From the Co-Presidents & President Elect Dear Beth Jacob Community, We’re thrilled to let you know that we’ve hired Jamie SkogBurke as our next Executive Director. She’s planning on moving here sometime in late January, and she will be doing some remote work beginning January 10th. With the conclusion of the search, we’d like to […]
God creates the heaven and the earth, along with all living beings, enjoining them to “be fruitful and multiply.” Beholding Creation, God sees that it is “very good.” God’s plan, however, is disrupted by sin: disobedience in the Garden of Eden, Cain’s slaying of Abel. God regrets the creation of the human race, but finds hope in Noah.
While the flood wreaks great destruction, life is preserved in Noah’s Ark. God establishes a covenant: Never again to destroy the earth. The generations of Noah’s descendants flourish. They build the Tower of Babel to pierce the heavens. God thwarts their efforts by confounding “the language of all the earth” and scattering its inhabitants.
Parashat Lekh L’kha
Abram answers God’s call and leaves Haran for Canaan. In the new land, Abram and Sarai establish themselves as prominent and righteous figures; they gain God’s blessing along with new names – Abraham and Sarah. Ishmael is born, Isaac’s birth is promised, and circumcision is instituted as a sign of God’s covenant with Abraham.
God sends three messengers to visit Abraham, confirming that Sarah will indeed bear a son. They also announce the destruction of Sodom. Abraham challenges this decree, but when his conditions cannot be met, God destroys Sodom. Isaac is born. In response to Sarah’s demand, Abraham banishes Ishmael. God then tests Abraham’s devotion by commanding him to sacrifice his beloved Isaac.
Parashat Hayye Sarah
Upon Sarah’s death, Abraham acquires the Cave of Makhpelah as a burial ground. Before his own death, Abraham dispatches his servant, Eliezer, to Haran in search of a wife for Isaac from among his kin. Rebecca, Abraham’s great-niece, is gracious to Eliezer and agrees to the marriage.
Rebecca bears twin sons, Jacob and Esau, rivals from birth. Esau sells Jacob his birthright. Rebecca helps Jacob secure Esau’s blessing by deceiving Isaac, to Esau’s fury. Fearing for Jacob’s life, Rebecca implores Isaac to send Jacob off to her brother Laban, in Haran, to seek a wife.
As he begins his journey, Jacob dreams of angels, ascending and descending. Awed, he vows to return from this journey and follow God’s ways. After reaching Haran, he marries Laban’s daughters, Leah and Rachel, sires children, and prospers while raising cattle for Laban. After twenty years, Jacob finally fulfills his pledge to return to Canaan.
As he prepares to face his brother Esau upon returning to Canaan, Jacob wrestles with an angel, who confers upon him the name Israel. The meeting with Esau goes well, yet Jacob, fearful still, is quick to part company with him. Jacob’s camp reaches Shekhem, where his daughter, Dinah, is raped; two of Jacob’s sons take brutal revenge. Jacob then builds an altar at Bethel, as God instructs. Rachel dies in childbirth; Jacob and Esau also bury Isaac.
Joseph offends his brothers with his dreams of grandeur. They sell him into slavery and lead Jacob to believe his son is dead. Yet Joseph, in Egypt, finds favor with his master. Even when thrown into prison, Joseph’s abilities are recognized. He interprets the dreams of his fellow prisoners, the steward and chief baker of Pharaoh.
When a dream troubles Pharaoh, his steward recalls Joseph’s gift for interpretation. Joseph is summoned and foresees seven years of plenty, followed by seven years of famine. Pharaoh believing Joseph, places him in charge of Egypt’s preparation for the lean years. Jacob sends his sons to Egypt for grain; Joseph chooses to conceal his identity from them. Joseph orders that his goblet be hidden in Benjamin’s sack; when it is found, Joseph detains him.
With Benjamin caught in Joseph’s trap, Judah begs to take his place for Jacob’s sake. Greatly moved, Joseph reveals his identity to his brothers at last. They reconcile, whereupon Joseph has them bring Jacob and the entire family to dwell in Goshen for the duration of the famine. The aged patriarch is formally received at Pharaoh’s court.
