Congregation Beth El
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Friday night services, tonight, August 23rd at the regular time of 7 pm.
 
THIS SHABBAT morning, August Genesis is celebrating her bat mitzvah. Services start at 9 a.m. with the Torah service at around 9:45. There will be a delicious kidush lunch following services. All are invited!!!
 
High Holiday letters are in the mail. Please be on the lookout! We can’t wait to see you at the High Holidays, less than a month away. Rosh Hashanah starts Sunday evening, September 9th. 
 
Check out the HIGH HOLIDAY calendar : 
 
 
 Cantor Ben-Moshe’s Weekly Message: 
This week’s parshah, Ki Tetzeh, contains a law which, according to the Sages, was never enforced.  The “ben sorer umoreh”, the “stubborn and rebellious son”, who would not obey his parents was to be put to death.  Significantly, the Torah specifies that he is to be turned in to the Elders for trial and punishment by both his father and his mother.  The Sages note that it would be highly unlikely for both parents to agree to having their child put to death, and in fact such a sentence was never carried out.  This is similar to the rule from last week’s parshah that an idolatrous city was to be destroyed and never rebuilt, and the Sages state that this also never happened.  The Torah places a high value on reverence for God and respect for parents-but an even higher value on human life.  May human life, created in the Divine Image, always be valued, in our society and Tradition as well as all others.
Shabbat Shalom, and Mazal Tov to the Mayares family on the occasion of Genesis becoming Bat Mitzvah.
Hazzan Yitzhak Ben-Moshe
Shabbat candle lighting times are at 7:45 p.m. 
Genesis and Cantor Ben-Moshe studying for the big day!
Sunday School restarts Sunday September 16. We look forward to seeing our BERS again!
Enjoy a photo of Bob Bowling with his Beth El Buddies! More Men’s Club events coming:
 

September 9, 10, 18 & 19 – Ushers needed for the High Holidays.
September 26 – Sukkah Building at 12:30
October 21 – Fall BBQ at 2:00PM
November 17 – Movie Night at 6:30PM
December 9 – Cook latkes for CBE Hanukkah Party at 4:00 PM
 
