May 15, 2014
15 Iyar 5774
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In This Issue
Shabbat Behar
Youth and Family Activities
Learning Opportunities
Shabbat Behukkotai
Rabbi Lauren Eichler Berkun

The final chapter of the Book of Leviticus deals with voluntary contributions to the Sanctuary. In dedication to the Temple, one might pledge the value of one's life or the life of another person. The beginning of Leviticus 27 addresses the question of how to determine the value of a person in order to fulfill such a vow. The Torah states:

"When anyone explicitly vows to the Lord the equivalent for a human being, the following scale shall apply: If it is a male from twenty to sixty years of age, the equivalent is fifty shekels of silver by the sanctuary weight; if it is a female, the equivalent is thirty shekels. If the age is from five years to twenty years, the equivalent is twenty shekels for a male and ten shekels for a female. If the age is from one month to five years, the equivalent for a male is five shekels of silver, and the equivalent for a female is three shekels of silver. If the age is sixty years or over, the equivalent is fifteen shekels in the case of a male and ten shekels for a female" (Lev. 27:2-7).

At first glance, this system raises troubling questions about the estimation of human value in the Torah. To the modern reader, it seems cold and heartless to equate human worth and monetary value. For women, it is especially difficult to read that our value is calculated as sometimes half that of a man the same age. Are we to understand that men are worth more than women? Adults are worth more than children? Teenagers are worth more than the elderly? How are we to understand this difficult passage and to find sacred meaning in its lessons?

First, the practice of vowing the equivalent of a human being is connected to the ancient practice of dedicating one's life or the life of one's child in service to the Temple (Eitz Hayyim, p. 753). From this perspective, we can more easily understand why age and gender determine the "value" of the person. A twenty-five year old woman can perform more services for the sanctuary than a six-year old boy. Therefore her monetary equivalent is larger. However, since men were assumed to be physically stronger and more productive, males receive a higher valuation than females in the same age group. The monetary value does not denote moral worth or the level of sanctity. Rather, the donation represents the equivalent value of human labor and service on behalf of the Temple.

I would also like to suggest a different approach to this passage. Perhaps the Torah is making a subtle but powerful statement about the intrinsic value of human beings. Let's imagine that the Torah had not delineated prescribed amounts for the fulfillment of human pledges. When a person would vow oneself or one's child as an offering, how would he or she determine the equivalent worth? Which criteria would we use to estimate our worth in the eyes of God? Our wealth? Our intellectual achievements? Our physical beauty? Our discipline and piety? Even if we dared to profess which human qualities are most important to God, would it be possible for us to objectively assess ourselves or those around us? Instead, the Torah assigns impartial measurements: age and gender. In so doing, the Torah teaches us that we cannot truly determine our own inner value. God alone knows our hearts and our souls. Our individual self-worth cannot come from human judgment.

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for additional insights on this week's parsha and others, visit The JTS Torah Commentary archive:

May Their Memories Be For a Blessing 

May Yahrtzeits 

5/15/2014 (15 Iyar)             

Marilyn Soverinsky 

5/18/2014 (18 Iyar)              

Sylvia Isaacs

5/19/2014 (19 Iyar)              

Rabbi Moshe Funk

5/20/2014 (20 Iyar)              

Pearl Mirkin

5/21/2014 (21 Iyar)              Abraham Joseph Kleinbard

5/23/2014 (23 Iyar)             

Jean Rappaport 

5/26/2014 (26 Iyar)              Maurice Gordon

5/29/2014 (29 Iyar)              

Ralph Levin

5/30/2014 (1 Sivan)             

Sarah Hurvich

5/31/2014 (2 Sivan)             Esther B. Goldenberg

Sandra G. Rose

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.  

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.

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Shabbat Behukkotai
Friday, May 16th
6 p.m. Minha/Kabbalat Shabbat/Maariv,
Saturday, May 17th
9 a.m. Services, CHAPEL
10 a.m. Supervised Youth Room, lower level 
Kiddush is sponsored by the Kiddush Lunch Fund.
SAVE THE DATE!  TIKKUN LEIL SHAVUOT TUESDAY EVENING, JUNE 3RD. All night study sessions concluding with a dawn shacharit service.  Detailed schedule will be sent soon!
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.


