Friday, September 2, 2005

September 2, 2005 and Av, 5765


Shabbat – O – Gram


September 2, 2005 and Av, 5765

Rabbi Joshua Hammerman, Temple Beth El, StamfordConnecticut




Shabbat Shalom

We mourn the victims and extend support to all those suffering from Hurricane Katrina



  Send your friends and relatives the gift of Jewish awareness -- a Shabbat-O-Gram each week, by signing them up at   To be removed from this mailing list, sent e-mail request to  If you have signed up and are not receiving our e-mails, check your spam filter to make sure that TBE is not being “spammed out.”


And check out the new photos of our recent Israel trip at

And check out our brand new Youth group website (featuring lots of photos of our young’ns)!



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


Quote of the Week

(from this week’s Haftarah)

“Ah, unhappy storm-tossed soul, with none to comfort you:

I will make garnets your building-stones and sapphires your foundations.”






Friday Evening

Candle lighting for Stamford, CT: Candle lighting: 7:08pm on Friday, 02 September 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 lobby. 

Shabbat Morning: 9:30 AM –  Mazal tov to Kate Hyman, who becomes Bat Mitzvah this Shabbat morning, and to Andrew Schnelwar and Shulie Weiss, soon to be married, whose Ufruf we will be celebrating as well.

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

Torah Portion: Re’eh   Deuteronomy 11:26 - 16:17    

1: 11:26-31
2: 11:32-12:5
3: 12:6-10
4: 12:11-16
5: 12:17-19
6: 12:20-25
7: 12:26-28

Haftarah – Isaiah 54:11 - 55:5 We also we read selections from the Haftarah for Machar Hodesh (the eve of the New Moon) I Samuel 20:18 - 20:42)

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.

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 (Including Labor Day) 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

The Israel Trip: Reflections and Perspectives


You’ve already seen my own reflections about the recent trip, sent to our e-mail list last month (if you haven’t, they are at our web site,; now hear are some reflections from others, with more to come in future weeks….

It was truly an inspirational trip.  What an historic time to be there and interact with so many Israelis.  Although this was Jeannie's 4th visit to Israel, it was by far her most moving and meaningful.  Alana and I experienced Israel for the first time.  For me, it truly opened my eyes as to what our heritage and Judaism was all about.  I find that I'm reading the news stories about Israel with a far different perspective than before - as if I have a real vested interest.  As I mentioned at our recap, I had never given much thought to going and now I am looking forward to going back.  Alana had a lot of fun, and sharing the experience with her friends and classmates made it all the more special.
It was one of the best trips we've ever taken.

Matt Kasindorf

The next article is by Michael Oren, who also addressed our group, via conference call, direct from Gaza.


