It has been so long since people could travel freely. Some airlines are at work, most are grounded. Sea travel by means of cruise ships is a worry. Hopefully everyone is davening for the defeat of the virus and the return of what we fondly call normalcy.

In the meantime we have a narrative to read this Shabbat which speaks of Abraham setting out for a destination which G[-]d will show him.

He soon discovers the good – and the bad – points of travel. The Midrash Tehillim says on Psalm 23, "Travel is hard on your clothes, your person and your purse".

All this is true, but if you understand Abraham and his travels metaphorically you know there are no problems.

The itinerary is in the hands of G[-]d. He decides on the destination. He tells Abraham that the travel is necessary. Why? Because embarking on a G[-]d-given task brings purpose and energy into one’s life.

You can have that feeling even when you stay home and only your mind roams.


Why did G[-]d want Abraham to leave home?

Malbim says that there were aspects of Abraham’s homeland which he had to escape.

It was not only the cultural influences in which the patriarch was living which were not good for him or his family. The physical characteristics of the country were also problematical.

The air was impure, the soil was poor quality, the trees and plants were unpleasant, the sun was too fierce and the rain was a problem. All in all, it was not a country where righteous people should live.

Malbim adds that G[-]d was like a vinekeeper who needed the brains to transplant his vines to another area where the air, soil and neighbouring plants would be purer and more fertile.

G[-]d assured Abraham that he should not be frightened about moving countries; if he migrated he would enjoy the blessing.


Who was better, No’ach or Abraham?


No’ach was good in himself but he lived in a challenging generation – the moral man in an immoral situation. Life was especially difficult for him because no-one before him had ever faced up to this problem.

It was a hard struggle, but in the end the Torah had to conclude that No’ach "walked with G[-]d".

Abraham was also a good man whose environment was not always conducive to righteousness, but he had the advantage of knowing the story of No’ach and was steeled by No’ach’s example and able to struggle for morality in the knowledge that if No’ah could do it, so could he.

The Torah said about Abraham that he walked "before" (ahead of) G[-]d. The Almighty could trust him… precisely because there had been a No’ach to set the example.


Great promises made to Abraham figure prominently in the sidra.

There is a promise that his descendants will be as numerous as the dust of the earth (Gen. 13:16) or the stars in the sky (Gen. 15:5). There is also a promise, "For all the land which you see, to you will I give it and to your descendants forever" (Gen. 13:15).

It is a small land. Not quite as small as the tiny European nations that are the size of a handkerchief.

But though it can fit a few times over into Wales or Tasmania, it is a land of immense contrast – snow in the north, desert in the south.

It is a land of amazing beauty; what the sages say about Jerusalem could be extended to the land as a whole, "Ten measures of beauty descended upon earth; nine were taken by Jerusalem" (Kiddushin 49b).

It is a productive land, though without the effort and ingenuity of the pioneers few would have thought the desert would bloom and the land become green.

But what really matters about Israel is not simply its physical features but the way it fulfils you as a Jew.

There is an ambiguity about Jewish identity in the Diaspora. If a person wants to live and learn as a Jew in Israel, on the other hand, it is as natural as breathing the air.

True, there are problems in Israel – tensions between Jewish ideologies, suspicion between the secular and the religious, a generally threadbare presentation of Judaism in the general school system – but there are also genuine, sincere people who are working to narrow the gaps and find solutions to the problems.

There are also amazing personalities who are unafraid to think unconventionally about issues of faith, ethics and identity. And there are respected institutions that yield to no-one in their loyalty to halachah whilst also addressing the role and status of women.

       27 Tevet-4 Shevat, 5781                                        Jan. 11-17, 2021 -- THE JEWISH OBSERVER, LOS ANGELES--644th Web Ed.



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CAMARILLO -- With the holidays upon us, kidSTREAM Children’s Museum wants to bring a little cheer into households by offering joyful seasonal activities.  Throughout December follow along on social media for winter crafts and holidays keepsakes, utilizing recycled materials and art supplies that many families have readily available.  These fun, hands-on learning activities will also offer a sneak peek into nine immersive outdoor experiences coming to kidSTREAM in 2021. 

kidSTREAM is committed to engaging and supporting families and the community in creative and meaningful ways during this time.  “Once the pandemic hit, we knew our role needed to shift.”  Michael Shanklin, Executive Director, went on to say, “We created virtual learning at home STREAM activities, as well as hundreds of STEAM-based kits for children throughout Ventura County.  We also mobilized our 3-D printers to help support our first responders with personal protective equipment.”   

