Friday, June 10, 2005

June 10, 2005 and Sivan 3, 5765


Shabbat – O – Gram



June 10, 2005 and Sivan 3, 5765



And Mazal Tov to our graduates from our Religious School!


Rabbi Joshua HammermanTemple Beth El, StamfordConnecticut



Shabbat Shalom









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Contents of the Shabbat O Gram: (click to scroll down)


Just the Facts (service schedule)

The Rabid Rabbi

The Highest Level of Tzedakkah

Ask the Rabbi

Spiritual Journey on the Web

Required Reading and Action Items (links to key articles on Israel and Jewish life)

 Announcements (goings on in and around TBE)

Joke for the Week



Happy Shavuot


Our Shavuot Schedule

On Shavuot eve., Sunday at 8:15 PM at Temple Shalom in Greenwich, we’ll prepare to receive the Torah yet again, with prayer and dessert, and then delving deeply into the timely and troubling topic of Israel’s Exodus from Gaza“The End of the Zionisty Dream? Studeis on the Proposed Gaza Withdrawal.”

On Monday morning, the first day of Shavuot (at 9:30, as usual), our students, in particular our day school students, will be greatly involved in leading the service. We’ll also hear some of the book of Ruth and the traditional Akdamut prayer (see Shavuot links below for more info) We’ll have children’s services as well with Nurit (at 10:30) and at the end we’ll all come together to unroll a Torah so that each person, young and old, can personally receive the Torah. 

Then….we’ll have a scrumptious Shavuot Lunch featuring those well-known traditional dairy dishes: BLINTZES and PIZZA. I think it was Rabbi Akiva who recommended pizza… (please let me know if you would be interested in co-sponsoring the lunch).

On Tuesday morning again at 9:30 (and again with Nurit at 10:30), our service will feature Yizkor prayers, which will take place sometimes between 10:45 and 11 (I mention that knowing that many will be breaking away from other activities to join us).



Friday Evening

Candle lighting for Stamford, CT: Candle lighting: 8:08pm on Friday, 10 June 2005.  For candle lighting times, other Jewish calendar information, and to download a Jewish calendar to your PDA, click on


Dinner for Hay Class: 6:00 PM


Kabbalat Shabbat Service: 7:30 PM In the sanctuary, including our 7th Grade Aliyah ceremonies.

Shabbat Morning: 9:30 AM – Mazal tov to Michael Schmidt and Sarah Warnock, who become B’nai Mitzvah this Shabbat morning.  

Children’s services: 10:30 AM, including Jr. Congregation for grades 3-6 and Tot Shabbat Morning for the younger kids

Torah PortionNaso  Numbers 4:21 - 7:89

1: 4:21-24
2: 4:25-28
3: 4:29-33
4: 4:34-37
5: 4:38-49
6: 5:1-4
7: 5:5-10

Haftarah – Judges 13:2 - 13:25

See a weekly commentary from the UJC Rabbinic Cabinet, at  Read the Masorti commentary at  University of Judaism,  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.:’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  Guided meditations for each portion by Judith Abrams at online Parsha quizzes from Pardes in Israel, go to Torah for Kids:


Rosner Minyan Maker

Pick a Day – or pick several – and join us for morning minyan.  Check our minyan calendar often to see which days need the most help.  If the day is colored red that means there is a yahrzeit scheduled for that day.  Also, feel free to e-mail me at to ensure a guaranteed minyan for that day, indicating the date of the yahrzeit and whether it would be OK to use your name in making that request.


Minyan On-Call List

We are in the midst of creating an on-call list for emergencies.  Here is how it will work:

1) At 7:40 if we are in need of one or two more for a minyan and if we have people present who are saying kaddish

2) We’ll have a list of approximately 20 who live within a 5-minute drive of the temple…

3) We rotate among those 20, so that no one person will be called excessively

4) We call until a tenth person is found.




Hospitality is essential to spiritual practice. It reminds you that you are part of a greater whole. . . .

Putting others first puts you in the midst of life without the illusion of being the center of life.
— Rabbi Rami M. Shapiro in Minyan

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


 Minyan Mastery


Now you can become more comfortable with the prayers of our morning service by heading to…


The Rabid Rabbi

We at TBE are always proud of our kids' accomplishments -- and there is plenty of nachas to go around.  But three of our TBE youth are deserving of special mention.

First of all, I neglected to mention in my prior e-mail the remarkable accomplishment of Mitchell Shapiro, who this week will represent the state of Connecticut at the national History Day competition in Washington DC.  As incredible as that is, it’s actually the second year in a row that Connecticut has sent an entry from TBE – Alex Agatstein went last year.

Mazal Tov to Rebecca Fox, the winner of the first annual Alex Goldman Memorial scholarship, given out at the recent graduation ceremonies of Kulanu.  Rebecca won for a reflective and keenly perceptive essay focusing on issues related to growing up Jewish in New Canaan.  The sensitivity of her writing style and her acute insights were reminiscent of Rabbi Goldman's own writing and I'm sure he would have thought it appropriate that this scholarship went to Rebecca, one of TBE's own.

And then there's Daniel Madwed. whose athletic achievements in the pool have thrilled us for the past several years.  At his Bar Mitzvah several years ago, he spoke of his dream to become an Olympian someday.  Through hard work and talent, that dream is actually more than just a dream at this point. Last summer, he represented the US at the Pan American Maccabi Games.  What's most impressive about Dan is that, unlike other Jewish athletes in similar positions, the Jewish connection has always been very important to him. 

This summer he has been asked to represent the US team at the Maccabiah Games in Israel. This is the BIG, international Maccabiah, where the Olympic careers of other famous athletes (anyone remember Mark Spitz?) began.

Our community has the chance to support Dan and the Maccabi USA Sports for Israel program by selling raffle tickets.  Tickets are $100 each and 3 winners will be drawn for every 1000 tickets sold.  The prizes are choices of merchandise, travel an cash prizes worth $2,000 - $5,000.  Checks can be made out to Maccabi USA/Sports for Israel and sent to Daniel at 34 Malibu RdStamfordCT 06903. Dan's also more than happy to talk to people about his Maccabi experiences.

