Friday, December 10, 2004

December 10, 2004 and Kislev 28, 5765


December 10, 2004 and Kislev 28, 5765

Rabbi Joshua Hammerman, Temple Beth El, StamfordConnecticut

Shabbat Shalom


CHappy Chanukah from the Chammermans

and make plans to join us at our super spectacular multi-media Hanukkah concert  featuring Cantor Jacobson, our choirs and special guests and surprises (and of course, latkes!)

Sunday, Dec. 12 @ 3 PM


Send your friends and relatives the gift of Jewish awareness

a Shabbat-O-Gram each week, by signing them up at


Quote for the day:

“Not by might, nor by power, but by My Spirit, says Adonai of hosts”

-- from the Haftarah for Shabbat Hanukkah


The Rabid Rabbi


Today (Dec. 10) is Human Rights Day.   If you didn’t know that, it’s because so many of us have lost track of what’s going on outside our little cocoon.  IN New Haven today the Jewish community is rallying at noon to call upon the international community to take action to end the atrocities in Sudan and to allow humanitarian aid to reach the starving, injured and displaced refugees of the Darfur region. 


            It occurred to me that such a rally could well have occurred in Stamford a decade ago, when Joan and Fred Weisman annually made Human Rights Day a time when the Jewish community took the lead in being proponents of human rights for everyone.  That was also a time when we had a Jewish Community Relations Council of sorts, and we also had a very active Council of Churches and Synagogues.  Such is not the case today.  But none of the refugees in Darfur province gives a darn (I’m rabid, but not THAT rabid) about whether we have a Human Rights Day rally for them here in Stamford.   They are too busy trying to survive – or not.


            So why should Jews care about this?


For one, because it’s Hanukkah.  On this holiday we fight for all persecuted minorities.  This Shabbat, Shabbat Hanukkah has been designated as a Shabbat of Conscience on Darfur by the Jewish Council on Public Affairs,  Here is their press release:

With the season of Hanukkah upon us, one way you can bring social action to the holiday is by urging your synagogue or groups in your community to promote and participate in The Save Darfur Coalition's ( effort to designate Shabbat Hanukkah as the Shabbat of Conscience.


As December 10, 2004 is Human Rights Day, the Save Darfur Coalition has identified December 10-12, 2004 as Weekend of Conscience on Darfur. On that day, communities across North America are urged to engage in activities designed to raise public awareness about the horrific situation in Darfur and to demand that the international community take immediate and decisive action to stop the killing, the rape, and the destruction of villages, and to ensure that humanitarian relief reaches all those in need.


Background on the Crisis in Darfur


The emergency in Sudan's northwestern region of Darfur presents the starkest challenge to the world since the Rwanda genocide in 1994. Government-backed militias, known as the Janjaweed, have been engaging in campaigns to displace and wipe out entire communities of African tribal farmers.  Villages have been razed, women and girls are systematically raped and branded, men and boys murdered, and food and water supplies specifically targeted and destroyed.  Government aerial bombardments support the Janjaweed by hurling explosives as well as other destructive items from planes to crush people and property.  Tens of thousands have died.  Well over a million have been driven from their homes.


The situation has become especially volatile in the past month with Government forces encircling camps set up for those internally displaced by the conflict and denying access to UN aid agencies and other humanitarian groups.  The Secretary-General's Special Envoy to Sudan, Jan Pronk, recently predicted that Darfur could "enter a state of anarchy; a total collapse of law and order" as a result of the deteriorating security situation in the region.

On November 10, the Government of Sudan and rebel forces signed two accords.  These accords, to ease the delivery of humanitarian aid and to accept a no-fly zone over the Darfur region, represent important preliminary steps in the right direction.  However, both sides have violated previous agreements.  The international community must ensure that both the Government and the rebels honor these new accords.


For the first time in its history, the Committee on Conscience of the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum has declared a "genocide emergency" in the Sudan, indicating that genocide is imminent or is actually happening in the Darfur region.  If aid is denied or unavailable, as many as a million people could perish.  Lives are hanging in the balance on a massive scale.  Ten years ago, the international community failed to respond to what was happening in Rwanda.  It is our duty to make every effort to see history does not repeat itself.


           So it is in that spirit that I now put my calendar where my mouth is.  I’ve invited Ruth Messenger, president and director of the  American Jewish World Service (and one of the most noteworthy faces in NY politics -- see highlights from her extensive bio in the announcements blurb below) to address our congregation next Shabbat morning, December 18.  The topic will be, "Eyewitness to Genocide: The Tragedy of Darfur and Why We Should Care." The least we can do is be informed.  The AJWS website is at


Last week’s rabid reactions to the alleged Kashrut violations discussed in the New York Times drew some response.  Which is the whole idea.  In the interest of fairness, I’m including the comments (with permission) of Arney Rogoff, which can be found at the end of this Shabbat-O-Gram.  If you wish to see the video in question about Agriprocessors (but don’t until at least three hours after you’ve eaten…meat or dairy), you can go to the PETA website at  Agriprocessors is the world’s largest glatt kosher slaughterhouse and the producer of Rubashkin’s and Aaron’s Best meats.


Finally, for more background on another of last week’s rabid rabbi topics, see the article Objections to Presbyterian Church Resolution.



 Celebrate 350


Celebrate 350's religious committee is pleased to provide you with material relating Hanukkah to the American Jewish experience. Please visit  to access "The View of Hanukkah Continues to Evolve in American Jewish Life" prepared by Rabbi Alan Silverstein, rabbi of Congregation Agudath Israel of West Essex in Caldwell, NJ.







