Friday, May 17, 2002

Shabbat (and Shavuot)-O-Gram for May 17-18, Sivan 6-7, 5762

  Shabbat (and Shavuot)-O-Gram for May 17-18, Sivan 6-7, 5762

Rabbi Joshua Hammerman, Temple Beth El, Stamford, Connecticut


The Web link for this week's Shabbat-O-Gram is The site is continually updated during the week with corrections and additions. Feel free to forward this link to your friends. People can subscribe to the weekly Shabbat-o-Gram at If you wish to unsubscribe, contact


SHABBAT SHALOM, and Happy Shavuot, and Mazal Tov to our 12 Adult B'not Mitzvah!




JUST THE FACTS: Services and Such (N.B. 7 PM Fri night, outdoors)


Friday Night: Candles: 7:48: PM

Shabbat and Shavuot Ma'ariv service: 7:00 PM, OUTDOORS (weather permitting -- dress is casual).

Tot Shabbat (Shavuot) Service: 7:15 PM (in the lobby)

Shabbat Morning (Second Day of Shavuot): Adult B'not Mitzvah as well as Yizkor service.

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

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

MAZAL TOV -- to all our B'not Mitzvah!

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


Spiritual Journey on the Web: Downloading Torah from Sinai

Torah is a Verb

It is hardly news at this point that there are surprising parallels between the notion of divine revelation as understood in Jewish tradition and how we retrieve information on the Internet.  But as we approach Shavuot, the festival of the "giving" of the Torah, there is no better time to look at some of the ways Torah is shared on the Web.  

Years ago, Leonard Fein wrote a classic article about Reform Judaism, "Reform is a Verb."  In the same manner, Torah is more a verb than a noun for Jews.  We do Torah.  To understand that is to understand Judaism.   Those who think of the Torah as an object are those most likely to have stopped their Jewish education at age 13.  "Torah" is the lifelong act of gleaning meaning and wisdom from our sacred sources, and then in turn injecting new life into those sources.  It is an interactive, life-giving experience, best done while in networking mode (traditionally called "hevruta").

So how are people "doing" Torah online this Shavuot?  We can begin with Rabbi Barry Lerner’s Shavuot downloads (html or Adobe), at   A wealth of materials can be found there.  Or, how about CLAL’s experiment in distance pluralism, found at, their "National Unity Shavuot Web site."  So, let’s say you can’t make it to a late-night Torah-thon at your local synagogue (ours will be in Greenwich with Temple Shalom) on Sunday night; simply click on this and voila, Mount Sinai will be staring right back at you.   You can study the texts presented and post your comments.  Some of the texts they’ve selected are extremely provocative.  Here’s one, from the Zohar:

Once the world was created, it could not have been sustained had it not occurred to the Divine Will to create human beings to engage in the study of Torah. For just as God looked into the Torah and created the world, humans look into it and sustain the world. Zohar 161 a-b

Talk about the Torah being a verb!  Here it’s the Mother of all Verbs: Creation.  Doing Torah is not only what sustains our people, it’s what sustains our world.

Taking Jewish Learning Seriously

There’s lots of ways to do Torah online.  One is through distance learning.  Full, accredited Jewish studies classes can be found at many sites, including JTS (, Hebrew College of Boston ( and the Jewish University in Cyberspace (J.U.I.C.E.) at, and Bar Ilan University, at  A complete listing of places to go can be found at   If you are at all interested in Jewish Education, that JESNA page is a must-bookmark site, along with, the World Zionist Organization’s "A Touch of Torah: Web sites to Teach and Learn." For hard-core graduate level studies, find more at, but beware, you’ll find some Messianic Jewish offerings there (it shows us what we’re up against).

Shavuot and Zionism

Simply learning ABOUT the festival of the giving of the Torah is a great way to be "doing Torah,"  especially this weekend. literally maps out the Jewish festivals for easy navigation.  Click on Shavuot for quick explanations of key concepts, emphasizing the multi-layered nature of this festival:

"Shavuot, perhaps more than any other festival, embodies the extraordinary integration of the spiritual-religious side and the earthly-material side of the Jewish people.

The festival of Matan Torah, the Giving of the Torah, wherein the children of Israel willingly and consciously accepted a system of laws that make up the Torah, the infrastructure for their spiritual and moral existence, is also the festival that expresses the close connection with the daily life of the people who, on entering Eretz Israel,s became farmers, cultivating the soil, and completely associated with all aspects of nature, its seasons and its manifestations.

When we dwelt in our land, before the destruction of the First and the Second Temples, Shavuot was above all the festival of the first fruits of the wheat harvest. Following the Exile, the emphasis for Shavuot was naturally placed on the fact that it is the festival of the giving of the Torah.

When the Jewish people returned to their land in recent generations, they returned to a natural life, working the land in their independent state. Shavuot once more became the Festival of Reaping, the festival of the fruits of our soil, the festival of flowers and greenery - and this combines well with "Hag Matan Torah.

Only in Israel can Shavuot be celebrated fully, with its entire range of meanings."

That final line is not surprising, given that the source is the Jewish Agency. 

