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Family Corner: Parshat Vayeitzei

Wednesday, November 10, 2021
Posted by: Family Corner

Family Corner is a space to offer interactive and thoughtful ideas for family engagement with the Parshat Hashavua (weekly Torah reading). 

This week in the Parsha we encounter themes of dreams, journeys, angels, making promises to God, the Jewish Wedding and sensitivity towards others. 

In our Family Corner we’ve provided a video and PJ Library book recommendation on what to expect at a Jewish wedding, a family craft related to Jacob’s Ladder, a Torah thought to open up conversation with your family, a link to a family Parsha magazine and more. We hope you enjoy!

Parsha Summary

  • Jacob dreams of angels going up and down a ladder. God blesses him. Jacob names the place Bethel. (28:10-22) 
  • Jacob works seven years in order to marry Rachel, but Laban tricks Jacob into marrying Leah, Rachel's older sister. (29:16-25) 
  • Jacob marries Rachel but only after having to commit himself to seven more years of working for Laban. (29:26-30) 
  • Leah, Rachel, and their maidservants, Bilhah and Zilpah, give birth to eleven sons and one daughter. (29:31-30:24) 
  • Jacob and his family leave Laban's household with great wealth. (31:1-32:3) 

Torah Thought: Surprise! 

וַיִּיקַ֣ץ יַעֲקֹב֮ מִשְּׁנָתוֹ֒ וַיֹּ֕אמֶר אָכֵן֙ יֵ֣שׁ יְהֹוָ֔ה בַּמָּק֖וֹם הַזֶּ֑ה וְאָנֹכִ֖י לֹ֥א יָדָֽעְתִּי׃  

Jacob awoke from his sleep and said, “Surely (Truly) the LORD is present in this place, and I did not know it!” 

The word “achein”, translated as “surely”, indicates something unexpected, or a surprise. Having just had a dream wherein God spoke to him, Jacob is declaring that he did not expect to find God in that place.  

Perhaps Jacob was surprised to find God in a place other than a religious location like an altar or a temple. Maybe Jacob did not expect to find God while he was unsettled. 

Jacob remembers that in the dream God promises to protect him. Not only is Jacob surprised to find God in that place, he is comforted that despite Jacob's need to uproot himself, God’s pledge to watch over him is “transferable.’ 

This can be used to have a family discussion about holy places (synagogues, Jewish schools) and how we feel in them. It also is an opportunity to talk about making “regular” places special.  

  • How is your home special or even holy?  
  • Are there other special places that we or our kids can identify? Why are they special (maybe because of special memories)? 
  • How does the way we treat a place contribute to the way we feel about it? 

Activities, Videos, Crafts and More!  

What to expect at a Jewish wedding. A great video to introduce kids to the “ins and outs” of a Jewish wedding. 

PJ Library Recommendation

This week's PJ Library recommendation is Uncle Eli's Wedding by Tracy Newman.

Ages: 5 to 6 Years 

Synopsis: Daniel loves his Uncle Eli. But will Uncle Eli have as much time for him now that he’s getting married to Lilah? Uncle Eli promises Daniel something special on the wedding day. 

Contact Hilary Kamin at hkamin@houstonjewish.org for more information on the PJ library and to sign up to get PJ Library books delivered to your home!  

Devash (Published by Hadar): Devash is a weekly parashah magazine that makes learning Torah sweet. By engaging directly with texts and taking kids seriously as Jews, Devash helps children and grownups discover new ideas, values, and sweet morsels in the weekly Torah portion. Devash is designed for kids aged 7-11 to read independently, or together with families and teachers.  

Israel Connection: The Suez Campaign (Oct. 29-Nov. 6, 1956) 

The Suez Crisis began on October 29, 1956, when Israeli armed forces pushed into Egypt toward the Suez Canal after Egyptian president Gamal Abdel Nasser (1918-70) nationalized the canal, a valuable waterway that controlled two-thirds of the oil used by Europe. The Israelis were soon joined by French and British forces, which nearly brought the Soviet Union into the conflict and damaged their relationships with the United States. In the end, Egypt emerged victorious, and the British, French and Israeli governments withdrew their troops in late 1956 and early 1957. The event was a pivotal event among Cold War superpowers. 


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For more information about Jewish Living and Learning at the J, please contact Rabbi Barry Gelman at bgelman@erjcchouston.org.

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Category: Family Corner

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