We "kvell" for all that our children do -- not just the great accomplishments, but for who they are.  In the case of Rebecca and Daniel, that is most certainly the case.

With her permission, I’ve reprinted Rebecca’s essay below:


I am a Jew. A proud Jew. Who happens to live in New CanaanConnecticut. And before you jump to any conclusions, the answer is ‘no.’ No, New Canaan is not especially anti-Semitic. No more so than anyplace else. Yes, New Canaan does contain only a very small minority of Jews. But that’s okay because being one of only about three Jews in my grade at school has strengthened my identity as a member of the Jewish community. It has forced me to become a teacher of Jewish rituals and values for my peers. A sort of representative of the Jewish community within my own hometown.

          My mother always taught me to explain Judaism to those around me. Let people know that I’m Jewish and make sure that the Jews get equal representation around the schools. When I was in preschool, I attended the Methodist Church’s nursery program. Overall, the program was secular. If not, I wouldn’t have been there. But every Christmas, the Methodist minister brought my class into the chapel to give a brief explanation of the upcoming holiday. Each year, at the conclusion of the lesson, we returned to the classroom to hear Mommy read a Chanukah story to my class. I was the only Jew in preschool, but she still took the time to educate the kids around me. It was like this that I learned to share my culture, my background with everyone.

          One of my fondest childhood memories is of Passover. Not the seders, which all children either love or hate (and I personally loved), but of sitting at the long, blue cafeteria table of my elementary school and crunching into matzah while everyone around me munched on bread. It was one of those things that could have been very awkward. Because I was a shy child, and I knew that within moments everyone around me would want to know what on earth I was eating. But no. I sat smiling with anticipation until the “Matzah,” I proudly explained. “It’s Passover, and I’m Jewish, so I can’t eat anything that rises. And these? These are macaroons.”

          My mother came into my classes to explain Chanukah all throughout elementary school. But when middle school came around, it was my turn. In fifth and sixth grade, I took it upon myself to grace my classes with jelly doughnuts. And the story of Judah and the Maccabees, of course.

          By seventh grade, everybody knew the Chanukah story well. And besides, I had to teach my friends what it meant to become Bat Mitzvah. Invitations went out, RSVPs came back, and the seventh graders of Saxe middle school sat through the first Bat Mitzvah they had ever attended. Mine. Come high school, and people were still talking about it. For many of my friends, this was the only Bat Mitzvah they have ever attended. One of only a few for all.

          As I think back to elementary and middle school, I do not recall ever feeling that I was making a major decision when I taught my classmates why I eat matzah. I do not remember feeling at all conflicted when I stood up before my fifth grade class to explain the story of the Maccabees. I recall being proud to teach my friends what it means to become Bat Mitzvah. I suppose I did decide to share my beliefs each time I spoke, but this was simply how my mother had raised me. I was responsible for preventing misinformation from spreading throughout New CanaanResponsible for informing my peers.

          I suppose the other option would have been for me to stick my head in the sand. Not to say anything when my classmates asked why I eat matzah. Not to stand up on Chanukah to teach my class the meaning of the Festival of Lights. I know a lot of people who let themselves go unnoticed. But I cannot do that. I refuse to be invisible because the guilt that comes with it would be too great for me to bear.

          I am a junior in high school now. My classmates all know why Jews light the Chanukah menorah and eat matzah on Passover. They get the point. I’ve taught them. And others have as well. So now I take up bigger tasks. I follow Israel for current events assignments. Volunteer to do the Israel imperialism project even though it’s harder than many of the other options. I try to teach myself about Israel so that I can accurately explain its situation to my peers. I wouldn’t call myself an expert, but I try. And when we read about the Holocaust in school, I tell my friends what I know of my grandparents’ experiences in it. I read books such as Eli Wiesel’s Night with more seriousness than I otherwise would. Because I want to be able to teach my classmates about the Holocaust too. And my children when I grow older. And anyone around me who may wish to learn. I’m supposed to be writing a piece about choices I make because I am Jewish. But for me, there isn’t really a choice. There’s what I do because it must be done. I am a Jew. A proud Jew. Who happens to live in New CanaanConnecticut. So I must serve as a representative of my religion to my peers. One can call it a choice, but it’s more like a fact of life. 





President – Allison Kruk

VP Religious Education – Ethan Hammerman

VP Social Action/Tikkun Olam – Ariel Poser

VP Membership – Harrison Shapiro

VP Israeli Affairs – Dana Russ

VP Communications – Joelle Braun

Treasurer – Taylor Ross

Fairfield County Development – Lauryn Goldstein


We had a very successful year and are gearing up for an even better one next year!!! 

If you have any ideas, will be around for the summer, or want more information, please email youth director jonathan ostroff at




Ask the Rabbi


What is Shavuot?

Here’s some good Shavuot material from the JTS Website…

What is a Jew? Shavuot

 In "What is a Jew? Shavuot," Rabbi Ismar Schorsch and Larry Josephson discuss Shavuot.

Shavuot Together

 Shavuot Together is an interactive guide to the holiday. Study Torah with us! We also have a kids and parents page translated into Spanish.

Commentaries on Shavuot

 Previous year essays by Chancellor Schorsch5754575957605762, and 5763.
Previous year essays by The Rabbinic Fellows: 5762, and 5763.
We also have a special commentary on Yizkor.

And the Two Went On

 In "'And the two went on': Ruth as Daughter, Wife and Friend," Dr. Eliezer Diamond discusses his love affair with Ruth.

Guide to Jewish Religious

Learn the who's, what's, where's, when's, and why's for Shavuot.

Thou Shalt Eat Blintzes

 In "Thou Shalt Eat Blintzes," Johanna Ginsberg discusses the traditional Shavuot menu and its meaning.

