The New Shul

Parshat Vayigash

In this week’s parashah, Vayigash, Yaakov goes down to Egypt to be re-united with his son Yosef, and to wait out the famine with his family. As Yaakov prepares to leave his home (which he will return to only after his death), God promises Yaakov in a dream that God will go down to Egypt with him, and return with him.

The ancient rabbis understood that promise to mean that, as long as we are in exile, God is in exile too. God will never be at home until we are. God does not — perhaps cannot — save us from descending into dark places. But as long as we are in those places, God is as well.

Often, when people are struggling, we wonder what to do or say. We wish that, in some God-like way, we could fix the situation. But the rabbis remind us that even God does not fix situations. God strengthens us by being present in the dark places with us. It is the reassurance that we are not alone that offers the most comfort.

  • 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-lunch this Shabbat, December 27, is sponsored by Doug and Ruth Wilansky.
  • Childcare on Shabbat mornings is available from 10 am to noon. Our learning services for kids will resume on Shabbat morning, January 3.
  • Minyanim during the week are on Sunday mornings at 9:30 am and Wednesday mornings at 7 am.
  • On New Year’s Day, Thursday January 1, 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.
  • Join us for Friday night dinner at The New Shul on January 16, after the 6 pm service. The cost is $18 per adult and $9 per child under 18 (no charge for children under 5). Please send in your payment to reserve your place by Monday January 12.
  • On the Sunday of Martin Luther King Day Weekend, January 18, The New Shul will host the first day of a two-day Mussar retreat, co-sponsored by the Valley Beit Midrash. On Monday January 19, the retreat will continue at Temple Chai. Further information is available here.
  • Join us at The New Shul for an Israeli dance workshop on Tuesday January 20 at 7:00 pm.
  • The New Shul community’s annual meeting is on Sunday morning January 25 at 10:30 am. All are welcome.
  • Registration is now open for LimmudAZ, a community-wide day of Jewish learning on Sunday February 8, from 8:30 am to 5 pm. 45 presenters, from our community and from around the country, will teach on topics from “Jews and Chocolate” to“Shakespeare’s Shylock” to “Jewish Mysticism Made Simple”to “The Bible and Bruce (Springsteen).” Further information is available at
  • The New Shul will host the first-ever Phoenix “Sermon Slam” on Saturday night February 14 at 7:30 pm. Further information is available here.