Friday, November 16, 2001

Shabbat-O-Gram, November 16, 2001

Shabbat Shalom and Happy Kislev (today is Rosh Hodesh!),

This week, I share with you a number of important articles and action items, as the War on Terrorism appears to be entering a crucial new phase.  Over the past several days, I've had a number of opportunities to speak to audiences about our community's  Israel Solidarity Trip.  The interest has been running at a fever pitch, thanks in part to the excellent coverage offered by our local newspaper, the Advocate (a link to those articles is below).  Some additional follow-up will be offered at a community wide event now being organized by the Board of Rabbis, to be held here at Beth El on Tuesday, December 11 at 8:00, the third night of Hanukkah and three months to the day following the terror attacks.  Drawing inspiration from the Maccabees, we'll be addressing the subject of fear and courage in the Jewish tradition, from spiritual and psychological perspectives.  The title of the program is, "The Only Thing You Have to Fear..."  Plan to join us!

We live in a very wacky world.  Near the end of this week's portion (Gen. 28:5), Toldot, Rashi looks at a passage where Isaac sends Jacob away, back to the ancestral homeland, to the home of Laban, who is described as the "brother of Rebecca, mother of Jacob and Esau."  Now, anyone who has been awake knows who Rebecca is, and certainly who her sons are.   So Rashi looks at it and says, in effect, "Duh!"  But he says it in an unusually humble way: "Ayni Yodeah mah melamdeynu."

Translation: "I have no idea what this teaches us."

Imagine George Will and William Safire looking at each other and saying, "Beats me."  That's what's happening when something so straightforward appears to be stumping the great Rashi.  And imagine Rashi actually admitting it!  I'm exploring this curiosity for my remarks tomorrow, but for now, let's just say that humility is the perfect posture that we all need to assume regarding the pace and meaning of world events.  None of us knows where things are headed.  Except for one person, evidently.  You see, our Sisterhood had scheduled a musical guest for this past Tuesday, an Israeli singer, who cancelled out at the last minute.  Why?  Because she thought it was too dangerous to fly from Israel to America?  That in itself is a wild twist.  But there's more.  The reason she refused to come here is that her uncle, a Kabbalist, warned her that it would be particularly perilous to fly here this week!  Sure enough, a terrible disaster occurred in Queens on Monday, for which we all grieve.  So, while most of us, including Rashi, are dumbfounded by current events, there is one Israeli Kabbalist who evidently has things all figured out. 

The singer may or may not reschedule.  Memo to Sisterhood: Book the uncle!

There will be no Shabbat-O-Gram next week, as I head over the river and through the woods to my other ancestral homeland, Massachusetts.  After the holiday, our regularly-scheduled Web journey will return. 

One additional request.  Apparently some on our list have not been receiving the O'Gram consistently.  If you know of any such person who did not receive this one, please let me know.  A happy and safe Thanksgiving to all!


Friday Night:

Candles: 4:17 PM
Tot Shabbat 6:15 PM, in the lobby (note the early time!)
Family Shabbat Dinner (by reservation): 7:00 PM
Kabbalat Shabbat: 8:00 PM, in the chapel.  

Shabbat Morning:
P'sukey d'zimra (psalms and meditations): 9:15
Shacharit (morning) service begins: 9:30
MAZAL TOV to Ben Chuchinsky and family, as Ben becomes Bar Mitzvah
Torah Portion: Toldot
D'var Torah recommendation:  Guided meditations for the Torah portions, Holidays and healing can now be found at Rabbi Judith Abrams' excellent web site, Maqom and click on the link Guided Meditations).  Each meditation is accompanied by material that links the meditation to the parashah through Drash, Gematria and so forth so the material can be taught as well as used as meditation.If people would like CDs of these meditations already recorded, they need merely to let Judith Abrams know, by writing to her at, and give her their  “snailmail” address.

Also, JTS' commentary is at:

Children's Services: 10:30, with Nurit Avigdor (through grade 2) and Bert Madwed (grades 3 and up). This week, our 5th grade will be "hosting" the older service.  Religious school and Bi-Cultural students of all grades are naturally most welcome, as are parents.

Friday, Nov. 23
Candles: 4:12 PM
Kabbalat Shabbat: 8:00 PM, in the chapel

Shabbat Morning, Nov. 24
P'sukey d'Zimra: 9:15 AM
Shacharit: 9:30 AM; Family service and lunch
Torah Portion:  Va Yetze

Children's Services at 10:30.

Morning Minyan: Daily at 7:30, Sundays at 9:00.  N.B.: Thanksgiving Day and Friday, Nov. 23, at 9:00.


