Friday, March 1, 2002

Shabbat-O-Gram for March 1-3 -- Adar 18, 5762 (Shabbat Parah)

Shabbat-O-Gram for March 1-3 -- Adar 18, 5762 (Shabbat Parah)

Rabbi Joshua Hammerman, Temple Beth El, Stamford, Connecticut


Shabbat Shalom

The Shabbat-O-Gram is being e-mailed out in plain text, but if you wish to see it in all its html splendor, you can click to it on the Web, at If you wish to unsubscribe, contact


We welcome Cantor Deborah Jacobson this weekend, one of two finalists scheduled to "try out" for our cantorial position. She will be involved in services and other programming on Friday evening and Sunday morning. On Friday, she will be involved in Tot Shabbat (special time of 6:15 PM), the congregational dinner that follows, and she will also lead our Kabbalat Shabbat 8:00 PM in the main sanctuary. WE WILL BE PROVIDING CHILDREN'S PROGRAMMING (WITH NURIT) DURING THE 8:00 PM SERVICE SO THAT PARENTS WHO HAVE SCHOOL-AGE CHILDREN WILL BE ABLE TO ATTEND THAT SERVICE WITHOUT HAVING TO ARRANGE FOR CHILD CARE AT HOME. This will also be the case on the 15th, when our other finalist will be visiting. We recognize that this decision will have an impact on all of us, especially those with children approaching the Bar/Bat Mitzvah years, so we want to make it as easy as possible for everyone to attend.

On Sunday, Cantor Jacobson will lead the morning minyan at 9:00 AM. Congregants will also have the chance to meet her at an open house coffee hour in the main lobby, from 11:15 to noon.


One more note before we begin…

News is now out about the abrupt closing of Delicate-essen, our Kosher butcher, this coming week. I wish to personally thank the Hertzberg family for their efforts on behalf of our community and wish them well in future ventures. I will miss them greatly. Make no mistake about it, this is a sad event for all us, including those who never set foot in Stamford's only Kosher market. We are now a less viable Jewish community, less complete, then we were a week ago, and therefore less able to attract serious Jews to live up here. It's sad. My children will not have that special thrill of seeing their friends' hallahs waiting for them on the shelf. They won't see the Hebrew newspapers and candy from Israel. They won't have that special pleasure of going into a store where, guaranteed, they will see someone they know.

There is no purpose to playing a "Who lost China" game here (ah, but if only a Kosher Chinese restaurant would move in… and a pizzeria too). Blame serves no purpose. What's important now is: a) that it is irrefutably true that Judaism is transmitted best through the stomach and nostrils rather than the brain; therefore b) we absolutely must have a kosher butcher here, the sooner the better; and c) I see absolutely no reason why Fairfield county Jewry, at least 40,000 strong, could not support a full-service Kosher facility. In the end, I do believe some cutting-edge entrepreneur will succeed here, because our Jewish community is growing and it is also growing more committed to the Jewish way. But we can't afford to waste a single minute.

This is not an Orthodox issue! This is a Clal Yisrael issue!! Many, many of our congregants supported the butcher, including a large number who do not keep strictly Kosher homes. We all must understand that this is important to everyone, no matter the denomination.

If you know of someone reputable who might be interested in "giving it a go" up here, the rabbis of Stamford will offer full support, and then some. Please have that person contact me directly.


JUST THE FACTS: Services and Such…

Friday Night: Candles: 5:27 PM

Tot Shabbat: 6:15, in the lobby (NOTE THE SPECIAL T IME)

Congregational Dinner: 7:00

Kabbalat Shabbat: 8:00 PM, in the sanctuary, led by cantorial candidate, Deborah Jacobson.

Shabbat Morning:

P'sukey d'zimra (psalms and meditations): 9:15

Shacharit (morning) service begins: 9:30. MAZAL TOV to Rachel Benjamin, who will become Bat Mitzvah this Shabbat morning.

