Friday, January 27, 2006

January 28, 2006 - Tevet 28, 5766




January 28, 2006 - Tevet 28, 5766



Rabbi Joshua Hammerman, Temple Beth El, StamfordConnecticut




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(see more below)



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


Just the Facts (service schedule)

The Rabid Rabbi

Mitzvah/Tzedakkah Opportunities

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 for the Week


“Should a government be established in the Palestinian Authority with Hamas leading or participating, the PA will become a sponsor of terror. The world and Israel will ignore it and it will become irrelevant.”


-- Ehud Olmert, Acting Prime Minister of Israel, on Thursday






Sisterhood Shabbat

January 28, 2006 - 28 Tevet 5766

Parashat Vaera


All are welcome to join us for Shabbat services led by Sisterhood members, and for the presentation of this year’s Rose Rosner Award to a most dedicated Sisterhood volunteer!  On that day, 70,000 Women’s League Sisterhood members will celebrate Sisterhood Shabbat nationwide.


Thanks and Yasher Koach to our co-chairs, Caryl Ferber Poser and Marge Shameer as well as all the participants!

A Kiddush/Luncheon follows

sponsored by the Temple Beth El Men’s Club.

Services begin at 9:30 a.m.


Friday Evening 

Candle lighting for Stamford, CT: Candle lighting: 4:46 pm on Friday, 27 January 2006.  Havdalah is at 5:50 on Saturday evening. For candle lighting times, other Jewish calendar information, and to download a Jewish calendar to your PDA, click on  To see the festivals of other faiths as well, go to


Bet and Gimel class dinner and service: 5:45


Kabbalat Shabbat: 6:30 PM – in the lobby


Tot Shabbat: 6:45 – in the chapel


Shabbat Morning: 9:30 AM – Yasher Koach to our Sisterhood service leaders


Children’s services: 10:30

Torah Portion: Va’era - Exodus 6:2 - 9:35

1: 7:8-13
2: 7:14-18
3: 7:19-25
4: 7:26-29
5: 8:1-6
6: 8:7-11
7: 8:12-15
maf: 8:12-15

Haftarah – Ezekiel 28:25 - 29:21

Mincha-Ma’ariv Havdalah – 5:00 PM – Mazal Tov to A.J. Bass, who becomes Bar Mitzvah this Shabbat afternoon

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.: CLAL’s Torah commentary archive:  World Zionist Organization Education page, including Nehama Liebowitz archives of parsha commentaries: For a more Kabbalistic/Zionist/Orthodox perspective from Rav Kook, first Chief Rabbi of Israel, go to For some probing questions and meditations on key verses of the portion, with a liberal kabbalistic bent, go to or, for Kabbalistic commentaries from the Zohar itself, go to To see the weekly commentary from Hillel, geared to college students and others, go to For a Jewish Renewal and feminist approach go to .  For a comprehensive Orthodox viewpoint from the Israeli rabbi, Yaakov Fogelman, go to the Torah Outreach Program at  Guided meditations for each portion by Judith Abrams at For online Parsha quizzes from Pardes in Israel, go to Torah for Kids:  Weekly Lesson of Popular Israeli Rabbi Mordechai Elon: - and his parsha sheets:   From Bar Ilan University:




Morning Minyan: Weekdays at 7:30, Sundays at 9:30 AM






Winter Weather Advisory

Note that in the case of bad weather, weekday minyan does not take place when Stamford public schools are cancelled OR postponed.  On Sunday, minyan is cancelled if our Religious School sessions are cancelled. Friday evening and Shabbat morning’s main service is never officially cancelled, but do use your best judgment in deciding whether to come.  We will endeavor to get proper notification to WSTC radio regarding cancellations, but that may not always be possible for children’s services held on Shabbat.



The Rabid Rabbi


Hamas in Charge


So how terrified should we all be at this turn of events, with Hamas emerging victorious now holding the reigns of power on Israel’s doorstep (and in part of the backyard, for that matter; check that – they are virtually in the kitchen).


It is always amazing to see the way history unfolds.  I do not tend to look at the broad strokes and see God as hacking down old leaders and propping up new ones left and right. That’s where I differ from the Pat Robertsons of the world – not to mention many Jews carrying that rather unsubtle perspective.  But the impact of this election will be far-reaching and no one can predict where it will lead.


Will Hamas “moderate?”  It is plausible that they will be less likely to overtly engage in suicide bombings, but the rhetoric will remain as bombastic as ever.  If the Europeans decide to – for once – respond forcefully to state-sponsored Islamic radicalism, it will make a huge difference.  But they’ve only shown small indications of doing that with Iran, so it’s not something I’m expecting to happen.


But was the PLO-led P.A. itself ever really moderate?  On paper, perhaps, and there was a time when it looked that they might be heading there, but Arafat was always able to hide his terrorist self in the clothing of supposed moderation.  Now there will be no façade.  Even if Abbas sticks around as the figurehead moderate, Hamas is more far transparent.


The PLO may never have moderated, and it is true that nearly half the Palestinian population voted for a party swearing Israel’s destruction, but the most important thing that happened yesterday is that a healthy democracy is beginning to emerge, and the Palestinians took great pride in that.  That is the most visible glimmer of light to take from this earthquake.  Democracies, even those run by fundamentalists, are far less likely to instigate war and create suffering on the part of their constituents.  Ironically, it is through occupation that the Palestinians have learned the tools of creating the freest society in the Arab world – and they’ve learned it from their supposedly ruthless occupiers.  I’m wondering when we will begin seeing news accounts of fearful Palestinians begging to be on the Israel side of the security fence.


The most important thing that needs to happen over the coming weeks is for a new government to define when the next elections will be, if that has not happened already.  There need to be safeguards to ensure that the multi party system prevails in the territories. 