Michael B. Oren

Wall Street Journal, August 23, 2005  


   Together with thousands of Jews, I sat on the flagstones before the Western Wall in Jerusalem. The time was midnight on the ninth day of the Hebrew month of Av, the day on which, according to tradition, invaders twice overwhelmed the city's defenders, destroying their Temple and crushing Jewish independence in Israel. Two thousand years later, a new Jewish state with a powerful army has arisen, yet Jews continue to lament on that day, and rarely as fervidly as now. For the first time in history--ancient or modern--that state would send its army not to protect Jews from foreign attack, but to evict them from what many regarded as their God-given land, in Gaza 
     I would take part in that operation. In a few hours, I would leave my historian's job and report for reserve service as a major in the army spokesman's office. My feelings were, at best, ambivalent. I wanted to end Israel's occupation of Gaza's 1.4 million Palestinians and preserve Israel's Jewish majority, but feared abetting the terrorists' claim that Israel had fled under fire. I wanted the state to have borders that all Israelis could defend, but balked at returning to the indefensible pre-1967 borders. I honored my duty as a soldier in the Israel Defense Forces, but wondered whether I could drag other Israelis from their homes or, if they shot at me, shoot back. 
    Nothing in my 25-year army experience had prepared me for the horror of Jews fighting Jews, nor had any of the knowledge I'd gained researching Israel's wars. The threat which the disengagement posed to the contemporary Jewish State weighed on me as I sat mourning the loss of its ancient predecessors. Then somebody greeted me: "Michael! Shalom!" I looked up into the smile of an ultra-Orthodox rabbi, white-bearded with silvery sidelocks. He pumped my hand for several moments before realizing that I had no idea who he was.
   "It's me, Amnon!"  
   I was dumbstruck. Back in 1982, when he was a handsome commando, Amnon had fought beside me in Beirut. Now he was a Hassid. We spoke of our lives' divergent paths, and then, inexorably, about disengagement. He swore that God would either save the Gaza settlements or punish those who dismantled them. I told him where I was going at dawn. The fact that I, at my advanced age, was still doing reserve duty made Amnon laugh, but only briefly. With words that I would hear repeatedly over the following days, he asked me how I could violate my sacred army oath to "love the Jewish homeland and its citizens" and to "sacrifice all my strength, and even my life" to defend them? He reminded me that hatred between Jews had facilitated the Temples' destruction, and excoriated me for bringing ruin on this, the third Jewish commonwealth. Amnon, his old warrior self again, assailed me, "You should be ashamed."  
  Should I? In fact, the same code of ethics that binds members of the IDF also obligates them to "preserve the laws of Israel" and its "values as a Jewish and democratic State." Both the government and the Knesset had repeatedly approved the disengagement plan as a means of safeguarding demographic and democratic integrity. In acting in accordance with those decisions, the IDF would be fulfilling one of its fundamental purposes. But could that charge be reconciled with the task of emptying and bulldozing Israeli villages? Could the army, which through successive wars strove to "protect the lives, limbs and property" of enemy noncombatants, now forcibly evict a civilian Jewish population? 
   These were the questions that challenged me and the 55,000 soldiers assembled in and around Gaza on the eve of the operation, the IDF's largest since the 1973 Yom Kippur War. The answers were far from initially clear. While passing several settlements, IDF vehicles--my bus among them--were attacked by knife-wielding youths who punctured their tires. They stood in the hiss of escaping air, wide-eyed and defiant, daring the army to retaliate. But the IDF exercised restraint. Better to let them blow off steam, we reasoned, before the real confrontation began.  
   Preparations for the mission meanwhile accelerated. At Re'im, a dust-enveloped tent city, an embedded American correspondent and I observed a battalion drilling their anti-riot techniques. Women and men, religious and secular, native-born Israelis and immigrants from Russia and Ethiopia, they had left their usual army jobs as teachers, flight engineers, and navigators to join the disengagement force. When asked about their feelings on Gaza, they insisted that their personal opinions were irrelevant, and that as soldiers, their duty was to carry out the instructions of the legitimately elected government. The assignment, they admitted, was tough, but essential to defend democracy.  
   That night, we watched the battalion's officers, many of them combat pilots, poring over aerial photos of our targeted settlements, Badolah and Netzer Hazany. Booklets were passed out detailing the legal authority by which soldiers could request settlers to evacuate and arrest those who refused. We listened as the battalion commander reminded his soldiers of the three weeks' intensive training they had received for this, and reiterated the need to show sensitivity to the settlers' pain but also determination to achieve their objectives. He wished us all good luck. A few hours later, at 4 a.m., we moved out.  
   In a combat formation of twin columns we approached the settlements. With their gates barricaded, their houses swathed in smoke from burning tires and refuse, these looked, indeed, like battlegrounds. But we came unarmed, wearing neither helmets nor flakjackets but only netted vests emblazoned with the Menorah and the Star of David. For nearly a month, teams of IDF psychologists and rabbis had been quietly convincing settlers that disengagement was a reality and urging them to refrain from violence. Still, from behind the gate, youngsters pelted us with eggs and paint balloons, while many parents berated us with words reminiscent of Amnon's--"You disgrace your uniforms!"--and worse, "You're no better than Nazis!" The soldiers bore both the eggs and invective impassively, and when a bulldozer broke through the barricades, they filed into the streets. 
   More onerous challenges awaited them inside. The mother of a child who had been killed by terrorists had locked herself in his room, together with gasoline tanks that she threatened to ignite. Another family whose son, an Israeli naval commando, had fallen in Lebanon, was also hesitating to leave. In home after home, teams of officers and NCOs listened patiently while settler parents pleaded with them to change their minds and not to evict them, wailing and tearing their shirts in mourning. Women soldiers played with weeping children, telling them stories, hugging them. Eventually, though, each of the families was led onto the evacuation bus, leaving the soldiers emotionally drained but also resolved to proceed to the next household, the next excruciating tragedy.  
   The severest test of the battalion's fortitude--and humaneness--occurred in Badolah's synagogue, where the settlers were afforded an hour of parting prayer. But after two hours waiting in the blistering sun, the soldiers decided to enter. The scene that greeted them was shocking: settlers clutching the pews, the Ark and the Torah scrolls, or writhing on the floor. The troops tried to comfort them, only to break down themselves, and soon soldiers and settlers were embracing in mutual sorrow and consolation.  
   Ultimately, the settlers were either escorted or carried, sobbing, onto buses. But their rabbi, stressing the need for closure, requested permission to address the soldiers, and the battalion commander remarkably agreed. So it happened that 500 troops and 100 settlers stood at attention, with Israeli flags fluttering, while the rabbi spoke of the importance of channeling this sorrow into the creation of a more loving and ethical society. "We are all still one people, one state," he said. Together, the evicted and the evictors, then sang "Hatikvah," the national anthem--"The Hope."  

