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11/12/2019 11:45:55 AM


This space is designated for the words of Tora taught to us by the various members of our kehilla. 


11/20/2020 12:22:33 AM


Irene Falkenstein Case

19. Isaac's servants dug in the valley and found there a well of living water.

20. The herdsmen of Gerar quarreled with Isaac's herdsmen saying, 

"The water is ours," so he called the name of that well ESEK (strife) because they argued with him.


Chaye Sarah. Bet Shalom Zoom

11/14/2020 10:18:25 AM


Irene Stern Friedman

The portion called the Life of Sarah begins with her death. Presumably, it is because you cannot evaluate a person’s life until it is ended. Avraham came to eulogize Sarah and to cry for her (v’livkosah). The Ba’al HaTurim notes that the word v’livkosah is written with a small ‘kaf’, indicating that Avraham did not cry as fully as he might have. Why?


While the death of a private citizen always...

Derasha for Noach

10/24/2020 01:02:46 PM


Rabbi Dr. Howard Schwartz

which arise from trying to learn from the Tower of Babel episode.

Questions can certainly be asked about this, including what sin was being committed that led to G-ds responses.

Looking over the previous Parsha, we see that we have gone from a period in which there was a great deal of evil in the world,

leading to the wholesale destruction and the flood to “now” when there was to be a restart of the...Read more...

What is the meaning of HaMelekh HaQadosh and HaMelekh HaMishpat?

09/25/2020 05:47:24 PM


Yosef Lopez

During the period of time known as Asereth Yemei HaTeshuva, or the 10 days of repentance, we modify our liturgy to reflect the solemnity of the season. Although many of the modifications are customary and can vary based on locale, one modification is universal, and if not recited correctly requires the person reciting the prayer to repeat the prayer from the beginning. This is a liturgical change in the third berakha of the `Amida...Read more...

Hineni- Here I Am

09/20/2020 11:48:32 AM


Lisa Schachter-Brooks

Ahhhh, deep breath, here we are. Hinenu

Here I am- hineni 


We have finally crossed the bridge that is the new year of 5781….and boy do we need a new year! .disappointed as we are to not be together in 3D, I am counting our blessings that at least we can gather this way, still in real life, still in person but think of it as 2D rather than 3D.


 in the tradition of our Rabbi Avi, I’d like to point out that 5781 is no insignificant number!  I saw the acronym for the Hebrew letters Tav Shin Pey Alef. (Tihiye, Shana Pakhot Aiyum) That is should be a  less terrible year. May we have reached the bottom and with the merit of our gathering, our prayer, our acts of goodness, our community connections, and our resilience, may we be cycling back towards goodness, towards balance, towards resilience, or at the very least towards less terrible.Read more...

Rosh Hashanah 5781

09/19/2020 11:41:02 AM


Rabbi Bennett Blum


This drash is dedicated to two people.  First, to my wife, Miriam, who celebrated her 60th birthday yesterday.  Second to my mother who was born of Rosh Hashana and died on Sukkot.  One of her favorite aphorisms was “Where there is Life, there is Hope.”  This drasha is given in her memory and l’ilui nishamat  - Chaya Feiga Dina bat Devorah v’Rachmiel.


I...

Beginning a New Year

09/18/2020 06:00:50 PM


Anne Lowe

Good Shabbos, Friends!

We are beginning the Jewish year of 5781, and we are hopefully leaving behind a year of uncertainty, of corona virus, of loss and of sadness and forest fires. We all extend our hands and our souls to a Rosh Hashanah of steadfast good health, of more peace in the Middle East for Israel and her neighbors, of environmental stability and of good drenching showers to put out fires, and to sustain...Read more...

Ki Tavo Bet Shalom Zoom September 2020

09/05/2020 10:52:15 AM


Irene Stern Friedman


Ki Tavo means “When You Come In” and the parsha is best known for its long and horrible list of curses. The Talmud tells us that the rabbis who lived at the time of Ezra the Scribe decided that this parsha would always be read before Rosh Hashana. Their reason was reflected in the phrase “may the year and its curses come to an end”. Later, another phrase was added, “may the year and its blessings...Read more...

