The New Shul

Parshat Vayishlah

This week’s parashah, Vayishlahtells the story of how Yaakov became Yisrael, the father of the Jewish people. After wrestling all night with a heavenly being and suffering an injury that would leave him with a limp, Yaakov received his new name. The Torah explains that “Yisrael” comes from the Hebrew root that means to “to struggle.” But there is an ancient rabbinic interpretation of the name that traces it to a different Hebrew root, “Yashar,” which means upright or straight.

It is ironic that Yaakov would be called “the upright one” immediately after he begins to limp. Why is it that at his moment of brokenness he is called upright?

Perhaps the rabbis were trying to teach us what it really means to stand straight. We reach our full height as human beings when we take responsibility for one another, and for doing what we can to mend this broken world. Our sense of mitzvah grows from the awareness of our insufficiency — as the rabbis taught: “All of God’s best tools are broken.”  It is when we recognize that we are not whole in ourselves that we feel called upon to make the world more whole. And it is then that we stand straightest.

As part of your Shabbat preparations this week, please consider making a donation to help relieve the suffering caused by Typhoon Haiyan in the Philipines. The American Jewish World Service and the Joint Distribution Committee, among other Jewish organizations, are representing our community in providing relief.

  • 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, November 16, is sponsored by Marjorie Rothstein in honor of the anniversary of her bat mitzvah.
  • Childcare is available from 10 am to 12 noon on Shabbat mornings. Munchkin Minyan for ages 2 to 5 meets this Shabbat from 11:00 to 11:30 am.
  • Minyanim during the week are on Sunday mornings at 9:30 am and on Wednesday mornings at 7 am.
  • This Sunday November 17 at 10:30 am, The New Shul community will prepare holiday gift packages for needy families and home-bound seniors, to be distributed by the Jewish Family and Children’s Services. Please call or email for further information.
  • The New Shul Coffee House is on Saturday night December 7 at 7:30 pm. Join us for live music and other entertainment by our local talent. The cost is $5 per adult at the door.
  • The New Shul will host an Israeli dancing workshop, led by Ora Kurland, on Wednesday December 11 at 7 pm. It is free and open to all.