Friday, January 6, 2006

January 7, 2006 - Tevet 7, 5766

January 7, 2006 - Tevet 7, 5766





Rabbi Joshua Hammerman, Temple Beth El, StamfordConnecticut




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(See my comments on Ariel Sharon below, in the “Rabid Rabbi” section)



A Statement from the Stamford Board of Rabbis:


In Jewish tradition, prayers for the sick and infirm truly travel from heart to heart. How comforting it is to know that another is praying on our behalf when our bodies are failing us or when life itself is particularly painful.

Our hearts go out to the Prime Minister of the State of Israel, Ariel Sharon and his family. Few truly know the private agony that comes when someone we love is on life support. Larger than life to some, Mr. Sharon is also a person with all the frailties that come with being human.

Some love his politics, some passionately oppose his politics. But none can doubt his love of Israel and its people. Wounded in Israel's 1948 War of Independence, chastised after Israel's 1982 invasion of Lebanon, many wrote him off a long time ago. But this tough Israeli demonstrated a tenacity typical of many who call Israel their home.

The Stamford Board of Rabbis joins its voice with all who wish Prime Minister Sharon a full and complete healing of mind, body and spirit. May his doctors and nurses, his family and friends bring wisdom and compassion to his bedside. We trust that the ship of state will remain steady even as Prime Minister Sharon struggles with perhaps the greatest challenge of his life. Our prayers are with him.

Rabbi Ira Ebbin - President

Rabbi Daniel Cohen

Rabbi Marc Disick

Rabbi Joseph Ehrenkranz

Rabbi Mark Golub

Rabbi Joshua Hammerman

Rabbi Emily Korzenik

Rabbi Philip Schechter





A prayer for the prime minister

By Bradley Burston

Say a prayer for the prime minister.

Say a prayer for the man who could not be broken.

Say a prayer for our shattered present. Say a prayer for our shuttered common future.

Pray for the man who could not be stilled. Pray for the man who could not be swayed.

Say a prayer for the future only he knew.

Say a prayer for the people he has left behind. The Jewish People, the people he loved, at times despite himself, despite them. The people who could not bring themselves to love him.

Pray for those of us who once embraced him, and came to curse him.

Pray for those of us who once cursed him, and could not bring ourselves to forgive him.

Pray for those who call themselves religious and see in this, the hand of God.

Pray for those who call themselves non-religious and need now to pray.

Pray for the leaders who, unable to replace him, will now succeed him.

Pray for a miracle. Pray for all of us. Pray that we may know to heal each other.

Pray for this land. That it may know the peace that he never will.


Add your own prayer at the Ha’aretz Website:  PRAYER FOR SHARON; see also  Haaretz analysts: Political scenarios in a post-Sharon era


and from the Jerusalem Post, see: Comment: What now?Editor's Notes: After SharonAnalysis: In the event of incapacitation

Readers send their prayers for Sharon [ii]


The Jewish Agency for Israel has created an e-mail address for people to send their wishes to the prime minister. The address is



And from the United Synagogue of Conservative Judaism…


We join with others all over the world as we pray for the recovery of Prime Minister Ariel Sharon, whose courage and determination in leading Israel in the direction he has felt it must go has brought us closer to peace. We pray that he recover from his illness, both in spirit and in body.


We pray as well for Acting Prime Minister Ehud Olmert, for the Israeli government, and for the people of Israel, whose sturdy democracy we are sure will weather this crisis. May they in wisdom seek the vision of peace and in our lifetime may we realize Amos’ hope of a world in which nation shall not lift up sword against nation.


May God who blessed our ancestors, Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, Sarah, Rebecca, Rachel, and Leah, bring blessing and healing to Prime Minister Ariel Sharon, Ariel ben Vera. May the Holy One mercifully restore him to health and vigor, granting him physical and spiritual well being, together with others who are ill.



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



Our Hebrew School students at Brighton Gardens –

See story and other photos in “Mitzvah Opportunities” section below


Quote for the Week


Israel is not built on one person alone. If we got through the Rabin assassination, we can get through anything.”

Yossi Shahar, an Israeli government worker





Next Week:


Dancing!  Music! Meditation! Celebration!

For all ages, the Spirit of Shabbat

Friday, Jan. 13 @7:30

For the young’ns, Tot Shabbat with Nurit will be held at 7:30 in the chapel.


Friday Evening 

Candle lighting for Stamford, CT: Candle lighting: 4:12 pm on Friday, 6 January 2006.  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: 6:45 – in the lobby


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

Children’s services: 10:30

Torah Portion: VaYigash Genesis 44:18 - 47:27

1: 45:28-46:4
2: 46:5-7
3: 46:8-11
4: 46:12-15
5: 46:16-18
6: 46:19-22
7: 46:23-27
maf: 46:23-27

Haftarah – Ezekiel 37:15 - 37:28


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





A guaranteed minyan has been requested for MONDAY JANUARY 9.

If you can make it, go to and click on the Rosner Minyan Maker to let us know.


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


Ariel Sharon


Last summer, in the midst of the Gaza withdrawal that, it turns out, will likely be seen as the crowning moment of Ariel Sharon’s prime ministership, I came to a shocking realization.  Everyone in the media had been squawking about how much the man had changed, how the hawk who invaded Lebanon had become the dove willing to give up land unilaterally; how the father of the settler movement had betrayed his own political base.


I suddenly realized that the man had not changed at all. 


The Sharon I once despised had done nothing out of character to become the Sharon I had come to admire.  In fact, everything he did followed the same pattern, from his courageous forays into enemy territory to strike back against terrorists early in his career, to his dramatic (and possibly unauthorized) crossing of the Suez in 1973, to Lebanon in 1982, to his famous stroll on the temple mount in 2001 to his strong response to the Intifada once he became Prime Minister, to what happened in Gush Katif last summer, to his bolting Likud and setting up a new centrist party late last year.  Even his behavior over the past few weeks since his first stroke indicated that he intended to bulldoze his own mortality, as it were, to defeat his illness unilaterally.


What all these defining moments had in common was the man’s penchant for dramatic action over consensus building and his steadfast belief that Israel’s security matters more than anything else; more than ideology and more than party politics.  He is a man who always preferred to go it alone and in the end, he understood that his nation would also be best off going it alone (with strong American support), in setting up long term solutions that would allow Israelis to live in relative calm while awaiting a peace partner.  The security fence, which he once rejected, and the redrawing of borders, which was once anathema, became necessities to him in light of the new realities Israel faced.   


I spoke with Jan Gaines this morning, “our woman in Netanya.” She reports that people aren’t crying – this is not like the Rabin shock, in part because few people really “loved” Sharon, though most respected him and would vote for him.  Those who love him had in fact been the ones who were spurned, many of whom are now looking at today’s events as divine retribution or the result of a conspiracy (and there are legitimate questions as to why he was not rushed from his Negev ranch to Hadassah by helicopter, but those are for another day).  No, people don’t love Sharon, but many are very fearful of an Israel without him.  As David Horovitz writes in the Jerusalem Post:


He was striding to victory because, unlike any of his rivals, ordinary men and women with ordinary frailties and flaws, he had persuaded Israelis that he was of a different league, a political superman, immune to the limitations of other mortals. He was by no means universally admired, but he had a vast middle ground of confused Israelis wanting to believe that he knew what he was doing - that he, and only he, could steer the country to security and tranquility.


So Israel is a very different place right now.  What we can have faith in is the strength of Israeli democracy.  Although Sharon has proved to be mortal after all, his agenda will out-live him.  It will find a spokesperson and Israel will find a leader. He would have won the next election not only because people trusted him, but because his views cut a wide swath right down the middle of the electorate and because of that he was able to bring together left and right as few had before.  He has created the path; the next in line will not need to be so ferocious as this Lion (the translation of his name) of God.  S/He only needs to be able to find that path and traverse it.  As much as Sharon as universally admired over recent months because of Gaza, his demonized caricature remains vivid in the consciousness of much of the world.  His successor will not have that baggage (unless it’s Bibi or Peres) and may therefore have some advantages either in forging new paths or in carrying on the Sharon agenda. 


