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Moses informs the people that God will not allow him to enter the promised land. Joshua will lead them. Recalling the events and battles that have led to this day. Moses assures the people of God’s protection as they embark upon their conquest of Canaan: “You shall not fear them, for Adonai your God does battle for you.”
Moses tells of his failure to persuade God to let him enter Canaan. He exhorts the Israelites to follow God’s statutes – and to teach them to their children and their children’s children. In a second address, Moses recalls the Revelation at Sinai and restates the Ten Commandments. He then proclaims: “Sh’ma Yisra-el – Hear, O Israel: Adonai is our God, Adonai alone.”
Moses promises that if the people follow God’s path, divine blessing and abundance will be theirs. Moses tells them not to fear the nations they will battle, yet warns against arrogance. They should never forget that it is God who will give them the land. Moses reminds Israel of the sin of the golden calf and God’s forbearance, God’s miracles in Egypt, at the Sea of Reeds, and in the desert.
“I set before you this day a blessing and a curse,” Moses says, contingent on whether Israel observes God’s laws. Once Israel enters the land and dwells in safety, God will choose a place where the Divine Presence shall abide. There Israel will rejoice and bring offerings. Moses cautions against idolatry and false prophecy, and reminds Israel to observe the three pilgrimage Festivals.
Moses addresses the need for judges in the new land. The people, if they wish, may have a king, chosen by God. Priests and Levites will serve at a place of God’s choosing. God will also raise up a prophet, like Moses himself, to instruct the people; diviners and magicians are not to be consulted. Moses reiterates the laws establishing cities of refuge and presents laws of warfare.
Moses instructs Israel regarding inheritance, the return of lost objects, usury, and divorce, among other issues. Oppression of hired workers is forbidden; kindness to the stranger, orphan, and widow is mandated. Weights and measures must be accurate. To God, “whoever deals dishonestly” is abhorrent. Abhorrent also were Amalek’s actions in attacking Israel’s stragglers; Israel must never forget.
The people are to take the new land’s first fruits to God’s holy place. There they shall recount to the priest their history – from Abraham to Egypt to that very day. “You have affirmed this day that Adonai is your God,” concludes Moses. In turn, Adonai will take Israel as a treasure, a holy people. After crossing the Jordan, Israel is to inscribe the Torah on stone pillars and conduct rites to affirm the covenant with God.
Moses asks the people to embrace God’s covenant, for themselves as well as for the generations yet unborn. Moses foresees periods of Divine anger and reconciliation, of exile and return. He assures Israel that God’s commandments are attainable, neither baffling nor beyond reach, not in heaven nor beyond the sea. “I have set before you life and death, the blessing and the curse,” Moses concludes. “Therefore choose life, so that you may live.”
Moses now tells Israel that he can go no further. Joshua shall lead the people over the Jordan, and God will go before them. Moses writes out the law, the Torah, and entrusts it to the priests, with instructions for it to be read every Sabbatical year. Even so, God apprises Moses that the people will indeed break the covenant. God has Moses compose a song that will bear witness to God’s actions and intentions.
“Let the earth hear the words of my mouth,” sings Moses. He depicts Israel’s future betrayal of God and God’s ultimate forgiveness. His song completed, Moses again urges the people to observe “all the instructions of this Torah.” God now orders Moses to ascend Mount Nebo, to behold from afar, before he dies, the land promised to Israel.
Moses blesses the children of Israel, tribe by tribe. He ascends Mount Nebo, where God enables him to see the sacred land which God pledged to Abraham, to Isaac, and to Jacob. Moses dies, his gravesite unknown. The children of Israel mourn him for thirty days, then turn to Joshua, upon whom Moses laid his hands.
Beth Jacob’s services are completely lay-led. We welcome participation in all aspects of synagogue life. Please contact one of the following people to participate in services:
To read Torah or Haftarah (Shabbat): While services are on Zoom, we’re chanting these texts from our own books. Less memorization, more participation! Sign up here.