Rededicating Ourselves to Battling Jewish Illiteracy

 In "Shavuot: Rededicating Ourselves to Battling Jewish Illiteracy," Chancellor Ismar Schorsch issues a call to action to reinvigorate Jewish knowledge of Hebrew.

Shavuot Desserts

 If your tastes run towards Torah and treats, grab a tanakh and an apron, and prepare our Bible Cake. Or, Nora K's Cheesecake is a delicious recipe for a traditional Shavuot dessert.

All-Night Learning

 In All-Night Learning for Shavuot: You Can Do It!, Esther Kustanowitz gives some advice on how to stay awake through your tikkun leil Shavuot.

Holiday Coloring Book

 Color in the page for Shavuot. Our Holiday Coloring Book shows everyone enjoying and celebrating Shavuot.

Shavuot Guide

The Shavuot Guide is a multi-faceted way to learn about Shavuot with the whole family, created by JTS graduate Rabbi Barry Dov Lerner.

First Fruits

 In "First Fruits," Rabbi Allan Kensky discusses the meaning of Shavuot and its connection to Passover.


…And From…(



Overview: Shavuot Themes & Theology

The festival of Shavuot transformed from a purely agricultural into a historical and religious holiday. Originally mentioned in the Torah as a harvest festival, over time it took on new meanings so that now--like the other pilgrimage festivals--Shavuot has an agricultural, a historical, and a religious significance. These meanings contain a number of themes, including counting and marking time, a period of sadness leading to a time of explicit joy, and the mystical idea of marriage between God and Israel.


 The themes are reflected in the numerous names for the holiday. The agricultural is apparent in "Hag HaKatzir" (Harvest Festival) and "Yom HaBikkurim" (festival of first fruits); the marking of time is apparent in "Shavuot" (festival of weeks) and "Atzeret," a name from the Talmudic period meaning a cessation of something or a solemn assembly; and the historical and religious are apparent in "Zeman Matan Torateinu," the time of the gift of Torah.


Shavuot is a festival that marks the end of counting (sefirah) that began on the second evening of Pesach (Passover). This span of time bridged the barley and wheat harvests when people were supposed to bring offerings of both to the Temple. The agricultural origin of the festival is still remembered and highlighted in the Book of Ruth that is read on Shavuot. The story takes place during the seasonal harvest associated with the holiday. Ruth, a Moabite woman who chose to join her mother-in-law Naomi's people, is seen as the paradigmatic convert to Judaism. In a sense, she was the first to reject her own ancestral faith and willingly take on Jewish law and tradition. In this way, the book reflects both the agricultural and the historical significance of the festival.


In post-biblical times, the rabbis calculated that the sixth of the month of Sivan, the day of Shavuot, was the day the Israelites received the Ten Commandments on Mt. Sinai. Thus, Shavuot became the festival marking the reception of Torah, when the Israelites had experienced Revelation. Shavuot was consequently transformed into a festival that not only had agricultural significance, but also marked the birthday of the covenant between God and Israel. For traditionalist Jews who believe in "Torah min hashamayim" (direct revelation of God to the Jewish people on Mt. Sinai), Shavuot marks a specific historical anniversary. All branches of Judaism view the Torah as a divine gift--whether inspired or revealed. Thus, for every Jewish denomination, Shavuot is a festival that highlights the fundamental truth and importance of the moral law of Torah.


Jewish mysticism has also influenced Shavuot. For mystics, God is like a groom and Israel is like a bride. Shavuot then becomes the anniversary of the marriage between God and Israel. Other mystical parallels are made. Marking the material wheat harvest on Shavuot, the people were to bring two loaves of bread as an offering in the Temple. This mirrored the spiritual "harvest" of Shavuot, the two tablets of the Law. The counting or "sefirah" (the 7 x 7 weeks of the omer) also has mystical implications. The number seven equals the days of creation. The word "sefirah" is also the word for each of the levels of divine emanation in Jewish mysticism. Of the ten levels, the lower seven are believed to be within human apprehension.


During the second century, the omer period leading up to Shavuot changed from a time of happiness of anticipation of the harvest, to one of sadness. There are a number of reasons given for this. The one most frequently mentioned is the legendary plague that purportedly killed 12,000 of Rabbi Akiba's students. However, other theories posit that once Shavuot was recognized as the anniversary of Revelation, the period leading up to it necessarily became one of apprehension and trepidation. Another interesting theory relates the apprehension to the agricultural harvest itself. The omer period was when fruit ripened, and thus the fate of the season's crops was determined. Indeed the Talmud views Shavuot as the day when the world is judged regarding the fruit of the trees. There also is a logical historical reason for the fact the omer period became a time of sadness. After the Temple was destroyed in the first century CE, the people could no longer bring their offerings. Jews would still mark the time, however. The time was now sad because of the need to commemorate the festival "l'zekher lamikdash" (in memory of the Temple) rather than at the Temple itself.


Shavuot is a day of great joy, marking the end of the sadness and commemorating the joy of receiving the Torah. Consequently, for a few hundred years Shavuot has been the time when young children begin their study of Torah. The joy of Torah learning is often demonstrated physically by giving children candy or allowing them to lick honey off the page being studied.



Shavu'ot From Judaism 101. 

Take the Shavuot quiz

Read the BOOK OF RUTH On Line


On the Akdamut prayer:


Reform Jewish Shavuot Links



The Highest Level of Tzedakkah*


Second Career Parlor Meeting at JTS Rabbinical School


JTS Rabbinical School will host a parlor meeting for men and women considering the rabbinate as a second career at 7pm on Monday, June 20 at JTS, 3080 Broadway (at 122nd Street) in New York City.


In an open forum format, attendees will learn about the program and meet current students and ordained rabbis in the field who came to JTS after careers in law, medicine, business, education and other fields. Information regarding the application process, merit fellowships, and generous financial aid packages will also be available.


The parlor meeting follows the festival of Shavuot, which commemorates a renewed devotion to the pursuit and study of Torah. Similar meetings will be held throughout the Northeast and Midwest regions.