Congregation Beth El Sisterhood Events
August 26   Mega Challah Bake at the J at 5:30PM A special evening, and wonderful experience making challah with Jewish women from all over Austin.  Register online by August 16 for $22 (8/17-26 $25) at https://www.yjpaustin.org/events/megachallah2018/;  type in “Gail Tosto” as Table Captain and then text Shereen (512-550-3735) to let me know you registered; we have 3 spots left at our table, and there are many more at tables nearby!
August 30 Sisterhood Annual Meeting, Social & Book Club Evening at 7 PM Hosted By Gail Ellenbogen – Join us for a great evening as we meet new and old friends, brainstorm ideas for upcoming Sisterhood events and discuss Judas, by Amos Oz. Haven’t read the book? Join us anyway, it will be a fun evening!  **Please come with your ideas for future events & books.
September 16  Honey Cake Baking with BERS at 10 AM. Come join the fun of the first day of the Beth El Religious School and help the students make honey cakes.  We will be delivering them too!  What a mitzvah!
September 4    Join us at the movies to see Mamma Mia: Here We Go Again!  Southwest Theaters, Lake Creek  13729 Research Blvd.  Time: TBD approx. 7 PM.
Social Capital and Fallen Donkeys:
  Rabbi Lord Jonathan Sacks’ Weekly Parashah. 
Many years ago, Elaine and I were being driven to the Catskills, a long-time favourite summer getaway for Jews in New York, and our driver told us the following story: One Friday afternoon, he was making his way to join his family in the Catskills for Shabbat when he saw a man wearing a yarmulke, bending over his car at the side of the road. One of the tires was flat, and he was about to change the wheel.
Our driver told us that he pulled over to the roadside, went over to the man, helped him change the wheel, and wished him “Good Shabbos.” The man thanked him, took his yarmulke off and put it in his pocket. Our driver must have given him a quizzical look, because the man turned and explained: “Oh, I’m not Jewish. It’s just that I know that if I’m wearing one of these” – he gestured to the yarmulke – “someone Jewish will stop and come to help me.”
I mention this story because of its obvious relevance to the command in today’s parsha: “Do not see your kinsman’s donkey or his ox fallen on the road and ignore it. Help him lift it up” (Deut. 22:4). On the face of it, this is one tiny detail in a parsha full of commands. But its real significance lies in telling us what a covenant society should look like. It is a place where people are good neighbours, and are willing to help even a stranger in distress. Its citizens care about the welfare of others. When they see someone in need of help, they don’t walk on by.
The sages debated the precise logic of the command. Some held that it is motivated by concern for the welfare of the animal involved, the ox or the donkey, and that accordingly tsa’ar ba’alei hayyim, prevention of suffering to animals, is a biblical command.[1] Others, notably the Rambam, held that it had to do with the welfare of the animal’s owner, who might be so distressed that he came to stay with the animal at a risk to his own safety[2] – the keyword here being “on the road.” The roadside in ancient times was a place of danger.
Equally the sages discussed the precise relationship between this command and the similar but different one in Exodus (23:5): “If you see your enemy’s donkey fallen under its load, do not pass by. Help him load it.” They said that, all other things being equal, if there is a choice between helping an enemy and helping a friend, helping an enemy takes precedence since it may “overcome the inclination”, that is, it may help end the animosity and turn an enemy into a friend.[3] This, the ethic of “help your enemy” is a principle that works, unlike the ethic of “love your enemy” which has never worked and has led to some truly tragic histories of hate.
In general, as the Rambam states, one should do for someone you find in distress what you would do for yourself in a similar situation. Better still, one should put aside all considerations of honour and go “beyond the limit of the law.” Even a prince, he says, should help the lowliest commoner, even if the circumstances do not accord with the dignity of his office or his personal standing.[4]
All of this is part of what sociologists nowadays call social capital: the wealth that has nothing to do with money and everything to do with the level of trust within a society – the knowledge that you are surrounded by people who have your welfare at heart, who will return your lost property (see the lines immediately prior to the fallen donkey: Deut. 22:1-3), who will raise the alarm if someone is breaking into your house or car, who will keep an eye on the safety of your children, and who generally contribute to a “good neighbourhood,” itself an essential component of a good society.
The man who has done more than anyone else to chart the fate of social capital in modern times is Harvard sociologist Robert Putnam. In a famous article, ‘Bowling Alone’ and subsequent book of the same title,[5] he drew attention to the sharp loss of social capital in modern times. It was symbolised by the fact that more people than ever were going ten-pin bowling, but fewer than ever were joining bowling teams: hence ‘bowling alone,’ which seemed to epitomise the individualism of contemporary society and its corollary: loneliness.
Ten years later, in an equally fascinating study, American Grace,[6] he argued that in fact social capital was alive and well in the United States, but in specific locations, namely religious communities: places of worship that still bring people together in shared belonging and mutual responsibility.
His extensive research, carried out throughout the United States between 2004 and 2006, showed that frequent church- or synagogue-goers are more likely to give money to charity, regardless of whether the charity is religious or secular. They are also more likely to do voluntary work for a charity, give money to a homeless person, give excess change back to a shop assistant, donate blood, help a neighbour with housework, spend time with someone who is feeling depressed, allow another driver to cut in front of them, offer a seat to a stranger, or help someone find a job. Religious Americans are measurably more likely than their secular counterparts to give of their time and money to others, not only within but also beyond their own communities.
Regular attendance at a house of worship turns out to be the best predictor of altruism and empathy: better than education, age, income, gender or race. Religion creates community, community creates altruism, and altruism turns us away from self and toward the common good. Putnam goes so far as to speculate that an atheist who went regularly to church (perhaps because of a spouse) would be more likely to volunteer in a soup kitchen than a believer who prays alone. There is something about the tenor of relationships within a religious community that makes it an ongoing tutorial in citizenship and good neighbourliness.
At the same time one has to make sure that ‘religiosity’ does not get in the way. One of the cruelest of all social science experiments was the “Good Samaritan” test organised, in the early 1970s, by two Princeton social psychologists, John Darley and Daniel Batson.[7] The well known parable tells the story of how a priest and a Levite failed to stop and help a traveler by the roadside who had been attacked and robbed, while a Samaritan did so. Wanting to get to the reality behind the story, the psychologists recruited students from Princeton Theological Seminary and told them they were to prepare a talk about being a minister. Half were given no more instructions than that. The other half were told to construct the talk around the Good Samaritan parable.
They were then told to go and deliver the talk in a nearby building where an audience was waiting. Some were told that they were late, others that if they left now they would be on time, and a third group that there was no need to hurry. Unbeknown to the students, the researchers had positioned, directly on the students’ route, an actor playing the part of a victim slumped in a doorway, moaning and coughing – replicating the situation in the Good Samaritan parable.
You can probably guess the rest: preparing a talk on the Good Samaritan had no influence whatever on whether the student actually stopped to help the victim. What made the difference was whether the student had been told he was late, or that there was no hurry. On several occasions, a student about to deliver a talk on the Good Samaritan, “literally stepped over the victim as he hurried on his way.”
The point is not that some fail to practice what they preach.[8] The researchers themselves simply concluded that the parable should not be taken to suggest that Samaritans are better human beings than priests or Levites, but rather, it all depends on time and conflicting duties. The rushed seminary students may well have wanted to stop and help, but were reluctant to keep a whole crowd waiting. They may have felt that their duty to the many overrode their duty to the one.
The Princeton experiment does, though, help us understand the precise phrasing of the command in our parsha: “Do not see … and ignore.” Essentially it is telling us to slow down when you see someone in need. Whatever the time pressure, don’t walk on by.
Think of a moment when you needed help and a friend or stranger came to your assistance. Can you remember such occasions? Of course. They linger in the mind forever, and whenever you think of them, you feel a warm glow, as if to say, the world is not such a bad place after all. That is the life-changing idea: Never be in too much of a rush to stop and come to the aid of someone in need of help. Rarely if ever will you better invest your time. It may take a moment but its effect may last a lifetime. Or as William Wordsworth put it: “The best portion of a good man’s life: his little, nameless, unremembered acts of kindness and of love.”[9]