To read Torah (weekday), Eric Pasternack, (651) 994-9793, firstname.lastname@example.org
To have an aliyah/lead services: Stuart Bear, (651) 686-4888, email@example.com , or Arielle Ehrlich, (651) 686-5140, firstname.lastname@example.org, or Eric Pasternack (651) 994-9793, email@example.com
To give a d’var torah: Rabbi Adam Rubin, (651) 452-2226, firstname.lastname@example.org
We try to keep ourselves informed as to significant events in the life of members of the congregation in order to honor them with an aliyah when appropriate. Please let one of the gabbaim (Stuart Bear, Arielle Ehrlich, Laura Honan or Eric Pasternack) know if you or somebody that you know should have an honor.
K’tanim seeks to live by the ideals of our shul values of Torah, Avodah and Gemilut Hesed where men, women and children have equal opportunity to be a part of our community, in observance of Shabbat and Halakha.
When Sons of Jacob, one of the Twin Cities’ oldest Jewish congregations, and the New Conservative Congregation, the Twin Cities’ youngest, merged in July 1985, it seemed like the natural thing to do. The congregations had been davening together on Shabbat since October 1984 and had found many common values and needs. Over a period of months, a strong feeling of affection developed between the members of the two groups. The new, merged synagogue became Beth Jacob Congregation.
The merger afforded members the opportunity to learn, enrich their knowledge of Judaism, expand their spiritual experience, and support each other during times of need and celebration.
The journey to the formation of Beth Jacob Congregation and our home in Mendota Heights began around 1870. Along the way, the congregation welcomed new immigrants fleeing persecution in Eastern Europe in the late 19th century and, later, survivors of the Shoah.
In the early 1870s, a number of people attended services in a wood-frame building on Payne Avenue in St. Paul. In March 1885, Hevrah B’nai Ya’akov, Congregation Sons of Jacob, was founded as St. Paul’s second Jewish congregation. The congregation grew and organized a Hebrew and Sunday school. By the mid-1940s, many members recognized the need to relocate closer to the Midway and Highland Park neighborhoods.
In 1944 the Hebrew Seminary Congregation formed and in 1946 the two congregations merged. Soon afterwards, the congregation moved into a new home at 1466 Portland Ave. The following years at Sons of Jacob were full and rich. The vibrant Orthodox congregation included an active Men’s Club and Sisterhood, a male choir, a mixed choir, a tallis and tefillin group for fathers and sons, and a dynamic Synagogue Youth Organization.
As children grew and moved away, the congregation endorsed a proposal to become a Conservative congregation in the early 1970s. The change did little to attract new members and in 1982 the congregation made the painful decision to sell the building. A core group of dedicated members dreamed of eventually reestablishing a home on land the congregation owned in Mendota Heights. They rented space at the St. Paul Jewish Community Center and drew on their experience to organize and conduct meaningful, traditional services.
At this point, the story shifts to a new, emerging community. What began as an exploratory meeting with a few men and women in St. Paul led to an announcement to prospective members of the New Conservative Congregation on October 8, 1984:
“We see this new congregation as one which will use Torah as its blueprint, for we recognize that the study of Torah and the use of the lessons and moral directions derived from Torah study provide a timeless resource by which we can learn more about Judaism, apply the principles and practice of Judaism to our daily lives, and find the support of the congregational community during times of need and celebration. Celebration of Shabbat will be a focus of this congregation and the congregational community will encourage re-creation of the customs surrounding Shabbat both in the home and in the community.”
The first service was held on October 27, 1984, at the Jewish Community Center. Earl Schwartz gave the first dvar Torah, and a number of congregants shared the responsibilities of leading services, reading from the Torah and chanting Haftorah. This pattern of congregant participation continues. By early December, the New Conservative Congregation and Sons of Jacob Congregation agreed to share Shabbat morning services and alternate responsibility for conducting those services.
During its first year, the New Conservative Congregation addressed a number of needs: the desire for youth programs and education, coordination with the St. Paul Talmud Torah, the search for a rabbi and merger discussions with Sons of Jacob. By June 1985, both congregations approved the merger and adopted the name Beth Jacob Congregation. At early meetings, the merged board voted to affiliate with the United Synagogue of America. The board affirmed that men and women would have equal privileges, rights and responsibilities, and they declared that financial hardship should not be a barrier to membership.
Lacking a rabbi, the board engaged Earl Schwartz as the congregation’s scholar in residence. From its beginning, the congregation welcomed strangers, recognizing that new people continually enhance the vitality of the congregation.
