The New Shul

Parshat Sh’mot

This week’s parashah, Sh’mot, tells the story of our enslavement in Egypt, and the beginning of our liberation. It begins by recalling the names of Yaakov’s sons who had gone down to Egypt many years earlier.

Why begin the story by reciting those names? An ancient midrash teaches that one of the reasons why we were redeemed from Egypt is that, during our years of slavery, we never changed our names. We never fully conformed to the society in which we lived. We refused to be defined by it, to let Egyptian culture tell us who we were.

Daring to be different can indeed be liberating. And the celebration of Shabbat is a case in point. To take a day to turn off our phones, computers and TV sets, to put away our debit and credit cards, is an act of non-conformity, which causes us to stand out. To keep Shabbat is to refuse to be defined by the culture in which we live. It is also a liberating act, which gives us space to rediscover the image of God in ourselves and in each other.

May daring to stand out free us, as it freed our ancestors.

  • 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, January 10, is sponsored by the shul.
  • Childcare on Shabbat mornings is available from 10 am to noon. Our learning services this Shabbat are: for pre-k through grade 2 from 11 to 11:45 am, and for grades 3 to 5 from 10:15 to 11:30 am.
  • Minyanim during the week are on Sunday mornings at 9:30 am and Wednesday mornings at 7 am.
  • 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 greater Phoenix “Sermon Slam” on Saturday night February 14 at 7:30 pm. Further information is available here.