Friday, September 9, 2005

September 9, 2005 and, Elul 5, 5765


Shabbat – O – Gram


September 9, 2005 and, Elul 5, 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!




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


Just the Facts (service schedule)

The Rabid Rabbi

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






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.


This service will also give people a chance to meet Cantor Littman as we celebrate her first Shabbat service of "the season."


The service will be followed by a special, musical, sit-down Oneg Shabbat!


21st Annual Harold E. Hoffman Memorial Lecture

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



Editor-in-Chief of The Jerusalem Post


Friday Evening

Candle lighting for Stamford, CT: Candle lighting: 6:57pm on Friday, 09 September 2005.  For candle lighting times, other Jewish calendar information, and to download a Jewish calendar to your PDA, click on


Kabbalat Shabbat: 7:30 PM – ASHIRA – in the sanctuary



Shabbat Morning: 9:30 AM – Mazal tov to Greg Rosenberg, who becomes Bar Mitzvah this Shabbat morning,

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

Torah Portion: Shoftim   Deuteronomy 16:18 - 21:9

1: 16:18-20
2: 16:21-17:7
3: 17:8-10
4: 17:11-13
5: 17:14-17
6: 17:18-20
7: 18:1-5

Haftarah – Isaiah 51:12 - 52:12

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 at 8:30 AM (note new time!!!), 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…

Anyone in need of a walker?

John Graubard sends us this offer:

My mother had a very good ($500) walker that is in very good condition.  It has a detachable tray, a basket, and a seat someone could use while wheeling it (4 wheels) if they got tired. Do you know of someone or some organization that could use it?

Let me know if you have an interest, at


The Rabid Rabbi



          Although it has been dwarfed by more recent events in the news, a great concern has been raised over the increasingly hostile attitude toward Israel expressed by various mainline Protestant denominations.  These groups have long been natural allies of Jews in this country, especially among the liberal denominations, but recently their approach to Israel has become antagonistic and one sided, ironically at a time when Israel has just made a far-reaching, unilateral gesture of disengagement.  The security fence has been a prime focus of their concerns, and divestment has been the prime weapon.

          It must be noted that Israel has not (yet) suffered economically because of these campaigns.  Also, the view of the local church leadership is often very different from what is being expressed at the national level.  Our board of rabbis has been in touch with local ministers and several months ago we had a very productive lunch session with them.  My feeling is that this dialogue can’t just be between rabbi and minister, but has to reach down to the grass roots level.  We are all part of this dialogue.  If you are interested in carrying on conversations on this matter with your neighbors, here are some talking points that have been prepared by the Jewish Council for Public Affairs:


Jewish Council for Public Affairs

Background and Talking Points for Conversations with

Mainline Protestant Leadership



General Points on Open Discussion and Dissent

  • The Jewish Community is committed to pluralism, peace, and mutual respect and we seek to deepen our relationship with all those who share these commitments.


  • We recognize that there is great disagreement about what will bring peace in the Middle East and in the world.  We support constructive, informed and balanced discussion and encourage and are prepared to engage in serious conversations about ways to help bring peace.


  • Divestment is singularly ill suited as a vehicle to foster peace as it is not only unlikely to impact Israeli policies, but also gives hope to extremists who, unlike Israel, seek a solution through means other than good faith negotiations.  Israel will remain committed to its self defense, even in the face of continued international isolation by efforts such as divestment, because Israel knows that the only real peace will come from the negotiating table by parties that reject terrorism.


On endorsing a policy of divestment from Israel:


Divestment is not an effective strategy to promote peace

  • Jews Christians and Muslims, as well as Israelis and Palestinians of good will, all yearn for peace.  There has been too much suffering on all sides for too long.  But divestment will not further the peace process or end the suffering.  The peace process will only succeed when both Israelis and Palestinians feel safe and secure. Divestment will make Israelis feel singled out, isolated and persecuted.  This strategy will therefore only serve to undermine Israel’s sense of security at this difficult time. As a result, divestment would be counterproductive to finding a just and lasting peace.


Divestment is unbalanced and morally unjust

  • The call to divest in Israel is unbalanced.  This policy effectively holds Israel solely accountable for the Palestinian-Israeli conflict, ignoring the deliberate cruelty and immorality of Palestinian terror, the devastating effect terrorism has had on Israeli society, and the fact that Palestinians bent on using terror to end Israel's existence are the primary obstacle to peace. 


  • Divestment focused only on Israel demonstrates a troublesome fixation with the Jewish State.  The acts of considering or implementing divestment aimed at punishing Israel, and Israel alone, exposes a profound moral imbalance.  Socially responsible investing is a high calling.  To the extent it applies to regional conflicts, it should be done more universally.


  • We are concerned that the double standard in focusing criticism of Israel and not Palestinians will result in the Church overlooking the fact that certain companies sell products or services in Israel that protect Israelis from terrorism.  Such protection of citizens is the obligation of any nation.


  • The debate about use of economic sanctions is divisive and inappropriate.  Advocates of peace should join organizations working toward coexistence and reconciliation between Arabs and Israelis in the Middle East.  Many groups desperately in need of international support are laying the critical groundwork for peace by building bridges between divided peoples.  Investing in coexistence sends a pro-active message for peace and reconciliation.


This is not the Time to Divest

  • Yassir Arafat’s passing and the democratic election of Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas has made room for a renewed feeling of hope for peace between Israelis and Palestinians.  Several positive steps have been taken by Israel, by the Palestinians, by Egypt and the U.S.  This summer, Israel plans to dismantle settlements in Gaza and parts of the West Bank and pull out of the area completely.  Abbas is working to end corruption and disarm his people.  To introduce a resolution to divest at this point is to ignore completely the ground-breaking developments of the past few months.  Israel has consistently demonstrated that she is willing move forward with any partner who will speak out against terror and advocate peaceful negotiations and compromise.  This is not the time for a cynical divestment campaign.  Those who support peace must support the progress that has been made on both sides.


On Endangering Jewish-Mainline Protestant Relations

  • The safety and security of Israel is an essential concern for the American-Jewish community. The repercussions of divestment could damage long-established ties between Jewish synagogues and Mainline Protestant churches and could weaken important alliances between national Jewish and Mainline Protestant organizations.






Acknowledge Palestinian suffering and our goal for a peaceful solution to the conflict.

