Friday, September 14, 2001

Shabbat-O-gram, Sept 13, 2001

 Shabbat Shalom and L’shanah tova,

The horrifying events of this week, combined with the crush of holiday preparations, require a more haphazard format this week, no less chaotic than the world we live in right now. The web-journey and other regular features will return in the near future.  I look forward to seeing you here over Shabbat and Rosh Hashanah. 

An Important Personal Note from the Rabbi (i.e. me)

Please note that service start times for Rosh Hashanah are on the ticket, and we are going to make a special effort to be “on time” in every respect.  If you have an ark opening or aliyah, please plan to be here long before that honor is scheduled to take place.  Because of serious time constraints, we simply cannot slow down the pace of the service if someone isn’t here. 

Also, with so many people joining us, including many children and many others here for the first time, it is absolutely essential that we all extend ourselves as representatives of the temple and of Judaism’s best spirit of hospitality.  You are not the guest, you are the host!  It should be obvious, but please greet your neighbor with a smile, try not to interrupt those at prayer with needless conversation, hug all the kids as if they were your own, and make sure that they  and all of us  respect the sacred place that we are in, and the property and feelings of other human beings.  Everyone deserves to feel that this place is “home.”  Especially at a time like this, when the person next to you might well have lost a dear friend or relative this week, it is absolutely crucial that we come together and feel like one community, even with 2,000 people in the building.  Your courtesy and warmth can help us accomplish that.  We all need to feel that this place is our sanctuary.If the person next to you is crying, extend a hand.  If you have a crying need to catch up with someone you haven’t seen in a year, please go out and take a stroll around our beautiful grounds to do that.  If you feel an urge to catch up on the latest gossip, surf on over to  and find out just how damaging gossip can be.  It’s OK to talk a little, and its’ certainly OK to be happy; but the space in our sanctuary is so limited and the moment so incredibly solemn, and the events of this past week so shocking that we must reserve that sacred space for those who are interested in some serious soul searching and prayer.

I know that for the most part I am “preaching to the choir” here, and that everyone will do what it takes to make these high holidays the warmest ever (don’t worry, the AC will be on).  Thank you  and may the new year be one of good health and peace, for you and your family, for our community, and country, for Israel, and for the world.


1)      Interfaith Prayer Vigil  sponsored by Council of Churches and Synagogues: Thurs (tonight) at 7:00, at the First Presbyterian Church (the “Fish” church), 1101 Bedford St.

2)      Salvation Army is accepting donations to aid the emergency and rescue workers in new York City: Greatest needs: Canned stew, canned chili, small individual snack bags, individual bottles of water, heavey duty work gloves, dust masks, flashlights with batteries, large trash bags, hard hats.  Bring them to the Salvation Army at 432 Fairfield Ave. between 9 and 4 or at other local drop off areas.  Call 359-2320 for more information.

3)      Red Cross: to donate blood, call 1-800-GIVE LIFE; for other donations; 1-800-435-7669
4)      Americares: 800-486-4357

5)      If you know of anyone personally impacted by this tragedy who does not have a place to attend services on the Holidays, please inform Roberta Aronovitch (322-6901 X304).  We would like to accommodate them and will personally invite them to join us here; but we will need to get them a ticket ahead of time.  So please, please let us know.

6)      17th Annual Harold E. Hoffman Memorial Lecture
Thurs., Sept. 20, 2001, 8:00PM
Ambassador Dennis Ross
"Israel Update: Is There Hope for Peace?" 
Because this lecture now takes on added significance given the events of this week and Ambassador Ross’ expertise in the area of foreign policy and the mideast, we expect a large turnout.  Please plan to arrive early.  Once our lot fills, parking and shuttle bus service will be available at Westhill High School.