Advance reservations are strongly recommended and photo ID is required.  Refreshments will be served. For further information and to RSVP, call Rabbi Charles Savenor, Associate Dean and Director of Admissions of The Rabbinical School, at (212) 678-8818 or email <>


Spiritual Journey on the Web


…thanks to Herb Soroca for this one


Check out the “Challah Fame” (Who’s Who” of Jews in Rock), and lots more in the coolest site on the Jewish Web..a definite “must see” for cool people.


Also, check out the UJF’s newly redesigned website: Where you’ll see pics from the…



Lorraine and David Kweskin, Edith Samers and Ed Smith, lead the United Jewish Federation at the Salute to Israel Parade in New York City on June 5, 2005



The United Jewish Federation of Greater Stamford, New Canaan and Darien (UJF) had a very large turn out for the annual Salute to Israel Parade.  Sunday, June 5, 2005, with weather perfect for a parade, the UJF brought close to 90 people on busses to New York City to march down 5th Avenue in the Salute to Israel Parade, the world’s largest gathering in support of Israel.  The group was proud to march in this year's Salute to Israel Parade, the first time we have done so as a whole community! 


On a beautiful, sunny, 80 degree day, participants gathered in the parking lot of Davenport Ridge Elementary School to get their bright yellow tie dyed t-shirts and await the drawing for two free tickets to Israel.  The drawing, made possible by a generous donation from Joel and Deborah Schoenfeld of Stamford, was won by Fannie Stevens.  After that, everyone got on busses and headed into New York.


The parade route was lined with thousands of supporters of Israel.  Leading a large group from Chavurat Aytz Chaim, Rabbi Mark Golub encouraged the crowd to chant “Am Yisrael Chai!”  In addition, Rabbi Joshua Hammerman anchored a group from Temple Beth El.  The Stamford group also included people from Agudath Shalom, Young Israel, Kulanu, Jewish Historical Society, Jewish War Veterans, JCC, and more. 


“So many people made important contributions to bring this off,” said Beth Boyer, chair of the Parade Committee.  Dana Horowitz, Community Project Manager for UJF spent months preparing, and said “Help from Edith Samers, Gene DeLaney, Gina Lewald-Fass and Peter Wolly was instrumental in making this a huge success.”  The UJF hopes to make this an annual event, and hopes even more families will join the fun next year on 5th Avenue.







 Temple Beth El of Stamford, CT

Israel Adventure

Led by Rabbi Joshua and Mara Hammerman


August 7-August 22, 2005


This unforgettable journey will have something for everyone:


·        Full children’s program with youth counselor

·        A glorious Shabbat in Jerusalem

·        Archeological dig in the Judean Hills

·        Relax at a five-star Dead Sea Spa

·        Guest speakers and meaningful encounters with Israelis from a wide variety of backgrounds

·        Western Wall Tunnels

·        Ba·        Wilderness Experience in the Negev

·        Exploring Tel Aviv and the mystical city of Safed

·        Visit to our sister city of Afula

·        Visit to an army base

·         Boat ride on the Kinneret and Kayaking on the Jordan




Required Reading and Action Items

First, Reform the Palestinian Authority - Yezid Sayigh and Khalil Shikaki
If the Palestinian electorate votes at the legislative council elections as it did in the local elections on May 5, Hamas could take 35-40% of the 132 seats. Indeed, if Fatah is unable to resolve its internal differences, and again fields two or more rival lists as happened in some municipalities, Hamas could achieve a landslide victory and take control of the Palestinian parliament. A key issue is the public's perception of corruption in the PA and Fatah, in contrast to the "clean hands" image of Hamas. Reform is crucial if the PA is to improve its standing with the public and shift Hamas's share of the vote back toward the 20% range that the movement would normally receive.
    The PA must signal its determination to rebuild institutions that are capable of delivering on the commitments it makes to Israel and the international community, and of improving Palestinian social cohesion and political dialogue. Reform is an imperative, not a choice, for the PA and its partners in the international community. The writers are the principal authors of the ''Report of the Independent Task Force on Strengthening Palestinian Public Institutions'' published by the Council on Foreign Relations. (International Herald Tribune)
    See also Scare of Hamas Leads to Delayed Elections - Joshua Brilliant
The prospect that the Islamic Hamas might win in Palestinian parliamentary elections seems to be the real reason PA leader Abbas postponed the vote. In recent local elections some 600,000 voters voted for lists associated with Hamas and only 250,000 voted for people associated with Fatah, noted Tel Aviv University professor Nissim Mishal. (UPI/Washington Times)
    See also As Hamas Makes Gains, Will Abbas' Ruling Party Unravel? - Joshua Mitnick (Christian Science Monitor)

Public Outcry in Nablus Against Use of Teenagers for Terrorist Missions (Intelligence and Terrorism Information Center-Center for Special Studies)
    MSNBC's correspondent Martin Fletcher interviewed the parents of Muhammad [Mustafa al-Nadi], a 15-year old boy stopped by IDF soldiers in May at the Hawara checkpoint carrying two pipe bombs.
    The parents expressed great anger at Fatah/Al-Aqsa Martyrs' Brigades, calling its operatives criminals and saying that Allah would punish them.
    The correspondent spoke with the boy and read him a letter from his mother asking him to give Israel all the information in his possession about the men who had sent him.
    The boy admitted that the Brigades had approached him five times before he finally agreed to cooperate.

