Dear Friends,

I wish you and your families a wonderful Thanksgiving. I am grateful and feel blessed to be your rabbi for the past 22 years.

On Friday our Shabbat Service is at 7:30 P.M. and on Saturday our Shabbat morning Service is at 9 A.M. We will be discussing the topic of angels as it is a major theme in this week’s Torah portion of Vayetze. I know a number of you have told me that you will be away so I can’t guarantee a minyan but I will be there to lead the Prayer Services for those who choose to attend.There is no Hebrew School until next Tuesday.

Our condolence wishes go out to Gigi Stollman and the entire Stollman family on the loss of Gigi’s brother, Sam Berkowitz. 


Saturday, December 16th-Bar Mitzvah of Sam Miller at 9:30 A.M.

Saturday, December 16th- Community Chanukah Candle Lighting and Latke party at 6 P.M. at the synagogue. The Chanukah gift shop will be open next week. Please check it out. Thank you to Arlene and Marcy.

Parshat Vayetze

“She [Leah] conceived again and gave birth to a son and said: ‘This time I will give thanks to God.’ Therefore she called his name Yehuda” (Genesis 29:35).

One of the underlying themes of the Torah is the importance of developing a sense of gratitude. It is interesting that Leah only expresses this gratitude after the birth of her fourth son. One of the ideas the Torah is teaching us is that when we receive any blessing or gift, we are naturally grateful. The difficulty is to retain that state of gratitude when the blessing becomes mundane and commonplace. After three sons, Leah could have easily lost her sensitivity to the Divine and the blessing of family. In order to maintain the excitement and gratitude she named her son “Yehuda,” which means “thank you,” constantly reconnecting to the appreciation of the gift of her son every time she called his name.

In fact, the Jewish nation is known by the name “Yehuda” to remind us continually of the importance of gratitude. That is why the Rabbis instituted blessings to say not only upon the most seemingly mundane occurrences, such as using the restroom, but also when we see or experience wonders of nature. When you are aware of the Divine, nothing is mundane.


Rabbi Ken Alter