Friday, November 15, 2002

Shabbat-O-Gram, Nov. 15, 2002 and Kislev 10, 5763

 Shabbat-O-Gram, Nov. 15, 2002 and Kislev 10, 5763

SHABBAT SHALOM  Rabbi Joshua Hammerman, Temple Beth El, Stamford, Connecticut





To see what happened on this day in Jewish history, go to

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JUST THE FACTS: Services and Such

Friday Night:

Candles: 4:18 PM

Services at 7:30 PM in the chapel.  We welcome our Kadimaniks (6-8th graders) who will be joining our service following their dinner. 

Tot Shabbat Service with Nurit: 7:15 PM, in the lobby

Shabbat morning:

Service: 9:30 AM, Children’s services: 10:30 AM, hosted by our 4th graders.

Learner’s Minyan with Barb Moskow: 10:30-11:30 AM, in the library

Torah Portion: Va-Yetze (The story of Jacob continues; includes the famous dream of a ladder ascending to heaven)

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 Jeffrey Eisenberg, who becomes Bar Mitzvah this Shabbat morning

Morning MinyanDaily at 7:30 AM, Sunday at 9AM



MAZAL TOV to Cindy and Scott Roskind, and grandparents Renee and Harvey Ganis, on the birth of Samantha Devyn Roskind, on Oct. 30.


And MAZAL TOV to Dr. Pedram Hendizadeh, son of Rosett Hendizadeh, and Bita Peykar, who were married on November 9.




Spiritual Journey on the Web







Step By Step to Jewish Growth


In this week’s portion we read of the famous dream of Jacob’s ladder, an image that has become part of our general culture.  If you run a search on Jacob’s ladder, you’ll come across anything from a “total body exerciser” ( to a ham radio antenna  (  In each case the idea is that we are ever striving to go onward and upward.  And this is exactly the approach that the Conservative Movement takes regarding our spiritual growth as Jews.  A book of that title even came out this year: “Climbing Jacob’s Ladder: One man’s rediscovery of a Jewish Spiritual Tradition, which is excerpted at  With the proliferation of 12-Step programs as well as the popularity of the “For Dummies” and “Complete Idiots” guides, more people have come to understand that step-by-step approaches to Judaism are necessary.  It is an approach actually made popular decades ago by the philosopher Franz Rosenzweig, who, when asked if he wore tefillin, replied, “Not yet.”  Read his biography at  Rosenzweig recognized that this and other rituals are part of Jewish law, but saw himself as being on a personal trajectory where he was not yet ready to observe them.  What makes his story so dramatic is that he nearly followed the majority of his family in converting to Christianity before his steep climb began one year on the High Holidays.


Unfortunately, for many Jews, the ascent to spiritual heights is nearly as difficult, even once the desire to climb has been established.  Judaism is so complicated that at times it seems as if we are stuck on Jacob’s treadmill, screaming a la George Jetson for Jane to “stop this crazy thing!”   At those times hopefully we can all experience some of the small successes that help us to retrain our sights on the goal – because once we climb that ladder, the view is incredible from the top:

Here are some introductory books that you can order to help you and your family make that thrilling climb. I’ve used them all and recommend them highly:  By clicking on the links, you’ll end up at the Amazon site that describes their contents.  They all make great Hanukkah gifts.


Jewish Literacy, by Rabbi Joseph Telushkin.

It's a Mitzvah! by Brad Artson

The Art of Jewish Living: The Shabbat SederHanukkah by Ron Wolfson

A Guide to Jewish Religious Practice by Isaac Klein

Living Judaism, by Wayne Dosick

To Life! by Harold Kushner

The Jewish Holidays: A Guide and Commentary by Michael Strassfeld

Jewish Family and Life by Yosef Abromowitz and Rabbi Susan Silverman

Back to the Sources edited by Barry Holtz

Choosing a Jewish Life, by Anita Diamant

New Jewish Wedding Book, by Anita Diamant


This year, the leadership of the United Synagogue of Conservative Judaism established a “Compact for Conservative Commitment,” designed to guide families who wish to take those first tentative steps.  Find it outlined at and read about it at  The USCJ Web site is very helpful in taking those steps in a number of areas, including “beginning the journey,”, Seven Entry Steps to Shabbat,, prayer,, and why it is so important to have a kosher Bar or Bat Mitzvah celebration


Speaking of which, Kashrut, for many people, is the most intimidating climb of all, but also potentially the most rewarding.  Making the switch to Kosher is not as hard as you might think. is a site that can help you on your way.  As with everything else, this can’t be seen as an all or nothing proposition.  A very nice step-by-step Web site for Kashrut comes out of a Conservative synagogue in Margate, Florida, at (they also have a superb Web site).  The National Jewish Outreach Program (the people who gave us Shabbat Across America) have all you need to make your home kosher at  A nice collection of introductory links n keeping Kosher can be found at You can also order a new CD on the subject at the USCJ site.  For those still “hungry” for information, there’s more background at, and a mother lode of questions answered at, where you can find out just what foods are kosher and what are not.  Armed with all this information, it is my hope that more people will come to see the beauty in all these rituals and how they can enhance the spirituality that imbues our lives.


