Congregation Tiferet Israel 

Austin, TX

9 Kislev 5783 -- December 3, 2022

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Parshat Vayetzei

Austin Community Eruv

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Rabbi's Reflections

-The Ladder of Spiritual Progress: An Image for Us All-

Parshat Vayetzei contains one of the most iconic images in Jewish tradition: Jacob’s Ladder. While many of us picture this well-known image through the artistic lens of Chagall or Blake, the question we must ask ourselves is, “Why a ladder?” After all, God appeared to Moshe in a burning bush, to the Jewish people at the top of a mountain, and to Eliyahu in a “thin, still voice.” Why, then, did God choose a ladder, albeit in a dream, to make His presence known to Yaakov? In order to answer this question, we must understand the symbolism of a ladder, specifically as it pertains to “Avodat HaShem,” the “Service of God.” According to Rav Hirsch, “A ladder is shown to him, signifying that there is a link between the terrestrial and the celestial realms…The ladder’s purpose, however, is not to descend from heaven to earth, but to ascend from earth toward heaven…Everything on earth is summoned and destined to rise and ascend toward a lofty, heaven-set goal” (Commentary on Bereshit 28:12). Thus, God chose the ladder to teach Yaakov that all human efforts must rise from their lower place of origin towards their loftier destinations, and in this way, bridge the divide between heaven and earth. But how is this actually accomplished? 

According to Rav Moshe Feinstein, the answer to this question comes from the Talmud, which teaches us, “What is different about techelet (sky-blue) from all other colors [such that it was specified for the commandment of tzitzit]? It is because sky-blue dye is similar to the sea, and the sea is similar to the sky, and the sky is similar to the Throne of Glory” (Chullin 89a). Rav Moshe asks, “Why didn’t God command the use of a color for tzitzit which would immediately remind us of the Throne of Glory? Why did God need to use a color which reminds us of several other things, until finally, we arrive at the Throne of Glory? It seems that it comes to teach us about the way to serve God. A person must move from one rung to the next until finally, he or she reaches the Throne of Glory. One cannot leap in one moment from one rung to another which is totally beyond one’s grasp. This is the way to serve God in all matters. A person must ascend from one rung to the next, until each rung has been encountered, creating the wholeness of a journey. When a person moves from one rung to the next, slowly, intentionally, he or she will internalize the lessons of their progression in a steady, sure way” (Sefer Kol Ram, Shelach 275:17). Furthermore, in his commentary on the Torah, the Gra adds, “One must progress from one level to the next as one ascends a ladder. One cannot grab a hold of a rung that is too high, for if one does, if one jumps to reach it, he or she will never reach it, and will fall.” 

The ladder symbolizes the way one must approach living a spiritual life. Yaakov’s life was filled with “up’s and down’s.” Yet, by showing him the ladder, Yaakov understood that true spiritual progress can only be made by slowly and steadily rising to attain one’s spiritual goals. The Jewish people are named after Yaakov, “Bnei Yisrael,” because that same understanding of how to serve God via a spiritual ladder is the same way we as Jews approach spiritual progress to this very day.

This Shabbat, let us consider the spiritual goals we have for ourselves. How will we ever reach them? The answer is by slowly and steadily climbing the “ladders” God has set for us all, reaching for one rung after the other, never jumping or skipping, moving constantly towards our destinies, so that in the end, we can reach the Throne of Glory and know that every step we’ve taken, every struggle we have endured has helped us become the Jews we long to be, and lead the lives we deserve to lead. 

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

Candle Lighting

No later than 5:12PM

Micha/Kabbalat Shabbat


Shabbat Morning


9:00 AM

Children's Services


Shabbat Evening


5:05 PM


6:09 PM




Weekday Services




CTI Announcements

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Thank you to Efraim and Sigal Klein for sponsoring this week's Kiddush in honor of Etai's upcoming Bar Mitzvah celebration in Israel.

Sponsor Kiddush!

Give us the opportunity to thank YOU for kiddush! We have kiddush sponsorships available in December and January. Please help keep the cholent coming and sign up to sponsor an upcoming 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 Judges

Tuesday 7:00pm

TYT Wednesday Mornings - The Book of Jonah

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! 


Eric Shapiro on December 8


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

please update your profile on our website.

Yahrzeit Remembrances

Nathan Fichtner, Grandfather of Eric Shapiro, on Friday 15 Kislev

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 David Chapin, Offer Shavit, and Jan Gould for their aliyah donations.

Thank you to Ben Heyen and to Adam and Ilana Heller for their donations to the General Fund.

Thank you to Jake Wolfson for his donation to the Torah Fund.

Thank you to Henna Tatham for her donation in honor of Beth Shapiro, Patti Davis, Carol Rubin, and Jeanette Brickman.

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
  • 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
  • Yehudit bat Sara
  • Chandal bat Basia
  • Shmuel Dovid bat Malka
  • Anthony Ben Devorah
  • Shayna Leah bat Yehudit
  • Reuven ben Shira
  • Batyah bat Sara

 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

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