Sharon was good at lots of things and not good at others.  But he was best at creating facts on the ground.  He had lots of practice.  So, wherever he may be, those facts will remain: facts like Ma’aleh Adumim and the security fence; targeted assassinations and strategic withdrawals; his particular blend of boldness and pragmatism.


If you go to you can look at some of Ariel Sharon’s recent speeches.  One from early 2003 is of particular interest.  He was speaking to Birthright Israel participants at the “mega event” that they all attend. (One of this year’s was held, ironically, today, as the Birthright groups are over there now).  He spoke on the day of a terror attack in Tel Aviv and because of that he had to leave the gathering early.  Although he was not the most articulate of speakers, his words resonate today even more than they did that night:


“Everything we are going through now is to ensure that you and your children will be able to live here in quiet, that you will be able to invest all your efforts in science, technology, agriculture and electronics, and make the wilderness bloom. This is the land of milk and honey. We are a unique and wonderful people - a people of virtue.…  I am sorry that I have to leave you, but when I look at you thousands of young people, I know that we can look forward with optimism and know that together with you we can fulfill all the dreams of the Jewish people. We need you with us here in Israel now more than ever.” Prime Minister's Speech to Birthright Partiipants: 1/5/03


Two years ago today, that was his parting message.  It could just as easily be his message today. 


The man hasn’t changed a bit.




From the New York Board of Rabbis




NEW YORK January 5, 2006- The New York Board of Rabbis (NYBR) is requesting New Yorkers of all faiths to include P.M. Ariel Sharon in their special recovery prayers. We suggest that all synagogues offer a special Refuah Sheleima – recovery blessing at 11:00 am this Sabbath, January 7th on his behalf. His name is Ariel ben Devorah.


We hope that this special synchronized moment of prayer will demonstrate the spiritual solidarity of the Jewish people who stand together as one family during this difficult time. Prime Minister Sharon serves the entire Peoplehood of Israel, and we are proud members of this world community. The Jewish people may have many branches, but above all we share the same roots.


Offering a healing prayer for the Prime Minister we say,


“May the Almighty grant Ariel Sharon a complete recovery together with others who suffer illness, and we all say “Amen”.”



The Fallout from “Munich” 


Below are links to several articles about the film, including the most detailed one in opposition to the film (by Andrea Levin of CAMERA), followed by some of my own reflections. 



EDITORIAL NOTEBOOK: Spielberg's List BY J.J. Goldberg (the Forward)

Foxman: "Munich" Treats Israel Fairly (Jerusalem Post)

Give Spielberg a Prize (Jerusalem Post)

Manic On ‘Munich’ (The Jewish Week)

FILM REVIEW of Munich: Spielberg and Kushner Smear Israel (Camera)


Based on my conversations with a number of people over New Years weekend, the film has really hit a nerve (both positively and negatively).   In a recent interview, Spielberg made it clear that his desire was more to raise crucial questions than to provide answers.  In the war on terrorism, the question of our times is how we can somehow maintain our moral values while at the same time engaging in a task that risks the lives of innocents.  Camera’s entire review is worth reading, as are the others listed above.  The sum total of it all is that, in my view, the film accurately portrays the only actual historical event it intends to portray – the brutal murder of the Israeli athletes.  In the fictionalized speculation that comprises the rest of the film, the internal struggle that takes place within the Israeli soul is supremely flattering.  That such a dialogue is even possible, despite all that has been done to us, testifies to the great moral strength of the Jewish people and our traditions.  That Israel’s battle of the 1970’s has become the world’s struggle of today is also made abundantly clear.  There is no moral equivalence drawn between terrorism and reprisal and no double standard affirmed between Israeli victims of terror and other victims. 

I recommend the film highly.




           The charge that Israel believed targeting terrorist leaders compromises its values rather than affirms its obligation to seek every means to defend itself against aggression is pure Hollywood concoction. But spiraling self-doubt about the use of force is central to Munichwith one team member, an ambivalent bomb-maker who eventually blows himself up, lamenting "We're Jews, Avner. Jews don't do wrong because our enemies do wrong...we're supposed to be righteous. That's a beautiful thing. That's Jewish..."


            Thus, not only, in the film's account, was it futile to assassinate terrorist masterminds, because new and worse replacements sprang up to escalate the violence, but eliminating terrorists ostensibly destroyed the souls of the Jewish hit team.   In fact, historical accounts of Israel's decision to target leaders of Black September, the group responsible for Munich, emphasize that the assault at the Olympics was part of a worsening series of terrorist attacks against Israel in 1972. Lod Airport had been struck twice in May with 32 killed. Only days after the September 5 Munich atrocity, an Israeli official was shot in Brussels, and two weeks later a letter bomb killed an Israeli in London.


            Any nation supine in the face of such intensifying terrorism invites ever more fearsome attack. Yes, Israel's new counter-campaign was reprisal for the Munich murders, but it was aimed at fighting back against a broad terrorist threat. What the various teams dispatched by Israel sought to do was standard in its general goal: Shift the balance and force the adversary onto the defensive, disrupting operations, planning and command structure.         




From the Archives:

"Saving Our Synagogues"


This is a review I did for the website a few years ago, analyzing the dynamics of change and the chances for a synagogue cultural renaissance.  I call your attention to it in the hopes that the spirit of innovation can continue to take hold here, even as our original strategic plan is expiring.  Our congregation has been selected as a pilot for a growing national project for synagogue renewal and this week the board voiced its approval.  Given what we have done thus far, it is the next logical step for us to take.  You’ll be hearing much more about this project over the coming months, but for now, click on “Saving Our Synagogues” and begin thinking about what our congregation can do to go from “good to great.”


Mitzvah/Tzedakkah Projects



Letter from Doug Jossem


Our last O-Gram contained a plea from TBE graduate Doug Jossem for a fund drive he has established in memory of his mother, Karen.  The response has been extraordinary.  I received this from Doug this week:


Rabbi -


It has been a long time, and I hope that you and your family are well. I am writing to thank you for adding my note to your news letter.  I started to receive donations from members of the Beth El Congregation and I had no idea how.  I then started to receive phone calls from people that were friends with my mom that I have not spoken to in a longtime, and they told me about your nice note and addition to your news letter.


 I am happy to report that I have collected about $7,500 so far and I am still going. 


After my mother passed away I remember sitting with you and having many talks about g-d and religion.  You told me a lot of different things, things that I still think of today.  In one of the discussions that we had you told me that g-d is different to everyone but it is the community and congregation that is very important to everyone because they are the support.


This is case in point.  I am happy to say that I am involved in various Jewish organizations in NYC for the same reason, but it is good to know that my roots are still there. 


I hope that the next time i come to Stamford i can stop by for a visit.  Thank you again, and my best to your family.


Happy 2006,


Doug Jossem


MLK and the Jews


Dr King, whose birthday we commemorate next week, had a close relationship with the Jewish community, as is shown in the following links:


MLK on Zionism:

"I Have a Dream"Text of the historic speech.

