Friday, May 31, 2002

Shabbat-O-Gram for May 31 – June 1, Sivan 21 5762

  Shabbat-O-Gram for May 31 – June 1, Sivan 21 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 Previous Shabbat-O-Grams are archived at


This week’s Shabbat-O-Gram features some new sections designed to help us all perform small but significant “mitzvot” close to home, among our own congregational family.  If you can think of other ways this newsletter can be put to such use, feel free to suggest!  One possibility being discussed is that of encouraging congregants to “sponsor” Shabbat-O-Grams, thereby assisting us in funding important programs.  Let us know what you think!



New Feature: “The Highest Level of Tzedakkah” -- TBE Job Shidduch

According to Maimonides, the highest level of tzedakkah is not to give money to another, but to provide that person with the means to earn a living on his/her own.  In these difficult economic times, many within our Beth El family find themselves “downsized” out of a job for the first time in many years.  It is incumbent upon us to help them.  It would be an honor to utilize the Shabbat-O-Gram for this kind of mitzvah.  If you are looking for employment right now and would like the help of the congregation, please e-mail me a brief paragraph describing your needs and qualifications.  Anyone with potential leads can then contact me and I will in turn forward to that person contact information. Everything will be handled in the strictest confidence.  I can personally vouch for any of the individuals whose particulars are featured here.

This week we are looking for job contacts for a senior level professional with extensive experience in accounting, financial planning and credit and collections. Here is his personal request:

“I need to build my job search network real fast. Recently my company filed for bankruptcy, which was expected. As a result of the bankruptcy there was an additional 30% of the workforce let go including myself, which was not expected. Any suggestions or contacts would be appreciated.   At this point due to the minimal severance package (which is subject to approval of the bankruptcy court) I would be interested immediate opportunities in the areas of, finance, client services or human resources; even if it was on a consultancy basis.”

If you have any leads or wish to contact this person directly, contact me at


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


Friday Night: Candles: 8:00: PM

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

MAZAL TOV to our 7th graders, who will be participating in their “Aliyah” service as they move onward from the Religious School years to the many alternatives for Jewish involvement offered teens in our community.  Note to the parents of our 7th graders…because the service will begin before sundown, it will be possible to take photos of the class at the start.  So feel free to bring cameras (only please respect our policies of no photography once Shabbat begins).

Shabbat Morning

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

MAZAL TOV to Ely Gerbin, who becomes Bar Mitzvah this Shabbat morning.

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

TORAH PORTIONBe’ha’alotcha. 

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:

Mincha-Havdalah Services: 7:30 PM

MAZAL TOV to Libby Osher, who becomes Bat Mitzvah this Shabbat afternoon.

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


Spiritual Journey on the Web: Spider-Man-orah: Spirit, Power and Responsibility

No, it’s not Hanukkah, but in fact this week’s Haftarah, from the prophet Zechariah, is the same one read on Shabbat Hanukkah.  The portion’s focus on the paraphernalia of ancient worship includes a detailed discussion of the menorah, as well as the silver trumpets used for religious and secular occasions.  If you want to see what all these things looked like, go to the Temple Institute at  Go to and you’ll see the silver trumpets being blown at the Western Wall, and at you’ll find a depiction of what they think the original Menorah looked like. I’ve been to the Temple Institute in Jerusalem, BTW, and it is both fascinating and a bit scary.  The underlying expectation of this organization is that the Temple is going to be rebuilt – and soon (they even have the red heifer to prove it – for an explanation on that, see  For the Temple to be rebuilt, however, there will have to be a divine/human intervention of the most cataclysmic sort, something that ranges from the unfathomable to the unthinkable. 

The Institute’s description of the Menorah’s uniquely spiritual light helps us to understand why Zechariah coined that immortal phrase, “Not by might, nor by power, but by My spirit, says the Lord of hosts.” 

