Friday, September 13, 2002

Shabbat-O-Gram for Shabbat Shuvah, Sept. 13, 5763

  Shabbat-O-Gram for Shabbat Shuvah, Sept. 13, 5763

Rabbi Joshua Hammerman, Temple Beth El, Stamford, Connecticut


And G’mar Hatima Tova


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 be 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 (note – 6:30 Friday evening!)

Friday Night: Candles: 6:49 PM, Services at 6:30 PM OUTDOORS  (Note special time!!!!)

Shabbat Shalom Services with Nurit are BACK!!!!!   7:15 PM, for students in younger grades and their families.  (Tot Shabbat – for pre-schoolers, returns NEXT week)

Shabbat Shuvah:  Services at 9:30 AM, in the sanctuary, children’s services at 10:30 AM

MAZAL TOV to Hilary Polack as she becomes Bat Mitzvah this Shabbat morning

Torah Portion: Ha’azinu

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



Kol Nidre -- Sunday Night : Candles: 6:46 PM

Kol Nidre Service begins at 6:30 PM PROMPTLY (it is customary for the Kol Nidre prayer to be recited before darkness sets in)

Please bring back bags filled with food for our Person to Person food drive.  We are looking for staples (and rice seems to be in especially short supply).

Yom Kippur Day: 

Services begin at 8:30 AM, Torah reading at about 9:45, sermon at 11ish (give or take a half hour), followed by Musaf.  Musaf includes innovative and inspiring Avoda and Martyrology sections, featuring contemporary readings and music, with the participation of many of our teens.

Children’s Services: 11 AM – 1 PM.  Families are encouraged to stay in the main service following the conclusion of children’s services, especially with older children.

Mincha begins at 4:30 PM, including the reading of Jonah, followed by Yizkor at 5:45 and Ne’elah at 6:15, final shofar blast: 7:45 PM. 

Children are encouraged to return for the conclusion of Neilah.  We'll have a special blessing for all babies born since last Yom Kippur and then a truly "glowing" Havdalah that will involve all of our children.

We thank Barbara and Joseph Field, Claire and Jack Steinberg, and Sisterhood for co-sponsoring the Break-the-Fast following services on Yom Kippur day.  Todah Rabah!

Morning Minyan: Daily at 7:30


Spiritual Journey on the Web – 9/11 Numerology

My son Ethan came home yesterday with a “hiddush,” a new insight that he had developed regarding the date 9/11, and its connection to the Jewish calendar.  If you reverse the numbers and count 11 months from the month when the attacks occurred, you come to the month of Av.  And the 9th day of Av is widely known as THE day for national tragedy, including the destruction of both the first and second Temples.  Indeed, the eleventh day of the ninth month of the secular calendar and the ninth day of the eleventh month of the Jewish calendar are now inexorably connected.

Not bad for an 11-year old chip off the ol’ block (which he and his brother Daniel both are, just for equal time’s sake).

My colleague Rafi Rank elaborated upon this numerology recently, citing all of the ways we’ve tried to restore order to this chaos by making the numbers add up to some sort of hidden meaning.  He writes, “The most obvious example is that the date 9/11 consists of the very numbers we use around the country to call for help in an emergency.  The numbers 9 plus 1 plus 1 equal 11, and oddly enough, American Airlines Flight 11 was the first to hit the Twin Towers.  There were 92 people on board and a little arithmetic will reveal that 9 plus 2 equal 11.  September 11 is the 254th day of the year and 2 plus 5 plus 4 equal 11.  It has been noted that the Twin Towers themselves looked like the number 11.” 

Then there is the added connection being made to the 1972 Olympics in Munich.  The Palestinian terrorists killed eleven athletes, the games ended on September 11, 121 nations participated and 121 = 11 times 11; plus the year was 1972, 29 years before our own infamous 9/11, and again the 2 plus 9 of 29 add up to eleven. 

You can go to for more of this, and for more satanic “narishkeit,” go to

I actually like to play with Jewish numerology, or Gematria, often, because it does lend fascinating insights into the hidden connections that exist in sacred texts.  If you got to that the Hebrew words “Kipurim” and “Sechel” both equal 350 (each Hebrew letter has a numerical value), this linking the act of atonement with the Hebrew word for “common sense” that really means a whole lot more.  I would translate “sechel” as what happens when you slap your head and say to yourself, “Dummy, you’ve been doing it wrong all along – now show some ‘sechel’ and be a mensch.”  Yom Kippur is sort of that slap in the face.  Or, in the words of this Web site, The enhanced, increased spiritual light of Yom Kippur makes it much, much easier for our intellect to be accountable, repentant for our errors when bowing before the Eternal Judge.”

