Congregation Tiferet Israel 

Austin, TX

22 Iyyar 5783 -- May 13, 2023

What's the Spiel?

Parshat Behar-Bechukotal

Austin Community Eruv

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Rabbi's Reflections

-Don't Be Afraid: Learn and Grow-

In this week’s double-parsha, Parshat Behar-Bechukotai, we learn about the Tochacha, the chilling series of Rebukes God informs the Jewish people of should they not follow His statutes and walk in His ways, as it says, “If you will not listen to Me and will not perform all of these commandments; if you will consider My decrees loathsome, and if your being rejects My ordinances, so as not to perform all My commandments, so that you annul My covenant, then I will do the same to you; I will assign upon you panic, swelling lesions, and burning fever, which cause the eyes to long and souls to suffer…I will turn My attention against you, you will be struck down before your enemies; those who hate you will subjugate you, you will flee with no one pursuing you” (Vayikra 26:14-17). Due to the severe and frightening nature of the Tochacha, each one more intense and terrible than the last, many congregations have developed different minhagim, (customs), concerning the way in which the Tochacha is read in public. According to the Chafetz Chaim, “There are people who are so afraid of the Tochacha that they physically leave the synagogue when it is being read. Other congregations have the custom for the Torah reader to ‘swallow’ his words, and chant them in a very soft tone, so that the majority of the congregants will not actually hear the reading” (Chafetz Chaim Al HaTorah, Bechukotai 181). The Chafetz Chaim, however, does not agree with these customs. Rather, he explains, “It is similar to a person who is warned by another not to go down a certain path because of thorns, scrambling, sprawling shrubs, and wild animals which wait in ambush. If the person being warned chooses not to listen to the warning, the danger becomes even greater for him!” In other words, when someone is warning us of a dangerous path to avoid, what benefit is there to us in choosing not to listen? If we do not listen, if instead, we close our ears and our eyes, thinking, “If we can’t see the danger, it must not be there. Or, if we can’t hear the danger coming, what harm can it do?” will the thorns not prick us? Will the shrubs not cut us? Will the wild animals not attack? By not heeding direct warnings of impending danger, by deluding ourselves into thinking that we can avoid hazard by willfully choosing not to see or hear it, we place ourselves in harm’s way even more. 

The Tochacha is meant to serve as a stark warning to the Jewish people: “If we go down a path of rebelliousness, if we follow the whims of our hearts instead of the Will of God, there will be earthly and spiritual consequences, and to willfully avoid even hearing about the perils we could face by closing our ears and our eyes to them, pretending they do not exist, only increases the danger.”  Thus, the Chafetz Chaim writes, “King Shlomo gave advice to his son (Rechavam) ‘Do not avoid the upbraiding of God, and do not dismiss His rebuke.’” King Shlomo said this to his son because he knew that in the future, his son would not listen to his advisors who were telling him to heed the words of the people who would not be happy under his rule and who would threaten rebellion. Instead of lightening their burden, as the people requested and as his advisors recommended, he increased it, thinking only of himself, his pride and prestige, and as a result, he lost the kingdom his father and grandfather worked so hard to establish. 

We cannot go through life willfully avoiding the harsh things we need to hear in order to help improve and strengthen ourselves, as Jews and as human beings. We cannot go through life thinking that if we can’t hear or see something, it doesn’t exist. On the contrary, the point of the Tochacha is not to scare us. It is to help us make good, informed decisions about which path in life we will choose to take. While the severe nature of the Tochacha may make us uncomfortable, it is a discomfort we should embrace, for only through hearing and feeling its message in its fullness can we truly feel motivated to make right and good decisions in life. 

This Shabbat, let us not grow faint upon hearing the chilling words of the Tochacha. Let us not avoid them. Rather, let us take the advice of the Chafetz Chaim, and use the words of the Tochacha as an opportunity to listen, really listen, to the advice God is giving us. Just as we heed the words of doctors, lawyers, educators and experts in all types of fields who have recommendations to help us live good, full, healthy and happy lives, we should feel the same way about the words of God, spoken as the Expert, proposing a prescription for our souls. Friends, this Shabbat, let us open our hearts, our eyes and our ears to the recommendations of God. Let us embrace and take to heart those difficult words, so that we, our community, and the Jewish people, can go down the path of righteousness, avoiding the pitfalls of self-deception, and moving ever forward in our quest for peace, wholeness and prosperity. 


