Friday, April 12, 2002

Shabbat-O-Gram for Iyar 1, 5762

 Shabbat-O-Gram for Iyar 1, 5762

Rabbi Joshua Hammerman, Temple Beth El, Stamford, Connecticut


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


SHABBAT SHALOM (Hodesh tov, and Hag Ha-Atzmaut Sameach),

Today is the Rosh Hodesh for the month of Iyar, just five days before Israel's 54th birthday. I write this at a time of great uncertainty, with only a glimmer of light now beginning to be seen amidst the crumbling buildings and destroyed lives in Israel and the West Bank. Perhaps the crushing of resistance in Jenin, coupled with the humiliating surrender of those who had convinced us all that they wished martyrdom most of all, will mark the beginning of a new realization and a new opportunity. With the mask off, it turns out that even some terrorists prefer life to death. Perhaps that will prompt their leaders to begin to second guess the path of destruction that has marked P.A. policy since September 2000, in many ways since 1993, and pan Arab policy toward Israel since 1917. It has not been easy to watch the news this week, with their selective memories and distortions of truth. But again, a glimmer, in the courageous and powerful voices of some of the most respected writers on the planet -- many of the best articles are hyperlinked in the "Required Reading" section below. Meanwhile, acts of horror are perpetrated on Jews in France, Tunisia and elsewhere, and anti-Semitism is all the rage on college campuses in this country. It is not easy to be a Jew.

So I'm going to Washington this Monday, along with well over 100 from Stamford and tens of thousands of others from across America. Just as our late '80s March on Washington for Soviet Jewry proved to be a turning point in the long struggle for their liberation, so, I hope, will this hastily arranged emergency gathering bring Israel closer to the realization of her life-long dream of peace within secure borders. Even if you cannot attend, we all must redouble our efforts to help Israel this week. Call and write the White House and our representatives. We are going to be supporting individual families of terror victims as a congregation and as a community. Stay tuned for more information on how you can support those efforts. Come to our community-wide rally in front of Agudath Sholom at 1:15 on the 21st. Check out the announcement below for a very moving documentary film that will have its Connecticut premier here on May 2. Most of all, stay informed -- be on top of the news and be proactive in defending Israel among your friends and co-workers.

And finally, pray. Join with us at services -- we need to be together now, more than ever. Who knows -- we might even find things to celebrate there, like our fabulous b'nai mitzvah students, and the incredible explosion of spring outside our sanctuary windows. (When you see a tree blossoming for the first time in a season, say, "Baruch Ata Adonai, Eloheynu Melech Ha Olam, shelo hisar b'olamo davar, u-vara vo briyot tovot v'ilanot tovim l'hanot ba-hem b'nai adam" Praised are You, Adonai, who has withheld nothing from the world and has created beautiful creatures and lovely trees for mortals to enjoy.") Be prepared to say it when you enter our sanctuary this week and look out the windows -- and be prepared to be awed by the sight.

Rabbi Joshua Hammerman




Monday, April 15, 1:00 PM at the U.S. Capitol Building

Stand in solidarity with Israel as it defends itself against terror and violence, and support for the campaign against global terrorism
For more information: For background on the significance of the rally, see

Chartered buses will be leaving from Temple Beth El's parking lot in Stamford at 6 a.m. sharp, returning by 10 p.m. Bring your own lunch and dinner. Cost: $36/person. Call the Federation office, 321-1373, for reservations or e-mail at To guarantee a spot, call by 2:00 PM on Friday. After that, any remaining space on an ordered bus will be filled on a first-come first-serve basis.

As of Thursday afternoon, we already have three buses going from Stamford!!

The buses will take us to RFK Stadium. We will take a short Metro trip to the capitol Building. Security arrangements are in place.

Call the White House to express support for Israel in her fight against terror. Respectfully thank President Bush for his concern and suggest that Israel's fight is also America's, and that America's support is needed now more than ever:

President George W. Bush

The White House

Washington, DC




With Israelis continuing to suffer so horribly, take a few moments this Shabbat to pray for those who are wounded, whose Hebrew names can be found at the "cholim" Web site, at


Community Wide Solidarity Rally for Israel

Sunday, April 21, 2002 1:15 p.m.


