February 20, 2014
20 Adar 1 5774
Click here for Daily Minyan Schedule

Like us on FacebookFollow us on Twitter
In This Issue
PARSHAT Vayakhel
Youth and Family Activities
Learning Opportunities

Parshat Vayakhel

Rabbi James Jacobson-Maisels  

Our parashah, Vayakhel, describes not only 
Moses' call for donations to the construction of the Tabernacle, the mishkan, but also the community's generous response. What is the role of themishkan in the lives of the Israelites that caused them to respond so generously?


The mishkan, literally "dwelling-place," is the place where God and Israel meet. It is here that God's divine presence, the Shekhinah (from the same root as mishkan), dwells in the midst of Israel. It is the means by which God becomes present in the very center of the Israelite community and in the hearts of the Israelites.

God instructs (Exodus 25:8): "let them make me a mishkan and I will dwell (shakhanti) within them (betokham)." The Sefat Emet, a Polish Hasidic master, reads this as "within them truly" (betokham mamash). That is, God will dwell within the very essence of each Israelite.

Prior to the mishkan, the Israelites' relationship with the divine was with the transcendent, miraculous God of the splitting of the Red Sea and the revelation at Sinai. At Sinai, the people trembled in fear at the awesome revelation of the divine and retreated from a direct personal encounter (Exodus 19:16, 20:15-18).

Intimacy & Eroticism

It is only through the mishkan, the earthly dwelling-place of God, that a more intimate encounter becomes possible. Indeed, the mishkan is not just any meeting place, but, as both the midrash and Kabbalistic literature make clear, a place of great intimacy, the bridal chamber of God and Israel, where the truest level of intimacy can manifest after the marriage at Mount. Sinai (See the opening of Pesikta de-Rav Kahana and Zohar II 179b, I 239a).

The intimate erotic nature of the mishkan can be seen in the beautiful fabrics and the fine metals which are the adornments of the Shekhinah, the divine bride, and the hangings of Her wedding chamber (Exodus 35:5-8). Similarly, the cherubim in the mishkan, who face each other with outspread wings, are, we are told in the Talmud, in fact intertwined in an erotic embrace (Yoma 54a), and erotic significance is given to other verses and gifts.

Finally, following the midrash, we can see the similarity between the word for "completing" (vayakhelor kalot) the mishkan and the word for "bride" (kalah), an indication that the completion of themishkan was also the consummation of this divine-human marriage. 

The Generous of Heart

In the process of constructing the mishkan, then, God is transformed from the awesome divine Other, unapproachable and incomprehensible, to the intimate divine Beloved, present in the midst of Israel. It is the act of generosity, the very process of giving, that actualizes the opening of the heart that in turn makes intimacy possible. 

Again and again in the parashah we are told of the generous of heart and noble of spirit who contributed to the mishkan. This is a generosity not only of possessions, but one that reaches even deeper, as we are told, "take from yourselves an offering to God, all the generous of heart (Exodus 35:5)."

That is, a literal taking from yourselves, your experience, your wisdom and particularity, and offering it to the Beloved. Before, alienated by God's distance at the peak of Mount Sinai, the people could only express their generosity to the illusion of divinity in the Golden Calf (Exodus 32:3). Now, inviting God into their midst, the natural generosity of intimacy is properly expressed.

To Dwell Among Us

Just as God is ultimately both foreign and intimate, both self and other, so this is true of our fellow human beings. We can experience our fellow humans as alienated, even antagonistic, others, or as intimate beloved companions.

Like the Israelites in the wilderness, alienated by God's otherness, it is often easy to feel disconnected and not responsible for those who are most other, most unlike us. This disconnection is apparent between us and our neighbors in the developing world, who are separated from us by distance, wealth, culture, and politics.

click here to continue reading

JTS logo
for additional insights on this week's parsha and others, visit The JTS Torah Commentary archive: 
May Their Memories Be For a Blessing 

2/20/2014 (20 Adar I)          

Doris Barahal Tron

2/21/2014 (21 Adar I)

Arlene Beals

2/22/2014 (22 Adar I)           

Edith Nusholtz

2/26/2014 (26 Adar I)           

Esther Patent

 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 we can update our records.


Please click here if you wish to permanently memorialize a loved one by purchasing a yahrtzeit plaque.  

Join Our Mailing List
To make a donation to the synagogue,  click here  
phone:  248-432-2729
Shabbat Vayakhel
Friday, February 21st
6 p.m. Kabbalat Shabbat/Maariv,
Saturday, February 22nd
9 a.m. Services, Sanctuary
10 a.m. Supervised Youth Activities, Room 3 for ages 12 and under.
Kiddush Lunch is sponsored by the Kiddush Lunch Fund.
All are welcome to attend a Shabbat Shiur today following lunch and prior to Minha, led by Jeff Lasday.
Click here to help with Kiddush Lunch
*Kiddush Lunch is available through donations to the Kiddush Lunch Fund, the generosity of weekly sponsors, and volunteer efforts of our congregants and regular attendees.  Please e-mail or call the synagogue office if you would like to sponsor a kiddush lunch.  To sponsor as part of a "group," please e-mail Joanna Abramson or Mindy Shuback. You may also make a donation to the Kiddush Lunch Fund by clicking here.  To sign up to help prepare Kiddush Lunch please use the "volunteer spot" button above.