Why Jews still embrace Martin Luther King's legacy (1-7-1997)

Two Prophets, One Soul: Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. And Rabbi Abraham Joshua Heschel

Martin Luther King and the Future of America by Vincent Harding ... (Cross Currents)



Beth El Cares:


Temple Beth El Religious School Students Brighten the Holidays





by Cathy Satz


There were many “bright” smiles at Brighton Gardens on Sunday, December 5 when the kindergarten, first and second grade religious school classes from Temple Beth El braved the slippery snowy weather to “brighten” the lives of the residents by helping them to celebrate the Festival of Lights.  The students brought holiday cheer to the senior citizens residing at Brighton Gardens with a 45 minute concert in the living room area.  Music teacher Nurit Avigdor, conducted the concert and accompanied the children on her guitar.  One of the highlights of the concert was the human dreidel that spun to “NUN, GIMEL, HAY, SHIN” as the words were sung by the students.  Another crowd pleaser was “How Many Candles”. The seniors were impressed with the song “Hear Oh Israel”, a takeoff of the Shema, sung in a round, led by second graders Andrew Young, Hannah Katz, Rebecca Satz, Rachel Wolff and Ilana Olin.  The round also impressed the parent chauffeurs who stayed to view the concert.  Any senior whose face wasn’t already glowing, lit up when the students walked through the audience at the end to shake hands.  Both seniors and (most) students enjoyed this personal touch and joining of the generations. The students’ faces beamed with delight as they saw how happy their audience was as they headed back to school.  The seniors’ faces also beamed with delight and several seniors commented on how impressed they were that the children knew so many Hebrew songs and performed so well.


There were also many bright smiles at St. Luke’s Life Works on Christmas Eve, even though this was not a “White Christmas”. Ronni and Paul Ginsberg coordinated numerous volunteers from Temple Beth El who donated food and served a special Christmas Eve dinner.  The dinner attendees were surprised and delighted to receive Christmas presents from the food servers.  The presents were holiday gift bags containing much needed toiletry items.  The toiletry items were collected and sorted into pretty gift bags by the third grade religious school class.  Additionally, Nancy Rosenberg provided holiday gifts of other cosmetic and toiletry items, some inside of tree ornaments.  For many recipients, these items were the only Christmas present they received.


            The religious school mitzvah projects and the Christmas Eve Dinner are coordinated by Beth El Cares, the social action arm of Temple Beth El.  



BETH EL CARES BLOOD DRIVE - APRIL 30th 8:45 a.m.-1:00 p.m.

Anyone interested in participating on the committee please contact Cheryl Wolff at 968-6361.


Spiritual Journey on the Web


Jewish and Israeli Blog Awards for 2005

From the Jerusalem Post

..and while you are at it, try out our own TBE new blogger Scott Allen’s travelogue at



BLOG CATEGORIES: Best Designed Blog | Best 'Life in Israel' Blog | Best Jewish Religion Blog | Best Series | Best Post | Best Podcast | Best Overall | Best Overall 'Mega' Blog | Best Jewish Culture Blog | Best Jewish Humor Blog | Best Israel Advocacy Blog | Best Politics and Current Affairs Blog | Best 'Student Life' Blog | Best Personal Blog | Best New Blog 2005 | Best Group Blog


·                     Beyond Teshuva

·                     Cross-Currents

·                     Elder of Ziyon

·                     Hassidic Gentile

·                     Jewlicious

·                     Jewschool

·                     Kesher Talk

·                     Life Of Rubin

·                     Mom with a View

·                     Ocean Guy: Somewhere on A1A

·                     Orthodox Anarchist

·                     Realitygaps

·                     Solomonia

·                     The Four Questions

·                     The Jewish Connection

·                     The View from Here

·                     The Wandering Jew


·                     Atlas Shrugs

·                     Boker tov, Boulder!

·                     CAMERA Snapshots

·                     Elder of Ziyon

·                     For Zion's Sake

·                     Fundamentally Freund

·                     IsraPundit

·                     Jewlicious

·                     Joe Settler

·                     KIC Israel

·                     Kumah

·                     LGF

·                     Meryl Yourish

·                     MyRightWord

·                     Only in Israel

·                     Realitygaps

·                     Smooth Stone

·                     Soccer Dad

·                     The Muqata

·                     The Wandering Jew

·                     Yeshayah 62:1 Israel News and Views

·                     Zion Report


·                     A Simple Jew

·                     ADDeRabbi

·                     Baraita

·                     Beyond Teshuva

·                     Bloghead

·                     Canonist

·                     Cross-Currents

·                     Dov Bear

·                     Heichal HaNegina

·                     Hirhurim

·                     Jerusalem Syndrome

·                     Just Passing through

·                     Kesher Talk

·                     Krum as a Bagel

·                     Kumah

·                     Lamed

·                     Lazer Beams

·                     Lerner's Jewish Bible Blog

·                     Lulei Demistafina

·                     Mah Rabu

·                     Maven Yavin

·                     Modern Orthodox Woman

·                     Mom with a View

·                     Mystical Paths

·                     Nice Jewish Girl

·                     Not the Godol Hador

·                     Renegade Rebbetzin

·                     The 37th Tzaddik

·                     The Orthodox Paradox

·                     Thoughts of a Jewish Exile

·                     Torat Moshe

·                     Velveteen Rabbi


·                     Aaron's cc:

·                     Am Echad

·                     Apropos Of Nothing

·                     Atlas Shrugs

·                     Ben Chorin

·                     Bloghead

·                     Boker tov, Boulder!

·                     Canonist

·                     DetroitWonk

·                     Dov Bear

·                     For Zion's Sake

·                     Fundamentally Freund

·                     Israpundit

·                     Jewish Current Issues

·                     Jewish Russian Telegraph

·                     Jewlicious

·                     Jewschool

·                     JoeSettler

·                     Kerckhoff Coffeehouse

·                     Kesher Talk

·                     KIC

·                     Meryl Yourish


·                     Orthomom

·                     Realitygaps

·                     SerandEz

·                     Soccer Dad

·                     Solomonia

·                     Something Something

·                     The Dry Bones Blog

·                     The Town Crier

·                     This Blog is Full Of Crap

·                     Turning The Tide

·                     Yeshayah 62:1 Israel News and Views

·                     Zionist Conspiracy


·                     AbbaGav

·                     Am Echad

·                     Balagan

·                     Chayyaei Sarah

·                     Faith in Nathan

·                     Gila's Big Adventure

·                     If you will it

·                     Jeru Guru

·                     JoeSettler

·                     Judenstadt!

·                     Kumah

·                     On the Face

·                     Orthodox Anarchist

·                     Out of Step Jew

·                     Point of Pinchas

·                     The Cahan's in Israel

·                     The View From Here

·                     The World Through my Eyes

·                     Treppenwitz



·                     A Simple Jew

·                     A Whispering Soul

·                     Apropos Of Nothing

·                     Bloghead

·                     Boker tov, Boulder!

·                     Canonist

·                     Cross-Currents

·                     Diary of an anti-Chomskyite

·                     Dov Bear

·                     For Zion's Sake

·                     Go West, Young Jew

·                     Hirhurim

·                     Jewish Current Issues

·                     Jewish Russian Telegraph

·                     Jewlicious

·                     Jewschool

·                     Kesher Talk

·                     Krum as a Bagel

·                     Kumah

·                     Lazer Beams

·                     Meryl Yourish

·                     Mom with a View

·                     Not the Godol Hador

·                     On the Face

·                     SerandEz

·                     Shaister

·                     Soccer Dad

·                     Solomonia

·                     Sultan Knish

·                     The Dry Bones Blog

·                     The View from Here

·                     The Wandering Jew

·                     The World Through my Eyes

·                     Yeshayah 62:1 Israel News and Views

·                     Zionist Conspiracy


·                     A Whispering Soul

·                     Adloyada

·                     Apropos Of Nothing

·                     Ask Shifra

·                     Atlas Shrugs

·                     Because I'm In My Twenties And It's What You Do

·                     Beyond Teshuva

·                     CAMERA Snapshots

·                     Dating Master Jerusalem

·                     Divest from "Palestine"

