Friday, September 16, 2005

June 24, 2005 and Sivan 17, 5765


Shabbat – O – Gram


June 24, 2005 and Sivan 17, 5765




Rabbi Joshua HammermanTemple Beth El, StamfordConnecticut




Shabbat Shalom




  Send your friends and relatives the gift of Jewish awareness -- a Shabbat-O-Gram each week, by signing them up at –


And check out the new photos of the salute to Israel Parade and 7th Grade Aliyah service at!




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








Dear Rabbi Hammerman,


The statements of your 7th graders at their graduation were truly amazing -- please convey to them our love and admiration.  We are very moved by your words, and we find great solace in knowing that the spirit of Danny inspires thousands of young Jewish youngsters to echo his words, with pride and determination: I am Jewish.


Judea and Ruth Pearl





400 people shared the bittersweet joy of last week’s “Shabbat Unplugged” and farewell to Cantor Jacobson.  She has now left the community and next week we will be joined by Cantor Rachael Littman, our new hazzan.  This week we are in limbo, “between cantors” as it were.  But the memories of last week continue to stir us.  Many thanks to our sponsors, musicians and all who made it possible, and in particular to Cantors Jacobson and Littman.  The image of them standing side by side on the bima, singing in harmony, with the microphone literally being passed like a torch from one to the other, is one that we will not soon forget.  “Shabbat Unplugged” will remain an integral part of our spiritual offerings, and in fact we hope to increase the frequency of such innovative musical experiences.  The text of my l’hitraot to Cantor Jacobson (given on behalf of all of us) is excerpted below in the “rabid rabbi” section.


Friday Evening

Candle lighting for Stamford, CT: Candle lighting: 8:14 pm on Friday, 24 June 2005.  For candle lighting times, other Jewish calendar information, and to download a Jewish calendar to your PDA, click on


Kabbalat Shabbat: 6:30 PM – OUTDOORS (weather permitting) (and it looks good!)


Tot Shabbat : 6:45 PM – In the chapel.  On June 24, Tot Shabbat will be hosted by Nurit Avigdor in honor of Rabbi Hammerman, the Young Family, the Nekritz Family, the Mayer Family and Darice Bailer, for all their hard work in making Tot Shabbat

a more meaningful experience.

Shabbat Morning: 9:30 AM –  Men’s Club scholarships will be presented

Children’s services: 10:30 AM, including Jr. Congregation for grades 3-6 and Tot Shabbat Morning for the younger kids.  This will be the final weekend for Jr. Congregation.  Tot Shabbat Morning with Nurit will continue weekly throughout the summer.

Torah PortionSHELACH Numbers 13:1 - 15:41  - The story of the spies…and the paragraph on tzitzit (see below)

1: 13:1-3
2: 13:4-16
3: 13:17-20
4: 13:21-24
5: 13:25-30
6: 13:31-33
7: 14:1-7

Haftarah – Joshua 2:1 - 2:24

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:  Weekly Lesson of Popular Israeli Rabbi Mordechai Elon - and his parsha sheets:




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.


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

First, this important e-mail from Beth Boyer:

Last week's Spiritual Journey section of the O-Gram listed "25 ways to help Israel."  While I think many of the action items on the list are great things to do, number three ( encouraged "Serving in the Israeli Intelligence Services," and does not belong on the list.

Not only is it ILLEGAL FOR ANY AMERICAN TO BECOME AN AGENT OF A FOREIGN GOVERNMENT (it's called the Espionage Act and the very first people indicted under the act were Jews; the Frayhayt group), but it feeds into EVERY WORST STEREOTYPE of Jews as being self-interested, Israel first, turncoats, traitors, and what have you.

Israel is vital to us as Jews as our promised land, to Christians as a protector for their holy sites and reminder of their roots, to the world as an oasis of democracy in the Middle East.  While there is much I do to support Israel, and much I would encourage others to do, I would NEVER advocate any American commit a felony and join up with Mossad.  How about we replace number 3 with "Plant Trees in Israel with the Jewish National Fund."  Go to and buy a subscription.  Use it to send gifts for newborns, honor the memory of someone who has died, add to a Bar/Bat Mitzvah gift, etc. 

Thank you, Beth for pointing out the historical and legal implications of #3.  I was wondering why as soon as the O-Gram went out last week, two men in trench coats began to follow me everywhere!   I figured they were from the Mitzvah Police, just making sure my shopping cart contained only pure vegetable shortening.  When they presented me with a brochure suggesting that Guantanamo is beautiful at this time of year, I began to suspect something was awry.