   The disengagement from Gaza, originally scheduled to take three weeks, was completed in almost as many days. A few injuries were incurred, none of them serious, and no Israelis were killed. Only two of the troops refused to carry out orders, and in one case, a unit of religious soldiers stood and watched as their rabbi was evacuated. While the settlers' overall restraint should be recognized, the bulk of the credit can only go to the IDF. Never before has an army relocated so many fellow-citizens against their will and in the face of continuing terror attacks with so extraordinary a display of courage, discipline and compassion.


   I retain many of my forebodings about disengagement--the precedent it sets of returning to the 1967 borders, the inducement to terror. About the army's role, though, I have no ambivalence. The same army that won Israel's independence, that reunited Jerusalem and crossed the Suez Canal, has accomplished what is perhaps its greatest victory--without medals, true, and without conquest, but also without firing a shot. In answer to Amnon, I am not ashamed but deeply proud of the IDF, its strength as well as its humanity. 


(Michael B. Oren, senior fellow at the Shalem Center in Jerusalem, is author of Six Days of War: June 1967 and the Making of the Modern Middle East [Presidio, 2003].) 



Ask the Rabbi


How can I help victims of Hurricane Katrina?

The devastation caused by this week’s storm cannot even begin to be estimated.  The images are frightening, the stories heartbreaking.  Here are some ways that we can help.


Credit card donations via the United Synagogue of Conservative Judaism at, click on the link to the Hurricane Disaster Relief Fund.  When you make a credit card donation you must write in the designation box that the donation is for the Hurricane Disaster Relief Fund.


Contributions through the UJC can be made online at or by mail at United Jewish  Communities, P.O.  Box 30, Old Chelsea StationN.Y.10113, attention: Hurricane Katrina. Mark the memo section of checks with "Katrina."


Contributions through the Union for Reform Judaism can be  made at Information on the Disaster Relief Fund can be found  at  or _


Contributions through B'nai B'rith should be made payable  to the B'nai B'rith Disaster Relief Fund and sent to: B'nai B'rith  International, 2020 K Street, N.W., Seventh Floor, Washington, D.C., 20006; or  online by going to and clicking on the link for disaster  relief.


Union of Reform Judaism’s web page on Katrina relief includes special prayers and readings: 


What Hillels are doing on college campuses:



Spiritual Journey on the Web


ELUL – the Month of Turning


This week we begin the month of Elul (on Sunday night).  Elul is Judaism’s opportunity to warm-up our teshuvah muscles before engaging in the marathon of the High Holidays.  As any runner knows, you can’t possibly finish the race without a proper warm-up.   Below I’ve included brief texts for each day of the coming week, from Rabbi Judith Abrams’ wonderful website, “Makom.”  You can findthe entire month’s quotes at  For now, I’ll just get us through the first week.  Take some time each day to reflect on one of these passages.  If you have reflections you would like to share for next week’s Shabbat O Gram, send them to me.

Physical Life: Bein adam l'gufo

1 Elul, Sept. 5  
How to Begin: Just Start!

Each tribe was unwilling to be the first to enter the [Red] sea [during the exodus]. Then Nahshon the son of Amminadav descended first into the sea [and then it parted]. (B. Sotah 37a)

2 Elul, Sept. 6
Did you wake up this morning? Did you know who you were? Then you're blessed.

When he hears the cock crowing he should say, "Blessed be the One who has given the cock the understanding to distinguish between day and night."
When he opens his eyes he should say, "Blessed be the One who opens the eyes of the blind."
When he stretches himself and sits up, he should say, "Blessed be the One who loosens the bound."
When he dresses he should say, "Blessed be the One who clothes the naked."
When he draws himself up he should say, "Blessed be the One who raises the bowed."
When he steps on to the ground he should say, "Blessed be the One who spread the earth on the waters."
When he commences to walk he should say, "Blessed be the One who makes firm the steps of man."
When he ties his shoes he should say, "Blessed be the One who has supplied all my wants."
When he fastens his girdle, he should say, "Blessed be the One who girds Israel with might."
When he spreads a kerchief over his head he should say, "Blessed be the One who crowns Israel with glory." (B. Berachot 60b)

3 Elul, Sept 7
God Uses Human Hands, So Use Yours For Charity

Mar Ukba had a poor man in his neighborhood into whose door-socket he used to throw four zuz every day. Once [the poor man] thought, "I will go and see who does me this kindness." On that day [it happened] that Mar Ukba was late at the house of study and his wife was coming home with him. As soon as [the poor man] saw them moving the door he went out after them, but they fled from him and ran into a furnace from which the fire had just been swept. Mar Ukba's feet were burning and his wife said to him: Raise your feet and put them on mine. As he was upset, she said to him, "I am usually at home and my benefactions are direct." (B. Ketubot 67b)