The menorah can be seen as occupying the most central role of all the sacred vessels, for it is the symbol of light—and the sages refer to Jerusalem as "the light of the world" (B’reishith Rabbah 59). One reason for this is the light of the Menorah, bursting forth from within the sanctuary. For the menorah’s light was a spiritual, as well as physical, illumination. Thus the sages teach that the windows in the walls of the sanctuary were constructed differently than any other windows in the world. These were just the opposite of ordinary windows, for what is the normally considered the function of windows? To let the light in. But these windows were in order to let the light the out—to disseminate the spiritual light emanating from the Temple menorah out into the world. The Sanctuary’s windows allowed the special ethereal light coming forth from the menorah to burst out to the world from within the hallowed hall.”

So the light is focused outward, rather than inward.  Michael Fishbane, in the new Conservative commentary (Etz Hayim) sheds some “light” on this in his explanation of the Haftarah (p.836).  He shows how Zechariah later compares the lights of the Menorah to the eyes of God (see Zech 4:10-14) and how later Midrash compared the seven lamps to various heavenly bodies: the sun, moon and five visible planets.  In that way, the Menorah was able to translate the intimacy of God’s presence within the shrine into a statement of cosmic transcendence.  The focus, again, is primarily outward.  (Other takes on the Menorah as a symbol are found at and, and for a historical survey of the symbol, take a virtual tour at the Israel Museum, at -- it’s fascinating.)

At Beth El, we are fortunate to have a sanctuary lined with windows on both sides.  We often speak of how this architecture enables the beauty of nature to inspire our prayer.  Perhaps we need to turn that around.  Maybe it is our prayer, inspired by the natural beauty that surrounds us, that needs to project outward into the world.  Too often we find ourselves saying, “That service did nothing for me.”  The menorahs standing in our sanctuary should serve as a reminder that such a statement begs the question.  Sure, it’s best that the service is inspiring, with all that “inspiration” entails (stimulating music, provocative discussion, warm greetings from friends, good food); but we mustn’t forget that that inspiration’s goal is to ignite the flame within each of us solely for the purpose of our projecting that light outward.  That is the essence of Jewish spirituality (as opposed to much of the self-obsessed, navel-examining New Age stuff out there): it revitalizes our spirit for the purpose of transforming the world.

“Not by might, nor by power, but by My spirit…”  Where have I heard that lately?  Hmmm.  “With great power comes great responsibility….” I know!  Spider-man! (Check out for some religious perspectives on the film, though not necessarily Jewish ones, and for some Jewish connections, check these two articles form the Forward, at and  Nebbish turned super hero (rather than becoming a tycoon or heartthrob), saving the world from evil: that’s the eternal Jewish dream.  (And go to this week’s Jewish Week to read about Will Eisner, the creator of the 1940s comic book hero calledappropriately enough, “The Spirit.”)  It’s comforting to know that Zechariah’s message to use power wisely toward divine ends is breaking box office records in America today.







To subscribe to the Daily Alert, Prepared for the Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations in association with the Fairness Project by the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs. please send a blank email message to: -- Krauthammer on why Sharon's tactics have worked

Summit of Evil
"Leaders of al Qaeda, militant Palestinian groups Hamas and Hezbollah, and a number of other groups linked to terror held a summit in Lebanon in late March," ABC News reports. "At the Lebanon meeting, the groups discussed tactics and the possibility of an unprecedented level of joint activity, U.S. officials said--including a possible new round of attacks against America, Great Britain, and other targets."

If this report is accurate, it should silence once and for all anyone who claims that Israel's war on terror is somehow less legitimate than America's. But it probably won't.

Good Fight - Martin Peretz
There is an early Zionist military doctrine called "purity of arms" that still holds in Israel. It is a doctrine of self-constraint: Everything reasonable must be done to avoid harming civilians, even if that entails additional risks to Israeli soldiers. Richard Holbrooke recently observed that the Israeli military is probably more fastidious about moral constraints than is our own. (New Republic)


Emergency Fence Under Construction - Ze'ev Schiff
Recent suicide strikes have put an end to delays in the construction of a fence around the West Bank. Some 20 contractors are to work on the fence, which will not be put up exactly along the Green Line but will follow the physical contours of the land. The separation fence will not provide total protection. IDF soldiers and weapons will have to supplement the fence, and IDF operations within Palestinian areas will continue. (Ha'aretz)


Hillel Halkin on “Why the Settlements Should Stay” – even for those who disagree, a provocative and compelling argument (and it straightens out a lot of historical inaccuracies as well.  Check it out at


