The New Shul

Parshat Va-y’chi

In this week’s parashah, Va-y’chi, Yaakov blesses his grandsons Menashe and Efrayim shortly before his death.  Yaakov’s blessing is the model for the blessings that we give to our children at the Shabbat table every Friday evening.  Before blessing the boys, Yakkov addresses their father Yosef, recalling some of the key events in his own life, including the death of Yosef’s mother Rachel.  Then Yaakov adds, “I had no hope of seeing you again, yet God has given me the gift of seeing your children.”

Why does Yaakov recall that gift now?  It has been many years since he and Yosef have been reunited and since he has met his grandsons.  The author of the the Divrei Yirmiyahu answered that Yaakov, having just recalled the death of Rachel, needs to raise his mood before he can properly bless his grandsons, because it is only in a state of joy that one can be a source of blessing.  Yaakov consciously reminds himself of how fortunate he is so that he can give more of himself.

The Divrei Yirmiyahu reminds us that we have more control than we often think over how we feel, and over what we have within ourselves to give.  We cannot choose our mood directly.  But we can choose which facts in our lives to focus on:  those that make us feel empty and in need, or those that make us feel full and able to give.  We can help to make ourselves a source of blessing, as Yaakov does, by remembering the blessings that we ourselves have received.  May Shabbat, our day of fullness, help us to remember what we have, and what we have to give.

  • Shabbat services at The New Shul are on Friday evenings from 6 to 7 pm, and on Saturday mornings from 9 am to 12 noon. The kiddush this Shabbat is sponsored by Fay and Aubrey Palestrant in honor of the engagement of their daughter Sarah to Noam Belkind.
  • Childcare is available from 10 am to noon on Shabbat mornings. Beyond Bim Bom, our learning service for grades K to 3, is from 10:30 to 11:15 am.
  • Minyanim during the week are on Sunday mornings at 9:30 am, and on Wednesday mornings at 7 am. \
  • On Shabbat morning Jan. 14, we will celebrate the bar mitzvah of Avery Polster, son of Jeremy and Virginie Polster.
  • On Monday Jan. 16 (Martin Luther King Day), The New Shul community will serve meals to the hungry at St. Vincent de Paul’s Jackson St. dining room. Please let us know if you can help.
  • The annual meeting of The New Shul community is on Sunday Jan. 22 at 10:30 am.
  • Join us for two guest lectures at The New Shul:  On Tuesday Jan. 31 at 7:00 pm, Dr. Wendy Zierler of Hebrew Union College: “And Rachel Stole the Idols:  The Emergence of Modern Jewish Women’s Writing.”  On Tuesday Feb. 7 at 7:30 pm, Rabbi Ed Feinstein of Valley Beth Shalom in L.A:  “A Curriculum of Wonder:  The Genius of Abraham Joshua Heschel.” Both lectures are co-sponsored by the Valley Beit Midrash and the Women’s Jewish Learning Center, and are free and open to all.
  • Join us at The New Shul on the afternoon of Shabbat Shirah (The Shabbat of Song), Feb. 4 at 6 pm for Seudah Shlisheet, the third Shabbat meal.  Yisroel Juskowicz, a singer/song-writer from New York City, will lead us in song over the meal.  After havdalah at 7 pm, he will perform his music.  The concert is free and open to all.
  • On Shabbat morning Feb. 11, and on Shabbat afternoon after kiddush, Dr. Joel Gereboff, the Chair of Religious Studies at ASU, will be our guest teacher.
  • Please remember to RSVP for our 10th Anniversary celebration on Sunday Feb. 26 at 6 pm at the Scottsdale Hilton.  Rabbi David Wolpe will be the keynote speaker.  The cost is $54 per person. You can get further information here.