Saturday morning religious school opened in October 1985. From the beginning, the congregation recognized its responsibility to educate its children and integrate them into synagogue life.
The search for a rabbi began immediately after the merger. The congregation recognized that the rabbi should set the spiritual, moral, and halachic environment of the community, and the rabbi should be an excellent scholar, educator and pastoral presence. The congregation selected Rabbi Morris J. Allen in spring 1986 and moved him to St. Paul in August with his wife, Dr. Phyllis Gorin, and their newborn son, Avi. Under Rabbi Allen’s direction, the Shabbat morning service deepened in participation and content, the Shabbat morning children’s program expanded, and an adult education program began, including classes on Torah reading and synagogue skills.
At its outset, the congregation recognized the need for a building, a site to focus its activities. The community broke ground on October 25, 1987, and on September 2-4, 1988, Beth Jacob dedicated its new synagogue. Modeled after a wedding, the dedication ceremony reminded the congregants that the connection of members to the new building could be compared to the covenant between bride and groom. The program and the ketubah for this dedication ceremony hang in the lobby of the synagogue.
The story of Beth Jacob Congregation is a story of building and rebuilding a community of Jews over time. We study and pray together. The community exists seven days a week as we continually enlarge the range of chesed (kindness) within our lives. Each interaction—whether at Shabbat services, a study session, committee meetings, a visit to console or support, or a moment of sharing of joy—provides an opportunity to enrich these values and find new ways to express them.
May God who blessed our ancestors . . . bless those who unite to establish synagogues . . . and those who give funds for heat and light . . . . (Siddur Sim Shalom for Shabbat and Festivals)
These funds have been established over the years by people who wanted to give something back to the shul for having provided them with both spiritual comfort and the warmth of community. They provide a range of opportunities for us to honor others on their special occasions or for their special achievements, to remember our loved ones or close friends who have left this life and await olam ha’ba in peace, to send wishes for a refuat ha’nefesh and a refuat ha’guf for those who are sick, or to simply thank God for the gifts bestowed upon us.
Please consider helping us provide “heat and light” for the shul with your donations. We will send a card on your behalf and acknowledge your donation in Kol Ya’akov for a minimum donation of $10. Tribute cards for your personal use can be purchased from the shul office: five cards for $25 or 10 cards for $50. Donations can be made directly from this site, or send a check, payable to Beth Jacob Congregation, to the office. For further information, please contact Debbie at 651-452-2226 or bjcoffice AT beth-jacob DOT org.
Bonnie and Alvin Abrahamson Youth Education Fund – provides resources to further youth education and youth education programming.
Allen-Gorin Education Fund – established in honor of Rabbi Allen and Dr. Phyllis Gorin, the fund provides for educational opportunities.
Bear/Schoenkin Leadership Development Fund – provides financial support for Board members, lay-leaders and staff to participate in leadership and professional development opportunities.
Sharon Phyllis Bloom Memorial Fund – dedicated to the memory of Sharon Bloom to be used for religious education for our youth.
Doroshow Family Endowment Fund – established for youth leadership development.
Godes Family Endowment Fund – provides general synagogue operating funds.
Samuel Goldberger Endowment Fund – provides scholarships for the St. Paul Talmud Torah day school.
Bess and Nathan Levinsohn Camp Scholarship Fund – provides scholarships to help children attend Jewish summer camps.
Oscar Mastbaum Scholarship Fund – to encourage artistic achievement by providing scholarship funds for pursuits in the visual and performance arts.
Office Endowment Fund – provides funds to maintain and update the office equipment.
Rabbi’s Tzedakah Fund – provides resources for charitable and educational use at the discretion of the rabbi.
Phillip Ravitzky (z”l) Rabbi’s Fund – supports the salary and benefits packages of our rabbi and professional staff.
Sarah Rivka Saide (z”l) Endowment Fund – used for the maintenance of the Saide Chapel.
Hilda Singer Jewish Life Fund – provides the congregation with Jewish life programming as an ongoing part of congregational life.
Betty and Bud Sweet Endowment Fund – provides funds to purchase and maintain kitchen equipment.
Zelda Katz Day School Endowment Fund – provides scholarships for the St. Paul Talmud Torah day school.