  • Any place in which a single human being suffers, we should suffer.  There is suffering enough in the land of our common inheritance on both sides of the conflict. We are deeply committed to the well-being of the Palestinians and the welfare and security of the Jewish people, both in the State of Israel and around the world. We know that unless there is peace and security for the Palestinians, there can be no peace and security for Israelis and Jews.


Call attention to all of the positive ways to encourage Palestinian-Israeli peace and coexistence

  • There are positive ways to use economic power to help bring about peace: invest in joint Israeli- Arab business enterprises; help rebuild the infrastructure of the West Bank; invest in Palestinian businesses; loan money to development banks involved in micro-lending; donate funds to organizations promoting dialogue and understanding or to those providing humanitarian relief for victims of violence. The people of the region have already suffered greatly from power used to destroy and punish, they deserve the use of economic power to heal and build.


Point out the complexities of the situation in Israel

  • The divestment campaign is not about human rights.  Israelis have acknowledged the need for a Palestinian state but they are also faced with the constant threat of terror.   They do not want to oppress another people, but they also do not want to leave Israeli civilians vulnerable to suicide bombers. There is no simple solution to this conflict.  Certainly, divestment will not solve the problem, or even help to bring about a peaceful solution.


Talk about your personal connection to Israel

  • Research has shown us that non-Jewish influentials respond to personal connections and experiences.  When discussing our feelings about divestment with mainline Protestant leaders, be sure to include your personal feelings about Israel and poignant anecdotes.


Understand the Mainline Protestant Narrative

  • Lessons about the history of the conflict are less effective than a sincere expression of support for peace and concern about suffering and a desire to work for reconciliation without resorting to ineffective economic sanctions that cause dissent.


  • For liberal Protestants, ending the occupation is the condition precedent for peace.  Even if Palestinian leaders have made mistakes, they feel that an end to the occupation combined with mutual assurances for peace will yield the desired result.  These leaders need to be helped to understand that elements within Palestinian society reject Israel’s right to exist and believe in the use of terror to achieve that end.  As a result, a neighboring Palestinian state which does not have a culture of containing such violence would be a threat to Israel’s existence, even with mutual assurances for peace. 




Ask the Rabbi


How can I help victims of Hurricane Katrina?

Hurricane Katrina

USCJ Relief Efforts

Update:  SEPTEMBER 7


Relief Fund:  The donations to the United Synagogue Hurricane Relief Fund continue to arrive. The outporing of support and concern for those left homeless by the hurricane has been overwhelming.  Thank you to all that have contributed and to all those those that are planning to contribute.  The need is still great.


Your donations to the USCJ Hurricane Relief Fund ( will help us ensure that the needs of the Hurricane victims are being met.  We are working with other Jewish organizations and the interfaith community to make sure there is a coordinated relief effort.


Relief officials worry that although people are very generous now, they will lose interest in hurricane relief in 30 to 45 days, and that’s when the supplies now on hand will run out. They hope that donors will remember to continue to give; we at United Synagogue hope that our members will remember the flood victims as Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur approach, and give money as part of their individual teshuvah.


We have been told by all the relief agencies working with refugees that the great need – and it is a very great need – is for cash. It is far too difficult to arrange shipments of goods; cash is easy to send. It is far easier for relief officials to arrange large wholesale shipments from suppliers than to coordinate trucks laden with material. Shipments are not allowed into the relief shelters unless permissions are secured in advance, and such permissions are not easy to get.


In other words, extra stuff turns into garbage, but cash can be turned into real stuff.  Keep in mind, we are told, that we should donate what flood victims need, not what makes us feel better to give.


Conservative Synagogues:  The news from the Conservative synagogues most directly in the hurricane’s path is better than it could have been. Shir Chadash in MetairieLa., right outside New Orleans, had only a few inches of water. There is some damage to the roof.  The synagogue’s built on a concrete slab, so the damage seems relatively minor. Synagogue leaders brought their Torah scrolls to the Federation building’s third-floor offices, where they are safe. Members have scattered; many are in Houston, some in DallasTulsa, and other places. The rabbi and his wife, who is pregnant, are in Atlanta. Most synagogue members have checked in, and all are believed safe. More news should be coming today, when Jefferson Parish is opened to allow residents to look at the damage.


Congregation Beth Israel in BiloxiMiss., sustained a lot of water damage but its leaders believe that it can be repaired, although that will take a long time. Most families left the region before the storm; some already have returned, and some phone and electrical service has been restored. At least three families lost their homes, and not everyone is accounted for yet.


Supplies:  Two Conservative synagogues in Texas have been able to help in material ways. Congregation Beth Yeshurun of Houston has donated 40,000 pounds of chicken; members will cook and serve it at the Astrodome.  Congregation Brith Shalom in Bellaire delivered 3,500 personal toiletry kits for use by the refugees.


The relief agencies in Houston have made a specific request for personal toiletry kits.  They will need thousands of the kits over the next several weeks.  Although it is not a good idea for people to do this project on their own, United Synagogue recommends that synagogues work on putting together plastic bags with toiletries.  The request is specific – get half-gallon plastic baggies, and pack each one with a tooth brush, a regular-size tube of toothpaste, soap, shampoo, deodorant, and a travel-size pack of wet wipes. The anticipated need is for at least 20,000 bags, so it makes sense to send them in bulk.  As of right now, Congregation Brith Shalom is accepting bulk shipments of the toiletries for delivery to the distribution centers and appropriate agencies.  However, the situation on the ground is very fluid and distribution centers will change.  Therefore, if your congregation is going to undertake the creation of toiletry kits please contact Mark Waldman at when the packed tolitries are ready for shipment.  We will then confirm where you will ship the toiletry kits.


Housing:  We have been receiving many offers to house storm refugees; Harry Silverman, the director of our Southeast region, who is spearheading the hurricane relief efforts, has been storing those offers in a database. He is coordinating these efforts with the National Association of Jewish Family and Children Services.  So far, the Association reports, there have not been any requests for housing, but if such requests come in we will be well positioned to fill them. The problem now, he reports, is that people need transitional housing less than they need jobs. People offering housing are being told that it’s a nine- to twelve-month commitment.



Hurricane Katrina Relief Fund



The United Jewish Federation has established a mailbox to accept donations for humanitarian aid for members of the Jewish and general communities impacted by hurricane Katrina in LouisianaAlabamaMississippi and Western Florida.

Contributions may be made below via our secure website using a credit card.