4 Elul, Sept 8
Sometimes We Need Physical Reminders to Do the Right Thing

It was taught: R. Nathan said, There is not a single precept in the Torah, even the lightest, whose reward is not enjoyed in this world; and as to its reward in the future world I know not how great it is. Go and learn this from the precept of tsitsit.
Once a man, who was very scrupulous about the precept of tsitsit, heard of a certain harlot in one of the towns by the sea who accepted four hundred gold [denars] for her hire. He sent her four hundred gold [denars] and appointed a day with her....
When he came in she prepared for him seven beds, six of silver and one of gold; and between one bed and the other there were steps of silver, but the last were of gold. She then went up to the top bed and lay down upon it naked. He too went up after her in his desire to sit naked with her, when all of a sudden the four fringes [of his garment] struck him across the face; whereupon he slipped off and sat upon the ground.
She also slipped off and sat upon the ground and said, 'By the Roman Capitol, I will not leave you alone until you tell me what blemish you saw in me. 'By the Temple', he replied, 'never have I seen a woman as beautiful as you are; but there is one precept which the Lord our God has commanded us, it is called tsitsit, and with regard to it the expression 'I am the Lord your God' is twice written, signifying, I am He who will exact punishment in the future, and I am He who will give reward in the future. Now [the tsitsit] appeared to me as four witnesses [testifying against me]'. She said, 'I will not leave you until you tell me your name, the name of your town, the name of your teacher, the name of your school in which you study the Torah'. He wrote all this down and handed it to her.
Thereupon she arose and divided her estate into three parts; one third for the government, one third to be distributed among the poor, and one third she took with her in her hand; the bed clothes, however, she retained. She then came to the Beit Hamidrash of R. Hiyya, and said to him, 'Master, give instructions about me that they make me a proselyte'. 'My daughter', he replied; 'perhaps you have set your eyes on one of the disciples?' She thereupon took out the script and handed it to him. 'Go', said he 'and enjoy your acquisition'. Those very bed-clothes which she had spread for him for an illicit purpose she now spread out for him lawfully. This is the reward [of the precept] in this world; and as for its reward in the future world I know not how great it is. (B. Menachot 44a)

5 Elul, Sept 9

Atonement through Physical Suffering

It was said of Nahum Ish Gamzo that he was blinded in both his eyes. His two hands were cut off. His two legs were amputated, and his whole body was covered with boils and he was lying in a dilapidated house on a bed the feet of which were standing in bowls of water in order to prevent the ants from crawling on to him [since he was unable to drive them off his body himself]. His students sought to remove his bed [from the house] and afterward take out the utensils [from thence]. He said to them, "My sons, take out the utensils and afterward take out my bed for I assure you that all the time that I am in the house, the house will not fall." They took out the utensils and afterward took out his bed and the house [immediately] fell down.
His students said to him, "Rabbi, you are [clearly] a thoroughly righteous person [so] why has [all this] happened to you?" He said to them, "I brought it on my self, for one time I was walking on the way to the house of my father-in-law and I had with me three asses, one laden with food, one with drink and one with all kinds of dainties. One poor man came and stood in my way and said to me, "Rabbi, sustain me [with something to eat]." I said to him, "Wait until I unload [something] from the ass. And I did not succeed to unload [something] from the ass before he died [from hunger]. I went and fell upon his face and I said, 'My eyes, which did not have pity upon your eyes, may they become blind. My hands, which did not have pity upon your hands, may they be cut off. My legs, which did not have pity on your legs, may they be amputated.' And my conscience was not quiet until I said, 'May my whole body be covered with boils (sh'hin).'" They [his students] said to him, "Alas for us that we should see you like this." He said to them, "Alas for me if you did not see me like this!"
Why was he called Nahum of Gamzu? - Because whatever befell him he would declare, This also is for the best. (B. Taanit 21a)

6 Elul, Sept. 10
Suffering Can be an Expression of God's Love

Rabba, and some say Rav Chisda, said, "If a man sees that sufferings come to him, let him examine his conduct. For it is said, 'Let us search and try our ways, and return unto the Lord. (Lamentations 3:40)'. If he examined [his deeds] and did not find [anything objectionable], let him attribute it to the neglect of the study of the Torah. For it is said, 'Happy is the man whom God chastens, and is taught from Your Torah.(Psalms 94:12)' If he did attribute it [thus], and [still] did not find [this to be the cause], then it is known that these are chastenings of love, for it is said, 'For those God loves, He reproves. (Proverbs 3:12)'" (B. Berachot 5a)

7 Elul, Sept. 11
Studying Torah Cures All Ills

R. Joshua b. Levi stated: If a man is on a journey and has no company let him occupy himself with the study of the Torah, since it is said in Scripture, "For they shall be a chaplet of grace. (Proverbs 1:9)"
If he feels pains in his head, let him engage in the study of the Torah, since it is said, "For they shall be a chaplet of grace unto your head.(Proverbs 1:9)"
If he feels pain in his throat let him engage in the study of the Torah, since it is said, "And a necklace about your neck. (Proverbs 1:9)"
If he feels pains in his bowels, let him engage in the study of the Torah, since it is said, "It shall be a healing to your navel. (Proverbs 3:8)"
If he feels pains in his bones, let him engage in the study of the Torah, since it is said, "And healing to all his flesh.(Proverbs 4:22)" (B. Eruvin 54a)


Required Reading and Action Items


A note for Sephardim - Only one of the nine 'A Star is Born' finalists has ever been Ashkenazi.