Torah Portion: Ki Tissa and Shabbat Parah:

We include a special reading detailing an obscure Biblical purifying ritual involving a red cow (look at for some super background material on this); coincidentally, the regular portion tells us the sordid tale of the Golden Calf. So when I dressed as Bart Simpson on Purim night, no wonder I told everyone, "Don't have a cow, man." This Shabbat we get to have TWO cows!

Read the Masorti commentary at JTS commentary is at: USCJ Torah Sparks can be found at UAHC Shabbat Table Talk discussions are at Other divrei Torah via the Torahnet home page:

Children's Services: 10:30, in the chapel (grades 3 - 6) and downstairs in the Kindergarten room for younger grades. This week, the chapel service will be "hosted" by grade 5.

Shabbat Mincha-Havdalah: 5:00 PM. MAZAL TOV to Erica Eber, who will become Bat Mitzvah this Shabbat afternoon.

Morning Minyan: Daily at 7:30, Sundays at 9:00. This Sunday, the minyan will be led by cantorial candidate Deborah Jacobson


Spiritual Journey on the Web: "Don't Have a (Sacred) Cow, Man!"

As I mentioned above, this is truly the Week of the Cow, Shabbat Parah. Not only do we read about the ancient, mysterious purification ritual of the Heifer as our maftir reading (, we also read about the Golden Calf incident in the Wilderness, AKA, "The Great Shandeh." Everyone emerges tainted from this thing: The people lose faith in Moses' eventual return from the mountain, Aaron gives in to their pressure, Moses smashes the tablets, and God gets rather hot under the divine collar. Everyone needs a time-out here. As Bart would say to both Moses and God here, "Don’t have a cow, man!" (that famous Simpson expression prompts interesting questions about that show's love-hate relationship with religion, at

But worst off is the poor cow. In our portion it gets worshipped and thereby faces the eternal indignity of being branded (so to speak) "Public False Idol Enemy #1," with its picture on ecclesiastical post office walls everywhere. In the Talmud (Sanhedrin 102a) it says, "There is not a misfortune that Israel has suffered which is not partly a retribution for the sin of the calf." Indeed, it was a sin that was repeated later in the Bible, by Jeroboam, first king of the divided nation kingdom of Israel, who set up rival cultic centers in trying to lure the people away from Jerusalem. In this week's maftir, meanwhile, a cow effectively dies for our sins. This ritual of purification of a community where a dead body is discovered may place the cow in more exalted status than the Golden Calf escapade, but either way, the cow gets it. In fact, the cow ALWAYS gets it. (Except for this weird news story,, where a cow actually falls on a man.).

Incidentally, as obscure as this Red Heifer ritual is, it is BIG TIME news to messianists, both Jewish and Christian. The existence of one such rare animal, as has been discovered in Israel recently, means that this ancient ritual can be fulfilled once again, meaning that the Temple can be rebuilt, which, of course means that the Apocalypse is not far behind. Scary? Read for more. There's even talk of cloning this red cow.

So what's Judaism's take on cows, anyway? Are they sacred, as in India? If you go to, you'll find that for Hindus the cow is seen as symbolic of maternal protection and nurturing. In ancient Egypt, Babylon and Assyria, the bull was worshipped as a God or the throne of a God. You can find numerous references to the divine bull in ancient near-eastern texts ("ANET": see Also see Find a Catholic take at

But the Torah seems to be rejecting that bovine-centric culture. Try this out: (I could only get a cached version of this, as the site no longer appears): Here is the key paragraph:

The Hebrew religion was filled with a host of Egyptian deities. One of the most known of these was the sacred Golden Calf of the Exodus saga. This so-called "idol" was in reality the Egyptian manifestation Het-Heru, which originated from the strong cattle culture, which permeated much of Africa. Depicted as a nurturing cow with a sun disc, she was the guardian of marriage, the donor of life and protector of the dead. She was heralded as the giver of joy, love, sensuality, song, music, and dance. Het-Heru may at one time have been the most important deity to the Hebrews. With the coming of Mosaic law, she was replaced by an all powerful male deity, Yahweh. Thus the Exodus story of the Golden Calf may allude moreso to the coming patriarchal aspects of Judaism and Hebrew nationalism than idol worshipping. Het-Heru was also associated with the moon, also seen as feminine. It is interesting to note that in Egyptian Yahweh means "the growing moon."

