Congregation Beth El
   ק״ק בית אל

Congregation Blog

honey cake 1Rosh Hashanah begins Wednesday evening.
This email includes all of the details and information for the High Holidays. Of course, if you have any questions, please let us know. We look forward to seeing you!
Schedule: The High Holiday Schedule is posted on our web page and copied below.
Seating: We anticipate a large crowd and if requested are reserving places for our members. If you have a particular seat preference or would like seats reserved, please let us know ASAP.
Parking: Similar to years past, please reserve the places in the front of the building for the elderly and please note that parking should be only on the south side of Dominion Cove. Consider parking at Grace Church around the corner and take a short walk to the building.
Participating: We need people to help with English readings, be ushers, and more. If you would like to help, please let us know.
Costs: As always, there is not a specific charge for the High Holidays and we are not taking tickets, but please be sure to send in your dues. If you did not receive a dues statement or have any questions about your dues, please let us know. You can go to to donate or pay dues.

Kiddush: We will have apples and honey cake on the first evening of Rosh Hashanah and kiddushes following services on Thursday, Friday and Saturday! If you would like to help sponsor or bring something to the Kiddush, please contact us.
We wish everyone a Happy and Sweet New Year. May you all have a year of good health, peace and blessing.
שָׁנָה טוֹבָה וּמְתוּקָה
Some of our Chai Mitzvah Teens delivering delicious Honey Cake baked by the BERS for our community members. Fred’s grin definitely says it all! Thank you to the many bakers and to those who helped deliver the cakes.
We would all like to wish Hal Jacobs a very speedy recovery from heart surgery. Hal is going to the Heart Hospital of Austin on Erev Rosh Hashanah. His surgery will be Wednesday this week and he and Elaine would love to have visitors at the hospital during his recovery. Please call the hospital to find out when Hal can receive visitors or check with us. The Heart Hospital is 3801 N Lamar Bvld. Austin 78756. Thank you in advance for the mitzvah of Bikur Cholim.
Cantor Ben-Moshe’s Rosh Hashanah Message:
As we begin Rosh Hashanah this week, we begin a three-day period with much music. From the chanting of the prayers with their unique melodies to the reading of Parshat Ha’azinu, Moses’ last song to the People of Israel, on Shabbat, this time is filled with tunes. Music is very much a part of the High Holidays.
Music serves two main purposes at this time of year. One purpose is didactic-words are easier to learn when set to music. This is the reason for chanting the Torah. Indeed, Moses states that the reason for his song is so the People will remember his teaching. The other reason is to set a mood. There are two main musical modes for the High Holidays. One is a major mode which conveys God’s sovereignty-a maiestoso, majestic mode. The other is the minor mode of S’lihoth, prayers of penitence.
As we sit in the synagogue this year, let us try to learn the lessons which we need to learn, and to let the music transport us emotionally, even if we do not understand all of the words.
Shereen, Ilan, Cayla, Julia and Eden join me in wishing Shanah Tovah and Shabbat Shalom to the entire Beth El family.

Chai mitzvah teens
Morah Maya's class

Fantastic Sunday at Beth El Religious School!

Today our dream team of teachers (Morah Iris, Morah Maya, Morah Noa, Morah Anat, Cantor Ben-Moshe, and Morah Shereen, Morah Iris) welcomed back our returning students and many new students to Beth El Religious School. A fantastic morning was had by all.
This year we have 4 classes and a teen group. Stay tuned…we may be adding a preschool aged group in the coming weeks!
Next week we will be baking honey cakes and making Rosh Hashanah cards for senior Jewish members of Austin. If you know of someone we should deliver to, or would like to help make deliveries, please contact Shereen Ben-Moshe at 512-550-3735.

sisterhood planningPlease read below for URGENT Hurricane Harvey Relief Efforts.
Kabbalat shabbat services Friday September 1 at the regular time of 7:00 PM. We hope to see you. As the Chazzan noted, special prayers go out to all those affected by this terrible hurricane. May God bless and protect all those in harm’s way and all the first responders.
Shabbat morning services are Saturday September 9 at 9!

Beth El beautification Day – Sunday September 17 at 12:00 noon. Please volunteer an hour or two to help clean and spruce up the building.
SAVE THE DATE: Sunday November 5th at 6 PM Beth El is holding our 36th Anniversary dinner! Please plan to attend this wonderful evening celebrating our congregation. Invitations will be mailed out shortly.
Candle lighting in Austin is at 7:35 PM and
Havdallah is Saturday at 8:28 PM Motzei shabbat.
Cantor Ben Moshe’s Message