7)      Friday night services  keep in mind that we begin at 6:30 in September.  Sevices will be held outdoors, weather permitting.   We will also hold a Shabbat Shalom service for children in grades 1-4 and their families, at 7:15

8)      Solidarity rally on the 23rd is cancelled: (Our Nov. 4 Israel Solidarity trip is still on, however.  Give it some extra thought, in light of recent events)


NEW YORK - September 12, 2001 - Respecting the need of all civilized people
to grieve and begin healing from the horrific events of Tuesday, and in full
support of law enforcement and public safety officials who are performing
their duties under extreme conditions and emotional challenges, United Jewish
Communities (UJC) and the Federations of North America will not hold the
IsraelNow and Forever Solidarity Rally scheduled to take place in midtown
Manhattan on September 23rd.

While coming days and weeks should be devoted to expressions of sorrow for
the thousands of innocent people who perished yesterday, and for the loved
ones they left behind, UJC encourages all people of good will to take time on
the 23rd to gather with friends, neighbors and relatives - in homes and
places of worship - to pray for an end to terrorism throughout the world.

UJC intends to maintain the partnerships it created with local and national
groups in preparation for the rally, and redirect all efforts and energies to
address anew the issue of unity and solidarity in light of yesterday's
events. Updates will be posted on the UJC web site,

We stand today, as always, in solidarity with all peace-loving people, here
at home, in Israel, and throughout the world

9)      Talking to your children about the tragedy:
The Jewish Community Center has scheduled a special community-wide program tomorrow evening, Thursday, September 13 at 7:00 pm to assist parents in developing appropriate strategies to talk with your children about this week’s tragedy in New York, Washington and throughout the nation.  Social workers and educators from the Jewish Family Service will be joining the JCC social workers in answering your questions about how to communicate age appropriate information to your children.  Written material from child life experts will also be distributed to guide your discussions.

Childcare will be available for this special session beginning at 6:45 pm so that you can attend.  Childcare space will be limited so please call Nancy Levy at 322-7900 x141 as early as possible so we can assure adequate coverage.

10)     If the baseball season ever continues, this link will be of interest. It's about Shawn Green, an outfielder for the LA Dodgers, who will be skipping perhaps a very important game for Yom Kippur.

11)     For a powerful response to the Durban conference (remember that?  It was the conference that supposedly spoke of human rights but forgot about the right to stay alive and not live in fear in the face of terrorism) from an unusual source, at

12)     It’s finally here  a 24/hour network featuring the best of Israeli TV  Mabat news, Englsih news, live sports, children’s programming (including Rehov Tzumtzum and Parpar Nechmad, and entertainment favorites).  It kicks off on Friday.  The catch?  You’ve got to have a satellite dish  and it’s (for now) exclusively on the Dish network.  For more information, see the web site at

13)     What are “the settlements?”  The best web site to answer that question and to find out about each one in The West Bank and Gaza (called Yesha in Hebrew  Yehudah, Shomron, Aza  Judea, Samaria and Gaza)?  I found a superb one at  You will gain a far better understanding of the situation in Israel, unfiltered through the media, by checking this out.

14)     Check out Jbooks’ High Holiday edition at  It’s got good stuff, including a review article by yours truly on the synagogue renewal movement.

15)     New Program for Pre-schoolers!
Mechina, with Nurit Avigdor, begins this Sunday. For 3 and 4 year olds, an hour filled with singing, arts and crafts. Two sessions available -- call our education office for info (322-6901 X306). Open to members and non-members of Beth El. SPREAD THE WORD!

A very special program for developmentally challenged students, ages 5-10, meeting from 10-11 each Sunday morning, beginning this week. Taught by Special ed. specialist Marcy Nirschel, this entry level Jewish enrichment program will include stories, arts and crafts, music, holiday celebrations and a weekly Shabbat experience. Class size is limited to 10. Please spread the word about this to your friends. Open to the entire community. For more information, contact the education office (322-6901 X306)

16)     Join Rabbi Joshua Hammerman and other rabbis and community leaders for a Greater Stamford Mission to Israel, November 4  11. Six rewarding days of support for Israel. $1,700 per person. Single supplement. For more information call UJF, 321-1373.

