Friday, November 28, 2003

SHABBAT-O-GRAM for November 28, 2003 and Kislev 3, 5764


November 28, 2003 and Kislev 3, 5764

Rabbi Joshua Hammerman, Temple Beth El, Stamford, Connecticut


Shabbat Shalom

And Happy Thanksgiving

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Temple Beth El Congregational Shabbaton – Jan. 16 – 18

At the Nevele Grand Resort

Space is Limited, and it’s filling up FAST

 Theme – Dreams: The Spiritual Quest

Guest Scholar: Rabbi Seymour Rossel

Get your reservations in TODAY!!!




Healing Service at Stamford Hospital (every 1st and 3rd Friday): 2:30 PM – at the second floor chapel, or on the hospital’s channel 46.  The next one will be Friday, December 5.  If you know of anyone in Stamford Hospital, please let him or her know.


Friday Evening – Shabbat

Candles: 4:10 PM  (for candlelighting times, other Jewish calendar information, and to download a Jewish calendar to your PDA, click on

Services: 6:30 PM, in the lobby – “Carlebach” Hassidic Style Service

Shabbat Morning

Service: 9:30 AM

Mazal Tov to Benjamin Friedman, who becomes Bar Mitzvah this Shabbat morning.

Children’s services: 10:30 AM

Torah Portion – Toldot – The Beginning of the Jacob Cycle– Genesis 25:19 - 28:9

Haftarah: Malachi 1:1 - 2:7

Our reading is from the third triennial cycle (with slight adjustments). Click on these to see the text in the original and translation and to hear it chanted.

1: 27:28-30
2: 27:31-33
3: 27:34-37
4: 27:38-40
5: 27:41-46
6: 28:1-4
7: 28:5-9
maf: 28:7-9

See a new weekly commentary now available from the UJC Rabbinic Cabinet, at

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:  World Zionist Organization Education page, including Nehama Liebowitz archives of parsha commentaries: For a more Kabbalistic/Zionist/Orthodox perspective from Rav Kook, first Chief Rabbi of Israel, go to For some probing questions and meditations on key verses of the portion, with a liberal kabbalistic bent, go to To see the weekly commentary from Hillel, geared to college students and others, go to For a Jewish Renewal and feminist approach go to or to


Morning Minyan: Daily at 7:30 AM IN THE CHAPEL, Sundays at 9:00 AM IN THE SANCTUARY






Spiritual Journey on the Web

Interesting Thanksgiving Links....

From Is Thanksgiving Kosher? A rabbi uses traditional Jewish law to decide whether Orthodox Jews may eat turkey on Thanksgiving, Plus: Jewish & American values embodied in one holiday

Judaism Online at: How to Celebrate a Jewish Thanksgiving


Jewish Family and Life has lots of articles on Thanksgiving, at:

Hands-On Judaism: Want to insert some Judaism into your family's celebration of Thanksgiving this year? Yossi Abramowitz and Rabbi Susan Silverman offer five quick tips to get you started. And check out Julie Hilton Danan's great suggestions, too.

and finally…

CLAL Spirit and Story: Thanksgiving: A Day Of Celebration, A Day Of Reflection
By Brad Hirschfield & Judy Epstein 

This Thanksgiving, Americans around the country will sit down with their families at the dinner tables and give thanks for their good fortune. They'll celebrate their blessings and the great gift of freedom in America.

But for some Americans, Thanksgiving is not a cause for celebration. It recalls a dark moment in our nation's pre-history marked by exploitation and aggression. It evokes a painful time, both for the descendants of those mistreated by the builders of this nation, and for those who don't yet fully share in the benefits of the American dream.

"Thanksgiving observance should celebrate both the unprecedented freedom and promise of American life, and acknowledge the shadow side of that experience, which still remains," said Rabbi Brad Hirschfield, Vice President of CLAL-The National Jewish Center for Learning and Leadership. "We have to recognize that not everyone shares equally in the gifts of the American dream. But to use that awareness as a way of undermining the profound achievements and beauty of America would be a mistake."

Rabbi Hirschfield pointed out that not since the Vietnam War has America exported its vision for a way of life so aggressively. "Our actions abroad demand that we 'up the ante' in our own country to ensure that we live up to our own high standards. If we are going to export freedom, pluralism, and democracy, we have to work that much harder to guarantee that everyone enjoys those things at home. The fact that life is already better here than it is in these troubled places is not an excuse to stop striving within our own borders."

Rabbi Hirschfield suggests that this Thanksgiving we pause to remember both sides of the holiday story, as a way to move us forward. "If you are cynical about this country's greatness and the story of its beginnings, reflect on its achievements and accomplishments. If you can only see the successes, take a moment to reflect on where we have fallen short in the past, where we need to do better in the present, and how we could improve in the future. We need to hold on to both stories as we consider our actions."