SHABBAT HANUKKAH (for more info on Hanukkah, see more from Judaism 101...

Friday Evening Candles: 4:09 PM (fear not! This is the earliest it will get!).  For candlelighting times, other Jewish calendar information, and to download a Jewish calendar to your PDA, click on

Class dinner – for 3rd grade (Alef class): 6:00 PM

Kabbalat Shabbat: FAMILY FRIDAY – Special Hanukkah edition, special time - 7:30 PM in the sanctuary, featuring . 

NEXT WEEK -Tot Shabbat: 6:45 PM the Tot Shabbat Oneg will be sponsored by the Nekritz Family in honor of the birthdays of their children Jason and Hannah. 

Shabbat Morning: 9:30 AM

Mazal tov to Andrew Erskine who becomes Bar Mitzvah this Shabbat morning

Children’s services: 10:30 AM

Torah Portion: Mikketz – Shabbat Hanukkah Genesis 41:1 - 44:17

1: 41:1-4
2: 41:5-7
3: 41:8-14
4: 41:15-24
5: 41:25-47:38
6: 41:39-43
7: 41:44-52
Special Maftir for Hanukkah 

Haftarah: Special for Hanukkah – from the prophet Zachariah, describing the temple menorah

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 or, for Kabbalistic commentaries from the Zohar itself, 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 .  For a comprehensive Orthodox viewpoint from the Israeli rabbi, Yaakov Fogelman, go to the Torah Outreach Program at


Morning Minyan: Sundays at 9:00 AM, Weekdays at 7:30 AM – IN THE CHAPEL


We usually, but not always have a minyan of ten at our morning services. If you have a yahrzeit coming up and wish to ensure that there will be at least ten present, drop the rabbi an email at and he will e-mail to the congregation a “Guaranteed Minyan” request.  Indicate the date of the yahrzeit and whether it would be OK to use your name in making that request.












Minyan Mastery


Now you can become more comfortable with our minyan, and find out all about it at…



Spiritual Journey on the Web


A Festival of Virtual Lights: The Best Menorahs Online - the Israeli Emblem -- why does it include the menorah? - from a medieval Spanish illuminated manuscript, a depiction of Zechariah’s messianic menorah described in this week’s haftarah. - a chair menorah, from Eastern Europe - a Statue of Liberty menorah - beautiful antique menorahs, see also - (Updated daily at 3) Note! Rabbinic authorities agree: you can't fulfill the Mitzvah by looking at a computer screen! - click on “Judea – Holy Land” to see a number of ancient lamps (reproductions) from as early as 1,500 BCE.  Notice how they changed over time.  You can trace that evolution further at


Then take a look at the real thing at early menorahs were simple oil lamps with seven holes in them!


For a modern artist’s take on these ancient treasures, see


A menorah inscription from ancient Rome:


2 prominent religious discrimination cases reach critical stage  In Florida, U.S. District Court Judge Cecilia Altonaga is expected to rule early next week on a request for a temporary restraining order that would require the town of Bay Harbor Islands to allow a Christian resident to the display the Nativity alongside existing menorahs. (WorldNetDaily)



Required Reading and Action Items



White House Menorah Honors Hero Student (New York Jewish Week)
    The menorah lit on the first night of Hannukah on the White House lawn in Washington was built to honor the memory of Noam Apter, a 23-year-old yeshiva student in Israel who was murdered while preventing a wider terrorist attack.
    Apter locked himself and three other student workers in the Otniel Yeshiva kitchen in Hebron with two rifle-toting Islamic Jihad terrorists dressed as Israeli soldiers to prevent them from entering the dining room where 70 students were eating a Sabbath meal.
    After the four students were killed, Israeli soldiers heard the gunfire and chased down the terrorists.
    See also President Bush's Hanukkah 2004 Proclamation (White House) See also World's Largest Menorah at Entrance to Jerusalem (Maariv International)
    The Menorah of Lights is 21 meters wide and 20 meters tall, made of 1,800 light bulbs, each of them 500 watts strong, and weighs a total of 50 tons.

Psst! Intifada's Over - Arieh O'Sullivan
The Aksa intifada is over. The statistics speak for themselves. The level of terror has been reduced drastically in the past few months to what appears to be on a par with that before September 2000. From the IDF's perspective, the relative calm is not connected to Arafat's death, but is rather the direct result of the aggressive action against terrorists. The army said it has arrested six suicide bombers since Arafat died a month ago, showing that motivation is still there. In the past two months, security forces have arrested nearly 300 wanted fugitives. Families have also turned in 20 suspected suicide bombers since September.
    There are roughly 40 terrorist cells operating throughout the territories, mostly inside the large Arab cities. There is no longer any organizational discipline among terrorist groups. IDF intelligence holds that nationalist terror is on the decline and global terrorism is taking its place, as seen in the involvement of Hizballah in about 75% of all Palestinian West Bank terrorist cells. (Jerusalem Post)


Sharon Wins Backing to Reshape Government, Keeps Gaza Plan on Track
Israeli Prime Minister Sharon kept his plan to pull out of Gaza on track when he won approval from his own party to form a new national unity coalition government. The Likud party's central committee approved a proposal by Sharon to open negotiations with the main opposition Labor party and ultra-Orthodox parties about a new broad-based coalition by 1,410 votes to 856. The result on Thursday reverses a central committee decision in August when members voted against Labor's entry into the government. By quitting Gaza and four small Jewish enclaves in the northern West Bank next year, Sharon is hoping to alleviate pressure on Israel to undertake a more comprehensive withdrawal from other parts of the West Bank. (AFP/Yahoo)

