Friday, January 20, 2006

January 21, 2006 - Tevet 21, 5766

January 21, 2006 - Tevet 21, 5766



Rabbi Joshua Hammerman, Temple Beth El, StamfordConnecticut




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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


“I’m not complaining about the fact he said it — he can say whatever he wants. One of my problems is the lack of outrage from the public, though the White House has come out against the reverend’s statements. Why aren’t more people upset about this? I know that Robertson expresses the opinion of a radical minority, but the fact that this group exists and continues to grow scares me — and should scare all of you”


-- TBE’s Sam Ginsburg, on Pat Robertson, in his column in the Pitt News







Friday Evening 

Candle lighting for Stamford, CT: Candle lighting: 4:38 pm on Friday, 20 January 2006.  Havdalah is at 5:42 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


Kabbalat Shabbat: 6:30 PM – in the chapel


Tot Shabbat: cancelled for this week


Shabbat Morning: 9:30 AM – Mazal tov to Philip Schapiro, who becomes Bar Mitzvah this Shabbat morning!

Children’s services: 10:30

Torah Portion: Shemot - Exodus 1:1 - 6:1

1: 3:1-6
2: 3:7-10
3: 3:11-15
4: 3:16-22
5: 4:1-5
6: 4:6-9
7: 4:10-17

Haftarah – Isaiah 27:6 - 28:13; 29:22 - 29:23


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 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:

Sunday morning at 11:00 – visit by Camp Ramah representative




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


Holy Schleppers



Reb Shlomo Carlebach used to call the wayward assortment of down and out Jews who followed him around “Holy Schleppers.”  Journalist Jennifer Bleyer describes her Jewish journey among the Holy Schleppers in an essay found at  Bleyer became the founder of “Heeb” magazine, a counter-culture swipe at the Jewish establishment that simultaneously expresses the deep alienation and tribal connection that many Jews feel.  Although the focus of this alienation has always been on young Jews, the culture of “Heeb” has struck a chord among many baby boomers, who, after all, invented the counter culture. 


Try though we might, the Jewish establishment cannot shake its stodgy image.  The simple fact of our being a suburban synagogue is a serious obstacle in our quest to reach out to those who are seeking meaning in being Jewish.  Bleyer’s journey is fascinating because once she achieved the imprimatur of “coolness,” she quickly began to lose interest in “Heeb,” eventually leaving it and going on to other things.  She found that you can’t be both cool and an outsider, and for her, being Jewish was meaningful only through the alienation of being a Holy Schlepper


So here’s our conundrum. So much of what we do in framing Judaism for the next generation is to convince them that it is “cool.”  And in fact, now it is! (I won’t bore you by reciting all the evidence in our popular culture).  But in achieving “cool” we have lost, in Bleyer’s estimation, the authenticity of our message.  Judaism was founded in exile, nurtured in exile and framed by the experience of exile.  Even in the Jewish homeland, there is a feeling of being an outsider, unwanted by the world.  When we stop being outsiders the Jewish message loses much of its power.


I’m not sure what the answer is.  I know that by saying “Be Jewish and be Miserable,” we won’t gain too many converts (and remember that every Jew these days is literally a Jew by Choice).  But I love Jennifer Bleyer’s obsession with the question.


Her essay concludes with this apocryphal tale the alienated insider, one that we can all relate to:


Once, there was a young rabbi. People came from near and far to hear this young rabbi speak, because the way he spoke about Torah made them feel like they were flying through the air. And when the rabbi spoke, he himself felt like he was flying, such was the enjoyment he received from teaching Torah. Once he met with his own rabbi in the privacy of his study. There, he confessed that he didn't believe a word that he said. He didn't believe that the Torah was true.

"Oy," said the young rabbi, "how can I go on like this? They hang on my words, and I enjoy teaching them, but this is hypocrisy!" The great rabbi looked at him and replied, "So you enjoy it, and they enjoy it. You get joy from it, and they get joy from it. The only one it's bad for is hypocrisy!"