Happy Thanksgiving to all! 


This Thanksgiving Day, talk with your family about joining us next summer on our Beth El Israel Tour – Next Aug. 1-16




This unforgettable journey has something for everyone:


n      Bar/Bat Mitzvah affirmation service and celebration (with Klezmer music)

n      Wilderness experience in the Negev

n      Exploring Tel Aviv and the mystical city of Safed

n      Visit to an army base

n      Kayaking on the Jordan River, climbing Masada and floating in the Dead Sea

n      Bedouin dinner in the middle of the Ramon Crater

n      Tree-planting ceremony near the home of the Maccabees

n      Visit to our sister city of Afula

n      Visit with Ethiopian families near Jerusalem

n      Briefings from journalists on the current situation

n      Archeological dig in the Judean Hills

n       Tzedakkah project at the children's ward of Hadassah Hospital

n       A glorious Shabbat in Jerusalem





Required Reading and Action Items



Israel's Fence of Peace - Meir Shlomo (Boston Globe)

  • For Israelis, the debate outside of Israel about Israel's security fence has come as a complete surprise; most Israelis, both left- and right-wing, consider the fence to be an absolute necessity - it's the last resort in protecting themselves and their children.
  • The security fence is a defensive and nonlethal measure. It has only one goal: to prevent terrorism. The end of terrorism would render the security fence unnecessary. Fences can be built and torn down, but human lives are irreplaceable.
  • Some say the fence is a barrier to peace. In fact, it is just the opposite. The lack of a fence between Israel and the West Bank has made it possible for Hamas and Islamic Jihad to hold the peace process hostage. Each time political progress was made, it was derailed by deadly attacks carried out by these terrorists. Building a fence will cause a sharp decline in the number of such attacks and give leaders more latitude to continue peace negotiations.
  • The media depict the fence as a tall concrete wall. However, 94% is actually just a chain-link fence. The portions made up of a concrete wall are adjacent to a major highway.
  • One argument against the fence states that it will create inconveniences for some Palestinian farmers who will be separated from their fields. A limited number of inconveniences do exist, and they are addressed by the Israeli government on a case-by-case basis. However, they are relatively minor when compared to the benefit of saving hundreds of lives.

The writer is the consul general of Israel to New England.

Wise Beginnings, Surprising Endings, Genesis: the Rest of the Story By Walter Brueggemann (from Christianity Today), November 21, 2003

God, Man and Growth By Gary Becker and Niall Ferguson (from The Economist), November 21, 2003

The Role of Religion in Oppression and Terrorism By Michael Eric Dyson (from The Philadelphia Inquirer), November 21, 2003

Prospect of Middle East Truce Stirs Few Hopes
Palestinian factions meet in Cairo early next month to discuss a ceasefire. An activist close to Hamas said the targeting by the Israelis of its leaders had forced it underground. It had also been hurt by the freezing of assets in Europe and the U.S. and by pressure from Washington on Arab states to force it to close its offices. "Hamas leaders felt the knife on their neck when Israel began targeting them, so they want a fighter's rest in order to reorganize, recruit, and survive," the activist said. (Reuters)

U.S. Seeks Advice from Israel on Iraq
Facing a bloody insurgency by guerrillas who label it an "occupier," the U.S. military has quietly turned to an ally experienced with occupation and uprisings: Israel. In the last six months, U.S. Army commanders, Pentagon officials, and military trainers have sought advice from Israeli intelligence and security officials on everything from how to set up roadblocks to the best way to bomb suspected guerrilla hide-outs in an urban area. (Los Angeles Times)

Where is the Middle East's Sakharov? - Asla Aydintasbas
Historian Bernard Lewis explains the great paradox of the modern Middle East: the so-called moderate regimes such as Saudi Arabia and Egypt have populations irate with anti-American and anti-Western sentiments, while among the people in rogue regimes like Iran, Iraq, and Syria, there is sympathy for the West and support for the new American mantra for regime change. What cannot be ignored by anyone is the quiet beginnings of an uprising against autocratic, repressive, and corrupt governments in the various corners of the Middle East and the Muslim world. The fact that practically all Muslim nations - with the exception of Turkey and perhaps Bangladesh - are run by regimes that are characterized as anti-democratic is an abomination first and foremost to Muslims. And we know it. (Jerusalem Post)

Mubarak Has Waited Too Long to Name a Successor - Editorial
The illness that forced Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak to interrupt a key speech to Parliament on Wednesday should also compel him to reconsider his refusal to name a successor. The evident angst resulting from what seems to have been nothing more than a severe case of the flu was but a hint of the panic that might ensue when Mubarak eventually dies or becomes incapacitated. Even - and perhaps especially - if his choice as successor is to be his son Gamal, Mubarak needs to leave no room for doubt about who will follow him when the moment arrives. (Beirut Daily Star)
    See also Egypt's Great Survivor - Khaled Dawoud (BBC)

