bags or purses will be permitted inside Temple Beth Shalom.

SAVE THE DATE: Congregation Beth El’s 2nd Night Seder.

PASSOVER ACROSS AMERICA!

Saturday March 31 at 6:30 PM.

In partnership with the National Jewish Outreach Program, Congregation Beth El is proud to host a second night seder, open to the Austin Jewish Community. Please RSVP to save your spot for our fun and interactive second night seder, with delicious kosher food, wine and friends. Led by Cantor Ben-Moshe. info@bethelaustin.org

Congregation Beth El Sisterhood Book Club

Join us as we read By Light of Hidden Candles by Daniella Levy.

We will be meeting at the home of Gail Ellenbogen on Wednesday, March 21 to discuss the book and socialize.

The Congregation Beth El Sisterhood invites all Jewish women to join us for any of our events. Please bring a friend. It is our hope to provide programming to bring us all together. For more information about our events and becoming more active, please contact Shereen Ben-Moshe at shereen@homewyrks.com.

Save the dates in April for this very special month of remembrance and celebration at the
Dell Jewish Community Campus.

April 8 at 7 p.m. Yom HaShoah
Holocaust Remembrance.
Please see the trailer.

April 17 at 7 p.m. Yom HaZikaron
Israel’s Memorial Day
Chazzan Yitzhak Ben-Moshe, IDF Veteran, will be part of this moving ceremony.

April 22 at 11 a.m. Yom HaAtzmaut
Israel’s 70th Birthday Celebration.
Beth El will be participating!

Film Screening: Arabic Movie & Q&A w/ Director Eyal Sagui Bizawe
Thursday, February 15
8 – 9:30 PM
College of Liberal Arts Building
Room 1.302B
305 E. 23rd St
The Institute of Israeli Studies hopes you will join them for a film screening of the documentary “Arabic Movie,” followed by a Q&A with director Eyal Sagui Bizawe

Film Screening: Arabic Movie & Q&A w/ Director Eyal Sagui Bizawe
Thursday, February 15
8 – 9:30 PM
College of Liberal Arts Building
Room 1.302B
305 E. 23rd St
The Institute of Israeli Studies hopes you will join them for a film screening of the documentary “Arabic Movie,” followed by a Q&A with director Eyal Sagui Bizawe
Grappling with Loneliness in the Modern World
– Blog post by Sandy Kress
https://sandykress.wordpress.com/

One of the most powerful, seminal Jewish thinkers of the 20th century was Rabbi Joseph B. Soloveitchik. He wrote many extraordinary articles and books. Among his best was The Lonely Man of Faith.

In this book, Soloveitchik explores a problem that has much plagued our own society: what causes loneliness in the modern world, and what can be done about it?
Do you feel lonely? If yes, do you wonder why? Do you seek remedies for it? If you don’t feel lonely, do you wonder why so many others do and how they could be helped?

I have endeavored here to bring to the attention of curious people of all faiths prominent Jewish thought on a major topic of great importance in our time.

Of course, there is no real substitute for reading the book. I acknowledge as well, and apologize to both the author and God, for errors committed in the act of in-brief chronicling. But, whether for the purpose of building your interest, giving you fine material for thought and meditation, or paving the way to the world of deeper knowledge, I hope you’ll find true value here.

THE LONELY MAN OF FAITH – JOSEPH B. SOLOVEITCHIK

In our modern world, we are lonely; and it hurts.

1. Modern society is complex, with both good and bad. Among its most worrisome features is its capacity to create a sense of loneliness within us. One often feels like “a stranger in modern society, which is technically minded, self-centered, and self-loving…scoring honor upon honor, piling up victory upon victory, reaching for the distant galaxies, and seeing in the here-and-now sensible world the only manifestation of being.”

2. “I thank God; I enjoy the love and friendship of many. I meet people, preach, argue, and reason, …surrounded by comrades and acquaintances. And, yet, companionship and friendship do not alleviate the passional experience of loneliness which trails me constantly.”

3. Loneliness involves feeling rejected by many, including friends.

4. “I despair because I am lonely and hence feel frustrated.”

Yet, this loneliness drives us to seek God.

1. “I feel invigorated because this very experience of loneliness presses everything in me into the service of God.”

2. “This service to which I…am committed is wanted and gracefully accepted by God…”

There are several steps a person of faith can take to overcome loneliness.

1. First, he/she must “meet God at a personal covenantal level to be near Him and feel free in His presence.”
a) As with Abraham, “only when he met God in earth as Father, Brother, and Friend – not only along the unchartered astral routes – did he feel redeemed.”
b) “When God joins the community of man the miracle of revelation takes place in two dimensions: in the transcendental…and in the human…”

2. Second, prayer is vital. It asks us to “stand before and address ourselves to God in a manner reminiscent of the prophet’s dialogue with God.”
a) “Prayer is basically an awareness of man finding himself in the presence of and addressing himself to his Maker, and to pray has one connotation only: to stand before God… being together with and talking to God.”
b) “The word of prophecy is God’s and is accepted by man. The word of prayer is man’s and God accepts it.”
c) Prayer, though, is not an act we commit alone. “The Foundation of efficacious and noble prayer is human solidarity and sympathy…sharing and experiencing the travail and suffering” of others.
d) “God hearkens to prayer if it rises from a heart contrite over a muddled and faulty life and from a resolute mind ready to redeem this life…Prayer is always the harbinger of moral reformation.”