This Thing Called Shul


The following interesting article, “This Thing Called Church,” was sent out in the newsletter of the Alban Institute’s weekly newsletter.  While many of the Christian references may seem foreign to us, the main message rings true to all faith groups, including TBE: “Our challenge, therefore, as we consider how to create vital, healthy congregations for the future, is to help congregations regain—or gain for the first time—theological content, integrity, and passion. It’s time for us to recognize that such theological focus and renewal are at the heart of the renewal and vitality of the church.”




by Anthony B. Robinson

A lack of theological content and clarity may be at the core of the current malaise of many mainline Protestant congregations. It is my belief that an integral and vital relationship exists between our core convictions, our theology, and our health as congregations.

It therefore concerns me that the literature on what it takes to create healthy congregations includes a great deal on systems theory, leadership studies, conflict management, and a variety of other approaches (all of which are helpful and valid) but little that is explicitly theological or biblical in nature. By and large, it seems that congregational health is not considered to have much to do with either the core convictions of the Christian faith, theology, or the Bible.

In particular, little attention is paid to ecclesiology—the theology of church. In fact, Christian conviction about the church often seems to be missing entirely. This lack, I believe, should be central to our efforts as we work to build healthy congregations for the future.

Click here to continue reading “This Thing Called Church,” featured in the current issue of Congregations magazine



Mitzvah/Tzedakkah Projects



Beth El Cares:


Locks of Love
Todah Rabah to Lily Schacht (age 10) (on bottom), Sophie Koester (age 10, just below)
and to mother and daughter team Mindy Hausman and Stephanie Hausman (age 7, above),
the most recent in a series of donors to cut at least 10 inches of their hair for Locks of Love,
an organization that makes wigs for needy children!
We will announce the spring group donation date shortly,
for those of you who want to cut your hair in a group setting and the comfort of the temple’s building.
We hope those children who expressed an interest in participating will have their 10 inches by then!
Blood Drive: 
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.
Cathy Satz (968-9191;
Cheryl Wolff (968-6361;
BETH EL CARES co-chairs


Spiritual Journey on the Web


The Right To Die

Supreme Court Upholds Oregon Suicide Law
Gina Holland/Associated Press (
WASHINGTON -- The Supreme Court upheld Oregon's one-of-a-kind physician-assisted suicide law Tuesday, rejecting a Bush administration attempt to punish doctors who help terminally ill patients die. In a 6-3 ruling, justices reject a Bush administration attempt to punish doctors in Oregon who help terminally ill patients die.

 Who has the right to end a life?

See full coverage of this issue on the ReligionLink website by clicking the link above.   We’ll cover it from the Jewish perspective in the next Hot Button Halacha session, to be held on Sunday the 29th at 11 AM – note the chance – not this Sunday but NEXT Sunday.


Truth and Consequences


In early March we’ll be welcoming our scholar in residence Joseph Telushkin who is publishing the most complete compendium of Jewish Ethics yet written in the English language – and it will appear here first!  Read about "The Code of Jewish Ethics" here and also his other books.

So in his honor, let’s focus on ethics in this week’s journey…

The Wikipedia has a nice article on Jewish Ethics, at  It includes external links specifically on bioethics.  Also, as always, Myjewishlearning is a great place to begin:, there you’ll find an article by Michael StrassfeldOn Being a Mensch and  also The Theology and Ethics of Speech.

Check out  What is Radical Honesty?  According to the site, "Radical Honesty is a kind of communication that is direct, complete, open and expressive. Radical Honesty means you tell the people in your life what you've done or plan to do, what you think, and what you feel. It's the kind of authentic sharing that creates the possibility of love and intimacy."  It's an interesting concept, though I am wary of radical anything and would not cough up a cent for anything here.  It's interesting to look at the site's "Ten Tips to Living a Radically Honest Life" and compare them to Jewish values regarding gossip, business ethics etc.  There are some clear parallels, but the Talmud came up with these ideas 2,000 years ago.

For business ethics see the articles at Jewish, at  This site is part of the (Orthodox) Project Genesis Network.




How Many Commandments are there?


            The traditional number, based on Maimonides’ calculations, is 613.  Find a complete list online at  This list features hyperlinks to explanations of most of them mitzvot.  Notice that many of them can’t be carried out in our day, as they were intended only for a time when the temple existed; also certain commandments can only be fulfilled in the Land of Israel.  But that still leaves plenty to keep us busy!


            Notice also how many of them have to do with ethical behavior (what is called in Hebrew “ben adam l’chavero,” those mitzvot between human beings), and how many also dwell on domestic relationships.  Also see:

The Positive Commandments and The Negative Commandments--This Hebrew  and English text is hypertext linked, so you can click on a verse and immediately see all of the places in the Tanach where that text is cited.