Israel May be Part of Wider Europe - Herb Keinon
The EU said Thursday Israel is among seven nations that will be part of its new European Neighborhood policy, even though the Foreign Ministry said Israel has not yet formally agreed to the EU's "action plan" for membership. The program offers free access to goods, services, people, and capital to countries neighboring the EU in exchange for economic and political reform on a country-by-country basis. The EU-Israel neighborhood agreement also means that "Israel clearly acknowledges the role of the EU in the Quartet" that has written the "road map" to a peace plan that is to lead to a Palestinian state.
    The "European Neighborhood" accords with MoldovaUkraineMoroccoTunisiaJordanIsrael and the PA are aimed at making Europe more secure by bringing stability and prosperity to volatile regions. EU External Affairs Commissioner Benita Ferrero-Waldner said the neighbors will qualify for easy access to the EU's 450 million consumers, "the biggest single market in the world," if they bring their laws in line with EU rules and regulations. (AP/Jerusalem Post)

Israelis Float Golan Split for Peace with Syria - Dan Williams
Top Israeli strategists have drawn up a proposal to return parts of the Golan Heights to Syria under a peace deal and will put it to a key policy conference next week. Israeli officials said the initiative did not reflect government thinking, but the Herzliya Conference has often served to float ideas that later became policy.
    Under the proposal by former Mossad intelligence operatives Uzi Arad and Shmuel Bar and academic Gideon Biger, Israel would withdraw to the Golan ridgeline overlooking the Sea of Galilee, keeping most of its settlements on the strategic plateau. In exchange for giving up its demand for a return of all of the Golan, Syria would receive land on its frontier with Jordan, and Jordan would receive a valuable swathe of desert land on its border with Israel. The strategists also suggest inviting Lebanon to develop a joint tourist site on Mount Hermon. Israel has ruled out rapprochement until Syria stops harboring Palestinian militant groups sworn to the Jewish state's destruction and backing Hizballah, which dominates southern Lebanon. (Reuters)
    See also Syria "Can Do a Lot" to Stop Terrorism in Iraq
Iraq's national security adviser Mowaffaq al-Rubaie said, "There is no shadow of a doubt that the Syrian government can do a lot if it wishes to stop terrorism in Iraq," citing evidence retrieved from the ruins of rebel bases in Falluja. "It is very difficult to convince me that the Syrian government does not know about these activities." (Reuters/Washington Post)

Jewish Group Blasts "Offensive" Artwork in Melbourne
Public art in Melbourne's central business district depicting dead militant Palestinian leaders has sparked an outcry from the Australian and Jewish Affairs Council, the nation's peak Jewish group. The exhibition, on the exterior of an office building, depicts the faces of four Palestinians including former Hamas leaders Yassin and Rantisi. "Hamas is a terrorist organization with the blood of hundreds of Israeli civilians on its hands," said Council senior policy analyst Ted Lapkin, who likened the exhibition to artwork depicting the Bali bomber, Amrozi. "Amrozi comes from an organization that specializes in the deliberate killing of Australian citizens. What's the difference?" (The Age-Australia

Objections to Presbyterian Church Resolution - 31 Signers
The General Assembly of the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) recently passed a resolution "to initiate a process of phased selective divestment in multinational corporations operating in Israel." By singling out companies doing business in Israel, and making no reference to the terrorism directed from Palestinian territory against Israelis, the resolution appears to depart from the PCUSA's longstanding policy of evenhandedly supporting both parties as they struggle toward peace amidst threat, fear, and retaliation. As Presbyterians, we cannot support a resolution that appears to focus blame on Israel alone.
    The fact that the PCUSA has taken the divestiture step only once previously, when it supported withdrawing investment from the apartheid regime of South Africa, has led some to conclude that the PCUSA equates the government and political system of free and democratic Israel with a regime that silenced all criticism through assassination, imprisonment, or forced exile. The cause of peace is not helped by perceptions, erroneous or not, that the PCUSA draws such a simplistic analogy. (San Antonio Express-News)

Israel's Morality and the World's Myopia - Daniel Gordis (American Jewish Committee)

The New Evil Empire? - Stephen Schwartz
Saudi Arabia claims to uphold and exemplify the harsh, purified, stripped-down form of Sunni Islam known as Wahhabism, which is the state religion. Wahhabis are forbidden to mix with other Muslims, and are indoctrinated to hate Shia Muslims as apostates, to angrily despise Christians, Jews, and Hindus. In the phrase so often heard among Wahhabi terrorists from Gaza to Falluja, they "love death by martyrdom more than life." Saudi Wahhabis preach the destruction of the Judeo-Christian West and incite Islamic youths to die in jihad in Iraq and elsewhere. Saudi Arabia, with its commitment to promoting Islamic extremism worldwide, remains the key to defeating the terrorists we face. (Weekly Standard-FrontPageMagazine)
    See also The Trojan Horse of Wahhabism - Stephen Schwartz (TechCentralStation)

Muslim Scholars Increasingly Debate Unholy War - Neil MacFarquhar
The long-simmering internal debate over political violence in Islamic cultures is swelling. On one side are mostly secular intellectuals horrified by the gore, joined by ordinary Muslims dismayed by the ever more bloody image of Islam around the world. Arrayed against them are powerful religious institutions like Al-Azhar University, prominent clerics, and a whole different class of scholars who argue that Islam is under assault by the West. Fighting back with any means possible is the sole defense available to a weaker victim, they say. (New York Times)

