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 recalling 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 held onto our Hebrew names, names like those of our ancestors. 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 TVs, and to put away our debit and credit cards, is an act of non-conformity, which causes us to stand out. It is also an act of self-liberation, which makes space for our souls to grow. To keep Shabbat is to refuse to be defined entirely by the world around us. It is also to expand our range of vision, to liberate ourselves to rediscover what we value most in life.

May daring to be different free us, as it freed our ancestors, to grow.

  • 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 18, will be sponsored by Alex and CiCi Dashe in honor of their tenth wedding anniversary.
  • Childcare is available on Shabbat mornings from 10 am to noon..
  • Minyanim during the week are on Sunday mornings at 9:30 am, and on Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday evenings at 6:30 pm.
  • The annual meeting of The New Shul community will be on Sunday morning February 2. Breakfast will be at 10 am, and the meeting will follow at 10:30. All are welcome.
  • Join us at The New Shul on Monday February 10 at 7 pm for a lecture by Dr. Pamela Nadell of American University: American Jewish Women: A History from Colonial Times to Today.The lecture is sponsored by the Women’s Jewish Learning Center. It is free of charge, and open to all.