Weekly News and Updates

Looking for a few good cooks. If you have a favorite cholent recipe call the office and let us know that you want to join the Cholent Cook-Off on Saturday, December 9th. Prep will take place the Thursday night before and the voting will take place during the Kiddush lunch on the 9th. Spots are limited.
Mazal tov to Caroline Cranman, who is celebrating her Bat Mitzvah this weekend.
Gilner Religious School News
  • There is Mini-Minyan this week, November 4th, for parshat Vayera.There is school this Sunday and Tuesday, November 5th and 7th.
  • The first Lifecycle class of the year for our 7th grade students and their parents will be on Sunday, November 12th at 11:30. Mark your calendars.
  • The next Teen Scene class will be on Sunday, November 12th.here will be no school November 19th through 26th for the Thanksgiving break
  • The full GRS calendar for 2017-2018 can be found on the Education page of the Beth Shalom website.  To contact Linda Zimmerman, the Director of Lifelong Learning click here
 For All Families
  • Join us on Saturday night, December 2nd for Seudah Shlishit at 5:00 followed by Havdallah and a bonfire on our new patio.
  • Mark your calendars for our annual Family Hanukkah Party on Sunday, December 17th, from 5:00 to 7:00. Once again there will be a silent auction to benefit our Alefbet Preschool.
Youth Department Updates
  • Youth Programs are open to any Jewish students in 3rd – 12th grades. To join any of the Beth Shalom Youth Groups or for more information, please contact Ryan Tourial, Youth Director.
Parsha Vayera
We ended last week’s parsha with Abraham circumcising himself at the age of ninety-nine. This week we read that three days after this event Abraham was sitting outside his tent and saw three men approaching. Abraham welcomed his guest in and offered them a meal. While he did not know it right away, these “guests” were actually angels sent by God.
One of the men told Abraham that Sarah would have a son within the year. Sarah heard this and laughed to herself, saying, “Oh, that I shall have the greatest fulfillment now that I am already worn out and my husband is an old man!”
After sharing this prophecy, the three men left and Abraham escorted them to the city of Sodom. Here Abraham learns from one of his visitors that God plans to destroy the city. Abraham pleads with God saying: “Will you ruin the righteous along with the wicked? Perhaps there are fifty righteous in the city. To kill the righteous along with the wicked such that the righteous should be like the wicked–to do such a thing, I know would be a profanation to You, God. Shall the Judge of all the earth not do justice?”
And God said, “If there be 50 righteous, I will forgive the city because of them.” Abraham continued, “See, now, I have begun to speak with my Lord and I am only dust and ashes. How about if there were only forty-five righteous? Or 40? Or 30? Or 20? Or 10?” And God responded to each. “I shall not destroy the whole city if there are forty, or thirty, or twenty or even ten righteous people.”
After Abraham and God parted, the two angels went to Sodom in the evening. Lot greeted them with a reverent bow and urged them to stay at his house overnight. At first they refused, but then they agreed and Lot made them a feast. But soon the people of Sodom showed their wickedness. The visitors told Lot to get his family and leave Sodom, for God had sent them to destroy the city. Lot hesitated, but God took pity on him and had the men seize him and his wife and two daughters and lead them out of the city. They warned them, “Do not look back and do not stand still. Escape.” God caused sulfur and fire to rain upon Sodom and Gomorrah. When Lot’s wife looked back, she became a pillar of salt.
Later in the parsha, God remembered Sarah and she conceived and bore Abraham a son, Isaac. Abraham circumcised his son Isaac on the eighth day and he grew into a quiet young boy. When Sarah saw Ishmael, the son of Hagar, playing roughly with Isaac, she told to her husband, “Cast out this handmaid and her son, for the son shall not share the inheritance with our son, Isaac.” But Abraham did not like this idea because Ishmael was also his son. God said to Abraham, “Let it not be evil in your eyes because of the lad and your handmaid. Hearken to Sarah’s wishes, for in Isaac shall be your seed. And also for the son of the handmaid, I will make a nation, for he is your seed.” So Abraham rose early the next morning and took bread and water and gave it to Hagar and Ishmael and sent them away.
The final story in this parsha is the test that God gives Abraham. God tells Abraham to: “Take, I beg of you, your only son whom you love, Isaac, and get yourself to the land of Moriah and offer him on one of the mountains.”
So Abraham did as he was told, journeying with his wood for the offering and with his son and his servants to the place that God had told him. On the third day, Abraham and Isaac left the servants and took the wood for the offering, some fire and a knife. Isaac said to his father: “Here is the fire and the wood, but where is the lamb for the offering?” And Abraham answered: ”God will see that we have a lamb for the offering, my son.”
When they came to the place which God had spoken, Abraham built the altar and arranged the wood and bound Isaac, and placed him on the altar. He then stretched out his hand and took the knife to slaughter his son. And an angel of God called to him from heaven and said, “Abraham! Abraham!” “Here I am!” said Abraham. And God said, “Do not stretch your hand toward the lad, nor do the slightest thing to him, for now I know that you are God-fearing and did not withhold from Me.”
When Abraham looked up he saw a ram caught in the hedge. Abraham took the ram and offered it up as offering in place of his son. Abraham named this place, “God sees.”
An angel calls out to Abraham again and says: “By Myself have I sworn, says God, because you have done this thing and not withheld from Me your son, your only son, that I will bless you without fail, and without fail multiply your descendants as the stars in heaven and as the sand that is on the seashore, and your seed shall inherit the gate of its enemies. And all the nations of the earth shall bless themselves through your seed, as a consequence of your having hearkened to My voice.”
Then Abraham and Isaac and the servants returned to Beer Sheva.
Table talk:
1. Why does Abraham argue with God over the righteous in Sodom, but not over sending Hagar and Ishmael away or the notion of using his son Isaac as an offering? Do you ever argue with God? How?
2. When Hagar and Ishmael are sent away by Abraham, why does he only give them bread and water? What would you have done in the same situation?
3. There are many angels of God in this portion. What exactly is an angel of God? Have you ever met an angel of God? When?
Shabbat Shalom,
Linda Zimmerman
Director of Lifelong Learning