Shavuot: Something for Everyone

Shavuot has begun to take on new meaning for all branches of Judaism.  You’ll find a gold mine of Shavuot links at and some neat audio lectures from a modern Orthodox perspective at

Shavuot has made the greatest inroads in the liberal movements, although it still is not being taken as seriously as it should.  In that way, it is the perfect Jewish match for the American Memorial Day, which has lost almost all of its meaning as a true Memorial Day (except for Reform Jews, who say Yizkor on Monday).  Between the aforementioned Ruth, the all-nighters, and the environmental, Zionist slant, this holiday is enjoying a renaissance.   A good example is and its treatment of the Omer.  Also see Art Waskow’s interpretation of the Ezekiels’s vision of the chariot, a classic text of Jewish mysticsm and a haftorah for Shavuot.  It’s at

Finally, take a Shavuot quiz and send a Shavuot card.  You can find a card at, and the quiz at

Yes, I passed the quiz.  But that doesn’t mean I know all there is to know.  We can never stop downloading Torah from Sinai.





ISRAEL AND THE WAR ON TERORRISM -- Krauthammer on why Sharon's tactics have worked



 Quote of the Week:






From our Youth Center:


ATID (Grades K-2): Kite Making & Picnic Day

Sunday, May 19th 1:00-2:45 pm

*Parent help is needed, please sign up.

$10.00 RSVP to Marcie at 322-6901 ext.324 or e-mail


KESHER (Grades 3-5) Shabbat Scavenger Hunt & Havdalah

Saturday, May 18th 7:00-9:00 pm

$5.00 RSVP to Marcie at 322-6901 ext.324 or e-mail


KADIMA (Grades 6-8) BBQ & Softball Game at the Stamford JCC

Wednesday, May 29th 3:30-5:30 pm

$7 for JCC members, $10 for non-memebers, Drop-ins at $3

RSVP to Marcie at 322-6901 ext.324 or e-mail


8th Graders & USY (Grades 9-12)

Thursday, May 23rd FREE EVENT!! FREE FOOD!!

Final Lounge Night

6-8/8:30 pm

come for pizza, snacks & movie

also...get info on upcoming events as when as info on next year's calendar of events

CALLING ALL LEADERS... we will be discussing the 2002-2003 chapter board

*final event forms due to Marcie by this event*

RSVP to Marcie at 322-6901 ext.324 or e-mail



Sunday, June 9th leave Beth El at 9:00 am, return 9:00 pm

$50.00 Includes: admission to both parks (Six Flags New England & Kingdom Water Park),

bus transportation, dinner & program at Temple Beth El, Springfield, MA

*If you are a season pass holder, your cost is $30.00.


RSVP to Marcie at 322-6901 ext.324 or e-mail


FAMILY FUN DAY - ALL GRADES: Bridgeport Bluefish Game

Sunday, June 23rd


RSVP to Marcie at 322-6901 ext.324 or e-mail with your # of tickets requested by

Monday, May 27th.


Entering Grades 6-12: Encampment

August 20-25 Camp Ramah in the Poconos

watch your mail for more information, or contact Marcie at 322-6901 ext.324 or e-mail

2002 Senior Class: watch your mail for staff application



Don't Forget to Join us for our

Adult B'not Mitzvah Service on May 18, the Second Day of Shavuot!!!


Don't forget…May 19 
- "Hazzan: The Musical,"

Community Event to Honor Hazzan Sidney and Sandy Rabinowitz


House-Hunting Help Needed by the Temple

The Temple needs to rent a three-bedroom apartment or house as interim housing for Cantor Deborah Jacobson and her family, until the Hazzan's Parish House becomes available. The residence will be needed beginning June 15th for three or four months. Furnished preferred but not essential. If you know of any available rental housing for the June-October period please let the Temple office know so that the Hazzan Transition Committee can follow up on it. Your help is very much appreciated.



Friday Night Outdoor Services

weather permitting (otherwise we'll be indoors, but still at 7:00),


Opening May 17th at the GARDEN THEATER
29 Isaac Street, Norwalk, CT
203-838 4504

A film by Sandi Simcha DuBowski

Special event with Rabbi Steve Greenberg, Sunday, May 19th

Trembling Before G-d is an unprecedented feature documentary that shatters assumptions about faith, sexuality, and religious

Built around intimately-told personal stories of Hasidic and Orthodox Jews who are lesbian or gay, the film portrays a group of people who
face a profound dilemma- how to reconcile their passionate love of Judaism and the Divine with the drastic Biblical prohibitions that
forbid homosexuality. As the film unfolds, we meet a range of complex individuals- some hidden, some out- from the world's first openly gay
Orthodox rabbi, to closeted married Hasidic gays and lesbians, to those abandoned by religious families, to Orthodox lesbian high-school

Trembling Before G-d is an international project with global implications that strikes at the meaning of religious identity and
tradition in a modern world. For the first time, this issue has become a live, public debate in Orthodox circles. The film is both witness and
catalyst to this historic moment. What emerges is a loving and fearless testament to faith and survival and the universal struggle to belong.

"A real eye-opener....This sensitive, passionate and beautifully made film provides an overwhelming emotional and intellectual experience. Nearly five years in the making and shot on locations encompassing half the world, DuBowski's film might be likened to an adventure in ethics both personal and political. And it's an adventure, no one, Jew or gentile, can afford to miss." - Houston Press

"Sublime, moving, and hopeful" - LA Weekly



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.



Israel and the Palestinians: What Next?

A lecture by Mitchell Kraus, former CBS News correspondent

Wed. May 22, at 1:00 PM

at the Harry Bennett Branch of the Ferguson Library

115 Vine Road

Registration recommended: call 964-1000 X292




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


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