·                     DovBacchus

·                     Elie's Expositions

·                     Halfrican American

·                     Hall of the Goblin King

·                     Ice Cream and Me

·                     Jeru Guru

·                     Judenstadt

·                     Krum as a Bagel

·                     Life Of Rubin

·                     Lulei Demistafina

·                     Mah Rabu

·                     Maven Yavin

·                     Mirty's Place

·                     Modern Orthodox Woman

·                     Mom with a View

·                     Nice Jewish Girl

·                     OrthoMom

·                     Queen of Katamon

·                     Realitygaps

·                     SerandEz

·                     Stefanella's Drive-Thru

·                     Suburban Hymns

·                     The 37th Tzaddik

·                     The Dry Bones Blog

·                     The World Through my Eyes


·                     Yeranen Yaakov


·                     Beyond Teshuva

·                     CampusJ

·                     Cross-Currents

·                     Engage - For a Safe Israel

·                     Israelity

·                     Israpundit

·                     Jewlicious

·                     Jewschool

·                     Kumah

·                     Maven Yavin

·                     The Jewish Connection

·                     WeirdJews


·                     100 Word Stories

·                     Israelisms

·                     Jewish Pod Show

·                     Marty Roberts Show

·                     Podcast for Personal Growth

·                     Sameach Music Podcast

·                     The Real Life

·                     The View from Here

·                     Zion B'Ayin


·                     Aaron's CC:
Rice Papers

·                     Air Time II:
Center Of It All

·                     A Simple Jew:
Picture from My Family's Shtetl

·                     CampusJ:
NYTimes - Columbia scandal

·                     Chayyei Sarah:
Jerusalem's Recycling Bins

·                     Canonist:
Kosher Supervisors

·                     Dov Bear:
Book of Esther

·                     Elder of Ziyon:
Palestine Post-ings

·                     Elie's Expositions:
Aaron's Story 1/7

·                     Hirhurim:
The Religious Zionism Debate

·                     Jewlicious:
Hate Site of the Weak

·                     Kesher Talk:
Temple Mount Blogburst 1/6

·                     Lazer Beams:
Trial of Tears 1/5

·                     Matzah & Marinara:
When Something's Wrong 1/8

·                     Maven Yavin:
Tekhelet 6/6

·                     Mystical Paths:
Israel in Danger 1/22/2

·                     On the face:
How Lisa Came to Israel 1/62/6

·                     Only in Israel:
A Typical Protest 1/22/2

·                     Orthodox Anarchist:
Walls Came Tumbling Down

·                     Orthomon:
Heroine of the Day

·                     Point of Pinchas
Gush Katif Protests 1/66/6

·                     Rose's Story
Rose's Story 1/20

·                     SerendEz:
Crazy Shabbos 1/6

Weekend Pop Culture

·                     Wilderness City:
Trip to Uman Series

·                     Zionist Conspiracy:
Orthodox Cultural Divide 1/22/2


·                     A Simple Jew

·                     A Whispering Soul

·                     Aaron's cc:

·                     Air Time

·                     At Least Waste Your Time

·                     Baraita

·                     Because I'm In My Twenties And It's What You Do

·                     Bring Back Sincerity

·                     Chayyaei Sarah

·                     Elie's Expositions

·                     Elms in the Yard

·                     Elster's World

·                     Faith in Nathan

·                     Five Years Later

·                     Frume Sarah's World

·                     Frumpter. Chassidic Law School Life

·                     Go West, Young Jew

·                     I Dream, Therefore I am

·                     If you will it

·                     In a kingdom by the sea

·                     In the barren season

·                     Jeru Guru

·                     Jerusalem Syndrome

·                     Kesher Talk

·                     Mirty's Place

·                     Moving On

·                     My Urban Kvetch

·                     Nice Jewish Girl

·                     NY's Funniest Rabbi

·                     On the Face

·                     Orthodox Anarchist

·                     Orthomom

·                     Pearlies of Wisdom

·                     Psychotoddler

·                     Queen of Katamon

·                     Renegade Rebbetzin

·                     Seraphic Secret

·                     Stacey's Shmatta

·                     Suburban Hymns

·                     Superfluous Juxtaposition

·                     Sweet Rose

·                     The Nice Jewish Website

·                     The Orthodox Paradox

·                     The Wandering Jew

·                     The World Through my Eyes


·                     Wilderness City


·                     Beach Hillel

·                     CampusJ

·                     Cinnamon Rugelach

·                     In My Humble Jewish Opinion

·                     Jewish Journey

·                     Judenstadt

·                     More Tales of Crime and Treason on the High Seas

·                     My year in Haifa, Israel

·                     Sister Soul


·                     UCIsrael

·                     Yoni in israel


·                     Cox & Forkum

·                     LGF

·                     Power Line

·                     Protein Wisdom

·                     Roger L. Simon

·                     Winds of Change


·                     37th Tzaddik:
A Thanksgiving Thought

·                     A Whispering Soul:
The Date Getter

·                     Aaron's CC:
Explaining Sharon's Gaza

·                     Air Time:
Friday Night Races

·                     Apropos of Nothing:
Palestinian Chaos

·                     Ask Shifra:
Matters of the Heart

·                     Baraita:
On Believing

Thursday, Oct 27

·                     Dov Bear:
Baseball & Pesach

·                     Elies Expositions:
And Who an Untimely End

·                     Elms in the Yard:
When Bad Behaviour is Kosher

·                     FindlayOsborn:
Jews Behaving Badly

·                     Jewish Connection:
My Siddur

·                     Jewlicious:
Conservative Judaism

·                     Jew Zoo:
Product Placement

·                     Kesher Talk:
Poetry Pierces the Iron Curtain

·                     Kumah:
Kumah Visits Our Mother

·                     Krum As a Bagel:

·                     Lab Rabbi:
My First Date at a Morgue

·                     Lulei Demistafina:
30 Tammuz

·                     Mah Rabu:
Taxonomy of Jewish pluralism

·                     Mirty's Place:
Things that Change your Life

·                     Modern Orthodox Woman:
Finding Musar in Children's Books

·                     Mystical Paths:
The Blessings of Jacob

·                     Nice Jewish Girl:
Physical Necessities

·                     Orthodox Anarchist:
On Becoming Shomer Shabbat

·                     Orthomon:
Orthomon 9/11

·                     Point of Pinchas:
Gush Katif Protests

·                     Reality Gaps:
L'Intifada Continues, Paris Burns

·                     SerandEz:
Welcome to the (J-) Blogosphere

·                     Soccer Dad:
Article 20

·                     This Blog is Full of Crap:
Thank You

·                     Treppenwitz
Daddy Syndrome

·                     World Through My Eyes:

·                     Yeshayah 62:1:
Debating the Demography Question


·                     Yo Yenta:
The Jews of Appalachia

·                     Zionist Conspiracy:
November 4, 1995 and ...


·                     A Whispering Soul

·                     Baraita

·                     Because I'm In My Twenties And It's What You Do

·                     Blog In Dm

·                     Bloghead

·                     Dov Bear

·                     Jeru Guru

·                     Jewlicious

·                     Jewschool

·                     Judenstadt!

·                     Kesher Talk

·                     Life Of Rubin

·                     Lulei Demistafina

·                     Mom with a View

·                     My Urban Kvetch

·                     OrthoMom

·                     Psychotoddler

·                     Shaister

·                     The Orthodox Paradox

·                     The Pig Of Death

·                     Yo, Yenta!


·                     A Whispering Soul

·                     Aaron's cc:

·                     Because I'm In My Twenties And It's What You Do

·                     Cox & Forkum

·                     Fudge

·                     Gila's Big Adventure

·                     Israel Stories

·                     JDaters Anonymous

·                     Jeru Guru

·                     Krum as a Bagel

·                     Life Of Rubin

·                     Mom with a View

·                     Mrs. Balabusta

·                     Protein Wisdom

·                     Psychotoddler

·                     Renegade Rebbetzin

·                     Suburban Hymns

·                     The Dry Bones Blog

·                     The View from Here

·                     The World Through my Eyes

·                     This Blog is Full of Crap

·                     Yo, Yenta!







