Shabbat Shalom: A New Beginning

Oct 20, 2022 | Article

Shabbat Shalom: A New Beginning

Oct 20, 2022

“Every new beginning comes from some other beginning’s end…” (Closing Time by Semisonic)

These words feel particularly true in this time of what I have been calling our “reemergence.” Despite fall’s chill in the air and our preparations for winter, a lot of activity abounds. Charity events are happening. Cultural events are in full swing. And despite their struggles, our stadiums and arenas are filled with fans watching our home teams (no Broncos rant from me).

Despite our renewed level of activity, I sensed something there, something unsettled in the background. Faces once again unhidden from behind masks have aged. Some faces are missing – there has been a great deal of loss over these past few years. Returning to the lyrics above, whatever the last beginning was and has now ended, this new beginning has begun in the shadow of that previous beginning’s end. Closure. Perhaps loss. Now, hopefully, renewal.

Our Torah portion, Bereishit, captures this transition from something before, connected by an end and a new beginning, to something now in the present. Our sages offer many thoughts on why the Torah begins with the Hebrew letter bet, the second letter in the Hebrew alphabet, as opposed to aleph, the first letter. One interpretation speaks poignantly to this period of our reemergence.

The numerical values of aleph and bet are one and two, respectively. Aleph thus denotes solitariness, isolation, aloneness. Bet, conversely, is the first plural, denoting relationship, and abundance. Torah, a book of story, history, a guidebook, and framework for relationships, is also a source for cultivating hope – that light follows darkness, spring and summer follow fall and winter, and that in the company of others, in friendship and community, each new beginning begins with strength and promise.

May this Shabbat of Bereishit represent for you and for all of us a time of renewal and reemergence buoyed by the strength of community.


Shabbat Shalom,

Rabbi Jay Strear
President & CEO

Please email Jay Strear at with comments or questions.