Congregation Agudath Sholom

301 Strawberry Hill Avenue, Stamford, CT


"Suicide Bombers Cannot Silence Israeli Children"

Documentary and Discussion

Thursday, May 2 at 7:30 p.m. at Temple Beth El

Dr. Mildred Pollner, President, Cinema Verite International, Inc. presents her documentary film. Panel discussion to follow. Below is a review of the evening, from a rabbi, whose congregation Dr. Pollner recently visited:

"Dr. Mildred Pollner, President of Cinema Verite International, Inc. presented her film documentary entitled, "Suicide Bombers Cannot Silence Israeli Children." Dr. Pollner interviewed Israeli children last summer after the Sbarro bombing. She manages to capture all the pathos of what it means to be a child in Israel today. There was not a dry eye in the audience when the film was over. No propaganda. She just lets the Israeli kids speak. It is a great program for Jewish and non-Jewish audiences."




Klezmer Conservatory Band Headlines Cantor’s Concert

The Cantor’s Concert is fast approaching! Make certain to send in your reservations now for the 31st Annual Concert produced by Hazzan Rabinowitz, in cooperation with the Men’s Club.

The sounds of Klezmer will once again rock Beth El, with our special guest, The Klezmer Conservatory Band. The concert is Sunday afternoon, April 21 at 3 p.m. Please get your reservations in quickly!

Special reserved seating is offered to Angels ($360 for four tickets) and Benefactors ($180 for two tickets). Sponsors tickets are available for $100 (two tickets). General admission is $18 (students and seniors at $15).

Reservations for the concert and scrumptious dinner can be made through the Temple office, 322-6901, or via e-mail at Please act quickly so you do not miss this truly special event.




JUST THE FACTS: Services and Such

Friday Night: Candles: 7:12 PM

Shabbat Shalom Service (for families with children in grades K-4): 7:15 PM, in the lobby

Kabbalat Shabbat: 8:00 PM, in the chapel

Shabbat Morning:

P'sukey d'zimra (psalms and meditations) 9:15 and Shacharit: 9:30

MAZAL TOV to Ben Cohen, who becomes Bar Mitzvah this Shabbat morning;

Torah Portion: Tazri-Metzora -- Shabbat Rosh Hodesh: 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: Test your Parasha I.Q.: CLAL's Torah commentary archive:

Children's Services: 10:30, in the chapel (grades 3 - 6) and downstairs in the Kindergarten room for younger grades. 

Mincha-Ma'ariv-Havdalah: 6:45 PM. MAZAL TOV to Adam Judd, who becomes Bar Mitzvah this Shabbat afternoon

Morning Minyan: Daily at 7:30, Sundays at 9:00 


Spiritual Journey on the Web: Jerusalem of Gold -- and of Love

With Israel's Independence Day coming up next Tuesday night, this week's journey takes us back to a place, and a song, that can help us understand what the current fighting is all about. I discovered the "Jerusalem of Gold" Web site a few weeks ago totally by serendipity (which is exactly where these spiritual journeys are supposed to begin), while looking for something else. I was immediately taken by the story of the song, just as its music has long enraptured me. So saunter over, if you please, to you're there, click on "music," and search for a file with the song so that you can hear it, or if you're a reformed Napsterite like me, find it in your own MP3 files.

The story of the song is almost as enchanting as the song itself. Like the fact that the title came to Naomi Shemer from a Talmudic story of Rabbi Akiva, who romantically dreamed of being able to offer his wife a "Jerusalem of Gold," which to him must have been the most precious gift imaginable. He, after all, lived in amidst the rubble of the recently destroyed (and never completely cleaned up) second temple. Akiva's yearning is matched by Shemer's own, as for her, this song was as much a dirge as a tribute, bemoaning the still deserted marketplaces and empty Dead Sea road. Recall that this song was written just BEFORE the Six-Day War. Recall also, that those marketplaces were in fact well populated at the time -- by Arabs, who were essentially invisible to the Jewish dreamers and songwriters of that era. No, we are not totally blameless in the tragedy that has since followed this miraculous June victory.