Tides Of Help
 wake of killer Hurricane Katrina, U.S. Jewry reaches out to victims in Louisiana and Mississippi. Steve Lipman – (Jewish Week) ...more,7340,L-3136394,00.html Jewish help given for Katrina's victims Communities open doors to New Orleans Jews Why do flood victims suffer? On Labor Day, Jews should think of working poor. Exodus, Remembrance and Labor, By Rabbi Saul J. Berman

Harlem Renaissance For Jews At 'City' - As school year begins, Jewish life at City College, dormant for a generation, is poised for a revival.
Gabrielle Birkner – (Jewish Week) ...more

Mysterious Temple Mt. artifact evokes `Da Vinci Code'  (Ha’aretz)

'No fogivenessFunerals for 14 Gush Katif dead reburied in Jerusalem took place Thursday; rabbis, mourners blast those behind disengagement in highly charged ceremonies; Knesset chairman asks forgiveness of those reburied, interrupted  Full Story . . .  (YNet)

Israeli National team preps for Switzerland

·  Gaza's Final Evacuees - Jeff Jacoby
The last Jewish inhabitants were removed from the Gaza Strip this week. The remains of 48 men and women were exhumed from what was supposed to have been their final resting place in the Neve Dekalim cemetery. As part of Israel's "disengagement" from Gaza and northern Samaria, even the dead had to leave. Israelis know from experience what happens to Jewish graves that fall into Arab hands. (Boston Globe)

·  Who Rules Gaza? - Eyad El-Sarraj
International organizations decided to prevent their workers from entering the Gaza Strip until further notice. Those who are currently staying are prohibited from walking the streets. They fear being kidnapped by Palestinians. Anyone watching and listening thinks we are on the verge of establishing an independent state. Are they not aware that there is no meaning for the word "law" in the Gaza Strip? The reality is that Gaza is controlled from inside by groups intertwined with security forces and clans, where weapons and money are distributed in this powerful network created in the last four years, fueled and empowered at the expense of the central authority.
    It seems that our security forces were mainly trained to protect official parades. Amidst this reality, the attorney general and a supreme court judge were attacked and neither is able to move freely. It seems that we are following Somalia, which is divided into armed feudal estates in which every leader is ruling a certain area. The feudality of money, weapons, and tribalism has become the ruling power in GazaThe writer is chairman of the Gaza community mental health program. (AMIN-PA)

·  How Jordan Can Help Palestine - Joseph Braude
By departing Gaza without a peace deal, Israel affirmed with finality that the dream of economic integration and political partnership between Israelis and Palestinians is dead. Confederation in the sense of heightened political and military coordination as well as economic interdependence between Jordan and Palestine may represent the most viable path to rebuilding the economy and society of the West Bank and Gaza.
    King Abdullah formally relieved his half-brother Hamza of his role as crown prince and replaced him with his own ten-year-old son Hussein, whose mother, Queen Rania, is a Palestinian with roots in the West Bank. The promise of a half-Palestinian king reigning in Jordan gives the present monarch unprecedented popularity with Palestinians on both sides of the Jordan River. (New Republic)
    See also Are There Signs of a Jordanian-Palestinian Reengagement? - Dan Diker and Pinchas Inbari (ICA/JCPA)

Bush Steps Up Pressure on Abbas
President George W. Bush stepped up pressure on the Palestinians one day after a suicide bomb attack, urging Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas on Monday to show the courage to crack down on terrorism. Bush praised Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon's for pulling Jewish settlers out of Gaza, saying this was a first step toward creating a democracy for Palestinians. "It took political courage to make that decision," Bush said during a speech in El MirageArizona. "And now it's going to take political courage by the Palestinians and Prime Minister Abbas to step up, reject violence, reject terrorism and build a democracy," he added. (Reuters)

Sharon: Israel Will Not Keep All West Bank Settlements in Final Peace Deal
Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon says Israel will not keep all Jewish settlements in the West Bank in any final peace deal with the Palestinians. Mr. Sharon spoke Monday on Israeli television, one week after removing Jewish settlers from the Gaza Strip and four West Bank enclaves. He did not provide details of future Israeli pullbacks, and he said all main West Bank settlements will remain under Israeli control. He said final Israeli plans for the West Bank will not be unveiled until the start of formal peace talks with the Palestinians. (Voice of America)