In other words, cow-based traditions are matriarchal, and Judaism was decidedly bullish on patriarchs, so good-bye holy cows. No wonder (Joseph's) Pharaoh's seven fat cows were so mercilessly consumed by their scrawny brethren. No wonder the Cannanite bull-riding god Ba'al ( was seen as the greatest danger to Ancient Israelite faith -- and yet, so many key Biblical figures have Ba'al in their name, including the judge Gideon (AKA "Yeru-Baal.") and his entire family. No question about it, human civilization has long been infatuated, if not downright obsessed, by bulls and their docile milk-giving mates. BTW, if you are really interested in Ba'al worship, then by all means go right to the horses mouth, so to speak. You can order your very own idols at But don't be surprised if Moses throws two tablets at you. More cow mythology can be found at

Despite initial suspicions, however, Judaism came to see the cow as a more positive symbol in later years. Take this story (from


"More than the calf wants to suck, the cow wants to give milk." This expression is used in the Talmud in order to indicate how deeply the Rabbis desire to spread Torah.

Rav Simchah Wasserman said that this statement is misunderstood, in the following manner. The cow wants to give milk, because not giving milk causes pain. If this were the truth, the milking would be, essentially, the removal of a destructive element. The Rabbi, too, wants to provide instruction, because if not, he too would be in pain. Such a teaching would also be merely the removal of a destructive element.

This is not the real meaning here. The cow wants to give milk, because it wants to nurture its calf. More than the calf wants to be nurtured, the cow wants to bring up its young. The Rabbi, too, wants to give Torah, because he desires to help his students. The Rabbi wants the students to grow more than the students themselves desire to grow . (Greatness in Our Midst, by David Fox)"

Far from being anti-cow, some say Judaism actually preaches a vegetarian ethic, much like Hinduism:, for example. And even those cows that are slaughtered should be killed humanely (see

So, Golden Calf or no Golden Calf, I salute our bovine brethren. Without them after all, how would we ever daven the MOO-saf service?



Quotes of the Week: On the Saudi Plan and Buffer Zones

"The fact that there would be normalization between the Arab world and Israel—this is certainly a dramatic step…deserving of consideration and serious thought…We cannot afford to reject out of hand an overture…so dramatic, a step of such importance, merely because of…imputing negative intentions to the Saudis…"—President Moshe Katsav praising the Saudi overture, which reportedly offers "normalization" of relations with the Arab states, in exchange for Israel’s withdrawal to pre-1967 borders (Ha’aretz, Feb. 27)

"It started as P.R., and it is P.R., but [the Saudi plan] met with a tremendous need to play with a new idea, because there is such a vacuum here…Israelis jumped on it because in the last one and a half years, there has been no idea, only routine day-to-day action and reaction, killing and killing. People so badly want to see a light at the end of the tunnel that even a reflection of moonlight is looked on as real light."—Yediot Aharanot commentator Nahum Barnea (New York Times, Feb. 26)

"…[W]ishful thinkers at the Council on Foreign Relations and the New York Times are all atwitter over the [Saudi] idea…Sure, if the…Arab states…were to recognize Israel, normalize trade and provide security guarantees, the long-running Middle East crisis would be well near over…But this fantasy hinges on a negotiated peace between PLO Chairman Yasser Arafat and Israel. And the chances of that happening are about zero…Remember, Arafat has already walked away from a deal that offered him no less…than what the Saudis seem to have in mind. And even if the Saudis magically got Arafat to drop his other demands…how can anyone seriously think that Arafat’s assurances this time will hold up any better than they have in the past?"—Editorial (New York Post, Feb. 27)