Finally, read what modern thinkers say in “Contempory Views of the Mitzvot.” 


Is it worth spending some time on this subject?  I can give your 613 reasons why it is.





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


Mofaz accuses Iran of funding Tel Aviv bombing


Let's Give Iran Some of Its Own Medicine - Mark Steyn
The majority of Iran's population is younger than the revolution: whether or not they're as "pro-American" as is sometimes claimed, they have no memory of the Shah; all they've ever known is their ramshackle Islamic republic where the unemployment rate is currently 25%. If war breaks out, those surplus young men will be in uniform and defending their homeland. Why not tap into their excess energy right now? As the foreign terrorists have demonstrated in Iraq, you don't need a lot of local support to give the impression of a popular insurgency. Would it not be feasible to turn the tables and upgrade Iran's somewhat lethargic dissidents into something a little livelier? A Teheran preoccupied by internal suppression will find it harder to pull off its pretensions to regional superpower status.
    Eight of the regime's border guards have been kidnapped and threatened with decapitation by a fanatical Sunni group in Iranian Baluchistan. I'm of the view that the Shia are a much better long-term bet as reformable Muslims, but given that there are six million Sunni in Iran and that they're a majority in some provinces, would it not be possible to give the regime its own Sunni Triangle? Insofar as Iran has a strategy, the president's chief adviser, Hassan Abbassi, has based it on the premise that "Britain is the mother of all evils" - the evils being America, Australia, Israel, the Gulf states, and even Canada and New Zealand, all of which are the malign progeny of the British Empire. "We have established a department that will take care of England," said Abbassi last May. "England's demise is on our agenda." Apropos the ayatollahs, England could at least return the compliment. (Telegraph-UK)


The Iran Charade, Part II - Charles Krauthammer (Washington Post)

  • Britain, France, and Germany admitted that their two years of talks to stop Iran's nuclear weapons program had collapsed. This negotiating exercise, designed as an alternative to the U.S. approach of imposing sanctions on Iran for its violations of the Non-Proliferation Treaty, gave Iran time to harden its nuclear facilities against bombardment, acquire new antiaircraft capacities and clandestinely advance its program.
  • Instead of being years away from the point of no return for an Iranian bomb, as we were before we allowed Europe to divert anti-proliferation efforts into transparently useless talks, Iran is probably just months away, and now led by a president who fervently believes in the imminence of the apocalypse.
  • Having delayed two years, we now have to deal with a set of fanatical Islamists who we know will not be deterred from pursuing nuclear weapons by any sanctions. Even if we could get real sanctions. Which we will not.
  • The Chinese in particular have secured in Iran a source of oil and gas outside the American sphere to feed their growing economy and are quite happy geopolitically to support a rogue power that - like North Korea - threatens, distracts, and diminishes the power of China's chief global rival, the United States.
  • The Europeans have no appetite for real sanctions either. A cutoff of investment and high-tech trade from Europe would be a minor irritant to a country of 70 million people with the second-largest oil reserves in the world and with oil at $60 a barrel. It is the Iranians who have the world over a barrel. On Jan. 15, Iran's economy minister warned that Iran would retaliate for any sanctions by cutting its exports to "raise oil prices beyond levels the West expects."



Mortal Threat - Frank J. Gaffney Jr.
What if Iran's nuclear weapons were actually intended to bring about one of Ahmadinejad's other stated objectives: "a world without America"? Would we indulge in still more talk-a-thons like those of the last two-plus years led by the EU3 - for which the Iranians have publicly expressed appreciation as "buying time" for their nuclear program? A blue-ribbon commission's report to the Congress last year found a single nuclear weapon detonated in space high above the U.S. could unleash an immensely powerful electromagnetic pulse (EMP). An EMP wave a million times stronger than the most powerful radio transmitter would damage or destroy the electrical grid and unshielded electronic devices upon which our society utterly depends.
    Iranian missile tests - including firing a Scud missile off a ship and flying the new Shahab 3 missile in a profile apparently designed to deliver a weapon into space - suggest the mullahs seek an EMP capability. If this is, indeed, what the Iranian regime has in mind, would we wait to act? (Washington Times)


