July 15, 2022
16 Tamuz, 5782
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July 15, 2022 / 17 Tamuz 5782

Friday, July 15
Shabbat Service at 6:45 PM
Service Leader: Rabbi Lisa Goldstein
Musical Accompaniment: Mike Stern

Slide Deck: 

Join us here on Zoom
or on YouTube

Shalom Friends,

This week’s Torah portion, Balak, is one of my favorites. I know, I say that about a lot of Torah portions! But really, how can you go wrong with a talking donkey? Besides the seemingly magical donkey, this parasha contains the magnificent liturgy with which we begin every weekday, Shabbat, and holiday morning service – “Mah tovu ohalecha, Ya’akov; mishk’notecha, Yisra’el! How goodly are your tents, O Jacob; your dwelling places, O Israel!” You’ll hear more about this blessing in my D’var Torah this evening. In the meantime, you can read Parashat Balak here.
Back to the talking donkey. Balak, king of Moab, hires the seer, Bilaam to curse the Israelites. God tells him not to go, but eventually relents, admonishing Bilaam to only say the words God puts in his mouth.
While on the journey, God – apparently ticked off that Bilaam decided to go – sends an angel tp stand in front of the donkey. Although Bilaam doesn’t see the angel, the donkey does and swerves around it. Bilaam beats the donkey for reacting to something he cannot see. It happens again, and the donkey squeezes along the wall, pressing Bilaam’s foot in the process. Bilaam beats the donkey again. The third time the donkey sees the angel, she lays down with Bilaam on her back; he’s becomes furious and beats her yet again. God finally intervenes, giving voice to the donkey, who says, “Why do you strike me? What have I done to you? Am I accustomed to stopping and blocking your path?” Only then does Bilaam see the angel. He cries out, “I erred because I did not know…”
How many times do we err because we don’t know? How often do we jump to conclusions without stopping to get all the facts? We’re human; we too often judge and gossip instead of responding with kindness, compassion, and understanding. I know I’m guilty of this on occasion. I’ve grown much more cognizant of it in recent years and I work hard to stop myself and make sure I’m considering all facets of a situation before responding or drawing a conclusion. I’ve gotten so much better, and I still have work to do.
We need to recognize the impact our actions can have in any situation. We can cause real harm by claiming ignorance after acting carelessly. All of us have been Bilaam and all of us have been the donkey. Like Bilaam, we are all guilty of doing something harmful because we did not know or understand the situation or circumstances. Like the donkey, we have all dealt with something no one else could see or understand and received harsh judgment as a result. When we truly understand that life is always more complicated than what most people project publicly, we understand the value and impact of always acting kindly and compassionately as a first response in every interaction.

*  *  *  *  *  *  *  *  *  *  *  *  *

Last Shabbat morning, our Jewish community was confronted with the threat of a possible attack against one of our synagogues. The synagogue was not named in the threat; the entire community was encouraged to call off any and all formal Jewish gatherings until the threat was eliminated, which it was by the next day.

The advice to call off Jewish gatherings was met with mixed reactions. There were some institutions who responded as requested, feeling that the safety of their members rose to the highest level of concern and all other concerns were secondary. Others felt that to cave to the threat was to give in to antisemitism and to encourage additional such acts in the future. Therefore they raised their level of security and awareness and went ahead with their scheduled Shabbat services and activities.

Whatever your belief, there is no doubt that in the face of antisemitism, the only response can be solidarity. Therefore, I urge you to join in solidarity as we come together in worship this evening - even though we are still on Zoom tonight and for two more Friday nights - at 6:45 pm. As I've said before, there is strength in community, and this is a time when strength and solidarity are most definitely needed and desired!

Shabbat Shalom,
Rabbi Lisa Goldstein

If you or a loved one is in the hospital or ill at home and would appreciate a call or a visit, please let Rabbi Lisa know.
or call: (210) 474-6082

We are excited to announce that beginning August 1,
we will begin meeting weekly in person for Shabbat services,
and for Kesher beginning in September, at

House of Prayer Lutheran Church
10226 Ironside Drive 78260


  • This will be our "home" for Shabbat, High Holy Days, and Kesher. We may be able to schedule some additional holiday programs and/or classes here as well.
  • We will continue to provide multi-access worship through Zoom and YouTube Live when we begin meeting in person.
  • We will follow the guidance of our Medical Committee with regarding to meeting in person safely, vaccination status, masking, etc. We hope and trust that everyone will abide by the committee's recommendations.
  • We will stop displaying the slide deck on-screen and transition to using prayerbooks. You may purchase a hard cover of Mishkan T'filah for Shabbat, Weekdays, and Festivals or the Shabbat only edition. A more economical choice might be to purchase the Kindle edition, which you can read on your tablet or computer using a free Kindle app. Members, if they prefer, may sign out and borrow prayerbooks from us. More information about that will be available as we get closer to the time.
  • We will need volunteers each week to set up the room and break it down, and to set up the Oneg Shabbat. We will also need people to bake goodies for Oneg.

Most importantly, we need you to


Watch this space for new and exciting adult learning opportunities coming soon!
Invite a Friend to Join
Congregation Shalom

Now is the perfect time to become a member of Congregation Shalom, as our High Holy Day in-person services will be limited to our members and their guests (family members and/or those visiting from out of town only). Invite your friends to our Shabbat services and extend a warm invitation to join our congregation.
Congregation Shalom
Membership Applications

If you or someone you know would like to become a member of Congregation Shalom, please contact Lisa at or (210) 474-6082 for an application.

 Congregation Shalom of San Antonio 
PO Box 700187
San Antonio, TX 78270

until further notice
Congregation Shalom phone number:
(210) 474-6082

You may have noticed that our website is temporarily down. We are in the process of transitioning from our former web host to our new URJ web host and expect to complete the transition this coming week! Stay tuned... we will have a whole new look and new content that we can all be proud of!

In the meantime, we have included more information than usual in this Friday email to include all the links you will need for Shabbat and the week. Thank you for your patience while we complete this exciting process!
We still have a small supply of N95 masks given to us by the Jewish Federation to distribute to any of our members who are in need and have limited or no access to masks. If you need a mask for yourself or a family member, please contact Lisa at (210) 474-6082 or by email.

Would YOU like to make someone smile?  To sign up to become a Challah Helper and deliver Shabbat goodies to older adults in the community, contact Sandra at, or visit

Lend a Helping Hand

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Congregation Shalom of San Antonio · P.O. Box 700187 · San Antonio, TX 78270 · USA

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