As you sit with your families this Thanksgiving and Hanukkah, why not take a few moments to see how you (collectively and personally) might find new ways to ascend, like those angels on Jacob’s ladder, toward a more enriching Jewish life.




Required Reading and Action Items





Arafat Blocked Reform Efforts, Ex-Minister Says
Abdel Razak Yehiyeh said that during his term as Palestinian interior minister, he was prevented from demilitarizing the police forces and overruled when he tried to remove several commanders who had participated in attacks on Israelis. He said he found the task of reforming the police impossible. "The ones I did succeed in moving are now back in their jobs." While Arafat may mouth a commitment to reform and an end to military confrontation with Israel, he often opposes it in practice. (Globe and Mail - Canada)

Latest American Airstrikes Pave Way for Invasion
American jets launched air raids on Sunday on a key Iraqi airbase base that forms part of a network of Iraqi air defense facilities safeguarding the approaches to Baghdad. Every no-fly zone airstrike, in response to Iraqi groundfire, helps to prepare the way for an invasion, particularly in the south and west. The clear objective of U.S Central Command is to disrupt Saddam's integrated air defense network and to undermine the command-and-control set-up between bases in the south and Baghdad. (London Times)

Arab Analysts: Only a Miracle Can Save Iraq
Barring a miracle, a U.S.-led war on Iraq looks inevitable, even if Baghdad agrees to the drastic disarmament terms set out by the UN Security Council, Arab analysts said Tuesday. Resolution 1441 is "a statement of war as well as a death sentence," said Abdul Bari Atwan, editor of the London-based Al Quds Al Arabi newspaper. Mohammed Al Mesfer, political science professor at Qatar University, said, "The resolution has virtually given Washington a free hand to occupy Iraq." Mohammed Said Idriss, from the strategic studies center of Cairo daily Al Ahram, said that the "only way out for Saddam Hussein is to be in the pay of America, to establish relations with Israel, and to agree to Iraq becoming a substitute homeland for the other words, a miracle." (Jordan Times/AFP)


Egyptian TV Fuels Hate - Editorial
Egyptian state television has begun a 41-part series called "Horseman Without a Horse," based on vicious lies about the birth of the Zionist movement. The show serves as a madrasa, or religious school, in fanaticism for the masses. Egypt, which receives nearly $2 billion a year in aid from the U.S., regularly prints and broadcasts explicitly anti-Semitic material. In questioning Israel's right to exist, the series flouts the spirit of the 1978 Camp David accords that established peace between Israel and Egypt. Egypt can only be perceived in this instance as actively promoting ignorance and hatred. (Los Angeles Times)


Deadline for Hussein - Dennis Ross
The hard part begins now. As the president has said, there have been 16 Security Council resolutions against Iraq, and Saddam Hussein has not disarmed. The moment of truth will come on Dec. 8, when Iraq must provide a full accounting of all its WMD sites, programs, capabilities, developments, and personnel. If disarmament is the objective, the only possibility of achieving it without war will depend on Hussein's understanding that anything less than full disclosure is, in fact, the trigger for war. (Washington Post)

Understanding the Breakdown of Israeli-Palestinian Negotiations - Lt. Col. Jonathan D.H. (Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs) The author is an IDF intelligence officer. This Jerusalem Viewpoints is based on his analysis that first appeared in Maarakhot, the IDF magazine for military affairs (in Hebrew), and received the IDF Chief of Staff's prize for military affairs writing.

Combating Intifada Fatigue (Jewish Week editorial)

Hamas launches webzine for kids


UK publisher boycotts Israeli university


Jordan quashes Palestinian ad campaign


Palestinians kidnap Red Cross worker



Sunday night, two or more Palestinians burst into an avowedly pacifist rural kibbutz, shot dead its secretary Yitzhak Dori, 44, and a visitor from Moshav Eliachin, Tirza Damari, 42. They then burst into a home and murdered Revital Ochayon and the two small sons, Matan 5 and Noam, 4, she sheltered with her body, before disappearing into the night. They struck hours after the Israeli military pullback from the Palestinian city of Jenin.