45-eikev (1)Kaballat Shabbat services, TOMORROW, Friday August 3rd at the regular time of 7 pm. We’d love you to join our song filled and heart filled Kaballat shabbat. The only thing missing is YOU! Lay led services tonight as the Chazzan is visiting family in Florida.

SAVE THE DATE: Genesis is celebrating her bat mitzvah on Saturday August 25! We can’t wait to celebrate with her and her family.

Cantor Ben-Moshe’s Weekly Message:

This week we read Parshat ‘Ekev, the second parshah in the period between Tish’ah B’Av and Rosh Hashanah. As we continue to reflect on what is enduring and what is passing, we read the famous verse “…humanity does not live by bread alone, but rather by that which God speaks does humanity live.” We are not only material beings, but we are created in God’s Image and therefore have a spiritual dimension as well. Both sides of our nature are important, of course: as we read in Pirkei Avoth, “If there is no bread, there is no Torah, and if there is no Torah there is no bread”. We must honor the physical as well as the spiritual part of our nature. And indeed the parshah goes on to say that God is leading us into a fertile and abundant land, and we are to eat and be satisfied-and then praise God for that abundance. We should always strive to find that balance. Shereen from the West Coast and I from the East Coast wish Shabbat Shalom to the entire Beth El family.

Hazzan Yitzhak Ben-Moshe

Shabbat candle lighting times are at 8:05 p.m.

Enrolling now for Hebrew School.

Parents: Don’t let your children forget their Hebrew.

Beth El BERS is now enrolling for our one of a kind Hebrew immersion and regular Sunday school. We have classes for three year olds to teens. The children will continue to build on their Hebrew writing, reading and verbal skills, all while making friends in the friendliest congregation possible. Taught by experienced Israeli teachers – your children will learn through music, dance, cooking and most important, a whole lot of fun!

For more details, contact us at info@bethelaustin.org. Check out our website http://www.bethelaustin.org

הורים ומשפחות יקרות, בית הספר של ימי ראשון ״בבית-אל״ פותח את
ההרשמה לשנת הלימודים הבאה עלינו לטובה 2018-2019.
אל תתנו לילדיכם לשכוח את העברית והצטרפו ללמידה משמעותית וחווייתית שמועברת על ידי מורים ישראלים מנוסים
לגילאי 3-16 בקהילה הכי ידידותית ומסבירת פנים.
הילדים ימשיכו לבנות את אוצר המילים , כתיבה, קריאה ודיבור והכל באווירה מהנה, וקלילה, בהמחשת סיפורים, שירים,
בישול, חגים והוואי ישראלי.
כמו כן הוקמה קבוצה מדהימה לבני העשרה עם תכנים מעשירים. קבוצת הנערים/ נערות (של אחר בר/בת מצווה) נפגשים פעם בחודש .
לפרטים :
Info@bethelaustin.org
Facebook: Beth El Austin

“Bowling with my Buddies” to Kick off Congregation Beth El Men’s Club Events
By Shereen Ben-Moshe

Check out the article in the Jewish Outlook!

http://www.thejewishoutlook.com/…/bowling-with-my-buddies-t…

While Congregation Beth El has existed for more than 36 years in Austin, it was only recently that the Men’s Club has officially taken flight.

The sisterhood has been holding monthly events for several years, and in fact has greatly encouraged the men in the congregation and community to start a men’s club. Last year a few exciting events were held and they proved extremely popular. From Chillin’ and Grillin’, to watching a University of Texas basketball game, there was something for everyone.
According to the Federation of Jewish Men’s Clubs, the role of a men’s club at a congregation includes offering programming for men; enhancing Jewish observance at the synagogue and at home; increasing involvement in the Jewish community and Israel; working on projects to support the congregation; creating camaraderie and ruach as well as providing social and recreational activities. The Beth El Men’s Club strives to do this and more.
Founding Men’s Club member Scott Berman said, “The Beth El Men’s Club helps me to achieve new levels of service, explore my Jewish identity, with leaders of our community who are committed to service in support of our synagogue. It helps to provide quality programs for the men of Beth El where we have a place to socialize and learn. The Men’s Club is a priority for me because of the friends I have made, the community it provides, and the chance to contribute to our synagogue.”
A similar sentiment is shared by all those who have attended this year.
The men’s club is free and open to all in the Austin Jewish community. Join Beth El Sunday, August 19, at Highland Lanes, 8909 Burnet Road, from 1:45 p.m. to 4 p.m., and for any upcoming events throughout the year. ■
For more info on the Men’s Club and all things Beth El, contact info@bethelaustin.org, visit www.bethelaustin.org
, or join the congregation’s Facebook group, Beth El Austin.