How to Salvage the Road Map - Zalman Shoval (Jerusalem Post)

  • Both the U.S. and Israel have, for now, no interest in declaring the road map dead, even though the Bush administration is probably focused more on "conflict management" than on "conflict resolution."
  • The vision of President Bush's speech of June 2002 was transformed, in conjunction with the Quartet, into a version of the road map built upon a basic asymmetry, with Israel agreeing to eventual Palestinian statehood without the Palestinians being required to do away with the so-called right of return - which means abolishing Israel as a Jewish state.
  • Even the underlying vision of a "democratic, viable" Palestinian state living in peace alongside Israel inevitably raises a question, since there is no other Arab state in the region to which these characteristics apply. What guarantee is there that the projected Palestinian state would be different?
  • If the major flaws in the road map were corrected, our sights set a bit lower, and the difficult first stages overcome, the road map could still function as a means of forging a long-term Israeli-Palestinian modus vivendi. Though falling short of solving all the outstanding issues, it would nevertheless give the two peoples a protracted period of calm and prosperity.
  • If this, too, should prove unattainable, one should not be surprised if there will be a growing sentiment among Israelis for unilateral separation of one sort or another.

Steven Spielberg Jewish Film Archive (Hebrew University)

Al-Qaeda's Mistake - Claude Salhani
In selecting Turkey as their new battleground, al-Qaeda, or their Turkish affiliates, may have committed a monumental tactical mistake by picking a fight they may well regret. Unlike most Western European countries and the U.S., Turkey has a long history of dealing with homegrown terrorism and has always gone about it with a successful, though somewhat heavy, hand. And those tactics have yielded positive results. (Washington Times)

The BBC Meets Its Match - Manfred Gerstenfeld
British lawyer Trevor Asserson's website,, contains three well-documented reports systematically demonstrating the BBC's anti-Israel bias. One typical example was when suicide bombers killed 26 Israeli civilians in Jerusalem and Haifa in December 2001. The BBC only used the word "terror" when describing Israel's retaliatory attacks on Palestinian targets. Asserson has also illustrated how the BBC goes to considerable lengths to "explain, excuse and lessen civilian deaths [in Iraq] at the hands of coalition troops while mitigating arguments are brushed aside or scorned if voiced at all where Israelis are concerned." President Bush's speech of June 24, 2002, was entitled on the White House website, "President Bush calls for new Palestinian leadership." Nineteen of the 28 paragraphs addressed Palestinian leadership and institutional reform; Israeli policy was criticized in two or three paragraphs. Yet the BBC was the only news body which presented the speech as criticizing Israelis and Palestinians equally. (Jerusalem Post)

Tourism to Israel on the Rise (AP/USA Today)
    20% more tourists visited Israel during the first 10 months of this year than in the same period last year, signifying a turnaround for the sector, a spokeswoman for the Israeli Tourism Ministry said Sunday.    A total of 852,400 tourists visited Israel from January to October, and the ministry forecasts that one million tourists will visit by the end of the year.





Saturday, December 13, 2003 at 6:15 p.m.

Join us for Havdalah, a delicious pasta dinner, Israeli dancing and a night out with your friends!


RSVP by November 29th

Call Joy Katz, 329-3359 to reserve and for information.

Sponsored by Temple Beth El Sisterhood




Sunday, December 21st at 4:00 p.m.

Led by Cantor Deborah Jacobson

featuring our TBE Adult & Jr. Choirs and YOU!

Potato latkes, sufganiyot, candle lighting, dreidel tournament, raffles, prizes, A SPECIAL GIFT FOR EVERY CHILD TO TAKE HOME, special guest appearances, FUN FOR ALL AGES!



Helen Golin Judaica Gift Shop


Hannukah is December 19-26, 2003!


Visit the gift shop for all of your Hanukkah needs:

Dreidels, menorahs, candles, gelt (chocolate, of course!).


For those of you traveling during the winter break, we have electric menorahs, too, plus lots of gift ideas for all ages:

Games, puzzles, books and music, jewelry, keepsake boxes, Judaica items


Are you going to a party? Some suggestions for hostess gifts:

Wine bottle or wine glass coasters, small jeweled boxes, pretty serving dishes, decorative dreidels


As always, all of our merchandise is discounted 20% off of retail prices!!!


The Gift Shop is open Monday and Thursday 4:00-6:00 p.m. and Sunday 10:30 a.m.-1:00 p.m. For added convenience, during the month of December only (until Hanukkah) it will be open on Wednesday mornings from 9:30-11:00 a.m.


