Friday, February 3, 2006

February 4, 2006 - Shevat 6, 5766


February 4, 2006 - Shevat 6, 5766



Rabbi Joshua Hammerman, Temple Beth El, StamfordConnecticut




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


Sign up for the WZO elections and vote Mercaz!!

(see more below)



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


Just the Facts (service schedule)

The Rabid Rabbi (including E-mail from the Front)

Mitzvah/Tzedakkah Opportunities

Ask the Rabbi

Spiritual Journey on the Web    (including the Super Bowl prediction)

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



“Man cannot approach the divine by reaching beyond the human; he can approach Him through becoming human.  To become human is what the individual man has been created for.”

-- Martin Buber





This Sunday: Two Special Programs


at the World Wide Wrap

Sunday, February 5th at 9:00 a.m.

(includes morning minyan slightly after 9:30)


     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 in 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!).


     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.




featuring JTS student, Abbi Sharofsky

and TBE’s own

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


     On Sunday, February 5th at 10:00 a.m. join us for a light breakfast, sponsored by Sisterhood, as we welcome Elise Dowell (daughter of our own Evelyn and Bruce Kahn) and JTS student Abbi Sharofsky 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.



Friday Evening 

Candle lighting for Stamford, CT: Candle lighting: 4:55 pm on Friday, 3 February 2006.  Havdalah is at 5:59 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 – come and meet our JTS guest for the weekend!


Tot Shabbat: 6:45 – in the lobby- Tot Shabbat will be hosted this week by Deb and Ken Goldberg in honor of their children, Daniel, who is celebrating his first birthday, Alyssa, and Andrew. 


Shabbat Morning: 9:30 AM – JTS Shabbat – Guest Speaker: JTS student, Abbi Sharofsky – who will speak on the topic: "If Solomon Schechter Could See Us Now: The New Generation of Jewish Leadership" 


We are proud of all our TBE students going to Israel next week with Bi-Cultural Day School:

Danielle Bachar, Benjamin Burstein, Jacob Cohen, Laura Eber, Katie Maimon, Ilana Polak, Lindsey Simon and Alyssa Wiener. 

We will be honoring them with a special blessing at the conclusion of services this Shabbat.


Children’s services: 10:30

Torah Portion: Bo – Exodus 10:1 - 13:16

1: 11:4-10
2: 12:1-10
3: 12:11-13
4: 12:14-16
5: 12:17-20
6: 12:21-24
7: 12:25-28
maf: 12:25-28

Haftarah – Jeremiah 46:13 - 46:28

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



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



Violence in the Community


This morning I took part in a gathering of community leaders convened by Mayor Malloy and Superintendent Starr. Together we grappled with the violence that took an innocent life a week ago and the ripple effects that have impacted our community and especially our schools.  I felt that the meeting was very constructive and some good ideas were shared.  There is an important role that religious institutions and clergy can play here, as well as educators, social service workers, elected officials and the police.  All were part of this gathering.


Last week I refrained from commenting on this matter because so little was known and so many rumors abounded.  But I should have spoken out quickly and clearly regarding the grief we all feel at the loss of life and the concern we share for those who are in fear.  I was present on the Westhill campus last Friday, when so many students stayed home out of fear, but I wish I had gotten there earlier to stand at the entrance with clergy of other faiths and send a message to our kids especially.  I do feel that this is a safe and wonderful place to live and that we will be more prepared for situations like this should they arise again.


But this points to a problem that can no longer be pushed under the rug.  Violence has become so endemic to our society, not just here, but everywhere, and not just with youths, but with everyone.  This also came out in our discussions this morning, but we knew it already.  A startling lack of civility and respect for fellow human beings can be found everywhere – in movies, in the media, in our homes.  We try to teach it here in the context of Jewish values, by working with our b’nai mitzvah students at being respectful in services, by taking younger kids to nursing homes to learn how properly to respect the elderly, and even in our committee rooms and our websites, we need to reinforce the priority of civil behavior in how adults talk with one another.  We’re actually pretty good at it here, but now, with the world so violent around us, we need to work even harder.  Which brings me to my next topic….


We're halfway there!


Several months ago I asked Andy Lehrfeld, our webmaster, to create a discussion forum on our site.  I've always felt that one of the most important things a rabbi can do is to encourage congregants to become fully engaged in the most important matters of the day.  For Judaism to have any relevance at all for people, it cannot be relegated to a few hours a week in synagogue, but must live and breathe within us at all times - as the Sh'ma says," when we walk on our way, when we lie down and when we rise up." 


