Friday, October 11, 2002

Shabbat-O-Gram, Oct. 12, 2002 and Heshvan 6, 5763

 Shabbat-O-Gram, Oct. 12, 2002 and Heshvan 6, 5763

Rabbi Joshua Hammerman, Temple Beth El, Stamford, Connecticut


and Happy Birthday to Frank Rosner!


Previous Shabbat-O-Grams can now be accessed directly from our web site (, or more directly at -- and our Web site now also has High Holy Day sermon postings and great Sukkah photos.



JUST THE FACTS: Services and Such


Friday Night: Candles: 6:25 PM, Services at 7:30 PM in the chapel

Shabbat Shalom Services with Nurit – for children in grades K-4 and their families: 7:15 PM, in the lobby

USY and Kadima Friday Night Service, Dinner and Discussion: 6-8:30 PM

Shabbat: Torah Portion: Bereisheet       Service begins at 9:30 AM, with children’s services at 10:30.

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

Mazal Tov to Bradley Harding, who becomes Bar Mitzvah this Shabbat morning.

Mincha-Havdalah service: 5:30 PM

Mazal Tov to Allison Green, who becomes Bat Mitzvah this Shabbat afternoon.

Mazal Tov to Lori Pelta and Joshua Shapiro, who will be getting married this Saturday evening.

And “Muzzle” Tov  to the rest of the Hammermans on the addition of a new dog to our family.

Morning MinyanDaily at 7:30 AM


We’re starting a new tradition at Morning Minyan. those B’nai and B’not Mitzvah who have read Torah the previous Shabbat afternoon will also be reading that same portion Mondays and Thursday mornings.  This week, we welcome Allison Green, who will be reading this Monday and Thursday.





Spiritual Journey on the Web  - A WORLD FILLED WITH 'HAMAS'

This week's portion of Noah just begs for reinterpretation in light of the new world we live in.  This portion, from beginning to end, screams with relevance.   This is a story, after all, where the entire known world is consumed in utter devastation resulting from the proliferation of evil.  The irony of the word for universal corruption used in chapter 6 almost takes the breath away.  Evil has a name here, and that name is "Hamas."  The new Conservative commentary tells us that "Hamas" elsewhere is synonymous with "bloodshed," falsehood," and "deceit," and parallels "no justice" in Job 19:7 – a prefect description of the group that just today perpetrated another terrorist homicide bombing in B’nai Brak.  The commentary adds that in the Jerusalem Talmud, "Hamas" was understood to mean that "people cheated each other for such small sums that the courts could not prosecute them, leading the people to lose faith in the power of government to provide them with a fair and livable world, and society began to slip into anarchy."  In addition, go to and you'll find some Talmudic material describing the three things that the generation of the flood had to do in order to merit mass destruction.   They are robbery, idolatry and sexual deviance.  Rashi equates Hamas with robbery.

Compare that Hamas with the current version.  Terror of all kinds, including  that of the organization known as Hamas, breeds in an atmosphere of fear.  And the perpetrators are surely guilty of idolatry (turning murder and hatred into an ultimate value), sexual deviance (in their abominable treatment of women), and robbery of our most precious natural resources, such as the very air we breathe, now endangered by the bio warfare.  This is the opposite of "gemilut chassadim," says the aforementioned web site. "Rather than giving someone from your resources, you take his resources for yourself."

Under the principle of "Know Your Enemy," some Internet links on Hamas, the terrorist organization, can be found at  In  Arabic,  Hamas means strength and bravery, according to Al-Mua'jam al-Wasit.  Who said irony is dead? Hamas, PFlP (, Hizbullah and all purveyors of terror need to know that there is no room for them on the Noah's ark of civilized humanity. 

But what of those of us who have made it onto the ark?  What is to become of us? 

It's no secret that people have long been obsessed in proving the historical authenticity of the Noah story.  For the latest theories, see and .  See a genetic "proof" at  What's behind that obsession is not a desire to get back to Noah, but a true desire to get closer to God.  If we can only "prove" that there was a flood, the logic goes, then that must mean that the Noah story is true; and THAT must mean that there is a God.  And THAT must mean that there is a Rainbow Covenant.  For at the end of the flood story episode, God promises never to do it again.  The world will never again be destroyed by God in so massive a manner.  (see the book, "Walking the Bible," by Bruce Feiler, ( for an excellent explanation of this – Feiler will incidentally be speaking at the JCC on December 9 about his new book on Abraham).

Hey, we ask, who let Smallpox onto the boat?  Did God order Noah to take along male and female microbes too?