Donate Now!





* Approx. 500,000 people live in the city of New Orleans, and about 800,000 live in the suburbs. The New Orleans area is surrounded by the Mississippi river and LakePonchetrain which is about 50 by 25 miles. 

* The Jewish community in greater New Orleans is about 8,000 to 10,000 people. 

* There are 8 synagogues -- 4 are Orthodox, 3 are Reform and one is Conservative.

* Even though there are four Orthodox synagogues there are only about 25 families which are Shomar Mitzvot of which about 10 each attend one of the two Chabad synagogues.  The other two Orthodox synagogues have a small elderly population, of which one only has a part-time rabbi. 

* There are also 2 kosher restaurants, 1 kosher deli with a mini market (tho all kosher meat and bread is bought frozen), 2 JCCs, 2 Jewish day schools, a Jewish Family Services, a Hillel, and a Jewish Federation. 

* The Jewish Federation's annual campaign is $3 million; and just under two years ago they built an $11 million dollar facility of which the JFed, JCC and community day school moved into.

Chabad is very strong.  There are two Chabad Houses, plus they run a day school, the Mikvah and the Louisiana Kashrut Commission. 

Baton Rouge is about a 75 to 90-minute drive from New Orleans


Several areas keep getting mentioned on TV so here is where they are including information about Jewish life in these areas.

* The "9th Ward"  -- This is a short walk from the French Quarter and is where part of the levee of the Mississippi river broke.  It is a very poor area with many third generation welfare recipients, and a very dangerous part of the New Orleans with murders every night.  This part of town went 20 feet under water and is where most of the dead bodies will come from.  For most of these people, living in a shelter/refugee facility will be an improvement over living in the 9th Ward because they'll get three meals a day and medical attention. 

* New Orleans East -- When CNN/FOX, etc. shows flooding to people's rooftops, most of these scenes come from New Orleans East.  This part of town is entirely black.

LakeView -- This is the outer-parts of the New Haven city limits right next to Lake Ponchetrain and is where the levee to Lake Ponchetrain broke.  About 15% of the Jewish community lives in this area but there is only one synagogue.  This area flooded about 8 feet.  IF any Jews are among the dead they will probably elderly Jews who live in the LakeView area who died of heat exhaustion while waiting to be rescued. 

* Uptown -- This is within the New Orleans city limits, contains historic St. Charles Avenue, and is where 35-40% of the Jewish community lives.  Institutionally, there are two large Reform synagogues, a Chabad synagogue, a JCC, and Hillel for Tulane University. Since this area is higher than downtown (this is why it is called "Uptown") it only flooded a couple of feet. 

* Metairie (pronounced "Metairie") -- This is a large suburb in Jefferson Parish, it borders LakePonchetrain, and contains about 35-40% of the Jewish community.  Institutionally there is a ChabadCenter, a Conservative synagogue, a Reform synagogue, a JCC, two day schools, and the Jewish Federation.  This area flooded about five feet.  I lived in Metairie

Challemette -- East of New Orleans and no Jews -- totally gone.  Most of the people who lived there worked in the nearby oil refineries.  Challmette is also known as "Cancer Ally" because this zip code has the highest rate of cancer in the USA.

* Slidell -- 30 minutes east of New Orleans and across the lake, just a few Jews, and totally flooded. 

* Thus, east of New Orleans was hit the worst -- 9th Ward, New Orleans East, Challemette, and Slidell.   While West of New Orleans fared better: Uptown, Metairie, Kenner.  And as mentioned above, most of the Jewish community is located Uptown and in Metairie.


I think that the people from the city of New Orleans are going to have a difficult time getting their life back together because their houses were completely flooded (and are still flooded a week later), and will require much long-term help from the government and other agencies with temp housing, jobs, etc.  Many of them may go from third generation welfare recipients to permanent refugees. 

The Jewish community, however, I think will rebound but will be a little smaller (and a little older).  I say this because Uptown and Metairie, which combined entail about 75% of the Jewish population and also almost all of the Jewish institutions, only received a few feet of flooding. Thus, total rebuilding of houses and institutions is probably not necessary.  Also, most of the general population and the Jews in New Orleans are 3rd generation New Orleanians, and are very "patriotic" about New Orleans.  Most Jews also are in family businesses which do not depend upon the segment of the local population which are most effected by this hurricane.  Also, both the Jewish Federation and Chabad are very competent and with financial support so the institutional structures will rebound. 

Many of those few who are not rooted in New Orleans, however, I think will decide not to come back because they could be a doctor, etc. anywhere and might be fed up with all the hurricanes and would not want to go through something of this magnitude again. 

How long it takes to get one's house cleaned up and business up and running I do not know.  It will be difficult and a challenge. 

A problem with the New Orleans Jewish community is that there is a high rate of assimilation and intermarriage, and the less and less of the younger generation is choosing to return to New Orleans after college.  Part of this has to do with the negative economy.  For example, over the past 15 years all the oil companies have transferred their HQ's to Texas and no national companies have their HQ in New Orleans.  Thus the Jewish community is getting smaller and smaller and also older and older.  Now with this latest hurricane, it will be smaller and older, but there will be a Jewish community. 


Financial assistance will be needed to help everyone in the short term to support their families until they get back on their feet in New Orleans which will probably take most six months or more.  And, additional long-term financial assistance will be need to support the elderly Jewish population. 

As you may be aware, probably every Jewish organization now has a disaster relief fund for the Gulf States. I do not know how each organization intends to use the money it collects (ie: the percentage that goes to helping just Jews vs. helping everyone; the percentage that goes to infrastructure rebuilding vs. financial assistance; etc.), but I encourage you to give to the disaster relief fund of one or more of these organizations. 







Text Box:  The Volunteer Center of

Southwestern Fairfield County

Stamford                   New Canaan

203-348-7714            203-966-5359


Supplies needed for hurricane Katrina relief:
-Bottled water
-Non-perishable food and snacks
-Tarps and tents

Food Items

Flip top or cans that are easily opened

Peanuts, Nuts

Peanut butter, jelly

Children’s snacks/fruit roll ups

Boxed juice/small juices

Granola bars/power bars

Dry milk in easy open pouches/box milk

Raisins, dried fruit

Coffee instant,


Canned pasta meals,

Canned tomato sauce

Canned fruit

Chunky soup

Easy open apple sauce/ fruit snacks



Baby Items:   diapers, baby wipes, baby formula

Personal hygiene products

Six armories have been designated as collection centers: They will be staffed by members of the CT Army National Guard weekdays from 8am until 4pm beginning September 1.