3. Third, we benefit from faith. The person of faith “finds deliverance from isolation” in the “now, “ which includes both “before” and “after.” The covenantal experience is one that is retrospective in that it “re-experiences the rendezvous with God” (through which the revelation originated). It is also prospective, anticipating the “about to be.”

a) Covenantal people “begin to feel redemption for insecurity and to feel at home in the continuum of time and responsibility which is experienced in its endless totality, from everlasting to everlasting.”
“A person is no longer an evanescent being” but rather becomes rooted in everlasting time, in eternity itself.” He begins to “engage in the great colloquy in which God Himself participates, with love and joy.”
b) Thus, the covenantal person finds redemption…”by dovetailing his accidental existence with the necessary infinite existence of the Great True Real Self.”

We now can find a path forward with both balance and wholeness.

1. We are able to achieve this felicitous result by blending within ourselves and within our communities the attributes and virtues of each of the two Adams we find in study of the Genesis story in the Bible (one in Genesis 1, and the other in Genesis 2).

The first Adam orders his world with dignity, beauty, and creativity. He imitates his Creator by working to make the world a better place. He is one who, for example, “builds hospitals, discovers therapeutic techniques, saves lives,” and, we might add, clicks happily online.
The second Adam wants to know God and have an intimate relationship with the Divine. He strives not so much to hear the “rhythmic sound of the production line,” but rather “the rhythmic beat of hearts starved for existential companionship and all-embracing sympathy…” This Adam feels loneliness when he/she is distant from God or when his/her society is.

2. God, thus, summons us “to engage in the pursuit of majesty-dignity as well as redemption.” “He authorizes man to quest for sovereignty; He also tells man to surrender and be committed.”

3. “Accordingly, the task of covenantal man is to be…in uniting the two communities where man is both the creative, free agent and the obedient servant of God.”
4. We must see and live by “our all-inclusive human personality,” “charged with responsibility as both a majestic and a covenantal being.” Otherwise, we reject “the Divine scheme…which was approved by God as being very good.”

Loneliness for those who resemble the second Adam will remain, though loneliness for most can be relieved.

1. One form of loneliness exists especially for the second Adam when the world (including majestic man) is inhospitable to him and the true message of faith. This loneliness is often the price to be paid by the second Adams when they live true to their mission.
2. Yet, the world is deeply troubled if the first Adam dominates without the influence of the second Adam. “Majestic Adam has developed a demonic quality: laying claim to unlimited power…His pride is almost boundless, his imagination arrogant, and he aspires to complete control of everything.”
3. The answer to our modern condition (its lack of balance, its lack of wholeness, and its loneliness) is to create a true, honored, and respectful place within us and within our society for both Adams.

We can and must rise to meet the challenge.

1. “Majestic man is in need of the redemptive and therapeutic powers inherent in the act of believing which, in times of crisis, may give aid and comfort to the distressed mind.”
2. “To be sure, man can build spaceships capable of reaching other planets without …being awakened to an enhanced inspired life which reflects the covenantal truth. However, the idea of majesty…embraces much more than the mere building of machines, no matter how complex and efficacious.
Successful man wants to be sovereign not only in the physical but also in the spiritual world.”

Please consider a donation to Austin’s friendly neighborhood shul! Your tax deductible donation (T’rumah) helps us immensely. You can sponsor a kidish lunch for $100, co-sponsor Purim or Passover, or just help those in our shul who need an extra hand.
Every dollar does good! Every volunteer is treasured.YomHaAtzmaut_LandingPageFINAL2

barry sraelJoin us for our friendly, warm and welcoming Friday night Kabbalat Shabbat Services at 7 PM Friday February 23!

Shabbat morning services are this weekend, Saturday February 24th starting at 9:00 am, with the Torah service at 9:45 am, children’s story time with Morah Shereen, and a delicious sit down lunch immediately following services*.

SAVE THE DATE:
PURIM – WEDNESDAY FEBRUARY 28 AT 6:45 PM.

BETH EL SECOND NIGHT SEDER – SATURDAY MARCH 31 AT 6:30 PM.

Cantor Ben-Moshe’s weekly message:
This week’s parshah, Tetzaveh, concerns itself largely with the clothing of the Kohanim, the priests, and especially the Kohen Gadol, the High Priest. This perhaps especially apt for the Shabbat before Purim, an holiday when we dress in costumes. Two elements of the vestments of the Kohen Gadol were two stones to be worn on his shoulders, each bearing the names of aisle of the twelve Tribes of Israel, and a breastplate with twelve stones, each representing one of the Tribes. The Kohen Gadol was to be reminded constantly on whose behalf he served-that of the People of Israel. He had to always know that he was to represent their interests as a leader, and not his own. The Torah thus gives us a concrete example of how a true leader should act. May we, who live in a democratic society, always choose leaders who work in the public interest, and be Mordechai and not Hamans. Shabbat Shalom and Hag Purim Sameah.
Hazzan Yitzhak Ben-Moshe

“We achieve our greatness by passing on our values to the next generation and empowering them to go and build the future” (Rabbi Lord Jonathan Sacks). Our enriching and creative Sunday School truly inspires us to do just that. The BERS will be meeting this Sunday at 10 am along with the Chai Mitzvah Teens.