It’s important to note that I do not necessarily agree with every aspect of every site mentioned in the Shabbat-O-Gram – in fact  (unlike our community newspaper, for example), I try to provoke thoughtful discussion by presenting a variety of opinions on many matters.  Like they say at FOX, “We commit treason, you decide.” 


Excerpted from my farewell comments to Cantor Jacobson last Friday night:


As you’ve seen these past 6 months, I’m not good at goodbyes.  It sort of has become my job in this community, year after year. Last month the federation asked me to pay tribute at their annual meeting to about half a dozen clergy and other key Jewish leaders leaving town, including Cantor Jacobson – I politely declined.  I’m not a goodbye man.


Jews simply don’t have a word for goodbye.  As you know, “Shalom” also means hello and peace and “l’hitraot” means “see ya soon.”  When Israelis wish to say goodbye without it meaning anything else, they have to say, “Bye.”  There is no such thing as “goodbye” in Hebrew.


L’hitraot is an interesting word: Actually it’s a reflexive verb meaning something like, literally, “to see yourself.”  To say goodbye then, for a Jew, is to look at yourself in the mirror and see the reflection of the person who is leaving.


Five years ago, we had our first Friday Night Live.  At that time, Craig Taubman came here an ignited a spark that tuned into a burning flame.  On this Shabbat when we read all about the menorah in the torah portion, when we say goodbye it really gives us a chance to look at ourselves. 


And when we look at ourselves in the mirror, we’ll see Deborah.  Or, more to the point, we’ll hear her.  And we won’t need to physically hear her to hear her – in fact what will be an even greater thrill will be to hear her without actually hearing her – to hear her in our own voices.


When Cantor Jacobson came here for her tryout, people sat on their hands, primarily.  The most common response was, “What’s this with all the dai dai dais?  Tonight we are dancing in the aisles, led by the children – and our dai dai dais sound far more natural – the music comes from the heart and flows from every pore.


When we sing as loud and unabashedly as we have tonight, your voice will echo in that.  When Lecha Dodi continues to be our weekly wedding celebration, we’ll hear you in that too.  When ancient prayers sound new to us, we’ll hear you in that as well.


So you see, I don’t need to say goodbye.  You’re not leaving.


But I do need to say “thank you,” on behalf of our entire community.  Thank you, and all the best in the future for you, Jordan, Maya and Shira.






Ask the Rabbi


Is kissing the Mezuzah a law or custom? What are Tzitzit?


          Kissing a Mezuzah is just a custom – not a law.  Having a mezuzah is a commandment, based on the Sh’ma, “And you shall write them upon the doorposts of your home and upon your gates.”  Rabbi Joseph Telushkin, author of Jewish Literacy, explains that the mezuzah is placed on the doorpost to ensure that "When a Jew enters his house, he sees the mezuzah and is thereby reminded how he should act in his home. Likewise, when a Jew leaves the house, the mezuzah reminds him of the high level of behavior he is expected to maintain wherever he goes."


How to Hang a Mezuzah - A Multimedia Presentation



On the doorposts to Jewish homes, you may have noticed a small box hanging diagonally, often adorned with Jewish symbols. The box, known as a mezuzah, is often created by Jewish artists and made to be a beautiful Judaic item, but it is the contents of the box--a parchment with passages from the Torah in it--that are vital. Learn more about the significance of a mezuzah and how to hang one with the following multimedia presentation. Click here to begin

Click to see all how-to guides on



Judaism’s String Theory – The “Fringe Benefits” of Tzitzit



This week’s portion, Shelach, contains the paragraph from the Sh’ma on the tzitzit – fringes of the tallit.  Here is some information on tzitzit from Wikipedia.  Follow the links for more details if you are interested:






Tzitzit, with a thread of tekhelet

Tzitzit (Ashkenazi pronunciation: tzitzis) are fringes or tassles (Hebrewציצת (Biblical), ציצית (Mishnaic)) found on a tallit worn by observant Jews as part of practicing Judaism.

Origin and practice

The Torah states in Numbers 15:38: "Speak to the children of Israel and you shall say to them that they shall make for themselves fringes on the corners of their garments, throughout their generations, and they shall affix a thread of blue (Hebrew: תכלת - tekheleton the fringe of each corner."

Tzitzit are also commanded in Deuteronomy 22:12, which says: "You shall make yourself twisted threads, on the four corners of your garment with which you cover yourself."

