Friday, September 6, 2002

Shabbat-O-Gram for Rosh Hashanah, 5763

  Shabbat-O-Gram for Rosh Hashanah, 5763

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   I also send out mailings to college students, Gen Xers and teens, so let us know if you wish to placed on any of those lists.  If you wish to unsubscribe, contact  


Previous Shabbat-O-Grams are archived at






JUST THE FACTS: Services and Such

Friday Night: Candles: 7:00 PM, Services at 7

Shabbat and Rosh Hashanah First Day, also Sunday, the Second Day of Rosh Hashanah:  Services at 8:15 AM, in the sanctuary, children’s services at 11:00 AM

Saturday Afternoon: Mincha-Ma’ariv: 6:15 PM

Sunday Afternoon: Tashlich: 5:30 PM (see the latest list of Tashlich sins below, at the end of this o-gram)

Saturday Night : Candles: 8:02 PM

TORAH PORTION: Rosh Hashanah reading from Genesis (portion Va-yera), the story of Abraham and his progeny (We read from Ha’azinu on Saturday afternoon)

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:  Nehama Liebowitz archives of parsha commentaries:  For a more Kabbalistic/Zionist perspective from Rav Kook, first Chief Rabbi of Israel, go to

Morning Minyan: Daily at 7:30



Mazal Tov to Marsha & Ed Greenberg on the birth of a granddaughter, Ivy Hope Greenberg and a grandson, Zachary David Kitay.


Spiritual Journey on the Web – “Shofar, Sho-good”

On Sunday, at the end of services, we invite all those who have shofars to participate in our grand shofar symphony.  If you have a shofar, bring it! Here are some quick Web explorations on the Shofar, for those with enough RAM (sorry) to download them: 

1) For the most complete (and somewhat overwhelming, for the uninitiated) compilation of source material regarding the shofar from the Bible, Talmud, Midrash and even the Encyclopedia Brittanica, go to  You could stay at this site until Simhat Torah, so much is packed into it.  Read this material and you’ll certainly be the “shofar maven” of your row at services.

2) We don’t blow the shofar on Shabbat, the first day of RH this year.  That’s like inviting everyone to the Super Bowl and deciding not to use the football.  But there are good reasons for this (not the least of which is to get you here on the second day!).  Read explanations for this at (an Orthodox perspective) and (a Conservative perspective) and (a Reconstructionist view).  Fascinating discussion.  For me it comes down to three compelling reasons why not to blow shofar on Shabbat: 1) To remind us that we live in unredeemed times, different from when the Temple in Jerusalem existed, 2) To remind us that Shabbat is a High Holy Day that occurs every week, and is even more important than Rosh Hashanah (and is a time when we learn to live and let live, not to change everything) and 3) To remind us that the two days of Rosh Hashanah are in fact to be considered one long day in our tradition, and that in fact the entire 10 days of Teshuvah are all connected.  The journey that begins this Saturday does not end there.  If you stick around long enough, you’ll hear the shofar plenty of times.

3) Rav Saadia’s Top Ten List of reasons to blow the shofar (this is serious, classic compilation, done in a nice cutesy style)

4) Hear a shofar!  The Jewish Outreach Institute’s shofar page got thousands of hits when it was advertised in the NY Times a couple of years ago.  Hear for yourself, at  Compare that with the sound at

5) An article about the two sides of the shofar, the sobbing and the celebratory, at

6) Go to for some quick background historical material on the shofar but beware of links to “messianic” sites.  The shofar is a key symbol for messianic “Jews” (e.g. the so called “Jews” for Jesus), because of its biblical connection to the Jubilee, the revelation at Mt. Sinai and fulfillment of messianic prophecies.