D’rash Parashah Shoftim

08/21/2020 01:24:12 PM


Pamela Elisheva

Thank you, Rabbi Avi, for giving me the opportunity to deliver the first of my d’rashot at Congregation
Bet Shalom. While it is my first time giving a d’rash here, I have been giving d’rashot back in Bakersfield
since 2001 and I am excited to share my reflections on this week’s parashah, Shoftim.
When I begin my process of writing a d’rash, I first start out by looking at the context of the weekly
parashah....

Perashat Re'eh 5780 /2020

08/14/2020 04:52:43 PM


Irene Falkenstein Case

The Re'eh Torah portion is always read around the beginning of the Jewish month of Elul. Our High Holiday prayers state that Teshuvah, Tefillah, and Tzedakah will alleviate the evil decree. This D’var Torah is about Tzedakah based on Devarim Chapter 15 verses 4 – 12. 

The Western concept of “Charity” is not Tzedakah. Charity implies that the recipient has no right to the gift and that the donor is...Read more...

The Gift of Family and the Hebrew Concept of Bayit- Perashath Va-eth`hanan. 

07/28/2020 03:00:25 PM


Yosef Lopez

This was originally written for the festival of Shavu'oth, but I am sharing it now as it is relevant to the restatement of the Decalogue in the Perasha of Va-eth`hanan. 

Once there was a Hakham named Djoha. One day his son approached him and asked him if he could start using the family car to get around. Djoha said to his son, “I will make a deal with you. If you bring your grades up, study a little more Tora,...Read more...

Parashat Matot-Masei   Bet Shalom July 2020 Zoom

07/20/2020 10:51:06 AM


Irene Stern Friedman


This double parasha brings us to the end of the book of Bemidbar.  Wouldn’t we all like to enter the Promised Land about now, the land of milk and honey and health.

Rabbi Anne Brener wrote that The Israelites stand at the edge of the Promised Land, following Moses's last military campaign. Before the people can leave the wilderness, the soldiers must go through rituals of purification. They must stay ...Read more...

D’var Torah for Haftorah for Sh’lach Lecha 5780

06/25/2020 04:25:44 PM


Anne Lowe

In today’s Haftorah for, Sh’lach Lecha, corresponding to Joshua 2: verses 1-24, we read how the harlot, Rahab, hid and saved the spies of Israel, when they came to reconnoiter the city of Jericho for the entrance of the Israelites into the Promised Land.


In the last D’var Torah I gave to you all, at the beginning of May, last month, I said, “There is a close connection in the Torah where priests and widows and...Read more...


06/25/2020 04:19:16 PM


Anne Lowe

Boker Tov, friends! I am honored and delighted to give the D’var Torah this morning, as we gather in this new normal Zoom environment for Shabbat. Our parasha is Emor today, and I did a little personal computer research to see what I had written previously, about five years ago, on this parasha. I am going to repeat some of it, but go in a different direction as well.


Our Etz Chayim tells us that this parasha has the...Read more...

  Behar-Bechukotai   22 Iyar 5780    Bet Shalom Zoom Service    

05/16/2020 11:32:24 AM


Irene Stern Friedman


This week we read a double Torah portion, Behar-Bechukotai. These two parshiot end of the book of Vayikra. 


Parshat Behar focuses on letting the land rest. We learn about the return of land during the 50th year and the cycle of workers and loans. This law makes us aware that G-d, not people, rules over Earth. This year the world gave the earth several weeks of rest from our normal...Read more...

The Korban System 

04/03/2020 07:45:25 AM


I. Falkenstein


A person can easily afford an expensive korban (i.e., sheep or a goat), but instead this person brings a less expensive korban (i.e., 2 turtledoves or 2 young doves or a tenth ephah of fine flour).  Will HaShem accept the less expensive korban and provide this person with complete...Read more...

A Pesah different than all others. 

04/02/2020 09:55:57 PM


Rabbi A. Allpert

Sweet friends, as Pesah soon approaches, there are more than just four questions this year: 1. This year some ask, “Will we find all the special foods we use for the Hag?” This year we might ask, “What’s the appropriate way to remove our Hametz?” This year we are certainly asking “How will family and friends be together?” This year we ask, “When will we return to our regular...Read more...