There is little we can do now to eliminate the fear.  We haven't sent out the dove yet, much less seen the olive branch in her beak and felt the dry peaks of Ararat.  But what we can do is remind ourselves of the Covenant.  Read the passage (and hear it) at  The responsibility is now ours, and it is an awesome one: The fear and dread of you will fall upon all the beasts of the earth and all the birds of the air, upon every creature that moves along the ground, and upon all the fish of the sea; they are given into your hands.  Everything is our responsibility now.  God will not destroy us, but we can do the job without God's help.  Bio terrorism could destroy our world, unless we stop it.   The terrorists are killing human beings, and in the process they are filling our world with poison.  Even the air we breathe is now tainted.  They are the embodiment of Hamas.

Go visit the Shalom Center, at  There is much at this site that can help us now, but for now, check out the Noah section at, and in particular the "Rainbow Covenant."  It is a beautiful poem written by Art Waskow a decade ago, which, like the portion itself, has gained an entirely new significance today.  (Waskow is also a dove on Iraq, and in the midst of the important dialogue going on in America right now, the Shalom Center’s words should not be taken lightly).  For Waskow, we've been endangering the earth for decades with our own neglect.  Now, the callous destruction perpetrated by others has helped us realize just how fragile this balance is.  When we emerge from this hell, the world will be a better place and we will be better people. 

Right now, however, the boat is rocking mightily.  All we can do is hold on.

Required Reading and Action Items


For the latest on Thursday’s suicide bombing in B’nai Brak…  National Jewish Population Study information  U.S. Jewish Population Shrinking, Aging  The number of U.S. Jews now stands at 5.2 million, down from 5.5 million in 1990, even as the total U.S. population is growing, according to the National Jewish Population Survey 2000-2001. Jews represent 2 percent of the American population. (JTA)   See also Summary of the Survey (Jerusalem Post)  Nice Site!

The October issue of JewishLink highlights spirituality. After we harvest our bounty at Sukkot, we have another year to pursue our spiritual development. The three articles that are featured address insights into Jewish spirituality. 1. The Spiritual Side of Mitzvot

2. If I Had It All To Do Over Again

3. Wrestling With Torah

S.Greenberg: A Joyous Connection with All that Lives   “Reflecting on my Hoshana Rabba encounter with the exultant and prayerful depths of nature, it seems to me that what is missing in the rhetoric and sensibility of the environmental movement is this very sense of the exultant and prayerful existence of the earthly.   Might it not be that what opens us up to our connection with all the life on the planet is not fear, but joy and praise?  Disconnected from Gaia and her music, our healing cannot proceed. A positive environmentalism must be rooted in the pleasure that comes from an ecstatic and imaginative reconnection with the whole of nature...."   (Rabbi Steven Greenberg: CLAL)

Pew Forum on Religion: Bradley, Galston, Kelsay and Walzer on Just War & Iraq  "Earlier this year, 60 U.S. intellectuals wrote that “the use of military force against the murderers of September 11 and those who assist them is not only morally justified, but morally necessary.” That letter primarily concerned Afghanistan. Now the focus is on Iraq. On September 30, four of these distinguished scholars—all of whom subscribe to the notion that war is sometimes morally justified—will seek to apply the universal principles of just war to what is arguably today’s most urgent public question: Should the U.S. invade Iraq?..."

Lebowitz Rossi: Jewish Leaders Weigh in on Iraq Debate, Mostly Supporting Action "After a period of relative silence on the growing debate over whether the United States should attack Iraq and oust President Saddam Hussein, the American Jewish community is beginning to weigh in -- but without unanimity.  Still, most Jewish groups generally support President Bush's policy of using force to remove Saddam, who they say is developing weapons of mass destruction and working against the interests of peace and justice, even as Congress continues to debate the details of the nation's policy on intervention...."


The Truth About the Mideast - David G. Littman
Fourteen fundamental facts about Israel and Palestine. (National Review)

U.S. Christians to Rally for Israel in Washington - Thousands of U.S. Christians are expected to arrive in Washington for a mass pro-Israel rally being convened by the Christian Coalition on Friday. Other prominent pro-Israel Christian groups, such as the National Unity Coalition for Israel and Bridges for Peace are mobilizing their membership to attend the rally as well. (Jerusalem Post)