What is the Fast of the Tenth of Tevet?


         This relatively obscure fast day falls this year on Tues., Jan 10.  While commemorating the beginning of the siege of Jerusalem by the Babylonians in 586 BCE – the beginning of the end for the first Temple, the day has also come to be the unofficial Yahrzeit for people for whom no date of death is known (e.g.many Holocaust victims).  Read more at





Turning the Tables


Today I turn the tables by introducing…”Ask the Congregant.”  This time I ask YOU the questions.  Here are a number of quizzes linked to   Choose one or more to take – and let me know how well you do! And, BTW, if you get some wrong and have any questions…ask away!


All of's quizzes


Daily Life & Practice

History & Community


Ideas & Beliefs










By Ruth Ginsburg


I received this from Ruth Ginsburg, one of recent college graduates, who is spending the year in Israel:


I hope everyone is having a great beginning to 2006.  Last week we had a break for Hanukkah and then we had a politics and society seminar which was amazing.  For break I went to Haifa and spent time with my friends up there and we went to the Chagall Artist's House.  It is an art museum that focuses on coexistence. The paintings there were incredible.  I also went to the Cladestine Immigration and Navy Museum.  Did you know that the first navy ships that Israel had were the boats that they used for the Cladestine Immigration.  There first real navy ship was an old Canadian navy ship that was outdated that they didn't want anymore and so they sold the ship to Israel for $10.  The immigrants that the British refused to let it, were sent to Cyprus to live in refugee camps, some people were there for 4 years.


Can you imagine being freed from a concentration camp heading to the land of milk and honey only to be sent to another camp!

      I love Israeli history, I am reading a book right now about the Yom Kippur War.  I suggest that if you haven't read EXODUS by Leon Uris, READ IT! It is my favorite book of all time!


Wednesday we had to be in Jerusalem for a seminar, it was so interesting I learned so much.  The Palestinian correspondent for the Jerusalem Post came to speak to us about the Arab situation in Israel  right now. If you weren't aware in two weeks are the Palestinian elections, and at the local levels Hamas has won most of the elections.  Scary thought!

We also went to the West Bank, don't worry.. we had 3 soliders for each bus with us and the buses were bullet proof. We went to the settlements and spoke with some of the settlers, I don't necessarily agree with everything they said but I do respect them for believing in something and then being active in seeing it through.  We also went to a kibbutz that focuses on Peaceful Coexistence and that was really interesting too. We spoke alot about the history of israel and some things that altered all of Israeli history.


      Before third track, we have a three week break and I am signed up to volunteer in the army, but after this seminar I think that I would rather study more about Torah and Israeli history.  We'll see.  For third track I may be doing research for the department of Public Health in Haifa, or working for a rehab center for children with disabilities.


I hope everyone is doing well.

Happy 2006

And just to make it clear I am not making aliyah any time soon!

Love you all






Keshet: The Center for Educational Tourism in Israel

PO Box 8540 Jerusalem 91084

Telephone:  (972) 2 6451865  Fax: (972) 2 6452670



Israel Family Adventure

Led by Rabbi Joshua and Mara Hammerman

July 24-August 6, 2006

This unforgettable journey will have something for everyone:

·        Bar/Bat Mitzvah affirmation service and celebration

·        Kibbutz Experience in the North

·        Bedouin experience in the Negev

·        Exploring Tel Aviv and the mystical city of Safed

·        Visit to our sister city of Afula

·        Visit to an army base

·        Exploring the Golan and Kayaking on the Jordan

·        Archeological dig in the Judean Hills

·        Relax at a five-star Mediterranean Spa

·        Guest speakers, including Dr. Michael Oren, author of Six Days of War.

·        Meaningful encounters with Israelis from a wide variety of backgrounds

  • Western Wall Tunnels
  • Full children’s program with youth counselor
  • A glorious Shabbat in Jerusalem


Download the updated interactive itinerary and registration form, now, at


and contact Rabbi Hammerman ( with any questions



MERCAZ USA — Slate #9

January 2006 - Tevet 5766


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



In the Shadow of Sharon - Benny Morris
Sharon will be remembered as one of Israel's great field commanders, the wily, bulldozing general who cracked the Egyptian bastion at Um Katef-Abu Awgeila in 1967 and led the crossing of the Suez Canal in 1973, turning the tables in the Yom Kippur War. His defeat of the second Palestinian intifada will doubtless be carefully studied, once the hysteria and hype die down, as a model of a relatively clean, successful counterinsurgency.
    Sharon believed (as I do) that there was and is no viable Palestinian peace partner. The Palestinian national movement, he believed, still, in the deepest, immutable recesses of its heart, aspires to Israel's destruction and replacement by an Arab-majority state, a "one-state solution." That aspiration is why Arafat rejected the two-state compromise proposed by Sharon's predecessor, Ehud Barak, and President Bill Clinton in 2000, and it is why, from the militant Islamic members of Hamas through Mahmoud Abbas, the Palestinian national movement refuses to give up the "right of return" of the refugees, the demographic battering ram with which it hopes, ultimately, to bring Israel down. (New York Times)


Ariel Sharon Personified Israel's Formative Era - Michael B. Oren
Ariel Sharon has clearly ended his term as Israel's prime minister. His passing from public life represents not only the fall of the pre-eminent figure in Israeli politics but, more fundamentally, the conclusion of the formative era in Israel's history - a period he personified.
    Sharon has been intimately identified with every major event in that history. An infantry officer in the desperate battle for the Jerusalem corridor in the 1948 War of Independence, leader of the paratroopers in the 1956 Sinai campaign, he rose to the rank of general and commanded divisions in the Six-Day War of 1967 and the 1973 Yom Kippur War. As a government minister, he was the architect of the Israeli invasion of Lebanon in 1982, and the primary force behind the settlement movement. With the sole exception of Shimon Peres, he has been a member of the Knesset longer than any other Israeli. Sharon, more than any single Israeli, represented the finest ideals of the Jewish state - its heroism, resilience, and versatility. The writer is a senior fellow at the Shalem Center in Jerusalem(Wall Street Journal)


Defense Minister Affirms Continuity - Herb Keinon
Defense Minister Shaul Mofaz stated in a press conference on Thursday that the Defense Ministry and security forces would not be weakened by Prime Minister Sharon's hospitalization. He reaffirmed that heading Israel's security system is a group of responsible, experienced people who are doing everything necessary to ensure Israel's safety. (Jerusalem Post)


Chaos, Anarchy, and Politics in the Palestinian Authority - Ali Waked
At midnight on December 31, all Palestinian organizations announced that the truce was over, and most marked the occasion by firing rockets towards Israel. Hamas has continued arming itself over the past few months and even supplied ammunition to other groups. Why the anarchy? There are hundreds of independent units in the different apparatuses; in Fatah there are quite a few non-obedient factions; there is direct Iranian influence or through Hizballah on the ground. There is also a Palestinian leadership residing abroad, mostly in Damascus, that pulls the strings mostly towards an escalation (like Khaled Mashal, for example). (Ynet News)


Olmert's Tests - Ze'ev Schiff
The most immediate security problems facing Acting Prime Minister Ehud Olmert are the war on Palestinian terror, including Kassam rocket launches, and the threat of al-Qaeda terror. The immediate worry is that Palestinian terrorist organizations may decide to give Israel's new leadership a "test of strength." Precisely because of the anarchy in the PA, they can take extreme steps that would escalate the conflict.
    Olmert must be alert to any attempts by al-Qaeda to penetrate Lebanon and use it as a base for attacking Israel or Israelis. Al-Qaeda has already penetrated Sinai and Jordan, and it is clear that the organization has also recently penetrated Palestinian refugee camps in Lebanon, where it has joined forces with the extremist Palestinians who recently launched Katyushas at Kiryat Shmona and Shlomi. (Ha'aretz)