Hodu LaAdonai Ki Tob- The Jewish Approach to Thanksgiving

11/27/2019 02:32:51 PM


Yosef Lopez


There is an erroneous belief that Jews shouldn't celebrate Thanksgiving in the same manner as our gentile neighbors. Some go further and say that to mark the day in any way what so ever is to be following in the ways of the nations, which the Tora prohibits us from doing. This idea is not only wrong but springs from an approach that is not only ignorant of Judaism but our history as a people. 

Many Jewish...

Sarah's Gala Story

11/14/2019 02:49:53 PM


Sarah Frieden


Friends, Tucsonans, and Congregants, I come here not to praise myself (too much), but to praise Congregation Bet Shalom. Of course, what I am really praising is all of the people, past and present, who have supported our synagogue throughout all of our nearly 40 years of existence. 40 years is no insignificant number, as Rabbi Avi would say.

Now, some history about me and mine:...

Choosing Life 

11/12/2019 02:24:10 PM


Rabbi Dr. Bennett Blum

An interesting thing happened at my father-in-law’s funeral this past summer.  A friend of his, and mine, showed up to give comfort. He is a sweet, Moslem man who had a Jewish grandparent.  I knew that the month of Ramadan had started, and after he expressed his condolences, I asked him if there was a standard greeting or wish that is said during Ramadan.  He replied, “One of my friends is dead, and another is in...Read more...

Hesed is the Answer- Yom Kippur 5780

11/12/2019 02:17:53 PM


Rabbi Avi Alpert

Friends, we are together as a holy community preparing to recall impactful people in our lives who have left us… who are no longer in this world. We do this in the middle of this awesome day, a day appointed for magnificent reflection… for return. We bring to the forefront of our minds our losses and our state of deficiency, realizing that we are left alone, yet still capable of more living. 

And, in order...

The Message of the Akeda 

11/12/2019 02:13:35 PM


Jesse Davis

I think it’s fair to describe the Akedah as one of the most difficult passages in the Torah.  It’s hard to find anything redeeming in the story of a man who takes his son up on a mountain to murder him, who takes a boy away from his mother under the cover of a lie.  There are a range of rabbinic interpretations.  Some applaud Abraham’s willingness to put his obedience to God over the love of his son. Others...Read more...

Rosh Hashana 5780

11/12/2019 02:04:03 PM


Rev. Norm Rubin

On this Erev Rosh Hashanah 5780, we are now in the ’80s again! Are you nostalgic for the 1980s? Imagine you are transported back to 1982... That was the year the CD was introduced, Brezhnev and Princess Grace died, Britain went to war at the Falkland Islands. It was also the year that a new congregation opened its doors in Tucson.  I have here a copy of Bet Shalom’s first newsletter, HAKOL BAMIDBAR, THE VOICE IN THE DESERT....Read more...

Yom Kippur 5780

11/12/2019 01:50:34 PM


Lisa Schachter-Brooks

It is an honor to stand before you tonight on this day of At-One-Ment when our souls are called into the temporal Holy of Holies.  I want to start by expressing my gratitude for being right in this very place at this very moment with all of you and for this beautiful Sonoran Desert and the peoples who have welcomed us to dwell here.


I come to you as a congregant,  a congregational director and as a fellow...Read more...

What Bet Shalom Means to Me 

11/12/2019 11:50:13 AM


Sarah Freiden

Congregation Bet Shalom welcomed my husband and me around 35  years ago. Neither of us was thinking of joining a shul at that time. In fact, I was only looking for an outlet for my urge to write. Someone had told me that CBS had a very good newsletter to which  I might want to give an article or two. Drs. Harry Lawrence and Norm Rubin were the editors at that time. I met with them and was soon a regular contributor to the...Read more...

5778 RH Derasha Talya Simha Fanger-Vexler

10/02/2017 12:19:02 PM


Talya Simha Fanger-Vexler

Shana Tova Everyone,

I didn’t have an easy childhood. I grew up feeling as if I had to be fiercely independent and alone. I felt as if it was hard to ask for anything and tried so hard to solve all of my issues by myself. 

     I learned through my experiences that it was not safe to let others know of my deepest struggles and insecurities. Whatever I went through in the past, whatever I had achieved...Read more...

Sat, December 5 2020 19 Kislev 5781