The Norwalk Armory at 290 New Canaan Ave.  located by exit 38

The Hartford Armory at 360 Broad Street
The New Haven Armory at 209 Goffe Street
The New London Armory at 249 Bayonet Street
 The Putnam Armory at 25 Keech Street
The Waterbury Armory at 64 Field Street


Spiritual Journey on the Web


ELUL – the Month of Turning

This week we began the month of Elul.  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 find the entire month’s quotes at  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.

9 Elul
Charity Must be Accompanied with Kindness

Rich' applies to one who is rich in property and 'poor' to one who is poor in property. If the poor man stood in the company of the rich and said to him: ' Give me charity' and he did not give it to him, then 'The Lord is the maker of them all'; He who made this one poor can make him rich and He who made the other rich can make him poor. If the rich man says to this same poor man: 'Why do you not go and work and get food? Look at those hips! Look at those legs! Look at that fat body! Look at those lumps of flesh!', the Holy One, blessed be He, says to him: ' It is not enough that you have not given him anything of yours, but you must set an evil eye upon what I have given him, must you?' Consequently, If he hath begotten a son, there is nothing in his hand (Ecclesiastes 5:13). Of all that he possessed he will not leave for his son, nor take unto himself, anything! (Leviticus Rabbah 34:4)

10 Elul
Don't Talk When People Can't Hear You

Rabbi Shimon ben Eleazar says: Do not appease your fellow in the time of his anger; do not console him while his dead lies before him; do not question him about his vow at the time he makes it; and do not attempt to see him at the time of his disgrace. (M. Pirkei Avot 4:23)

11 Elul
Let the Person Provide Their Own Meaning When They're Suffering

R. Abbahu was bereaved. One of his children had passed away from him. R. Jonah and R. Yose went up [to comfort him]. When they called on him, out of reverence for him, they did not express to him a word of Torah. He said to them, "May the rabbis express a word of Torah." They said to him, "Let our master teach us." He said to them, "Now if in regard to the government below, in which there is no reliability, [but only] lying, deceit, favoritism and bribe-taking, which is here today and gone tomorrow, [if concerning that government] it is said, 'And the relatives [of the felon] come and inquire after the welfare of the judges and of the witnesses, as if to say "We have nothing in our hearts [against you], for you judged honestly (M. Sanhedrin 6:6)" in regard to the government above, in which there is reliability, but no lying, deceit, favoritism, or bribe-taking, and which endures forever and to all eternity, all the more so are we obligated to accept upon ourselves the just decree [of the heavenly government]." (Y. Sanhedrin 6:12, 23d-24a)

12 Elul
God Feels Your Pain

Imma Shalom said… I have this tradition from my father's house: All gates [to God, even the gates of prayer] are locked, except the gates of wounded feelings [which God hears, and responds to, immediately]. (B. Baba Metsia 59b)

13 Elul
You Must Be Correct And Nice to be Right: Being Correct is Not Enough

For three years there was a dispute between Beit Shammai and Beit Hillel, the former asserting: the law is in agreement with our views, and the latter contending, the law is in agreement with our views. Then a voice from heaven announced: both rulings are the words of the living God, but the law is in agreement with the rulings of Beit Hillel.
Since, however, both are the words of the living God, what was it that entitled Beit Hillel to have the law fixed according to their rulings? Because they were kindly and modest, they studied their own rulings and those of Beit Shammai, and were even so humble as to mention the words of Beit Shammai before their own.(B. Eruvin 13b)

14 Elul

Don't Let Low Self-Esteem Stop You From Doing Mitsvot

The Holy One, blessed be He, will make a great banquet for the righteous on the day He manifests His love for the seed of Isaac. After they have eaten and drunk, the cup of Grace will be offered to our father Abraham that he should recite Grace, but he will answer them, "I cannot say Grace, because Ishmael issued from me." Then Isaac will be asked to say Grace, but he will answer them, "I cannot say Grace because Esau issued from me." Then Jacob will be asked, "Take it and say Grace." But he will reply, "I cannot say Grace because I married two sisters during [both] their lifetimes whereas the Torah was destined to forbid them to me." Then Moses will be asked, "Take it and say Grace." He will answer, "I cannot say Grace since I was not privileged to enter the Land of Israel either in life or in death." Then Joshua will be asked, "Take it and say Grace." But he will reply, "I cannot say Grace since I was not privileged to have a son."...Then David will be asked, "Take it and say Grace." He will reply, "I will say Grace and it is fitting for me to say Grace, as it is said, 'I will lift up the cup of salvation and call upon the name of the Lord. (Psalm 116:13)" (B. Pesachim 119b)



There is a cyber shofar at  Hear how it sounds.


Check out for lots of super articles about the High Holidays, including

Multimedia: How to listen to the shofar meaningfully

Guided Meditation: Focusing on the past year

Spiritual Preparations…

Here are five tips to help you get in the right frame of mind.

And Intention & Prayer How important is kavvanah--direction or intention--when praying? -- Rabbi Isaac Klein’s (Conservative) Guide to Jewish Practice – on Elul and teshuvah -- from the Orthodox Union -- a Kabbalistic approach -- material (excellent) from a STAR project on Elul, in which our synagogue participated -- Creative new rituals and meditations for the holidays.


CLAL Holy Days: Rosh Ha'Shanah
"On Rosh Ha'Shanah, Jews proclaim that God is creator and ruler of the universe. But while Rosh Ha'Shanah celebrates cosmic Creation, its central message is addressed to the individual: You are not fixed by your past. Through Creation, the world came into being; it has a beginning and an end. The individual also has a beginning and an end. In the dramatic imagery of the High Holy Days, each person is on trial for his/her life in this period. "On Rosh Ha'Shanah it is written, and on Yom Kippur, it is sealed; who shall live, and who shall die?" Facing death, would you live your life the same way? Or would you be more considerate and loving, more ethical, more adventurous, more creative?"







KOACH College Outreach
is a project of
The United Synagogue
of Conservative Judaism







Elul 5765 / September 4-5, 2005




birthright israel

It's the trip of a lifetime - a free trip to Israel. Registration for our next trip opens Sept. 8. Learn more about birthright...