Check out "Jewish Sources" and you'll see that for the sages, the "Jerusalem of Gold" was an actually article of jewelry, one that Akiva presented to his wife Rachel in gratitude for her steadfast devotion to him during the hard times. Read about it with greater clarity at Rabbi Judith Abrams' excellent Maqom site It turns out that the Akiba - Rachel story is sort of a Jewish version of the "Gift of the Magi. ("). A perfect way to imagine Jerusalem -- a city that can be attained not simply with great sacrifice, but with an infinite love for one's fellow human, and an infinite desire to give. That is also seen in the famous account of the Two Brothers, another seminal Jerusalem story. See it at

Now here's a twist. Is it possible that the Jewish Two Brothers story has Palestinian parallels? Check it out at BTW, if you want to hear and see the Palestinian love for Jerusalem expressed artistically, you can find examples at With all this love, why is there so much hate? God only knows….


Back to Akiva: The love story between Akiva and Rachel is one of the most beautiful in Jewish literature. Read about it at, which will also help prepare you for the upcoming minor festival of Lag B'Omer.

Then go to, and you'll read something else about Lag B'Omer and Rabbi Akiva.

"The Talmud speaks obscurely of a plague occurring on one Omer that killed 24,000 students of the second-century Rabbi Akiva. What kind of a plague was it that apparently only affected Rabbi Akiva's talmudic students and nobody else and came to an end on Lag Ba'Omer (the thirty-third of the forty-nine days)? Most modern scholars assume that the plague referred to was not an illness.

Rabbi Akiva supported a rebellion against the Roman conquerors of Israel led by a famous Jewish military leader by the name of Bar-Kochba. Moreover, Akiva declared Bar-Kochba to be the Messiah who would liberate the Jews from Roman domination. Although Bar-Kochba did achieve some early military successes, eventually the Romans suppressed his revolt with incredible brutality. Among Bar-Kochba's leading soldiers were thousands of Rabbi Akiva's students. Thus, it is likely that Lag Ba'Omer was a day on which the Jews either achieved a short lived victory over the Romans or gained some respite from the slaughter of battle."

There are fascinating parallels to our time. There is no real respite for Israel from the plague of terrorism right now. But the battle has been joined and Israelis I'm hearing from are at least exhaling right now, if not breathing easy. They are trickling back to the cafes and pizzerias. They are preparing to celebrate Yom Ha'atzmaut next week, if not with the public partying of years past, at least with the knowledge that when the time came to fight for the nation's survival, once again Tzahal came through; if not with the miraculous might of June '67, than with an equally miraculous grace under far greater pressure. Those who claimed Israelis were weak-kneed and complacent, they were the ones with their hands up in Jenin. The battle has been won. The war is far from over.

But soon, soon, I do believe, the marketplaces will be bustling once again, with Jews and Arabs, making commerce, not war. And soon, in our lifetime, we'll all go down to the Dead Sea together, without war, without fear, by way of Jericho.



ON ISRAEL AND TERRORISM Surrender at Jenin, from Friday's Ha'aretz The Big Israeli Victory We Haven't Heard About Broadcasting the "Big Lie," from honest Rabbi Danny Gordis' moving account of this week's events in Israel, "Even the Heavens hate You." -- Why the Haifa bus bombing may have been a result of pressure on Israel to end operations prematurely. George Will, "When Nuance Excuses Terror" -- Yossi Klein Halevy "Agoraphobia," very powerful analysis Powell's Disastrous Trip:
The Secretary of State isn't helping the situation. In fact, he might be dismantling the Bush Doctrine, by William Kristol & Robert Kagan Arafatuous: Media doubletalk obscures the horror of the Mideast war, BY CLAUDIA ROSETT They Live to Die: Only war can stop the suicide bombers. BY REUEL MARC GERECHT KOFI ANNAN'S WARPED STANDARD, New York Post



As Israel prepares to celebrate her 54th year of independence on the Fifth of Iyar, (April 17), The Jewish Agency for Israel is initiating a worldwide immediate campaign to give the opportunity for Diaspora youth to connect and identify with Israel’s soldiers.

