Issue #9 | 23/11/2018

By the Grace of G-d
Newtown Shul is the only synagogue in Sydney’s Inner West.  Newtown Shul’s activities are possible because of your kind generosity and we thank you for it.

Please consider becoming a member.

Should you wish to donate to Newtown Shul, you can always do so using the bank account details below. Please make sure to send an email to newtown@shul.org.au with a copy of the transaction confirmation.

Account Name: Newtown Synagogue INC, BSB: 032036,
Account No: 960034
Parshah in a Nutshell

Parashas Vayishlach

Courtesy of Chabad.org

Jacob returns to the Holy Land after a 20-year stay in Charan, and sends angel-emissaries to Esau in hope of a reconciliation, but his messengers report that his brother is on the warpath with 400 armed men. Jacob prepares for warprays, and sends Esau a large gift (consisting of hundreds of heads of livestock) to appease him.

That night, Jacob ferries his family and possessions across the Jabbok River; he, however, remains behind and encounters the angel that embodies the spirit of Esau, with whom he wrestles until daybreak. Jacob suffers a dislocated hip but vanquishes the supernal creature, who bestows on him the name Israel, which means “he who prevails over the divine.”

Jacob and Esau meet, embrace and kiss, but part ways. Jacob purchases a plot of land near Shechem, whose crown prince—also called Shechem—abducts and rapes Jacob’s daughter Dinah. Dinah’s brothers Simeon and Levi avenge the deed by killing all male inhabitants of the city, after rendering them vulnerable by convincing them to circumcise themselves.

Jacob journeys on. Rachel dies while giving birth to her second son, Benjamin, and is buried in a roadside grave near Bethlehem. Reuben loses the birthright because he interferes with his father’s marital life. Jacob arrives in Hebron, to his father Isaac, who later dies at age 180. (Rebecca has passed away before Jacob’s arrival.)

Our Parshah concludes with a detailed account of Esau’s wives, children and grandchildren; the family histories of the people of Seir, among whom Esau settled; and a list of the eight kings who ruled Edom, the land of Esau’s and Seir’s descendants.

Chanukah Announcement

ב״ה
Happy Chanukah!

Chanukah is coming and with it the season of latkes, doughnuts and family celebrations. Please join us at Newtown for a special Shabbat Chanukah Dinner on Friday the 7th of December. More details below.

Please also find below information about other events happening in Sydney during this Chanukah season.

We want to take this opportunity to wish everyone a very happy and inspiring eight-day Festival of light

Happy Chanukah!

Rabbi Eli and Rebbetzin Elka Feldman

The Mayor’s Chanukah Parts

Monday, 3 December from 4:00pm to 5:00pm
At Waverley Council Chambers
Queens Park Room (Third Floor)
Corner of Paul Street and Bondi Road, Bondi Junction
Refreshments will be served

Free Admission
To RSVP, Click Here

Chanukah in the City

Featuring: James Buster, Australia’s Got Talent Sensation
5:30pm, Thurs, 6 Dec 2018 | Martin Place, Macquarie St.
Free Admission | Giant Menorah Lighting | Family Dinner | Free Doughnuts | Jumping Castle | Face Painting

To join the menorah colouring competition for a chance to win an XBOX S 1TB + 2nd controller, visit:
cyn.org.au/mcc

For more information, visit cyn.org.au

Chanukah at Newtown

Friday, 7 December 2018

6:00pm – L’chaim in the hall with latkes & doughnuts

6:30pm – Menorah lighting ceremony in the synagogue, followed by Shabbat prayers

7:30pm – Shabbat Chanukah Dinner in the hall

To register for dinner, please visit:
tinyurl.com/newtownchanukah

 

$25 suggested donation for dinner
Free for Uni Students

For more information, please call Rabbi Eli Feldman

Newtown Shul Weekly Friday Night Dinner

The Shabbat Dinner is the traditional focal point of every Jew’s week. We at Newtown Shul, extend a warm welcome to all people to join us for a traditional Friday Night Dinner.

The Shabbat Dinner is held in the hall beside the Synagogue immediately after the 6:30pm Shabbat service.

The Shabbat Dinner is a joint project of Newtown Synagogue and Young Adult Chabad and operates by virtue of the generosity of donors and volunteers.

