B'nai Israel Synagogue - West Bloomfield
January 31, 2013
20 Shevat 5773
In This Issue
Shabbat Services: Yitro
Learning Opportunities
Upcoming Youth and Family Activities
Upcoming Community Events/TKA/BI Joint Opportunities
Daily Minyan



Negative and Positive Freedom

By Rabbi James Jacobson-Maisels  

In this week's parashah, Yitro, we read of the revelation at Sinai that follows last week's Exodus from Egypt. What is this relationship between freedom and revelation, between Exodus and Sinai? 

The Hasidic master R. Yehudah Leib Alter of Ger explains that Sinai follows the Exodus because "the purpose of all the commandments...is so that every person of Israel be free (Sefat Emet, Language of Truth, pp. 319-320)." Revelation follows liberation because while freedom might have been initiated at the Exodus, it is only completed at Sinai.

Yet what kind of freedom is this? What kind of freedom is maintained by the revelation of laws and commandments which, on their surface, seem to limit freedom?

Freedom From and Freedom To

We can begin to answer this question through Isaiah Berlin's famous analysis of the two kinds of liberty: negative liberty and positive liberty. Negative liberty is defined as freedom from--the freedom from restraint on one's actions, enshrined in such concepts as human and civil rights. Positive liberty is defined as freedom to­­--the freedom to pursue a good life personally and communally, expressed in such rights as the right to vote, the right to organize, the right to education, and the right to pursue economic stability.

While negative liberty, the Exodus from Egypt, is essentially concerned with the absence of restraint, positive liberty, the revelation at Sinai, paradoxically often requires restraint for it to be realized.

Perhaps the clearest example of this paradox is found in our tradition's attitude toward education. Learning Torah is understood by the tradition as a positive commandment that one is obligated to fulfill (see Maimonides, Laws of Talmud Torah). One is expected to find time to study and to utilize one's financial resources to ensure that both oneself and one's children are educated. This requirement of education is understood as essential to freedom, to positive liberty, even though it seems to limit one's individual freedom of time and financial priorities. 

At the completion of revelation Moses descends from the mountain with the tablets of the law in his hand: "the tablets were God's work, and the writing was God's writing, engraved upon the tablets (Exodus 32:16)." The Rabbis famously comment, "'engraved (harut) upon the Tablets'--do not read it as engraved (harut) but rather as free (heirut) for there is no free person but one who engages in the study of Torah (Pirkei Avot 6:2)."

Here we see the relationship between Exodus and Sinai. Only through the process of learning the skills, insight, and wisdom to live an empowered life can one truly be free. . .

 Click to continue reading.

Rabbi James Jacobson-Maisels teaches Jewish thought and mysticism at the Pardes Institute of Jewish Studies in Jerusalem.

For further insight on the parsha, please visit:
May Their Memories Be For a Blessing 

January Yahrtzeits

1/31/2013 (20 Shevat)          

Gerald Sable

February Yahrtzeits

2/2/2013 (22 Shevat)       

Rina Benisty

2/4/2013 (24 Shevat)       

Betty Crone 

2/6/2013 (26 Shevat)       

Jospeh Langnas

2/7/2013 (27 Shevat)        

Isaac Faxstein

2/11/2013 (1 Adar)           

Oscar Kuhn, Arnold Lada

2/12/2013 (2 Adar)            

Julius Shuback

2/15/2013 (5 Adar)            

Sylvia Cohen, Henrietta Hamburger

2/16/2013 (6 Adar)    

Rose Lovinger Columbus,Gussie Friedman, Jack Gruber

2/18/2013 (8 Adar)               

Wesley Brown, Marvin Rosen

2/19/2013 (9 Adar)               

Max Silverstein, Sharon Florence Weisberg

2/20/2013 (10 Adar)             

Nancy Fischer, Rhea Lazarus, Klara Stark

2/22/2013 (12 Adar)             