Jewish Community in Israel Now Equals U.S. - Amiram Barkat
This year there will be as many Jews living in Israel as in the U.S., according to statistics presented at a Jewish Policy Planning Institute conference on Sunday by Hebrew University Prof. Sergio Della Pergola. The number of Jews in the diaspora shrunk by about a quarter in the past 35 years, from slightly more than 10 million to 7.75 million. Overall, the Jewish population as a percentage of the world population has decreased by about a third since 1970, to 0.21% percent, down from 0.35%. There were nearly 13 million Jews in 2005. (Ha'aretz)

MYTH #204

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


In November 1985, the FBI arrested Jonathan Pollard, a U.S. Navy intelligence analyst, on charges of selling classified material to Israel. Pollard was subsequently sentenced to life imprisonment. His wife, Anne, got five years in jail for assisting her husband.

Immediately upon Pollard's arrest, Israel apologized and explained that the operation was unauthorized. “It is Israel's policy to refrain from any intelligence activity related to the United States,” an official government statement declared, “in view of the close and special relationship of friendship” between the two countries. Prime Minister Shimon Peres stated: “Spying on the United States stands in total contradiction to our policy” (Wolf Blitzer, Territory of Lies, NY: Harper & Row, 1989, p. 201).

The United States and Israel worked together to investigate the Pollard affair. The Israeli inquiry revealed that Pollard was not working for Israeli military intelligence or the Mossad. He was directed by a small, independent scientific intelligence unit. Pollard initiated the contact with the Israelis.

A subcommittee of the Knesset's Defense and Foreign Affairs Committee on Intelligence and Security Services concluded: “Beyond all doubt...the operational echelons (namely: the Scientific Liaison Unit headed by Rafael Eitan) decided to recruit and handle Pollard without any check or consultation with the political echelon or receiving its direct or indirect approval.” The Knesset committee took the government to task for not properly supervising the scientific unit.

As promised to the U.S. government, the spy unit that directed Pollard was disbanded, his handlers punished and the stolen documents returned (New York Times, December 2 and 21, 1985). The last point was crucial to the U.S. Department of Justice's case against Pollard.

Pollard denied spying “against” the United States. He said he provided only information he believed was vital to Israeli security and was being withheld by the Pentagon. This included data on Soviet arms shipments to Syria, Iraqi and Syrian chemical weapons, the Pakistani atomic bomb project and Libyan air defense systems (Blitzer, pp. 166-171).

Pollard was convicted of espionage. His life sentence was the most severe prison term ever given for spying for an ally. It also was far greater than the average term imposed for spying for the Soviet Union and other enemies of the United States (Alan DershowitzChutzpah, MA: Little Brown, & Co., 1991, pp. 289-312).

Though initially shunned by Israel, the government of Benjamin Netanyahu admitted that Pollard had worked for Israeli intelligence and granted him citizenship. Netanyahu requested clemency for Pollard during Middle East peace talks at the Wye Plantation in Maryland in 1998. Since then, Israeli officials have made additional entreaties on Pollard's behalf.

Pollard's supporters in the United States also routinely request that he be pardoned. President Clinton reportedly considered a pardon, but defense and intelligence agency officials vigorously opposed the idea. At the end of Clinton's term, the issue was again raised and Sen. Richard Shelby (R-AL), chairman of the Senate's Select Committee on Intelligence, along with a majority of senators argued against a pardon. “Mr. Pollard is a convicted spy who put our national security at risk and endangered the lives of our intelligence officers,” Shelby said. “There not terms strong enough to express my belief that Mr. Pollard should serve every minute of his sentence...” (Washington Post, December 23, 2000).

In November 2003, a federal judge rejected requests by Pollard to appeal his life sentence and review classified government documents that Pollard said would prove his spying was not as damaging or as extensive as prosecutors had charged. The judge said that Pollard had waited too long — more than a decade after it was imposed — to object to his sentence and ruled that Pollard's attorneys offered no compelling justification for seeing the sealed intelligence documents (Washington Post, November 14, 2003).

U.S. federal appeals court in July 2005 rejected Pollard’s claim that he had inadequate counsel in his original trial and denied his request to downgrade his life sentence. The court also denied Pollard’s attorneys access to classified information they hoped would help in their attempt to win presidential clemency for their client. The rulings leave Pollard with little recourse but the Supreme Court to change his fate (Jewish Telegraphic Agency, July 24, 2005).