At least five killed in Kibbutz Metzer shooting attack

1) Debkafile’s take: Arafats Road Map: More Killing
2) -- The story of Hannah and Her Seven Sons (part of Hanukkah folklore), a story of a mother’s heroism and martyrdom, with eerie parallels – and differences -- to the Metner massacre of a mother dying while shielding her two sons in their bed.
3) Kibbutz Metzer Home Page
4) Planner of Metzer Attack Surrenders to IDF:
5) Note response of the left wing to this affront within the Green Line at an avowedly dovish Kibbutz: Michael Lerner’s take is at
6) A grand display of hope – or naiveté?  Hit by a terrorist, kibbutz still shares a well with Arabs (Christian Science Monitor)
College Campuses: Columbia and Harvard Controversies

Thanks to Rich Chargar among others, for forwarding this:

ANTI-divestment petition at Columbia University EVERYONE can sign this.  The campaign for divestment from Israeli companies has recently hit Columbia University.  Please sign this petition --it takes literally two seconds -- and forward it to everyone you know.  It is imperative that we get thousands of signatures.  Anyone can sign it -- there are categories for students, parents, alumni, faculty, and other.  Use OTHER if you did not attend the school.  Just go to the website: and please forward this to everyone you know. 

Columbia President Blasts Divestment Petition
A petition by some Columbia and Barnard faculty members calling for a divestiture campaign against Israel has gained about 400 signatures. A counter petition launched last week by pro-Israel forces has gained more than 5,000 signatures. Columbia University President Lee C. Bollinger said Thursday, "The petition alleges human rights abuses and compares Israel to South Africa at the time of apartheid, an analogy I believe is both grotesque and offensive." "As president of Columbia...I will not lend any support to this proposal." (New York Jewish Week)

HarvardCancelsPoetAppearance  After student complaints, Harvard University said Tuesday it had canceled a reading by Irish poet Tom Paulin. In April, Paulin was quoted in the Egyptian Al-Ahram Weekly, saying American Jewish settlers should be "shot dead." "I think they are Nazis, racists, I feel nothing but hatred for them." In his poem "Killed in the Crossfire," he writes of "another little Palestinian boy in trainers jeans and a white teeshirt" killed by the "Zionist SS." Paulin is teaching this semester at Columbia University. (San Francisco Chronicle/AP)


EXCELLENT WEBSITE FOR JEWS IN SPORTS (Discovered by my son Ethan):



Stephen H. Hoffman, President and Chief Executive Officer of United Jewish Communities (UJC), announced today that the planned release next week of the latest data from the National Jewish Population Survey (NJPS) 2000-01 has been postponed. During a final review of the latest survey information to be released, UJC leadership learned that the outside research firm that conducted the survey apparently lost critical data. The new information was to have been released next week in Philadelphia at the UJC General Assembly (GA), the organization’s annual meeting. "I am disappointed that we will not be ready to release information at the GA, but I believe that the integrity of the report is more important than rushing to meet a set deadline for its release," Hoffman said. "It is too soon to determine either the exact chain of events that occurred or the impact on the survey. But, because we recognize our responsibility to the NJPS funders, to the academic community that will rely on this data, and to the public, we will move quickly to address this matter.  "A task force will quickly convene to review the performance of the NJPS researchers and consultants and recommend how we should handle the further disposition of the survey," he continued. "I will encourage the task force to look into every aspect of NJPS and provide a transparent and thorough report.  "I will also instruct the task force to undertake a review of UJC’s research department to ascertain the extent to which UJC staff should have been aware of the problem and could have taken timely, corrective steps.  "Naturally, all of us hope that we will soon be ready to release a rich report of significant information about and for the American Jewish community."


IS HARRY POTTER JEWISH?? (I’ll let you know after I see the latest installment this weekend)

No, not Jewish at all:

Yes, the stories convey Jewish values:

Harry Potter and the Magic of Torah:

A Purim Spoof: 


Quotes of the Week: 

 On Sunday night, a terrorist walked into a house in Kibbutz Metzer and murdered Revital Ohayon, 34, and her sons Matan, five, and Noam, four. Yitzhak Dori, 44, and Tirza Damari, 42, were also gunned down. The children were apparently killed in their beds…Metzer, founded in 1953, has such close relations with its Arab neighbors that it shares a well and a soccer team with the nearest village. The group that took responsibility for the attacks was not Hamas or Islamic Jihad, but an arm of Yasser Arafat’s own Fatah. It so happens that this attack took place inside the Green Line, which triggered an ‘investigation’ by Arafat. This investigation is unnecessary, because the proud members of Fatah tell us why they did it: ‘This attack was a message to the negotiators in Cairo [meeting of the Arab League] that the Aksa Martyrs Brigades will not stop its struggle and attacks against Israel,’ said spokesman Abu Mujahid….”—Editorial (Jerusalem Post, Nov. 12)