All of the food served at the dinner is prepared ‘by the people for the people’ with love.

There is a suggested donation of $20 per person. To make a tax-deductible donation for the Shabbat dinners, please click here.

Weekly Insight

Kiss or Curse

By Yossy Goldman (Courtesy of Chabad.org)

Which is the greater test of faith, affluence or poverty? Is it harder to be a good Jew when you’re rich or when you’re poor, when you’re successful or when you’re struggling? No doubt, we would all much rather accept upon ourselves the test of affluence, wouldn’t we? But let’s not be subjective about it. Let us rather take an objective historical approach.

Back in the early 19th century, Napoleon was conquering Europe and promising liberty and equality for all. When he squared up against Russia, many Jewish leaders sided with him, hoping he would finally bring an end to Czarist persecution and enable Russian Jewry to enjoy full civil rights. Rabbi Schneur Zalman of Liadi, founder of Chabad, thought differently. He actively opposed Napoleon and even had his Chassidim assist in intelligence gathering for the Russian army.

When his colleagues challenged him and questioned his apparent lack of concern for the well-being of his own people, he argued that while Napoleon might be good for the Jews materially, his victory would result in spiritual disaster. History proved him correct. Minus the Little Emperor, Russian Jews remained staunchly Jewish, while French Jewry virtually vanished. How many Jewish Rothschilds are left in the world? G‑d knows we could have used them. Most of French Jewry today hails from North Africa. The originals are few and far between.

There is a fascinating Midrashic interpretation in this week’s parshah about the dramatic encounter between Jacob and Esau. The Torah says, “And Esau ran towards him (Jacob) and embraced him… and he kissed him.” The Hebrew word for “and he kissed him” is vayishakayhu. In the Torah, this word is written with a line of dots above it. Says the Midrash Yalkut Shimoni: these dots are there to indicate that the word should be read differently; not vayishakayhu, he kissed him, but rather vayishachayhu, he bit him!

How can we understand a Midrash which seems to change the entire meaning of the word? A kiss is an expression of love and a bite is the opposite! Says the Sfat Emet (Rabbi Yehudah Leib Alter, 1847-1905, the second Rebbe in the Chassidic dynasty of Ger), “When Esau kisses, Jacob is bitten!”

The American experience confirms beyond a shadow of a doubt that freedom, democracy and equal rights, while a wonderful blessing for Jews for which we should be eternally grateful, also present a profound challenge to our Jewish identity and way of life. In the melting pot of the United States, Jews have integrated so successfully that they are virtually disappearing! Success and affluence are wonderful gifts of opportunity, but we don’t seem to be passing the test of faith in flying colours.

The French philosopher, Jean-Paul Sartre, argued that anti-Semitism has been good for the Jews. It has kept Jews Jewish! While no one wants to be oppressed, and we reject anti-Semitism categorically, the man does have a point. When antisemitism bites, we intuitively know how to respond. But when the world is in a kissing mood, we don’t quite know how to handle it.

I remember as a young rabbi working with university students in Johannesburg in the late 1970s. At that time, they were completely apathetic to Judaism. My colleagues and I were struggling to elicit any meaningful response to Jewish programs on campus. During one particular meeting, we seriously contemplated getting up in the dead of night to spray-paint some swastikas on the Student Union building. Surely, that would get some reaction! Of course, we never did it. But the fact that the thought actually crossed our minds demonstrates how external threats have a way of making Jews bristle with pride and righteous indignation.

May we never again face the test of poverty or persecution. Please G‑d, we will be proud and knowledgeable Jews successfully meeting the spiritual challenges of the good life.

Shabbos Chuckle

The staff at the Beth David Senior’s Home thought it was sweet when 93-year-old Moishe Epstein started dating again.

One Monday morning Moishe woke up with a funny feeling that something important happened last night. It was during breakfast hash browns that Moishe finally remembered what it was. He had proposed to Shifra Goldman in suite 891. But what she answered he just couldn’t seem to remember.

When Moishe got back to his room he picked up the phone and dialled. “Hi Shiffy, I have a funny question for you, do you remember last night when I proposed?”

“Oh my gosh,” gushed Shifra, “I’m so glad you called, I knew I said yes to somebody but I just couldn’t recall who it was!”

November 23rd, 2018
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