  U.S. Backs Down on Settlement Boundaries Demand - Aluf Benn
 has rescinded its demand that Israel and the U.S. jointly mark the boundaries of settlements in the West Bank, according to American and Israeli officials. Neither side reportedly has an interest in marking the boundaries: for Israel, it would be an uncomfortable concession; for the U.S., it would legitimize the existing settlements.
  U.S. officials said they are now making do with warning Israel to refrain from expanding the West Bank settlements. As an effect of such warnings, they note that most construction licenses in recent years have been given within the large settlement blocs or within built-up areas. (Ha'aretz)

Mofaz Orders Hebron Old City Evacuation - Matthew Gutman
Defense Minister Shaul Mofaz has issued an order to evacuate a controversial Jewish outpost in the heart of the Old City of Hebron, long one of the Middle East's most combustible powder kegs. The outpost, which settlers call the Rinat Shalhevet neighborhood and Palestinians the Situnai Market, served as a Palestinian wholesale market until 1994 and is now home to 11 Jewish families. The move is slated to take place before December. (Jerusalem Post)

 Never Again - Kenneth Bialkin
The images flashed around the world last week of Jewish families uprooted and evicted through no personal fault of their own by young male and female soldiers who shed tears along with the settlers in the sad fulfillment of their duty has cut deeply into the minds and emotions of Jews everywhere.
  Prime Minister Sharon has said that until the Palestinians fulfill their defaulted steps under the road map, including dismantling the infrastructure of terror, disarming Hamas, Islamic Jihad, Hizballah, and other terrorist groups, and bringing criminals to justice, no one should expect Israel to renew further steps under the road map, which is based on reciprocal progress.
  A major lesson of the disengagement experience is that Israel should not be asked to test its institutions and the fabric of its society by a repeat of the experience and images of tearing Jews from their homes. The Gaza disengagement teaches us that, even for those who may feel t! hat Israel should ultimately make some adjustment in the location of Jews in Judea and Samaria, forcible eviction is unacceptable. (New York Sun)

 Weak Palestinians Risk Civil War - Richard Z. Chesnoff
Palestinians have the chance to improve their lives if they stop feeling sorry for themselves. Possibly 600,000 of them fled the 1947-48 war that Arab states launched against newly born Israel, and 60 years later they still consider themselves "refugees." Now the Palestinians claim they number more than 5 million - and that the world still owes them a living. Here's my advice to the Palestinians. Get your act together, work with what you have and build up global trust. Most importantly, convince the Israelis you want peace - not to destroy Israel. Until you do, you won't get anything more - and maybe you'll get even less than you already have. (New York Daily News)

 "The Arafat Model" - Michael Rubin
While U.S. diplomats and Washington advisers continue to facilitate compromise among Iraq's disparate sectarian, ethnic, and political groups, the reality emerging outside Baghdad is directly challenging Iraq's aspirations to constitutionalism. Massoud Barzani in the Kurdish north and Moqtada al-Sadr in the Shiite south have rejected the experts' academic proposals, and have chosen instead a model perfected by Yasser Arafat, the late PLO chairman. While Clinton fêted the Palestinian leader at the White House, cajoled him with aid, and turned a blind eye toward his corruption, Arafat broke promises habitually and, until the last years of his life, without consequence. He extracted blood from the Israelis and treasure from the Americans, all the while consolidating his position. His concessions were limited to pledges whose fulfillment was never required. That conclusion is something Iraqi militia leaders have taken to heart. While diplomats and parliamentarians debate the fin! er points of federalism, warlords are constructing something rather different. (National Review)


Jewish and Israeli Links:                                      

Support Israel by Shopping Israel! 


A great resource on all things Jewish:

The best Jewish site for Jewish learning:

Jewish Identity Databases


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

Israel Education resources for all ages – wonderful collection


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

Media-Related Links:

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


Other Jewish Sites

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):

               U.S. (Committee for Law and Jerwish Standards):

               Israel (Masorti – Schechter Institute):

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.




Friday, September 9, 2005 at 7:30 p.m.


Join us at our first Family Friday Night Service of the season!


ASHIRA brings a unique sound to Jewish music.  Comprised of Arianne Slack, Laura Lenes, and Leah Moss, this NYC based trio draws on the various backgrounds of its members, ranging from pop and musical theater to cantorial and opera, to create an exciting new sound.  Singing both contemporary and traditional melodies in new settings of three-part harmony, ASHIRA involves the congregation by using sign language and teaching new melodies.  Their concert repertoire is varied, including Hebrew, Yiddish, English and Ladino songs.  ASHIRA’s unique vocal sound is enhanced by close bonds of friendship as well as the trio’s love of music and Judaism.




DO YOU KNOW ANYONE Shopping for a Hebrew School for this Fall?


HAVE THEM Check out our new “Taste of TBE” offer for Kindergarten and first grade and…sample our excellent school!




No need to join for the first year!

No membership dues!

No strings attached!

We just want you to try us out.  We hope you’ll like us!


For registration and more information, contact the Education office @ 322-6901 x 306 or



21st Annual Harold E. Hoffman Memorial Lecture


Thursday, September 15, 2005 at 7:30 p.m.