Stark Choice for Palestinians - Editorial
Palestinians now seem embarked on a wide-open presidential election. The two leading candidates offer a stark choice to voters. Mahmoud Abbas, 69, was the first prime minister of the PA after Arafat caved in to international pressure to create the post in 2003. Marwan Barghouti, 45, is in an Israeli jail, serving five life sentences after being convicted of ordering attacks against Israelis. It's unclear how he could possibly be effective as a jailed president. Worse, the election of a leader whom Israel refuses to set free would no doubt intensify a Palestinian sense of victimization. Sharon has declared that Barghouti will remain in prison and can wage whatever kind of campaign his jailers allow him. (Los Angeles Times)
    See also The Anti-Barghouti Campaign - Danny Rubinstein
A widespread campaign denouncing Marwan Barghouti's candidacy for head of the PA is being waged in recent days among the Palestinian public, although everyone is careful not to taint the honor of "the architect of the intifada," as his fans call him. From the point of view of the top echelons of Fatah, the election process was going smoothly until Barghouti violated the rules of the game.
    The political positions among the candidates are almost identical, but if Barghouti doesn't withdraw his candidacy, Abu Mazen's majority will be reduced, placing him in a position of weakness vis-a-vis his rivals in Fatah and outside the movement. A weak Palestinian leader is one who will have great difficulty making the political decisions and the painful concessions required in any settlement with Israel. (Ha'aretz)

Blair's Peace Conference to Focus on PA Reforms - Aluf Benn
British Prime Minister Blair will visit Israel and the PA in two weeks to promote his idea for an international peace conference on the Middle East after the Palestinian elections, to grant the new PA leadership international legitimacy. Prime Minister Sharon is opposed to the renewal of the political process until the Palestinians take action to fulfill the first stage of the road map - putting an end to terrorism and implementing security reforms. He is ready for the conference to take place without Israeli participation, that it be a one-day event for professionals, and deal with PA reforms.
    Elliot Abrams, who handles the Israel-Palestinian brief for the U.S. National Security Council, visited London and said the U.S. shares Israel's concern that the conference not be turned into a fast track to a final status accord. British sources said Monday, "We'll talk about what the Palestinians are planning, and how the international community can help." They said no decision has been made yet about inviting Israel. (Ha'aretz)

France Praises Israel's "Restraint" - David Horovitz
In a radical departure from years of Parisian critical rhetoric, the French ambassador to Israel, Gerard Araud, said Tuesday that he thought Israel "has tried to show the utmost restraint" in the course of the conflict with the Palestinians since 2000. The Palestinian issue is "not the central problem" for Arab states, he said, most of whose regimes are "so fragile....They all have more pressing problems...being mostly obsessed with their own survival."  (Jerusalem Post)

Positive Signs? - Moshe Elad
The main message from the Palestinian side is that there's been enough of the peace that began with the Oslo Accords. This peace, which sowed destruction and sorrow, and brought thousands of dead and tens of thousands of wounded, has already been tried, they are saying.
    The sounds of joy Israelis are making about "seeing positive signs" in the Palestinian leadership should be regarded with a considered degree of caution. It's not peace they are talking about over there, but about freedom for prisoners, lifting checkpoints, and work permits. Abu Mazen's pleasant words and even the encouragement of Mubarak should be seen as a well-orchestrated chorus of compliments motivated by expectations to see a more open Israel. Over the last 10 years there was not a single stage where Palestinian society had something to lose. The signals coming from over there now indicate that the Palestinian side is internalizing the idea that maybe in the future they will have something to gain. The writer was the first head of the joint security mechanism with the PA and is now a researcher at Haifa University. (Ha'aretz)

Subtle Signs of Change - Jim Hoagland
When Saudi security forces shot it out with a small terrorist gang in Jeddah on Monday to protect the lives of U.S. diplomats, they made an important statement about the course of change in the Middle East. The Saudi forces' repulse of the terrorist attack without U.S. fatalities may represent a step forward in the commitment and capabilities of the local security units. In the past, local forces have not shown much willingness to fight terrorists to protect foreigners. The U.S. will not prevail over global terrorism that originates in the Middle East unless moderate Muslim political, religious, and civic leaders take command in that struggle. (Washington Post)

Recommendations for Reforms in Palestinian Textbooks (Israel/Palestine Center for Research and Information)
    A new report on Recommendations for Reforms in Palestinian Textbooks has been issued by the IPCRI Strategic Affairs Unit together with the Peace Education department.     Until now, PA textbooks have not provided evidence that the PA has been implementing a policy of peace-making.
    It is not difficult to come to the understanding that the main political theme imparted to the students is that Israel should not exist.
    The recommendations suggest what could be done immediately by the Palestinian Ministry of Education to rectify the confusion.