Jacob, nearing death, blesses Joseph and his sons, Menasheh and Ephraim: he then offers his final words to each of his twelve sons. Pharaoh gives Joseph permission to bury Jacob in Canaan. Later, as Joseph himself is dying, he instructs his kin to carry his remains back to Canaan one day, for surely, he says, God will remember them and return them to the land promised to Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob.
Beth Jacob Youth Education
Iyunim: Jewish Explorations @ BJC (Age 3 -3rd Grade)
Iyunim is Beth Jacob’s hands-on, curiosity-driven Hebrew language and Jewish learning program at 9:30 on Shabbat mornings for children age 3 – 3rd grade, plus one Sunday morning a month for their whole families. Iyunim also has optional Tuesday sessions! We will ask big questions with our children and give them the tools to know each other as partners in learning. We’ll be growing these learning environments with our children — if you’d like to learn more, ask Rabbi Tamar.
The values that drive the practice of our learning, in Iyunim and beyond, are these:
- We value children and adults as responsible partners in learning, together creating the next layers of our ongoing Jewish conversation.
- We value genuine listening that allows us to express and learn from multiple perspectives, creating a learning community in which each child and family is truly welcome.
- We value living in Jewish time and using Hebrew language; Jewish stories are at the center of our learning.
- We value a joyful, embodied, exploratory approach to learning, motivated by our children’s questions and curiosity.
Iyunim is supported by a grant from the Alumni Venture Fund of the Bronfman Youth Fellowships in Israel and is inspired by the Jewish Enrichment Center in Chicago.
Beth Jacob has gathered an amazing team of teachers to work with your children. We are here to make meaning with them, to share learning with them, to teach, to be delighted in our Jewish learning, and to make community. Please join us!
- 4-6th graders focus on Tefillah and Torah, exploring ideas and narratives in the text. They will deepen their understanding of how Torah becomes part of Jewish life through story, interpretation, prayer, and language. They also learn and reinforce their skills of Hebrew, trope, and tefillah.
- 7-8th graders will learn new ways to apply Jewish values in their own lives, reflecting their own new stages of life and abilities.
This learning is complementary to other Jewish learning contexts, and we do not focus on building Hebrew language skills on Shabbat mornings. We are happy to help make connections to other contexts for Jewish and Hebrew language learning — at one of the Talmud Torahs, in day school, or in one-on-one or small group learning environments.
Our teens are an essential part of youth learning at Beth Jacob. They help to lead youth tefillah and are madrichim in the nursery and in our older classes, working one on one and with small groups of children guided by their teachers. Our teens often read Torah and lead services in the main sanctuary, and participate in a teen sicha, a discussion on current issues and topics of interest led by our youth leaders.
For ages 0-Pre-K Every Shabbat morning at 11:30
For the four and under set: bring a parent or guardian, your voice and your dancing shoes! We join together for lively, songful tefillah; creative, parent-led learning; and even the occasional puppet show that will have your sides in stiches.Â Want to learn more? Ask Rabbi Tamar. Would you like to help lead? Sign up here!
For grades K-3 Every Shabbat morning at 11:30
For the four and under set: bring a parent or guardian, your voice and your dancing shoes!Â We join together for lively, songful tefillah; creative, parent-led learning; and even the occasional puppet show that will have your sides in stiches. Want to learn more? Ask Rabbi Tamar.
Every Shabbat morning at 11:30
For children in grades 4-7, we meet every week (even during vacations and summers) in the chapel just after the Torah service for joyful tefillah and a Torah discussion. Parents are welcome to join us if you’d like.
A new Pharaoh fears the growing number of Israelites and enslaves them. He orders their newborn sons slain. Moses, cast adrift in the Nile, is rescued by Pharaoh’s daughter and grows up in the royal court. After slaying an Egyptian taskmaster, he flees to Midian and marries there. At a burning bush, Moses encounters God, who sends him back to Egypt to free the Israelites-only to anger Pharaoh, who increases the slaves’ burden.