"…The only realistic diplomatic option for the future is a long-term interim agreement that leaves Israel with vital security zones in the West Bank…Israel is entitled to defensible borders according to UN Security Council Resolution 242; it is not expected to return to the vulnerable lines of 1967…That is not just an Israeli position, but has been the policy of American secretaries of state from Henry Kissinger to Warren Christopher. The western buffer zone…proposed by…Ariel Sharon would place serious obstacles before suicide bombers who regularly attempt to infiltrate [Israel]. Immediately adjacent to the West Bank is the…Israeli coastal plain, where 70 percent of Israelis live and 80 percent of Israel’s industrial capacity is located. The buffer zone would also protect Israel’s capital in Jerusalem…A defense line making use of the topography of the Jordan Valley…would be aimed at countering large Iraqi expeditionary armies that have engaged Israeli on the ground in three Arab-Israeli wars…."—Dore Gold, Israel’s UN ambassador from 1997-99 (N.Y.T., Feb. 27)



"Daniel Perl was one of us." --



I've been approached by several congregants regarding a series of virulently anti-Zionist letters that have appeared recently in the New Canaan Advertiser. Several challenge the fundamental right of Israel to exist on that land. I have spoken to the publisher about my concerns and have written a letter to the editor that will appear next week. But my main recommendation to all New Canaanites and others in our congregation who face such attacks (and that means most of us, at times like these), is to be armed with facts.


Read it. Study it. Then you will begin to see just how slanted so many reports are, especially on NPR, CNN and the BBC. Just today (Thursday), the New York Times ran an interview with Yasser Arafat that had more softballs in it than the slow-pitch league that plays at Cummings Park. When you experience slanted reporting or distorted letters to the editor, by all means use these facts and send in your responses. We are, indeed, on the front lines.



Approximately 220,000 Jews live in Argentina, more than 50,000 below the poverty line -- and the number is rapidly accelerating. The current financial crisis has had a devastating impact on all institutions of Jewish life there. Included in this are many Masorti institutions. Contributions to the Argentina Masorti Social Assistance Fund can be made payable to the "World Council of Synagogues, Inc." and sent to World Council of Synagogues, 155 Fifth Avenue, New York, N.Y. 10010. All contributions are tax deductible.



This past year Temple Beth El’s High Holy Day Food Drive exceeded all previous years. Because of present economic conditions more families are coming to the Person-To-Person Food Pantry for help. This is particularly true at the end of each month.

In 2001 Person-To-Person’s pantry provided over 112,000 meals to over 906 different families. In January 2002, 517 families requested food supplies totaling 7,000 meals. Other emergency providers are also reporting increased demand and reduced supply.

During this month, in which we celebrate Passover, we remember the commandment in the Haggadah, "Let all who are hungry come and eat." Person-To-Person is not looking for matzos or gefilte fish, but is in need of cereal, pasta, rice, soups and canned fruits and vegetables.

Please do your part by bringing one or two bags of food to the Temple by Friday, March 22nd. If you prefer, take the food bags directly to the Person-To-Person Food Pantry behind St. Luke’s Church at 1864 Post Road in Darien, CT.

Your holiday is always sweeter if it’s shared!


Passover Food Shopping Guides (our own guide to Passover observance will be sent out next week): (Rabbinical Assembly) Also…;;


Shalach Manot to Israel (and an incredibly moving Web site)

Purim is over but you can still fulfill the mitzvah of sending gifts of food on Purim right now. Via the www, you can send Purim baskets to families of terrorist victims in Israel. Tragically, there are 9 pages of victims names, photos, and descriptions—so it loads up fairly slowly so be patient. This project is sponsored by and the Israel Emergency Solidarity Fund.

Please go to: Making your donation may lift the spirits of families so distraught by their losses.


