The New Shul

Va-et’hanan/Shabbat Nahamu

The Shabbat after the 9th of Av is called Shabbat Nahamu, the Shabbat of Consolation. It takes its name from the first words of the haftarah, in which the prophet Isaiah offered comfort to the Jewish exiles in Babylonia after the destruction of the first Temple.

The Babylonian captivity was not only physical, but also spiritual, in that the exiles could not imagine any way out of their situation. They felt trapped inwardly as well as outwardly. Isaiah offered them a vision of a world transformed by God’s love, a world in which “the rough places would be made a plain.”

This summer has been a heart-breakingly difficult one for our brothers and sisters in Israel, and for the people of Gaza. Perhaps the worst of it is that it is so hard to see a clear way forward toward a peaceful resolution. At times like these, when it is so hard to imagine that the world will ever change, we need Isaiah’s vision all the more urgently. We must never say that change is impossible, no matter how difficult it seems, because that would mean giving in to despair.

The Talmudic rabbis called Shabbat a “taste of the world to come,” a hint of what a redeemed world might feel like. Shabbat is a time for us to see beyond the world as it is, and imagine what the world could be. May this Shabbat Nahamu, and every Shabbat, remind us how to hope.

  • 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, August 9, is sponsored by Ora Kurland and Eric Steinberg, in honor of Noam Kurland’s birthday.
  • Childcare is available from 10 am to 12 noon on Shabbat mornings.
  • Minyanim during the week are on Sunday mornings at 9:30 am and Wednesday mornings at 7 am.
  • On the Shabbat of August 21 – 22, and Sunday morning August 23, our guest teacher will be Rabbi David Jaffe, the founder of the Kirva Institute in Boston, and a noted teacher of Mussar (ethical/spiritual development). All are welcome to join us as we learn from him.
  • The New Shul is collecting food donations for “Just Three Things,” to help young adults who have aged out of the foster care system. Please bring packaged items that are either ready-to-eat or require only microwave preparation. Contact usto arrange a drop-off time.