 As 2021 fast approaches kidSTREAM seeks to have an even bigger impact on the lives of children and their families by opening the outdoor exhibit play space next year.  With the prolonged isolation children have experienced, the need for play is greater than ever.  As a result kidSTREAM will have a phased model approach, with the outdoor space opening ahead of the indoor exhibits.  The half-acre natural landscape will celebrate the beauty and resources of the local area with experiences that includes an adventure trail, beach, stream, labyrinth, agriculture space, amphitheater, art & music, tree house, and Channel Islands exhibit.  “Exhibits are designed to meet the needs of younger and older children, regardless of their learning style or interests” stated Shanklin.  “Play opportunities will encompass full-body experiences, such as climbing the tree house or kelp forest, developing gross and fine motor skills while building fort structures with sticks, kinesthetic learning by squishing around in water and sand, engineering by diverting water at the stream, and creativity by expressing themselves through art and music.” 

To help kidSTREAM achieve its goal of opening the space in 2021, generous donors have come forward with a matching gift challenge.  Any gift made from now until December 31 will be matched dollar-for-dollar for up to $250,000.  “Serving the community through play-based learning is an honor that comes with a great responsibility” stated Kristie Akl, President & Founder.  “We are committed to empowering kids to become critical thinkers, innovators, and life-long learners but we can’t do it without you, our loyal supporters.”

To make a donation towards kidSTREAM’s matching gift challenge, visit www.kidstream.org or call 805-419-3545.  Help open kidSTREAM in 2021.  Be Part of the Dream, Be Part of kidSTREAM!


kidSTREAM Children's Museum, a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization, is located at 3100 Ponderosa Drive in Camarillo.  kidSTREAM’s mission is to provide an engaging environment where kids explore, play, and discover.


Disaster recovery loans from the U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA) are still available to Los Angeles County residents and businesses who suffered damage as a result of the Lake Fire and Bobcat Fire. The deadline to apply for disaster recovery loans from the U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA) is December 15, 2020. 

Businesses of all sizes and private nonprofit organizations may borrow up to $2 million to repair or replace damaged or destroyed real estate, machinery and equipment, inventory and other business assets. SBA low interest loans can also help businesses with the cost of improvements to protect, prevent or minimize the same type of disaster damage from occurring in the future. 

Disaster loans up to $200,000 are available to homeowners to repair damaged or destroyed real estate. Homeowners and renters are eligible for up to $40,000 to repair or replace damaged or destroyed personal property.

For assistance with your application, please visit the Los Angeles County Disaster Help Center at lacountyhelpcenter.org. If you do not have access to the internet, have limited computer proficiency, or speak languages other than English, you may call LA County’s Disaster Help Center at (833) 238-4450. Multilingual business counselors are standing by to assist business owners in completing applications Monday through Friday, from 8:30 a.m. to 5:30 p.m.

There are several ways you may apply for loans: 

Complete an application online at disasterloanassistance.sba.gov
Call SBA’s Customer Service Center at (800) 659-2955 or email disastercustomerservice@sba.gov for more information on SBA disaster assistance.
Individuals who are deaf or hard-of-hearing may call (800) 877-8339

The SBA is also offering assistance through their Virtual Disaster Loan Outreach Center at FOCWAssistance@sba.gov or by phone at (800) 659-2955.

Economic injury disaster loans intend to assist through the disaster recovery period, and they help to meet working capital needs including purchasing inventory, supplies, and covering day-to-day expenses such as rent and payroll. Economic injury assistance is available regardless of whether the business has suffered any property damage or not.

Interest rates may be as low as 3 percent for businesses, and 2.75 percent for private nonprofit organizations, and 1.188 percent for homeowners and renters with terms up to 30 years. Loan amounts and terms are determined by SBA and based on each applicant’s financial conditions.