Theodore Jacob Levine, Betty Margolis, Leah Yudell

2/23/2013 (13 Adar)             

Gloria Braverman, Sol Reichberg Taub, Leo Weber

2/24/2013 (14 Adar)             

Wolfe Brown, Esther Nusbaum

2/26/2013 (16 Adar)             

Yetta Langfelder 

2/27/2013 (17 Adar)             

Ann Doneson, Maurice Katz, Esther Wolok

2/28/2013 (18 Adar)             

Alan Breitman, Rose Lifshitz

To make a donation to commemorate a yahrtzeit, please click here.  If you are a member of the synagogue and a yahrtzeit for your loved one is not on the list, please contact the synagogue office so the information can be added to our records.


Please contact the synagogue office if you wish to permanently memorialize a loved one by purchasing a yahrtzeit plaque.     


USCJ logo
 B'nai Israel Synagogue 
is affiliated with The 
United Synagogue of Conservative Judaism. 

Quick Links

B'nai Israel Synagogue on Facebook, click here.

:: (248) 432-2729




B'nai Israel Synagogue is now affiliated with United Synagogue of Conservative Judaism (USCJ) 
Please click here and here to read letters officially welcoming us into the USCJ family.
Special 3-Part Shabbat Study Session 
February 2, 9 and 16 
TKA/BI Social Hall during Kiddush Lunch
Rabbi Berger will be offering an in-depth study of Rabbi Danny Nevins's recent teshuvah on the use of electricity on Shabbat.  The class will meet during kiddush lunch at a designated area in the social hall.  

rsvp to the synagogue by e-mail 

or phone (248-432-2729) to insure space. Please print and bring your own copy of the teshuvah, found here.
Sunday, February 3rd, 12:30p.m.-2p.m.
All Ages Welcome!
Ice skating at Campus Martius Park, followed by hot chocolate and snacks at the Isaac Agree Downtown Synagogue. Click here for complete event information. Please rsvp by January 31sruby.robinson@gmail.com
Special activities for 6th-8th graders (Kadima) RSVP:


An Evening with Rabbi Ethan Tucker from

Mechon Hadar:  Can Judaism be Unethical?

Saturday, February 9th, 8:30-10p.m 

at the home of Susan Knoppow and David Saperstein

Please click here for event flyer.

RSVP by February 6th: events@mechonhadar.org


Special Youth Activities:  February 9th and 10th:  Limo Scavenger Hunt and Sky Zone.  

See Youth Activities section. below for details.


To Ruth and Mark Webber on the death of their brother in law, Joachim Nachbar.  
To Robert and Laurie Kimmel on the death of their brother in law, Dr. Richard Reinherz.
Todah Rabbah
To Libby Beider for sponsoring minyan breakfast marking the first yahrtzeit of her brother, Mel Rogoff.
Purim is Coming!  click here for event flyer.

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Shabbat Services: Yitro

Friday, February 1st

6 p.m. Services, Chapel

Saturday, February 2nd

9 a.m. Services, Sanctuary

Kiddush Lunch is sponsored by the Kiddush Lunch Fund.
Kiddush Lunch is available through the generosity of weekly sponsors. Please e-mail or call Mindy Shuback (248) 752-6046 or call the synagogue office if you would like to sponsor a kiddush lunch.  You may also make a donation to the synagogue specifically for the Kiddush Lunch Fund by clicking here.
Learning Opportunities   
Siddur Appreciation/Learning 
with Dr. Mitch Parker 
This class is held on Shabbat mornings in the lower level, Room 9. 
February 9 and February 23, 10 a.m. 

Upcoming Youth and Family Activities
Ice Skating: February 3, 2013
Campus Martius Park followed by hot chocolate and snacks at Isaac Agree Downtown Synagogue. Click here for event flyer. 