·  U.S. Has "Credible" Word of Syrian Plot to Kill Lebanese - Steven R. Weisman
The U.S. has received "credible information" that Syrian operatives in Lebanon plan to try to assassinate senior Lebanese political leaders and that Syrian military intelligence forces are returning to Lebanon to create "an environment of intimidation," a senior administration official said Thursday. It was clear that the official's statements were a deliberate signal of the Bush administration's continuing displeasure with the Syrian government's role in Lebanon. He said that information about the threat had been disseminated to governments in the Middle East and Europe and that "we thought it would be useful to make this public as a deterrent to the Syrians." "The headquarters and a lot of other facilities of Hamas and other groups remain in Syria, and these groups are still directed essentially from Damascus," said the administration official. "Syria is still the nub of a lot of problems." (New York Times)
    See also Syrian Intelligence Returning to Lebanon - Robin Wright
After a brief lull in Syrian interference in Lebanon, senior Syrian intelligence personnel have been seen back in Lebanon, particularly over the past week, a senior administration official said. U.S. officials said Syrian intelligence is using Palestinian refugee camps. "They have figured out that one of the places they might be able to hide in is those camps," which are not controlled by the Lebanese Army, the official said. (Washington Post)

·  Abbas Gives Militants Role in Gaza Pullout - Steve Weizman
Palestinian leader Mahmoud Abbas called on Islamic militants Thursday to respect a shaky cease-fire with Israel and gave them a role in preparations for Israel's Gaza withdrawal in an apparent bid to preserve the calm. He had to grant Hamas and Islamic Jihad a formal role in coordinating the pullout with Israel, and in another move, he offered a compromise to settle a prickly dispute over parliamentary elections that has soured his relations with his main rival, Hamas. As Abbas talked with leaders of Hamas and Islamic Jihad in Gaza City, not far away, militants fired rockets at Israel for the third day in a row. (AP/Los Angeles Times)
    See also Hamas, Islamic Jihad Leaders Snub Abbas - Arnon Regular
The heads of Hamas and Islamic Jihad Thursday refused to meet directly with Abbas. In a move that could be construed as personally humiliating, only minor officials from the two organizations were sent to a meeting in Gaza between Abbas and all the factions. Hamas Gaza spokesman Sami Abu Zuhari said "Hamas has a serious problem" with Abbas and refused to accept a postponement of the PA legislative council elections. (Ha'aretz)

·  Security Crossing Improvements in the West Bank
For the past four years, the State of Israel has been forced to confront more than 20,000 terror attacks in which more than a thousand Israelis were killed and thousands more wounded. One of the numerous methods used by the Israel Defense Forces in order to prevent terrorists from carrying out attacks against Israelis is conducting security checks at crossings located at the exits of Palestinian cities, and in other locations throughout the West Bank. Over the past two years the IDF has removed over half of the security crossings and roadblocks in the West Bank. In addition, the IDF has introduced advanced technological means at the crossings which allow for quick and efficient security checks. The IDF has added roofs, clinics, and water fountains.
    IDF policy in the West Bank is to differentiate between the Palestinian terror factions and the Palestinian civilian population which is not involved in terrorism. Those who pose no threat have no problems passing through the security checks. (Israel Defense Forces)

·  OSCE Summit Ends with New Pledge to Fight Anti-Semitism
Western governments at a conference of the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe held in Cordoba, Spain, pledged Thursday to fight anti-Semitism and other forms of intolerance, but acknowledged some of them have failed to deliver on past commitments and that upbeat speeches must now be matched with hands-on measures against hate crimes. In a final statement, delegates from all 55 member states stressed the importance of interfaith dialogue and insisted that strife in the Middle East cannot be used as justification for violence against Jews. (AP/Ha'aretz)

  Don't Talk to Hamas - Editorial
Nowhere is it written that democratization must be dumb. Terrorist groups must be made to understand that winning elections at gunpoint, whether among Lebanese or Palestinians, will not sanitize them. It is problematic enough to trust "reformed" terrorists, as the experience with Arafat showed. But before terrorists can even claim to be reformed, they must first disarm and disavow terrorism - something Hamas and the myriad Palestinian militias, including those aligned with Fatah, are far from doing. Only then should democracies begin to treat them as legitimate players on the democratic field. (Jerusalem Post)

·  The Saudi Mega-Plot - Nibras Kazimi
The Saudis appear to be sending out three seemingly contradictory messages: one to the Americans, another to their own internal extremists, and a third to the Syrian leadership. The Saudis are telling the Americans that they are going to help bring down the regime in Syria. They are telling the Wahhabis within Saudi Arabia that they are going to bring back a Sunni country into the fold and liberate it from the obscure, pseudo-Shiite Alawite regime currently in power. And they are telling these very same Alawis that this whole Bush vision for democracy threatens them both and that all they are up to is for show and that it should not be taken seriously.
    All three messages seem to be sincere. The Saudis are indeed going to pull all the strings to bring down the Alawite regime in Syria, and then place a Sunni fundamentalist regime in place that will appease the Wahhabis and scare the hell out of the Americans. Bush may be striving for democratic change in Damascus, but what he will get in return is a bunch of crazies hostile to America, and there won't be an equivalent to Iraq's Sistani to curb them. The Saudis will then turn around and whisper in Bush's ear, "We told you that this whole democracy thing is a bad idea, now imagine who you'd have to deal with if we were pressured to change and our own oil-securing yet brittle regime is threatened?"
    President Bush needs to understand two things: Democracy can save Lebanon from itself, and Saudi Arabia is not an ally for democracy. Right after Prince Abdullah returned from his most recent visit to Crawford, Texas, a Saudi court passed harsh judgment on three Saudi democratic dissidents, while the Wahhabi clerics who call for jihad against America in Iraq are roaming free. (New York Sun)

·  Stage Four Anti-Semitism - Amnon Rubinstein
Prof. Emil Fackenheim divided anti-Semitism into three stages. Stage One: "You cannot live among us as Jews" - which precipitated forced conversions; Stage Two: "You cannot live among us" - which precipitated mass deportations; Stage Three: "You cannot live" - which signifies murderous, "biological anti-Semitism" of the kind that culminated in the Holocaust. But today we are arriving at a Stage Four: "You cannot live in a state of your own" - a stage also nourished by an irrational attitude toward all things Jewish.
    The EU's monitoring committee on anti-Semitism and racism has formulated its own definition of Jew-hatred: denying Jews the right to self-determination by claiming that Israel's existence is "racist"; applying a double standard; holding Israel to a yardstick not expected of any other democratic nation; drawing comparisons between Israeli policy and those of the Nazis; holding world Jewry collectively responsible for the actions of Israel. The writer is a former minister of education and former dean of Tel Aviv University's law school. (Jerusalem Post)