Also in Shalom Austin’s Jewish Outlook newspaper:
Congregation Beth El Announces Teen Chai Mitzvah Program
COMMUNITY NEWS, LOCAL SYNAGOGUES
http://www.thejewishoutlook.com/…/congregation-beth-el-anno…

Congregation Beth El is offering Austin Jewish teenagers an opportunity to meet each other, learn together and volunteer to do mitzvot through its Teen Chai Mitzvah Program.
The hands-on leadership program includes texts to spark discussions, suggestions for increasing meaning in ritual observances and examples of volunteer opportunities for each topic that can inspire the group towards creative ideas for social action.
Upon completion of the 9-month program, through Beth El’s partnership with Jewish National Fund, participants will have trees planted in Israel in their honor. Each participant will receive a tree certificate.
The Teen Chai Mitzvah Program is open to the Jewish community. Participant families do not need to belong to Congregation Beth El.
Chai Mitzvah Study Sessions are held on the second and fourth Saturdays each month from 10 to 11 a.m. Teens and their families are welcome to join in on Shabbat morning services and kiddush lunch after the class. Teens may be dropped off as early at 9 a.m. and picked up by 1 p.m.
The mitzvah project is typically held one Sunday per month. Teens can earn volunteer hours for this day.
For those who find two study sessions per month too much of a commitment, program leaders encourage participating on one Shabbat per month and a Sunday mitzvah day.
The Teen Chai Mitzvah Program will begin September 8. Cost is $150. A sibling discount and tuition assistance are available. ■
For more information, contact info@bethelaustin.org

A Personal Journey to Share with Friends

Coming Soon – Join our
Chai Mitzvah Adult study group!

Chai Mitzvah combines study, ritual and social action, providing the framework for a meaningful Jewish journey.
There are five components to the nine-month Chai Mitzvah experience:
Group study – meet monthly with a set curriculum
Independent study – choose a Jewish topic you would like to explore
Ritual – choose a ritual or spiritual practice to incorporate into your life
Social Action – either individually or as a group, choose a local volunteer opportunity
Celebrate! At the end of the nine months, acknowledge the journey with a celebration, receive a certificate, and have a tree planted in Israel in your honor through Chai Mitzvah’s partnership with Jewish National Fund.

To learn more, or to join our Chai Mitzvah group, contact Shereen Ben-Moshe, info@bethelaustin.org.

Huge thank you to Marty and Katie Price who came to services last Friday night, and Marty who spoke about the wonderful organization, Hebrew Free Loan Association of Austin. Please check out their website!

www.hfla.org

How Proverbs says goodbye!
Sandy Kress

“She does not fear snow for her household, for all her household is clothed in scarlet…Strength and majesty are her clothing, and she laughs at future days. She opens her mouth in wisdom, and the teaching of loving-kindness is on her tongue.” Proverbs 31:21, 25-26

We come to the end of our study of Proverbs. And we do so, appropriately, in a final, compelling look at the woman of valor. She gives us just the right send-off. What do we find?
First, as we’ve seen in previous encounters with her, our heroine works with vision and great effort to care for herself and those in her world. She clothes them, all of them, in garments of scarlet, warm and life protecting. Understood one way, this action on her part assures that all are physically clad, protected in body from the elements. At another level, it suggests that she’s helping all take proper, even regal, care of their souls, with the covering of wisdom, love, and good deeds.
What does it mean to be protected from snow? The best answer I’ve seen is from Toras Emes. There we learn that one approach the Evil Inclination takes to tempt people is to cool a person’s desire to do good, telling the person, “You will be mediocre at best. You will never become truly great, so why bother?” So, read in that spirit, the woman of valor may be clothing her household to keep warm their ardor, in order that they become their best selves.
Next, we see that the woman of valor has strength and majesty as her own clothing. What does that mean?
In part, it may mean that she has strong moral character and the discipline of behavior, a sort of dignity or integrity, to stay true to Godly principles. The text, moreover, helps us go deeper: we learn that “she laughs at future days.” This is hugely important. Let’s dive into a few of the interpretations that the verse has spawned.
Some say it means that her clothing – both physical and spiritual – are lasting and help prepare her for old age.
Some say that she is prepared for death. As the sage Rashi teaches, she faces death without fear, indeed joyously, because she has lived in love and righteousness, with God’s honor.
I believe that we also learn here that she lives in faith. As with the psalmist, she fears no evil. She has trust in God’s nearness and protection. In other words, she has peace of mind and is confident and prepared for all the days that may come and all that they may bring. She’s done her part, conducting a well-spent life in virtue, and now finds strength in God’s beneficent providence.
We take leave of the woman of valor with the image of her speaking, perhaps speaking to each of us. She opens her mouth with wisdom and has the teaching of loving-kindness on her tongue. As we wave her our goodbyes, she wants us to think of, and always remember, the wisdom she and the Book of Proverbs have imparted to us. And, she wants us to know that the final taste we have of the experience should be one of loving-kindness.
Let’s keep today’s ideas in mind as we close out our yearlong study of Proverbs, and, in our learning, seek to emulate the woman of valor. We’ll do our part to know and live true to God’s teaching. We’ll approach the future with faith in God. And, to the end of our days, we’ll busy ourselves in acts of speaking God’s wisdom, with the intention that the after-effect of it all is loving-kindness.