This week’s parshah, Ki Tetze, begins with a rather curious commandment-a victorious warrior who spies a captive woman whom he finds desirable, cannot take advantage of her then and there, but must bring her home, let her mourn for a month, and only then he may marry her, and he may not sell her into slavery. This is of course a corrective to one of the horrors of war, but Rabbi Alan Lew, of blessed memory, made a connection to our live in his book, “This Is Real, And You Are Completely Unprepared”. Rabbi Lew regards this as a lesson for all of us-that we should not act on impulse, but should take our time and examine our desires. Perhaps upon examination, the thing we desired is not so desirable, and we can do without it. As we prepare for the High Holidays and examine our actions and how we respond to impulses, this is a valuable lesson. Shabbat Shalom.
Hazzan Yitzhak Ben-Moshe
Please help donate these urgently needed items for the Jewish Community in Houston. We were going to have the items collected at Beth El, but the need is so urgent that we request you to help as soon as you can by donating items straight to the Dell Campus. There is a truck there ready to go to Houston Friday afternoon. There is also an option below to buy items through Amazon.
Up to date info :
Here is the list of items needed.
Heavy Work Gloves Plastic Storage Bins
Sharpies Heavy Duty Trash Bags
Duct Tape Packing Tape
New Boxes Rubber Gloves
Painters Masks Disinfecting Wipes
Hand Sanitizer Rubber Gloves
Mops Jab Saws
Buckets Washcloths/Towels for Cleaning
Rubber Mallets Hammers
Box Fans Inflatable Mattresses
New Pillows Gift Cards to Home Depot, Lowes, HEB
Bubble Wrap
To participate in this effort, view details:
Please complete this Google Form with the item(s) you would like to donate.…/1FAIpQLSdbRA8WyZVhD65-H9…/viewform
Drop off-times: Thursday, August 31 from 8am-9pm. and Friday, September 1 from 8am-5pm
Drop-off location: Front circle drive located on the Dell Jewish Community Campus, 7300 Hart Lane
We are only accepting new, unopened items in original packaging from the list above.
Additionally, to donate supplies online, visit our Amazon Wish List (…/16A4JZV34DK…/ref=cm_sw_em_r_d_g__wf) . All donated items will be delivered directly to the Evelyn Rubenstein Jewish Community Center of Houston and distributed to those in need. For even more ways you can help and latest updates, please visit our website.
Thank you to those who have donated items and for everyone’s support.
Rabbi Daniel Septimus
Chief Executive Officer
Shalom Austin
Sisterhood planning meeting this week was amazing. From Shereen’s Solar Eclipse Ice Breaker activity to the actual getting on paper a bunch of exciting activities, we have a great year planned. Please be on the lookout for upcoming events and please plan to join us. The sisterhood is open to all and a very welcoming place.

Shabbat shalom ya all and happy first week of school! Check out our High Holiday schedule and weekend services. Read all about it…..Friday Night services tonight, August 25 at the regular time of 7:00 PM. We hope to see you.
Shabbat morning services are THIS Saturday August 26 at 9 AM. We will have the Torah service at around 9:45 AM and a children’s service/story time with Morah Shereen at 10:30 AM. This week’s lovely kidush lunch is generously sponsored by Yosef and Claudia Aguilar in honor of the new school year starting up for their children, Vania, Sofia and Nathan.They wish all our children a successful and great year ahead.

Cantor Ben Moshe’s Message
This week, as we read Parshat Shoftim, we are now into the month of Elul, the month of preparation for the High Holidays. This week we continue reading the Haftarot of Consolation, as we have been since Tish’ah B’Av, and in this week’s prophetic reading, we see a word appear three times-“awake”. The prophet Isaiah is telling the People of Israel to awaken from the nightmare of exile, of course, but in the context of the calendar we may read these words in a different way. At this time of year, as we begin to blow the shofar and begin in earnest to examine our lives, we are called upon to wake up-wake up from our delusions, from our mistaken ideas about our lives, and to seek the truth. As we see the words “hit’oreri” and “uri, uri” echoed in the hymn “L’cha Dodi” on Friday evening and again in the haftarah itself on Shabbat morning, let us resolve to be truly awake and aware. Shabbat Shalom.
Hazzan Yitzhak Ben-Moshe
Parashat Hashavua from Rabbi Dr. Peter Tarlow, Rabbi Emeritus Texas A&M, and Director of the Center for Jewish Latino Relations.

The name of this week’s parashah is Shoftim (meaning: Judges). You will find this week’s section in the Book of Deuteronomy 16:8-21:9. The section deals with the rule of law, its administration, the right of appeal, or the concept of going to a higher court, regulations to stop blood feuds, and perhaps the world’s first attempt at creating “moral” rules of war.
On a primary level this week’s parashah sets the basis for Jewish jurisprudence. It gives us the principle that once the law is decided, assuming it is decided in a fair fashion, then the decision is the law. In other words, a society needs a certain amount of consistency for order to flourish and for the citizen to know what is or is not expected of him/her.
Underneath this legal guide, however, there is a still more important principle. The text assumes that where there is life and law, there are also those who might try to take life so as to destroy the law. In other words, this text is teaching us that where there is no realism then idealism cannot exist. Is this text a reaction to humanity’s early failures as noted in the Book of Genesis where all too often idealism failed because humanity chose to ignore reality?
Is the text teaching us that societies need laws because without these laws that form the basis of a civil society humanity loses its way and in the end self-destructs? This Biblical text reminds us that humans are by their very nature capable of greatness but also fallible and capable of horrendous deeds. Law then becomes the protective edge of humanity. To be human, to be just a bit below the angles, we must have structure and both personal and group regulation.
This week’s parashah teaches us that there is evil in the world; that some people are capable of doing a great deal of evil. To fail to confront evil is evil; to refuse to face reality is to become allies of those who seek to undermine stability and social norms.
There is also a flip side of humanity, for just as we are capable of creating horrors so too are we also capable of greatness and acts of kindness. The Biblical text thus describes humanity as both good and evil, of being capable of descending to deep ethical lows of climbing to great ethical highs. Is this text teaching us that we may never be able to eliminate strains of evil from the world and therefore we must be constantly vigilant? The question that has faced humanity since Cain murdered Abel is how do we regulate and control our evil impulses, both on the personal and on the societal level?
What do you think? What does this passage teach us about war and relations between both people and nations in our own age?
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