Beth Jacob Emtza President’s Scholarship Fund – created in honor of Etan Newman, it will be used to help young adults go to USY events that they would otherwise not be able to attend due to financial considerations.
Phillip Biel (z”l) Rosh Hodesh Fund – created in memory of Phillip Biel (z”l), who routinely chanted the announcement of the new month in shul, the fund will be used to provide innovative Rosh Hodesh programming for children, young adults, and adults that would not otherwise be provided.
BJUSY/Kadima Fund – provides scholarship for our USYers and Kadimaniks to participate in programming and conventions.
Building Fund – offsets expenses incurred for the construction, furnishing, maintenance and capital improvements of the synagogue.
Chesed Fund – defrays the costs of meals to the bereaved, new parents, returnees from the hospital, members moving into new residences, and others. Also pays for the Dorothy Day project, contributions to MAZON, and other acts of tzedakah.
Jim Dinerstein Adult Education Endowment Fund
Provides revenue for ongoing adult education programming.
Smaller/Petty Inclusion FundÂ – usedÂ to support Beth Jacob inclusion efforts.
Susie Drazen Fund – used for Beth Jacob programming and education.
David Cobin (z”l) Fund for Caring – to help the community and it’s members in need.
Bob Feldman (z”l) Fund for Jewish Life – established to honor the memory of Bob Feldman (z”l) through creative Jewish programs.
Ron Heiligman (z”l) Memorial Camp Scholarship Fund – provides scholarships to help children attend Jewish summer camps.
Zelda Johnson Camp Scholarship Fund – provides scholarships to help children attend Jewish summer camp.
Kiddush Fund – offsets the cost of kiddush when there is no sponsor.
Limud La’ad Fund (Adult Education Fund) – provides money for new and innovative adult education programming.
Nursery Fund – provides toys and other furnishings for the nursery.
Prayer Book Fund – provides prayer books for the shul.
Tikkun Olam Fund – used to address social justice issues within the Jewish community.
Torah Fund – used to pay for the cost of repairing and maintaining our beautiful Torah scrolls.
Yahrzeit Fund – donations to acknowledge and honor the memory of a deceased family member or friend.
Youth Education Fund – provides funding for general youth programming and regional event scholarships.
BJUSY belongs to the largest geographical USY region in North America: Emtza Region. “Emtza” means “middle” and our region stretches across the middle of the continent, from Denver to Wisconsin, and from St. Louis all thy way up to Winnipeg, Manitoba. There are a total of 17 chapters in Emtza Region with whom we have programs throughout the year. High school age (9th-12th grade) teens have the opportunity to be a part of BJUSY (Beth Jacob United Synagogue Youth).
USY’s motto is “To learn, to teach, to do” and BJUSY offers plenty of opportunity for all three. While regional events have their own unique appeal, most of what happens in USY is on the chapter level.
Kadima membership is $36 (for 8th graders; Beth Jacob 7th graders are given a free membership for their b’nai mitzvah); BJUSY membership is $54. Being a member has it’s benefits; you can save money on every BJUSY program, and you are able to attend regional conventions!
Kadima is a Hebrew word that means “forward.” Kadima is a youth group that helps the 7th and 8th graders moveforward into their roles as responsible members of the Jewish Community after their B’nai Mitzvah. Kadima programs consist of social-action projects, holiday celebrations, cultural activities, games, sports, arts and crafts, and conventions. They take place once or twice a month, sometimes at Beth Jacob and other times at various other locations.
We need your help! So that we can be sure to have enough food, program materials and even seats on a bus to convention, please RSVP in a timely manner when requested! Some programs like a Lounge Night do not require an RSVP, but generally your help in with this important request will ensure our great programs are ready for our Kadimaniks and USYers.
We realize that sending a child to USY/Kadima events (especially regional events) is not inexpensive. Therefore, we do as much as we can to make scholarships available. Scholarships are given based on need and participation. All scholarship information is strictly confidential. Scholarship forms are available at Beth Jacob by contacting our Youth Director, Rafi Forbush, or calling (651) 452-2226.
Every week, we send out an email newsletter with details of what’s going on in the Beth Jacob and the broader community in the coming week, and throughout the year we send out a variety of special emails. You can sign up and get these emails delivered right to your inbox!
Recent weekly emails are below. View older weekly emails