1) “I would be blind to disclaim the Jewish connection to Jerusalem. The existential connection Jews have to Jerusalem needs to be recognized and respected, just as the Islamic and Arab connection to Jerusalem must be…[To resolve the Israeli-Palestinian conflict] Jewish settlers would vacate their homes in the West Bank and Gaza Strip, and Palestinian refugees would drop their claim to ‘right of return to Israel. The Palestinians have to recognize that this is a deal-breaker…Palestinians are very angry with me…After all, the stated official position of the PLO is the right of return.”—
Newly-appointed P.A. Jerusalem Affairs Minister Sari Nusseibeh (Jer. Post, Nov. 13, 14)

2) The following sign is posted in the front window of a business:


3) Thanksgiving Prayer
 (from "How to Have a Jewish Thanksgiving, by Julie Hilton Danan, at

Rabbi Zalman Schachter-Shalomi has written a special Thanksgiving prayer which can supplement the Birkat HaMazon in the same way that already existing paragraphs in the prayer are recited at Chanukah or Purim: The English version of Rabbi Schachter-Shalomi's prayer reads:

In the days of the Pilgrims, the Puritans, when they arrived at these safe shores, suffered hunger and cold. They sang and prayed to the Rock of their Salvation. And You, standing by them, roused the caring of the Natives for them: who fed them, turkey and corn and other delights. Thus saved You them from starvation, and they learned the ways of peace with the inhabitants of the land. Therefore, feeling grateful, they dedicated a day of Thanksgiving each year as a remembrance for future generations, feeding unfortunates feasts of thanks. Thus do we thank You for all the good in our lives, God of kindness, Lord of Peace; thus do we thank You.

This prayer is available in Hebrew and English in a loose-leaf collection, Hashir Vehahevach--The Song and The Praise, through the ALEPH Alliance for Jewish


"Resolution, Not Compromise, Builds Coalition,"  from the Wall Street Journal

"Next Step, Iraq," from WSJ

Iraq and Anthrax:

"The Good Terrorist," a scathing article from the Jerusalem Post, written by the mother of a terror victim

Some photos from our recent Israel solidarity trip, featuring the Torah dedication at the Ethiopian synagogue in Afula, can be found at

A selection of articles from the Stamford Advocate about the Solidarity trip:

The pressures on a leftist college student, torn between Jewish identification and the heavy campus influence of anti Israel groups.

C-Span on the hot seat for the broadcast of "Muslims for Truth and Justice" town hall meeting:

More on the controversy surrounding Uri Regev, leader of the Religious Action Center of Israel (Reform), and his inaccurately quoted statements about Ultra Orthodoxy:

Three new books describing various post-denominational responses to Judaism

Today is Rosh Hodesh Kislev -- Hanukkah is just 24 days away!  Shopping for a wide variety of menorahs?  Well, first, stop by our gift shop, which is fully stocked for all of your Hanukkah shopping needs.  Then, if you still are looking, check out the variety at

Harry Potter and Jewish Values:

Thanksgiving and Social Action:


Pro-terrorist panelist at World Affairs Forum in Stamford on Sunday

Ghazi Khanan, of the Council on American Islamic Relations will be speaking at the World Affairs Forum Town Hall Meeting at UCONN on November 18th, as a member of a distinguished panel that includes Chris Shays.  This is the same person who was quoted in the 10/14 (over one month after the incident) issue of Newsday:

"Mohammed Atta is alive and living in the United Arab Emirates. His passport was stolen. It is in the Arab press. Yet the FBI insists he was one of the hijackers. Why hasn't the media reported this?"

"What about the world Zionist network? Why are you in the media not looking at them?"

Here are some other things you need to know about CAIR, especially if you are planning to attend that meeting:  The following backgrounder was prepared by the American Jewish Committee to inform the public about the extremist Muslim organization known as the Council on American Islamic Relations.

According to its Internet site, the Council on American Islamic Relations (CAIR) was established in 1994 “to promote a positive image of Islam and Muslims in America.” The group’s headquarters are in Washington, D.C., with chapters in other parts of the country. The organization’s executive director is Nihad Awad, and its communications director is Ibrahim Hooper.

While CAIR’s statements cultivate an image as a mainstream organization, its actions contradict its stated goals. Since its founding, CAIR has demonstrated a pattern of defending terrorist organizations and their leaders, including Hamas and Hizbullah.

Hamas is a Palestinian Islamic extremist terror organization that denies the legitimacy of the state of Israel. As part of its radical ideology, Hamas interprets the Islamic theological concept of jihad as a holy war, and its official charter calls for the elimination of Israel through escalating acts of violence. Over the last 12 years, Hamas has taken responsibility for carrying out terrorist attacks, including suicide bombings, against Israeli civilians.