International KOACH Shabbat
Apply now to host a KOACH faculty member for Shabbat on your campus, Nov. 4-5, 2005

Get a Job
Careers in the Jewish community: New positions posted.



In Love with a Non-Jew
This month's poll: If I fell in love with a non-Jew, I would... (click here to choose an answer)


Jewish Communal Careers
Guide for New Jewish College Students
Creative Grants Program
Basic Jewish Library
Campus KOACH & Hillel Contacts


Shabbat on Campus
Candle-Lighting Times
Guide: Keep Kosher on Campus

Theme: "Interdating and Intermarriage"

Maya Berezovsky: Joining the Tribe

Joe Roberts: Wrongminded Rhetoric

Ben Geyer: Date, But Don't Marry

Jill IngberCapulets and Montagues

Hillary Blank: Dating on the 'Net

Rich Moline: Choosing Hope - The Disengagement and the Hurricane

Rabbi Elyse Winick: Cooking with KOACH: Blintzes (Recipe)

Alyssa AppelmanKOACH's New Assistant Editor

Humor: The Talking Dog

Editorial calendar / Submit an article

Meet the Staff - Bios & Photos

Article Index
We've been net-publishing our monthly e-zine for several years. All past articles are archived online.






birthright israel registration opens tomorrow, September 8, at 9am EST.



Never been to Israel on a peer educational trip?  If you are post high school, 18-26 and looking for a wonderful winter break experience, join KOACH for our winter 2005/06 birthright israel program.



Spaces are limited, so sign up right away at!



These 10 days can change your life...



Questions?  Contact Becky AdelbergKOACH Field Worker at or 847 714 9130



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.


Required Reading and Action Items - List compiled to help save Jews in New Orleans

Israelis Launch Aid Efforts for Katrina Victims
From government-sponsored relief missions to individual grassroots campaigns to collect funds and goods, Israelis are doing their part to ease the plight of the victims of last week's Hurricane Katrina in the southern US. 'America has always been there for Israel, and Israel is there for America...'  read more


U.S. Turns Down Israeli Offer of Extensive Humanitarian Aid - Zohar Blumenkrantz and Amiram Barkat (Ha'aretz)
    The U.S. has turned down Israel's offer to provide more extensive aid for the survivors of Hurricane KatrinaIsrael Radio reported Friday.
    A special El Al flight landed at a base in Arkansas on Thursday loaded with 90 tons of food, bottled water, tents, diapers, and baby formula.


    See also Six Jewish Hurricane Victims Identified (Ynet News)
    A New York branch of Zaka identified the bodies of six Jewish New Orleans residents Wednesday.
    The team arrived in the city two days ago and is expected to go door-to-door at Jewish residences in a bid to identify the Jewish victims of Hurricane Katrina and accord them a Jewish burial – (The Jewish Week) Last week, Americans learned what it was like to be refugees in their own country.
This week, Jewish communities in the South counted their losses and Jewish communities across the country, and Israel, reached out to help.
In New Orleans, in vans and boats, teams under the auspices of the local Jewish federation searched homes and apartment buildings for missing members of the Jewish community. The effort, coordinated with Baton Rouge’s federation, included sheriff’s deputies from East Baton Rouge.
By midweek, they had found and rescued at least 30 people, according to Adam Bronstone, the New Orleans federation’s director of community relations


 50 New Orleans Jewish Students Interested in Studying in Israel - Shoshana Kordova
At least 50 Jewish students from New Orleans have expressed interest in coming to Israel to start the academic year, after Israeli universities and the Jewish Agency announced this week that they would provide full scholarships for students whose lives have been disrupted by Hurricane Katrina. The scholarships cover tuition and board and apply to students of all religions, as long as they are registered at Tulane University or any other New Orleans colleges and universities recognized by Israel. Click here for more information. (Ha'aretz)


Plucked From Gaza, Now We Must Rebuild Our Lives in Israel - Hanna Sender
You know what homeless is? We are now homeless. We have left behind the farm where our children grew alongside the flowers in our greenhouses, and we're living in a kibbutz near Tel Aviv. Eventually, together with the state, we hope to build a new home. We want it to be a farm, so that we can grow flowers again. It takes years to build a home. It takes mere minutes to be made homeless. We could never have imagined this moment back in 1978 when we decided to join a group of 27 families who were going to establish the village of Ganei Tal.
    So many tears fell during those last years in Gush Katif. The IDF soldiers who came to protect us were the same soldiers who have now evicted us. But no, we did not give up. We believed in our way. Now, after 27 years, we are homeless, but I do not accept this as a defeat. In that letter that I left on the front door of the house I wrote to the soldiers, "We won because our struggle will never be forgotten. We won because Gush Katif will never be forgotten. Gush Katif will become part of Jewish and Zionist history; it will become not just another chapter, but a symbol, a model to be imitated." (Washington Post)


Jerusalem's Jewish Roots - Ran Shapira
The recently ended season of excavations at the top of the City of David slope in Jerusalem was accompanied by much excitement. With every passing day, more and more parts of an enormous building were unearthed. "It is without doubt a public building. It matters little if it is a palace or a fortress. The fact is that a structure like this from this period has not been found in Jerusalem until now, so the findings are most certainly sensational," said Dr. Gabi Barkai of Bar-Ilan University.
    The excavation took place in a rectangular strip 10 meters wide by 30 meters long, and the structure that has been unearthed occupies the entire site, even extending beyond its boundaries. It is constructed from immense stones that were placed on an earthen landfill in which hundreds of broken pieces of pottery were found. Dr. Eilat Mazar, the Hebrew University archaeologist in charge of the site, states that the pottery can be dated to the 12th and 11th centuries BCE, to the Jebusite period which immediately predates King David's reign.
    "For years, there have been those who contended there was no evidence of public construction in 10th century BCE Jerusalem," says Mazar. "Based on this, they claim that David and Solomon were not important rulers, as described in the Bible. Now there is evidence of such construction, and those who minimize the importance of David and Solomon have to deal with the facts. Because in an out-of-the-way and remote settlement you would not find a structure like this, the construction of which required abundant resources and a great capacity to plan and execute." "According to the Bible [II Samuel, Chapter 5], David conquered a fortress and then built a palace outside the boundaries of the Jebusite city," says Mazar.
    Two weeks before the end of the excavation season, Mazar headed home with a rare find that had been unearthed that day in one of the structure's rooms: a bulla, a round clay seal about one centimeter in diameter in which its owner's name was inscribed. With the help of a needle and a magnifying glass, she cleaned the grains of dust from the bulla and gradually its inscription was revealed. Three lines in a Hebrew script characteristic of the late First Temple period contained the name of Yehokal ben Shlamyahu ben Shavi, who is mentioned twice in the Book of Jeremiah as a senior minister in the government of Zedekiah. (Ha'aretz)