Tzitzit are attached today only to Jewish religious garments, such as a tallit gadol (large prayer shawl). This is due in part to the fact that today's typical garment does not have the required 4 corners, and thus the fringes are not necessary. Traditional Jews wear a tallit katan (small prayer shawl) in order to fulfill this commandment at their own volition.

Various reasons are given for the commandment. The Torah itself states: "So that you will remember to do the commandments". In addition, it serves as a reminder of the Exodus from Egypt (Numbers 15:40). The Talmud equates its observance with that of all the mitzvotRambam (Comm. Pirkei Avot 2:1) includes it as a major mitzvah along with Brit Milah and Korban Pesah.





Spiritual Journey on the Web




 Here are some great Web sites for your summer dose of Jewish culture.  Try them out – only don’t get any sand in your computer! – a terrific review of Jewish literature and the arts. Part of a national effort to promote Jewish cultural literacy.  Billed as a “Gateway to Jewish Literature, Culture and Ideas.”


From this week:

Girl Power
"Is this about religion?" Ali Cohen's boyfriend asks before she heads to a camp reunion in The J.A.P. Chronicles, adding "I'll convert if it's that damn important." At times charming, Isabel Rose's novel is also "catty and deals with complicated and sad issues with flippancy," says Sarah Rachel Egelman. Rose, at work on adapting her novel into a musical, tells the Forward, "You empower yourself with a word that someone else wants to call you in an effort to disempower you."


Other Recommended Books


You can also listen to Nextbook audio segments online or on your portable MP3 player.   Feed >> -- promotes the latest in books of Jewish interest.


There you can read a review of David Horovitz’ book “Still Life with Bombers,” an account of wartime in Jerusalem  Horovitz is editor in chief of the Jerusalem Post.  I am happy to announce that he will be speak at our annual Harold Hoffman Memorial Lecture on Thurs. September 15. SAVE THE DATE!!!

Here’s an excerpt from the review:


“Though I've read a myriad of books on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, not one has moved me quite as much as David Horovitz’s Still Life with BombersHorovitz, the editor of The Jerusalem Report and a British émigré now living in Jerusalem, is a superior writer and an elegant stylist, but there's more to him than polished prose. The man has a profound understanding of his complex social milieu. Still Life With Bombers is his attempt to make some sense out of the chaos that has steadily infiltrated Israeli life since the outbreak of the second Intifada, three years ago.”




Jewish book news and reviews from around the web.


Robert Alter turns from the Five Books of Moses to Six Modernist Writers and Cities They Wrote About. >>


Alan Wolfe parses the texts of Jewish-American identity. >>


Some Jewish books that make you say, "Om.Oy . >>


Another 9/11 novel hits the shelves. >>


Well, it ain't the Jerusalem Syndrome, but it does involve delusions. >>


The Dersh debate rages on. >>




 Wondering what I’m reading?  Lots!  And you can be sure you’ll be hearing about some of it long about the 1st of Tishrei.


Required Reading and Action Items

Are Jews Naturally Smarter?  (The Economist)

Must Denominations Divide?  Eric H. Yoffie (The Jewish Week)

After Hasbara  Larry Weinberg (Jerusalem Post)

Freedom and Justice in the Modern Middle East  Bernard Lewis (Foreign Affairs)

Amos Oz’s New Song  (a review of his new book in the National Review). Amos Oz, Israel's best-known contemporary novelist, has written a memoir of a childhood spent in the last days of the British Mandate and the first days of the Jewish state which in its sheer literary force outstrips even the richest of his novels. Some of this power derives from the prose itself — brooding, lyric, even incantatory — and from sentences engorged with emotion and reminiscence. But most of A Tale of Love and Darkness's energy is generated by Oz's elegant use of the friction between the personal and the political.

Creationism vs. Intelligent Design: Is There a Difference?
"Intelligent Design adherents believe only that the complexity of the natural world could not have occurred by chance. Some intelligent entity must have created the complexity, they reason, but that "designer" could in theory be anything or anyone.... Creationism comes in many varieties, from the strictest biblical literalism (according to which the Earth is only a few thousand years old, and flat) to the theistic evolutionism of the Catholic Church (which accepts evidence that the Earth is millions of years old, and that evolution can explain much of its history but not the creation of the human soul). Between those extremes, there are "Young-Earth" and "Old-Earth" creationists, who differ over the age of the planet and the details of how God created life...." By Daniela Engber (from Slate)