Find out more about Gematria, including all the tools for you to “do it yourself,” at  At the very least, it’s loads of fun.  Figure out the numerical value of your Hebrew name, then “go to town” looking for Hebrew words of equivalent value.  Hopefully a word meaning “gluttonous” or “incredibly selfish” won’t match….

G’mar hatima tova – May we all be sealed in the Book of Life for a year of peace and joy.





Required Reading and Action Items



 United States Wants Israel to Stay Out of Iraq
"America would be very happy if we are not involved in this attack, at least at this stage," IDF Chief of Staff Lt. Gen. Moshe Yaalon told a conference Wednesday. "They want to do the work alone, without anyone getting in the way." However, Israel's ambassador to the United States, Danny Ayalon, told Israel Army Radio on Thursday that if the Iraqis "try to drag us in, we'll know how to act.'' The U.S. has not demanded that Israel stay out of any military action against Iraq, Ayalon said. (Guardian - UK/AP/Ha'aretz)

The Legality of Pre-emptive Strikes against Rogue States - Alan Dershowitz
Iraq is determined to develop nuclear weapons and the capacity to deliver them. In the age of conventional warfare, the presumption might well favor waiting. But if waiting realistically increases the risk that we or our allies may be exposed to nuclear, biological, or chemical attack by Iraq or Iraqi-sponsored terrorists, then the presumption may well favor immediate preventive action. (National Post - Canada)


Noah and 9/11 - Thomas L. Friedman
Let us say to the Muslim world: Where are your voices of reason? When members of your faith, acting in the name of Islam, murdered Americans or committed suicide against "infidels," your press extolled them as martyrs and your spiritual leaders were largely silent. That's a problem, because if there isn't a struggle within Islam - over norms and values - there is going to be a struggle between Islam and us. (New York Times)


Resignation of the PA Cabinet: What Does it Mean? (Ha'aretz)  Head of Military Intelligence Major General Aharon Ze'evi said Wednesday that the decision by the members of the recently reshuffled Palestinian cabinet to resign was "an earthquake in the PA," which would eventually lead to the replacement of Yasser Arafat as Palestinian leader.     See also The Historic Day the Chairman Failed - Danny Rubinstein (Ha'aretz); A Fatah Demi-Putsch - Khaled abu Toameh (Jerusalem Post); Political Uprising Deals Grievous Blow to Arafat - Paul Adams (Globe and Mail - Canada)


The Massacring of the Truth - Amnon Rubinstein
A propaganda war is being waged against Israel that has no counterpart in other conflicts - a propaganda offensive aimed at portraying Israel as a monstrous state. One day Israel is committing a massacre, the next day it is disseminating false accusations that the Palestinians spread rumors of an imaginary massacre. It is permissible to criticize Israel - sometimes it is even obligatory. But Palestinian and Arab incitement is something entirely different in that it portrays a state that has no right to exist at all and whose destruction would be a blessing for mankind. (Ha'aretz)

Building a Better World: One Path from Crisis to Opportunity - Paul Wolfowitz (U.S. Dept. of Defense) Remarks of the Deputy Secretary of Defense at the Brookings Institution, Washington, D.C., September 5, 2002. The terrorists seek to target not just America but Muslims and Islam, by attacking the ideals of tolerance, justice, and openness that are the aspirations of millions of Muslims around the world.

"The Free World" - Also Known as "The Infidels" - Bernard Lewis
Most Muslims, unlike most Americans, see current events in a much deeper and broader perspective than we normally do. And what they see is, for them, profoundly tragic. For many centuries Islam was the greatest civilization on Earth. Then everything changed, and Muslims, instead of invading and dominating Christendom, were invaded and dominated by Christian powers. The resulting frustration and anger finds expression in many places where Muslims and non-Muslims meet and clash - in Bosnia and Kosovo, Chechnya, Israel and Palestine, Sudan, Kashmir, and the Philippines, among others.  Osama bin Laden and others saw it was they who, by the holy war they waged in Afghanistan, brought about the defeat and collapse of the Soviet Union. In their perspective, they had dealt with one of the infidel superpowers - the more determined, the more ruthless, the more dangerous of the two. Dealing with the soft and pampered United States would, so it seemed, be a much easier task.  The crimes of Sept. 11 were intended to be the opening salvo of a large-scale campaign to force Americans and their allies out of Arabia and the rest of the Muslim world, to overthrow the corrupt tyrants America supports, and to prepare the ground for the final world struggle. (Washington Post)