Book Review: Still Pioneering - Amotz Asa-El
Most people are aware that the Jewish state has first-rate scientists who work in sterling research institutions; that Israel's hi-tech industry is among the world's most innovative; that Teva is a world-leading pharmaceutical locomotive; and that Israeli farming techniques are studied worldwide. What few realize is how much depth and variety of initiative, invention, and pioneering is behind such feats.
    How many know that the Pentium technology so many use routinely when turning on their computer is Israeli, or that all phone calls in China are routed through a system developed by Israel's ECI Telecom, or that the first anti-virus software was developed in Israel? What do most of us know about Israeli firms' contribution to such things as non-invasive surgery, miniature modems, signaling systems, and NASA's Spirit rover mission to Mars? How many of us know that Israeli-grown cows have the world's highest milk-production yields? Helen and Douglas Davis's Israel in the World: Changing Lives Through Innovation presents an integrative picture of a society bent on self-fulfillment and collective achievement against all odds. (Jerusalem Post)


There Are Still Jews in Pakistan - Sam Ser
After last week's meeting between the foreign ministers of Pakistan and Israel, Ishaac Moosa Akhir sent the following e-mail to the Jerusalem Post: "I am a doctor at a local hospital in Karachi....My family background is Sephardic Jewish and I know approximately 10 Jewish families who have lived in Karachi since 200 years or so." (Jerusalem Post)


Shlomo and Dina Jin of China Joined in Matrimony in Jerusalem - Matthew Wagner (Jerusalem Post)
Shlomo and Dina Jin, of Kai FengChina, were joined in matrimony according to Jewish law in Jerusalem on Wednesday. The two have been married as non-Jews for about two decades but tied the knot again, this time as newly converted Jews. Their daughter Shalva converted to Judaism over a year ago and has completed National Service. Jewish traders arrived in Kai Feng and established a synagogue in 1163. To this day about 500 descendants of the community maintain a strong Jewish identity. (Jerusalem Post)  (From the Forward) “A Little off the Top,”By Jay Michaelson  - Marked in Your Flesh: Circumcision From Ancient Judea to Modern America By Leonard B. Glick Oxford University Press, 384 pages, $30To put it mildly, circumcision is a delicate subject. It's almost impossible to discuss the matter without cracking a joke, probably because the ritual makes at least 49% of the population wince and cross its legs. And yet, as a quick Google search will easily reveal, in the past two decades there has been a trove of writing about circumcision — most of it negative, and a lot of it generated by cranks…. Starbucks to make a comeback – (Ha’aretzStarbucks is not giving up. Its first attempt to penetrate Israel failed miserably, but the coffee house chain is trying again. The company has hired MAN Properties Real Estate Consultants to handle a deployment strategy for branches, and it is looking around for a partner-manager. MAN Properties declined to comment



The New Rules of the Game If Palestinians Fire Rockets - Ze'ev Schiff
Recently the Israel Defense Forces held a comprehensive review of the steps that should be taken if the Palestinians continue to fire Kassam rockets after the evacuation of the Jewish settlements from the Gaza Strip or start firing high-trajectory projectiles from the West Bank as well. The prevailing thinking at the meeting, which included experts on international law, was that the rules of the game have changed and that Israel has full rights to self-defense, including the employment of artillery against the sources of the bombardments. Chief of Staff Dan Halutz supported the idea that before an Israeli response, it would be possible to warn the Palestinian population to leave the area.
    Regarding attacks from the West Bank, Israel would not be able to exercise restraint with regard to any rocket or mortar fire against Israeli communities along the Green Line. Such attacks must be seen as a strategic threat that would ultimately lead to the reoccupation of the West Bank. (Ha'aretz)


 Gaza: The Palestinian National Laboratory - Editorial
The Palestinians have never controlled territory of their own. The state that refused to allow itself to be established under the 1947 UN partition resolution, and that then lost the subsequent war, was split between Jordanian annexation and Egyptian military rule. The Palestinians received their first opportunity at self-government from the Oslo process. The results were disappointing.
    Now, the Palestinians are being given a chance to erase that first impression. This time, the international community is willing to invest not only diplomatic effort, but also aid totaling billions of dollars over the course of several years. There is no lack of weak, needy states in Africa and Asia where the world refrains from investing energy and money. If the Palestinians insist on implementing the darker scenarios, and Gaza becomes "ungoverned territory" or a "failed state," they will lose an opportunity that will not return.
    After mid-September 2005, Gaza will become the Palestinian national laboratory. If management allows the lab to blow up, it will have no hope of success, either in the January elections or in its efforts to persuade the Israeli public that it should support additional withdrawals. (Ha'aretz)


Undermining Hamas and Empowering Moderates by Filling the Humanitarian Void - Matthew Levitt and Jamie Chosak
As former World Bank leader James Wolfensohn, now Washington's special envoy for disengagement, lobbies world leaders to offer significant support for Palestinian development projects, a parallel effort is necessary to create new, transparent public and private social-service organizations unaffiliated with Hamas or other groups engaged in terrorism or political violence. This is not as massive an undertaking as some suspect; the amount of money Hamas actually spends on social welfare is relatively small compared with UN aid. The UNRWA cash budget for 2005 was $339 million, while U.S. and Israeli estimates of Hamas' annual spending on social welfare range from $40 million to $75 million. A serious international aid effort funding reformed Palestinian service providers could dwarf Hamas social-welfare institutions with qualitatively and quantitatively superior services to crowd out Hamas' competing services. (Washington Institute for Near East Policy)


Israel to Accept European Inspectors on Egyptian-Gaza Border - Amos Harel and Aluf Benn
Prime Minister Sharon on Wednesday approved an Egyptian compromise proposal regarding control of the Gaza-Egypt border following the Israeli pullout from Gaza. Under the arrangement, Egypt will close the Rafah border terminal for six months of repairs as soon as Israel leaves. During this time, people and goods will enter Gaza through the Israeli terminals at Kerem Shalom and Nitzana. At the end of this period, people will resume entering and leaving through Rafah under the supervision of European border inspectors. Israeli inspectors will be able to keep tabs on traffic through Rafah via cameras installed in the terminal. This is the first time that Israel has accepted the principle of European supervision of Gaza's borders, and it could set a precedent for the Gaza port and airport that the PA is planning. (Ha'aretz)


