This week we conclude our reading of the second book of the Torah (Shemot, or Exodus) with the double portion called Vayakhel -Pekudei. The first Parasha recounts how our ancestors erected the Tabernacle, the portable Temple, in the wilderness exactly as God had instructed, and the second Parasha provides an accounting of all of the money spent on this massive project.
The Book of Shemot can be divided in three parts – the enslavement and liberation of the Israelite slaves, the revelation at Mt. Sinai, and the giving of the Ten Commandments, and the construction of the Mishkan. While there were certainly challenges along the way, it is clear that all of these events were witnessed by the Jewish People as a whole and that Jews of all ages and from every station in life, beheld miracles beyond our comprehension.
While I cannot promise you liberation, major revelations or successful construction endeavors over the next few weeks, we at Beth El will be having several wonderful events that will bring all of us together, young and old alike.
This Shabbat we will be privileged to have approximately 30 Jr. USYers join us for services, both tonight and tomorrow. Beth El is hosting a Regional Kinnus (gathering) which will include high school students from several states, and quite a few of our own USYers will be leading us in various parts of those services.
You may recall that when Moses asked Pharaoh to let the Israelites go out to the desert to worship God, Pharaoh responded that only the adult males would be allowed to go. Moses retorted “We will go with our old and our young.” This is indeed the Jewish ideal. Judaism is neither a pediatric nor a geriatric faith. All are encouraged, and required, to participate. This is also the Beth El way!
I also hope that many of you will be joining us for the First Seder at Beth El on Monday night, March 25th beginning at 6:30 p.m. We have decided to forgo the Second Night Seder, and focus on the first night which has garnered many more reservations. I’m hoping that Cantor Sheila Nesis will still be joining us on the first night so that we can lead the Seder together. So many of you enjoyed her Sabbath davening when she visited us several months back, and we’re hoping to get to know her better over time as we are considering expanding her involvement with the congregation’s musical program. If you’d like to be part of our Seder, please RSVP by March 15th. We need to give our caterer, Gary Schindler, an accurate count so that he can prepare accordingly.
We are so pleased to have you as part of our congregational family. We hope that you will avail yourselves of our many religious, educational, and social events throughout the year. Make the most of your membership and help us help you grow as a Jew and be embraced by your community of faith.
Rabbi Arthur Lavinsky