Purim 2014
Purim is just around the corner.
 Volunteer spot
Upcoming Youth and Family Activities
FAMILY CAMP 2014 MARCH 21st-23rd

NCJW Detroit NCJW Annual Jewish Youth Awards

National Council of Jewish Women, Greater Detroit is proud to continue the tradition of honoring exceptional high school students who demonstrate leadership within the Jewish community, and is awarding scholarship money through its annual Jewish Youth Awards. All High School Seniors are invited to apply. 2014 AWARDS: DEADLINE for application submission is Friday, March 7, 2014 at noon. The application form and all supporting documentation must be received at the NCJW/Greater Detroit office, 26400 Lahser Rd., Suite 306, Southfield MI 48033-2675 no later than noon on Friday, March 7, 2014.

Awards totaling $5,800 will be distributed to the finalists at the Awards Ceremony on April 27, 2014.

1st Place: $2500; 2nd Place: $1300; 3rd & 4th Places: $500; and 4 Honorable Mention Prizes of $250. click here for complete award information and application.

7:00 P.M. AT B'NAI MOSHE  

J-Serve Detroit
J-Serve Service Leadership Immersion
February 16-18, 19-21
Don't get stuck over February break when you can spend three unforgettable days living and volunteering in Detroit. 

Family Night at Minyan, one Sunday/month.  
Bring your family to help make minyan at 5 p.m. and enjoy pizza dinner in the social hall following services. MARK YOUR CALENDAR:  3/9 (we will assemble Mishloach Manot for BI seniors), Volunteer spot 4/27, 6/1
Click on the Volunteer Spot Link to sign up for March 9th Dinner and minyan, and mishloach manor preparations.

Upcoming Shabbat Youth Activities 

SHABBAT CHILDREN'S WORKSHOP DATES for youth ages 7-12. 30 minutes of tefilla and parsha fun. 

11-11:45 a.m., ROOM 9
MARCH 1ST,  APRIL 5th, MAY 3 (10:30 A.M.)   


for ages 13-17, 
11:00-11:45 a.m., Social Hall 
Listen to the D'var Torah in the main sanctuary, then give your take over cocoa and cider.  Kiddush lunch following, with Spirited singing and Birkat Hamazon led by teens.

e-mail teens@bnaiisraelwb.org for more information.

To stay current on all youth and family activities, contact Ilana Glazier to join the B'nai Israel Families Facebook Group.
Learning Opportunities  
Adult Education
"Reflections on the Siddur," with Dr. Mitch Parker
Saturdays, 11-11:45 a.m.
February 22     March 8 and 22    
April 12 and 26    May 10 and 24    June 7 and 21
Mitch will focus on Ashrei, Aleinu, the Kaddish, Adon Olam, Yigdal, Hallel and Birkat Hamazon. 
Class meets in the lower level, Room 9.

Lunch and Learn Series 
with Hillel Buechler, Ramah Fellow lunch and learn
First Tuesday of every month
Next session:  12:15 p.m., March 4th
Meet at Barnes and Noble on Orchard Lake Road Bring your own lunch.  There is no charge to attend.   Future Dates: March 4th, Apr8th.  Please e-mail Hillel Buechler if you plan to attend.

Shabbat Shiur Series
Shabbat Afternoons, last Saturday of the month following lunch and prior to minha. Shiur (class) will meet in the chapel.  All our welcome.  There is no charge to attend. 
Future Dates: February 22nd, March 29th, May 10th, June 21st.  Click here for schedule and list of presenters.
Mazel Tov 
Happy Birthday!

Birthday Cake


20  Colton Graub

22  Seymour Manello

25  Sheila Kurland

25  Sharon Rosen

26  Aaron Orel



If your birthday or anniversary information is not listed, please email the synagogue so we can update our records.

Caring Community Information

Refuah Sh'leimah/Wishing a Speedy Recovery.  

Please e-mail Michael Golob or call the synagogue: 248-432-2729 to add a name to our communal mishebeirach list.   

Shiva assistance: To assist in providing a shiva meal for BI member families and/or if you are able to lead a shiva minyan, please e-mail the synagogue.


Upcoming TKA/BI Joint Opportunities 

Book Club
TKA Sisterhood Book Talk and Swap
Sunday, March 2nd, 2 p.m., Social Hall
Connie Silver to lead conversation on Great Reads from 2013 and will suggest what to read next.  Take books home to read - swap ones you enjoyed.  Please bring up to 5 books to swap for others you might enjoy.  Everyone welcome. rsvp to tkasisterhood@hotmail.com or call Connie:  248-851-2149.
MARCH 23-30, 2014
TKA will once again be housing guests for one week from South Oakland Shelter. There are many ways to get involved and help. Everyone's help is needed! Chuck Seigerman and Steve Dines are the BI point people for this. Click here to sign up online or e-mail Steve or Chuck with any questions.
Click here to assist with 3/27 Dinner
Click here to assist with 3/25 Dinner
Support B'nai Israel by using the Amazon button to shop today!
USCJ logo
Quick Links
B'nai Israel Synagogue is affiliated with USCJ, United Synagogue of Conservative Judaism.