ShellyKaballat Shabbat services, TONIGHT, Friday July 27th at the regular time of 7 pm. We’d love you to join our song filled and heart filled Kaballat shabbat. Maybe we can all watch the super blood moon right after services together!

THIS Saturday at 9 AM, we’d be delighted if you joined us for Shabbat morning services. Torah service at around 9:45 and a light kidish lunch immediately following. Yosef’s “Cuban Rice and Beans” are promised to be on the menu, served with a huge side of friendliness and kibitizting. Come one and all!

Sunday evening please join the Austin Jewish Community in honoring an amazing Jewish Leader, Shelly Prant who is moving to Albuquerque, New Mexico to be the CEO of the JCC there, Mazal tov dear Shelly!

Cantor Ben-Moshe’s Weekly Message;

This Shabbat is called Shabbat Nahamu, after the first word of the haftarah. The first of the Seven Haftaroth of Consolation from the Book of Isaiah, chanted between the Fast of Av and Rosh Hashanah, this haftarah enjoins us, the People of Israel, to be comforted after the destruction of Jerusalem and Exile, since God assures is that we are still loved. This idea is found in the parshah, Vaet’hanan as well-Moshe warns the People that disloyalty to God would lead to exile, but that God would accept our repentance and return us to our home. Right now, our home is in a tense state-with shots fired across the border of Gaza. May Israel, and indeed all nations, soon be at peace, and may freedom and justice be found everywhere. Shabbat Shalom.

Hazzan Yitzhak Ben-Moshe

Shabbat candle lighting times are at 8:10 p.m.

Enrolling now for Hebrew School.

Parents: Don’t let your children forget their Hebrew.

Beth El BERS is now enrolling for our one of a kind Hebrew immersion and regular Sunday school. We have classes for three year olds to teens. The children will continue to build on their Hebrew writing, reading and verbal skills, all while making friends in the friendliest congregation possible. Taught by experienced Israeli teachers – your children will learn through music, dance, cooking and most important, a whole lot of fun!

For more details, contact us at info@bethelaustin.org. Check out our website http://www.bethelaustin.org

הורים ומשפחות יקרות, בית הספר של ימי ראשון ״בבית-אל״ פותח את
ההרשמה לשנת הלימודים הבאה עלינו לטובה 2018-2019.
אל תתנו לילדיכם לשכוח את העברית והצטרפו ללמידה משמעותית וחווייתית שמועברת על ידי מורים ישראלים מנוסים
לגילאי 3-16 בקהילה הכי ידידותית ומסבירת פנים.
הילדים ימשיכו לבנות את אוצר המילים , כתיבה, קריאה ודיבור והכל באווירה מהנה, וקלילה, בהמחשת סיפורים, שירים,
בישול, חגים והוואי ישראלי.
כמו כן הוקמה קבוצה מדהימה לבני העשרה עם תכנים מעשירים. קבוצת הנערים/ נערות (של אחר בר/בת מצווה) נפגשים פעם בחודש .
לפרטים :
Info@bethelaustin.org
Facebook: Beth El Austin

Save the Date Guys!
Bowling with my Buddies –
Join the Men’s Club August 19 for an afternoon of fun, bowling and camaraderie. Open to all!

ALSO ENROLLING FOR CHAI MITZVAH TEENS!

Teen Chai Mitzvah Program
Congregation Beth El
Shereen Ben-Moshe
info@bethelaustin.org

Come meet other teens in the Austin Jewish community, learn together and volunteer your time to do good!
The teen program includes texts to spark discussions, suggestions for increasing meaning in ritual observances, and examples of volunteer opportunities for each topic that can inspire the group towards creative ideas for social action.

Upon completion of the 9-month program, through our partnership with Jewish National Fund, participants will have trees planted in Israel in their honor. Each participant will receive a tree certificate.