And so my goal has always been to foster constructive dialogue on all manner of issues.  Conservative Judaism has always sought truth somewhere between the extremes, and that search for truth has always been a dynamic process. At the end of the day, for sure, you have to take the leap, as the movement has done on all manner of controversial issues, but it is the educational / spiritual process of engaging our traditions in search of truth that has been the most energizing part.  Conservative Judaism is about the journey itself rather than the destination.


I'm a crazy guy - I've been willing to bring in as part of the dialogue people I do not agree with (what a meshugah!).  Even my own sister has become part of this respectful, loving conversation.  We did it a few years ago and this week we renew our “E-mail from the Front” in light of Hamas' stunning victory and Sharon's departure from the scene (see below). 


So what better way to celebrate that spirit of dialogue than by establishing a discussion forum on our own site?  For months I’ve been asking for contributions, starting a few threads on my own and seeing if anything would catch on. 




The Prime Minister is in a coma…no response. 


On Sunday I posted a plea from a congregant supporting a filibuster in the Senate - something that I opposed, by the way.  But I wanted to encourage a vigorous but respectful debate.  That is not what we are supposed to avoid - that is what congregations are supposed to do.  I hoped that maybe we would be able to set an example for the world of a congregation so mature and respectful of one another that we could engage in the type of dialogue that you can never see in the media these days, or virtually anywhere.


Could we do it????


By Sunday night I was amazed to see that the original posting had received nearly 100 views. On Sunday alone our TBE web site received 511 visits and -- you won't believe this – 9,233 hits. That means that lots of people who came to check the discussion forum also took the time to look at the hundreds of other informative pages and heartwarming photo albums that fill our site.  So the good news is that Beth El became more relevant to many people, and perhaps a few even grappled with some of the key issues discussed in the posting. 


The bad news, as far as I'm concerned, is that so few bothered to post.  So we had, in one day, dozens of browsers but virtually no one willing to share an opinion.  Over the ensuing days some more intrepid people put their toes into the water and I am very pleased at the tone and content of the ongoing conversation.


It troubles me to think that people might be afraid to venture an opinion, to “put themselves out there.” One of the few who did post, in fact, posted because he was also troubled by that very same thing.   I'd like to think that TBE does not foster an atmosphere of political correctness, intimidation or "holier than thou."  I’d like to believe that we can teach the world how to live in perfect harmony (to quote the old Coke commercial), but we won’t be able to do that until we can do it right here.  And yes, it is possible to do it passionately, positively and constructively.


Elie Wiesel said that the opposite is evil is apathy - and I intend to continue fighting apathy every step of the way.  But however we continue to make Judaism relevant to every moment of our waking lives (while also giving us a chance to find an oasis from some of the tzuris of life), we always need to do it in the spirit of loving our neighbor as ourselves. 


Only together, in the true spirit of Conservative Judaism, can we come closer to knowing God's ways.


Here are some helpful guides to get us started in practicing true dialogue, followed by this season’s first “Email from the Front.” Other versions of that can be found at and, presented below in chart form at



Debate and/or Discussion

Dialogue is collaborative; cooperative; multiple sides work toward a shared understanding

Debate is competitive and/or oppositional; two (or more) opposing sides try to prove each other wrong; sometimes Discussion can move in this direction as well

In dialogue, one listens to understand, to make meaning, and to find common ground

In debate, (and sometimes discussion) one listens to find flaws, to spot differences, and to counter arguments

Dialogue enlarges and possibly changes a participant's point of view

Debate defends assumptions as truth; in discussions, participants may tend to "dig in"

Dialogue creates an open-minded attitude; an openness to being wrong and an openness to change

Debate creates an close-minded attitude, a determination to be right; Discussion often tends to lead toward one "right" answer

In dialogue, one submits one's best thinking, expecting that other people's reflections will help improve it rather than threaten it

In debate, and often discussion, one submits one's best thinking and defends it against challenge to show that it is right

Dialogue calls for temporarily suspending of one's beliefs

Debate, and sometimes discussion, calls for investing wholeheartedly in one's beliefs

In dialogue, one searches for strengths in all positions

In debate, and sometimes discussion, one searches for weaknesses in the other positions

Dialogue respects all the other participants and seeks not to alienate or offend

Debate rebuts contrary positions and may belittle or deprecate other participants; a discussion gone awry may end up this way as well

Dialogue assumes that many people have pieces of answers and that cooperation can lead to a greater understanding

Debate assumes a single right answer that somebody already has

Dialogue remains open-ended

Debate demands a conclusion

Dialogue is mutual inquiry; collective knowledge

Discussion is individual opinions; individual knowledge



And this, from the Alban Institute


· Why Dialogue?