PURIM PIX: We've got 125 photos of smiling happy Purim celebrants of all ages now posted on our Web site. Go take a look at





SPECIAL ANNOUNCEMENT regarding our cantorial search…

The Hazzan Search Committee of Temple Beth El invites the congregation to the opportunity to hear and meet finalist candidates who are being considered as our next Hazzan.

One candidate will conduct regular Friday night services on March 1, 2002 from 8:00 p.m.-9:00 p.m., will be present during Religious School hours on Sunday March 3, and will lead P’sukay D’Zimrah and Shacharit services on Saturday morning, March 9, 2002 from 9:15 a.m.-10:00 a.m. (note that this is being split up over two weekends).

Another candidate will conduct regular Friday night services on March 15, 2002 from 8:00 p.m.-9:00 p.m., P’sukay D’Zimrah and Shacharit services on Saturday morning, March 16, 2002 from 9:15 a.m.-10:00 a.m., and will be present during Religious School hours on March 17.

On both Fridays when candidates will be appearing (the 1st and 15th of March), we will have concurrent children’s programming with Nurit Avigdor during the time of the main service, at 8:00 PM. No need to get a baby sitter—just bring the kids and come here.

On both Sundays when candidates will be appearing (the 3rd and 17th), there will be an informal "Open House" coffee hour with the candidate, from 11:15 AM to noon, in the downstairs lobby.

Please take advantage of these and all the other opportunities to meet our finalists.


 With all due respect to the NFL, the REAL Super Sunday is March 3.


We ask congregants to:

1. send in their pledges as soon as possible

2. otherwise, please be receptive when a volunteer calls you on Super Sunday

3. volunteer to help out at the JCC on Super Sunday


Shloshim Service for Ilan Mirkov

SUNDAY, March 3, 2002

8:00 PM

at the JCC Senior Adult Lounge

The returning emissaries are planning this service and your support for them would be very welcome




Friday Night "Chai" -- March 8 @ 8:00 PM

A jazzy, spiritually soaring service guaranteed to have you singing your heart out and dancing all night long!!



Mini-Parlor Concert -- March 10 @ 11 AM

"The Many Faces of Jewish Music"

Musical talent from within our congregation, with Hazzan Rabinowitz, Nurit Avigdor, Stephanie Osher, Marc Schneider, Dorothy Kalinsky and Ariel Shindler…



A Gift From Sisterhood

Sunday, March10th at 9:30am
'Gelfilte Fish" and "Creating New Traditions"
Be our guests for brunch and join in a discussion led by Barb Moskow.
Examine new rituals and traditions that have been created in the last few years.
Learn how new and legitimate rituals get accepted into the mainstream.
There is no charge to attend. This is Sisterhood's gift to the women of TBE.
R.S.V.P. to Denise Greenman 329-8594 or
The brunch and discussion will end by 11am in time to attend Hazzan's concert.


Weaver-in-Residence Reeva Schaffer 

Next Thursday, March 7, from 5-6 PM

Check out an incredible array of beautiful tallitot and kippot

Reeva "outfitted" one of our previous adult B'nai Mitzvah classes, so you've seen her work around. For more samples, check out the Website at Reeva will be here on the 7th to see our current adult b'nai mitzvah class later that evening. From 5-6, she her work will be on display and for sale, with 20% of all receipts going to our gift shop. If you have a Bar/Bar mitzvah coming up, or if you wish to purchase a blend of artistry and tradition that you can wear, join us next Thursday.


For Women Only…

Celebrate Rosh Chodesh Adar

with Barb Moskow & special guest Bonny Grosz

Monday March 11th

7:30 pm-9:00 pm in the Youth Lounge

Join us for an evening filled with study, prayer, meditation, singing, thoughtful discussion, food and much more. To RSVP please call 322-6901 ext. 306



It’s Back - Save the Date!!!

Temple Beth El’s Jewish Book Fair

Bigger and Better Than Ever!!!

