Friday, April 20, 2001

Shababt-O-Gram, April 19, 2001

 Shabbat Shalom


Friday night
: Candles: 7:23 PM
Shabbat Shalom Service for young families with Nurit: 7:15 PM
Services: 8:00 PM  Mazal tov to Joel and Lisa Zaritsky on the naming of their daughter, Kayla Medeline Zaritsky

Shabbat Morning:
Pesukey d’Zimra
: 9:15 AM, followed by Morning services at 9:30 AM. Bar Mitzvah of David Benjamin.  Mazal tov to the family!
Children’s Services: 10:30

Torah Portion: Shemini: Learn Torah With commentary:

This week’s portion focuses on the dietary laws, delineating in great detail those species of animals, birds and fish that are to be considered “fit” or “Kosher.”  For my own congregants, it is no secret that I am vegetarian in addition to being Kosher.  Although I do not proselytize vegetarianism (as opposed to Kashrut, which I happily proselytize), this is the perfect week to introduce you to the foremost expert on Jewish vegetarianism: Richard Schwartz. 

Richard recently sent me a brand new printing of his important book, “Judaism and Vegetarianism,” in which he makes a convincing argument that vegetarianism is in fact the ideal Jewish dietary choice.  In light of the current crisis involving Mad Cow disease and that hoof-in-mouth thing going on in Europe, his message to appears even more urgent:  “There is an epidemic of diseases in the Jewish community, animal-based agriculture is contributing to global warming, destruction of tropical rain forests, and many other ecological threats, and the realities of animal-based diets and agriculture are in sharp contrast to basic Jewish values.” So, with all this in mind, I invite you to look at the 100 articles on Judaism and Vegetarianism on his Web site, at  And his infomercial interview can be found at When you look at some of his arguments, whether or not you adjust your eating habits, I think many will agree with his basic premise, that “it is essential that the Jewish community start to address the many moral issues related to our diets. This is an issue of importance for Torah and for the future of our endangered planet.”   


Help Us Reach Out!!!

Our Scholar in Residence this year, on the weekend of June 1-3, will be Prof. Egon Mayer.  The theme for the weekend will be "LOVE & TRADITION: Marriage, Family Patterns and the Jewish Future."  Mayer’s specialty is outreach to those at the fringe of Jewish communal life, including and especially interfaith families.  Our program for that weekend will be most appealing to those families, as well as to the rest of us, so it is incumbent upon us to reach out and find them.  If you would like to join our Scholar in Residence Weekend Committee to help us plan this very special program, please inform whether myself or Barb Moskow.  Without your help, we won’t find them!

Send in Your Surveys!

Should the direction of Temple Beth El be dictated by the opinions of 30 percent of the membership? That is the number of member surveys returned. While 200-plus surveys will certainly allow the strategic planners to draw conclusions about what the membership wants, will they be the best conclusions for the 700 members of Temple Beth El? Will they show a fair comparison to the 387 surveys returned five years ago? If you have not completed your membership survey, please do so within the next few weeks. It is important that all of our members’ voices be heard in this critical process of charting our course for the next ten years.

Beth El Baseball is Back

We have a nice group already signed up for our fabulous Jewish baseball league, representing all ages from pre-school to grade 7. We still are looking for more kids for all our Beth El teams. It’s a great way to express “shul spirit” and Jewish pride, and to deepen synagogue friendships, while developing athletic skills in a supportive, positive setting. It also helps to minimize conflicts that inevitably arise regarding Shabbat service attendance and sports. Both are important to your child’s emotional maturity. Now you can have your hallah and eat it too! Also WE NEED COACHES for each group. Ken Temple has once again volunteered to help out in this effort, but we need other parents to join in. Call Bonnie in our education office (322-6901 X307) to volunteer and for registration info.

Adult Bar/Bat Mitzvah Class:

By popular demand, we are organizing an adult Bar/Bat Mitzvah class, with the goal of completing the course in about a year and preparing for a service in May of 2002. The course of study will be taught by the Hazzan, Barb Moskow and myself, and include some synagogue skills and a basic overview of Jewish history, prayer, customs and ceremonies and sacred texts. We will gladly accommodate all levels of Hebrew proficiency. If you are at all interested, please contact the education office (322-6901 X306). There are 20 already signed up! An organizational meeting will be held on Tues., April 24, at 8:00 PM. Subsequent classes will likely be held on Thursday evenings.

Jewish Heritage Tour of Eastern Europe, July 1-15, with Hazzan Rabinowitz.

Includes Warsaw, Krakow, Budapest, Prague, and Vienna. For information, contact Hazzan Rabinowitz at 322-6901 X309.

Friday Night Live

Here, on April 27, at 7:30 (not 8:00 as is printed in some places). We're assembling an incredible musical ensemble. Learn the music ahead of time: join the Hazzan for rehearsal on Wednesday evening at 8. And join us on the 27th -- it's for all ages.

Service for Young Families: April 28

11 AM -noon, with Student Cantor Laura Berman.  A relaxing, informal Shabbat service for parents and school-age children.