 Palestinian Priorities After Arafat: Palestinian Unity or Peace? - Lt. Col. Jonathan D. Halevi

Ethical Dilemmas in Fighting Terrorism - Maj. Gen. Amos Yadlin

 Israel One of World's Great Producers of Basic Research - Shlomo Maital
According to a Technion study by Gideon Czapski and Yael Ilan on the "International Status of Israeli Research," in computer science, Israel ranks second in the world in "productivity" (scientific publications per capita) and third in the world in "quality" (the frequency with which other scholars cite publications in their own articles). In chemistry, Israel ranks 4th and 5th, respectively; in molecular biology, 3rd and 4th; in biology and biochemistry, 5th and 10th; and in physics, 2nd and 9th. Israel ranks first in research "productivity" in economics and business, mathematics, psychology, and psychiatry. (Globes)
    See also Israelis to Receive Nobel Prize Friday
Professors Avram Hershko and Aaron Ciechanover will receive the Nobel Prize for chemistry at a ceremony Friday in Sweden. (Ha'aretz)

The Boeing Aliya - Delphine Matthieussent
The intensified immigration to Israel from affluent France has given rise to a strange kind of commuter who keeps his family here and his job there. Patrick Haddad works as a radiologist in France and visits his family only once a month, for four or five days. The Haddads moved to Israel from France with their two children, Alexis, 17, and Lorraine, 20, in August 2003. (Jerusalem Post)
    See also 30,000 Jewish Youth Visit Israel in 2004
In 2004, over 30,000 Jewish young people visited Israel on short term educational programs of the Jewish Agency. Around 700 Jewish grade 12 pupils from 12 Jewish high schools in France, half the total number of France's Jewish high school seniors, will land in Israel on Sunday. At the end of January, 300 high school seniors from South Africa will arrive, 60% of the total in that country. It seems that the intifada no longer poses a barrier for thousands of Jewish youths from the diaspora interested in spending time in Israel during school break. (Jewish Agency for Israel)

A Warsaw Ghetto Diary - Etgar Lefkovits
The only known diary written during the 27-day Warsaw Ghetto uprising was recently uncovered at the Ghetto Fighters' House at Kibbutz Lohamei Hagetaot. The diary, which begins April 24, 1943, five days after the uprising began, and continues for 10 days, provides a harrowing account of a group of dozens of unarmed people, young and old, hiding in fear in their confined bunker, all too aware of the certain death that awaits them. Surrounded by the well-armed Nazis, the group finds itself slowly running out of food and with no running water as more and more people try to cram inside, with lice and disease rampant in the overcrowded bunker which is eventually enveloped by flames.
    "A hand grenade explodes nearby. A deep silence fills the room. The enemy surrounds the house, looking for us. Our sole method of defense is complete and utter silence." "Grenades are thrown at the house. People inside behave bravely. With complete tranquility they look death in the eye," she writes on May 2, the last full day of the diary. "The Germans are shooting every Jew they find." "Hell has come to earth. Dante's Inferno. It is unbelievable and indescribable."  (Jerusalem Post)

Three excellent digests of Israeli news:

Israel Insider -  non-partisan online publication that aims to provide an "inside perspective" on the latest news, analysis and commentary from and about Israel.  Maintained six days a week and updated as news breaks, Israel Insider publishes original articles and information about the people, events and places in the Israeli news, while collecting, organizing and linking to a wide range of external information resources.  Israel Insider focuses on creating information packages on key issues combining insightful articles from multiple sources with high quality interactive maps, graphs, photos and streaming media.

Israel - one of the most comprehensive Israel News directories on the web, providing up to the minute Israel news is a website devoted to the dissemination of news and commentary about the Middle East situation. is operated on a private volunteer basis 



Jewish and Israeli Links…




Israel Defense Force,
Israel Government Gateway, links to Government Ministries,
Israel Knesset,
Israel Ministry of Foreign Affairs,
Israel Prime Minister's Office,
Israel Central Bureau of Statistics,
Israel Tourism Ministry, North America,
Buy Israeli Products,,
Jaffee Center for Strategic Studies,
Begin-Sadat Center for Strategic Studies,
Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs,
One Jerusalem,
Twenty Facts about Israel
Myths & Facts: A Guide to the Arab-Israeli Conflict
Jerusalem Archaeological Park,


Israel Info Center - Israel Activism Portal,
US White House,
US State Department,
US Senate,
US House of Representatives,
THOMAS (search for US Legislation),
United Nations Watch,
Embassy of Israel - Washington, D.C.,

Media-Related Links:

Jerusalem Post,
Jewish Telegraphic Agency,
Ha'aretz English Edition,,
Independent Media Review and Analysis,
Maariv English Edition,
Middle East Media Research Institue (MEMRI),
Palestinian Media Watch,
Britain-Israel Communications and Research Centre,
Israel Insider,
Jewish World Review,
America's Voices in Israel,
@The Source Israel,


Other Jewish Sites


The best Jewish kids' site on the Web is , with games, virtual tours and “J-Pod” downloads, kids of all ages will LOVE it. 


Another superb educational site is -- you can be a self-taught “maven” on all things Jewish!


See the contents of nearly the entire Babylonian Talmud, in translation at


A Jewish Guide to the Internet:


On Jewish Vegetarianism and Animal Rights: (hey, you KNEW I’d put this one in)


How many Jewish hockey players are there? (None right now…there’s a lockout).  Find out at


Glossary of Yiddish Expressions:  )Please be patient, this page is farshtopt with information)


You can find an online Hebrew dictionary at


Nice Jewish parenting site  Jewish Gates is an amazing site, filled with material on Jewish history, ritual and culture. Go straight to the linked index at and go to town!  The Jewish Super Site; a similar site is and my personal all-time favorite,


The sourcebook for Jewish history (all periods) can be found at

Online Texts Related to Jewish History.  All the primary sources “fit to print.”


Israel Campus Beat – to get all the latest information on Israel relevant to students on college campuses











Beth El Cares Shabbat  

American Jewish World Service will address our congregation next Shabbat morning, December 18.  The topic will be,

"Eyewitness to Genocide: The Tragedy of Darfur and Why We Should Care."