FAQs: What Is Intelligent Design?
"Intelligent design is the theory that living things show signs of having been designed. ID supporters argue that living creatures and their biological systems are too complex to be accounted for by the Darwinian theory of evolution, and that a designer or a higher intelligence may be responsible for their complexity...."
By Editors (from Beliefnet)

 “For 60 years, my country, the United States, pursued stability at the expense of democracy in this region here in the Middle East--and we achieved neither. Now, we are taking a different course. We are supporting the democratic aspirations of all people… Our goal…is to help others find their own voice, to attain their own freedom, and to make their own way… When we talk about democracy, though, we are referring to governments that protect certain basic rights for all their citizens--among these, the right to speak freely. The right to associate. The right to worship as you wish. The freedom to educate your children--boys and girls.  And freedom from the midnight knock of the secret police… Here in the Middle East, that same long hopeful process of democratic change is now beginning to unfold. Millions of people are demanding freedom for themselves and democracy for their countries. To these courageous men and women, I say today: All free nations will stand with you as you secure the blessings of your own liberty… Now, here in Cairo, President Mubarak’s decision to amend the country’s constitution and hold multiparty elections is encouraging… The Egyptian Government must fulfill the promise it has made to its people--and to the entire world--by giving its citizens the freedom to choose. Egypt’s elections, including the Parliamentary elections, must meet objective standards that define every free election…  Throughout the Middle East, the fear of free choices can no longer justify the denial of liberty. It is time to abandon the excuses that are made to avoid the hard work of democracy.”—Secretary of State Condoleeza Rice, speaking Monday at the American University in Cairo. Rice’s comments respond to many critics who attacked the American administration for not pushing harder for democratic reforms in allied autocracies such as Egypt and Saudi Arabia(U.S. Department of State, Press Release, June 20)

MUSEUM TRACES HISTORY OF THE INFAMOUS ‘PROTOCOLS’—(Washington) The U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum is currently hosting an exhibit tracing the history of the forged document known as the Protocols of the Elders of Zion.  The Protocols outline a plan for world domination supposedly compiled by Jewish leaders during the First Zionist Conference in 1897. Though its origins remain uncertain, scholars believe much of the work was plagiarized from an 1864 pamphlet written by French satirist Maurice Joly.  The book became very popular because as the Associate National Director of the Anti-Defamation League, Kenneth Jacobson, states, “The Protocols satisfy virtually every manifestation of contemporary anti-Semitism.” Copies were published in several languages, but Arabic is the language that appears most prominently among the artefacts. Last year, Wal-Mart sold copies of the book on its website, but decided to remove the book after widespread criticism.  (JTA, June 20)

The "Pragmatic" Hamas Myth - Gerald M. Steinberg
Reflecting their eagerness to see "progress" in relations between Palestinians and Israelis, some American officials have adopted the myth of Hamas moderation, based on the theory that as the leaders of terrorist organizations gain political power, they are also forced to deal with the realities of the governing process which, in turn, fosters ideological moderation. But this theory has a poor track record, particularly in the case of radical Islamist groups. In Afghanistan, when the Taliban took power, they converted their power into a reign of terror to impose the most extreme form of Islam on the entire population.
    Academics refer to "mirror imaging," in which Western diplomats project their own pragmatism and compromise onto leaders of terror groups from other cultures. Wishful thinking presented an image of Arafat having made the transition from terrorist leader to pragmatic statesman. The mountain of evidence demonstrating that Arafat remained stuck in 1947 rejectionism was overlooked - it was not part of the optimistic conceptual framework. Yet instead of moving toward conflict management, this mythology leads to escalation. (Jerusalem Post)

·  Engage With Us in Iraq - Hoshyar Zebari
Extremists see Iraq as a test case: If democratic forces can be defeated - which will be assured if the world disengages - these extremists will be ever more emboldened to spread their hatred and violence throughout the world. Iraq has emerged as the central battlefield in the fight of the civilized world against terror and extremism, and the terrorists know that the people of Iraq stand on the side of free peoples the world over. In the current violence now unfolding in Iraq, the terrorists are testing the resolve of the world. Their goal is to keep the world disengaged, because they know that is their optimal strategy for ensuring the failure of Iraq's democratization. The world must not allow these forces to succeed. The writer is Iraq's foreign minister. (Wall Street Journal, 22Jun05)