Useful References: ·  Twenty Facts about Israel ·  Myths & Facts: A Guide to the Arab-Israeli Conflict



“Being There” -- Another new feature of the Shabbat-O-Gram

They say 99% of life is “just showing up.”  I am privileged to have the chance to see the power of a simple visit during my regular rounds of the hospital and other places, but “Being there” is mitzvah anyone can fulfill.  I went to visit David Jaffe at the Tandet Center this week. Many within the congregation know David, son of Sari and Alan, and he is admired for his incredible spirit, courage and sense of humor. He’s doing very well there right now, but it always helps to see some visitors from the outside world.  If you know David, why not stop by and pay a visit?  Of course, if you know others who could use a visit, by all means let us know!  And if we can spread the word through the Shabbat-O-Gram, then this e-mailing is serving a great purpose.


  Quotes of the Week:

  “The Palestinians would have in the West Bank an area that was contiguous. Those who say there were cantons—completely untrue…His [Arafat’s] negotiators understood this was the best they were ever going to get. They wanted him to accept it. He was not prepared to...For him to end the conflict is to end himself.”—Former U.S. Middle East envoy Dennis Ross, on the peace terms presented by President Clinton to Israel and the Palestinians in December 2000 (Jerusalem Report, May 20)


“We are sorting out for ourselves what would be appropriate for us to say about the endgame and the best time to say something about it. What we say about the endgame is something we are truly grappling with.”—U.S. administration official, playing down reports that his government is considering a key shift in policy by publicly detailing terms for a final Middle East settlement, including a negotiating schedule for achieving an accord [Both CIA Director George Tenet and Assistant Secretary of State for Near East Affairs William Burns will arrive in the region over the weekend to push for reforms to the civil administration of the PA and its security apparatus.] (Washington Post, May 28; Wall Street Journal; Ha’aretz, May 29)



POLL: TERROR ATTACKS HAVE TEENAGERS CHANGING LIFESTYLES—(Jerusalem) Approximately two out of three Israeli teenagers have made changes to their lifestyle because of attacks by Palestinian terrorists, according to a poll released yesterday. More than half said they did not go out as often as they used to, shunning cinemas, concerts, discotheques, and cafés. Teenagers now tend to spend their time visiting friends rather than going out. An overwhelming 70% said they looked forward to playing a meaningful role in their upcoming army service, "to help improve the situation," the poll reported. The survey, conducted by the Smith Institute, questioned 400 Israelis aged 14 to 18. (Jer. Post, May 29)





The Women's discussion group was scheduled to have a meeting on June 6th.  That meeting has to be postponed and the new date has not yet been decided. 


MAZAL TOV to Elliot Tuckel and Kathy Cooperman, on their engagement!





With SHIMON STEIN Israeli Ambassador to Germany and DAVID HARRIS, The American Jewish

Committee’s National Executive Director

 Wednesday, June 5, 2002, 7:30 p.m.

Sponsored by Temple Beth El andThe American Jewish Committee


From our Youth Center:






GRADES 5-12:

                                    SIX FLAGS NEW ENGLAND

                                    DATE:   Sunday, June 9th        

                                    TIME:   leave Beth El at 9:00 am, return 9:00 pm

                                    COST: $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.


                                    FORMS & PAYMENT DUE THURSDAY, MAY 30th

                                    RSVP to Marcie at 322-6901 ext.324 or e-mail or contact Regional Director, Marcus Fink at   (860)563-5531.





                        FAMILY FUN DAY at the Bridgeport Bluefish Baseball

                                    DATE: Sunday, June 23rd

                                    COST: $15.00

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

                                    THURSDAY, MAY 30TH.





WHO: Entering Grades 6-12 Teens from Maryland, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Connecticut and Western Massachusetts Regions

                                    DATES: August 20-25               

                                    WHERE: 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

                                    APPLICATIONS ARE ON THERE WAY!




Marcie B. Gelb

Programming & Youth Coordinator

Temple Beth El

350 Roxbury Road

Stamford, CT  06902

phone      203-322-6901, ext. 324

fax           203-322-0532






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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