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.

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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

Parshas Vayeitzei

Courtesy of Chabad.org

Jacob leaves his hometown of Beersheba and journeys to Charan. On the way, he encounters “the place” and sleeps there, dreaming of a ladder connecting heaven and earth, with angels climbing and descending on it; G‑d appears and promises that the land upon which he lies will be given to his descendants. In the morning, Jacob raises the stone on which he laid his head as an altar and monument, pledging that it will be made the house of G‑d.

In Haran, Jacob stays with and works for his uncle Laban, tending Laban’s sheep. Laban agrees to give him his younger daughter, Rachel—whom Jacob loves—in marriage, in return for seven years’ labour. But on the wedding night, Laban gives him his elder daughter, Leah, instead—a deception Jacob discovers only in the morning. Jacob marries Rachel, too, a week later, after agreeing to work another seven years for Laban.

Leah gives birth to six sons—Reuben, Simeon, Levi, Judah, Issachar and Zebulun—and a daughter, Dinah, while Rachel remains barren. Rachel gives Jacob her handmaid, Bilhah, as a wife to bear children in her stead, and two more sons, Dan and Naphtali, are born. Leah does the same with her handmaid, Zilpah, who gives birth to Gad and Asher. Finally, Rachel’s prayers are answered and she gives birth to Joseph.

Jacob has now been in Charan for fourteen years and wishes to return home. But Laban persuades him to remain, now offering him sheep in return for his labour. Jacob prospers, despite Laban’s repeated attempts to swindle him. After six years, Jacob leaves Charan in stealth, fearing that Laban would prevent him from leaving with the family and property for which he laboured. Laban pursues Jacob but is warned by G‑d in a dream not to harm him. Laban and Jacob make a pact on Mount Gal-Ed, attested to by a pile of stones, and Jacob proceeds to the Holy Land, where he is met by angels.

Special Announcement

Maurie Lazarus and Ellen Fiedler are sponsoring the Kiddush this Shabbat in  honour of Maurie’s Barmitzvah Anniversary. Mazaltov!

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

Stay in your Lane

By Dena Schusterman (Courtesy of Chabad.org)

Much of life is analogous to a road or journey. As the traveller, we move along, sometimes fast—sometimes slow, as we trek this thing called life. Perhaps some see it as Ralph Waldo Emerson did: “life is about the journey, not the destination.”

Educating children is also compared to when people are supported on their journey, they’ll stick to its journey, according to the teachings of Proverbs. Chanoch l’naar al pi darko: “Educate a child according to his/her way, so that even when he grows old he will not turn away from it.”

“Way” indicates a pathway. A road. A journey. This is a powerful statement. When people are supported on their journey, they’ll stick to it. They’ll own it.

Every child has his or her own way, their personal journey. The role of an educator is to figure out how to travel alongside children as they discover the world around them.

Children start to think long before their formal education begins; our job as parents and teachers is to help them think about their own thinking. Darko means finding his or her way to grow and develop—to become moral, spiritual beings serving their Creator.

This does not mean we don’t set academic goals for skills and knowledge, it means that we get onto their road and ride alongside them, as opposed to corralling all the children onto one main road and insist, quite literally, that it is “my way or the highway.”

Yet education is not just about facts, figures or skills. It’s also about what is called “soft skills,” the social and emotional piece of development. And perhaps this is the trickiest road to navigate.

My sister and I were discussing the latest research out of Duke University concerning teen depression. Experts don’t hesitate when they say the most common source of worry and anxiety for teens today is social media. But is it really only teens? My younger, yet usually wiser, sister put this most succinctly: “We need to be driving in our own lane.” Focused. Straight. Darko.

What does it mean to stay in your own lane? Some people use this expression as a defensive posture when they are telling you to mind your own business. That’s not what my sister was saying; she was using it as a metaphor for how to stay focused on our own life’s journey. Easier said than done.

Staying in your own lane means different I stay so intent that I develop tunnel vision? things to different people. It also changes at different stages in life.

It starts with training children at a young age not to focus on what another child has. For the young adults, it might be about not allowing social media and the chatter of friends to cause you to feel bad about yourself. It might mean staying hyper-focused on not even looking in another lane, so as not to be distracted. It means feeling empowered by your own life and knowing that you can only be sure that what is in your own lane, right in front of you, is a reality. Whatever you might see “over there” could very well be a mirage.

As we age and learn to drive safely—and we do not get as easily distracted by the perceived better lives of our friends—it might just be about glancing over to the other lane and see how to help the other.

I know that I can get super-focused on my own lane and my own family. I don’t look left or right, and that’s not ideal either because it causes me to lose sight of those in another lane that might also need my attention. Do I stay so intent that I develop tunnel vision and lose sight of my surroundings?

When you learn to properly negotiate to stay in your own lane, you feel better about yourself and are filled with less comparison anxiety. But it is a delicate balance.

At the end of Parshat Vayeitzei, there begins a new chapter that has only two verses and then abruptly stops; the rest of its 31 verses are read the following week in Parshat Vayishlach. In the second verse, it says: Yaakov halach l’darko—“Jacob went on his way.” He got up, and he began to move. Life is not meant to be stagnant. Move along.

This verse is in a tiny chapter at the end of the Torah portion, but it is significant. It is best known for being proclaimed ceremoniously each year after the High Holiday season, as a charge to infuse our daily lives with spirituality. We are meant to gather all of the holiness we have acquired throughout that time and take it with us as we head into the more mundane parts of daily life.

Yaakov halach l’darko . . . darko, that word again—“his road,” or as I like to call it, his own lane. Jacob went on his way.

Jacob denotes all of Israel; it is a plural we do indeed belong to the whole connotation, yet “his way” is singular. We are many individual people who each have our own way, but we make up one single unit called “Yaakov.” We stay in our own lane while using the Torah as our roadmap. This is critical for much of our own character development, but the balance is that we also cannot forget that we do indeed belong to the whole. Looking into another’s lane makes sense at appropriate times.

Whether you take the long shorter way or the short longer way, make sure it is darko—your own individualistic way.

Shabbos Chuckle

Leah and her son Jacob are sitting on the roof of their house in Florida watching the flood waters pass their house.

“Mommy,” says Jacob pointing to the water in front of their house, “something strange is happening. Do you see that kippa? It’s movies downstream for a bit, then it seems to turn around and comes back up. It’s been doing this for some time now.”

“What’s so strange about that?” says Leah. “It’s only your father. I told him this morning that come hell or high water, he had to cut the grass today.”

November 11th, 2018
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