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


The Prospect Heights Shul
A Modern Orthodox Shul in Brownstone Brooklyn
Parshat Yitro

Candle Lighting 5:00 PM |  Havdalah: 6:02 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 Feb 6
4:00 PM PM Virtual Kabbalat Shabbat (on Zoom)
or copy link

Sat Feb 7
9:30 AM Shacharit (after a brief kiddush)
4:45 PM Mincha

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

One disadvantage of reading the Torah every single year is that we eventually miss out on the element of surprise that the stories and narrative contain. We know that Avraham will not actually kill Yitzhak. We know that the Egyptians failed to recapture the Jews at the sea. We know God gives the Torah over to us on Har Sinai. 

This week though I noticed something unusual about the story. Until God actually gives the Torah — it's never mentioned. It literally just happened. It was a complete surprise to them. 

The original plan was to leave Egypt and go to Israel. Who said anything about the Torah? When Hashem first tells Moshe the plan, Hashem says:“I will take you out of the misery of Egypt to the land of the a land flowing with milk and honey.’ They will listen to you; then you shall go with the elders of Israel to the king of Egypt and you shall say to him, ‘The LORD, the God of the Hebrews, manifested Himself to us. Now therefore, let us go a distance of three days into the wilderness to sacrifice to the LORD our God.’” (Exodus 3:17-18). 

Hashem mentions Israel, wilderness, and sacrifices but no mention of giving/receiving the Torah. In Va’eira nearly the same thing, 

“Say, therefore, to the Israelite people: I am the LORD. I will free you from the labors of the Egyptians and deliver you from their bondage. I will redeem you with an outstretched arm and through extraordinary chastisements.And I will take you to be My people, and I will be your God. And you shall know that I, the LORD, am your God who freed you from the labors of the Egyptians.I will bring you into the land which I swore to give to Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, and I will give it to you for a possession, I the LORD.”

Hashem adds that the notion of peoplehood, “I will take you to be My people” but again no Torah. Before all the  plagues Moshe only mentions serving Hashem.  And say to him, ‘The LORD, the God of the Hebrews, sent me to you to say, “Let My people go that they may worship Me in the wilderness.” But you have paid no heed until now.

The plan is leaving Egypt, giving sacrifices to Hashem in the desert, and going to Israel.  Even when God gives the first commandments to the people, there is no mention of a larger book or more laws to come. It seems specific to their experience.  

The Jews are left in the dark until the very moment revelation begins. So what do we  make of this? Why did God hide the plan behind the giving of the Torah? 

Perhaps Hashem realized that something was still missing. Maybe Hashem realized that being free was not enough. Maybe Hashem realized that being a nation or a family was not enough. Maybe Hashem realized that Israel would eventually not be enough. Hashem came to an understanding that the Jews needed a mission — a deeper purpose to their existence. This is the Torah! 

The Torah transforms our very being. We become agents and messengers for the divine.  The very notion of God giving the Jews the Torah is about giving purpose and establishing a mission. As Saadia Gaon taught, “Israel is a people only by virtue of its Torah, the only assurance for Israel’s peoplehood is the Torah.” 

The big question is, what Torah do we want to emerge from our community? We’re in a unique moment where we can completely reinvent ourselves. Giving the Torah signifies that we need to seek more. Being a community is simply not sufficient. We’ve to be more than a community that is welcoming, progressive, and open. That is just a mission statement.  We need a deep and expansive Torah to connect us. We need to share a Torah that is reflective of us. 

Mazal Tov

Mazal tov to Alana and Jon Rahmani on the birth of a baby girl! You may send them a meal here

Baruch Dayan Ha'Emet

Our deepest condolences to Jonathan Joshua on the loss of his father, Henry Joshua. Zoom shiva info to come.

Jewish Meditation 101

Sunday, February 7, 2021 8:00 PM - 8:45 PM

Join shul member Dan Machlis for an introduction to Jewish Meditation, focusing on techniques using the visualization of Hebrew words and letters. We will begin with ten minutes of overview, followed by ten minutes of practice and plenty of time for discussion. 

Zoom InformationLink or Meeting ID: 961 9690 8001 Passcode: 091527

Membership Drive

Our 2021 PHS Membership Campaign is ongoing! Please see most recent email from PHS Board President David Hammer with more information on how to join or renew your membership. 
Finding God in Isolation: Dr. Erica Brown

Save the Date! Feb 16 at 8 pm. RSVP's will be required. Link will be sent in a standalone email.

Our next Finding God in Isolation series will feature Dr. Erica Brown.

Dr. Erica Brown is the director of the Mayberg Center for Jewish Education and Leadership and an associate professor of curriculum and pedagogy at The George Washington University. Erica was a Jerusalem Fellow, is a faculty member of the Wexner Foundation, an Avi Chai Fellow and the recipient of the 2009 Covenant Award for her work in education. She is the author of twelve books on leadership, the Hebrew Bible and spirituality; her newest book is The Book of Esther: Power, Fate and Fragility in Exile (Koren). She has been published in the New York Times, The Atlantic, Tablet, First Things, and The Jewish Review of Books and wrote a monthly column for the New York Jewish Week. She has blogged for Psychology Today, Newsweek/Washington Post’s “On Faith” and JTA and tweeted on one page of Talmud study a day at DrEricaBrown. She has a daily podcast, “Take Your Soul to Work.”
Cooking with Shushana

Just in time for Purim, join Shushana Young for a demo of the classic Persian dish Khoreshteh Geymeh (Split Pea Stew).

Sunday, February 21 at 8:30 PM

Feel free to simply watch or to cook along with the recipe below as our rough guide. No previous cooking experience or Persian genetics required. 
1 large onion, chopped
3 garlic cloves, pressed or minced
1/4cup vegetable oil
2 pounds stew meat (if vegetarian, substitute mushrooms or white beans)
2 cups yellow split peas
1 teaspoon cinnamon
4 cups water
1 can tomato paste
1 large tomato
5 whole dehydrated limes (3 pierced and 2 crushed) called leemuh amani in farsi
1/2 bottled lemon juice
1/2 cup canned potato sticks
salt, pepper
Zoom InformationLink or Meeting ID: 961 9690 8001 Passcode: 091527

Save the Dates!
Purim is coming! More information to come about Zoom/in-person options, children's programming, and other activities. 

Feb 18 - 8:30 PM Hilchot Megillah with Rabbi Leener (Zoom Link or Meeting ID: 961 9690 8001 Passcode: 091527)

Feb 25 - Ta'anit Esther
5:15 AM Fast Begins
6:30 AM Shacharit
6:12 PM Fast Ends 
6:15 PM Megillah Reading 

Feb 26 - Purim 
7 AM Shacharit & Megillah Reading 

And don't forget to contribute to the Megillah Campaign by clicking here.

Please join us for an upcoming winter series run by YCT on important issues of the day during the month of February. PHS is a sponsor!

- Monday, February 8, 8pm Eastern (7pm Central, 6pm Mountain, 5pm Pacific)
- Sunday, February 14, 12pm Eastern (11am Central, 10am Mountain, 9am Pacific)
- Sunday, February 21, 8pm Eastern (7pm Central, 6pm Mountain, 5pm Pacific)
- Sunday, February 28, 8pm Eastern (7pm Central, 6pm Mountain, 5pm Pacific)

Please fill in the information below and you will receive the Zoom information upon registering. If you don't receive it, you can join us on Facebook Live (

If you are interested in closed captioning and/or ASL interpretation, please check that box below as well. You must use the Zoom link (not Facebook Live) in order to reliably view the captions/ASL interpreter.

You can sign up here:

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
To join our parents' 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.