The New Shul

Parshat Sh’mot

This week’s parashah, Sh’mot, begins the story of our liberation from Egypt. How did that process start? The Torah tells us that, after the death of the Pharoah who had enslaved us, we cried out to God and God heard our cry. Immediately afterwards, God called to Moshe at the burning bush and sent him back to Egypt to redeem us.

Why did it take so long for us to cry out? — and why did God not help us until we did?

Perhaps, until the death of Pharoah, we did not cry out because we knew no God to cry out to except Pharoah himself. We were enslaved not only on the outside but on the inside as well, in that Pharoah’s power was the only power that we knew. But Pharoah’s death enabled us — if only for a moment — to envision another possibility. It made it possible for us to dream. Then, and only then, could God begin to help us.

Liberation always begins on the inside, with an act of imagination. When we feel enslaved to the status quo, the first step in freeing ourselves is to imagine an alternative. When the ancient rabbis spoke of Shabbat as a foretaste of olam ha-ba, “the world that is coming,” perhaps that is what they were talking about. Shabbat helps us to envision a redeemed world, a world that is whole and complete. By liberating our spirits in that way, Shabbat helps us to remember what we work for during the rest of the week.

  • The New Shul’s Shabbat services 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 2, is sponsored by Shelly and Arnie Silverman in honor of Arnie’s 85th birthday.
  • Childcare is available from 10 am to noon on Shabbat mornings. Our learning service for toddlers this Shabbat is from 11 to 11:30 am. There will be no learning service for grades 1 to 3.
  • Minyanim during the week are on Sunday mornings at 9:30 am, Monday evenings at 7 pm, Wednesday mornings at 7 am and Wednesday evenings at 7 pm.
  • The Womens’ Jewish Learning Center’s havdalah event – “Wine, Women and Wisdom” – is on Saturday January 9 from 7 to 8:30 pm. See the WJLC website for further information.
  • On Shabbat morning January 16, we will celebrate the bat mitzvah of Risa Farber, daughter of Paul and Halle Farber.
  • On Martin Luther King Day, Monday January 18, and on Presidents Day, Monday February 15, 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 at Limmud AZ, a community-wide day of Jewish learning, on Sunday January 31. See the Limmud website for more information.
  • The New Shul community’s annual meeting is on Sunday February 7 at 10 am. All are welcome.