SNL:  Saturday Night Learning.  
May 17th, 8 p.m. at the home of Mindy and Fred Shuback.  Text learning, light refreshments and havdalah.  Host homes will rotate weekly.  Please e-mail Mitch Parker if you plan to attend.
May 24  Melanie Lauren Soverinsky will become a bat mitzvah during Shabbat morning services. Melanie is the daughter of Randy and Brenda Soverinsky and sister of Michael and Nathan. Melanie is also the granddaughter of Judy and Shel Gold and  Lou (Marilyn z"l) and Sally Soverinsky.
May 31 Elianna Shelli Orel will become a bat mitzvah during Shabbat morning services.  Elianna is the daughter of Matt and Lori Orel and sister of Aaron. Elianna is also the granddaughter of Stanley and Doreen Millman and Leo (z"l) and Beverly Orel.
June 14 Aviva Elisheva Lupovitch will become a bat mitzvah.  Aviva is the daughter of Alissa Citron and Jeffrey Lupovitch and sister of Miriam, Naomi and Ezra.  Aviva is the granddaughter of Jan and Henry Citron and Rochelle and Aaron Lupovitch.

Community Opportunities

Macabbi 2014.  Registration is open for Artists/Athletes, Coaches, Host Families, Volunteers and Sponsors.  JCC Maccabi Hotline:  248-432-5500,

Walk for Israel 2014
Walk For Israel
THIS SUNDAY, Sunday, May 18th
Celebrate Yom Ha'Atzmaut (Israel Independence Day) with the greater Detroit Jewish Community.  Events include 5K Family Fun Run, Community Walk, free Jerusalem Pizza lunch.  Click on: for more information.

JVS Job Fair
Jewish Community 
Job Connection Event
Wednesday, May 14th
Oak Park JCC
7:30 a.m. - Noon.
Visit www.ActNow.Jobs to register for the event, review and apply for jobs with participating employers, and view schedule of upcoming

Special Event:  
Annie's Ghosts Annie's Ghosts:  A Journey into a Family Secret
Beth Luxenberg was an only child, or so everyone thought.  Six months after her death, the secret emerged . . . Annie.
Sponsored by Jewish Family Service and Jewish Federation
Monday, May 19th 
Intimate Evening with author, Steve Luxenberg
Wednesday, May 21st
Afternoon Lunch and Learn with the author, JCC West Bloomfield.  Click here for event flyer.
For more information, visit or call 248-592-2301, or e-mail:

JTS Metro Detroit Gala
Thursday, May 29th, 5:30 p.m.
Adat Shalom Synagogue
B'nai Israel Synagogue honorees:  Ruth and Mark Webber.  Please call the JTS office:  248-258-055 for more information or register online:
Upcoming Youth and Family Activities

Upcoming Shabbat Youth Activities 
Our youth will lead and participate in the service. We will honor our graduating high school seniors. please e-mail the synagogue with your high school senior's Hebrew and English names, and post-high school plans.
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.
May 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.

Want to brush up on your prayer skills, tropes or birkat hamazon? Click here.
Mazel Tov 
Happy Birthday!

Birthday Cake


15  Marilyn Lantor

16  Trudy Jacobson

18  Gloria Ruskin

20  Linda Foster

21  Louise Lazarus

21  Megan Victor

22  David Feber

22  Karen Lovinger

23  Shai Ohana

26  Robin Rosen

27  Jay Kozlowski

28  Susan Birnholtz 

28  Hilda Hamburger

30  Jordan Rosen

31  Irvin Kappy 

31  Marlene Myers


Jewish Wedding

 20  Jay & Joanna Abramson

 25  Michael & Shelli Dorfman

 26  Jeffrey Lupovitch & Alissa Citron

28  David Saperstein & Susan Knoppow

29  Oscar & Adele Band

30  Ed & Fran Chudnow

30  Steve & Linda Jacobson

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

If your birthday or anniversary information is not listed, please email the synagogue so we can update our records.
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phone:  248-432-2729
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B'nai Israel Synagogue is affiliated with USCJ, United Synagogue of Conservative Judaism.