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Weekly Message 12/30/2022 Parashat Vayigash

Parashat Vayigash (and he drew near) Genesis 44:18 - 47:27

HafTorah Ezekiel 37:15 - 28

Joseph Overseer of the Pharaohs Granaries (1874 painting by Lawrence Alma-Tadema)

Dear friends,

With Hanukkah now behind us, we look forward to a new secular year filled with increasing activities at our synagogue. First, I would like to thank all those who participated in our Hanukkah visitations, to those unable to leave their homes. And thanks to those who helped make our Hanukkah party so successful. If you haven't already seen the press coverage, check out this week's edition of the Suncoast News (page 7) for an illustrated article. Also, if you haven't already done so, please sign up for our first post-covid lockdown community Shabbat dinner a week from today (January 6th) at 6:30 pm. Maxine Kauffman, executive director of our Jewish Federation will join us and inform us of this year's planned activities.

In the meantime, please make an effort to attend our Shabbat services, tonight at 7:30 pm and tomorrow morning at 9:30 am. We have several potential new members who will be coming and want to have many to greet them and show them what a great congregation we have. Also, we must have a quorum for a minyan. Sadly, we were unable to read the Special Torah portions for Hanukkah and Rosh Chodesh last Shabbat morning because we were one person short. Please support our efforts to provide a full service to those who attend and remember that you can attend virtually on Zoom as well!

In this week's Torah portion (chapters 44 and 45 of the Book of Genesis--Parashat Vayigash), we continue the "Joseph story" as he reveals himself to his brothers. For me, the most poignant lesson is regarding the ability for one to change one's attitude and behavior as did Judah when Joseph insisted on his leaving his youngest brother Benjamin behind. We recall that Judah, like his brothers, was filled with jealousy and although he saves Joseph from being murdered, he leaves him trapped in a pit to ultimately be sold into slavery and without regard for how his father Jacob would be devastated. And now, facing Joseph for the first time since that incident, Judah shows true remorse. Even though he would naturally be jealous of his father Jacob's favoritism toward Benjamin, he is completely transformed knowing how Jacob will react if he learns that Benjamin has been harmed. Judah declares:

"Now, if I come to your servant my father and the boy is not with us-since his own life is so bound up with his-when he sees that the boy is not with us, he will die, and your servants will send the white head of your servant our father down to Sheol in grief." (Genesis 44:30)

Our Haftorah will be from the Prophet Ezekiel who kept his and his brethren's faith alive during the exile in Babylon and declared that it is never too late to repent and take on individual responsibility for one's actions—the perfect match to Judah's transformation in the Torah reading.

So please join me in person or virtually this Shabbat weekend to welcome prospective members and assure that we have a minyan so that we can read this stirring Torah portion and those who are in mourning can recite the Kaddish Prayer.

Shabbat Shalom!

Ron Becker,

Spiritual Leader



JCC is inviting you to a scheduled Zoom meeting.

Topic: Friday, 12/30/2022, 7:30 pm

Time: Dec 30, 2022 07:30 PM Eastern Time (US and Canada)

Join Zoom Meeting

Meeting ID: 497 903 0958

Passcode: 5QdVaA



JCC is inviting you to a scheduled Zoom meeting.

Topic: Saturday Service, 12/31/2022, 9:30 am

Time: Dec 31, 2022 09:30 AM Eastern Time (US and Canada)

Join Zoom Meeting

Meeting ID: 497 903 0958

Passcode: 5QdVaA

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