Women of the Wall

Find out about this courageous group of women who, despite great pressure from the Ultra-Orthodox authorities, hold a monthly service at the Western Wall. Video and brunch, with commentary and discussion led by Barb Moskow. And it’s FREE this is Sisterhood's gift to the women of TBE. April 29, 9:30AM. RSVP by 4/25 to Denise Greenman 329-8594 or


Each year at this time, we step back to reflect and to remember those events of over half a century ago that still cast a shadow over the world.  With fewer actual witnesses with us as each year passes, the evidence attained through technology is becoming more and more important.  First there were written testimonies and photographic evidence presented in books and at trials, then the televised documentaries and audio and videotaped oral histories.  And now the Internet is beginning to play a prime role in preserving and disseminating the historical facts.  No doubt, the Internet is also a fertile field for Holocaust deniers, but those sites are overwhelmed in number by the weight of fact.  Whether or not be design, search engines almost always point us in the right direction when we inquire about the Holocaust.  We no longer need to wait for those annual PBS specials or the occasional Oscar-winning documentary, when we can visit the Spielberg fondattion’s “Survivors of the Shoah” project and discover that over 50,000 survivors have been interviewed thus far, with over 200,000 hours of videotaped testimony becoming available through the foundation’s repositories.  Go to to see the status of the project and to order the foundation’s excellent video and CD-ROM materials.

History and Remembrance

But one doesn’t have to order anything to have access to the facts.  Click on , the Holocaust History Project, a free archive of documents, photographs, recordings, and essays regarding the Holocaust, including direct refutation of Holocaust-denial.  There you will find a series of short, scholarly essays and documentary evidence.  Continue to for help in locating information about family or friends who are missing or who perished in the Holocaust.  There you will also find a link to Yad Vashem: , where you will see how Yom ha-Shoah was observed in Israel today, at

Worth a Thousand Denials

I was exceedingly moved by a special exhibit of photographs entitled “The Auschwitz Album,” accessible from the Yad Vashem home page.  This is the only surviving visual evidence of the process of mass murder at Auschwitz-Birkenau.  According to the introduction, the photos were taken at the end of May or beginning of June 1944, either by Ernst Hofmann or by Bernhard Walter, two SS men whose task was to take ID photos and fingerprints of the inmates (not of the Jews who were sent directly to the gas chambers). The photos show the arrival of Hungarian Jews from Carpatho-Ruthenia. Many of them came from the Berehov Ghetto, which itself was a collecting point for Jews from several other small towns.

The description continues:

Early summer 1944 was the apex of the deportation of Hungarian Jewry. For this purpose a special rail line was extended from the railway station outside the camp to a ramp inside Auschwitz. Many of the photos in the album were taken on the ramp. The Jews then went through a selection process, carried out by SS doctors and wardens. Those considered fit for work were sent into the camp, where they were registered, deloused and distributed to the barracks. The rest were sent to the gas chambers. They were gassed under the guise of a harmless shower, their bodies were cremated and the ashes were strewn in a nearby swamp. The Nazis not only ruthlessly exploited the labor of those they did not kill immediately, they also looted the belongings the Jews brought with them. Even gold fillings were extracted from the mouths of the dead by a special detachment of inmates. The personal effects the Jews brought with them were sorted by inmates and stored in an area referred to by the inmates as "Canada": the ultimate land of plenty.”

The photos in the album show the entire process except for the killing itself.

What purpose it could have served the Nazis to photograph these scenes is beyond me.  But if a picture is worth a thousand words, each of these photos refutes a thousand Holocaust denials.

Where Anne Frank Walked

Other valuable Shoah links can be found at the Web site of the US Holocaust Memorial Museum, at  Among them you’ll find:

Anne Frank House
Web site of the Anne Frank House in Amsterdam. The building, now a museum, includes the hiding place where Anne Frank wrote her famous diary. Features numerous photographs of Anne, her family, and the others in hiding, as well as excerpts from her writings.
Nizkor Project
Produced and directed by Ken McVay, the Nizkor Project is an online collection of electronic resources on the Holocaust and Holocaust denial and revisionism. Includes the reproduction of numerous primary source materials, detailed information on Nazi documents, and evidence presented at the Nuremberg Trials as a means of refuting Holocaust deniers and revisionists.
Comprehensive collection of links to German Web sites related to the Holocaust that is annotated and organized by category.

And if the Auschwitz Album didn’t provide enough powerful photography, go to the Holocaust Pictures Exhibition at

A Survivor’s Prayer

Finally, we venture to bills itself as a “Cybrary,” organized into 2 sections: Research, areas where you can explore the issues of the Holocaust, and Forums, where discussion and ongoing feedback is held.  The site shares art, discussion, photos, poems and facts.  Included is this powerful  “Survivor’s Prayer” shared by a certain MalkaB (whom you can contact via hyperlink).  And with this, our journey into the darkest moments of human history concludes.

I have lived
dear G-d
in a world gone mad
and I have seen
unleashed beyond reason or

I was with them.
We drank from the same
bitter cup.

I hid with them
Feared with them,
Struggled with them
And when the killing was finally done
I had survived
while millions had died.
I do not know why

I have asked many questions
for which there are no answers
And I have even cursed
my life
thinking I could not
endure the pain.

But a flame
refused to die.
I could not throw away
What had been ripped away
from so many.

In the end
I had to choose life.
I had to struggle to cross
the bridge between
the dead and the living.
I had to rebuild
what had been destroyed.
I had to deny death
Another victory.

Shabbat Shalom

This Shabbat-O-Gram goes out weekly to hundreds of Beth El congregants and others.  Feel free to forward it to your friends, and if you know of anyone who might wish to be included, please have them e-mail me at  To be taken off this e-mail list, simply click on "reply" and write "please unsubscribe" in the message box.

For more information on the synagogue, check out Beth El's Web site at  And to check out some previous spiritual cyber-journeys I have taken, see my book's site at

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