·  Arabs Apply Different Rules to Iraq - Interview with Iraqi Foreign Minister Hoshyar Zebari - Jay Nordlinger
Interviewed at the World Economic Forum conference in Jordan, the foreign minister of Iraq, Hoshyar Zebari, said: Jordan's King Abdullah "has been supportive and helpful, but beneath, if you go to the media, if you go to the mosques, to the street, the attitude is different. There is a disconnect. The attitude is not supportive of Iraq, not helpful to the Iraqi government. The situation is still perceived as an occupation, and those who are in government are collaborators with the Americans. If Americans are in some other country, that's not a problem - only if they are in Iraq is that a problem."
    "While we were waiting here, the Israeli minister of infrastructure, Ben-Eliezer, who is Iraqi-born, comes by, accompanied by a Jordanian minister. The Jordanian minister says to me, while I'm drinking coffee, 'Let me introduce you.' So we shake hands. And dozens of Arab photographers and reporters descend on me and say, 'Oh, is this the normalization of relations with Israel?'...They will beat you with a stick if you're the Iraqi foreign minister and shake hands with an Israeli minister....There are many, many contacts between Jordanians and Israelis, but if they see an Iraqi interact with an Israeli - that is taboo." (National Review)

  "The Enemy is Not Standing Before Us" - Hanan Greenberg
Israel Defense Forces Chief of Staff Dan Halutz discussed Sunday the impending summer pullout from the Gaza Strip and parts of the West Bank for the first time since he officially assumed his new position. "Israel stands before a national task of supreme importance, the task of disengagement....The role of executing it has been placed on the IDF. We have not become accustomed to such missions, we were not built for this, however we will implement it with sensitivity and determination through great understanding and responsibility."
    "The enemy is not standing before us, our brothers in arms are....We are not looking for a struggle, but rather understanding and cooperation. We do not want to win the mission, we want to implement it understanding the difficulty, understanding the crisis our brothers the evacuees are facing, as well as the IDF evacuators." (Ynet News)

·  The Coming Media Frenzy - Uri Dan
It is estimated that more than 4,000 foreign journalists and film units intend to cover the evacuation and uprooting of the settlements in the Gaza Strip. As a journalist I have covered many military campaigns, but I have never seen such a media onslaught as that awaiting us now in Gaza. Many journalists are too scared to cover a real war, and the IDF and police operation to evict Jews from their homes and flourishing settlements in the Gaza Strip seems to them to be less dangerous. (Jerusalem Post)

·  Dershowitz: Treat Returning Settlers as Heroes - Dan Izenberg
Harvard law professor Alan Dershowitz said during a visit to Israel that the Jewish settlers in the Gaza Strip "ought to be treated with extreme deference and they ought to be told they are heroes of Israel. They were heroes when they went and they are heroes when they are returning. They served in the front lines." Dershowitz added that it was the "state's prerogative to make territorial decisions and to make existential decisions about boundaries and peace." (Jerusalem Post)
    See also Israel's Agony - John Podhoretz (New York Post)

·  Prosperity Without Peace - Nelson D. Schwartz
After a three-year slump brought on by the intifada and compounded by the bursting of the global tech bubble, Israel's economy is growing again. Economic growth couldn't have returned if the government hadn't found a way to block the suicide bombers who carried out dozens of attacks in 2002 and 2003. Thanks mostly to the controversial security barrier now snaking its way through the West Bank, deaths from bombings dropped from 54 last year to just 11 so far in 2005. The barrier has enraged Palestinians, but the sense of security ordinary Israelis now feel has enabled normal life to resume and made both tourists and foreign investors willing to come here again.
    The skills gained through reestablishing Israel's security have been a key factor in allowing Israeli companies - from software designers to fence builders - to sell their wares throughout a terror-torn world. Israel's exports rose last year by 16%, to $23.6 billion, says Shlomo Maital, a Canadian-born economist and professor at Israel's Technion Institute of Management. High tech accounted for nearly half those sales, and much of that cutting-edge technology has its roots in research for Israel's military and security services. (Fortune, 1Jun05)

·  Madison, Wisconsin, U.S.A.: A Battleground for Israel's Legitimacy - Joel Fishman
In spring 2004, a group of pro-Palestinian radicals initiated a proposal that would have twinned Rafah in Gaza with Madison, Wisconsin. This initiative was significant because only a few American cities have adopted Palestinian towns. Its acceptance would have meant a victory for the Palestinian Authority and its supporters by advancing their long-term objective of delegitimizing the State of Israel and by creating a climate congenial to politically correct anti-Semitism. Because the local Jewish community and unaffiliated Jews, some belonging to the "soft Left," acted effectively, the city council did not adopt the proposal. (Jewish Political Studies Review)

Former Shin Bet Chief Avi Dichter Explains Disengagement - Ben Caspit (Maariv-Hebrew)

Former Israel Security Agency (Shin Bet) Director Avi Dichter, who retired on May 14, said in an interview:

·         The Palestinians see the past four and a half years as a catastrophe. They killed 1,042 Israelis and, in fact, achieved nothing. They're on the mat and they lost Jerusalem. The Camp David parameters will not return; no Israeli government could return to them. The Palestinians will have to pay a price for the violence, just as they paid a price for rejecting the UN partition plan.

·         With the agreement imprisoning those who assassinated Israeli minister Rehavam Zeevi (Gandhi), we know exactly who is sitting in the Jericho jail - the entire leadership of the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine - who are continuing to operate from there under American-British supervision.