Hands-on leadership program:
Social Action opportunities
Builds self-esteem
Builds Jewish identity
Builds Jewish Literacy
Connects with other Jewish teens and with the community
Provides opportunities for positive personal expression
Open to the Jewish community.

When?
Chai Mitzvah Study Sessions – 2nd & 4th Saturdays each month 10AM – 11AM
(Teens are welcome to join in on Shabbat morning services following our class. We also invite you to join us for a delicious Kiddush lunch. Teens may be dropped off as early at 9 AM and picked up by 1:00. Families are invited to come for services and lunch as well. If twice per month is too much for your teen’s schedule, we encourage one Shabbat per month and our Sunday mitzvah day!)
Mitzvah Project -1 Sunday per month 10AM – 1:00PM to participate in a monthly community service project.
(Subject to change based on our mitzvah project or trip of the month. Teens can earn volunteer hours for this day.)

Cost: $150
(Sibling discount and tuition assistance available.)

A Personal Journey to Share with Friends

Coming Soon – Join our
Chai Mitzvah Adult study group!

Chai Mitzvah combines study, ritual and social action, providing the framework for a meaningful Jewish journey.
There are five components to the nine-month Chai Mitzvah experience:
Group study – meet monthly with a set curriculum
Independent study – choose a Jewish topic you would like to explore
Ritual – choose a ritual or spiritual practice to incorporate into your life
Social Action – either individually or as a group, choose a local volunteer opportunity
Celebrate! At the end of the nine months, acknowledge the journey with a celebration, receive a certificate, and have a tree planted in Israel in your honor through Chai Mitzvah’s partnership with Jewish National Fund.

To learn more, or to join our Chai Mitzvah group, contact Shereen Ben-Moshe, info@bethelaustin.org.

Huge thank you to Marty and Katie Price who came to services last Friday night, and Marty who spoke about the wonderful organization, Hebrew Free Loan Association of Austin. Please check out their website!

www.hfla.org

Making Love Last – Rabbi Lord Jonathan Sacks
Parashat Hashavua

Over the past few months I’ve been having conversations with leading thinkers, intellectuals, innovators and philanthropists for a BBC series on moral challenges of the 21st century. Among those I spoke to was David Brooks, one of the most insightful moralists of our time. His conversation is always scintillating, but one remark of his was particularly beautiful. It is a key that helps us unlock the entire project outlined by Moses in Sefer Devarim, the fifth and final book of the Torah.
We had been talking about covenants and commitments. I suggested that many people in the West today are commitment-averse, reluctant to bind themselves unconditionally and open-endedly to something or someone. The market mindset that predominates today encourages us to try this, sample that, experiment and keep our options open for the latest version or the better deal. Pledges of loyalty are few and far between.
Brooks agreed and noted that nowadays freedom is usually understood as freedom-from, meaning the absence of restraint. We don’t like to be tied down. But the real freedom worth having, in his view, is freedom-to, meaning the ability to do something that’s difficult and requires effort and expertise.[1] So, for example, if you want to have the freedom to play the piano, you have to chain yourself to it and practise every day.
Freedom in this sense does not mean the absence of restraint, but rather, choosing the right restraint. That involves commitment, which involves a choice to forego certain choices. Then he said: “My favourite definition of commitment is falling in love with something and then building a structure of behaviour around it for the moment when love falters.”
That struck me as a beautiful way into one of the fundamental features of Sefer Devarim specifically, and Judaism generally. The book of Deuteronomy is more than simply Moses’ speeches in the last months of his life, his tzava’ah or ethical will to the future generations. It is more, also, than Mishneh Torah,[2] a recapitulation of the rest of the Torah, a restatement of the laws and history of the people since their time in Egypt.
It is a fundamental theological statement of what Judaism is about. It is an attempt to integrate law and narrative into a single coherent vision of what it would be like to create a society of law-governed liberty under the sovereignty of God: a society of justice, compassion, respect for human dignity and the sanctity of human life. And it is built around an act of mutual commitment, by God to a people and by the people to God.
The commitment itself is an act of love. At the heart of it are the famous words from the Shema in this week’s parsha: “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your might” (Deut. 6:5). The Torah is the foundational narrative of the fraught, sometimes tempestuous, marriage between God and an often obstinate people. It is a story of love.
We can see how central love is to the book of Deuteronomy by noting how often the root a-h-v, “to love,” appears in each of the five books of the Torah. It occurs 15 times in Genesis, but none of these is about the relationship between God and a human being. They are about the feelings of husbands for wives or parents for children. This is how often the verb appears in the other 4 books:

Exodus 2
Leviticus 2
Numbers 0
Deuteronomy 23

Again and again we hear of love, in both directions, from the Israelites to God and from God to the Israelites. It is the latter that are particularly striking. Here are some examples:
The Lord did not set His affection on you and choose you because you were more numerous than other peoples, for you were the fewest of all peoples. But it was because the Lord loved you … (Deut. 7:7-8)
To the Lord your God belong the heavens, even the highest heavens, the earth and everything in it. Yet the Lord set His affection on your ancestors and loved them, and He chose you, their descendants, above all the nations—as it is today. (Deut. 10:14-15)
The Lord your God would not listen to Balaam but turned the curse into a blessing for you, because the Lord your God loves you. (Deut 23:5)
The real question is how this vision is connected to the legal, halakhic content of much of Devarim. On the one hand we have this passionate declaration of love by God for a people; on the other we have a detailed code of law covering most aspects of life for individuals and the nation as a whole once it enters the land. Law and love are not two things that go obviously together. What has the one to do with the other?
That is what David Brooks’ remark suggests: commitment is falling in love with something and then building a structure of behaviour around it to sustain that love over time. Law, the mitzvoth, halakhah, is that structure of behaviour. Love is a passion, an emotion, a heightened state, a peak experience. But an emotional state cannot be guaranteed forever. We wed in poetry but we stay married in prose.
Which is why we need laws, rituals, habits of deed. Rituals are the framework that keeps love alive. I once knew a wonderfully happy married couple. The husband, with great devotion, brought his wife breakfast in bed every morning. I am not entirely sure she needed or even wanted breakfast in bed every morning, but she graciously accepted it because she knew it was the homage he wished to pay her, and it did indeed keep their love alive. After decades of marriage, they still seemed to be on their honeymoon.
Without intending any precise comparison, that is what the vast multiplicity of rituals in Judaism, many of them spelled out in the book of Deuteronomy, actually achieved. They sustained the love between God and a people. You hear the cadences of that love throughout the generations. It is there in the book of Psalms: “You, God, are my God, earnestly I seek you; I thirst for you, my whole being longs for you, in a dry and parched land where there is no water” (Ps. 63:1). It is there in Isaiah: “Though the mountains be shaken and the hills be removed, yet My unfailing love for you will not be shaken nor My covenant of peace be removed” (Is. 54:10). It is there in the siddur, in the blessing before the Shema: “You have loved us with great love / with everlasting love.” It is there, passionately, in the song, Yedid Nefesh, composed in the sixteenth century by Safed kabbalist Elazar Azikri. It remains there in the songs composed year after year in present-day Israel. Whether they speak of God’s love for us or ours for Him, the love remains strong after 33 centuries. That is a long time for love to last, and we believe it will do so forever.
Could it have done so without the rituals, the 613 commands, that fill our days with reminders of God’s presence? I think not. Whenever Jews abandoned the life of the commands, within a few generations they lost their identity. Without the rituals, eventually love dies. With them, the glowing embers remain, and still have the power to burst into flame. Not every day in a long and happy marriage feels like a wedding, but even love grown old will still be strong, if the choreography of fond devotion, the ritual courtesies and kindnesses, are sustained.
In the vast literature of halakhah we find the ‘how’ and ‘what’ of Jewish life, but not always the ‘why.’ The special place of Sefer Devarim in Judaism as a whole is that here, more clearly than almost anywhere else, we find the ‘why.’ Jewish law is the structure of behaviour built around the love between God and His people, so that the love remains long after the first feelings of passion have grown old.
Hence the life-change idea: if you seek to make love undying, build around it a structure of rituals – small acts of kindness, little gestures of self-sacrifice for the sake of the beloved – and you will be rewarded with a quiet joy, an inner light, that will last a lifetime.

Tisha B%5c'AvKaballat Shabbat services, TONIGHT, Friday July 20th at the regular time of 7 pm. We’d love you to join our song filled and heart filled Kaballat shabbat.

Saturday evening – at 9 PM, we will gather to have a lovely Havdallah service followed by Tisha B’Av services. This is one of the most touching services of the year. Come and experience this beautiful service with us at Beth El. We’ll be sitting on the floor, reading the book of Lamentations and having a meaningful discussion about this special holiday.

And for those that missed Sandy Kress’ amazing talk last Friday evening, here is a link. It was riveting and we look forward to welcoming him back to talk again soon.

https://sandykress.wordpress.com/…/can-there-be-hope-again…/

Cantor Ben-Moshe’s Weekly Message;