Mideast Democracy - Lisa Anderson
There were more elections held in the Middle East in the past year than ever before. But are liberty and democracy really served by elections mounted largely to please an international patron like the U.S.? Certainly by most standards, none of the elections included all, or even most, of the possible participants. Moreover, across the region, the more free and fair the elections were, the less successful were ostensibly democratic parties; in both Palestinian and Egyptian elections, Islamist parties did far better than expected.
    For many of the governments, elections are a necessary evil, an expensive spectacle produced for the benefit of eager audiences in Washington. Most of the participants in these spectacles know perfectly well what the outcome will be, but they go to the polls anyway. Despite this voter willingness, the U.S. needs to be careful about what it calls a successful democratic election in the Middle East. Too many dashed expectations run the risk of creating a generation of disenchanted, cynical ex-voters who thought the candidates, and their Western backers, were going to deliver real goods. The writer is the dean at the School of International Public Affairs at Columbia University. (Christian Science Monitor)

Israel Denies Temple Mount Excavation - Etgar Lefkovits
Israel dismissed as "blatant lies" the claims voiced Tuesday by the Mufti of Jerusalem, Ikrema Sabri, and Sheik Raed Salah, the firebrand leader of the Islamic Movement in Israel, that Israel built a synagogue and was trying to destroy a mosque on the Temple Mount by its recently-completed construction of a visitor's center near the Western Wall. Islamic leaders have been fuming for weeks over the visitor's center, angered over the project which highlights Judaism's connection to Jerusalem and the Western Wall. The new tourist center at the Western Wall tunnels includes an elaborate sound and light show that highlights recent discoveries of artifacts and infrastructure dating back thousands of years.
    "Archaeological excavations have never been carried out, and are not being carried out today, under the Temple Mount compound," Israel's Antiquities Authority said in a statement. The visitor's center is hundreds of meters away from the Temple Mount compound. (Jerusalem Post)
    See also "Israel Digging under Al-Aksa," or Not? - Joshua Brilliant
This reporter, who visited the alleged underground site, saw no evidence of a dig towards the mosque. (UPI)


Jihad Coming: Israel Had Better Start Taking Al-Qaeda Terrorism Seriously - Dore Gold
Al-Qaeda operations around Israel are becoming more prominent. Israel has to understand that the new terrorism of al-Qaeda involves attacks of far greater lethality than those carried out by the Palestinians in the past. It would be a cardinal error for Israel to conclude that after the U.S. war in Iraq, the region to Israel's east is moving in the direction of greater stability and, therefore, Israel can take the risk of conceding strategic assets in the West Bank. Zarqawi now wants to destabilize Jordan, but clearly seeks to target Israel as well.
    Were Israel to withdraw from the strategic barrier it controls in the Jordan Valley and open its doors to the east, then Israeli vulnerability could very well attract more global jihadi elements to Jordan, who would seek to use the kingdom as a platform to reach the West Bank and then Israel. (Yediot Ahronot-Hebrew/Ynet News)


Fed Up with Fatah - Amira Hass
Three weeks before the elections, the Palestinian ruling party is doing all it can to make the public fed up. The armed men and the kidnappers in Gaza are almost always connected to Fatah or the "security apparatus." And the PA is not prosecuting the kidnappers and rioters, even though it knows precisely who they are. On Monday in Khan Yunis, according to a report by the independent Palestinian news agency Maanan, civilians did what the security apparatus has not managed to do: They prevented kidnappers from grabbing two Japanese citizens.
    The united list Fatah is presenting to the electorate, which forcefully expresses Fatah's traditions of tribalism and localism, is not so attractive. In the West Bank they are bitter that Gaza is better represented on the list; in Jenin, they are bitter that the representatives from Bethlehem are ranked higher. And despite all the talk of Jerusalem as the Palestinian capital, Fatah was unable to find a single well-known Jerusalemite who is attractive and popular to be included on the list. (Ha'aretz)
    See also After Israel, Who Can Run Gaza? - Rafael D. Frankel
As the first year devoid of an Israeli presence since 1967 dawns in the Gaza Strip, armed militias roam the streets freely, foreigners are kidnapped with regularity, and the measure of a man is not his political title, or even the size of his house, but the number of AK-47-wielding bodyguards he employs. The best-armed gangs or families are effectively the law now. Throughout the days here gun shots ring out. From time to time, explosions from homemade bombs, rockets, and the countering Israeli artillery fire echo through the graffiti-ridden streets. (Christian Science Monitor )


Warning Shots - Martin Peretz (New Republic)

  • The withdrawal from Gaza by Israel was supposed to be a test. That the hudna (ceasefire) would hold. It didn't. What about security undertakings with regard to Gaza's border with Egypt? Again a failure. Is there elemental public order on the streets? Chaos rules in Gaza, utter mayhem.
  • The fact is that almost no one in Israel any longer believes in a negotiated peace with the Palestinians. Not because sensible and humane Israelis can't imagine a fair divide of the land between the river and the sea. But because Gaza has truly shown them that there are - let's be perfectly frank - no Palestinians with whom to treat. Not a single security assurance from the Palestinians has ever held. There is no dispute: This is the record.
  • All this has consequences for the West Bank. Sooner or later, and particularly if there is a withdrawal from the West Bank and the Jordan Valley, rockets and missiles will be as common there as they are in Gaza and Lebanon. Already, al-Qaeda has claimed (and Israeli intelligence has confirmed) that it was responsible for at least one rocket attack on Israel proper.
  • Those who casually promote the notion that Israel should disengage from here, there, nearly everywhere close to the 1949 lines are proposing that the Jewish state commit suicide. Virtually the entire country, including Ben-Gurion Airport, would be vulnerable to even simple weaponry.




Hard Sell: Jews consider proselytizing to fight assimilation.



It is one of the most commonly understood notions about Judaism that its adherents do not proselytize. And yet there in the Boston Globe last week was the headline: "Conservative Jews Set a Conversion Campaign." What was going on?


As it happened, Rabbi Jerome M. Epstein, the head of the United Synagogue of Conservative Judaism, had set a somewhat limited campaign. At the group's convention he had urged: "We must begin aggressively to encourage conversions of potential Jews who have chosen a Jewish spouse."


Such a desire has more to do with practical reality than with theology. (Gentiles still do not need to become Jews in order to live according to God's wishes.) With the intermarriage rate at about 47% and less than 8% of children of intermarried couples actually identifying as Jews, it is easy to see why the chosen people are in a state of demographic panic.

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Of course they are not the only religious group worried about the effects of assimilation. A recent article in Hinduism Today noted the increasing rate at which Hindus in the West are marrying non-Hindus. "Over decades," the author of the article noted, "this trend could eventually lead to the Hindu community's virtual disappearance into the mainstream of AmericaCanadaAustralia or England." According to the American Religious Identification Survey of 2001, 21% of Muslims and 39% of Buddhists are living in "mixed religion families." Such interfaith marriage poses problems that the organized Jewish community has been wringing its hands over for decades. What can these groups, and others, glean from Jewish attitudes toward interfaith couples?


Just a month ago Rabbi Eric Yoffie, the president of the Union of Reform Judaism, came to the same conclusion as his Conservative counterpart. "It is a mitzvah [a kindness] to help a potential Jew become a Jew-by-choice," he told the union's General Assembly. There is nothing new about such a policy, he noted, but it has been forgotten in recent years. "By making non-Jews feel comfortable and accepted in our congregations," he observed, "we have sent the message that we do not care if they convert."