God again charges Moses to confront Pharaoh and say: “Let my people go.” Aaron becomes the spokesman for a hesitant Moses. He performs a wonder before Pharaoh, but to no avail. Following God’s instructions, Moses calls down seven plagues, increasing in intensity, upon the Egyptians. Pharaoh will not yield.
Three more plagues occur: the last and most dramatic is the slaying of the Egyptians firstborn, which leads to the Exodus. The Israelites dab the blood of the paschal lamb on their doorposts to avert death in their midst. Come midnight, God strikes the Egyptians; they are quick to let the Israelites go. After four hundred thirty years in Egypt, the Israelites depart that very night.
Pharaoh regrets losing his slaves. Pursuing the children of Israel, he traps them at the Sea of Reeds. God splits the waters, allowing Israel to cross safely. The Egyptians follow-only to be engulfed, at God’s hand, in the swirl of returning water. Moses and Miriam lead the people in joyous song, extolling God. Yet the Israelites soon complain of thirst and hunger. God responds, providing water and manna. When Amalek attacks, God helps Israel prevail.
Moses spends much of his time explaining God’s statutes and laws to the people; his father-in-law, Jethro, suggests that he delegate some of this judicial authority. After ascending Mount Sinai to speak with God, Moses returns to prepare the people for Revelation. Amidst awesome thunder, lightning, and flame, God, glorious and holy, reveals the Divine Presence-and the Ten Commandments-to Israel.
The civil laws, along with moral and religious precepts, are presented after the Ten Commandments. The people accept the Torah wholeheartedly: “All that Adonai has commanded we will do.” Israel affirms the covenant, and Moses returns to Mount Sinai to receive the law, etched in stone, from God.
While Moses remains on Mount Sinai, God provides detailed instructions regarding the construction and decoration of the Mishkann. This Tabernacle is to house the Ark and allow the Divine Presence to dwell among the people of Israel.
God commands that a lamp, filled with oil, burn all night in the Mishkan, that priests serving therein wear holy garments, and that the High Priest wear a breastplate with twelve precious stones, one for each tribe. God provides direction for the consecration of Aaron and his sons as priests, and prescribes their duties.
Parashat Ki Tissa
God names Bezalel as chief artisan, to oversee the crafting of the Mishkan’s appointments. God then presents Moses with two stone tablets, God’s words etched upon them. In Moses’ absence, however, the people have made a golden calf as a god. God sends Moses down; Moses sees the calf, and, in anger, shatters the tablets. God punishes the Israelites, whereupon Moses intercedes on their behalf. He then returns to Mount Sinai to receive a new set of tablets.
The Israelites enthusiastically contribute precious materials for the Mishkan, until Bezalel finds there is more than enough to complete the work. Moses halts the donations. Bezalel crafts the Ark and other sacred furnishings of the Mishkan.
The children of Israel bring the completed parts of the Mishkan to Moses, who confirms that the work has been done as God commanded. Moses blesses the people. God now commands Moses to erect the Mishkan and to anoint the priests. God’s glory then fills the Mishkan.
Beth Jacob has a lovely, warm, and dependable daily morning minyan. Typically, 15-30 people gather in the chapel in the early morning to daven shacharit and begin the day at shul. Smachot are celebrated, mourners are comforted. Please consider making daily shacharit part of your day.
Services begin at 7:15 am Monday-Friday, 8:30 am Sunday (and select legal holidays: Jan.1, Memorial Day, July 4th, Labor Day, Thanksgiving Day, Dec. 25), and 7:00 a.m. on Rosh Hodesh. They typically last 35 minutes Sunday, Tuesday, Wednesday, and Friday, 45 minutes Monday and Thursday, and 50 minutes on Rosh Hodesh.