IDF to Respond Harshly to Gaza Attacks - Sheera Claire Frenkel
 army should respond to terrorism with a heavier hand following Israel's withdrawal from Gaza, IDF Chief of Staff Lt.-Gen. Dan Halutz told the Knesset Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee Tuesday. (Jerusalem Post)
    See also International Community Won't Give Israel Free Hand in Gaza - Herb Keinon
Israel is mistaken in believing that, by withdrawing from Gaza, the international community will tolerate all types of military retaliation against rocket fire originating from Gaza, a senior Western diplomatic official said Wednesday.
    The official said the international community did not accept Prime Minister Sharon's interpretation that the first stage of the road map was sequential, with the Palestinians obligated to dismantle terrorism before Israel had to freeze all settlement construction and remove unauthorized settlements. Rather, the official said, the Europeans believed that the steps must be taken in parallel. (Jerusalem Post)


Israel: Hamas Can Run for Palestinian Council If It Disarms - Aluf Benn
Israel is demanding that Hamas disarm and abrogate its charter as a condition for participating in the elections for the Palestine National Council, scheduled to take place in January 2006. Prime Minister Sharon and Foreign Minister Shalom have been mentioning Israel's opposition to Hamas' participation in the PNC elections in their meetings with foreign diplomats, pointing to the organization's violent activities and to its charter, which calls for the destruction of Israel. Senior Israeli diplomatic sources say the international community is deaf to Israel's pleas. (Ha'aretz)


Lawlessness in Gaza Threatens All Prospects of Statehood - Editorial
In recent months, Palestinian and international human rights groups, lawyers, judges, and activists have been sounding the alarm about the climate of chaos in the Gaza Strip and warning that it threatens to undermine all prospects for peace, security and statehood. The law of the gun is now governing Gaza, and it is the PA, which ought to be governing Gaza, that is ultimately responsible for the climate of lawlessness. The climate of impunity must be replaced with a climate of accountability in which everyone - including members of the security forces - is held accountable for their crimes. (Daily Star-Lebanon)


Cairo Dispatch: False Choice - Joshua Hammer
 Egypt prepares for its first multiparty presidential election, the Mubarak regime's strategy can be summed up by a single word: containment. Mubarak grudgingly green-lighted the vote last February, bowing to pressure from the Bush administration, feisty opposition groups inside Egypt, and a new generation of Western-educated technocrats inside his ruling National Democratic Party. Since then, the ruling party has stage-managed every aspect of the process. Voting is open to all Egyptians, as long as they registered by December 2004 - two months before Mubarak called for the multiparty vote. By some estimates 15 million Egyptians, many of whom have become excited about politics for the first time, have been disenfranchised.
    Numerous Egyptians insist that the process Mubarak has set in motion could easily spiral out of the party's control after the election. "They can't stuff the genie back in the bottle," said Diaa al Rashwan, an analyst with the Al Ahram Center for Political and Strategic Studies in Cairo. (New Republic)


Israeli Government Insists on Dismantling Gaza Synagogues - Dan Izenberg
(Jerusalem Post)

  • The Israeli government on Tuesday asked the High Court of Justice to reject the petition calling on it to seek Palestinian or international guarantees for the survival of the Gaza Strip synagogues and to leave them intact even if no such guarantees are forthcoming.
  • According to the response to the court submitted by the state's representative, attorney Avi Licht, it is not in Israel's interest to ask for international protection. The international community has not intervened to protect Israel from Palestinian terrorism, and Israel is not interested in having an international force dispatched to protect the synagogues. An international presence in Gaza would only hamper Israel's future attempts to fight back against Palestinian terrorism.
  • Licht also rejected arguments that the destruction of synagogues by Israel would encourage other governments to destroy the synagogues in their lands. He wrote that the situation in Gaza, where there is no law and order, was different from those in sovereign states with effective governments. If anything, wrote Licht, the pictures of Palestinian mobs destroying the synagogues might encourage mobs in other lands to do the same.


IDF Sends Aid Team to New Orleans (Israel Defense Forces)
    A humanitarian and medical aid team led by Brig.-Gen. Yuval Kimhi left Israel Thursday with 80 tons of aid for the hurricane struck areas of New Orleans.
    The cargo onboard the plane - which includes food packages, diapers, beds, blankets, generators, and other essentials - was decided upon jointly with the U.S government.


Moussa Arafat's Killing Strengthens Dahlan - Arnon Regular (Ha'aretz)
    Who gains the most from Moussa Arafat's assassination?
    The answer is Palestinian Minister for Civilian Affairs Mohammed Dahlan, the patron of the Preventative Security apparatus, and its head, Rashid Abu-Shabak, who for the past two years have been waging a war to the death against Moussa Arafat.
    The "death squads" of Preventative Security official Nabil Tamus and other mercenaries in the Gaza Strip have clashed consistently over the past two years with the "hell squads" of Moussa Arafat's son, who was abducted Wednesday when his father was killed.

    See also Is Hamas Behind Moussa Arafat's Murder? - Amira Hass (Ha'aretz)
    In 1996, Moussa Arafat's Military Intelligence detained senior Hamas operatives and shaved off their beards in what is still remembered as a major humiliation.
    Moussa Arafat was linked to many incidents of corruption, extortion, and decadent hedonism, but other Fatah and PA officials have been linked to extortion rumors, including Preventive Security chief Rashid Abu-Shabak and national security chief Mohammed Dahlan.
    People are sure their salaries could not support their luxury homes.


Jewish Public Rejects Unilateral Pullout from West Bank - Ephraim Yaar and Tamar Hermann (Ha'aretz)
    According to a survey conducted Aug. 30-Sep. 1, 2005, by the Tami Steinmetz Center for Peace Research at Tel Aviv University, 42% of the Jewish public would not support a far-reaching evacuation in the West Bank under any conditions (up from 37% in April), 34% would support it only in the framework of a peace agreement with the Palestinians (up from 28%), and 14% would favor it even on a unilateral basis (down from 26%).
    67% believe chaos will prevail after the IDF leaves the Gaza Strip, whereas only 16% think the PA will succeed in maintaining law and order.
    68% believe the chances are high or very high that after an IDF withdrawal, attacks on Israel from this area will intensify, including the firing of Kassam rockets.