Editor-in-Chief of The Jerusalem Post


       On Thursday, September 15th, Temple Beth El will be holding its Annual Harold E. Hoffman Memorial Lecture. This year’s speaker will be writer David Horovitz, the editor-in-chief of The Jerusalem Post.

         Before taking over The Jerusalem Post last October, Horovitz was the editor and publisher of the award-winning newsmagazine The Jerusalem Report for 14 years.  He has also contributed to such papers as The New York Times, Los Angeles Times, The Irish Times and The (London) Independent and has been interviewed multiple times on many TV and radio stations, including CNN, BBC, and NPR.

         Some of David’s personal publications include the book “Still Life with Bombers: Israel in the Age of Terrorism,” a Top 12 book on last year, and “A Little Too Close to God: The Thrills and Panic of a Life in Israel,” which was published in 2000.  In addition he edited and co-wrote “Shalom, Friend,” the Jerusalem Report’s biography of former Israeli Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin, printed in 1996.  The story was published in 12 countries and received the U.S. National Jewish Book Award for Non-Fiction.

         The Hoffman Memorial Lecture is sponsored by the family of the late Harold E. Hoffman, a former member of the Stamford community who was dedicated to many civic and Jewish causes.  Some past speakers of the lecture include Elie Weisel, Abba Eban, Rabbi Marc Tanenbaum, Charles Silberman, Wolf Blitzer, Rabbi Robert Gordis, Edgar Bronfman, A.M. Rosenthal of “The New York Times,” Rabbi David Hartman, Letty Cottin Pogrebin, Thomas L. Friedman of the “Times,” Ambassador Collette Avital of Israel, Henry Louis Gates, Jr., Rabbi Avi Weiss, Daniel J. Goldhagen, Anne Roiphe, Michael H. Steinhardt, Ambassador Dennis Ross, James Carroll, and Dore Gold.  The lectures are highly praised because of the well-known speakers it showcases.  The public is always invited without charge to all Hoffman lectures.

         Call the Temple office for more details at (203) 322-6901.




                  TO NEW CANAAN!


Join us at the Harrisons1315 Smith Ridge Rd in New Canaan.  Invite your friends to find out why TBE’s Tot Shabbat has enchanted young children for a generation!  Meet Nurit Avigdor and Rabbi Hammerman and enjoy a fun-filled hour of story and song.




Join Early Childhood Development director Nurit AvigdorRabbi Joshua Hammerman, and Cantor Rachael Littman on

Saturday, September 17th at 5:00 p.m.

for a family service on the beach!  Bring your own picnic dinner and we’ll supply dessert!  The program is aimed toward families with young children, however all are welcome - members and non-members alike!






with Rabbi Selilah Kalev

meets weekly on Thursday from 10:00 - 11:00 a.m.

Class begins September 1st.



with Rabbi Selilah Kalev

meets weekly on Tuesday from 10:00 - 11:00 a.m.

Class begins September 6th.



with Rabbi Selilah Kalev

meets monthly on Tuesday from 7:30 - 8:30 p.m.

Class begins Wednesday, September 14th.



An Introductory Class for Dummies, Smarties

and Those Who Don’t Know How to Ask

with Rabbi Joshua Hammerman

meets weekly on Sunday from 9:15 - 10:00 a.m.

Class begins on September 25th.

(A prerequisite for those who wish to join our newest

Beth El Adult Bar/Bat Mitzvah class.)

Fee:  $50 for material.



with Rabbi Joshua Hammerman

meets on select Sundays from 9:15 - 10:00 a.m.

Class begins September 25th.

“Surviving the High Holy Days:  An Introduction to the Themes, Prayers and Customs of the Days of Awe”

(Runs parallel with JUDAISM FOR EVERYONE - see above.)


PIRKE AVOT:  Ethics for Our Daily Lives

with Rabbi Selilah Kalev

meets monthly on Sunday from 10:00 - 11:00 a.m.

Class begins September 25th.




We are pleased to announce that a new shipment of  SHABBAT MORNING PRAYER BOOKS has arrived at the Temple.  Having a simcha?  Why not dedicate a prayer book to honor the occasion?  Observing a yahrtzeit?  Why not dedicate a prayer book in memory of your loved one?


A donation of $27, made payable to Temple Beth El , will reserve a prayer book for you.  A lovely, personalized book plate will be placed inside the front cover.


For further information, please call the Temple office at 322-6901.




Attention all Teens looking for a Mitzvah Project


Jewish Family Services needs you!


Volunteer one hour a week or one hour a month, on Friday afternoons visiting senior citizens at an assisted living facility (Thursday afternoons/evenings work too)! Host a pre-Shabbat “service”... celebrate the Jewish Ellie Mirne at 356-1887 for more information.