To read Torah on a weekday, contact Eric Pasternack: 651-994-9793, outpetro AT aol DOT com
To learn to lead Shacharit, contact Jonathan Ehrlich: 651-686-5140, jnehrlich AT gmail DOT com
God instructs Moses regarding sacrifices, to be offered on the Mishkan’s altar. The burnt-offering (olah), the grain-offering (minhah), the peace-offering (sh’lamim), the sin-offering (hattat), the guilt-offering (asham), and the sin-offering which varies according to one’s means (korban oleh v’yored) are all described.
God decrees that the altar fire burn continually, to be tended by Aaron and his sons. Further details of the offerings are presented, as well as a description of the priests’ vestments. Moses sanctifies the Mishkan and the altar, and anoints the priests. After a consecration offering is made, Aaron and his sons remain secluded for seven days.
Aaron and his sons emerge from the Mishkan on the eighth day of its consecration to make atonement for Israel. Aaron’s two eldest sons, Nadav and Avihu, light “alien fire” on the altar, contrary to God’s precepts, and are struck down. Moses instructs Aaron not to mourn: Aaron continues with his duties. Thereafter God lists the kosher and non-kosher animals. “You shall be holy,” God asserts, “for I am holy.”
Leviticus 12: 1-13:59
God teaches Moses the laws regarding physical purity, including purification after childbirth. The means of identification and purification of leprous skin diseases are set out, as are the laws concerning disposal of infected garments.
God sets forth the last steps for the purification of a leprous person. God even provides laws for when the Israelites reach Canaan and own houses that show evidence of leprous plague. Lastly, God addresses the impurity associated with bodily emissions, including a woman’s monthly cycle.
Parashat Aharei Mot
Leviticus 16: 1-18:30
God instructs Aaron to purify the altar, the priests, and the people. To purify the people two goats are chosen: one as a sacrifice, the other as a scapegoat, to be sent off bearing Israel’s sins. This ceremony of the Day of Atonement is to be “an eternal statute” on the tenth day of the seventh month. Other statutes, concerning animal slaughter and prohibited sexual relations, follow.
“You shall be holy, for I, Adonai your God, am holy.” God urges Israel to attain holiness by emulating God’s holiness. The people of Israel are asked to show respect for parents and for Shabbat, to refrain from idolatry, have concern for the poor and the stranger, and avoid gossip, anger, and improper sexual behavior.
God sets laws for the priesthood. The sacred days are ordained. Shabbat and the Festivals-Pesah, Shavuot, and Sukkot-along with Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur are prescribed for all generations.
God tells Moses that after Israel reaches Canaan, the land, shall observe a seventh year of rest, a Shabbat, and lie fallow. After seven sabbatical cycles, every fiftieth year, a Jubilee shall be declared. In this hallowed year, Israel will “proclaim liberty throughout the land, unto all its inhabitants.” Property will revert to its original owner and slaves will be free.
“Observe My commandments,” says God, and be rewarded; “Reject My statutes,” and suffer consequences. Yet despite this Tokhehah-this litany of dire warnings-God will not utterly reject Israel. God vows to remember the covenant made with Israel’s ancestors.
The centerpiece of our community’s week is Shabbat. Our Shabbat morning service brings together individuals with wide-ranging knowledge of liturgy and practice, and Kehillat Shabbat and Iyunim provide an opportunity for even the smallest children to know the joys of Shabbat.
Kabbalat Shabbat takes place each Friday; at 5:30 p.m. in Winter, and at 6:00 p.m. in Summer (check our calendar for specifics).
Half an hour before the service, we will wish each other a Shabbat Shalom and share some wine or sparkling grape juice and cheese, and then we will gather and daven, and sing our way through Kabbalat Shabbat. What a wonderful way to prepare for Shabbat! A little davenning, a little schmoozing and a little delectable delight. Stop by on your way home from work, or come on over before you sit down for Shabbas dinner. Beginning in June, we will daven Kabbalat Shabbat outside, weather permitting.
Minyan Katan is for families with children 0 – 4 years.
Kiddush Lunch following Shabbat morning services is an important part of Beth Jacob. People gather to share stories, laugh, joke, and meet new people. With Kiddush, we build connections that make Beth Jacob a strong, vibrant community.