Israelis Adapt to Annoying Searches, Ubiquitous Guards - Mark Magnier
Israelis are at the cutting edge of what populations must endure in the name of security. Everywhere you turn here, there are security guards. Walk across the street, enter a parking lot, drop into a grocery store, stop for lunch - with each of life's daily activities comes another search. Mental health experts say Israel's stress, its adaptations, and its mass trauma are turning it into an international laboratory. (Los Angeles Times)


CLAL's new Audio CD: "9/11/02 A Ritual for Beginning to Remember" (9-6-02) (Download a copy today!!) (I used some of this material on 9/11 at our memorial program during the morning minyan and will be touching upon it on Yom Kippur.  It is very well done and highly recommended.

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

For comments on how Sept. 11 changed people’s outlook on Judaism, check the Moment magazine survey at -- New York UJA-Federation’s Site commemorating the anniversary of 9/11 – lots of excellent material 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

For those interested in the latest trends in Jewish feminism, check out the Women of the Wall at -- check out this link to see the heroic attempts of this group of women who have been trying to gain access to pray in a dignified manner at the Western Wall.  It’s a beautifully designed site, and you can also purchase a gorgeous “Four Mothers Tallit.” “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: 


“One year ago E. M. Forster’s reverberating epigraph to ‘Howard’s End’—‘Only Connect’—had the principled power to shape and shake our post-Sept. 11 world. In Forster’s novel, a respectable businessman is made to see that he is no different from the raffish wife of a penniless clerk: both are guilty of adultery. Culpability cannot be veiled or rationalized. Like is like, vile is vile. This fundamental imperative of connectedness burst upon Americans with horrific force when we understood, in a flash of fire and ash, the suicidal hijackers’ single-minded motive. Their purpose was merciless venom. Their hatred was not for what we have done or have not done; it was for what we are. What had been happening in Jerusalem and Tel Aviv, in the Indian parliament, in synagogues from London to Lyon, had come to New York and Washington.  
   What the radical mullahs of far away Saudi Arabia and Gaza were preaching had finally scorched our town. The indivisibility of terror had been clarified, incontrovertibly, by the moral precision of Only Connect. Yet little by little that indivisibility begins to crack and fray. A slippery disconnect has set in, an unwillingness to see. An early sign emerged on the Fourth of July, when an Egyptian armed with guns and knives killed Israelis at the El Al counter in Los Angeles, and officials backed away from calling it terror. Germany recently disclosed that Al Qaeda was behind the synagogue bombing in Tunis; no notable, or even noticeable, conclusions have been drawn. Justifications are daily mouthed in the international press for the suicide bombings of Palestinians whose declared mission is the annihilation of the Jewish state.
   As for the World Trade Center and the Pentagon, last September there were relatively few voices that held America responsible for the aggression committed against it. Today there are many more. When terror is balkanized, terror can only win. When the victims are said to be complicit with the terrorists, the disconnect has entered its final stages. And so has mental and moral lucidity.”—Renowned novelist Cynthia Ozick (N.Y.T., Sept. 9)

“…The real story of the year since September 11 is the shoe that never dropped. Everyone thought it would. In the first weeks after the attack, people were afraid to fly, to move. Yet the second blow never came…The respite will not last if we simply look back with satisfaction on America’s initial resilience. The respite will not last if we see September 11 as just the anniversary of a tragedy, a remembrance of the fallen, a celebration of a day of courage. It was all that, of course. But it was much more. It was the opening salvo of the Great War of the 21st century, against an enemy as barbaric as any faced during the 20th…”—Columnist Charles Krauthammer ( Sept. 11)



Editorial, Jerusalem Post, September 5, 2002


   The year 5762 will be remembered as an exceptionally trying one for the Jewish state. Continuously clouded by a deliberate, open, and systematic Palestinian effort to target Israel’s civilian population, the year that ends today exacted a heavy price in blood and money.