Articles from Ha’aretz and the Jerusalem Post


Abbas: We must honor the results of the elections

Acting PM Olmert: Israel and the world will ignore Hamas-led government, rendering it irrelevant

Rajoub: Fatah will not join Hamas-led government

Analysis: Olmert faces crisis, but Kadima will grow stronger

Netanyahu: 'Hamastan' created before our eyes

International reactions to Hamas victory

Arab world jubliant at 'earthquake'

Likud: Hamas victory direct result of disengagement

Hamas ready to extend calm if Israel reciprocates

Violent clashes erupt between Hamas and Fatah supporters

Hamas's charter: The martyrs' oath

IDF faces two-headed Hamas monster

The earthquake

Analysis: Is there room for optimism?

Labor: Hamas not a partner for talks


Malerie Cohen forwarded an interesting letter written today by a friend involved in an Israel-Palestinian think tank – I’ve featured it below, in the “Required Reading” section



Hanukkah in Israel


Last month, we send two of our Hebrew School’s best young journalists, Alison and Rachel Wolff, to Israel (along with their parents, David and Cheryl).  I gave them the assignment of covering the holiday season and reporting back.  Well, here is their report, which I am considering entering for this year’s Pulitzer Prize….  Thank you, Ali and Rachel!


Chanukah in Israel

By: Alison & Rachel Wolff


       With all the decorations and holiday songs everywhere you go, Chanukah in Israel is like no other Chanukah at all! Chanukah in Israel is sort of like Christmas in America

         Chanukah in Israel was a great experience for all 23 of us, but what really helped was having our tour guide, Yaki, (who is so smart and amazing) there with us. He helped explain every thing that we did not know or understand, and told us everything that we needed to know.  Having Yaki around made everyone feel extra safe and not worried at all.  While we were touring all around Israel we always made sure that we had a Hanukiah and candles with us so that we wouldn’t miss one night of Chanukah.    We would never want to miss a night of Chanukah when we are in Israel J

        Christmas in Israel really just doesn’t exist for us, or most people.  There is no such thing as Christmas carols or trees in the middle of town with lights and there it is like, “Santa Who?” One thing that we noticed that dose not happen here in CT is that almost every home has a hanukiah in their windows every night.  Sometimes we even saw menorahs out side of peoples hotel rooms it is so much different in Israel.

        We made it a point to light the Hanukiah every night. The first night of Chanukah we were in Tiberias, and we lit candles in the lobby of our hotel, along with many other families. Every other night we lit our Hanukiah wherever we were staying, just before we ate dinner.

        The last night of Chanukah we were in Jerusalem, and it was our last night in Israel. Our family took a walk up to Ben Yahuda street, and we discovered a festival. The street was closed off, and there was a stage that was built in the middle. There were kids singing, lights all over buildings, and as we were just about to leave there was a big “BOOM” – we were treated to a surprise fireworks display, making it feel like the 4th of July!

        Alison- my feelings while in Israel were that we were safe, and happy, and with all of my family around me.  Chanukah in Israel was a big treat and I am so glad that I got to spend Chanukah of 2005 in the land of milk and honey where almost everything can be sweet!!!!

        Rachel-I felt really safe when I was in Israel, and Chanukah was really great. Even though I didn’t get presents every night, like we did at home, I still felt special. And we did get presents to bring home from Israel.




Mitzvah/Tzedakkah Projects



Beth El Cares


Jeffrey Rich who has been visiting the Rosenthal Hospice regularly as his mitzvah project for his upcoming Bar Mitzvah.  This photo was taken with Rabbi Hammerman and Dr. Wasserman, a resident whom Jeffrey has befriended, at a recent Hanukkah lighting that Jeffrey organized at Hospice.





Sunday, April 30th 8:30am-1:30pm (before, during and after religious school)
Wanted: 125 adults looking to get involved in a short term project that will save lives. 
No lengthy commitment required.
We need at least 125 volunteers to make this blood drive a success.  
While the Red Cross provides the “beds” we need to put “arms in the beds”.  
We also need volunteers to staff a sign up table during religious school, 
make sign up phone calls, assist with registration, assist with information forms, 
and generally help during the blood drive.  
Don’t forget to sign yourself up to donate-we need 125 donors! 
Please call Cheryl Wolff (968-6361) to get involved.  
Religious School Book Sale: 
One Day Only: Sunday, March 26.  
Religious School Mitzvah Projects:
We are pleased to report that Grades K-3 have completed their annual class mitzvah projects.  
Depending on the grade, the children gave a Chanukkah concert at Brighton Gardens 
assisted living facility or made toiletry kits for the homeless. 
During the next few months the upper grades will participate in their class mitzvah projects:
Grade 4- Make pictures to cheer up the sick at Stamford Hospital 
Grade 5- Birthday closet
Grade 6- Temple/cemetery spring clean up
Watch for details!  Students in 7th grade perform individual mitzvah projects 
in conjunction with their Bar/Bat Mitzvah!
Please contact us if you have ideas for mitzvah projects 
or if you are working on a mitzvah project that you need help with.
Special Thanks:
To all who were involved in our holiday projects. 
In prior thank yous we may have left one out: 
Again this year Julie (5th) and Todd (8th) Piskin donated all their Halloween candy 
to St Lukes Lifeworks for the annual Chirstmas dinner prepared by TBE volunteers. 
Cathy Satz (968-9191;
Cheryl Wolff (968-6361;
BETH EL CARES co-chairs


Spiritual Journey on the Web


Snow and Plagues

The month of Shevat begins this Monday.  Shevat is best known for Tu B'Shevat, the Jewish Arbor Day, which falls on Feb. 13.  We'll focus on this holiday in future O-grams, (for an introduction to Shevat, see; suffice to say for now that Shevat focuses our thoughts on the fragile balance of nature and how we are all God's partners in nurturing life on earth.  Even in the depths of winter, we look outward, both to what is growing now and what will grow in months to come -- if only we get sufficient rain. 