·  Anglicans Target Israel - Editorial
The Christian West has a marked, and growing, prejudice against the State of Israel. In the latest instance, the Anglican Consultative Council is considering a recommendation that the 38 provinces of the worldwide Anglican Communion should consider divesting themselves of holdings in companies that support the Israeli occupation of the West Bank and Gaza Strip. The recommendation stems from a report on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict issued last September by the Anglican Peace and Justice Network (APJN). The report is a piece of sanctimonious claptrap that has rightly been condemned by, among others, the International Council of Christians and Jews, Lord Carey, the former Archbishop of Canterbury, and Sir Jonathan Sachs, the Chief Rabbi. (Telegraph-UK)

Palestinians See General Improvement But No Political Settlement (Palestinian Center for Policy and Survey Research)
    A survey of Palestinian opinion conducted June 9-11, 2005, asked:
Evaluate the situation in general since the election of Mahmud Abbas:
    Things have: Improved a lot 3%, Improved somewhat 45%, Did not change 39%, Worsened somewhat 8%, Worsened a lot 4%
    Do most Palestinians see Sharon's plan to evacuate the Israeli settlements from Gaza as a victory for the Palestinian armed struggle?
    A victory 73%, Not a victory 20%
    Do you support the collection of arms from armed Palestinian groups?
    Strongly support 10%, Support 28%, Oppose 43%, Strongly oppose 17%
    How soon do you think a political settlement between Israel and the Palestinians will be achieved?
    Not possible ever 46%, Only after many generations 22%, Only in the next generation 7%, In the next decade 3%, In the next few years 16%

American Helicopters Bomb in Syria - Jackie Hogy (Maariv-Hebrew, 23Jun05)
    An American signal to Damascus: American aircraft this week attacked Syrian border troops with missiles along the Iraqi border.
    Syrian sources said American helicopters penetrated Syrian territory from Iraq, in violation of Syrian sovereignty, according to a report published Wednesday in the London-based Arabic daily al-Hayat by Ibrahim Hamidi, its senior correspondent in Damascus known for his ties to the Syrian elite.

U.S. Asking: Can Abbas Deliver? - Aluf Benn (Ha'aretz)
    The weakening of PA Chairman Abbas is very troubling to the American administration.
    Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, who came to the area last week, was impressed by the seriousness of a report she received from her security coordinator, Gen. William Ward, who described the crumbling of the PA, power struggles, and infighting at senior levels of Fatah.
    Washington understands that Abbas' fall would be considered a failure of President Bush's policy of democratization.
    But even the Americans are wondering whether to continue assisting Abbas or if the time has come to realize that nothing will help him, and even if he gets extra assistance, he won't be able to give anything in return.

 Sharon, Abbas Meet in Jerusalem - Aluf Benn and Arnon Regular
Prime Minister Sharon Tuesday hosted PA Chairman Abbas at his Jerusalem residence for their first working meeting since the Sharm el-Sheikh summit. Abbas said there would be security coordination between the sides and the PA would deploy 5,000 policemen in the Gaza Strip. He also accepted the plan according to which Israel would destroy settlers' homes and the PA would remove the debris using international funding. Sharon announced a number of goodwill gestures. Bethlehem and Kalkilya are to be handed over to PA control within two weeks; the number of Palestinian workers allowed in Israel will be increased; the checkpoints will be improved; and some frail veteran Palestinian prisoners - with "blood on their hands" - will be released. (Ha'aretz)
    See also Sharon to Abbas: Islamic Jihad Endangers You - Eliel Shachar
Sharon told Abbas at their meeting: "The situation as it is today cannot continue. We will have to act to stop the terror. Under the current situation, the chance of progress on the political front is slim. I am informing you that we will act against Islamic Jihad with full force. Islamic Jihad also endangers you, and if the situation continues, you will miss the opportunity."
    Referring to the young Palestinian woman suicide bomber caught at the Gaza border crossing Monday, Sharon said to Abbas: "This is a human tragedy, to see this scarred young woman [burned in a cooking accident] seek to attack those who treated her. I don't want to act in your place, but the terror is the central threat to the political process. We can't ease conditions or offer aid while the terror continues. You have to stop the terror immediately." (Maariv-Hebrew)

  IDF to Target Senior Islamic Jihad Leaders - Amos Harel
Senior Israel Defense Forces sources said Tuesday that in the wake of recent terrorist attacks orchestrated by Islamic Jihad, it has been decided to resume targeted interceptions of senior leaders of the group, which were stopped after the February Sharm el-Sheikh summit. The IDF intends to act also against those assisting to carry out terrorist attacks and not only pursue militants referred to as "ticking bombs." If necessary, the military will also enter West Bank cities under Palestinian control. "Islamic Jihad has taken itself absolutely out of the [cease-fire] agreement with its attacks, and so from our view, we are operating fully against them, as we did before," said Lt. Col. Erez Winner, a senior commander in the West Bank. "Anyone we know who is affiliated with this organization is a legitimate target."
    More than ten mortar shells and one Kassam rocket were fired at Gaza Strip settlements on Tuesday. (Ha'aretz)