   The killing of hundreds of innocent Israelis and the maiming of thousands more; the repeated killings of children and the frequent orphaning of many children; the growth of strategic threats from Iran, Iraq, Syria, and Hizbullah; and the resurgence in Europe of verbal vilification and physical attacks against Jews, all brought to many minds grim thoughts about a return to medieval Jewish fate.


   The security crisis was further exacerbated by a severe economic recession. The mass layoffs in the hi-tech sector which plagued even such flagships as ECI, Amdocs, and Gilat and the unemployment rate’s crossing of the 10-percent threshold for the first time in more than a decade, brought home the message that business, even for the better-educated and better-off, is not as usual.


   Taken together, these disparate fronts spelled crisis on such a scale that weather out of concern or wishful thinking some began questioning whether Israel had returned to the struggle for the survival that accompanied the first years of the state.


   Yet as the year progressed we proved that the enemy’s estimation of our weakness was exaggerated, and that our resources as a society were greater than even many Israelis might have guessed. Following the Seder-night massacre in Netanya, and the IDF’s consequent counterattack, the psychological tide was turned.


   No, terror attacks were and remain far from over, but Israeli society surprised many by enlisting en masse to defend itself and attack its enemies. The enthusiasm and dedication with which thousands of reservists joined the battle was similar only to the sprit that characterized the warriors of 1973 and 1967, who also left abruptly and resolutely their middle-class routines in order to fight enemies who threatened to destroy the Jewish state.


   Back in the big cities, as the public finally understood the nature of the threat at stake, previous self-flagellation about ostensibly missed diplomatic opportunities gave way to a defiance much like Britain’s during the German blitz: Blown-up restaurants were rebuilt, security guards were posted outside numerous businesses, and customers returned to fill previously empty malls, cafés, and stores. The government, at the same time, efficiently restored budgetary discipline and the shekel’s stability, and recently began seeing the first buds of economic recovery.


   The public’s behaviour reflected a consensus, highlighted by an unexpectedly high functioning unity government, that the current war is not Israel’s fault; that it is about Israel’s very existence; and that it must be won, even if only after a protracted and costly struggle.


   The new Israeli sense of strategic clarity and national resolve were aided by a growing recognition in the West, inspired by U.S. President George W. Bush, that the root of Middle East instability is not the Arab-Israeli conflict, but the region’s lack of freedom.


   Symbolically, the Netanya terror attack that heralded the change in Israelis’ attitude toward the current war was carried out just when Jews worldwide were celebrating their ancestors’ defeat of despotism and gospel of freedom.


   As it turned out, the average Israeli was convinced that this war is not over whether the border will pass to the east or west of this or that hill, but about the two things that even peace-crusading author Amos Oz once said he is prepared to die for: freedom and life. In the current situation, the life at stake is Israel’s and the freedom, its neighbors’. The enemy’s failure to understand Pessah’s deep symbolism when it chose to kill elderly Jews during a seder ceremony was not exceptional. In staging two of its subsequent attacks near mounts Meron and Scopus, it once again reminded Israelis of what this war is really about.


   Mount Scopus is where early Zionists came to build an intellectual center for the benefit of the entire Middle East. No place better symbolizes the peaceful intentions with which the Jews returned to their ancestral land. Mount Meron is where second-century sage Rabbi Shimon bar-Yohai escaped Rome’s wrath, as it sought to eradicate the Jewish faith in general, and kill him in particular. Some two millennia later, with Rome long in history’s dustbin, the faith and spirit for which bar-Yohai fought remain intact, indeed vibrant, both within and beyond Israel. Considering this, as well as prospects for imminent American action to promote freedom in the Middle East, Israelis can cautiously hope that 5762 will be remembered as a turning point in their struggle with Middle Eastern despotism







 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.




WANT TO JOIN OUR SYMPHONY OF SHOFARS?  Bring your shofar tom Ne’eilah, and be part of the final shofar sounding at the end of the service.  It will be a blast




WHEN YOU COME FOR SERVICES ON 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.” 










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). 








The Shabbat-O-Gram goes out weekly to hundreds of Beth El congregants and others. Feel free to forward it to your friends, and if you know of anyone who might wish to be included, please have them sign up at
. You can unsubscribe by contacting our office at

For more information on my synagogue, check out Beth El's Web site at To check out some previous spiritual cyber-journeys I have taken, see my book's site at


No comments: