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. The parashah opens by recounting the names of the children of Israel who had gone down to Egypt many years earlier.

According to the Ba’al Shem Tov, the recounting of those names hints at how God will ultimately redeem us. Slaves are anonymous. They have no identity of their own. God will awaken us from our enslavement by reminding us who we really are. God will free us from our degradation by giving us back our names.

The challenges of everyday life — not to mention the extraordinary challenges that we face at times of crisis such as this — tend to erode our deepest sense of self. Fear, in particular, can strip us of our dignity, and cause us to forget that we are images of God. When that happens, it is as if we too are in Egypt.

Hence, especially at a time like this, it is our mitzvah to restore each other’s sense of self. Even from a distance and through masks, a smile, a word of encouragement, a wave, can be profoundly redemptive. They have the power to remind another person how deeply s/he matters. In that sense, we all have the potential to be redeemers.

  • 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). Please dress for warmth and comfort. Informal attire is fine.
  • The kiddush this Shabbat, January 9, is sponsored by Simon Chamberlain and Leah Zigmond in honor of their son Yaniv’s upcoming trip to Israel, to study at the Muss Academy.
  • 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), Havdalah (6:30 pm this Saturday night), daily text study, and weekly classes.