PA Still Encouraging Child Martyrdom - Itamar Marcus and Barbara Crook (Palestinian Media Watch)
    In this week's prime time PA TV broadcast of "The Palestinian Diaspora," a 12-year-old reads his uncle a story he wrote:
    "Don't cry, my mother! Let me go and fight for the sake of the homeland. The enemy stole our beautiful land....We all must fight in order to redeem the lost paradise....We lived in joy and happiness, until the foreign enemy [Israel] came and expelled us from our land, and we became refugees in tents. But we will return, by Allah's will!"
    "His mother told him, 'Farewell, my son. Allah be with you.' He kissed her and left to fight, and fought until he became a Shahid [martyr for Allah]."
    Play the Video

  Abbas' Weakness Rocks the Road to Peace - Editorial
In defiance of a ceasefire declared by the two sides in February, Islamic Jihad has recently launched attacks on targets in the West Bank, Gaza Strip, and Israel proper. On Monday, a young woman sent by the Fatah al-Aqsa Martyrs' Brigades to bomb a hospital in the Negev was intercepted at a Gaza Strip crossing point, explosives sewn into her underwear. Security camera footage of her trying to detonate the bomb has riveted Israeli viewers. All in all, Abbas is proving a very disappointing successor to Arafat. (Telegraph-UK)

Condi in Cairo - Editorial
On Monday, Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice traveled to Cairo and then Riyadh and, in soft tones, delivered a stark message: America would no longer pursue "stability at the expense of democracy." The U.S. will now notice when peaceful Egyptian protestors are brutalized by government security goons, or when Saudi citizens are imprisoned for "peacefully petitioning the government"; and the future of both countries as American allies rests on the seriousness of their commitment to democratic reform.
    Egypt's economy is underwritten by $1.8 billion in annual American aid, while its military is supplied with advanced U.S. weaponry. We do not see that continuing if the Mubarak regime attempts to steal or subvert September's presidential elections. Nor do we see the relatively indulgent line pursued by the administration so far toward the House of Saud carrying on forever. (Wall Street Journal)
    See also Democracy in the Middle East - Secretary of State Rice at the American University in Cairo (State Department)
    See also Arabs Unimpressed by U.S. Vow of Mideast Policy Change (AFP/Yahoo)

A Gaza Pull-Out Does Not Reward Terror - David Makovsky and Dennis Ross
The criticism taking the greatest toll on support for the withdrawal plan is that it rewards the terrorists and will only invite more terror. Technically speaking, the terror has come from the West Bank and not Gaza. Nearly 100 suicide bombers infiltrated into Israel during the intifada, only two of them from Gaza, and it is Gaza that Israel is leaving, not the West Bank. The fact that Hamas, whose leaders were killed in the intifada, never made Gaza disengagement an objective, is another reminder that this is hardly a victory for them.
    Ultimately, Gaza disengagement will be the prism through which to look at the future of revived peacemaking. Palestinians have the opportunity to prove to the world and Israelis that they can govern themselves and fulfill their obligations, including on security. Making Gaza work is essential to being able to demonstrate that what works for Gaza can also be applied to the West Bank. The writers are fellows at the Washington Institute for Near East Policy. (Financial Times-UK)
    For a contrasting view, see Jailed Fatah Leader Says Israeli Pullout Outcome of Armed Resistance
Fatah leader Marwan al-Barghouti, who is currently jailed by Israel, has said the coming Israeli Gaza pullout was an outcome of the Palestinian armed struggle, the daily newspaper al-Ayyam reported Monday. (People's Daily-China)

30% Rise in Tourist Entries - Shani Rosenfelder (Jerusalem Post)
    Over 172,000 tourists visited Israel in May - a 30% rise over the same period last year - the Central Bureau of Statistics said Tuesday.

Democracy as a Component of Security - Minister of Foreign Affairs Silvan Shalom (Institute for Contemporary Affairs/Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs


ISRAEL: Myths and Facts

MYTH #184

“Israeli checkpoints are unnecessarily preventing Palestinians from receiving medical attention.”