·         Not a week passes without a visit from a foreign delegation to learn from Israel about targeted interceptions. Its effectiveness and focus is incredible. We can target terrorists who are otherwise impossible to reach, without dramatically endangering our own forces, and they come to understand at a certain point that no one is safe.

·         To leave the Philadelphi corridor between Gaza and Egypt would be a conceptual mistake in today's situation, when there is no one who will prevent smuggling instead of us and the Egyptians are not acting.

·         We disengaged from Gaza in 1994. In the West Bank, the situation is the opposite; we reconnected to the territory in April 2002. Area A became Area B. It's a different situation. There, the removal of settlements should not lead to disengagement from the territory. Our military forces need to remain there. In Gaza the disengagement could reduce terror. If the IDF leaves the northern West Bank, there will be a problematic increase in terror.

·         Gaza is the land of terrorist capability and the West Bank the land of terrorist possibility. The Palestinians have been trying since the outbreak of the intifada to join the capability of Gaza with the possibility of the West Bank. Through our actions, we have prevented this. In the West Bank their capability has been reduced. This is the real reason for the calm. In Gaza, they want to live, and in the West Bank they want to rebuild the infrastructure. The reason I'm optimistic is that I know that what happened here depended on our actions, not theirs.

Ancient Jewish Home Found in City of David - Etgar Lefkovits (Jerusalem Post)
    A Second Temple Jewish house has been uncovered in Jerusalem's ancient City of DavidIsrael's Antiquities Authority announced Sunday.
    Several rooms of the 2,000 year old split-level house - as well as a ritual bath - were found at the compound, said archeologist Tzvika Greenhaut.

Jordanian Ambassador Rejects Jewish Claim to Temple Mount - Judy Lash Balint (FrontPageMagazine)
    Last Monday, Jordan's Ambassador to Israel, Dr. Marouf Bakhit, called a hasty meeting with Israeli Foreign Ministry officials to declare his country's outrage over the "provocative act" of a group of Jews who had the audacity to go up to the Temple Mount in commemoration of Jerusalem Day.
    The very next day, the suave, urbane Ambassador Bakhit told a group of diplomats and journalists at a Jerusalem think tank that there is absolutely no proof that the Temple ever stood at the spot, now occupied by the Muslim shrine known as the Dome of the Rock.
    The entire episode may be viewed as part of the ongoing Arab strategy to delegitimize Jewish claims to holy sites and by extension to Jerusalem itself.

India to Use Israeli Pipeline for Oil Imports (Press Trust of India)
    With a growing need for energy, Indian Petroleum Minister Mani Shankar Aiyar told the 12th International Caspian Oil and Gas Conference on Thursday that India is seeking to diversify its sources of crude supplies by purchasing oil from the Central Asia and Caspian Sea region pumped via the new Baku-Ceyhan pipeline to the Mediterranean Sea.
    From there it could be pumped into Israel's 254-km-long Ashkelon-Eilat pipeline for Very Large Crude Carriers (VLCCs) to pick up at the Red Sea for transport to India.

Normalization of Relations Between Pakistan and Israel? - P.R. Kumaraswamy (Power and Interest News)
    At periodic intervals, various Pakistani political leaders, especially President Musharraf, have been hinting that Pakistan has been re-examining its policy toward Israel.
    The absence of any bilateral animosity has also promoted the rationality of a new approach.
    For example, in June 2003, Musharraf reminded Pakistanis:
    "We should not overreact on this issue. We should give serious consideration. It is a very sensitive issue. We fought three wars with India but still had diplomatic relations," adding that Pakistan never fought a war against Israel.

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MYTH #182 [updated #135]

“Palestinians do not encourage children to engage in terror.”


Most Palestinians who adopt terror in the hope of either “ending the occupation” or destroying Israel do so because they freely choose murder over any other option. Palestinian terrorists also use children, however, to do their dirty work. On March 15, 2004, for example, Israeli security forces caught an 11-year-old boy attempting to smuggle a bomb through a roadblock. The boy was promised a large sum of money by Tanzim activists in Nablus if he delivered a bag containing a bomb stuffed with bolts to a woman on the other side of the checkpoint. If the boy was stopped and searched, the terrorists who sent him planned to use a cell phone to immediately detonate the 15 to 22 pounds of explosives he was carrying, murdering nearby soldiers as well as the boy. The plan was foiled by an alert Israeli soldier, and the bomb apparently malfunctioned when the terrorists tried to remotely detonate it. A week later, on March 24, 2004, a 14-year-old Palestinian child was found to be carrying explosives when attempting to pass through the Israeli army checkpoint at Hawara, at the entrance of the town of Nablus (AP, March 16, 2004;, March 25, 2004). Just over a year later, on May 22, 2005, a 14-year-old boy was again arrested at the Hawara checkpoint with two pipe bombs strapped to a belt he was wearing. A few days later, a 15-year-old tried to get through the checkpoint with two more pipe bombs (Jerusalem Post, May 25, 2005).

These were just the latest examples of the cynical use of children by Palestinians waging war on Israel. Young Palestinians are routinely indoctrinated and coerced into the cult of martyrdom.

“Using children to carry out or assist in armed attacks of any kind is an abomination. We call on the Palestinian leadership to publicly denounce these practices.”

— Amnesty International (March 24, 2004)

Despite occasional claims that terror is only promoted by “extremists,” the truth is the Palestinian Authority (PA) has consistently incited its youth to violence. Children are taught that the greatest glory is to die for Allah in battle as a Shahada. The PA regularly broadcast television shows that encouraged children to embrace this concept. One film used the death of Muhammad Al-Dura, the child killed in the crossfire of a shootout between Palestinian gunmen and Israeli forces, to show that life after death is paradise. An actor playing Al-Dura is shown in an amusement park, playing on the beach, and flying a kite. The Al-Dura in the film invited viewers to follow him. Similar messages extolling the virtue of the Shahid can be found in school textbooks and sermons by Muslim clergy (Itamar Marcus, “Ask for Death,” The Review, March 2003).