7) “The shofar is the voice of truth.”  From the Breslov Hasidim:

8) A straight or twisted shofar?  Here’s the answer, from the Bar Ilan Web site:

9) When you hear the shofar, what is that mysterious sound? Is it the voice of God? A crying infant?  A sobbing mother?  Some speculation, at and



Required Reading and Action Items



Stephen Winn, an editor at the Kansas City Star, wrote a commentary about how the Arab states have betrayed the Palestinians and used the refugees as pawns, while Israel quietly absorbed Jewish refugees from Arab countries. Read it at:


Will Saddam's Troops Fight? - Michael Rubin
In December 2000, Iraqi troops invaded the Kurdish safe haven of Ba'adre. The United States went right at the invading force. And when American warplanes flew low over the Iraqi lines, 138 Iraqi soldiers threw down their weapons and surrendered without a shot being fired; the rest quickly withdrew. The lesson wasn't complicated: Not many Iraqis want to die for Saddam. Egypt's former Chief of Staff General Salah Halaby said earlier this month: "The Iraqi army has no chance whatsoever to stand steadfast and will fall like a castle of sand." (New Republic)

You Have to Fight for Your Life - IDF Chief of Staff Moshe Ya'alon (Ha'aretz) : “When I look at the overall map, what disturbs me especially is the Palestinian threat and the possibility that a hostile state will acquire nuclear capability. Those are the most worrisome focal points, because both of them have the potential of being an existential threat to Israel.”

Put Arafat on Trial - Alan M. Dershowitz
Yasser Arafat is a cold-blooded, premeditated murderer who should be brought to trial. Arafat took credit for the murders of three diplomats during a private dinner with Romanian dictator Nicolae Ceausescu in 1973. Arafat also claimed credit for the massacre of Israeli athletes at the 1972 Munich Olympics. His killing continues up to the present time, as do his false denials. Any experienced prosecutor, given access to the evidence - some of which is currently secreted in American, Israeli, and European intelligence files - could present an open-and-shut first-degree murder case against Yasser Arafat. (Ha'aretz)


The Syria-Al Qaeda Connection - Ze'ev Schiff From All Things Considered – “The New Rabbi” author Stephen Fried interviewed -- The confrontation with the Palestinians is an existential, cancerous threat to Israel, according to IDF Chief of Staff Moshe Ya'alon. In his first interview since assuming his post last month, Ya'alon attacks the Israeli pathology of self-blame, criticizes the media and accuses various elements of undermining him in the Shehadeh affair. No, he's not right wing, just the same old kibbutznik at heart (Ha-aretz)

PBS Draws Ire Over 9/11 Show
New York's WNET public television station is marking September 11 with a documentary whose website is being lambasted by Israelis and American Jewish groups for offering an inaccurate and one-sided history of the Arab-Israeli conflict. The website includes a map portraying all of Israel as "Palestine," a time line that blames Ariel Sharon for provoking the recent wave of violence by Palestinian Arabs, and links to websites of Arab-American organizations that have defended groups like Hamas and Hizballah, which the American government considers terrorist organizations. WNET receives $9 million a year in government funding. (New York Sun) -- Moving video about 9/11, reminds us about the difficult task at hand


Court Approves "Relocation" of Terrorists' Relatives
A special nine-judge panel of Israel's High Court of Justice unanimously approved on Tuesday the relocation for two years from the West Bank to the Gaza Strip of a brother and sister of a suicide bomb mastermind. "They not only knew of the intention of the terrorists, they were involved in the attack," Israel Radio summed up the justices as saying. (Jerusalem Post)
    See complete text of Court decision (IMRA)

We Have Committed a Serious Mistake     Nabil Amr, former Palestinian minister for parliamentary affairs, catalogued the Palestinian Authority's mistakes in a letter to Chairman Arafat published in Al Hayat (London):

A Wall of Separation
Israel's government is slowly, grudgingly, beginning the process of walling its citizens off from the residents of the Palestinian territories. Phase One of the project - 64 miles in the northern West Bank and 22 miles around Jerusalem - is currently under construction; it is budgeted at $200 million and scheduled for completion in July 2003. (Boston Globe)

Israel, Jordan Join to Save the Dead Sea - Michael Belling (JTA)

  • Israel and Jordan have announced a collaborative venture to save the Dead Sea at the UN World Summit on Sustainable Development: a canal to divert water from the Red Sea to the Dead Sea.
  • The level of the Dead Sea is dropping by over three feet a year. “This is a natural disaster in the making and we will be criminals if we ignore it and watch the Dead Sea disappearing before our eyes,” said Jordan’s planning minister, Bassem Awadallah.
  • Stabilizing the water level would help maintain the heritage value of the Dead Sea, which has archeological, tourism, ecological, historical, and cultural value.