Rabbi Yoffie's statement goes right to the delicacy of this matter. Many of the Christians, Buddhists and atheists may have agreed to raise their children as Jews with the understanding that no one would try to change their own religious beliefs. They may now feel as if an implicit contract has been broken. Ed Case, the president of, a Web site for interfaith families exploring Jewish life, worries about this: "We think it's a real mistake for Jewish organizations to convey an attitude toward intermarried couples that conversion is a preferred option."


Mr. Case, whose own wife recently converted to Judaism after 30 years of marriage, believes that families in which only one parent is Jewish are perfectly capable of raising a Jewish child. He points to evidence from surveys he has conducted showing that "children are not confused" by such arrangements. Mr. Case accuses the "intellectual elite of the Jewish community" of becoming hostile to interfaith couples, saying that they put too much stock in "superficial" symbols like Christmas trees that supposedly threaten a household's Jewish identity.


But one has to wonder: Why should Jews worry about giving offense by encouraging conversion? Rabbi Epstein argues for at least giving people a choice. "If I see two products on a shelf, one may not be better than another, but one may meet my needs more or my desires more." He thinks that Jews should at least offer people "the values and beauty of Judaism." As Rabbi Yoffie noted in his speech: "Most non-Jews. . .come from a background where asking for this kind of commitment is natural and normal, and they are more than a little perplexed when we fail to do so."

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Rabbi Ismar Schorsch, the chancellor of the Jewish Theological Seminary, the academic center of the Conservative movement, has his doubts about these conversion plans. "Religious decisions are deeply personal and internal and not the result of salesmanship." Maybe not, but such a belief did not stop Rabbi Schorsch from proposing his own incentive to stop assimilation--a free Jewish education for every child whose family belongs to a synagogue or Jewish community center.


This "entitlement program," as he calls it, could mean Jewish summer camp, after-school programs or even a full Jewish day school education all the way through 12th grade. Rabbi Schorsch acknowledges the astronomical cost of such a program, but he explains: "We know from all the research that serious Jewish education makes a decided difference in the quality of the identity of the Jewish youngsters." He is willing to go one step further than some Conservative rabbis, suggesting that the children of interfaith marriages--even those in which the mother is not Jewish--should have the right to this education until their bar or bat mitzvahs, when they can decide whether to convert.


Perhaps it only makes sense that in a country where religious groups are free to practice as they please that every religious leader has his own idea about how to drum up business. Religion has a place in the marketplace of ideas, too.


Ms. Riley is The Wall Street Journal's deputy Taste page editor.


Israel’s Education System: Teaching Peace and Tolerance – Source: The Israel Project


Many different cultures and backgrounds are represented in Israeli society, including Jews, Arabs, Christians, Druze, and Bedouin. As a result, Israel's Ministry of Education maintains a Department for Education for Democracy and Coexistence specifically to provide training for teachers and administrators and to develop curricula. Areas of focus include: education for life in a democratic society, education for tolerance and accepting differences, education for life in a multicultural society (with an emphasis on promoting the relationship between Israel’s Arab and Jewish citizens), and education towards peace.

The Ministry of Education has implemented many programs where Israeli and Arab students work together on joint projects in an effort to learn more about each other, their heritage and culture. Examples include:


·        "We and Our Neighbors" — Curriculum for grades three and four (in Hebrew and Arabic) designed to acquaint children in ethnically mixed neighborhoods with their neighbors. This program is part of the geography and Israel Studies curriculum and is integrated within the unit on "My Community."

·        "Jews and Arabs in Israel" — Curriculum for grades five and six, integrated within the unit on the northern region of Israel.

·        "Arab Citizens of Israel" — Curriculum for secondary school students. The course textbook is part of the required curriculum for the matriculation examination in citizenship in Israeli high schools.

·        "Families in Israel" — Curriculum for grades eight and nine, which explore the complexity of Israeli society. Along with family stories, the teacher receives lesson plans devoted to stereotypes and preconceptions, tolerance, cultural differences, etc.

In addition, the Israeli Government actively supports the program Seeds of Peace, which brings together Arab and Jewish teenagers before they have formed prejudices about each other. The program creates lasting friendships and prepares teenagers to become the next generation of peacemakers.[1][1]

Studies of Israeli Textbooks

The Center for Monitoring the Impact of Peace (CMIP) reviewed 360 Israeli textbooks from the 1999-2000 school year in order to show how Arabs, Palestinians, Islam and peace were represented in Israeli school textbooks. The report showed that in Israeli textbooks, there are positive descriptions of Islam and the Arab culture and their contributions to human civilization. The report showed that many books describe the need for peace between Israel and the Arab countries. The CMIP issued an additional report covering the 2000-2002 Israeli textbooks. The report showed that:

·        Many Israeli textbooks focus on education towards reconciliation, tolerance and peace. Peace is presented not only as a Utopian aspiration, but also as a reachable political goal. The new textbooks give information about the peace agreements between Israel and Arab countries and the Palestinians, in particular on the question of the borders between Israel and the Palestinian Authority.

·        The Palestinians' struggle is presented as that of a national movement whilst not identifying with their aims. The conflict between the Israelis and the Palestinians continues to be presented as a clash between two national movements, thus legitimizing the existence of the Palestinian national movement. None of the new textbooks contains indoctrination against the Palestinians as a people.

·        There is no instance of education to hatred of the Arabs or of any other people.

·        In the new editions of literature readers, stories depicting Arabs in a positive light continue to appear. The textbooks approved by the Ministry of Education still include literature readers that contain stories written by Palestinian and other Arab authors.

·        Ministry of Education continues to present the Palestinian point of view both with regard to the unfolding of the conflict and responsibility for the refugee problem. A new dimension is the reference to towns of mixed Jewish and Arab population and the chain of events that led to the flight of the Arabs from these towns.

Examples from Israeli Textbooks

·        Israeli texts use simulation games to help students understand different perspectives on an issue. In one, students are told to divide into groups representing Jewish and Palestinian journalists and prepare a report on the discussion in the United Nations leading to the partition resolution. Students are then asked to discuss the differences between the reports of the Jewish and Palestinian journalists (K. Tabibian, Journey To The Past - The Twentieth Century, By Dint of Freedom, 1999, p. 294).

·        Israeli books recognize the achievements of Arabs and Muslims. One text highlights the Arab role as creators of culture: “...they were the first to discover the existence of infectious diseases. They were also the first to build public hospitals. Because of their considerable contribution to various scientific fields, there are disciplines that to this day are called by their Arabic names, such as algebra.” (From Generation to Generation, Vol. b, 1994, p. 220)

·        Israeli textbooks explain the origins of Palestinian nationalism. For example, a 9th grade text observes that “during the 1930's, Arab nationalist movements evolved all over the Middle East. Many of the Arabs of Eretz Yisrael also began formulating a national consciousness — in other words, the perception that they are not just part of the larger Arab nation, but are also Palestinians.” (The Twentieth Century - On the Threshold of Tomorrow, Grade 9, 1999, p.44)

Resources for Additional Information:

Building Bridges: Israeli Public Policy

Myths and Facts – A Guide to the Arab-Israeli Conflict
Human Rights in Israel and the Territories:

The Center for Monitoring the Impact of Peace (CMIP) 

Fact sheet courtesy the Israel Ministry of Foreign Affairs




MYTH #202

Israel uses checkpoints to deny Palestinians their rights and humiliate them.”


It is not unusual for nations to guard their borders and to establish checkpoints to prevent people from illegally entering their countries. The United States has checkpoints at its borders and airports and, as Americans saw on September 11, these are necessary but not foolproof security precautions.