Israel has instituted checkpoints for one reason – to prevent Palestinian terrorists from infiltrating Israel. If the Palestinian Authority was fulfilling its road map obligations to dismantle the terrorist networks and disarm the terrorists, and its security forces were taking adequate measures to prevent Palestinians from planning and launching attacks, the checkpoints would be unnecessary.

Israel tries to balance its security concerns with the welfare of the Palestinians, and is especially sensitive to the medical needs of Palestinians. Thus, many Palestinians are allowed to enter Israel to receive treatment from some of the finest medical facilities in the world.

Unfortunately, Palestinian terrorists have tried to take advantage of Israel’s goodwill. In December 2004, for example, a Hamas agent with forged documents claiming that he was a cancer patient in need of medical treatment from an Israeli hospital was arrested by security forces. Hamed A-Karim Hamed Abu Lihiya was to meet up with another terrorist, obtain weapons from allies inside Israel, and carry out an attack. That same month, a man recruited by the al-Aqsa Martyrs Brigade to plant a bomb on the railway tracks near Netanya tried to use false papers indicating he needed hospital treatment to enter Israel. Another Hamas terrorist planning a suicide bombing was arrested in March 2005 after pretending to be a kidney donor (Jerusalem Post, June 20, 2005).

On June 20, 2005, 21-year-old Wafa Samir Ibrahim Bas was arrested attempting to smuggle an explosives belt through the Erez crossing. Bas aroused the suspicion of soldiers at the checkpoint when a biometric scanner revealed she was hiding explosives. When she realized they had discovered the explosive belt, she attempted unsuccessfully to detonate it (Jerusalem Post, June 20, 2005; BBC, June 21, 2005).

Bas had been admitted on humanitarian grounds to Soroka Medical Center in Beersheva several months earlier for treatment of massive burns she received as a result of a cooking accident. After her arrest, she admitted that the Fatah al-Aqsa Martyrs Brigade had instructed her to use her personal medical authorization documents to enter into Israel to carry out a suicide attack.

In an interview shown on Israeli television, Bas said her “dream was to be a martyr” and that her intent was to kill 40 or 50 people – as many young people as possible. She said her plan was to blow herself up in a crowded area rather than the hospital.

The Israeli checkpoint saved the lives not only of countless Israelis, but of the Palestinian would-be suicide bomber. By using this tactic, the Palestinians have reinforced the necessity of retaining the checkpoints and forced Israel to carry out more stringent inspections, yet another example of how terrorists are making life unnecessarily difficult for innocent Palestinians.

This article can be found at

Source: Myths & Facts Online -- A Guide to the Arab-Israeli Conflict by Mitchell G. Bard, To order a copy of the paperback edition of Myths and Facts, click HERE. Myths & Facts is also available in Spanish, German, French, Russian, Portuguese, Swedish, and Hebrew.

                                          Communique: 21 June 2005            [View this article online]
                                                                                                                                         [Discuss this topic on BackSpin]


Dear HonestReporting Subscriber,



Attempted suicide bomber
Wafa al-Bas

Yesterday (June 20), a Palestinian woman took advantage of a humanitarian medical clearance to attempt a suicide bombing of an Israeli hospital. Israeli security caught Wafa al-Bas at a Gaza checkpoint and safely detonated the explosives that had been tied to her undergarments.

View AP news video of capture.

This episode highlights three important points that remain largely ignored or misrepresented in media coverage of the Mideast conflict:


Al-Bas explained to reporters why she carried out the act:

I love Allah, I love the land of Palestine and I am a member of Al-Aksa Brigades... my dream was to be a martyr. I believe in death... Since I was a little girl I wanted to carry out an attack.

Though media outlets often rationalize Palestinian suicide terror as a 'desperate' response to Israeli wrongdoing, al-Bas' statement is the latest indication that the main motivation for the heinous crime is a twisted, lifelong aspiration to achieve 'greatness' via mass murder.

A primary source of this problem is incitement in Palestinian media and culture. On Sunday (June 19) PA President Mahmoud Abbas told Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice and western reporters that official Palestinian media 'no longer incites against Israel'.

But very little has actually changed. As documented by Palestinian Media Watch, imagery promoting violence against 'illegitimate' Israelis and 'conspiratorial' Jews remains prominent in official Palestinian TV and newspapers. This is a direct violation of the PA's roadmap commitment for 'all official Palestinian institutions [to] end incitement against Israel', and it continues to fuel the ideology behind acts such as al-Bas'.