From Israel’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Answers to Frequently Asked Questions:Palestinian Violence and Terrorism and The International War against Terrorism

Chicago’s Jewish community has created "Israel Advocacy: A College Student’s Handbook."

Israel Faxx – a great selection of links -- New York UJA-Federation’s Site commemorating the anniversary of 9/11 – lots of excellent material  other supplementary materials for 9/11 from the BJE of New York 9/11 program from the Hillel web site Israel Insider Online Magazine Israel Support Group: News, History, Documentaries, good news links

Other Useful Websites
Israel Goverment Gateway
Israel Ministry of Foreign Affairs
Israel Defense Forces
Jewish Agency for Israel
N.Y. Consulate
Jewish Telegraphic Agency

Israeli News Sources
Jerusalem Post
Kol-Israel Radio

Media Monitoring Sites
Honest Reporting
Palestinian Media Watch “Sweets of Solidarity,” Send holiday gift packages to terror victim families, Israeli soldiers, or someone in your own family.

A wealth of information that I post here comes from the Daily Alert of the Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations, in association with the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs.  To subscribe directly to the Daily Alert, please send a blank email message to:

This website contains the complete contents of the 12-volume Jewish Encyclopedia, which was originally published between 1901-1906. The Jewish Encyclopedia, which recently became part of the public domain, contains over 15,000 articles and illustrations. This online version contains the unedited contents of the original encyclopedia. Since the original work was completed almost 100 years ago, it does not cover a significant portion of modern Jewish History (e.g., the creation of Israel, the Holocaust, etc.). However, it does contain an incredible amount of information that is remarkably relevant today.  Collection of classic Hasidic stories, articles and resources




From www.Jewishfamily.comA Thriving Diaspora: "As the High Holidays approach, and we reflect on all that is wrong in Israel and beyond," writes acclaimed author Larry Tye, "it is critical that we heed and take hope from what is going right."  Also, check out  Making T'Shuva Count: One of the major themes of the High Holidays is that of t'shuva, or repentance. And if we are to truly get a fresh start in this new year, says Rachel Kadish, then it is our responsibility to do t'shuva correctly.


The Elul Journal, by Rabbi Rami Shapiro (on PDF), an excellent resource for self-reflection, meditation and preparation: -- An interesting article about Abraham Joshua Heschel’s philosophies, by Dr. Arthur Green of Brandeis.


High Holiday Guide from UJA-Federation -- Rabbi Isaac Klein’s (Conservative) Guide to Jewish Practice – on teshuvah -- from the Orthodox Union -- a Kabbalistic approach






  Quotes of the Week: 

“Sept. 11 taught us what it means to be a religious person. As a rabbi I have met many people who "love their neighbor," but as a Jewish fire chaplain, I have seen those who are so committed to that commandment that they are ready to die for that love. We declare, "Thou shalt not stand idly by as your brother's blood is being shed." Still, how many people do we know who are ready to rush inside a burning building as everyone else is running outside?

The Torah tells us that Joseph, while wandering in the field, was confronted by an elderly man. "What are you searching for here?" asked the man.

"I am searching for my brothers," Joseph answered.

Perhaps Joseph was saying, "I have heard people talking about honesty, but I want to see those who are honest. I have heard about morality, but where are the moralists?" On Sept. 10, I thought I knew what "religious" meant, but on Sept. 11, I saw who the religious were in this world.”