In the case of Israel, the necessity for checkpoints has been created by the Palestinians. By pursuing a violent campaign of terror against Israel’s citizens, they have forced Israel to set up barriers to make it as difficult as possible for terrorists to enter Israel or travel through the territories to carry out acts of violence. The checkpoints are an inconvenience to innocent Palestinians, but they do in fact prevent terror and save lives.

For example, on November 2, 2002, a van carrying boxes of jeans pulled up at a checkpoint. Soldiers checked the IDs of the men in the van and discovered one of the passengers was a wanted man. The van was unloaded and it was not until the soldiers opened the last box that they discovered an explosive belt that was being delivered to a suicide bomber. Two weeks later a taxi pulled up to the same checkpoint. Soldiers found two computers in the trunk that seemed unusually heavy. They opened the boxes and found two explosive belts. They also found a bag with a gun (Ha’aretz, November 28, 2002).

On December 29, 2005, an army jeep stopped a Palestinian taxi at a temporary checkpoint. Troops were acting on an intelligence tip about terrorists planning an attack in Israel during Chanukah. Lt. Uri Binamo, 21, told the occupants to get out of the vehicle. The three Palestinian men inside complied with the order, but once out of the taxi, one of them lifted his shirt to reveal a suicide belt. He then detonated the belt, killing himself, the two Palestinians and Binamo. The three soldiers covering the officer were wounded and an innocent Palestinian bystander was killed (Jerusalem Post, December 29, 2005).

These are just two of many examples of how checkpoints have prevented terrorists from infiltrating Israel.

Hyperbolic media reports and anti-Israel propaganda have suggested Israel is harrassing Palestinian women at checkpoints. It is unfortunate that women cannot be ignored as potential security threats. Border policemen at a checkpoint north of Jerusalem, for example, arrested a Palestinian woman pushing a baby stroller that concealed a pistol, two ammunition clips, and a knife (Maariv, October 14, 2003).

Commercial goods, food, medicine, ambulances, and medical crews continue to circulate freely, hampered only by continuing attacks. Palestinian workers going to jobs in Israel also may pass through the checkpoints with the proper identification; restrictions are only imposed when necessitated by the security situation.

Barriers are not set up to humiliate Palestinians, but to ensure the safety of Israeli citizens. Unfortunately, every time Israel has relaxed its policy and withdrawn checkpoints, Palestinian terrorists have taken advantage of the opportunity to launch new attacks on innocent Israelis.

This article can be found at

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

To order a copy of the paperback edition of Myths and Facts, click HERE. Myths & Facts is also available in Spanish, German, French, Russian, Portuguese, Swedish, and Hebrew.

Dr. Bard is available for media interviews and speaking engagements on this and other topics.









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







Tevet 5766 / 12/31/05 - 1/1/06

Theme: "Judaism in Different Contexts"

Jewish Population: Me
When one begins to describe Jewish life in South Dakota in the 20th and 21st centuries, one can begin with its foundation—the religious school. When I was a student, approximately 35 students met in a one-room schoolhouse in the basement of the synagogue... (Stephanie King, recent grad, U.S. Air Force Academy in Colorado)

Eating, Sleeping, and Breathing Judaism
There is just no escaping it wherever I turn. I live in a totally Jewish world and love every moment of it... (Rabbi Ed Romm, Director of the Center on Campus Program in Israel)

Helloooo? Got Jews?
If someone had told me, at any point in my life, that one day I would be desperately Googling, “Synagogues in Alfalfa, Oklahoma,” I would never have believed them... (Maya Berezovsky, U. of Minnesota, KOACH-on-Campus editor)

Worldwide Ethical Wrestling: Fate vs. Free Will
“I shall be which I shall be.” This is a profound statement of individuality, citing our right to choose our own fate...(Dvar Torah by Avi Eisen, Montclair State U.)

Getting to Know You: Q&A with KOACH E-zine Editors
New this month: KOACH E-Zine iInterview feature. What are Jewish college students thinking? Interview with David Schwartz, KOACH Intern...

KOACH Recipe: Chicken Soup for the Sick College Student's Soul
Three weeks of my first month of college were characterized by sneezing, a runny nose, coughing and a sore throat.

Humor: If Computers Were Jewish
1. Instead of getting a "General Protection Fault" error, your PC would get "farklempt"



Editorial calendar / Submit an article

Meet the Staff - Bios & Photos

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

NEW! Joke Index
Don't take life so seriously. Read some humor from the editors of KOACH-ON-CAMPUS.



2006 KOACH Kallah:
"Listening for God"

KOACH Kallah 2006 "Listening for God" logo

February 23-26
The Ohio State University

Rabbi Amy Eilberg, first woman ordained by the Conservative Movement and co-founder of the Yedidya Center for Spiritual Direction, will be our scholar-in-residence. Learn more and register online...

World Zionist Congress Elections
The 35th World Zionist Congress will meet this coming June in Israel. People from all over the world are able to vote for delegates for Congress which helps shape the character of Israeli society for the next several years. Register to vote and help support MERCAZ, the Conservative Movement’s Zionist party in supporting pluralism and equality. Visit


The Conservative Yeshiva 2006 Summer Program...

...provides an opportunity to study the classic texts of Judaism, including Talmud, Bible, Prayer, Jewish Law and Jewish Thought. Join Yeshiva Head Rabbis Richie Lewis and Joel Roth, along with Professor Pamela Barmash and other Yeshiva faculty, for an unforgettable learning experience.

The Conservative Yeshiva Summer Program includes an intensive morning Ulpan to build up Hebrew skills and afternoon classes in Talmud and Tanakh (Bible). The advanced track includes an intensive morning Talmud class and afternoon classes in Halakhah. For the first time, an introductory intensive text study track will be offered each morning.

Two three-week sessions will be held July 2-July 20 and July 23-August 10, 2006. Sessions will not be repetitive and students may attend either or both. Students of all ages and backgrounds are welcome.

For more information and an application contact:, 972-2-622-3116, or


How do you define being a Conservative Jew?  (Take this month's mini-poll...)

Do You Keep Kosher?
Many of you do! (Find out how many...)



Intro to Midrash

Try a new twist on Torah study. For generations, Jews have interacted with the Torah as a living text, squeezing in between its letters and line to try to understand. Get your Intro to Midrash in Answering Questions, Adding Flourishes, learn some Torah and have a great time! (Download this month's packet and see a list of similar resources.)


Get a Job: Jewish Communal Careers
Guide for New Jewish College Students
Creative Grants Program
Basic Jewish Library
Campus KOACH & Hillel Contacts
KOACH Joke Index


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


Petition on the Crisis in Sudan
Learn about the petition and download a copy...







What do you call a rockin’ Friday night service at Temple Beth El?




Plug in

FRIDAY NIGHT, January 13th at 7:30 p.m.


Music!  Food!  Friends!

Led by Rabbi Hammerman and Cantor Littman

We bring the music and food…  You bring the friends…

Live music!  Coffee and dessert bar.

It’s the Friday night service you’ve been waiting for…!


Sponsored by Shelley and Larry Leibowitz


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 8th

What is Shabbat?


Sunday, January 22nd

What is Kosher?



with Rabbi Joshua Hammerman

Sunday, January 22nd at 11:00 a.m.

Assisted Suicide and Euthanasia



with Rabbi Selilah Kalev

Tuesday, January 10th 7:30 p.m.



Pillar of Fire:  A Television History of Israel’s Rebirth

11:00 a.m.


Sunday, January 8th:  Episode 6

A Nation Reborn 1947-1948


TALMUD FOR EVERYONE with Rabbi Joshua Hammerman

Wednesday, January 18th 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 Penny & Michael Horowitz

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

 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, or Maccabi Games Assistant Director Ernest Lamour at 203-487-0971 or





In light of this week’s news regarding PM Sharon, we are holding off on a joke for this week…


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

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