The New Shul

Parshat Yitro

This week’s parashah, Yitro, is named after Moshe’s father-in-law, who left his home to join the children of Israel after they had escaped from Egypt. The Torah tells us that Yitro met Moshe “in the wilderness where he [Moshe] had camped, at the Mountain of God.”

The first half of the phrase seems unneccesary. Where else could Yitro have met Moshe, if not where Moshe had camped? Why not get straight to the point and tell us that they met at the Mountain of God? The author of Torat Moshe answered that the first half of the phrase is there to teach us that the mountain where they met was the Mountain of God only because Moshe had camped there. The place was holy only because Moshe had made it so.

In other words, we sanctify our holy places, not vice versa. Our houses of prayer are sacred places only because of what we bring to them. We find God wherever we are willing to seek God, wherever we truly open our hearts. Or, as the Kotzker Rebbe put it, God is wherever we make room for God to be.

May our shul always be such a place.

  • 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, February 7, is sponsored by Esperanza Andujar in memory of her mother.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • Erev Purim is Wednesday night March 4. Join us at The New Shul for our megillah reading and shpiel — Falsetto Frozen Disco Purim — beginnining at 7:30 pm
  • Please note that there will be no e-bulletin next week. Watch for the next bulletin on Thursday night Feburary 19.