Pollard also petitioned the Israeli Supreme Court to be recognized as a Prisoner of Zion in the hope that such status would win support for him to improve his prison conditions and stimulate a campaign for his release. The Court rejected his petition on January 16, 2006, however, because a Prisoner of Zion is defined as someone who was imprisoned “because of his Zionist activity in a country where such activity was illegal.” Supreme Court President Aharon Barak said typical Zionist activity would include teaching Hebrew and encouraging aliyah, but “it cannot be said that an act of espionage on behalf of Israel constitutes Zionist activity ‘in a country where Zionist activity is prohibited,’he wrote. “The act of spying, including spying for Israel, is prohibited in the U.S. as it is in all countries” (Jerusalem Post, October 17, 2001).

This article can be found at

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







Help Wanted:

Co-Chairs for our congregational Second Seder

Contact Rabbi H at



This Sunday!

January 22, 11:15 – 12:00

Visit from Camp Ramah


 Camp Ramah is the Conservative movement’s camp experience.  It is an incredible immersion into the Jewish community with a great deal of fun including: their own color wars, boating, hiking, art and music and much, much more!  Representatives will be coming to talk to our (3rd grade) Alef through (7th grade) Heh classes about all of the incredible opportunities that they offer.   Parents are encouraged to check this out as well!



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.


If you wish to participate, there are English and Hebrew/Torah readings and non-speaking parts available.  Contact one of our co-chairs, Caryl Ferber Poser (914) 533-5082,, or Marge Shameer (203) 322-2477,


A Kiddush/Luncheon follows

sponsored by the Temple Beth El Men’s Club.

Services begin at 9:30 a.m.



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, January 17th at 7:30 p.m. NOTE CHANGE OF DATE!!!

Topic:  Moses and Miriam

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 22nd

What is Kosher?


Sunday, January 29th

Talking About God



with Rabbi Joshua Hammerman

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


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 a congregant

Rabbi Telushkin will speak on:

Jewish Literacy: How to Become a Knowledgeable Jew


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


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 JerusalemAshkelon, the NegevMitzpeh 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 GuberHazon 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!

 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



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. 



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 jsherman@stamfordjcc.orgor Maccabi Games Assistant Director Ernest Lamour at 203-487-0971 or





Back to Fun Stuff Page

Yiddish Dictionary

Jewish Jokes

Test Your Yiddish Skills

1) Which one of these people might best be described as "zoftig?"

a) Callista Flockhart
b) Lara Flynn Boyle
c) Kirstie Alley
d) Woody Allen

2) You're driving around in eckveldt (the boondocks) and have no idea where you are. You are:

a) farblunget
b) farklempt
c) fartoost
d) farshvitzed

3) You found it! The Holy Grail! A $2000 designer dress for just $39.95! You've found a:

a) mechaiyeh
b) mishpucheh
c) machashafer
d) metziah

4) Which one of these people has a "ferbisseneh punim?"

a) Michael Jackson
b) Leona Helmsley
c) Barbara Walters
d) Julia Roberts

5) He eats like a pig and wipes his face with the back of his hand. He farts and picks his nose at the dinner table. He curses like a drunken sailor. He's a real:

a) shnorror
b) gonif
c) grubber yung
d) mensch


6) Which of these is NOT a body part?

a) poulkie
b) potchki
c) pupik
d) punim


7) Which of these is NOT an insult:

a) shana maydel
b) shmegeggie
c) shmendrik
d) shlub

8) You've gone to a wild party where you've been downing vodka jello shots like candy. You can barely stand up anymore, and you've made a fool of yourself in front of everyone you know. You are totally, completely:

a) fershtayst
b) farblunget
c) ferchadded
d) fershikert


9) Which of these things would you never find at a kosher restaurant?

a) shmaltz
b) luckshen kugel
c) treyf
d) kasha varnishkes


10) Of these various uses of "kishka", which one is incorrect?

a) "Yes, waiter. I'll have the roast chicken with a side order of kishka."
b) "That Yetta, she's such a piece of kishka!"
c) "After twenty years of keeping secrets, he finally went to a shrink and spilled his kishkas."
d) "If anyone ever tried to mug me, boy, I'd give him such a chamalyiah in the kishkas!"




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

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