We also have a number of learning opportunities available on Shabbat. Visit our Congregational Learning pages for more information.
In the second year after leaving Egypt, in the Sinai wilderness, God orders Moses to take a census of the people. God also determines the positioning of each tribe around the Tabernacle. The tribe of Levi is appointed to attend to the Mishkan and to aid the Kohanim.
The Levites are to dismantle the Tabernacle when Israel sets forth and to set it up again when Israel encamps. God forbids unclean persons to dwell in the camp. Priestly intervention is required in cases of marital infidelity or the breaking of a Nazirite vow of consecration to God. God trains Aaron to deliver Birkat Kohanim, the three-fold
Parashat B’ha’a lot’kha
God charges Aaron to light the seven-branched menorah. The Levites are purified; a second Pesah offering is ordained for those unable to participate in the first. Israel sets forth from Sinai. As the Ark is carried forward, Moses cries: “Arise, Adonai! May Your enemies be scattered; may Your foes be put to flight.” When the Ark rests, Moses declares: “Adonai, may You dwell among the myriad families of Israel.” In the wilderness, Moses’ leadership is challenged several times.
Parashat Sh’lah L’kha
Moses dispatches twelve spies to Canaan. Ten report that the land is unconquerable. The people panic, wanting to return to Egypt. Caleb and Joshua exhort Israel to fulfill God’s plan. The uprising persists, and God condemns the people to wander in the desert for forty years. God also commands the wearing of tzitzit, to prompt Israel to remember and to observe all of God’s mitzvot and to be holy before God, who has brought them out of Egypt to be their God.
Korah leads a rebellion against Moses and Aaron. God causes the earth to open, swallowing Korah and his followers. These deaths lead to grumbling among the people, further provoking God’s wrath. A plague befalls the people, killing many. God arranges for a divine sign – the flowering of Aaron’s rod – to affirm his priesthood and quiet the people. God reiterates the duties of priests and Levites.
God ordains the sacrifice of a red heifer to purify those having contact with the dead. Miriam dies. When the people complain about a lack of water, Moses strikes a rock, instead of speaking to it as God instructs; consequently, God informs Moses that he may not enter the promised land. The Israelites skirt Edom when it refuses them safe passage. Aaron dies. After conquering the Canaanites and Amorites, Israel encamps in Moab, across the Jordan from Jericho.
Balak, king of Moab, sends for a diviner, Balaam, to curse the Israelites, so that Moab might drive them off. Balaam refuses, as God orders. Balak offers more gold; Balaam sets out. Yet his ass sees what Balaam cannot – God’s angel bars the way. Balaam then perceives his folly, atones, and proceeds as God’s messenger. “Mah Tovu,” says Balaam, overlooking the Israelite camp. “How lovely are your dwellings, people of Jacob.” Balak angrily dismisses Balaam, who divines Moab’s fall. Yet Israel, seduced by Midianites, indulges in harlotry and idolatry.
God rewards Pinhas, Aaron’s grandson, for zealously halting Israel’s transgressions. A new census is taken – in order to divide Canaan proportionately. The daughters of Z’lofhad, who died without sons, successfully claim his portion. God now orders Moses into the mountains to look out over the promised land before he dies. Moses asks God to appoint a successor first, and Joshua receives the charge. God then instructs Moses regarding the daily and Festival offerings.
Moses counsels Israel about vows. God bids him wage war against Midian, to avenge the Israelites who were led astray. Midian is defeated, the spoils of war divided. The tribes of Reuben, Gad, and half of Menasheh ask to settle east of the Jordan where their cattle can thrive. Moses agrees, provided they first help conquer Canaan.
Moses had recorded, stage by stage, the journeys of the children of Israel: from Egypt to Sinai, from Kadesh to Edom. Now, “in the plains of Moad by the Jordan near Jericho,” God describes the extent of Israel’s inheritance. God provides for the division of Canaan, and for the establishment of Levitical cities and cities of refuge.
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