If you have any questions, please call Mia Weinstein at 595-0528.  Happy Hanukkah!





Presenting the Dramatic Cantata “Cry of the Children”


Performed by award winning vocal chamber ensemble


Musica Plenti!


Wednesday, December 10th at 7:30 p.m.


Please join our TBE community, come hear this “call to all humanity” and share with these talented musicians (including our own Jodi Maxner!) as we celebrate Human Rights Day.  (Reception to meet the composer and artists will follow the  40 minute presentation.)  all proceeds will go to MAZON, which helps feed hungry children everywhere.


Tickets:  $15/Temple Member and $20/Non-Member

Special Student Price:  $10





Lunch and Learn Series

Led by Rabbi Joshua Hammerman


Judaism, Business and Ethics for Our Time –


Using rabbinic sources, the group will explore the ethics of the marketplace, including deceptive advertising, employer-employee relations, consumer rights (and wrongs) and insider trading.


Meets Monthly, next THIS COMING Wednesday, Dec. 3, 12:30 -1:30


At Benjamin and Gold, P.C., 350 Bedford Street 4th floor

Parking in rear of building (at corner of Pedigree Ski Shop), or metered parking on the street in front of building and also behind Baby and Toy Superstore, across the street.

(many thanks to Dan Benjamin for providing the space)






The Hanukkah luncheon scheduled for


SUNDAY, DECEMBER 7TH at 1:00 p.m.




We wish you a happy Hanukkah!






WEDNESDAY, Dec. 17, @ 7:30





"Sacred Passages: A Multicultural Exploration of the Peak Moments of Our Lives."



Rabbi Joshua Hammerman -- Temple Beth El

Rev. Douglas McArthur - First UNited Methodist Church

Dr. Behjat Sayed -- Dr Sayed is a lay representative of the Islamic Center of Stamford and a chiropractor, who has spoken in Islam before many groups locally.



Dec 17-- Celebating the Season: How are the sacred days of December linked?  How do they differ?  How can we all celebrate so that no one feels left out?

Jan 21 -- Celebrating Relationships:  Courtship and Marriage in different faith traditions.  How do different faith groups respond to homosexuality?

Feb 11 -- (2nd Wed.) Celebrating Family: What are the responsibilities of parenthood and the role of family in various traditions?  How do we handle divorce, domestic violence, etc., as well as the proliferation of non-traditional family units?  Where do singles fit into all of this?

Mar 17-- Celebrating Diversity: How do we coexist despite our differences?  How do we approach dual faith families?  What are the limits of missionary activity?  How to we handle conversion?

April 21 -- Celebrating Healing:  How do we confront illness in our various traditions and how do we define "wellness?" How do we approach the patient? Where do spirituality and medicine intersect?  Special focus on AIDS.

May 19 -- Approaches to the End of Life: Death, Dying and Life Eternal in different faith traditions.






There is still time to sign up! 
















TGIS (Thank God it’s Shabbat)


A rotating series of Friday night experiences

For all tastes and all ages

At 6:30 PM

Week 1 --- in the chapel, a traditional Beth El Service

Week 2 --- in the Sanctuary, Family Friday

Week 3 --- in the lobby: a creative Theme services


Week 4 --- a Carlebach-style service, featuring Hasidic nigunim and joyous meditation.


Plus our ongoing Tot Shabbat series (weeks 1 and 3 at 6:45, and Tiny Tot Shabbat on week 2 at 4)



United Jewish Federation of Greater Stamford, New Canaan and Darien
2004 Annual Community Campaign

December 7, 2003

On December 7, 2003, United Jewish Federation is holding its annual
SUPER SUNDAY phone-a-thon at the Stamford JCC.

Please answer your phone and make a generous gift to the 2004 Annual Community Campaign.

If you would like to volunteer to assist with phone calls or other critical tasks on SUPER SUNDAY,
please fill out the attached Sign-up Sheet and send to:




2003 Christmas Dinners at Pacific House & St. Luke’s Lifeworks

It’s time to begin planning for our annual dinners at local residences!  If you would like to help, please email Sue Greenwald-  or call 329-1662.




Religion as Baseball

Last week we found out how all other religions were like baseball –
So nu, what about Judaism?  Here are David Wolff’s responses:


1) Jews & baseball - who cares what the score was? how's the buffet?

2) On the 8th day, g-d was well rested and ambitious, so he created the


3) Baseball is the perfect game for Jews - average MLB games last as long as

Shabbat services! (not knocking the service, of course, just an observation)

4) You would think all Jews are Red Sox/Cubs fans - they love to suffer!





Some more humor… (Courtesy of Beth Boyer)




Previous Shabbat-O-Grams can be accessed directly from our web site (


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