It occasionally snows at this time of year in Jerusalem, a relatively rare occurrence but a most beautiful one.  Just a slight covering of snow seems to fill this sacred landscape with even more enchantment, and all the politics seem to dissolve away.  The place seems downright peaceful.    The timelessness of snow combines with the eternal beauty of Jerusalem to proclaim purity throughout the land.  In Emerson's words (, "Announced by all the trumpets in the sky, arrives the snow."  Snow in Jerusalem demonstrates the precious balance that can be achieved so rarely, between the natural and man made, the historical and the ever-present.

Here are my official top Websites with photos or articles about Jerusalem in snow:  As you peruse them, let yourself dissolve into each photo (some soft Israeli music in the background might help -- go to and choose your station). - Jerusalem Post supplement;  - this article almost makes peace seem possible - shots of Kiryat Ha-Yovel

In the Bible, the ancient Egyptians knew all about what happens when nature's blessings turn to curses.  In this week's portion, we read of the great plagues that afflicted Pharaoh and his people.   Although Passover isn't yet around the corner, it's a good time to begin emptying our wine cup, so to speak, and figuring out what these plagues are all about.  See the cartoon at Here the music and read about them at  See commentary on each plague from my friend and colleague Rabbi Rob Dobrusin at See how the plagues are reenacted in Jewish homes from Arabic speaking countries, at .  Check out to see how they were described by the ancient historian Josephus (1st century).  





The God Questions, Part 1


            Over the next few weeks, “Ask the Rabbi” will focus on questions about God that I get so often from kids, who, by the time they become adults, begin to feel shy about asking.  I’ve tried to respond to the questions in a manner that would be comprehensible either to a child or an adult.  The answers are far from comprehensive, but they point us in the right direction.


1)      How do we know there really is a God?


Think of all the things that are just too brilliant, too perfect, for any person or random process to have created, and the only solution that makes sense is that there is a God.  I’m not just talking about sunsets and flowers.  That’s easy.  When we see the wonders of nature, including all the “bad” things, like earthquakes and hurricanes, we naturally come closer to God.  But what of the less obvious things?  Think of Shabbat, and how perfect it is, how it helps us all to survive in a very complex world by giving all of creation a day off.  What human being could have devised something so brilliant?  Or Matzah – the perfect symbol for a holiday that teaches us about the hardships of slavery (ever try to get the stuff out of your teeth or carpet?) and forces us to show the world how proud we are to be Jewish (ever try explaining the stuff to non Jewish friends, most of whom love to taste it?).  Who else but God could have created Matzah?  The best way to imagine a universe with God is to try to imagine a universe without God.


2)     Where does God come from?


Although God began before the universe, God is not complete yet.  As we build a better world, in a sense we are also building God.  Some Kabbalistic Jews believe that God was sort of a cosmic Humpty Dumpty, who intentionally shattered part of Godself and retreated while we began to pick up and reassemble the pieces of holiness around and within us.  So part of where God comes from is around us, part is within us and part is the glue that holds it all together.  And as each generation reattaches its little piece of Humpty, we are adding our piece.  With each hug, each kind deed and act of tzedakkah, we are making God whole.  What will make God whole?  When the world is whole and there is peace everywhere.


3)     If there is on God, why are there so many religions?


There are certainly lots of religions.  In fact, to an extent there are as many different religions as there are people in the world.  And to make it more complicated, there are as many religions as there have been people who ever lived or ever will live.  That’s because each of us experiences God a little bit differently. Although we all worship the same God, and there are many similarities between religions, we are different because of our different backgrounds.  While each person experiences God a little differently, it helps when groups of people “speak the same language” and share together the wisdom of prior generations.  Our beautiful religion enables us to learn from many great sages of the past three thousand years.  It is very important for everyone to be absolutely comfortable within his or her own religion, allowing it to be a solid “home base” from which to search for God and live a good life.


To be continued…






MERCAZ USA — Slate #9


VOTER REGISTRATION: Deadlines for voter registration are now approaching. Mail-in registration ends as of January 15th, while online registration continues to February 15th. If you have not yet registered to vote, go to Click "Register" to start online process. Click "Learn", scroll down to #8 to download and print out a mail-in form.

PAPER BALLOTS: A second mailing of paper ballots for those who registered after November 15th were mailed at the end of December while a third and final mailing will be going out in the third week of January. Those who register by January 15th and ask to receive a paper ballot (either initial ballot or duplicate/replacement ballot) will be included in this final mailing. Mail-in ballots must be returned to Election Services Corporation postmarked no later than February 28, 2006. Remember to place a stamp on the envelope and put only one ballot per envelope.

EMAIL BALLOTS: Voters who register online after January 15th or those who request a duplicate email ballot will be sent a ballot to the email address provided in their registration. The email ballot will arrive with the words "AMERICAN ZIONIST MOVEMENT" in the "FROM" line. The email address from which the ballot is sent is Email ballots are sent out "bulk", so depending on how your email account is set up, you may find your ballot in your Spam or Junk Mail folder.

CASTING AN EMAIL BALLOT: For the internet ballot to be counted, you need two sets of numbers: a 10-digit Election Validation Number, which is supplied by the American Zionist Movement and is indicated in the message accompanying the ballot, and one's Personal ID Number (the last 6-digits of the registrant's SSN or your DATE OF BIRTH, whichever number was provided at the time of registration). The deadline for casting a ballot is 12:00 midnight, PST, February 28, 2006.

QUESTIONS: Registration problems should be addressed to the American Zionist Movement at (888) 657-8850. Voting issues, including requests for an email ballot or changes of email address should be addressed to the AZM Help Line at or (866) 720-HELP (4357), 8:30 am - 5:30 pm, EST. Please allow up to 3 days for an answer.