Hizbullah is the Lebanese Islamic extremist terror organization that has targeted Americans as part of its jihad against Western influence in Lebanon and other parts of the Middle East. It is considered to be responsible for the kidnapping of American civilians in Lebanon and the bombing of the US Marine barracks in Beirut that caused the deaths of 241 Marines in 1982.

In a November 1994 interview with CBS’ 60 Minutes, CAIR’s executive director Nihad Awad defended the terror activities of Hamas by citing the UN Charter as a justification. Awad legitimized the “military undertakings of Hamas” by asserting, “The United Nations Charter grants people who are under occupation to defend themselves against illegal occupation.”

In January 1995, CAIR opposed a US Executive Order prohibiting financial transactions with Middle Eastern terrorist groups such as Hamas, Islamic Jihad and Hizbullah. CAIR objected to the organizations being officially designated by the US government as “terrorist” and defended Hamas and Islamic Jihad as “resistance organizations.

On July 27, 1995, Hamas leader Musa Abu Marzuq was arrested by immigration officials at JFK airport in New York for his involvement in terrorist activities. According to an INS spokesman, Abu Marzuq was arrested on charges of “conspiracy to murder, killing, and ‘malicious wounding.” Abu Marzuq has openly defended the use of suicide bombings against Israeli civilians. CAIR denounced the FBI’s arrest of Musa Abu Marzuq as an anti-Muslim bias crime.

In May 1998, CAIR co-sponsored an extremist rally at New York’s Brooklyn College where a radical Muslim preacher, Sheikh Wagdi Ghuneim, led the participants in an anti-Jewish chant:

"No to the Jews, descendants of the apes . . . The Jews killed the prophets and worshipped idols.” Ghuneim encouraged the participants to support the cause of jihad, or holy war, by declaring, “He who equips the warrior of jihad is like the one who makes jihad himself." CAIR never condemned or disassociated itself from Ghuneim’s statements.

On October 28, 2000, CAIR co-sponsored the “National Rally for Free Jerusalem and Al-Aqsa” that took place across from the White House in Washington DC. From the speaker’s podium, Abdurahman Alamoudi of the American Muslim Council openly declared support for Hamas and Hizbullah.

Demonstrators at the rally chanted the anti-Jewish slogan in Arabic: “Khaibar, Khaibar ya Yahud, jaysh Muhammad sawfa ya’ud!” which calls for action to “Slaughter the Jews!”

CAIR has not repudiated Alamoudi’s statements and made no criticism or condemnation of the chants at the rally.

Most recently, CAIR’s spokesman, Ibrahim Hooper, has endorsed the call of Abd Al-Munim Abu Zant, a Muslim extremist cleric in Jordan, for the trial and execution of a Muslim author who participated in a book project promoting interfaith dialogue between Jews and Muslims. Abu Zant called on Islamic clerics to investigate the author, Khalid Duran, on charges of apostasy from Islam. “As a result of that investigation,” Hooper declared, “his blood could be shed.”

CAIR’s defense of terrorist organizations that have targeted Americans and Jews does a disservice to the millions of Muslims in America and throughout the world who sincerely reject such acts of violence against innocent people. CAIR’s defense of such causes demonstrates that it does not share the value of the sanctity of human life. Such an organization has no place in group efforts dedicated to the principles of mutual respect and interreligious understanding.

CAIR's website identifies three things viewers can do to help the victims of September 11th. CAIR offers a direct link to the Holy Land Foundation in order to facilitate donations. We have found several sources in print that state the foundation gives money to help support the families of suicide bombers. According to the Holy Land Foundation website, the money they raise assists Palestinians and other Arabs in the Holy Land. Nothing goes to help victims of 9/11. Their website is intentionally misleading.

So, what can we do about it???

After looking into the matter, Rivka Lieber proposes three action points...and they are:

1.   Contact Congressman Shays office. Ask for Len Wolfson at 202-225-5541 and register a complaint that Shays has agreed to be a speaker with Al-Haaj Ghazi Khankan.  The objective of this meeting is to build positive relationships between Muslims and Jews. Clearly this goal will not be met and Shays should know that any photo opportunity that shows Shays and
Khankan standing together is the WRONG message to send to the Jewish community. Khankan has stated that “the real terrorist is Israel.”

2.   CT. Humanities Council is co-sponsor of this forum. Call at 203-965-0020 and ask for Bruce or e-mail at One suggestion is to encourage them to use better role models to represent the Arab and Palestinian points of view. AJC had recommended Islamic Supreme Council in lieu of Khankan.

3.   Call World Affairs Forum and ask for for Eileen Heaphy at 203-356-0340 or e-mail at Eileen has said that she is aware that many Jewish people oppose his presence, but that “he comes well recommended and we look forward to hearing what he has to say. We understand the concerns and hopefully people will come and ask all the right questions.” You can respond as you see fit, but it seems obvious to me that they need a Muslim who will respond with the “right” answers. They should have brought in someone who truly supports the efforts to build positive relationships between Muslims and Jews and that CAIR was the WRONG group to achieve their objective. Bad judgement on their part, for sure.