Sunday, March 10th 8:30 a.m. - 1:30 p.m.

Open to the Community


Large selection of adult, young adult and children’s books, fiction, non-fiction, coffee table books, picture books, cook books, Haggadot and much more…


Proceeds benefit the Temple Beth El Religious School

Call Adam Eitelberg to volunteer at (203) 353-3347





Friday evening March, 22nd at 7:30 pm


Interfaith Families and Extended Families Walking the Line

Join Rabbi Andrea Cohen-Kiener for engaging service and a thought provoking discussion on the challenges and joys encountered by interfaith families and their extended families



Shabbat, March 23rd at 10:00 a.m.

Spend Shabbat morning with Rabbi Cohen-Kiener


A spirited, spiritual service filled with stories, song and meaningful prayer


Shabbat afternoon, March 23rd at 4:00p.m.

All those in a meditative mood are invited to join Rabbi Cohen-Kiener for a


Featuring niggunim, chant and contemplation to enjoy the day of rest

RSVP to 322-6901 extension 306



The Board of Rabbis of Stamford and Greenwich present

"Pondering Passover"

Insights into the Passover Haggadah and holiday observances

With the participation of the rabbis of Stamford and Greenwich.

Make the holiday more meaningful for you and your family.

Historical and spiritual insights.

Contemporary meaning and applications





Conducted by Hazzan Sidney G. Rabinowitz

Sunday, March 17, 2002 at 10:00 a.m.

A must for all Bar/Bat Mitzvah candidates of all ages! There will be a wonderful video on the making of Tefillin, what makes them kosher, and what could make them un-kosher. Surgery will be performed on a pair of no-longer kosher Tefillin and allow hands-on inspection of each part. This seminar is open to all within our congregation. If you do own a pair of tefillin, please being them along.

This program will be sandwiched between the two sessions of the Bar/Bat Mitzvah class family program with Rabbi Hammerman, "Becoming Bar/Bat Mitzvah" that will also take place that morning.


Coming soon….

Annual Cantor's Concert, featuring the Klezmer Conservatory band of Boston:

April 21 @ 3 PM



Temple Beth El To Honor Hazzan Rabinowitz

The Committee to Honor Hazzan & Sandy is looking for former Junior Choir singers to participate in the upcoming festivities! If your son or daughter ever participated in the Beth El Junior Choir, please call Roz Perlson (323-7328), Kathy Paseltiner (356-9735) or Carol Kalter (968-1075) to give his/her name, address and phone number. Thank you.

May 4 - Dinner Dance at Temple Beth El
May 19 - Community Event to Honor Sidney and Sandy Rabinowitz

Send us any memories, history, personal observations, programs, photos or other memorabilia. Those wishing to honor the Hazzan with a gift to the temple can do so with an entry in a journal being prepared for the May 4 event. Watch your mail for details or contact Roberta Aronovitch (for information) at 203-322-6901 ext 304 or by e-mail at


Junior Choir Reunion! Friday, June 14, 2002

The Committee to Honor Hazzan & Sandy is looking for former Junior Choir singers to participate in the upcoming festivities! If your son or daughter ever participated in the Beth El Junior Choir, please call Roz Perlson (323-7328), Kathy Paseltiner (356-9735) or Carol Kalter (968-1075) to give his/her name, address and phone number.



Beth El Cares



Please volunteer to help us refurbish and repair the home of an elderly Stamford resident. No experience needed, though we are also looking for people with painting and home repair experience to assist the group.


Art and Sue Greenwald at (203) 329-1662 or e-mail




KESHER (grades 3-5) GO VERTICAL! Indoor rock climbing -- Sunday, March 3 SOLD OUT

ATID (K-2) KARATE AND ICE CREAM (at Temple Beth El) -- Sunday, March 10: 1:30-3

KADIMA (6-8) Kinnus, in Bloomfield CT. -- March 1-3



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