Click here to read the MERCAZ Platform and Slate of Candidates.







Required Reading and Action Items


To find all the latest from Israel every day, all sides of every issue from every newspaper, go to

To follow dialogue among Israelis and Palestinians (if it continues…) go to



More on Hamas’ victory:

From Debkafile:

The Palestinian election sets back critically the underlying objective of the US-led global war on terror: denying terrorists territorial strike bases and keeping them on the run - as manifested in the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq. For Israel, allowing the Hamas terrorists to take part in the Palestinian election - after its takeover of the Gaza Strip – was a fatal blunder. It is now condemned to dealing with the Damascus-based Khaled Mashal and Mahmoud a-Zahar in Gaza, now holding the whip hand in Ramallah.

Behind them lurk sponsors and mentors such as Mahdi Aqaf, leader of the radical Egyptian Muslim Brotherhood, Hamas’s parent body, and Sheikh Qardawi, the Qatar-based television preacher. While speaking out against suicide bombers for Western targets, this influential radical ardently advocates Muslim martyrdom for the sacred purpose of killing Israelis.

The peace strategy acting Israeli prime minister Ehud Olmert outlined in his policy address the day before the Palestinian election is passé; it was built around negotiations with Abu Mazen and a Fatah regime in Ramallah. He failed to consider the possibility of having to face up to a Palestinian negotiating partner that takes its orders from CairoQatarDamascus and Tehran.







New York, NY, January 25, 2006 ... The Anti-Defamation League (ADL) today condemned the publication of an outrageous anti-Israel screed that appeared in the official magazine of the World Economic Forum in Davos, and urged the organization not to give legitimacy to such extremist approaches in the future.

          The article, "Boycott Israel" by Mazin Qumsiyeh, an extremist anti-Israel activist, appeared in the current issue of Global Agenda, the official magazine of the World Economic Forum meeting in DavosSwitzerland.  Qumsiyeh is the head of Al Awda, an organization that supports terrorism and advocates for the abolition of Israel.

          "The article is full of outright false statements about Israel, Zionism and Israeli policy towards the Palestinians and crucial omissions regarding the situation on the ground, Palestinian attitudes and actions, and Israeli public support of Palestinian statehood," said Abraham H. Foxman, ADL National Director.  "Moreover, it is permeated with anti-Semitic insinuations of Jewish craftiness, control of the media and American and international policymaking."

          In a letter to Klaus Schwab, Founder and Executive Chairman of the World Economic Forum, ADL called positions presented by Qumsiyeh, "...well beyond the scope of acceptable discourse."

          "We find it hard to believe that Global Agenda would include an article calling for the dismantlement of the United States, or that the Davos meeting would convene a panel questioning the legitimacy of EgyptVenezuela, or France," Mr. Foxman said.  "Yet, Mr. Qumsiyeh's denial of the State of Israel's right to exist and his appeal for international actions to counter the state and Zionism - bald calls for the elimination of Israel - are given legitimacy through the imprimatur of the World Economic Forum."