 IDF: Most Casualties in Gaza Raid Were Armed
Defense Minister Binyamin Ben-Eliezer said that all but one of the 14 Palestinians killed in an assault on a Hamas stronghold in the Gaza Strip were armed. "I advise you to verify the details with Israel before you publicize your reaction to IDF operations," he reportedly told visiting European Union foreign policy chief Javier Solana. (Jerusalem Post)
    The commander of IDF forces in Gaza, Brig. Gen Israel Ziff, reported on Monday, "According to the aerial videos and reports from our observation posts, we see that the helicopter strike was directed at a group of armed men who fired and threw grenades at IDF soldiers. It is very hard for me to understand why, in the midst of a battle, the civilians left their homes to see what was going on outside. As our forces were leaving, a large number of armed men gathered and started shooting at us. We fired in response."
    "There was significant resistance - gunfire, grenades, large explosive devices, anti-aircraft and anti-tank (RPG) fire. Our forces reported at least 40 incidents where they fired on armed men. Unlike previous times, this time they put up a fight, endangering our forces. For the first time in Gaza, they were shooting from the windows of the houses. Usually they don't shoot from inside the houses in order not to draw return fire. We returned fire accurately at the source of the firing." (Yediot Ahronot)


The Israeli Capital - Max M. Kampelman
The White House's decision to ignore a Congressional provision requiring the United States to identify and recognize Jerusalem as Israel's capital is contrary to President Bush's campaign pledge that he would "begin the process of moving the United States ambassador to the city Israel has chosen as its capital." As a former ambassador, I know it is common and appropriate for a nation to respect the decision of a sovereign government, let alone a friendly and democratic one, where it wishes to place its capital within its borders. To challenge Jerusalem as Israel's capital city is to challenge Jerusalem as a part of Israel and thus to provide encouragement to those who would not only undermine Israel's legitimacy, but also destroy it. (New York Times)

Support the President on Iraq - Senator Joseph Lieberman (Wall Street Journal)

  • It is time to authorize the use of our military might to enforce UN resolutions, disarm Iraq, and eliminate the ongoing threat to our security, and the world's, posed by Saddam Hussein's rabid regime.
  • My answer to the question "Why now?" is, "Why not earlier?" In 1998, the Iraq Liberation Act declared it national policy to change the regime in Baghdad.
  • Saddam's is the only regime that combines growing stockpiles of chemical and biological weapons and a record of using them with regional hegemonic ambitions and a record of supporting terrorists. Removing his influence from the Middle East will transform the politics of the region and advance the war against terrorism.
  • The best way to encourage forceful UN action is for Congress to unite now in authorizing the president to take military action, if necessary. If we are steadfast in pursuit of our principles, allies in Europe and the Middle East will be with us.


Captured Documents Detail Iraqi-Palestinian Cooperation - Daniel Sobelman (Ha'aretz)

IDF: No Missiles in Western Iraq

Interview with Major General Aharon Ze'evi, head of IDF Intelligence:

  • To the best of our knowlege, there are no missiles in western Iraq nor are there plans to deploy them there in the near future.
  • The nuclear threat from Iran is no less than that from Iraq, and the U.S. will need to address the spread of nuclear weapons in the Middle East, after it attacks Iraq. (Ha'aretz)
  • Senior Palestinian leaders are conducting talks with the Hamas and Fatah to get them to adopt the "controlled conflict" scenario - no more homicide bombings within the 1967 borders, but permitting continued attacks in the West Bank and Gaza.
  • In the Palestinian Authority, they understand that if they do not take action to prevent terrorist attacks, the IDF will do it for them.
  • The Iraqis are involved with terrorist acts in Israel through two organizations: the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine and the Arab Front. One attempts to carry out homicide attacks in Israel while the other collects and transfers money to support wounded terrorists and the families of suicide bombers. (IDF)

Inside the "Garden of Evil" - Paul McGeough
In the year since three-quarters of the September 11 hijackers were revealed to have come from Saudi Arabia, resentment has become the dominant emotion in the kingdom. Even when they express horror, many Saudis quickly segue to a variation of: "Well, the Americans deserved it, didn't they?" Saudis seek refuge in a parallel universe, a place where answers to questions about what is rotten in Saudi Arabia dwell on the faults of the U.S. and Israel. (Sydney Morning Herald)

Human Rights in Iraq - Micha Odenheimer (Ha'aretz)

Interview with Thomas von der Osten-Sacken, one of Germany's leading authorities on human rights in Iraq:

  • In 1991, we were the only Europeans in Amara in the Shi'ite area of southern Iraq near Basra, and we arrived just a few weeks after the uprising had been crushed. The Iraqis made people lie down in the streets and then buried them alive under asphalt. They killed everyone who looked a little religious, because this was a Shi'ite area. It was forbidden to take the corpses from the street. All in all, 60,000 or 70,000 people were killed in this area.
  • Syria is a dictatorship, but the fear and control in Iraq reaches into your living room. If there is no picture of Saddam Hussein in your living room, you might be arrested. In Syria, as long as you are not a member of the opposition, you can relax. You know you will not be harmed. But in Iraq, if you are in the wrong place at the wrong time, you may be arrested, tortured, killed.
  • The estimate of one million killed [by Saddam] only includes civilians. A million Iraqi soldiers were killed in the Iran-Iraq war. A half-million Iraqis died of hunger or disease because of sanctions on Iraq, and more were killed in the Gulf War. Ten percent of the Iraqi population has been killed or deported during the rule of Saddam Hussein. He is conducting a war against his own people and it must be stopped.
  • The [Iraqi] Ba'ath ideology mixes pan-Arabism with admiration of Mussolini and Hitler, some ideas of state socialism, and the notion of an Arab supremacy which will be realized after the Arabs have liberated themselves from foreign - that means mainly Jewish - influence and British and American imperialism. Everything in Iraq is explained through this huge conspiracy theory against the Arabs, in general, and Iraq, in particular.
  • With regimes like the Iraqi one, there will be no peace in the Middle East. You cannot contain a regime like Saddam Hussein's.

Bush Studied '67 Pre-emptive Strike - Howard Fineman
Andy Card, the White House chief of staff, told me that last summer, on his Texas ranch, Bush read Michael B. Oren's "Six Days of War," an account of Israel's stunningly successful (at least militarily) pre-emptive attack in 1967 against neighboring Arab states that had been poised to destroy it. (Newsweek)

Israel Faxx – a great selection of links 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

The Middle East Forum has launched a new Web site, called Its purpose is to report on anti-Israeli bias and activity in academia. In announcing the site, Daniel Pipes stated its aim was, "... to monitor the problems in the academy and to help fix them."


The website is headlined, "CAMPUS WATCH is a project of the Middle East Forum focusing on the academy's handling of Middle Eastern and Islamic issues."




  Quotes of the Week: 

“[Those Palestinians who died] were all terrorists with long resumes, except for one innocent elderly woman. I advise you to verify the details with Israel before you publicize your reaction to IDF operations.”—Defense Minister Binyamin Ben-Eliezer angrily rebutting the condemnation of Israel by visiting European Union Foreign Policy Chief Javier Solana, who accused Israel of not exercising restraint to avoid harming Palestinian civilians. [P.M. Sharon told Solana that the IDF had no choice but to use strong force to extricate soldiers who had come under heavy sniper fire, while trying to arrest two terrorist suspects in a building in Khan Yunis.]  (Nat’l. Post, Oct. 9; Jerusalem Post, BBC, Oct. 8)


“The important thing, particularly for our brothers in Jordan, is the transfer plan…which is on the table now. When there is a full-scale attack, Israeli tanks will herd people toward Jordan…making a Palestinian state in Jordan instead of Palestine. No Arab country is free of the threat, even if it takes part alongside America in the aggression against Iraq. Don’t think that [the Arab countries are safe] if they make nice statements and offer bases to the Americans. When the crime ends, they will be made to submit to America and Zionism.”—Iraqi Deputy P.M. Tariq Aziz declaring that in the event of a U.S. attack on Iraq, Israel would take advantage of the resulting chaos to “transfer” Palestinians into Jordan. (Ha’aretz, Oct. 9)




The Kehilati Brochure, detailing adult ed programming throughout the Jewish community, is now available on the web


Speaking of adult education in the community, Don’t forget Rabbi Hammerman’s Davenology 101 class at the JCC beginning next Thursday at noon (call the JCC for more information), and the next “Learning and Latte” at Borders on Tues., Oct 23 at 7:30.



Jr. Choir Meets

Sundays, from 10:30 a.m.-11:15 a.m.