Shabbat Shalom!

-Rabbi Dan

Schedule of Services at B'nai Abraham

We encourage everyone to daven privately when unable to attend services. Use the private time to connect to Hashem. Public prayer definitely adds to our prayer experience. Yet we also have the capacity to create a profoundly meaningful private experience with the Divine. Let us seek such an experience in the coming days.  

Friday Night

Mincha & Kabbalat Shabbat


Candle Lighting


Shabbat Morning



Youth Services


*Shabbat services will take place in the new JCC building. Please meet in front of Bnai Abraham by 10:20 to talk over to the new room as a group.

Shabbat Evening








Weekday Services

Monday - Friday



CTI Announcements

Austin Jewish Academy Annual Dinner (5/19/23)

Dear CTI Family,

The Austin Jewish Academy (AJA) will be hosting its annual dinner on Friday, May 19th from 5:30pm to 8:00pm. The food will be provided by Palate Catering, under the supervision and certification of Dallas Kosher. All CTI members are invited and encouraged to attend. Please see the link below to sign up and show your support for Jewish education in Austin!

Shavuot Teaching Opportunities!

As the festival of Shavuot approaches, CTI is looking for members who wish to teach on Jewish subjects for our annual Tikkun Leil Shavuot! We will again divide up the learning on May 25th and May 26th. Classes should be about 45 minutes long, and can be on any Jewish topic of interest to the teacher! Please reply to Rabbi Dan at if you are interested no later than Friday, May 19th.

CTI is looking for a man or woman to serve as a backup shmira coordinator for when Larry Smith is out of town of otherwise unavailable. This involves a couple of hours of training to learn how to set up and manage shifts and communicate with the shomrim. Please contact Larry at 512-923-3964 or by email at if you are interested or would like more information.

If you are new to the community and want more information about Austin Shmira, here is a link to their website:

Register Here!
RSVP Here!

Sponsor Kiddush!

Thank you Matthew & Rebekah Ross for sponsoring Kiddush in Honor of Nathan's 2nd Birthday

Sponsoring a Kiddush is a lovely way to honor a loved one on their birthday, for an anniversary, to commemorate a Yarhtzeit, or just because you want to help out the community! Please consider sponsoring a Kiddush in June or July, and give us the opportunity to thank YOU for kiddush! 

Sponsor a Kiddush


Click Here! for more information on how to join these exciting classes:

Torah Classes at CTI!

Take Your Tanakh Series

TYT Tuesday Night - The Book of Isaiah

Tuesday 7:00pm

TYT Wednesday Mornings - The Book of Job

Wednesday 8:15am

For those new to the community, check out this introductory video 
featuring Rabbi Dan and a few of our wonderful CTI community members! 


Nathan Ross on May 13

Karin Gerstenhaber on May 14

Erik Rahimi on May 15

Beth Steinberg on May 15


If you have any birthdays or anniversaries you would like to add,

please update your profile on our website.

Yahrzeit Remembrances

Ezra Rubin, Great Grandfather of Rick Goldberg on Thursday 27 Iyyar

Lenore Weinberg, Mother of Barb Altman on Friday 28 Iyyar

May their souls be bound up in the bond of life.

If you have a Yahrzeit that you would like the congregation to acknowledge, or if you have a correction that needs to be made, please update your profile on our website.


Thank you to our anonymous donors.

Thank you to Philip Tendler for his donation In Memory Of Debbie and Joel Tendler.

We encourage you to use electronic payments by credit card or eCheck through CTI's website at when fulfilling the mitzvah of giving Tzedakah to mark family events and milestones, including Yahrzeits, and in honor of CTI and our community. 


Spiel sponsorships are now available for a donation of $18. Advertise your business or dedicate an issue of the spiel in memory of a loved one or to celebrate a Simcha.

Contact admin for more details. 