The forum begins on Sunday at 4 PM at the UConn’s Broad Street campus.



1) Midrash: Adding Color to the Bible -- Adult ed series with Rabbinical Student Greg Harris.  Continues,  Wednesday, Oct. 31.  There was a very nice turnout at the first session and a very positive buzz about the class!  It's not to late to sign up!  We will continue to study the creative genius of our Rabbis as they enrich the biblical text with stories, legends and lore.  These inspired texts blend the sacred position of the Torah with the real human struggle for spiritual understanding.  All texts will be in Hebrew and English.  The feel for the whole course is $18.  To reserve a spot, RSVP to Bonnie at 322-6901 X306.  

2) Congregational Shabbaton reservations are coming in, fast and furious (over 100, at last count -- and we can only house 150)!  Don't be left out in the cold this MLK Weekend! Sign up now!  Special thanks to Gary and Judi Gladstein, as well as an anonymous donor, for their generous donations enabling us to defray expenses and subsidize costs, and to Penny and Michael Horowitz for sponsoring the guest speaker and prayer leader, Rabbi Steven Greenberg of CLAL (the National Jewish Center for Learning and Leadership), in memory of Bessie Silver.

3) The members of the 2002 Bat Mitzvah class have decided to work together with Beth El Cares to secure an Automatic External Defibrillator(AED).
There is a need for an AED in public facilities . On April 15, 2000 11 year old Danielle Brendner stopped breathing. He heart just stopped beating. In the months that followed her parents Sharon and Avi discovered that their daughter was the victim of a silent killer called Long QT Syndrome. It is possible that Danielles life could have been saved if she has been defibrillated.

Every year 225,00 Americans suffer fatal cardiac arrests as a result of various cardiac disorders. The most effective treatment for a person in cardiac arrest is an electrical shock to the heart through the use of an AED.

THE COST OF THE DEFIBRILLATOR IS $3000. If you are willing to make a contribution towards its purchase for the Temple, we would appreciate your support.
Please make the your tax deductible contribution payable to Temple Beth El. On your check please note: Beth 'El Cares /Defibrillator.
If there are any question please call: Barbara Smith 325-8598 or Sue Greenwald 325 1662
Thank you in advance for your support for this potentially life saving project

4) "Learn to Read Torah" with Hazzan Rabinowitz.  9:45 - 10:25 in the organ loft, on Sunday. Call him at 322-6901 X309 to register.

5) Be part of the Annual Teen Service of Dec. 1 -- if you want a part, contact Hazzan Rabinowitz at 322-6901 X309.

6) Mini Parlor Concert:  "The Many Faces of Jewish Music," featuring Cantorial intern Laura Berman along with Hazzan Rabinowitz.  December 2, from 11 AM to noon.  No tickets required.

7) Sisterhood Paid-Up Membership Brunch
Sunday, November 18 -- 10:00  12:00

“You Can Do This”

Lori Guttman, from The Robert Nevins Plan, will help us start the new year with ideas for healthy eating from your refrigerator.
We would appreciate your RSVP by November 13th
Mary Sue Gilbert 322-9372
Ilene Kirschner Madwed  968-2570
Volunteers needed.  Please call to RSVP and to Volunteer.
Sisterhood dues of $25 may be paid at the Brunch.
Bring a friend.  New members welcome to join.

Sisterhood Shabbat will take place on Dec. 15. Any members of Sisterhood who are interested in participating but have not yet informed us should call Linda Simon at 324-2246 or Karen Hainbach at 322-8842 as soon as possible. In the spirit of Hanukkah, we invite all members of Sisterhood and other congregants to bring along an unopened, unwrapped children's gift to be donated to the Beth El Cares Birthday Closet. You may deliver it to the Religious School office or leave it in the collection box in the lobby. Hope to see you all on Dec. 15!

8) Mercaz and the Zionist Elections: MERCAZ USA is the Zionist Organization of the Conservative Movement, the voice of Conservative Jewry within the World Zionist Organization, the Jewish Agency for Israel, the American Zionist Movement and the Jewish National Fund to support religious pluralism in Israel and strengthen the connection between Israel and the Diaspora.  Go to to see how you can sign up to vote for the upcoming Zionist Congress elections.  The deadline is fast approaching,  Do it now!  You can also Register online NOW for the World Zionist Organization Elections at  It only takes a couple of minutes (and $4).

9) Our Kesher group (3-5th graders) goes bowling on Sunday, leaving from the temple at 1:30.  Cost is $10.  Contact our education office for details!

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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