Within the framework of this campaign, children, youth and students from Jewish communities throughout the world are asked to send personal letters to the soldiers who are now defending the State of Israel in a war against Palestinian terrorism. At this time, it is especially important to express unity and mutual responsibility for one another throughout the Jewish world.

How to Send Letters:

These personal letters can be sent in a number of ways:

1) Handwritten or typed letters-

a) These can be sent to Israel to fax 972-2-621-6133 or 972-2-621-6214

b) The letters can also be sent by express mail (delivery within 72 hours) directly to Israel (it is best to send letters in a centralized manner):

Letter for an Israeli Soldier

The Jewish Agency for Israel

POB 92

Jerusalem 91000, Israel

c) The letters can also be forwarded to our office in New York:

Letter for an Israeli Soldier

The Jewish Agency for Israel

633 Third Avenue 21st Floor

New York, NY 10017

2) Email Letters- We suggest sending the letters as attachments to:

These email letters will be printed in the Jewish Agency offices in Jerusalem, placed into individual envelopes and delivered to soldiers.

Letters should be sent as soon as possible. All of the letters will be distributed immediately by the Education Department of the Jewish Agency through IDF representatives. If there are any questions, contact

All letter writers should include their name and address to allow the soldiers to answer. All means of self-expression are acceptable and welcomed! In light of the war in Israel and the launching of "Operation Defensive Shield," the Jewish Agency is initiating a special project that will give concrete expression to the concept of world Jewish solidarity with Israel.


Volunteer Opportunities

2 - 4 week programs for ages 18 to 65

  • Physicians
  • MDA (Magen David Adom)
  • Maintenance and Supply Services
  • Kibbutz Volunteers
  • Work with Children with Special Needs
  • Civil Guard



To register, please contact: (212) 339-6063; Fax: (212) 318-6145;


Yom Ha-Atzmaut links and readings: -- an old Jerusalem Post supplement -- don't miss the photo albums from 1948! -- CLAL article by Rabbi Yitz Greenberg -- Masorti prayers for the State of Israel and for Yom Ha-Zikaron (Remembrance Day)

You can go to the following sites to buy Israeli products: or


Quote of the Week:


Another moving dispatch "from the front" by our own Jan Gaines in Netanya:



It was the eve of the last day of Pesach and I was doing my civil guard duty. That evening there was yet another terrorist alert- - -Israeli intelligence had determined that there would be an infiltration in the Tulkarm/Kalkilya area, only a few miles from us in Netanya. So early on in my 4 hour evening shift we drove out to the road block at the Green Line, only a mile or so from Tulkarm.

Already there were 4 army reservists checking each car. Backing them up were 2 border police units, with flares, spikes in the road, and large blocks. And there we were, three 16 year old pre-army Russian/Israeli boys, one blond 19 yr. old Israeli girl, one middle aged French immigrant, one 18 yr. old sabra ready for the army in 3 months, and our boss, a professional policeman in charge of the civil guard. Only 2 of us were armed, the rest just giving moral support.

It was a cold, rainy night. And since it was the last night before the end of Pesach, the only food around was matzo, brought along by the border police. This shift goes through the dinner hour from 6:00 p.nm. to 10:00p.m. and hardly anyone has had any dinner. Most of us were starving. We fanned out along the highway, just kind of watching. I felt pretty useless but at least the sight of an American grandmother who was there to support them may have been a boost to all of these kids. And they are just kids, including the reservists just out of the army, no more than 22 or 23 years old.

After about 20 minutes of just staring into the darkness at the open fields and thinking how easy it would be for a terrorist to just walk through them, and into Netanya, in the dark, I felt a tap on my shoulder and a young Yemenite soldier held out a piece of matzo- - -no butter, no jam, no humus- - just plain cardboard matzo. With a big grin he asked if I was hungry. "Sure, " I said, and we munched the matzo together, laughing. Then he went over to the next civil guard with his matzo offering, again with a grin and a laugh.