    Cheryl Wolff (968-6361)

Sue Greenwald (329-1662)




Please sign up early for your High Holy Days Usher slots and to help us put up and take down the bimah platforms.  We need to ensure that we have enough volunteers committed to accomplish these critical tasks.  Here are the details:


High Holy Days usher slots are available for men, women and couples.  Those of you who have performed this task know of its ease.  For those of you who are new to this request, each “watch” is approximately 45 minutes.  Please help us maintain the traffic flow and decorum that makes the services a better experience for all.  Reserve your ushering slots by calling Rich Cohen at 322-1131 (email




We will be setting up the bimah platforms on Sunday, September 25th at 8:30 a.m. and taking them down on Sunday, October 16th at 8:30 a.m.  We’ll have some refreshments available for both the folks who work on the installation of our bimah platforms and for those who just want to stop by and schmooze.  Call Marty Israel at 325-8511 (e-mail if you want to have some fun playing steelworker for an hour or two, help set up chairs, or just lend general support.




We will also be setting up the Temple’s Sukkah on Sunday, September 25th at 8:30 a.m.  Call Jeannie Kasindorf to volunteer at 327-1765 (e-mail  Help us perform this beautiful mitzvah!



(during the month of Elul prior to Rosh Hashanah)


If you are thinking about buying a shofar and would like to learn how to blow, or if you already know how, we need you!  Contact Chuck Donen at 847-5667.










Visit this brand-new website for TBE’s youth groups!


You’ll see pictures, links and much more!




USY at New Rock City

September 10th from 8 - 11:00 p.m.

Price M: $35, NM: $45


USY Meeting

September 11th from 7 - 9 p.m.


USY Shabbat Service and Lunch

September 17th from 10 - 1:00p.m.


Kadima: Rock & Bowl at Rip Van Winkle

September 17th from 8:30 - 10:30 p.m.

Price M: $20, NM: $30


Atid: Apple & Honey Dumpling Gang

September 25th, lunch from 12:30 - 2 p.m.

Price M:$10, NM: $15


USY Meeting

September 25th from 7 - 9 p.m.





It has been said that the point of reading is not how many books you get through but how many books get through to you.  The Women of the Book Discussion Group is a great way to stumble on new authors, and a great motivator to read something challenging while having a chance to discuss it with various viewpoints expressed.  We are an intelligent, friendly bunch who enjoy sharing ideas and are addicted to reading.  Interspersed with the great books are equally great and riveting videos that we watch together and then discuss.  We have a wonderful program planned for this year.  The books and the videos vary and run the gamut from thought provoking, to timely, humorous and good reads.  Our discussions are lively and you will leave our meetings shouting, “MORE, MORE!”


We want to encourage all of you who have thought about coming to one of our meetings but never quite made it.  At our first meeting we will put the name of every newcomer in a hat, and the woman whose name is drawn will receive a complementary copy of our November book, The Kite Runner by Kheled Hosseini.


Looking forward to seeing you.


Please join us for any or all of the following programs:


SPECIAL GUEST: We will have a special guest for our first meeting on September 20th.  We will meet a woman who was a “hidden child” and hear her amazing story of survival.


September 20, 2005: Hidden Children and their Rescuers

What would you risk in order to save the life of a loved one?  What would you risk in order to save the life of a neighbor?  What would you risk in order to save the life of a stranger?  In this video we will meet some “righteous gentiles” who risked their lives and the lives of their own children to save Jewish children during the Shoah.  We will also meet the gentile children whose lives were risked in order to save the Jewish children.


Rosh Hashanah Family Service at Temple Beth El


On the first day of Rosh Hashanah, Tues, Oct. 4 at 4 PM, Temple Beth El will host an informal outreach service for families with young children.  Rabbi Joshua Hammerman and Cantor Rachael Littman will lead this program, open to the entire community, which will include songs, stories, snacks and plenty of surprises.  At 5:00, weather permitting, everyone will walk down to the pond next door for the fun custom of Tashlich, where our sins are symbolically cast into the waters.  No reservations or tickets are required.




Begins on Monday evening, October 17th


Cut and paste this order form on another sheet for your lulav and etrog!






NUMBER OF REGULAR SETS             at $36 per set


NUMBER OF CHILDREN’S SETS               at $18 per set


TOTAL = $               


Remember…  Order by Sunday, October 2nd


Please return this form with your check payable to:


350 Roxbury RoadStamfordCT  06902


Pick-up will be on Sunday, October 16th

9:00 a.m. - 12 noon


For additional information call (203) 322-6901.



Joke for the Week

Moshe is driving around in a car park, but to his dismay, he cannot find a parking space. He drives around for half an hour then looks up to the heavens and says:
"Excuse me? It's Moshe. G-d I really need your help. I can't find a parking space. I promise if you find me one I will go to shul every week and I will keep every Jewish law ever written!"
Just then, a parking space appears in front of him. Moshe looks up to the sky again and says:
"Actually, don't worry G-d, I just found one!"


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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