Candle lighting in Austin is at 6:08 p.m.

In honor of this week’s Parasha, a photo of Barry in full Kohen Ha Gadol regalia, taken on his trip to Israel this month with Bob and Kathy. They returned safely after the trip of a life time to Eretz Israel.

Save the date for the Purim Party you won’t want to miss! Wednesday February 28 at 6:45 in the evening. Megillah reading, face painting, food, fun and quite a few L’Chaims!

Enjoy a couple of photos of the Men’s Club event last Sunday. Chillin and Grillin was a huge hit. Thank you to all who came and to all who helped. Looking forward to the next event – Bowling!

SAVE THE DATE: Congregation Beth El’s 2nd Night Seder.
PASSOVER ACROSS AMERICA!
Saturday March 31 at 6:30 PM.

In partnership with the National Jewish Outreach Program, Congregation Beth El is proud to host a second night seder, open to the Austin Jewish Community. Please RSVP to save your spot for our fun and interactive second night seder, with delicious kosher food, wine and friends. Led by Cantor Ben-Moshe. info@bethelaustin.org

Congregation Beth El Sisterhood Book Club
Join us as we read By Light of Hidden Candles by Daniella Levy.
We will be meeting at the home of Gail Ellenbogen on Wednesday, March 21 to discuss the book and socialize.

The Congregation Beth El Sisterhood invites all Jewish women to join us for any of our events. Please bring a friend. It is our hope to provide programming to bring us all together. For more information about our events and becoming more active, please contact Shereen Ben-Moshe at shereen@homewyrks.com.

* Huge kudos to our Shabbat Shefs, Claudia, Anita, Yesenia , Genesis and Shereen. We meet on the Thursday evening before shabbat morning services to help cook and always welcome any help.

Family Fun Day at the J is this Sunday!
https://shalomaustin.org/FFD

Save the dates in April for this very special month of remembrance and celebration at the
Dell Jewish Community Campus.

April 8 at 7 p.m. Yom HaShoah
Holocaust Remembrance

April 17 at 7 p.m. Yom HaZikaron
Israel’s Memorial Day
Chazzan Yitzhak Ben-Moshe, IDF Veteran, will be part of this moving ceremony.

April 22 at 11 a.m. Yom HaAtzmaut
Israel’s 70th Birthday Celebration.

Film Screening: Arabic Movie & Q&A w/ Director Eyal Sagui Bizawe
Thursday, February 15
8 – 9:30 PM
College of Liberal Arts Building
Room 1.302B
305 E. 23rd St
The Institute of Israeli Studies hopes you will join them for a film screening of the documentary “Arabic Movie,” followed by a Q&A with director Eyal Sagui Bizawe

Film Screening: Arabic Movie & Q&A w/ Director Eyal Sagui Bizawe
Thursday, February 15
8 – 9:30 PM
College of Liberal Arts Building
Room 1.302B
305 E. 23rd St
The Institute of Israeli Studies hopes you will join them for a film screening of the documentary “Arabic Movie,” followed by a Q&A with director Eyal Sagui Bizawe

Straining to Get Rich – Blog post by Sandy Kress
Posted February 2018
https://sandykress.wordpress.com/

I’m now teaching a six-part seminar at UT SAGE on wisdom sayings from the Jewish tradition. The focus this week is on work – ways in which it can be highly virtuous as well as ways in which it can be harmfully distorted. Love of work is essential, the wisdom teaches, but we must be careful that that love doesn’t seductively morph into something else that is damaging.

Here’s a proverb to consider.
“Do not strain to get rich. Leave off your staring! If you but let your eye fly on it, it is no more, for it will surely make itself wings like eagle’s and fly off to the sky.” Proverbs 23:4-5

Does this proverb forbid or discourage wealth or attainment of riches? I don’t see that it does. Work can be appropriately fruitful in many ways, including the earning of material reward.

The concern seems instead to be with “straining” and “staring.” First, what is meant by straining to get rich?
It could be what we do when we exhibit an unhealthy devotion of excessive time or effort to the attainment of riches. Our enterprise then becomes less about the intrinsic value, joy, and yield of work, and more about an obsession with the desire for riches.

So, what’s “staring?” Staring at riches suggests being fixated on them. Such fixation is wrong because just as easily as wealth comes along, it can be lost. Even if excessive wealth remains, its value tends to be more ephemeral than enduring. This is what is meant, I think, by likening the outcome of obsession with riches to something that will “make itself wings like eagle’s and fly off to the sky.”

Instead of staring and straining to get rich, we should understand that that which deeply satisfies is the feeling of a job well done; a contribution of work, often done with others, that enables and ennobles; and accomplishments through service that add to our ongoing wellbeing and that of our community. For it is there that we find true treasure.

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