And as I looked at the scene of these young people defending their country with the threat of daily terroristk activity right on our doorstep, I asked myself what other country would put up with the death and violence forced upon us by a people who can only hate and not compromise, a people who are fed with the illusion that if they kill enough of us we will leave this land and they can have it all. What if France or Spain or Norway or all of those hypocritical European nations were being attacked the way we are? Would they be so sympathetic to these killers if they themselves were being blown up?

How easy it is for the rest of the world to blame the victim. How history repeats itself over and over for this embattled country, on the verge of destruction not once but over and over in our 54 year history:

1948, 1956, 1973, 1991 and in between. Every time we are winning the world screams ‘STOP1" Every time we are under attack the world is silent. Our roadblock breaks up shortly after 9:00 p.m. and we go back to patrol the Netanya city streets, in the police van. I wonder why the roadblock ended and it was only the next morning on the news that I heard a terrorist HAD BEEN STOPPED at another roadblock on his way to blow up more Israelis. This time it wasn’t us. Next time it might be.

In the meantime, my memory will be of that grinning Yemenite soldier offering all of us a taste of matzo, a taste of our BREAD OF AFFLICTION.






with Rabbi Andrea Cohen-Kiener

Sunday April 28th One Session Only 10:00 a.m. - 12:00 p.m.


Jewish Meditation is an old/new tradition. Once practiced by small circles of mystics, the world wide interest in meditation has contributed to a reflourishing and expansion of this practice. Uniquely Jewish forms of attention practice and contemplative devotions have been restored to congregational and personal worship. We will explore and practice some of the basics in this two-part class with the idea of deepening our personal practice of both meditation and Judaism.

The cost is $10.00 RSVP to 322-6901 ext. 306

(The Youth Lounge will be open for childcare from 10:00 a.m. - 12:00 p.m. For your convenience, 1st session students may go to the Youth Lounge when school ends at 10:45 a.m. and remain until 12:00 p.m. 2nd session siblings may go to the Youth Lounge at 10:00 a.m. and remain until school starts at 11:00 a.m.)



Hazzan, Dr. Joseph Levine

May 3-4, 2002

Kicking-off a special weekend honoring Hazzan and Sandy Rabinowitz

Kabbalat Shabbat 8:00 p.m.

Shabbat morning service 9:30 a.m.


Friday Night Outdoor Services

resume, weather permitting,

May 10, 2002 at 7:00 p.m.


Eighth Annual Elders Day

Shabbat, May 11, 2002

Honoring Norma and Milton Mann

Services begin at 9:30 a.m.

Congregational Family Luncheon to follow



USY (9-12)  SPRING CONVENTION, April 12-14th





Trip to the Museum of Jewish Heritage

Date: April 28, 2002- Sunday

Time: Bus departs TBE at 10:30, return late afternoon.

Cost: $36- includes transportation, museum fees, and guided tour of the museum, plus kosher lunch at the Museum.

Send checks to TBE, write on check "seniors trip". Anyone wanting more information can call me at home. Phone 203-329-9516.

All checks must be in by April 4th, as the Museum requires payment in full by April 7, 2002. There are no refunds and the date will be not be held after April 7th, 2002 if they don't have the full payment.



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.




Outreach to Young Jewish Singles

So, you’ve come to the Greater Stamford area and you are interested in the who’s who and the what’s what in the Jewish world. Well, you’ve come to the right place to find out. Through a grant provided by Michael Steinhardt, project SHA’AR was developed to provide information about and/or formulate welcoming Jewish educational, cultural and social programs that are geared to the interests of young Jewish singles. SHA’AR is your link to existing Jewish organizations in the Greater Stamford community.

SHA’AR will provide information about the existing Synagogues, so that you can find the one that fulfills your religious needs. A number of programming options will be available to fulfill your Jewish religious and educational desires. Additionally, SHA’AR can connect you to the popular Young Jewish Professionals singles group to accommodate your social interests.

Our program is unique, due to the fact that SHA’AR involves you in the development process of the project and that its coordinator is 26, single and can relate to and understand the needs of the young Jewish single.

For more information please contact Dan Rozett, Coordinator of SHA’AR, United Jewish Federation of Greater Stamford, New Canaan and Darien.

203.321.1373 ext. 115 or


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





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