The New Shul

Parshat Toldot

This week’s parashah, Toldot, begins: “This is the story of Yitzhak, son of Avraham: Avraham fathered Yitzhak. . .” The Torah defines Yitzhak as the son of Avraham, and Avraham as the one who fathered Yitzhak. Each is identified by his relationship to the other. 

Why the circularity? According to Rabbi Hanokh of Alexandrov, the Torah is letting us know how Avraham and Yitzhak saw themselves. In Yitzhak’s mind, his only claim to fame was that he was the son of Avraham. Avraham, on the other hand, felt that his only achievement worth mentioning was being the father of Yitzhak.

The lesson is that our identities are always intertwined. Like Avraham and Yitzhak, we are defined by our relationships. Who we are is who we are to each other. Alone, we struggle to maintain a sense of self.

Staying connected in this time of Covid is a challenge. But it is also a mitzvah, a sacred obligation. To remember who we are at the deepest level – images of God – we need to see the image of God in others as well. Acknowledging our shared humanity – even from a social distance and through masks – is what keeps us oriented in the world. Now, more than ever, it is our connectedness that keeps us whole.

  • Due to the Covid pandemic, The New Shul’s Shabbat morning service now takes place outdoors and off-site, on the grounds of the Sandpiper School, 6724 E. Hearn Rd, from 9:30 to 11:30 am on Saturday mornings. Please use the west parking lot and come around the back of the school. Everyone is welcome (for social-distancing purposes, you might want to bring your own chair). The kiddush this Shabbat, November 21, will be sponsored by Michael and Jennie Kronenfeld.
  • On Shabbat morning, December 5, we will celebrate the bar mitzvah of Vincent Trotta. The kiddush will be sponsored by the Trotta family.
  • Other than our Shabbat morning service, all other New Shul events continue online. They include: Kabbalat Shabbat on Friday afternoons (4:30 pm this Friday), lay-led Shabbat morning services, Havdalah (6:15 pm this Saturday night), daily text study, and weekly classes. For more information, please contact us or visit our website,