Rabbi Joseph Potasnik, chaplain for the NYC Fire Departmet

For more comments on how Sept. 11 changed people’s outlook on Judaism, check the Moment magazine survey at








As I've done in previous years, I'm inviting you to submit personal stories possibly to be incorporated into High Holidays sermons.  This year, I'm looking for a paragraph or so about something that you might have done or experienced for the first time.  How did it feel when you first drove a car, for instance (especially for those of you young enough to have experienced it recently), or to stand under the huppah for the first time at the wedding of your child.  I'm especially looking for unusual "first times," from kids or adults, like the first time you read from the Torah, for instance, the first time your plane landed in Israel, the first time you bungee jumped, or the first time you walked without assistance (following a long recovery period).  No "the first time I had shrimp," please, and remember that my sermons are rated PG (the High Holidays Torah reading is borderline R, but I can't help that).


When you do this, please let me know if I can use your name or if you would rather it be anonymous.  Please send these responses s-o-o-n.  Also, I’m still looking for teens to do Yom Kippur English readings for the Martyrology section.  I thank you in advance for your submissions -- and apologize in advance for those (likely the majority), that I won't be able to use.  You can be sure I'll read them all!!






WANT TO JOIN OUR SYMPHONY OF SHOFARS?  This year there is no Shofar sounding on the first day, because it is Shabbat.  On Sunday, we’ll once again have a final shofar sounding coming from all directions, in a symphony of shofars.  If you would like to be part of it and have a shofar, there is only one requirement: that you bring it!  Just get up at the appropriate time in the service (the end), find an open spot in the aisles, and when the signal is given, sound the appropriate note.  If you need training or practice, feel free to call me or come by.





WHEN YOU COME FOR SERVICES ON ROSH HASHANAH AND YOM KIPPUR, PLAN TO ARRIVE EARLY!!! -- We’ll have increased security, which is one good reason to get here early.  Parking will be a bit more complicated this year down the street, which is another good reason.  Also, this being a transitional year, while most of the service will be exactly as it always has been, there will also be some things done differently, or perhaps at a different pace.  Because of this, we can’t guarantee that any particular prayer, Torah reading, haftarah, shofar blowing, ark opening, English reading or sermon will be at the same time it has been in the past.  If you have a part and you’ve been told when we think it will be, here’s a good rule of thumb: don’t believe us.  Because we have no idea…  This is your rabbi speaking, and I have no idea.  (Well I have some idea, but wild rams can’t drag it out of me).  But that’s what’s going to make this year so much fun.  Plan to be here earlier than usual, and you might find yourself enjoying parts of the service you’ve never experienced before.  If you have children and arrive before children’s services begin, by all means bring them into the main sanctuary (but make sure to get them to children’s services at the appropriate time, as space will be very scarce in the sanctuary at peak times). 


If you get here and find that your part has already come and gone, we apologize in advance.  Please talk to one of our ushers and we’ll see what we can do.  And I promise not to say, “I told you so.” 


Speaking of ushers….



The Men's Club is actively recruiting the ushers for this year's services.

Men, women and couples are needed to assist in traffic control at the Sanctuary doors and to help congregants find seats.


We probably won't get a chance to call everyone -- if you haven't heard from us yet please consider taking one or more 45 minute time slots over the High Holy Day services and calling us with your day/time preferences.


Please call or email Rich Cohen at 322-1131 or as soon as possible to reserve your slots.





(During the Martyrology section of the service, through moving poetry and other readings, we’ll be recalling those who have died in terror attacks this past year, here and in Israel.  Teens (8th grade and up) who would like a part – please contact Rabbi Hammerman at  They will be given out on a first come - first served basis




 Learning and Latte: “Journeys Through Genesis” at Borders

Rabbi Joshua Hammerman and Rev. Dr. Douglas McArthur, Senior Pastor of First United Methodist Church, both of Stamford, will be leading an engaging monthly dialogue on the ageless stories of Genesis.   These groundbreaking conversations will take place at Borders on High Ridge Rd in Stamford, beginning on Tues. Sept. 24th from 7:30 - 8:30 PM, with subsequent sessions scheduled for Oct. 22 and Nov. 26.  People of all faiths and affiliations are invited to these exciting series, which is co-sponsored by the Temple Beth El, the First United Methodist Church and the Interfaith Council of Southwestern Connecticut.  Rabbi Hammerman and Rev. McArthur both have extensive experience in interfaith dialogue and are particularly active in community affairs.  They serve large, diverse congregations and have worked together on many projects ranging from AIDS awareness to Hospice. 