This week we begin the reading of Sefer D’varim with the parshah of the same name. This book is sometimes called “Mishneh Torah”, the Recapitulation of the Torah, since it goes over the events and even quotes some of the passages of the other four books. “D’varim” means either “things” or “words”, coming from the root DBR, to speak. One of the words in this parshah is especially evocative-the word “eichah”, “how”. Moshe says “How (eichah) can I bear alone your burden, and your toil and your quarrels?” The word “eichah” also begins the Book of Lamentations-“Eichah yashvah badad”, “How lonely she sits”, speaking of the desolation of Jerusalem. Parshat D’varim is always read on the Shabbat before Tish’ah B’Av, the day for mourning the destruction of Jerusalem and our long exile from our home in Israel. This is a time when we let a note of mourning enter even the joyous day of Shabbat, when we read Isaiah’s prophecy of the Destruction to the cantillation of Lamentations. That cantillation is he opposite (minor key versus major) of the cantillation of Megillath Esther. Esther talks about Purim being a day which switched from “grief to joy, and from mourning to celebration”. May this be true of Tish’ah B’Av as well-may this day someday soon mark not tragedy and exile, but redemption and repatriation. Shabbat Shalom, and may Jerusalem be at peace.
Hazzan Yitzhak Ben-Moshe

Shabbat candle lighting times are at 8:14 p.m.

Enrolling now for Hebrew School.

Parents: Don’t let your children forget their Hebrew.

Beth El BERS is now enrolling for our one of a kind Hebrew immersion and regular Sunday school. We have classes for three year olds to teens. The children will continue to build on their Hebrew writing, reading and verbal skills, all while making friends in the friendliest congregation possible. Taught by experienced Israeli teachers – your children will learn through music, dance, cooking and most important, a whole lot of fun!

For more details, contact us at info@bethelaustin.org. Check out our website http://www.bethelaustin.org

הורים ומשפחות יקרות, בית הספר של ימי ראשון ״בבית-אל״ פותח את
ההרשמה לשנת הלימודים הבאה עלינו לטובה 2018-2019.
אל תתנו לילדיכם לשכוח את העברית והצטרפו ללמידה משמעותית וחווייתית שמועברת על ידי מורים ישראלים מנוסים
לגילאי 3-16 בקהילה הכי ידידותית ומסבירת פנים.
הילדים ימשיכו לבנות את אוצר המילים , כתיבה, קריאה ודיבור והכל באווירה מהנה, וקלילה, בהמחשת סיפורים, שירים,
בישול, חגים והוואי ישראלי.
כמו כן הוקמה קבוצה מדהימה לבני העשרה עם תכנים מעשירים. קבוצת הנערים/ נערות (של אחר בר/בת מצווה) נפגשים פעם בחודש .
לפרטים :
Info@bethelaustin.org
Facebook: Beth El Austin

Save the Date Guys!
Bowling with my Buddies –
Join the Men’s Club August 19 for an afternoon of fun, bowling and camaraderie. Open to all!

ALSO ENROLLING FOR CHAI MITZVAH TEENS!

Teen Chai Mitzvah Program
Congregation Beth El
Shereen Ben-Moshe
info@bethelaustin.org

Come meet other teens in the Austin Jewish community, learn together and volunteer your time to do good!
The teen program includes texts to spark discussions, suggestions for increasing meaning in ritual observances, and examples of volunteer opportunities for each topic that can inspire the group towards creative ideas for social action.

Upon completion of the 9-month program, through our partnership with Jewish National Fund, participants will have trees planted in Israel in their honor. Each participant will receive a tree certificate.

Hands-on leadership program:
Social Action opportunities
Builds self-esteem
Builds Jewish identity
Builds Jewish Literacy
Connects with other Jewish teens and with the community
Provides opportunities for positive personal expression
Open to the Jewish community.

When?
Chai Mitzvah Study Sessions – 2nd & 4th Saturdays each month 10AM – 11AM
(Teens are welcome to join in on Shabbat morning services following our class. We also invite you to join us for a delicious Kiddush lunch. Teens may be dropped off as early at 9 AM and picked up by 1:00. Families are invited to come for services and lunch as well. If twice per month is too much for your teen’s schedule, we encourage one Shabbat per month and our Sunday mitzvah day!)
Mitzvah Project -1 Sunday per month 10AM – 1:00PM to participate in a monthly community service project.
(Subject to change based on our mitzvah project or trip of the month. Teens can earn volunteer hours for this day.)

Cost: $150
(Sibling discount and tuition assistance available.)

A Personal Journey to Share with Friends

Coming Soon – Join our
Chai Mitzvah Adult study group!

Chai Mitzvah combines study, ritual and social action, providing the framework for a meaningful Jewish journey.
There are five components to the nine-month Chai Mitzvah experience:
Group study – meet monthly with a set curriculum
Independent study – choose a Jewish topic you would like to explore
Ritual – choose a ritual or spiritual practice to incorporate into your life
Social Action – either individually or as a group, choose a local volunteer opportunity
Celebrate! At the end of the nine months, acknowledge the journey with a celebration, receive a certificate, and have a tree planted in Israel in your honor through Chai Mitzvah’s partnership with Jewish National Fund.

To learn more, or to join our Chai Mitzvah group, contact Shereen Ben-Moshe, info@bethelaustin.org.