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Weekly Updates and Reminders

Gilner Religious School News

  • There is Mini Minyan this Saturday, May 6th.
  • There will be a 4th/5th grade Parent Program this Sunday, May 7th at 10:00am in the Social Hall. Parents will learn about the Etgar Unit the students have been studying for the last few months and will work together with their students on a final project.
  • Teen Scene meets this week May 7th at its regular time and will meet one more time on Sunday, May 14th from 11:00 to 12:00.
  • Seventh grade graduation will be held on Shabbat morning, May 13th. Please join us to congratulate our graduates.
  • All religious school parents are invited to join your children in the Katz Social Hall, for the last hour of school on May 14th. From 11:00 to 12:00 we will have a program on Israel.
  • And then plan on staying for our end of year picnic. We will celebrate the end of school and Lag B’Omer with a picnic and bonfire starting at 12:00 that all congregants will be invited to. Click here to RSVP today so that we can plan accordingly for the food. Cost: $5 in advance, $6 at the door.
  • We want to wish a Mazal Tov to Jenna Schulman who will receive the Hadassah Chesed Award this Sunday and to our teacher Fred Rich who will be honored this Shabbat with the Harry Charp Award during services.

The full GRS calendar can be found hereTo contact Linda Zimmerman, the Director of Lifelong Learning click here.


For All Families

  • All children in preschool through 7th grade are welcome on Shabbat mornings to our youth services. Tot Shabbat and Mini Minyan meet most weeks and Junior Congregation meets approximately twice a month. Check the website for specific dates.
  • Mark your calendars for our Lag B’omer picnic and bonfire on Sunday, May 14th. See above for the link to register.


Youth Department Updates

  • Check out our youth programming on There are three youth groups to choose from.

    Programs are open to any Jewish students in 4th – 12th grades. To join any of the Beth Shalom Youth Groups or for more information, please contact Ryan Tourial, Youth Director.


Parsha Achrei Mot-Kedoshim

In this portion of the Torah, we learn the rituals for purification of the Kohanim, the Mishkan, and the Jewish People on Yom Kippur. They seem complex and have a lot of symbolism. There is one ritual though, that of the scapegoat, that raises a lot of questions. Two goats are chosen. One is for a burnt offering for Hashem. The second symbolically has all the sins of the people placed upon it, it is taken out to the desert, and is chased off a cliff to its death. The verse calls it “… for Azazel.” (Vayikra 16:7 – 10)

So who or what is Azazel?  The Ramban says, “I will reveal the secret of the goat for Azazel. It is offered as an appeasement to the Satan — the source of evil — so that he not interfere with the Yom Kippur service.” Our first thought might be why someone so great as the Ramban would be advocating for something that is obviously a superstition. We are told that there is no other Divine Being to whom sacrifices may be offered except to HaShem! But why would God order such a thing? Well one explanation was given by the Kotzker Rebbe.

A story is told about the Kotzker’s High Holy Day sermon. In commenting concerning the need for the scapegoat, he expounded on the fact that human beings are made up of commendable qualities — like kindness, generosity, compassion, empathy, love. But the human being is also flesh, so there are other qualities that are not so commendable — greed, stinginess, anger, and haughtiness. Since we are human and these less commendable qualities are virtually unavoidable, then we should send them against Azazel — use them, but turn them to good. For instance, if one tends toward anger, then one should turn that anger against injustice and tyranny! While the trait of haughtiness generally has no redeeming value, if a Jew is attacked for his/her Jewishness, one should turn that haughtiness forcefully against the perpetrator and proudly declare one’s self as a Jew! That, according to the Rebbe, is the meaning of the banishing of the scapegoat to Azazel!

And that’s how we banish the scapegoat to the desert, regardless of who, what, or where you believe Azazel is! It’s all about fostering our good traits and banishing our bad ones. It’s about altruism versus selfishness, and being more of a “mensch“. It’s about derech eretz, simple decency, versus being obnoxious. It’s about doing good things versus evil things. It’s about repentance for when we slip. And it’s about a God who forgives when we who are human trip over our lesser-desirable selves.

There is wisdom in all of Torah, even when things don’t seem to make a lot of sense.

Shabbat Shalom,

Linda Zimmerman, Director of Lifelong Learning