See also: Davos chair apologizes for magazine's Israel boycott call  




Hope will have to visit on another day

January 26, 2006
The Palestinian people have spoken and their voice has been heard.  No, the results did not surprise me; I have been speaking about a 55% Hamas victory for several weeks.  The handwriting was on the walls, but the pollsters and the analysts failed to see it. The majority of Palestinians chose Hamas not only as a protest vote against the corruption of Fateh and the PA, as many Palestinians will tell us.  The people also voted for Hamas because of its political agenda, and the Hamas won because most Palestinians share the belief that the negotiated process based on Oslo was not only bad for Israel, it was perhaps, even worse for Palestinians.
The al Aqsa intifada received wide public support at its outset from a public that was deeply influenced by the unilateral Israeli withdrawal from Lebanon. In the eyes of Palestinians, 2000 Hizballah guerillas forced the great and mighty army of Israel to run from southern Lebanon with its tail between its legs.  Likewise, in the eyes of a large majority of Palestinians, Israel evacuated Gaza to the last grain of sand as a result of Hamas’ hitting of Israel inside and outside of Gaza.  Israel left Gaza not as a result of a peace process, not as a result of negotiations, not as part of a decision to empower Mahmoud Abbas and his moderate regime. The rise of Hamas is the result of the faulty policies of both Israel and the Palestinian Authority.
The election of Hamas put the final nail in the coffin of the peace process. The only remaining elements of the peace process – the Paris economic protocol under which Israel collects VAT and Customs tariffs and transfers them to the PA treasury will now end.  The Israeli transfers to the PA coffers account for about 50% of the PA budget.  The Government of Israel will not pay anything into the government of Hamas. The Road Map for peace is also dead. Phase I of the Road Map demands from the Palestinians to disarm the terrorist groups and the militia.  Will Hamas disarm itself?  Will the Hamas run Ministry of Education introduce peace education text books in the schools responding to the international call to end incitement? Will the Hamas end the policy of naming public squares, streets and buildings in the name of suicide bombers?
Many people are suggesting that Hamas will go through a period of reform and change (as the name of the political party under which they ran suggests).  There is no doubt that some moderate voices have been heard in the past weeks of the election campaign.  There are some people who quote Ariel Sharon when he said “what you see from here (the Prime Minister’s chair) is not the same things you see from there (meaning the opposition).  It is true that Hamas may become more moderate and more practical.  Hamas may eventually adopt a position that would allow it to enter into some kind of negotiations with Israel, however, I assess that this is a process that will take years, not days. Hamas may hold fast to some kind of ceasefire with Israel, even if it is not negotiated with Israel. But any attacks against Israel by Hamas or groups which identify themselves as Hamas or for that matter, by any Palestinian factions, the Hamas government will be held responsible by Israel. Mahmoud Abbas will be held responsible by Israel as President of Palestine and as Abbas cannot hold that responsibility, his days in government are numbered.
Some people claim that the realities of government and the need to provide bread to the people will lead Hamas into the direction of recognizing Israel and denouncing terrorism in order to regain the financial support of the United States and the European Union which will now end following the elections.  Hamas is one step ahead of the United States and the EU.  Last week Hamas leader in exile, Khaled Mashal met with Iranian President Ahmadinejad, they didn’t only discuss the rising costs of a barrel of oil, they also discussed how much of those windfall profits would be pumped into the Palestinian economy.  The Hamas government of the Palestinian Authority will not be intimidated by US and EU threats to stop financial support.  Iran’s millions of barrels of oil everyday being pumped and sold all over the world will provide the Palestinian Authority with the ability to withstand any international boycott.
Some Europeans, some Israelis and some others will pressure Israel into opening a new dialogue with the Hamas.  There is no reason to believe that the Israeli requirements for entering into that dialogue will be any different than they were regarding dialogue with the PLO.  Israel worked overtime to ensure that the United States and others would not bend to the demands in the 1980s to recognize the PLO.  Those demands – recognizing Israel’s right to exist, denouncing terrorism and agreement to a negotiated process will remain the Israeli minimal conditions for recognizing the Hamas government of the Palestinian Authority.
The political time clock has been forced back some 30 years due to the choice of the Palestinian people that was influenced by the failures of both sides. The main problem is that the solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict that was obvious 30 years ago (although not obvious to most Israelis and most Palestinians then), namely the two-states for two people formula will not remain an option even 10 years from now.  The acting Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert and the new Israeli foreign Minister Tzipi Livni, both stated in their speeches in the Herzliya conference this week that the ultimate fulfillment of Israel’s national strategic vision today is the creation of a Palestinian state next to Israel.  They both recognize that the only way to reach the end of the conflict is through a negotiated process, but today, it is clear that there is no partner for negotiations on the other side.  Some may say that this has been the clear strategy of Israel for years, to create a situation where there really is no partner. I don’t believe that this was the real intention, but whether or not Israel wanted Hamas to come to power is not relevant today – Hamas is in power and the fate of Israelis and Palestinians alike is affected by the results of the democratic process in Palestine.
Israel will retain its strategic options for additional unilateralism.  Israel will probably continue to act to determine its borders with the Palestinians without negotiations. The decisions that Israel will make will be far reaching, even more dramatic than what the next Prime Minister probably has in his mind right now – some kind of limited disengagement while holding onto the Jordan Valley and other parts of the West BankIsrael will not be able to sustain a limited withdrawal and will probably come to the conclusion that it must unilaterally end the occupation.  This will require a withdrawal of some 90%+ of the West Bank.  In my assessment Israel will also decide to remove the settlements in the Jordan Valley, but will maintain a military presence there in full agreement with the Government of Jordan.  Israel will seek to withdraw behind the security barrier and to lock the door on what they will call “Hamastan”. Israel will not seek any cooperation and will take every step possible to limit economic cooperation and all other forms of interaction with the Palestinian Authority. Israel will say to the international community that the occupation has ended, that Israel is no longer in control of the Palestinian population and that it bears no responsibility for its welfare.  The responsibility for the welfare and well being of the Palestinian people, Israel will say, is on the shoulders of the Hamas government of the Palestinian Authority.
The Government of Israel and the Government of Jordan will want to squeeze the Palestinians in the West Bank with the hope that Hamas’ influence can be contained.  Israel will fear seepage into the one million strong Palestinian citizens of Israel and Jordan will fear seepage of Islamic extremism over the Jordan River. There will be more seepage eastward than westward.  Palestinians in Israel are much better equipped to understand what they have to lose than the Palestinian majority of Jordan.  The Government of Jordan will therefore, also limit its contacts and cooperation with the Palestinian Authority.
There is a chance that forces within Palestine will seek to take action against their new government.  Fateh armed groups and perhaps Palestinian policemen who have been loyal to the Palestinian Authority may find themselves being replaced by Hamas activists.  Palestinian warlords who had a free reign under the past government may be threatened by the new one.  These forces may combine their efforts together to destabilize the situation that Hamas will seek to create.  While this scenario is not immediately likely, it is one that may develop over time.
One interesting point to raise is the fact that the elections took place under a sense of complete law and order. The chaos and the violence of the past weeks disappeared on Election Day. There was a real festival of democracy.  I visited polling places in the south of the West Bank and I was truly impressed by what I saw. Today, the streets of Palestine are filled with parades of cars with the green hamas flags flying high and the mosques loudspeakers praising the victory of  Islam.  These were by far the most democratic elections that have been held anywhere in the entire Arab world ever. Was the calm and law and order of yesterday possible before yesterday?  Could Mahmoud Abbas have asserted himself and the rule of law from the beginning of his Presidency a year ago?  I believe that he could have.  He did not lack the legitimacy then and had taken action then, we probably would not be in the same situation today.  (Spilled milk).
Will the outcome of the Hamas elections affect the outcome of the Israeli elections?  Some people suggest that the Israeli public will respond by turning to the right.  I don’t share that assessment.  The Israeli public will increase its support for Kadima and for Olmert.  The Israeli public understands that it is futile to put demands and conditions on the Palestinians under the Hamas leadership.  The Likud and Benyamin Netanyahu represent freezing the status quo. Those conditions cannot be met and why entrap ourselves into maintaining an unsustainable status quo because of what the Palestinian people have decided.  The Israeli public’s determination to support unilateral steps that will strengthen Israel’s defensive position and further increase international support for Israel will strengthen the support for Kadima.  The Israel stock market will respond initially badly to the Hamas victory, and some of the international money markets may speak about lowering Israel’s credit rating, but these will bounce back quickly when it becomes clear that Israel is determined to take the steps necessary to protect itself through continued disengagement.  Hamas may try to transport its Qassam rocket war to the West Bank and may even improve the technology of this low-tech non-strategic weapon.  Israel will respond to this threat and will have the support of the international community.  Without full physical control of the West Bank and Gaza it will be difficult for Israel to prevent a possible ballistic intifada.  If this scenario emerges, we may see in the coming years a call for the international community to impose a foreign trusteeship over Palestine in place of the Hamas government. Israel will not be hasty in reoccupying all of Palestine.
From my seat as the Co-CEO of an Israeli-Palestinian institution trying to build bridges of understanding between Israelis and Palestinians, there is a real dilemma.  Do we try to build bridges between Israel and the Hamas or do we try to maintain communications and cooperation between the Palestinian opposition to Hamas and to Israel and the Israeli government? It is clear that we cannot do both.  Personally, I will not engage in dialogue or try to engage in dialogue with someone who does not recognize my right to live and my right for self determination. I will not sit with someone who wishes to kill me or to force me to leave this land. If I decide to try to find the cracks in the Hamas wall of non-recognition, it is not clear that there are people on the other side who want to talk to me.  Yesterday’s elections in Palestine produced disastrous results – both for Palestine and for Israel.  It is difficult for me, the perennial optimist to see anything positive about the outcome of this democratic process.  I can only hope that I am wrong.
Gershon Baskin, Ph.D.