With special guest speaker:

Ruth Messenger


Ruth W. Messinger is the president and executive director of American Jewish World Service (AJWS), a not-for-profit organization that works to alleviate poverty, hunger and disease in the developing world. And through its Jewish Community Development Fund, AJWS builds Jewish life in Russia and Ukraine. Prior to assuming this role in 1998, Ms. Messinger was in public service in New York City for 20 years, including having served as Manhattan borough president.  She is currently a visiting professor at Hunter College, teaching urban policy and politics. She is active in many not-for-profit organizations and serves on the boards of several, including Surprise Lake Camp of which she is president. For the past three years, Ms. Messinger was named one of the 50 most influential Jews of the year in the Forward newspaper. Her husband, Andrew Lachman, directs an educational foundation in Connecticut, and she has three children and seven grandchildren.


Join us next summer

For the next

Beth El Israel Adventure

Aug. 8-22 2005

The full itinerary will be available next week!



at Border’s Book Store

High Ridge Road, Stamford, Connecticut


Meets monthly on the second Tuesday evening of the month.

7:30 p.m. - 8:30 p.m.





Rabbi Joshua Hammerman - Temple Beth El

Rev. Douglas McArthur - First United Methodist Church

Dr. Behjat Syed - Stamford Islamic Center


Next session: NEXT TUESDAY! Dec. 14


Why Worship?  The Purposes of Prayer in Different Faith Traditions.




December 3, December 17 and December 24, and the 1st, 3rd and 4th Fridays of every month at 6:45pm


Tot Shabbat is a warm, casual, and family-friendly Friday night service geared especially for children ranging in age from preschoolers to kindergarten.  Older siblings are always welcome to participate.  


Join us for songs, prayers, games and fun led by Nurit Avigdor who always provides a wonderful evening with her vast repertoire of songs, stories, warmth, and a special way with children.  Each Tot Shabbat is followed by a special Oneg.


On December 17, the Tot Shabbat Oneg will be sponsored by Stacye and Stuart Nekritz in honor of the birthdays of their children Jason and Hannah. 


Temple membership is not required to attend Tot Shabbat.


For more information, please contact our Temple Office at 203-322-6901 or the following members:


Sheryl Young:  203-975-1990

Stuart Nekritz:  203-322-0872

Deb Goldberg: 203-323-3307


Please register to be on our Tot Shabbat mailing list located on the Temple website at


We look forward to seeing you and your friends at TOT SHABBAT!




A Long Way for a Falafel


A Journal of their recent trip to Israel

By Barbara and Marvin Gold



An email from home reads, "I can't believe that you are going to Jerusalem just when Arafat has died!"  Yasser Arafat will be buried today in Ramallah and indeed, we will arrive in Jerusalem that same day.  I am feeling some concern.


(Site: Latrun, the tank museum displaying Israeli tanks and captured tanks.)


We arrive at the Hotel El Dan on Rahov King David, Jerusalem on Friday, at 3 p.m.  Our large rooms, we are told, have been given to the reporters and photographers covering Arafat's funeral.  We open the door to our closet size room and Marvin says, "We are part of history." 


We question the safety of visiting the Old City of Jerusalem at this time.  The US consulate web site advises caution and to avoid large crowds (definitely not something that I will share with the family by email).  One reporter staying at our hotel, Scott Anderson, says that the Palestinian people are very friendly, but suggests that we not go to the Temple Mount and not to take photos of Palestinian people near the mosque.


On this Friday evening we walk near our hotel.  Across the street from our hotel is the King David hotel, the site of an incident several years ago.  Tonight the King David hotel looks busy.  We walk on and pass apartment houses.  We hear coming through open windows, the chanting of songs welcoming the Sabbath.



On Saturday, we do go to the old city of Jerusalem.  "It will be fine, I tell myself."  And it is.  Soon I'm absorbing the color, the sound, and the flavor of this multinational market area.  Many of the shops are closed for the Sabbath, but the Armenian shopkeepers beckon to us,  "Just have a look.  I'll give you a good price."  


Marvin and Gene walk to the men's side of the Western Wall, Ruby and I to the women's side.  An old table is filled with prayer books of all sizes.  I work my way towards the wall, walking between young and older women.  Their hair covered in hats and scarves, the women stand or sit facing the wall; they chant quietly, and pray.  Although I feel strange in this setting, I also feel comfortable at the same time.  I pull my notes from my pocket, one to remember family and friends, and one especially to my mother, and I try to find a place for the slips of paper in between the already stuffed, stone crevices.  This is just a stone wall, I think; then why do I feel so overcome?


In the evening we walk through Ben Yehuda Square, another site of a past incident.  The city is waking after Shabbat.  The streets are filling with people.  Shops and restaurants are opening for business.  The soldiers in the streets carry rifles but their faces are like young children.


We eat salad and pasta at a café in this open shopping mall.  I notice the family at the next table.  The soldier, a young man, sits opposite his mother and father, and in between a younger sister on his left and by the looks of the way he holds the young woman on his right, I would guess his girl friend.  His mother comes around the table to give her son a long hug.  Once in a while I glance and each time I see that the mother is watching her son.  Ruby says, "Maybe he's leaving for duty in another city." 



Sunday. Our friend, Jim Rothkopf, has arranged for a tour through Hadassah hospital.  The taxi heads for the hospital moving through roads overlooking rolling Jerusalem hills.


