Shaarey Tphiloh Prayers, by Caryl Herzfeld
Shaarey Tphiloh Prayers, by Caryl Herzfeld

Congregation Shaarey Tphiloh

Please join us in our new location

Saturday morning services
9:30 a.m. Room 4A
400 Deering Avenue
Portland, Maine

December 24, 2016 – 24 Kislev 5777


Shabbat Vayeshev
Genesis 37:1-40:23
Haftarah: Amos  2:6-3:8
 Candle lighting 3:50

Friday night service with Temple Beth El in Shaarey Tphiloh
sanctuary at 5:30 p.m.

Shabbat Service Saturday at 9:30 a.m.


Our service will be led by rabbinic intern, Josh Pernick.

Raphi and Liora Ozarowski will join Josh in leading the Torah discussion.

Josh Pernick will speak after the Kiddush about the
significance of Chanukah

Services cancelled December 31, 2016 

Ner Lamaore

Phil and Jeannette Lourie, in memory of Rachel Lourie and Mamie Berenson

Eddie Richman, in memory of Freida Richman

Leah Salow, in honor of Michael Goodman

Jeri, Benjamin and Baxter Brem, in memory of beloved parents and grandparents, Adeline and George Fleischer

Louis and Shula Bornstein, in memory of Beloved Uncle Joseph (Yossel) Seiga

Learning to Do the Right Thing

Joseph is not the only figure acting out of self-interest and later gaining an improved understanding of himself and his actions in Parashat Vayeishev. In the middle of the Joseph narrative, we find a story of levirate marriage: the story of Tamar and Judah. Er, Tamar’s husband and Judah’s oldest son, dies before they have any children. As the law of the Torah instructs (Deuteronomy 25:5-6), her husband’s brother, Onan, marries her and the two are meant to conceive a child in the name of his dead brother.

Onan refuses and dies childless, like his brother. Judah is distraught and resolves to prevent Tamar from marrying his third son, Shelah, lest he also die. Tamar, upon realizing the wrong being done to her and to Er, resolves to conceive a child through her father-in-law. She tricks Judah into doing the right thing. When her pregnancy begins to show, Judah calls for her to be burned alive for her perceived sin. In this moment, Tamar speaks her truth to his power, revealing that truth in a tactful way. It is in this moment that Judah realizes what he has done wrong and declares: “She is more in the right than I, for certainly I did not give her to my son Shelah” (Genesis 38:26).

From his self-centered start, Tamar jolts Judah to an improved understanding of himself and his actions. After Judah’s recognition, the story of Tamar’s righteousness continues to develop, as her decedents play key roles through the generations of Israel from Nahshon ben Amminadab who was the first to step into the Sea of Reeds, even before it split (Babylonian Talmud, Sotah 37a); to Eleazar and Ithamar, the Kohanim from whom all priestly families descend (Exodus 6:23); to King David (Ruth 4:22), King Solomon, and the full Davidic line of kings over Israel. Tamar’s zeal for God and courage in the face of fierce opposition rewards her and her line for generations to this very day. It is not easy to journey from self-interest to greater understanding, but hearing the truth, tactfully but clearly, nudges the conversation from violence and vitriol towards recognition and righteousness.

– Rabbi Rebecca Reice is the Senior-Solo Rabbi and Director of Education at Congregation Shir Ami in Cedar Park, TX

Redemption in the Dark Pit

Old pirates, yes, they rob I;
Sold I to the merchant ships,
Minutes after they took I
From the bottomless pit.

But my hand was made strong
By the ‘and of the Almighty.
We forward in this generation
— Bob Marley, “Redemption Song”

In his poignant classic on freeing oneself from the chains of physical and mental slavery, Bob Marley begins with an allusion to the story of Joseph. We read this week of his brothers stripping him of his coat, casting him into a pit and selling him as a slave to Midianite merchants.

“Joseph’s” pit, where Marley initially situates us, is a place of darkness where light struggles to get in. We are at a time of year, and a place in time, where one can likewise feel a surrounding darkness. These darkening days have a way of heightening our vulnerabilities and fears about the world around us. The Syrian refugee crisis, the attacks in Paris, events in Israel, and our own role and reactions to not only these crises but more personal challenges, can all feel increasingly daunting in the growing darkness.

The story of Joseph reminds us that the source of our social darkness is most often how we treat our brothers and sisters (both literally, in the case of Jacob’s children, and figuratively). The brothers’ broken relationship, however, also serves as a source of eventual redemption when Joseph’s strength and maturity help to heal the rift later on. Marley tells us, in another possible allusion to Joseph (Jacob’s blessing for him in Gen. 29:44), that despite the tribulations, Joseph’s hand was made strong by God, offering us a message of hope.

At this time of the year, between Thanksgiving and Hanukkah, many of us are gathering with friends, family, and community, affording opportunities to heal familial rifts and recommit ourselves to bringing light to a dark word. Whether reaching out to loved ones or holding the shamash candle, may we be strengthened by the hands of Joseph and Bob Marley as we continue the work toward redemption.

– Jason Gitlin, ReFrame: Experiential Education in Congregational Schools

Art and Resolution: 1900 to Today

“Art and Resolution: 1900 to Today” includes work by Israeli photographer Adi Nes, Bowdoin College Museum of Art, Brunswick.
Call 207 | 725 | 3275 for more information or see


See a dreidel collection at the Maine Jewish Museum generously on loan
courtesy of  Stan and Doris Pollack


Led by volunteers Jeff & Abby Halpern

Temple Beth El Youth Lounge/Library (off of the Social Hall)

Joint Temple Beth El and Shaarey Tphiloh children’s Shabbat services will be held on the first and third Saturday every month through June.

– Tefillat Yeladim (K – 5th grade): Starting around 10:30 am. Kids will be collected from each minyan or the halls. We will finish around 11:30 am.

– Tot Shabbat (Toddler – Pre K): Starting at 11:15 am, parents, please drop off your kids at the Youth Lounge (off of the Social Hall). Kids will be returned in time for Adon Olam at the parents’ minyan.

In all programs, children within the age range are welcome to attend while parents are at either shul. Kids older than the age range are welcome to attend as special helpers. Kids younger than the age range are welcome to attend with parent’s company.

We welcome special guests (including parents or grandparents). Please email Jeff at if you want to be listed as a special guest.

Grades 11-12 Community High School Program

Avis Smith

A community monthly class for students in grades 11 and 12 will be offered on Sundays from 5:00-6:30 PM. Registration is now under way.

Everything You Never Knew about Judaism!
(All the things you would not have learned in Religious School…)

We are excited to offer once again a Jewish studies program that is open to all high school juniors and seniors in Southern Maine. Our hope is that this program will provide an opportunity to get to know other Jewish high school students from the region, and to study and learn in an informal but stimulating environment. Teacher: Avis Smith

The classes will meet once a month, for a total of nine sessions, on Sundays, from 5:00 – 6:30 PM (no dinner, only snacks). This year’s dates are: September 25, October 30, November 20, December 18, January 22, February 12, March 25, April 30, and May 14.

The cost is $100. for the year. Classes will meet at Congregation Bet Ha’am in South Portland. For more information and to register call Louise at 879-0028.

Holocaust Studies with Anna Wrobel

~ Holocaust Cinema: rare and esoteric films, some from the direct postwar period, most of European origin.
Classes will meet from 6:00 to 9:00 pm on Wednesdays – 10/26; 11/30; 12/21; 1/25; 3/1. Films are listed at the JCA link below
~ Primo Levi ‘book club’: one book per month (not provided). Books and ordering information are listed at the JCA link below.
Classes will meet from 6:00-8:00pm on Wednesdays – 11/2; 12/7; 1/4; 2/1; 3/8 $100.
All classes held will be at JCA – 57 Ashmont Street, Portland, Maine

Yahrzeits This Week

26 Kislev Rose Bernstein, Maurice Minkin, Louis Schwartz, Ann Shalit

27 Kislev Anna Agger, Sophie Germaine, Fannie Jacobs, Alice Kodis, Joseph Seigal, Harry Waterman

28 Kislev Sarah Cox, Morris Mack, Mary Matluck, John Rosen, Samuel Santosky, Libby Shulman, Eva Whitney

29 Kislev Marie Indis, Solomon Kessler, Maurice Rubinoff, Sarah Sacknoff, Max Tellan, Rachel Wallman

1 Tevet Philip Gerber, Jacob Kovensky, Ida Kriger, Leonard Lazer, Eva Rubin

2 Tevet Sarah Cook, Rose Glovsky, Elsie Levine, Lester Marcus, Muriel Reiss

3 Tevet Sarah Berenson, Morris Cohen, Sidney Dorfman, Bettina Levine, Max Weissman, Yetta Zimmerman


Shaarey Tphiloh is now celebrating 112 years as a traditional Jewish spiritual home in Maine! 

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