Starting October 13, 2002


If you haven’t been in Jr. Choir before and want to audition, see Cantor Jacobson immediately before or after the rehearsal





Never has it been easier to do a good deed than on November 19th at 7:30 PM. Join the Fairfield County Jewish community as we come out in force for a gala event to aid the Argentine Jewish community. The world famous Jerusalem Great Synagogue Choir, Ms. Raquel Mendelsohn, renown diva of the Colon Opera house in Buenos Aires, Tango dancers, and several local cantors will be hosted at a theatre in Stamford. A reception for major donors will follow the event.  Proceeds from the evening will help fund the hunger and social service programs run by the American Jewish Joint Distribution Committee (JDC) in Argentina.  There are 65 welfare centers in Argentina that operate under the JDC umbrella.  They anticipate helping 35,000 people by the end of this year


The event is sponsored by the Federated Communities of Fairfield County including: Stamford, New Canaan and Darien; Greenwich; Westport, Weston, Wilton, and Norwalk; Bridgeport, Easton, Fairfield, Monroe, Shelton, Stratford and Trumbull; and the greater Danbury area. Invitations are being mailedthrough out these communities by their local federation offices.  The concert is expected to raise a minimum of $250,000 dollars. For more information, please call the United Jewish Federation office at 321-1373 x104 or send an email to




Save the date!!!! 


Sisterhood FASHION SHOW.       

Dessert and coffee. Come for an evening of fun, food, friends, and fashions by FOX'S.  Please make reservations. For additional information call Marlyn Agatstein 3247390 or Ronni Ginsberg  322-2003.





A recent Stamford Article about area food banks noted that economic times have driven up the need for donations to the area food banks.  Mayor Malloy said: "This is a year in which we need to start [collecting food] Oct. 1, and we probably need a full 12-month effort from people."  In response to this need, Temple Beth El Sisterhood has put out two food collection boxes in the synagogue and will keep them there year-round. One box will be outside the office, the other at the entrance to the main sanctuary.   We are working out the logistics of delivering the food to the Interfaith Council Food Bank, which services other area food banks such as Person-to-Person. Every can of tuna or box of rice will help!




Did you leave your tallit at the Temple?


            We have several tallitot hanging with the Temple’s supply by the Chapel.  To claim your personal tallit, please see Frank Rosner at morning minyan.



Adult Education


"The Prayer-Which Project" -- Building our own Friday night Siddur  -- This class focuses on the meaning of the Friday night prayers, looking at each one from a variety of angles – it’s not just for those who want to help make the Siddur!!!

with Rabbi Joshua Hammerman

Thursdays at 8:00 p.m.


Learn to Read Hebrew for Adults

with Shirley Fish

Sunday, October 6th

10:00 a.m. - 11:00 a.m. in the Library

Cost:  $50 for 10 week session


Israeli Movie Night & Nosh

with Barb Moskow

Begins Sunday, October 13th  6:00 p.m.  First Movie: Kazablan


“Latte and Learn” at Borders Book Store

October 22 & November 26

7:30 p.m. (October’s topic: the Akeda – chapter 22 of Genesis)  Read it in advance if possible

with Rabbi Joshua Hammerman


A Celebration of Rosh Chodesh
Held monthly with Barb Moskow & friends

7:30 p.m. - 9:00 p.m. in the Youth Lounge


Shabbat Morning Learner's Minyan

with Barb Moskow

Begins November 16th

10:30 a.m. - 11:30 a.m.





Youth Programs…

USY (9-12) & KADIMA (6-8)

Friday night dinner, service & discussion

Friday, October 11th

6:00 p.m. - 8:30 p.m.


ATID (K-2)

Goes to Silverman’s Farm

Sunday, October 13th

Petting zoo, pumpkins, hayrides, apples



Sunday, October 13th

4:00 p.m. - 10:00 p.m.

Don’t miss the boat!


KADIMA (6-8)


Sunday, October 20th

1:00 p.m. - 4:00 p.m.

In cooperation with the JCC



Young Jewish  Singles

Dine and Learn

Israel: Past and Present

Ten exciting sessions with speakers such as

Rabbi Mark Dratch

Rabbi David Walk

“Peace Now” Organization Spokesperson

Begins October 21st, 2002 at 7:00 p.m., at the JCC

$80 for the seminar ($8 a session)

For more details call Dan at 203.321.1373 ext. 115 or

Please RSVP no later than Monday, October 14th


And announcing  - Young Singles Shabbat: Nov 1

The community Young Singles Program will be our guests at Kabbalat Shabbat services on Friday, Nov. 1

At 7:30 in the chapel. Join us to welcome them that night!


And one final note…


TWO PRIESTS & A RABBI (thanks to Bruce Dennis for this one)

Two priests and a rabbi were asked the following question.

When you are in your casket, and friends, family and congregates are mourning over you, what would you like to hear them say?

EPISCOPAL PRIEST: I would like to hear them say that I was a wonderful husband, a fine spiritual leader, and a great family man.

CATHOLIC PRIEST: I would like to hear that I was a wonderful teacher and a servant of God who made an enormous difference in people's lives.

RABBI: I would like to hear them say "Look, he's moving"




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  


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