The indoctrination is having an impact. According to one Palestinian newspaper, 79-80% of children told pollsters they were willing to be Shahids (Al-Hayat Al-Jadida, June 18, 2002).

Palestinian children now play death games, competing to see who will be the Shahid. They also collect “terrorist cards” the way American kids collect baseball cards. The maker of the Palestinian cards sold 6 million in just over two years. “I take hundreds of these pictures from children every day and burn them,” said Saher Hindi, a teacher at a Nablus elementary school. “They turn children into extremists” (Jerusalem Post, December 25, 2003)

Many Palestinian youngsters have gone from pretending to carrying out actual terrorist attacks. More than two dozen suicide bombers have been under the age of 18. Between 2001 and March 2004, more than 40 minors involved in planning suicide bombings were arrested. In those years, 22 shootings and bombings were carried out by minors. For example, teens ages 11-14 attempted to smuggle munitions from Egypt into the Gaza Strip; three teenagers, ages 13-15, were arrested on their way to carry out a shooting attack in Afula; and a 17-year-old blew himself up in an attempted suicide attack. In just the first five months of 2005, 52 more Palestinian minors were caught wearing explosive belts or attempting to smuggle weapons through checkpoints in the West Bank (Jerusalem Post, March 15, 2004, May 25, 2005).

The situation has finally gotten so out of hand that Palestinian families are starting to protest. The mother of one of the three teenagers sent to carry out the Afula attack said of the letter he had left behind, “My son doesn’t know how to write a letter like that and has never belonged to one of the organizations. Some grownup wrote the letter for him.” The boy’s father added, “Nobody can accept to send his children to be slaughtered. I am sure that whoever recruits children in this kind of unlawful activity will not recruit his own children” (AP, March 1, 2004)

Martin Fletcher interviewed the parents of the 15-year-old stopped at the Hawara checkpoint. His parents expressed their anger at the Al-Aqsa Martyrs' Brigades, calling its operatives criminals and saying that Allah would punish them. The correspondent spoke with the boy and read him a letter from his mother asking him to confess and to give Israel all the information in his possession about the men who had sent him (MSNBC, May 27, 2005).

Whenever the use of children in terror operations provokes an outcry, the terrorist groups either claim ignorance or promise never to do it again. Meanwhile, the Palestinian Authority does nothing to stop the recruitment of children or to dismantle the organizations responsible for drafting them in their terror war.

This article can be found at

Source: Myths & Facts Online -- A Guide to the Arab-Israeli Conflict by Mitchell G. Bard,




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Data JEM – an GEM for Jewish Education! Database for  Jewish educational materials:

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

See My Jewish Learning's Talmud section for great resources on the Talmud.

See Eliezer Siegal's Talmud Page for the best visual introduction to a page of Talmud anywhere.

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

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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, 

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Superb booklet for visiting the sick and for healing in general:


Want to know the real story behind living in Israel? Not the politics, the conflict, the security fence or disengagement from Gaza, but what it's like for people going about their day to day lives in a country as full of cultural and social revolutions as Israel? Then welcome to ISRAEL21c's new blog - Israelity.







A phenomenal new Israel publication. It was created by a Canadian student organization. The majority of the publication is relevant for an American audience. I highly recommend printing the publication and distributing it.










June 13 - June 14, 2005


The festival of Shavuot begins on Sunday evening, June 12th.

Celebrate with us as we join Temple Sholom, at 300 East Putnam Avenue in Greenwich, for Tikkun Leil Shavuot - an evening of learning - beginning at 8:00 p.m.


Join Rabbi Joshua Hammerman

and Rabbi Mitch Hurvitz

for a discussion of this urgent topic

from a variety of perspectives:


The End of the Zionist Dream?

Studies on the Proposed Gaza Withdrawal


Sunday, June 12, 2005

Festival Evening Service 8:15 p.m.


Led by Cantor Deborah Jacobson

and Cantor Ken Cohen



Study Sessions


Shavuot Service Schedule at Temple Beth El


Shavuot - First Day

Monday, June 13, 2005


We’ll have a pizza lunch on the first day


Services 9:30 a.m.

Jr. Congregation with Nurit 10:30 a.m.


Shavuot - Second Day

Tuesday, June 14, 2005


Services 9:30 a.m.

Jr. Congregation  with Nurit 10:30 a.m.



Shavuot services count toward Shabbat morning attendance credit!





Friday, June 17, 2005

7:30 p.m.


Join us for the final


of the season as we say farewell to

Cantor DeborahJordan, Maya and Shira Jacobson.


TBE’s Adult and Junior Choirs will perform!


Delicious Oneg Shabbat to follow…


Surprises for all!


Joke for the Week







      Once there were two brothers, each with a farm on the opposite side of the same hill.

The first had a family - It came to be that, during the harvest, the first brother said to himself,

"I have a wife, sons, and daughters to help during the harvest while my brother has no one to help."


      So late at night, he would sneak over the hill to his brother's farm and leave bags of grain.

Now, at about the same time, the second brother said to himself,

"I live by myself whereas my brother has so many mouths to feed."


      So late at night, he would sneak over the hill to his brother's farm and leave bags of grain.

One night, they happened to run into each other and each saw what the other was doing.

They instantly realized what was happening, and hugged and kissed each other.

And it is on that hill that the Temple was built.



      Once there were two brothers, each with a farm on the opposite side of the same hill.

The first had a family - wife, sons, and daughters.


   The second lived by himself. It came to be that, during the harvest, the first brother said to himself,

"We have so many mouths to feed whereas my brother has only but himself."


      So late at night, he would sneak over the hill to his brother's farm and take bags of grain.

Now, at about the same time, the second brother said to himself,

"My brother has a wife, sons, and daughters to help during the harvest while I have no one to help."


      So late at night, he would sneak over the hill to his brother's farm and take bags of grain.

One night, they happened to run into each other and each saw what the other was doing.

They instantly realized what was happening, and yelled at each other and beat each other up.


And it is on that hill that the Knesset was built.



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

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