17)     High Holidays Outreach Programs

Young Family Service, for the entire community: 4:30 - 5:30 PM on the 1st Day of Rosh Hashanah, Sept. 18, followed by Tashlich. 
Beginner's Service and Discussion, for adults, 3:30-4:30 on Yom Kippur, followed by Mincha, Yizkor, Neilah and break the fast, open to the entire community.

18)     STAR Tech’s Elul Project. STAR (Synagogue Transformation and Renewal), has recruited 20 rabbis from across the denominational spectrum for some cutting-edge experimenting utilizing technology in the rabbinate. One of the first products of that effort is the Elul Project, where congregants of the 20 congregations (and anyone else who is interested) can receive e-mails on the themes of the season, read texts and commentaries by the participating rabbis and participate in chats and activities. It’s all at the Elul Project site, Find out more about STAR at

19)     High Holiday Food Drive:
As always, we'll be distributing bags for the collection of food items, to be donated to "Person to Person." Please give generously.

20)     High Holiday Children's Services
Reminder that on Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur Day, children s services will begin one half hour later than last year, at 11:00 AM, providing for a more enriching experience for all. We are pleased that Greg Harris, a fifth year Rabbinical Student at the Jewish Theological Seminary, will be assisting us with children's programming on the High Holidays and with adult education throughout the year.

21)     Kadima Kick-off (for those in grades 6-8)  A regional kick-off bash at Camp Shalom in Windsor CT.  THIS Sunday, Sept 16, from 1-7.  Featuring a BBQ dinner, DJ, Sports and Swimming, Games and Prizes, New and Old Friends, FUN FUN FUN.  Cost is $21.00.  Contact Marcy Gelb at 322-6901 X324 or at, if you wish to attend.  And do it NOW!  We have 20 kids currently signed up from our congregation!  An incredible surge in interest in our Kadima and USY programming is happening.  Don’t miss out on the fun!

22)     What the Other Side Thinks: The Palestinians are doing a lot of shameless backtracking following the spontaneous demonstrations of joy after the World trade Center terror attack.  Arafat’s quotes are laughable, first his “I’m shocked, shocked,’ initial response (Do you think he ever saw “Casablanca?”), and now his quote in today’s Times that there were only ten kids doing the celebrating “and they’ve been punished.” See the rest at  What you will not find there is a link to  After a torrid e-mail campaign, Amazon has pulled its affiliation, for good reason.  Amazon is linked to thousands of web sites, but one of the stipulations is that he sites they are linked to cannot sanction violent activity.  So here’s what had to say about the link getting pulled:   “Our link with has been suspended and under review by the company. This is due to unjustified e-mail campaign against us. Our site will remain a voice of peace in this insanity of hate.

An indignant Eric Greenberg, founder of Scient, Viant, and 12 Entrepreneuring, sent out an e-mail over the weekend to Jewish business leaders and politicians slamming Amazon. With essentially supporting, according to Greenberg, the online retailer is part of the "killing machine--one intent on eradicating the Jewish State and potentially all Jewish people."

Maqom ( is now making available, online, a curriculum entitled "Jewish Texts: The Owner's Manual". It is designed to help learners be aware of classic Jewish texts and to give them the skills they will need to use those texts. After going through this curriculum, learners will be able to look up a chapter and verse in the Tanach, identify the basic contents of each book in the Tanach, each order of the Mishnah and each volume of the Mishneh Torah and Shulchan Aruch, tell the difference between midrash, aggadah and halakhah and be able to trace an idea through the major Jewish sources.
The curriculum comes in both learner's and teacher's versions. Those conducting self-study can check their answers by looking at the teacher's version.
This curriculum can be used in supplementary schools, day schools, Basic Judaism classes and Adult Education courses.
If you use the curriculum, please consider making a tax-deductible donation of $72 to Maqom, P.O.B. 31900-323, Houston, TX 77231

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 To check out some previous spiritual cyber-journeys I have taken, see my book's site at

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