The Prospect Heights Shul is a Modern Orthodox Shul in Brownstone Brooklyn


The Prospect Heights Shul
A Modern Orthodox Shul in Brownstone Brooklyn
Parshat Shemot/ Shabbat Mevarchim

Candle Lighting 4:27 PM |  Havdalah: 5:31 PM

In This Week's Email:

Shabbat and Virtual Davening Schedule

We are excited to gather for in person Shabbat davening at our temporary outdoor space (505 Grand). Please sign up here for all Shabbat activities and review the health protocols on our website (

Fri Jan 8
3:45 PM Virtual Kabbalat Shabbat (on Zoom)
or copy link

Sat Jan 9
9:30 AM Shacharit (after a brief kiddush)
4:15 PM Mincha

Please see our recent email about our plan for outdoor davening moving forward.  
Dvar Torah from Rabbi Leener

Why was Moshe picked to be the leader of the Jewish people? 

The Torah provides no credentials for his selection by Hashem. The story just randomly shifts to him. Why?

With Noach, the Torah says “Noach was a righteous man, perfect in his generation.” With Abraham the Torah doesn’t give his qualifications but it does mention his heritage.With Joseph, we learn that his dreams made him worthy of circumventing the birthright. With Moshe, he is born to unknown parents. When born his mother says,  “She saw that he was good and she hid him for three months.” What Jewish mother doesn’t see their child as being special? What makes him distinct? What behavior does he express that makes him worthy of being the eternal spokesman of the Jewish people? 

For one, he fully interalizes the suffering of others. 

The Torah says, “Some time after that, when Moses had grown up, he went out to his kinsfolk and witnessed their labors. He saw an Egyptian beating a Hebrew, one of his kinsmen.”

He literally saw into their suffering. This is more than a casual observer — it has depth.  

Rashi comments, “he set his eyes and mind to share in their distress (Exodus Rabbah 1:27).”

R.Samson Hirsch adds, “Compassion is the feeling of empathy which the pain of one being of itself awakens in another; and the higher and more human the beings are, the more keenly attuned are they to re-echo the note of suffering which, like a voice from heaven, penetrates the heart.” 

Seeing and acting on suffering makes us human but also Jewish. 

Heschel, “A child becomes human, not by discovering the environment which includes things and other selves, but by becoming sensitive to the interest of other selves. Human is he who is concerned with other selves.” 

This explains how Moshe transitioned into adulthood in one pasuk. His physical growth is based on his ability to be compassionate. 

Heschel goes on, “A person cannot be religious and indifferent to other human beings’ plight and suffering. In fact, the tragedy of man is that so much of our history a history of indifference, dominated by a famous statement, Am I my brother’s keeper? The essence of a Jew is his involvement in the plight of other people, as God is involved. This is the secret of our legacy, that God is implied in the human situation and man must be involved in it...” 

This is the Torah of Dr.King who we will honor this month, “We must affirm that every human life is a reflex of divinity, and every act of injustice mars and defaces the image of God in man.”

Moshe understood that alleviating human suffering is the role of a religious person. So what stops people? I think most people agree in the importance of compassion and ending suffering. 

To do so, requires vulnerability. Rabbi Alan Morinis explans, “The soul trait of compassion emerges from the experience of being very, very close to another, or from a feeling of closeness, or equally from an effort to draw closer to the other…The soul-trait of compassion may be more accurately defined as the inner experience of touching another being so closely that you no longer perceive the other one as separate from you. The two are made one, as the baby in the mother’s womb.  It can only exist with full emotional contact with the other.” 

We’re not separate, hence Moses sees them as brothers all of a sudden. The Torah makes a special point to mention that “he went out to see his brothers” — he left the comforts of the castle and encountered the injustice with his own eyes. His entire sense of self shifted at this moment. He for the first time identifies as a Jew. He immediately became bound to the plight of the entire nation because of their suffering. 

It’s easy to read about the injustices happening around the world in the New York Times. To make any real change though, we need to encounter suffering at its core. This is critical as life is dominated by virtual space and death tolls continue to rise around us. Like Moshe, we need to have the courage to confront suffering. This is how the world is rebuilt. 

Welcome New Members

PHS warmly welcomes the following new members:
Eric Fischer & Danielle Clemons
Daniel Zide & Samantha Collidge
Noah Potter
Andrew Kushner
Elan Rodman
Caila & Eric Moed

Membership Drive

Our 2021 PHS Membership Campaign is underway. Please see most recent email from PHS Board President David Hammer with more information on how to join or renew your membership. 
Save the Dates! Finding God in Isolation

Stay tuned for the next "Finding God in Isolation" programs:

January 14, 8:30-9:30 pm Rabbi Ariel Evan Mayse, PhD
This class will explore the contemplative practices of Hasidism as gateways to cultivating the inner world even in times of duress and upheaval. We will examine the themes of interiority in sermons, meditative techniques, and personal letters, and, with all this mind, we will consider the pathways of connection open to us even at present -- including re-envisioning ourselves as part of the greater community of nature. 

March 4 (time TBC) Rabbi David Kasher

MLK Day Service Project - Jan 18

Please join us for this year's MLK Day service project, in partnership with Repair the World. The project will take place on our lot (505 Grand) from 2-6 pm, with two shifts available 2-3:30 pm and 4:30-6 pm. You must sign up here. Spots are limited. 

We will package hygiene kits for the Brooklyn Community Center's Shower Bus. Following package assembly, volunteers will debrief the project and learn more about the recipient organization. This event is open to all ages, but children under 15 must be accompanied at all times and parents assume responsibility for Covid Compliance.

Support PHS through Amazon Smile

A reminder that PHS is now eligible for the AmazonSmile program. With the AmazonSmile program, Amazon will donate 0.5% of the price of your eligible Amazon purchases to PHS at no extra cost to you! Set PHS as your default charity through this link, or visit directly every time for your purchases to count towards a PHS donation.

Community Support - Goods and Services
Community Volunteer OpportunityCrown Heights JCC at 899 Montgomery Street is looking for volunteers to support the food pantry they created to meet the rising need for emergency food assistance in Crown Heights. To sign up to package food and/or to drive, follow this link. This is an ongoing opportunity. If you have any further questions, email Jeremy Nicholson. 

Community Support: We are blessed with many generous community members who are eager to support the broader PHS community during this difficult time. If you are in a position to offer a good or service (e.g. an old laptop for work or school, help with groceries or medications) please fill out the following spreadsheet. Questions may be sent to

COVID-19 Relief Fund: Rabbi Leener is still maintaining a COVID-19 tzedakah fund, through which he has been able to discreetly provide direct financial assistance, provide hot meals, and support funeral arrangements for those in need. If you are able, please donate here, and specify that the gift is being made for relief funds. 

Thank you and tizku l'mitzvot. 

WhatsApp Groups

To join our tefillah whatsapp group, click here
To join our women’s whatsapp group, click here
To join our tehillim whatsapp group, click here
To join our Talmud class group, click here

Eruv Announcements

The PHS community relies on the Greater Crown Heights Eruv, the Brooklyn Heights Eruv, and the Park Slope Eruv. For a map of the boundaries for the eruvim please follow this link. To donate for the upkeep of the Greater Crown Heights Eruv click here

Want to share your news with the community? Please let us know at Deadline for the newsletter is Tuesday at 9 pm.