“If and when America ventures into Iraq, it should cast aside the distinction between secular and Islamist enemies. The rule of reason and practicality, the delivery of the Arabs from a culture of victimology and abdication, the need to take on the sources of the anti-Americanism that brought terror to America's shores, all entail a reckoning with the same malignancies.   It was the sparing of Saddam in 1991 that nourished al Qaeda, and gave its masterminds and foot-soldiers ammunition, and an ideological pretext, for targeting America. Saddam had been through war and had been let off the hook; that had been part of the emboldening of the new purveyors of terror. America's enemies in that region are full of cunning. They should be read right; the banners they unfurl--secular or religious--are of no great significance. It is the drive that animates them that matters. What they bring forth, be they dictators in bunkers or jihadists on the run, is a determination to extirpate American influence from their world, and a view of history that the deep sorrows and failings of the Arab world can be laid at the doorsteps of the distant American power.” -- Fouad Ajami
The Wall Street Journal, November 12, 2002)













Hanukkah Concert

Nov. 24 @ 4:00 PM

Fun for all ages, as we get ready for the holiday

a musical celebration, and lots more (with a dreidel spinning contest too!)

With our Junior and Adult Choirs

Led by Cantor Deborah Jacobson.

Accompanied by Simona Frenkel on keyboard & piano

and Nurit Avigdor on guitar and vocals.

Potato latkes, sufganiyot (jelly donuts), cookies & drinks.

Raffle Drawing (CD players and much much more)!

A gift for every child to take home!












NOVEMBER 16, 2002

10:30 AM – 11:30 AM




Sunday, Nov.17th 6:00 p.m.



*Premiered in 2000*Mature Audiences*English subtitles


    In a beautifully constructed, unusual and eye-opening film, Israeli director Amos Gitai turns a relentlessly critical eye on a stiflingly ultra-orthodox segment of the Jewish population in modern-day Jerusalem. Two sisters, Rivka (Yael Abecassis) and Malka (Meital Barda) are trapped in this society and as the movie unfolds we see the struggle between blind adherence and personal desire. Although I do not believe it has a rating, it would probably receive an “R”.





This Thanksgiving: Talk Turkey, But Think Matzah!


On this Thanksgiving Day (which is also the weekend of Hanukkah), as you gather with your families to spin dreidels and talk turkey, please take a few moments to think about that next great family gathering on the calendar: Passover.


We are, for the first time, considering having a congregational Second Seder.  Over the years people have been asking for it – now it actually may happen.  The idea is that we all go to our family seders on the first night, and then bring the extended family to Beth El on the second night (April 17), for a community seder led by Rabbi Hammerman, Cantor Jacobson and Barb Moskow, and coordinated by our sisterhood, with active participation by all.  It would be a hassle-free catered event, with costs kept as low as possible, but realistically in the “double chai” range for adults.  It would be incredible fun, with games for the kids and lots of great singing and discussion, fostering a feel of real community.  It would also be of assistance to those (and there are many) who have no family in the area and no Seder to go to. 


This type for program requires lots planning and early commitments to the caterer.  So we have to know very soon whether there is enough interest for this to be a “go.”  Thanksgiving/Hanukkah presents a perfect chance to discuss this with your family.  So, talk it over, then let us know by Dec. 13.  Thanks, and a Zissen… I mean a Happy Hanukkah!


Cut and Paste this and e-mail to


NAME _______________________________________________


TELEPHONE NUMBER AND E-MAIL ADDRESS ______________________________________________










The Accessible Talmud

with Barb Moskow


     In this introductory course, we will spend the first session cracking the secrets of Talmud study before moving on to actual text study.  Each subsequent week will feature a different text, illuminating the diverse styles and ideas represented by sages.  Knowledge of Hebrew, Aramaic, Old French and the ability to read Rashi script Not Required!  We will utilize the Steinsaltz English edition of the Talmud for our studies.


DATES:  November  21, December 5, 12

TIME:  7:00 p.m.- 8:00 p.m.


“What’s a Nice People like the Jews

Doing in a Mess Like This?”

with Rabbi Joshua Hammerman


     This class will trace the roots of the Israeli Arab conflict, with a special focus on understanding the various streams of Zionism. A historical exploration, using video and text, of how the Jewish people returned to Israel and how they coped with what they found when they got there. The class will also discuss ways to become informed advocates for Israel (making the case forcefully and with historical background) while also understanding the nuances, complex, and tragic nature of “the situation.”