Help Wanted:

Co-Chair for our congregational Second Seder (we have one already!)

Contact Rabbi H. at




February 3-5, 2006


featuring JTS student, Abbi Sharofsky

and TBE’s own

Elise (Kahn) Dowell, Senior Director of Communications at JTS


   We will welcome Abbi Sharofsky, a student from the Jewish Theological Seminary, who will help lead services and offer a D’var Torah on Shabbat morning.

      On Sunday, February 5th at 10:00 a.m. join us for bagels, etc., sponsored by Sisterhood, as we welcome Elise Dowell (daughter of our own Evelyn and Bruce Kahn) for the viewing of “To Lead a Jewish Life:  Education for Living,” a new documentary by JTS, which explores education as a spiritual journey through which a child learns to be Jewish.  The documentary features commentary by experts across denominations, including Hebrew Union College’s Jewish Education Studies Program, summer camp directors and counselors, and JTS’ William Davidson Graduate School of Jewish Education, the largest such school in the country.


      Abbi graduated from Muhlenberg College in 2004, where she studied psychology and art.  She is currently in her second year of a Master’s degree program in Jewish Education at the Davidson School.  Her work within the Jewish community includes teaching Hebrew high school in Long IslandNY, working with USY, and interning for the Foundation for Jewish Camping.  She also enjoys teaching Judaism to all types of groups, especially teens, and is planning to work as a Jewish educator in informal community settings.


      Elise Dowell is the Senior Director of Communications at The Jewish Theological Seminary.  In this position she is responsible for all marketing, media relations, advertising and interactive efforts for the institution.  She also manages the production of award-winning documentaries that are aired on ABC and NBC.

      Elise has been involved in the Stamford Jewish community her entire life.  Her family belongs to Temple Beth El, she attended Bi-Cultural Day School, was a member of several local Jewish youth organizations, and worked at the Stamford JCC.

      Elise holds a BBS with a concentration in marketing from Emory University and an MBA from Columbia Business School.  She and her husband, David, live in New York City.




at the World Wide Wrap

Sunday, February 5th at 9:00 a.m.


     For the sixth year in a row, thousands of Conservative Jews around the world will be “wrapped up” in the “ties that bind.”  As part of the WORLD WIDE WRAP, Jews around the world--men and women--will participate in an ancient practice called “tefillin” on Sunday, February 5, 2006.  A form of prayer, tefillin involves wrapping leather straps attached to boxes containing scripture around the forehead, arm and hand in an intricate pattern that spells out the name of God.


     Join our 7th grade families for the “Wrap,” for an explanatory morning learner’s service and a video entitled “The Ties that Bind.”  Beth El will be one of the hundreds of congregations worldwide that are participating the Wrap.  Extra sets of tefillin will be provided, and instructions will be given to those who are in need of assistance.  (Naturally, it’s also OK just to watch!)  A bagel breakfast will follow.


     The Federation of Jewish Men's Clubs in New York City organizes and sponsors the World Wide Wrap.  The FJMC created the video “The Ties that Bind” to reacquaint Conservative Jews with the ancient, mysterious and beautiful ritual.







Adult Education Classes



“Our Shared Stories: Central Figures in Religion as Portrayed in the Bible, Quran & other Sacred Texts.”


Next session:  Tuesday, Feb. 14 at 7:30 p.m. NOTE CHANGE OF DATE!!!

Topic:  David and Solomon

Led by:  Rabbi Joshua Hammerman, Rev. Douglas MacArthur, and Dr. Behjat Syed



with Rabbi Selilah Kalev

Meets weekly on Thursdays at 10:00 a.m.




An Introductory Class for Dummies, Smarties…

and Those Who Don’t Know How to Ask

with Rabbi Joshua Hammerman

9:15 a.m. - 10:00 a.m.



Sunday, January 29th

Talking About God



with Rabbi Joshua Hammerman

 THIS Sunday, January 29th

 at 11:00 a.m. – note change of date

Assisted Suicide and Euthanasia



with Rabbi Selilah Kalev

Tuesday, January 10th 7:30 p.m.



TALMUD FOR EVERYONE with Rabbi Joshua Hammerman

Wednesday, Feb. 1 at 11 AM



And set aside the weekend of March 3-5…




Sponsored by Penny & Michael Horowitz

In loving memory of Bessie Silver


We welcome






Friday, March 3, 2006


Kabbalat Shabbat begins at 6:30 p.m.

Tot Shabbat begins at 6:45 p.m.