Our guide, Annette Magnus greets us.  Annette leads us through the trauma center, adult emergency room, and the soon to open emergency center, equipped as a bomb shelter.  Annette explains that at Hadassah they are prepared for the emergencies that future attacks could bring.  We are told that representatives of hospitals in the United States come there to study the protocols of Hadassah hospital.


The children's wing has the cheery appearance of a mall, complete with computers, trains circling the ceiling, a popcorn vendor cart, and a glass enclosed elevator.  The theme of the children's wing is as positive as its appearance, "Road to Recovery".  "All children are welcome here," Annette explains, "and all nurses are required to know Arabic.


In the hospital synagogue, we view the beautiful Chagall windows.  I discover that Marc Chagall's Hebrew name was Moshe Segal.  (My maiden name is Seigel.)  Hmm…a connection…I wonder?


(Site: Yad Vashem, Holocaust Museum and Memorial.  We spend several hours here, moving slowly through the exhibits, each absorbing at our own pace.  This experience is too overwhelming for my small words.)



On Monday we return to re-visit the old city.  


(Site: The Western Wall Tunnels.  We follow our guide through ascending and winding tunnels and marvel at the huge stones.)


We wander through the twisting and mingling streets of the Old City, passing one open door shop after another, each filled with rugs, foods, dresses, pottery, and more.  I'm shooting photos and breathing in this story land picture.  Marvin buys a kippah, halavah, freshly squeezed pomegranate juice, and large dates.  We hear church bells; we hear the humming sound of prayer coming from the mosque; we hear Israeli music coming from the Western Wall.


The time has come…that long awaited for falafel!  We sit on a stone bench in Yahuda Square and eat our pitas… filled and dripping with veggies, falafel balls, and tahini sauce…even French fries are added to this mix; but I took mine without.


Tomorrow we leave for the Ein Gedi Spa by the Dead Sea.



A Zillion Hanukkah Links – Guaranteed to Last for Eight Nights (and then some)!

Nice articles on the spirituality of lighting the candles: and

Listen to (and watch, via streaming video)) Israel’s song in the 2002 Eurovision contest, “Light a Candle,” sung by Sarit Hadad.  It’s half in English and half in Hebrew, and in its simple yearning for hope captures beautifully the mood in Israel today:

CLAL Holy Days: Hanukah By Joseph Telushkin 

This Ritual Life CLAL Faculty on Rededicating Your Home at Hanukah

Links and lots of material:

Educator Cherie Kohler Fox's eight ways to celebrate Hanukkah meaningfully:

Chanukah educational links, coloring books, songs, etc

Hanukkah @ JTS

Virtual Jerusalem - Chanukah Megasite Real Audio (blessings, classes, songs)

Chanukah Fun & Coloring Book (Torah Tots)

Kidskourt Hanukkah Coloring Pages

Kid's Domain Chanukah Coloring Pages

My Hebrew Dictionary - Chanukah Related Words

Akhlah for Kids (includes blessings)

Everything Jewish: Hanukah

Being Jewish: Chanukah Gateway Chanukah

Jewish Holiday Consumer - Chanukah

Project Genesis - On-Line Menorah

ORT's Hanukkah section

Torah From Dixie Chanukah Articles

NCSY: Chanukah Articles

Neveh Zion Chanukah Pages

Halacha sheet for Chanukah

Darche Noam Chanuka Page

Israel Museum: Galleries of Menorah (English & Hebrew)

Machon Chagim: Chanukah (English)

Machon Chagim: Chanukah (Hebrew)

Jewish Agency: Chanukah (Easy Hebrew)

Judaism 101: Chanukkah

Chanukah Gateway

JIS: Online Chanukah Course

Chanukah on the Net

Nishmas: Customs of Chanukah

For Every Jew: Chanukah

DundaWare ShockDreidel (req. Shockwave)

CleverMedia: The Hanukkah Dreidel Game (req. Shockwave)

ZigZag Hannukah Lights (req. Java)

Chanukah Word Search (req. Java)

Not Just for Kids: Hanukkah Certificates

Hanukat: Celebrate Hanukkah with the Kids

It's not your Father's Hannukah (Yet it is...)

Billy Bear's Hanukkah

Surfing the Net: Hanukkah Coloring Book

History Channel: Amazing Hanukkah Feats (largest...)

Hanukkah in CyberSpace

ICJI: Chaunkah

Misrash Ben Ish Hai (Sepharadim customs)

WZO - Holidays with a Twist (Humor, 1996)

Virtual Chanukah (Russian, 1999)

Clipart for Hanukkah Clipart

Free Graphics Chanuka Graphics

Bitsela Hanukkah Clipart

Hanukah - Jewish Agency Pedagogic Center

JOI Hanukkah Activities

Adam Sandler's Hanukkah Song (Humor)

Chanukka Midi Music

Chanukka Humor

RFCJ: Hanukah Recipes

Epicurious: Chanukkah Recipes

Blue Mountain Animated Greeting Cards

Care2 Animated Greeting Cards

123 Greetings

Sealing Wax Greeting Cards

Awesome Animated Greeting Cards

Judaic Greeting Cards by Raz

Greetz Greeting Cards Greeting Cards


Arney Rogoff’s comments on PETA and the alleged Kashrut violations:


The people of PETA have shown themselves to be sanctimonious, self-righteous, totalitarian purveyors of their personal, single-minded agenda throughout every instance I've seen or heard of them. Their agenda is to force everyone to think, behave & live the way they do. There's another word for that: fascism. Do you really think it behooves us (no pun intended) to associate ourselves with that mentality? This allegation is really summed up best in their own words, quoted directly from their own website (thanks for the link), in this one succinct sentence:


Maybe after seeing the fear and pain on the faces of the animals we captured on videotape, you will go vegetarian and persuade family and friends to join you.