DATES:  November 21, December 5, 12

TIME:  8:00 p.m.- 9:00 p.m.





Tuesday, November 19, 2002
7:30pm at Rich Forum in Stamford, CT.

Sponsored by the Jewish Federations of Fairfield County

Attend a benefit concert for Argentinean Jews.
Proceeds will fund JDC (Joint Distribution Committee) hunger and social
service programs at 70 welfare centers in Argentina.

Tickets available @ $100  per person.
Available through the Greenwich UJA/Federation at 552-1818.

($1,000 and higher levels includes multiple tickets and post performance
dessert reception.)

Program for the evening includes performances by:

The Jerusalem Great Synagogue Choir under the baton of conductor Eli Jaffe
The renowned Raul Juarena Tango Band and dancers
Argentine Soprano Raquel Mendelsohn
Local Cantors including Cantor Deborah Jacobson from our synagogue

The current crisis involves 200,000 Jews currently live in Argentina - the
5th largest Jewish community in the world.

       - 60,000 Jews live below the poverty line and are unemployed.
       - 70% of small businesses owned by Jews have closed.
  - Thousands are homeless and on food rations.

*Because of this important community event, the November 19th meeting for the Women of the Book group has been canceled.  Instead of seeing a video on December 17th, the group will discuss the book “Bee Season.”




Congregational Shabbat Dinner

Friday, November 22nd

6:00 p.m.

Sponsored by the Religious School & Sisterhood

RSVP to the Religious School office 322-6901, ext. 306.

Followed by: Family Friday Night Service

7:30 p.m.

Featuring our Junior Choir


And save the date for our



Shabbat morning, Nov. 30 @ 9:30

RSVP if you (or your collegian) will be there --we’re ordering special Hanukkah gifts




The Fourth Commandment: Remember the Sabbath Day
By Francine Klagsbrun
Talking to God: Prayers for Times of Joy, Sadness, Struggle, and Celebration,                  By Naomi Levy

Wednesday, Nov. 20 • 7:30 p.m. Temple Beth El

In The Fourth Commandment and Talking to God, authors Klagsbrun and Levy, leading women of Conservative Judaism, share their thoughts on Judaism’s most important events. Francine Klagsbrun is a columnist in Moment magazine and the author of several books on Jewish practice and ethics. Naomi Levy is one the first female Rabbis of the Conservative movement and is the author several books on Jewish spirituality and healing after tragedy.  This program ispart of the JCC’s Jewish Book Festival series and co-sponsored by Temple Beth El




Learning & Latte”

A series of monthly dialogues hosted by Borders

Tuesday, November 26th at 7:30 P.M.



This Month:  The Temptation of Adam and Eve


Groundbreaking conversations led by

Rabbi Joshua Hammerman of Temple Beth El

and the Rev. Dr. Douglas McArthur, Senior Pastor

of the First United Methodist Church



“Join” the Israeli Army for one or two weeks or more
Wear the uniform...Sleep in the barracks… 
Eat the  mess…Do something worthwhile...Have a great time…
Join us (men and women) as we volunteer for
The National Project for Volunteers for Israel
February 23-March 1 or February 23-March 6
Spend the week on an army base… Shabbat in Jerusalem…
For more information: Call Rabbi Dratch at 358-2200
Information meeting:
Tuesday, November 26 , 7:15 p.m.
at Agudath Sholom






Atid (K-2) Hanukkah Gift-Making Day

Sunday Nov. 17

1-3 PM


USY Regional Fall Kinnus 2002

Camp Isabella Friedman

November 22-24


USY (9-12) and Kadima (6-8)


Friday, November 15th

6-8:30 PM





“I will be collecting children books and donating them to the Boy's and Girl's Club for the holiday season. In order to do this I will be setting up five drop off locations listed below. These drop off stations will be open for two weeks, in which, I hope to collect and reach my goal of 200 books. In addition, I will be building a bookshelf for these books and plan on advertising this collection in the newspaper. As soon as I get permission from the selected locations the book

drive will begin. After two weeks, I will collect these boxes, clean out the books and organize them into different piles according to their size. I will then build a bookshelf for these books. I have chosen this project, because I know myself, that there are many families in Stamford whose kids who have outgrown their early childhood books. As a result, these books are put away in an attic or basement never to be seen again. Many less fortunate kids have very few books to read. When

I donate these books, I will know that I have given many less fortunate children more chances to read.”


Drop off Locations


            1. Agudath Shalom

            2. Temple Sinai

            3. Temple Beth El

            4. St. Bridget

            5. Bethany Assembly of God



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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