Faculty Efforts to Combat Anti-Semitism and Anti-Israeli Bias at the University of California-Santa Cruz - Leila Beckwith, Tammi Rossman-Benjamin, and Ilan Benjamin (Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs)
    Over the past five years, a distorted and hostile attitude toward Israel has prevailed at the University of California-Santa Cruz, creating an intimidating environment for members of the campus community, particularly Jewish students.
    Much of the anti-Israeli bias has been generated by faculty members who have injected their personal ideology into course curricula, classroom lectures and discussions, and events and speakers sponsored by departments, research groups, and colleges



Jewish and Israeli Links:                                      


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.







Support Israel by Shopping Israel! 







MYTH #190

Israel has moved the border so it will not withdraw completely from the Gaza Strip.”


Mohammed Dahlan, the Palestinian Authority’s Minister of Civil Affairs, has claimed that Israel moved the northern border of the Gaza Strip about 1.2 miles, and that Israel's disengagement will not be complete unless it withdraws to the 1949 armistice lines (Jerusalem Post, July 4, 2005). By suggesting that Israel is holding onto a piece of Gaza, the Palestinians are threatening to create a Shebaa Farms issue that could undercut the prospects for peace created by Israel's courageous decision to evacuate all its citizens and soldiers from the area.

Substantively, Dahlan’s claim is inaccurate. The border of Gaza was determined during the 1949 Rhodes Armistice negotiations with Egypt. Israel agreed to move the border southeast, creating a bulge in the southern part of the Gaza Strip. In exchange, Egypt redrew the border in the north, moving it more than a mile southwest. According to Israel's National Security Council chief, Giora Eiland, the border was reconfirmed in the Oslo accords (Jerusalem Post, July 4-5, 2005). Today, Netiv Ha’asara, a community of 125 families, many of which were evacuated from settlements in the Sinai as part of the peace treaty with Egypt, is located in the area Dahlan wants included in Gaza.

In the case of Shebaa Farms, the Lebanese terrorist group, Hizballah, has speciously maintained that Israel did not fully withdraw from Lebanon, despite the UN's verification that it has, and used Israel’s presence in the Shebaa Farms area as the pretext for continuing its terror campaign against Israel. If the Palestinians adopt a similar policy toward the sliver of land they claim to be part of Gaza to perpetuate their image as victims, and to try to win propaganda points by claiming to still be under “occupation,” they will once again demonstrate that they never miss an opportunity to miss an opportunity.

If the Palestinians continue terrorist attacks against Israel, and make claims to additional territory, rather than focusing on state-building within Gaza and meeting their road map obligations, Israel will have little interest in pursuing negotiations regarding the West Bank.

This article can be found at

In case you were away this summer, here's what you missed:

Academic Freedom as a Shield for Anti-Semitism

Fact Sheet: "Consensus" Settlements

Fact Sheet: Iran

Myth #183 - "The British helped the Jews displace the native Arab population of Palestine."

Myth #184 - “Israeli checkpoints are unnecessarily preventing Palestinians from receiving medical attention.”

Myth #185 - “Unlike other Arab women, Palestinian women are not killed for dishonoring their families.”

Myth #186 - “Israel has been an expansionist state since its creation.”

Myth #187 - “The creation of Israel in 1948 changed political and border arrangements between independent states that had existed for centuries.”

Myth #188 - “Israel has no right to be in the West Bank. Israeli settlements are illegal.”

Myth #189 - “The employment of Jonathan Pollard to spy on the United States is proof that Israel works against American interests.”

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




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!

Look for pictures of our sukkah on Google! – at



(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.




          Stamford 2006 JCC Maccabi Games Kickoff Event

The JCC Maccabi Games are coming to our area August 13-18, 2006 and we’re ready for the FUN TO BEGIN!


Sunday, September 25th  from 1-3pm

At the JCC   

1035 Newfield Ave.     StamfordCT 06905

Fun for all ages!!!


Try your hand on our Rock Climbing Wall, Velcro Wall or Bungee Run

Race through the Crash Course, Jump on the Moon Bounce

Win big at our Tournament of Champions

Sing out loud at our Karaoke booth

Enjoy hot dogs, refreshments, snow cones, cotton candy, and popcorn

And learn how YOU can GET IN THE GAMES!


Be an athlete! Be a coach! Be a host family! Be a volunteer!

How will you GET IN THE GAMES?


For more information call Jocelyn Sherman at 203-487-0996

Or email





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.



We will never forget…


Help us plant a


At Temple Beth El!


Bring your shovels, gloves, and “white” daffodil bulbs

or buy bulbs at the Temple.

(Bulbs must be white daffodils.)


Join us on Sunday, Oct. 23, 2005

11 AM-1 PM

Next to the Sanctuary.


For more info, call:

The Pomerances 329-8620

The Rutsteins 461-9816


Parents must supervise their children.


Joke for the Week

A Rabbi is walking slowly out of a Shul in New York when a gust of wind blows his hat down the street. He is an old man with a cane and can't walk fast enough to catch his hat. Across the street a man sees what has happened and rushes over to grab the hat and returns it to the Rabbi. "I don't think I would have been able to catch my hat." the Rabbi says.


"Thank you very much." The Rabbi places his hand on the young man's shoulder and says, "May God bless you."

The young man thinks to himself, "I've been blessed by the Rabbi, this must be my lucky day!" So he goes to the Racetrack. In the first race, he sees that there is a horse named Stetson at 20 to 1. He bets $50 and sure enough the horse comes in first.


In the second race he sees a horse named Fedora at 30 to 1. So he bets it all and this horse comes in first also. In the third race, he bets on Bowler. In the fourth it's High Hat, and so on through the day.


.. Finally at the end of the day he returns home to his wife who asks him where he's been. He explains how he caught the Rabbi's hat and was blessed by him and then went to the track and started winning on horses that had a hat in their names. "So where's the money she says?" "I lost it all in the ninth race. I bet on a horse named Chateau and it lost."


"You fool, Chateau is a house, Chapeau is a hat. Which horse won the race?"


"It didn't matter. The winner was some Japanese horse named Yarmulka."


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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