Shabbat Shalom: Banding Together to Build

Feb 15, 2024 | Article

By: Dr. Julie Lieber
Chief Jewish Life and Engagement Officer

This week’s Torah portion, Terumah, begins the series of Torah portions that focus on the building of the tabernacle (Mishkan). For those who love material culture, instruction manuals, and DIY building projects these next few weeks are a joy. For those of you like me, who do not fall into any of the above categories, I wait patiently until we get back into the more narrative portions, with which I more easily connect. And yet, even though at times during these Shabbat Torah readings I feel like I am slogging through the details of acacia wood beams and linen coverings, there is an element of these readings that speaks to me. I have a profound appreciation of the detailed instructions that are given to the people of Israel about how best to build this space where God will dwell. I can only imagine how dumbfounded the people of Israel would have been had God asked them to build a home for the Most High, without any further instructions. I suspect they may never even have begun this work out of fear of getting it wrong, or the enormity of the job.

Often, we are tasked with big projects and can feel intimidated by the magnitude of the challenge. Many of us here at JEWISHcolorado initially felt this way after October 7th, when we asked ourselves, “How do we respond to this moment?” We were not given a divinely inspired manual for the task at hand. Instead, we turned to our partners across the globe, Israel, North America and Colorado, who shared their best practices, existing programs and ideas that enabled us to mobilize quickly to meet their needs. Our instruction book did not come from the heavens with a building “how-to” book, but sometimes it is the relationships that we have built over time, with partners, family, and community that give us the strength and courage to meet the moment, especially when we know we cannot accomplish this alone. This Shabbat, as we begin to study how the people of Israel banded together to build this sacred space for God to dwell with them in the wilderness, I am filled with gratitude for all those who are engaging in the holy work of our generation at this crucial time for our community.

Please email Julie Lieber at with questions or comments.