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Posted on June 19th, 2017

NUMBERS 16:1−18:32 

D'var Torah By Rabbi JOSEPH A. SKLOOT for ReformJudaism.org

How Not to Have a Conversation

If I had stopped to listen once or twice

If I had closed my mouth and opened my eyes

If I had cooled my head and warmed my heart

I'd not be on this road tonight (James Taylor, "That Lonesome Road")

Imagine a group of people, twenty or so, who all disagree about a range of issues — political, philosophical, theological — meeting weekly for dinner and conversation. Occasionally there's laughter. Sometimes someone speaks excitedly, passionately. Sometimes someone interrupts. There are moments of discomfort, but never contempt. There moments of confusion, but not hostility. There are hard questions. There are assertions of "I don't know." There is sometimes silence.

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Posted on June 12th, 2017

Numbers 13:1 - 15:41 

BY CANTOR JOSEE WOLFF. Reprinted with permission from  The Torah: A Women’s Commentary, for myjewishlearning.com 

The Sin of the Spies

What exactly did the spies do wrong?

When Moses sends the scouts to survey the land of Canaan, he gives them a list of very specific things to investigate. He charges them: “Go up there into the Negeb and on into the hill country, and see what kind of country it is. Are the people who dwell in it strong or weak, few or many? Is the country in which they dwell good or bad? Are the towns they live in open or fortified? Is the soil rich or poor? Is it wooded or not?” (13:17-20). Twelve emissaries go out and return after forty days, reporting on what they saw in this exotic new land. All but two of the scouts are punished later; victims of a plague, they die in the wilderness.

What is their sin? According to our tradition, they sin by not trusting God’s vision and not having faith: “How long will this people spurn Me, and how long will they have no faith in Me despite all the signs that I have performed in their midst?” (14:11). Furthermore, they sin because they “caused the whole community to mutter against him [Moses] by spreading calumnies about the land” (14:36).

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Posted on June 5th, 2017

Numbers 8:1 - 12:16 

Rabbi Devorah Marcus for myjewishlearning.com; This commentary is provided by special arrangement with American Jewish World Service.  

Our Covenantal Responsibilities

This week's parashah reminds us of our sacred obligations to those who are still languishing in oppression.

As slaves living under Pharaoh’s law, the Israelites existed in a society which neither recognized the value of their beliefs, nor honored their inherent dignity as human beings. Though they received food and shelter, these were given in the most meager amounts.

In Parshat B‘ha‘alotkha, just a weeks after their liberation from slavery, the Israelites prepare to offer their Passover sacrifice to God. Representing a unique moment in the history of the Jews, this sacrifice commemorates both our people’s liberation from slavery, as well as our communal redemption by God.

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Posted on May 29th, 2017

Numbers 4:21-7:89 

BY RABBI KERRY M. OLITZKY, Director Big Tent Judaism, for myjewishlearning.com 

The Priestly Benediction

Those who link themselves with God and the people of Israel will indeed be blessed.

Among the many salient elements in this week’s Torah reading is the priestly benediction at the end of chapter six of the book of Numbers. Three of these verses have been woven into various aspects of Jewish ritual and liturgy.

May God bless you and keep you
May God cause the divine light to shine upon you and be gracious to you
May God turn toward you, and grant you peace

This passage has become a part of the spiritual life of the Jewish people, recited at Shabbat, during the holidays, and at life-cycle events. As important as this priestly blessing has become, however, the entire piece deserves our attention.

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Posted on May 22nd, 2017

NUMBERS 1:1−4:20 

BY NOAM KATZ, a rabbinical student at  HUC-JIR 

On Child Soldiering

We can transform the institution of Pidyon Haben to include all those who have had their childhood stolen.

Just a year removed from the shackles of slavery in Egypt, the Israelites find themselves perched at the edge of the wilderness. Twelve tribes prepare to navigate the barren landscape that lies before them in the hopes that it will lead to a land of promise. Before departure, God instructs Moses to take a census of the Israelite community: “Count the heads of all in the tribes of Israel.”

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Did You Know...?

After 16 years at Beth El, Rabbi Isserow is retiring.  We are in the process of searching for a new rabbi and would like your input.

We welcome your thoughts by email at [email protected].  We will also be at the annual congregational meeting on June 20 if you would like your voice heard.

Beth El is raising funds for a new playground?

With seed money from Cantor Jason Kaufman's concert, the JCCNV was able to start a fund with all proceeds going towards a new playground for the preschool.  If you would like to donate towards this very worthy project, simply send your donations to Beth El Hebrew Congregation and notate "Playground."  If you donate on line, the playground fund is first on the list!


Lifelong Learning

Wednesdays during the school year @ 7:00 PM
See calendar for exact dates and subjects



For more information about ALIVE! go to alive-inc.org.


Beth El House

For more information go to https://www.bethelhebrew.org/community/beth-el-house

Beth El House enables formerly homeless families to work toward self-sufficiency and confidence.



Summer service schedule begins Friday, June 23

6:30 PM


upcoming events



Friday, June 23 @ 6:30 PM



Friday, June 23 @ 7:30 PM



July 14, 28 and August 11 @ 6:30 PM



There are activities, meetings, services and seminars at Beth El each week, ranging from service opportunities to Jewish learning and education, drawing members and guests from throughout the Washington, D.C. area.

the full calendar