We will join hundreds of synagogues across the continent as they take part in an historic national Jewish event to celebrate what unites all Jews - SHABBAT!


Congregational Shabbat Dinner follows at 7:15 p.m.  (Watch for reservation form…)

ALL are welcome!



Friday, March 3rd

Rabbi Telushkin will speak during dinner:

“The 21st Century: A Jewish Vision, One Day at a Time”

Sign up for Shabbat Across America


Shabbat, March 4th

Rabbi Telushkin will speak on:

“What Jewish Humor Tells Us about the Jews”

with question and answer period during lunch


Saturday, March 4th at 7:30 p.m.

at the home of Ron and Grecia Gross

Rabbi Telushkin will speak on:

“Jewish Literacy: How to Become a Knowledgeable Jew”

RSVP to our education office at


Sunday, March 5th at 10:00 a.m.

“You Shall Be Holy”

based on Rabbi Telushkin’s new book (being published THAT WEEK),

A Code of Jewish Ethics




and, on that Shabbat morning…


Dedication of a Plaque on Noah’s Ark

Remembering SHIRLEY FISH

beloved member of TBE and former Associate Principal of our Hebrew School for 20 years!

By the TBE Discussion Group


Joseph Telushkin, named by Talk Magazine (September, 1999) as one of the 50 best speakers in the United States, is the author of Jewish Literacy:  The Most Important Things to Know About the Jewish Religion, Its People and Its History.  The most widely selling book on Judaism of the past two decades, Jewish Literacy has been hailed by leading figures in all the major movements of Judaism, and was brought out in a new edition in 2001.  In March, 2006, Bell Tower/Crown is publishing the first volume of his monumental work, A Code of Jewish Ethics:  You Shall be Holy, a comprehensive presentation of Jewish teachings on the vital topic of personal character and integrity.


Telushkin’s 1997 book, Biblical Literacy:  The Most Important People, Events and Ideas of the Hebrew Bible, was chosen as a selection of the Book-of-the-Month Club.  The Book of Jewish Values: A Day by Day Guide to Ethical Living was published by Bell Tower/Crown Books in 2000, and was the subject of a PBS special that aired throughout the United States that December.  His book, The Golden Land, a museum--in-a-book, tells the story of the Jewish migrations to the United States. In August, 2003, Bell Tower/Crown Books published The Ten Commandments of Character:  Essential Advice for Living an Honorable, Ethical, Honest Life, and the same month, Touchstone/Simon and Schuster reissued a revised and expanded version of Why the Jews:  The Reason for Anti-Semitism, which Telushkin co-authored with Dennis Prager.  In 2004, Toby Press published his novel, Heaven’s Witness, co-written with Allen Estrin, a murder mystery which deals with the themes of reincarnation and life after death.  He and Mr. Estrin have recently completed a screenplay of the novel for a TV movie to air on CBS.





Arava Institute Hazon Israel Ride

Cycling for Peace Partnership & Environmental Protection

May 9th-16th, 2006


Join one hundred and fifty riders from Israel and America to ride from Jerusalem to Eilat over five days, May 9-16, 2006!


Cycle via Jerusalem, Ashkelon, the Negev, Mitzpeh Ramon and Kibbutz Ketura to Eilat. Celebrate on the beach in Ashkelon.  Spend Shabbat in Mitzpe Ramon by the spectacular Ramon Crater, and end with a closing banquet on the final night in Eilat.


The Arava Institute Hazon Israel Ride is an extraordinary experience.  It’s a powerful way to show support.  And it’s a unique way to learn about a range of challenges that Israel faces—and the ways that together we can make a difference.


For more information and to register, go to , or email Rebecca Guber, Hazon Ride Director, at


The ride is co-sponsored by Hazon, a New York-based organization dedicated to fostering new vision in the Jewish community through outdoor and environmental education, and the Arava Institute for Environmental Studies (AIES).  AIES is working towards peace and sustainable development on a regional and global scale by bringing together students from the Middle East (IsraelJordan, and the Palestinian Authority) and North America to study environmental issues.  Israeli environmentalists and Arava Institute students will join the ride at various points along the way.


The Ride takes place May 9-16, 2006.  Riders pay registration fee & commit to raise a minimum sponsorship amount.  The Ride is then fully inclusive, including domestic flights in Israel, all food, all accommodation, and full bike support for eight nights and seven days.


Early registration closes January 22 – sign up today!








Sun-Thurs 11:30am-11:00pm
Thursday open till Midnight




Pre Game Special – feeds approximately 10 people - $109.00


1-3 foot hero                                               

20 hot dogs
2 pound Cole slaw
2 pound pickles
Sour kraut
Russian dressing

Half Time Special - feeds approximately 20 people - $199.00

2-3 foot hero
10 burgers
10 hot dogs
2 pounds Cole slaw
2 pounds potato salad
3 pounds pickles
Sour kraut
Russian dressing


Mouthwatering Extras

Each 2 foot hero - $36.00
9x13 pan of chicken fingers - $65.00
9x13 pan of Buffalo wings - $60.00
Tossed Salad (shallow sheet pan) with 2 dressings - $55.00
9x13 pan of garlic roasted potatoes - $35.00
9x13 pan of sweet roasted potatoes - $35.00

Don’t see what you want? Just ask us!

 is an announcement list for the entire Jewish community of Stamford Connecticut. Need a babysitter? Need a ride? Selling your home? Promoting your business? Announcing an event? Give us a try!
More than 500 people have already signed up--and we are looking to double that number in 2006.
If you are not already signed up, and would like to join the group, click on the following link:

Questions?  Contact Michael Feldstein at



(Monday in Israel)


You are invited to the United Synagogue Fuchsberg Jerusalem Center to view the 2006 Super Bowl live, on wide screen!  Come join the Conservative/ Masorti community, hosted by Nativ and other participants of our programs.