            The series will be based on the noted book and TV series produced by PBS several years ago, "Genesis: A Living Conversation," by Bill Moyers, which brought together authors, theologians, artists and other thinkers to explore Genesis from a variety of perspectives.  Participants will be encouraged to use the Moyers book as a springboard for our own interpretations.  The emphasis will be on honest inquiry, intellectual openness and spiritual growth.  The book will be available for purchase at Borders.  No reservations are required.  

Rev. McArthur is chairperson of AIDS Interfaith Stamford and was recently recognized by the State of Connecticut for his work on behalf of those infected and affected by HIV and AIDS.  He has chaired and served on numerous boards and commissions and is a Fellow of the American Association of Pastoral Counselors.







Sukkot: 1st Day – Sat., Sept. 21 – the service will be led entirely by congregants (what we now call our Kahal: Congregant-Led Service), followed by lunch…


Sukkot: 2nd Day – Sun., Sept. 22 – NEW, A family-friendly festival service (beginning at the family-friendly time of 10:00) in our main sanctuary, with extensive involvement by our Religious School classes and Bi-Cultural Students.  Featuring a spectacular lulav and etrog parade (order your set NOW – the cost is $36 -- $18 For a smaller children’s size – a BARGAIN!).  There will also be all kinds of special youth activities that are now in the works.


For Shmini Atzeret and Simhat Torah there are all sorts of surprises planned, and we’ll again have extensive involvement by our students (including teens), but one thing that I now can reveal: our special honorees on Simhat Torah morning (Sunday, Sept. 29) will be:

Hatan Torah (the last aliyah of the Torah); Frank Rosner (who two weeks later will be celebrating a very special birthday)

Kallat Bereisheet (the first aliyah of the new Torah): Jeannie Kasindorf (who one week earlier will have helped to coordinate the decorating of our fabulous sukkah). 








finally, the latest, most comprehensive list of Tashlich sins and appropriate leavened products to toss into the water.  This list began as a Purim spoof by Rabbi Richard Israel in Sh’ma magazine a few years back.  Like the dough itself, it is risen to legendary status: The list (forwarded, in this form by Debra Pollack):


For ordinary sins.....................White Bread

            For erotic sins.........................French Bread

            For particularly dark sins..........Pumpernickel

            For complex sins.....................Multi-Grain

            For twisted sins......................Pretzels

            For tasteless sins....................Rice Cakes

            For sins of indecision..............Waffles

            For sins committed in haste....Matzoh

            For sins of chutzpah................Fresh Bread

            For substance abuse..............Stoned Wheat

            For use of heavy drugs............Poppy Seed

            For petty larceny......................Stollen

            For committing auto theft........Caraway

            For timidity/cowardice.............Milk Toast

            For ill-temperedness...............Sourdough

            For silliness, eccentricity.........Nut Bread

            For not giving full value............Shortbread

            For jingoism, chauvinism.........Yankee Doodles

            For excessive irony...................Rye Bread

            For unnecessary chances........Hero Bread

            For telling bad jokes/puns........Corn Bread

            For war-mongering...................Kaiser Rolls

            For dressing immodestly.........Tarts

            For causing injury to others......Tortes

            For lechery and promiscuity.....Hot Buns

            For promiscuity with gentiles....Hot Cross Buns

            For racist attitudes.....................Crackers

            For sophisticated racism...........Ritz Crackers

            For being holier than thou..........Bagels

            For abrasiveness........................Grits

            For dropping in without notice....Popovers

            For over-eating............................Stuffing

            For impetuosity............................Quick Bread

            For indecent photography...........Cheesecake

            For raising your voice too often..Challah

            For pride and egotism.................Puff Pastry

      For sycophancy, ass-kissing.......Brownies

            For being overly smothering........Angel Food Cake

            For laziness...................................Any long loaf

            For trashing the environment.......Dumplings




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