MCUSY Limo Scavenger Hunt
8th-12th Graders
Saturday, February 9th, 7:30-10:30 p.m.
Drop off and Pick up at Adat Shalom Synagogue
$25.00  Contact Ilana Wolf to rsvp:  248-207-0364

B'nai Israel Synagogue Kadima (grades 6-8) 
February 10th, 1-2:30  SkyZone
Ultimate trampoline park!

Unmatched, out of this world high flying fun, wall-to-wall trampolines for free jump and sports play courts! 

Click here for event flyer.  
RSVP required to attend:kadima@bnaiisraelwb.org.  
For a calendar of Kadima events for the remainder of the school year, click here.  For more information, e-mail kadima@bnaiisraelwb.org.


for more information.

Upcoming Youth Services  

Supervised Youth Activities,  Room 3, lower level 

February 9 

February 16 (special program), February 23

To stay current on all youth and family activities, contact Ilana Glazier  to join the B'nai Israel Families Facebook Group.
Upcoming Community Events
TKA/BI Joint Opportunities
BOOK CLUB (Adults)

Book Club meets on the third Sunday of every month. All are welcome.   

Sunday, February 17th Gossip: The Untrivial Pursuit by Joseph Epstein (non-fiction)  

Sunday, March 17th:  The Invisible Bridge
by Jullie Orringer (fiction)
Sunday, April 21st
: The Glass Castle by Jeannette Walls (memoir)

TKA Sisterhood Day of Beauty:
February 10th, 12p.m.-3p.m. 
Nordstrom, Somerset
$25.00 includes lunch and beauty consult
RSVP by February 1st to Connie Silver:  248-851-2149 or
KNITTING has returned!
Not a knitter?  All stitchers are welcome.  Bring your needlepoint, crochet hook or cross stitch and join the group. There is no charge to attend.

7 PM at the TKA/BI building. 

FUTURE DATES:  2/13, 3/13, 4/24/ 5/21, 6/10

Just drop-in! No registration required.  For more information, e-mail Gail Raben.



Tuesday, February 26, 2013

6 p.m., Temple Israel.  Click here for complete program information and downloadable reservation form. 

Dietary laws observed.


Daily Minyan

Monday and Thursday mornings, 7:00 a.m.

Rosh Chodesh mornings, 7:00 a.m.

Tuesday, Wednesday and Friday mornings, 7:15 a.m.

Monday-Friday evenings, 6 p.m.     

Sunday Morning, 8:30 a.m.

Sunday evenings, 5 p.m.   

Legal Holidays, 8:30 a.m. and 5 p.m.  

Please e-mail the synagogue or call the office (248) 432-2729 with any questions.  

Caring Community Information

Our caring community reaches out to one another in a variety of ways.  We welcome our new members warmly with a special visit and gift.  We provide shiva minyan leaders.  We call/visit/provide meals for members who are ill or home-bound, bring a home-cooked shiva meal to mourners in our community, and help to drive members who need a ride to synagogue services and events.  If you would like to help in any way, please call or e-mail the synagogue.  

Refuah Sh'leimah/Wishing a Speedy Recovery

Please e-mail the synagogue office or contact the synagogue:  248-432-2729, if you have a name that needs to be placed on the mishebeirach list or needs to be removed from the list.  
Mazel Tov
January Birthdays
31 Robin Pappas 
February Birthdays

  2 Hanna Berlin

  4 Murray Baruch

  7 Jeremy Pappas

12 Constance Victor

14 Jeffrey Eisman

14 Rebecca Tron

16 Benjamin Eisman

16 Brian Newhouse

16 Miriam Saperstein

17 Michael Golob

20 Colton Graub

22 Seymour Manello

25 Toby Chudnow

25 Sheila Kurland

25 Sharon Rosen

26 Aaron Orel

February Anniversaries

 2 Jerry & Gail Beale  

To make a donation in honor of someone's anniversary, please click here.

If your birthday or anniversary information is not listed, please email the synagogue so it can be added to our records. 


Join Our Mailing List 

To make a donation to the synagogue  click here.