Donations can be made via our website at or by sending your check to:

Tiferet Israel P.O. Box 27254, Austin, TX 78755. Please make check payable to Tiferet Israel and please indicate what the donation is for. 

Refuah Shelayma to: 
  • Allene Novy-Portnoy; Hannah Bassa bat Sarah Osnat 
  • Avshalom ben Hannah Bassa
  • Cindy Newman 
  • Janet Goldberg; Shayna Masha bat Chasha Mina
  • Ken Friedman
  • Rebecca Millner; Rivkah bat Shoshana
  • Sheina Ruchel bat Henya Leah
  • Tzvi David ben Rivka Golda
  • Yoel Simcha ben Chaya Risha 
  • Sulta bat Nedgma
  • Zvi Aharon ben Bayla
  • Yaira bat Sarah
  • Tamar bat Chaya
  • Ilana bat Gheita
  • HaRav Avram Meir ben Eli Yosef v'Shira Chanah.
  • Rabbi Harold Liebowitz, Ha Rav Chaim Alter ben Necha. 
  • Baruch Akiva Ben Rivka
  • Miriam bat Helen
  • Rivka Michal bat Sarah Chana
  • Lori Garza 
  • Yisroel Natan ben Sarah
  • Masha Gitil bas Chaya Yita
  • Allen Levinson; Avraham Yitzchak ben Gittel
  • Moshe ben Reizel
  • Sandra Freed
  • David Chapin
  • Avigail Malkah bat Devorah
  • David Moshe ben Sylvia
  • Shoshana bat Yocheved
  • Miriam bat Rachel v'Mordechai
  • Alta Shoshana bat Shulamit
  • Meir Psachia ben Tziril
  • Geni Berman Abitbol
  • Beilya Golda bat Leah
  • Yosef Yehoshua ben Sarah
  • Jonathan Malawer (Yosef ben Bracha)
  • Bowie Alarcon
  • Fivel ben Sarah HaLevi
  • Adam ben Chanah
  • Rafael ben Sheindal Leah
  • Aharon Asher ben Chaya Naomi
  • Esther Malka Fraida bat Serel Chaya Raiza
  • Kalev Boaz Chai ben Aliza
  • Esther Reva bat Malka
  • Avraham ben Rut
  • Peter Janson, Fievel ben Devorah
  • Sheva Eva bat Bella.
  • Dorit Iken, Dorit Chana bat Orah
  • Moshe ben Rut
  • Shulkah Malka bat Tziporah
  • Chandal bat Basia
  • Shmuel Dovid bat Malka
  • Anthony Ben Devorah
  • Shayna Leah bat Yehudit
  • Reuven ben Shira
  • Batyah bat Sara
  • Akiva ben Sara
  • Jake Wolfson
  • Rachel Tzivia bat Malka
  • Rachel Golda bat Leah

 Wishing all Cholei Yisrael a Refuah Shlayma. 

Dear Tiferet Friends, 

If you placed a name on the Refuah Shelayma list and G-d willing the person is well, 

please let us know. Also, if you have a friend or family member who needs 

prayers for healing, again please let us know at  

Using the CTI Website

Logging in is easy via the login button at the top of the web page. Your login ID is your email address. Once logged in, many of the fields are pre-filled for you, to make it easier and quicker to register for an event or make a donation.

But that's not all! You will also have access to the online Member Directory, the CTI Bylaws, the minutes of Board meetings and the President,Treasurer and Rabbi Reports and other documents, all under the Resources tab. With more coming all the time!

If you have any questions or comments about the website, please contact our webmaster at

Contact Us!

On the web:


Dan Millner: 

Phone: 512-410-0336 ext 101


Alana Pompa:  

Phone: 512-410-0336 ext 102

Vice President:

Sarah Wander 


Chuck Kaufman,


Sarah Church Carroll 

Phone: 512-410-0336 ext 103


Larry Smith  

Phone: 512-923-3964


Alana Pompa 

Phone: 512-410-0336 ext 106

Kiddush Committee:

Beth Shapiro

Youth Educator:

Emily Yaffe

Chesed Committee:

Jeanette Brickman

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