     Their methodology is simply to shock people into revulsion & condemnation by shoving unfamiliar, confusing & revolting images into their senses, thereby making converts by process of elimination & capitalizing on ignorance. Guess who else employs that methodology? Cults, specifically Sun Myung Moon, Hare Krishna, Jim Jones, David Koresh & the Manson family.

     I need not waste your or my time or efforts proving my case. I simply offer it for your consideration - as did Rod Serling at the beginning of most allegorical Twilight Zone episodes. Instead let me continue quoting from available sources you provided in your Shabbat-O-Gram, as I did above. All quotes in blue are from PETA's own website.


AgriProcessor workers ignore the suffering of cows who are still sensible to pain after having their throats slit by the ritual slaughterer.


Terrified cows stagger to their feet after workers rip out their throats.


Eating Meat Supports Cruelty


     Not only do PETA make their agenda clear in such headers as the above, but they thereby negate any objectivity they may have been trying to foment. Combine that with clearly misleading, unsubstantiated statements as the ones I highlighted in red, and a spotlight is shone on their blatantly misleading, manipulative tactics.

     Consider the following contradiction in terms: In the description on their website, PETA says, regarding a letter sent to AgriProcessor, "...We suggested that the plant hire Dr. Temple Grandin...", while in quoting that letter, AgriProcessor's attorney quotes them as saying, "...agree to hire Dr. Temple Grandin...within two months of receipt of this letter..." or they will "...share..." information they allegedly have "...with anyone else..."


     Finally, in quoting the article in the NY Times - that bastion of support for all things Jewish - even they report fairly accurately the response of legitimate, universally accepted kashrut authorities:

     "...representatives of the Orthodox Union, the leading organization that certifies kosher products, said that while the pictures were not pretty, they did not make the case that the slaughterhouse had violated kosher law. "

     "...Rabbis Menachem Genack and Yisroel Belsky, the chief experts for the Orthodox Union, which certifies more than 600,000 products as kosher, including Aaron's Best meats, said the killings on the tape, while "gruesome," appeared kosher because the shochet checked to make sure he had severed both the trachea and esophagus. (they may have been quoted as saying the 'esophagus' when what may have been meant was the jugular vein)

     Scientific studies, Rabbi Belsky said, found that an animal whose brain had lost blood pressure when its throat was slit felt nothing and that any motions it made were involuntary.

     "The perfect model is the headless chicken running around," Rabbi Genack said."


     Even the Times don't quote PETA, above, as they may have, in describing the process after shechita: "...another worker ...pulls out the trachea and esophagus." as opposed to "...workers rip out their throats."


     Also, the aforementioned authority, Dr. Temple Grandin, alleged that this shechita violates federal guidelines for humane slaughtering. The Times once again quotes, "Recent federal rules for slaughterhouse inspectors do recognize "the ritual cut and any additional cut to facilitate bleeding" as different from skinning or butchering, which is forbidden "until the animal is insensible."


     My final thought (is that a sigh of relief I hear?) is this: Who are PETA - a secular, socio-political organization - to dictate religious laws & practices? Who are they to demand that laws of kashrut be held up to their standards by their self-appointed arbiters? Do you see why it bothers me so much that you've aligned yourself with this ideology?

     As Torah-true Jews, we know that Hashem would not command us to do something that isn't correct by all facets, angles & perspectives possible. He has told us which animals we may eat & which we may not. Granted - may, not must. He has told us exactly how to kill these kosher animals to be acceptable for us to eat. He has determined, in His universe, that every item - whether animal, vegetable or mineral - has its specific purpose. Animals that we ordinarily consider as 'pets' were created not for food, but for comfort, joy & companionship for us. Other animals were created to help us make our lives easier by having more highly developed brains or functional muscle coordination. These we don't eat, either, although other people may.

     Animals that have split hooves & chew their cuds have been designated as food for us. They serve no other constructive, productive purpose. That's why we don't find roving bands of frolicking wild cows roaming the jungles & free ranges. The same goes for sheep. In fact, left to their own devices, those animals would kill themselves out of sheer ignorance & neglect.

     I've seen the videos that PETA created. Not even taking into account the extensive editing done to these videos, what WAS visible was, as the rabbis said, in accordance with proper shechita. I say this as the grandson of a shochet (Stamford Glatt Emporium, z"l, notwithstanding). I'll spare you the anatomical, physiological & biological research that determines how long a particular animal can remain alive even after oxygen & blood supply are cut off (the allegation that these animals were howling after they were shechted is patently absurd, being that their tracheas were severed, thereby cutting off any source of oxygen to pass over their vocal cords). Suffice it to say that, although these animals are seen moving after they're shechted, they in fact feel no pain due to oxygen, blood & nerve bundles being disconnected from responding receptors, and are dead anywhere from instantaneously to seconds after shechita.


     I hope this information & perspective has given you food for thought, that you may consider retracting or rethinking your belief of what you've read from a font of misinformation such as PETA, and consider whether you really want to use the words "disgraceful" and "scandal" until you've delved a bit more into the matter yourself. You're a well-respected, Torah-true Rav for whom I have a lot of respect & admiration. You may want to test the ground beneath your foot before you decide to tread, albeit softly.


     - Arney



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, where you can also find some of my other writings and sermons. You can also check out my recent books, : Seeking God in Cyberspace and I Have Some Questions About God.  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