The latest Amnesty International report accused Israel of 'crimes against humanity and war crimes' that included 'obstruction of medical assistance'. Such reports invariably receive broad, uncritical media coverage that lacks appropriate context.

Al-Bas' act, however, clearly demonstrates the need for strict Israeli administration of checkpoints and medical permits. She is the latest in a long string of Palestinian terrorists who cynically used their status as medical patients or modest women to perpetrate terror attacks.

An important condemnation of al-Bas was carried only in the LA Times:

"We utterly condemn this action in every respect," said Shabtai Gold, a spokesman for Physicians for Human Rights-Israel, which is often critical of Israeli authorities for impeding Palestinian access to medical care inside Israel.

IDF spokeswoman Sharon Finegold put the matter in perspective: 'These terror organizations are not only the enemies of the Israelis but also of the Palestinian people themselves, who suffer as a result of this abuse of the young, the sick, the wounded.'


According to a Haaretz report, Israeli security received a tip on al-Bas' imminent attack, and gave the PA and Abbas detailed information regarding it, but the PA did not act.

Al-Bas' thwarted effort followed on the heels of a brutal ambush of an Israeli civilian car in the West Bank (pictured), which killed 28-year old Yigveny Rider


The PA continues to do very little to fulfill its roadmap obligation to uproot terror groups, choosing instead to incorporate terrorist operatives into its political and security leadership.

Media outlets continue to ignore this violation of the signed agreement, describing it as a mere 'Israeli demand', as in this UPI report on yesterday's Palestinian violence:

These seemed to be "perfect" examples for Prime Minister Ariel Sharon who Tuesday afternoon is to host Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas in his official residence in central Jerusalem... Sharon never seems to tire demanding a complete cessation of terrorism, violence and incitement, dismantling terrorist organizations and collecting their weapons.

UPI's jab at Sharon is both an unprofessional editorial comment inserted in a news article, and a complete misrepresentation of the PA's own commitment to the world community to uproot terrorism from its midst.

Comments to UPI:

HonestReporting encourages subscribers to be on the lookout in your local media for these three ongoing misrepresentations of Palestinian terror.

Thank you for your ongoing involvement in the battle against media bias.


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Other Jewish Sites

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

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 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.

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.”

Links to all the Jewish newspapers that are fit to print:

Israel Campus Beat – to get all the latest information on Israel relevant to students on college campuses - the best place on the planet to find Jewish Jokes

Conservative Responsa (fascinating decisions related to applying Jewish Law to our times):

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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.



Two New Classes Beginning in July

Starting on Tuesday, July 5th at 10:00 a.m., join us for a beginning/intermediate Hebrew Ulpan… if you are not yet familiar with the Hebrew alphabet, looking to improve your reading fluency, or wish to delve into a bit of modern Hebrew… in a relaxed group setting.

Starting on Thursday, July 7th at 10:00 a.m., we will begin exploring T’fillah (prayer) utilizing our new CD T’fillah Program which is a work-at-your-own-pace system.  Hebrew and non-Hebrew readers welcome.


Tuesday, June 28th at 7:30 p.m.

Join Rabbi Selilah Kalev for a dynamic discussion...a modern take on “Ask the Rabbi,” a stimulating evening of learning and conversation.  Each class will be based on questions that those who are present bring, any questions - from custom to law, basic to’s up to you.    Nosh will be provided.

Feel free to contact Rabbi Kalev at

 for any questions about the above programs.  She will be available through the month of July.

Joke for the Week

This one is rated PG-13 (and I cleaned it up somewhat), but I got such a chuckle that I couldn’t resist.  Hopefully all the kids are off at camp…

A man standing in line at a check-out counter of a grocery store was very surprised when a very attractive woman behind him said, "Hello!" Her face was beaming.

He gave her that "who are you?” look and couldn't remember ever having seen her before.

Then, noticing his look, she figured she had made a mistake and apologized. "Look," she said "I'm really sorry but when I first saw you, I thought you were the father of one of my children," and walked out of the store.

The guy was dumbfounded and thought to himself, "What the heck is the world coming to? Here is an attractive woman who can't keep track of who fathers her children!"

Then he got a little panicky. "I don't remember her," he thought but, MAYBE..during one of the wild parties he had been to when he was in college, perhaps he did father her child!

He ran from the store and caught her in the parking lot and asked, "Are you the girl I met at a party in college and then we had that real wild and crazy night together…?"

"No," she said with a horrified look on her face. "I'm your son's HEBREW SCHOOL TEACHER."

Have a nice summer!


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