Monday, February 6, 1:00 a.m. in the morning - The game begins


Munchies provided


Entrance through the Gate at Agron 6


Jewish Family Service Begins Outreach

for its 2006 Annual Camp Scholarship Program



It’s that time of year!   JFS is once again accepting applications for its Annual Camp Scholarship Program.


This program was created through the generosity of Ben and Joan Zinbarg, who established a fund to assist families requiring financial help to send their children to a Jewish Camp.  They have been joined over the years by other generous donors who understand the impact of this unique Jewish experience. 


It is well known that a Jewish camp experience helps to strengthen youngsters’ Jewish identity and future involvement in the Jewish community.  It is an experience they never forget.  We at JFS are proud to be able to provide this wonderful opportunity.


This program is open to all Jewish children from the Greater StamfordDarien, New Canaan, Westport, Weston, Wilton and Norwalk area whose families require assistance.  Children must be entering first grade, or higher, in September to qualify.


Families wishing to apply should call Jewish Family Service at 203-921-4161 to request an application.  All applications must be submitted by April 1, 2006. 


Anyone interested in helping to support the Camp Scholarship Program should contact Matt Greenberg, Executive Director, at the above number. 



This is a reminder that order forms for the next gift card (SCRIP)

order are due in the Hebrew School office by noon this Sunday!

We also have gift cards available for immediate purchase for the following stores:

Stop & Shop, Shop Rite, A&P, Coldstone Creamery and Bath & Body Works

Thank you for supporting our Hebrew School!

Each gift card order that you place creates revenue for the continued enhancement of our curriculum and facility!


Temple Beth El to Honor Past Presidents - Dancing Through the Years


On April 1, 2006, Temple Beth El will host its annual dinner dance where we will pay tribute to our past presidents.  This is not an April Fool’s Joke!  Come join us as we go "Dancing Through the Years” led by a band featuring music from the ‘70’s, 80’s and ‘90’s, and of course, the preceding decades. The festivities will start at 7:30 p.m.


The community is invited to join us as we express our gratitude for the commitment and achievements of these lay leaders, 14 men, and one brave woman in their midst, who have dedicated a minimum of two years of their lives to benefit Temple Beth El.  Of course, these two years do not include the work they did leading up to their tenure as presidents and their continued involvement with Temple Beth El since their presidencies ended. Temple Beth El past presidents and honorees are:


Gordon Brown, Rosalea Fisher, Al Golin, Fred Golove, Jack Greenberg,

Ron Gross, Marty Israel, Herb Kahan, Alan Kalter, Mark Lapine, Milton Mann,

Neil Perlman, Gerald Poch, Brian Rogol and Jack Wofsey


For more information, to purchase tickets to the dinner dance or to buy an ad in the commemorative journal, please contact Temple Beth El at 322-6901.



2006 Fairfield County Ct Jewish Little League

Registration and Sponsorship Forms are Now Posted on the League Website:

See the Website for More Details!

Just Posted to the site: the 2005 FCCJLL Yearbook in Full Color
See what last season looked like!!

Questions: Please contact league commissioner Seth Marlowe




JCC Maccabi Games

Athlete Tryouts Are Coming

Sign-up Time is Now!


Calling all teenage Jewish athletes and volunteers!


Now is the time to sign up for this coming summer’s 2006 Stamford JCC Maccabi Games.  Tryouts for team sports will be held in late January and early February.  Individual sports are on a signup basis.  Maccabi Games coaches are waiting to hear from you!


Don’t miss out on this amazing event and the chance to go for the gold (or silver or bronze!) in tennis, basketball, swimming, baseball, soccer, dance, ping pong and more!  If you’re not an athlete, join in the fun as a Star Reporter, a host family, or a volunteer.  1,000 Jewish teen athletes will be coming from all over the USIsrael and the world to participate in this great event combining sports with Jewish culture.


Save these dates, August 13-18, for the 2006 Stamford JCC Maccabi Games.  Ages 12 through 16 are eligible.


For more information, call or e-mail Jocelyn Sherman at 203-487-0996 or, or Maccabi Games Assistant Director Ernest Lamour at 203-487-0971 or


A Free Concert

 Featuring Pharaoh’s Daughter


February 12, 2006, 2:00 pm


 Hosted by Congregation Beth El of Norwalk


In celebration of Camp Ramah New England


Sponsored by The Olshansky and Singer Family funds


Supported by Local Area Synagogues and Day Schools





Heading North from New York & Stamford:
Take EXIT 16 and turn left at the traffic light onto East Avenue. Proceed straight ahead 0.5 mile through 3 more lights. Synagogue is on the right .

Heading South New Haven & Bridgeport:
Take EXIT 16 and turn right at the traffic light onto East Avenue. Proceed straight ahead 0.5 mile through 2 more lights. Synagogue is on the right.






Thanks to Diane Gold for this gem…


In a small Florida city, the rabbi developed quite a reputation for
impressive sermons; so much so, that everyone who was Jewish in the
community came every Shabbat.

Unfortunately, one weekend a member had to visit Long Island for his
nephew's bar mitzvah, but he didn't want to miss the rabbi's sermon, so
he decided to hire a Shabbat goy to sit in the congregation and tape the
sermon so he could listen to it when he returned.

Other congregants saw what was going on, and they also decided to hire
Shabbat goys to tape the sermon so they could play golf instead of going
to shul.

Within a few weeks time there were 100 gentiles sitting in shul taping
the rabbi. The rabbi got wise to this. The following Shabbat he, too,
hired a Shabbat goy who brought a tape recorder to play his prerecorded
sermon to the gentiles in the congregation who dutifully recorded his
words on their machines...

...marking the first incidence in history of artificial insermonation.



Previous Shabbat-O-Grams can be accessed directly from our web site (

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