by Susan Nienaber

Dialogue and deliberation is a new movement in our country that is having and will have a huge impact on congregational and denominational life. Take, for example, these two fictional cases:

Case #1
The denomination has asked every local congregation to talk about several controversial resolutions that will be voted on at the national gathering this summer. The pastor really wants to offer Sunday morning forums to share the information with the congregation but is terrified because she feels certain that many members will be too frightened to speak openly about their views on these resolutions or that if she tries to get them to talk it will turn into “an ugly debate” that could leave people feeling wounded and unheard. What’s a pastor to do?

Case #2
A large, traditional congregation has been gradually experiencing a change in demographics. The congregation is growing and many of the new members range in age from 20 to 35. A high percentage of these new members are living in same-sex or opposite-sex partnerships outside of marriage.

One day a gay couple approaches the pastor and requests baptism for their two newly adopted infants. Within the same week a cohabitating opposite-sex couple volunteers at the last minute to fill in as adult chaperones for the junior high ski retreat. In some congregations, this would be no big deal, but not here. The pastor is flooded with calls from parishioners expressing concerns. The governing board feels caught. Some board members don’t have a problem with either of these situations and others are troubled. What’s a congregation to do?

Click here to continue reading “Why Dialogue?”






It’s baaack…






For the past several years, my sister Lisa has lived in the small settlement of Mitzpeh Yericho, on a hillside overlooking Jericho.  She is on the West Bank, very close to the Jordan River, and therefore at the front of the Israeli front -- that sandy, blurry boundary where the rest of the world meets the Arab world, where civilization began and could conceivably end.  You can read more about her home at the yeshuv’s (a less tainted word than “settlement”) Web site:   Jericho has been eerily quiet throughout the past several stormy years; it is the only major Palestinian town not currently under control of Israeli forces. Not coincidentally, it is also the P.A.’s only land outlet to Jordan and the greater Arab world.  Like its neighbor, my sister’s settlement has also been ((ptu ptu) eerily quiet.  I worry for her constantly – but no less than she worries for me.


Lisa and I are at opposite ends of the philosophical spectrum on a wide variety of issues in Jewish life, although on matters of terror and security those differences have narrowed considerably.  One of Yasser Arafat’s great accomplishments, in fact, was that he was able to bring the Orthodox right-wing settler and her brother the Conservative American rabbi together, on that subject at least.  Geographically we have also lived worlds apart, and that has contributed to our diverse stances.  You just look at the world in a different way when you gaze out your window and see the mountain where Moses died and then peer down upon the ancient city where Joshua “fit de battle.” 


Right now the non-biblical Joshua and his sister Lisa are both fighting the same battle, in Jericho and in the New York suburb of StamfordCT (home page:, and my congregation is at, where you can read my weekly Shabbat-O-Gram newsletter), as are the rest of us.  It’s a battle to keep our families safe and ourselves sane, to sort out right from wrong and good from evil, around the world and in our hearts.  And it’s a battle to bring the entirety of the global Jewish family together, no matter where we live or where we believe this will all end. 


To that end, these e-mails are being sent, in love, from one corner of “the front” to the other.





Lisa and new daughter Adereth



30 January, 2006

Dear Josh;


You REALLY want an email from OUR front??? I hope that it doesn't sound too much like another Israel than the one you are familiar with!


Well, the front here is "warming up," as it were. A few caches of weapons and artillery were discovered not far from here, and we have repeated forays (ostensibly "just" to rob us) by the neighboring Bedouin into the village, which the police are for some reason not prosecuting, including the time that the local "preparedness squad" stopped a truck full of stolen building materials from the village and when the police were summoned, they did nothing to arrest the thieves. A complaint was lodged, but the Bedouin are still casing the joint....


In fact, the police figure in fairly highly in our "big picture" lately, as there seems to be a cognitive dissonance issue. On the one hand, the police are ostensibly undergoing a major overhaul as the result of tremendous and pervading corruption within the ranks, and at the same time, being touted as the "heroes" in the drama of forcibly and violently evicting Jews from their homes, in the name of peace.


In the most recent case, of course, from Jewish OWNED property in Hevron (the deed is available for all to see). Unfortunately, the media is talking about Arab stores in Hevron which were taken over by Jews, so nobody is getting a fair shake. It is adjacent to another Jewish section in Hevron, so to say it is because of security is specious, unless, (of course!) the other community is also in the hairline sights....


The other thing that is figuring highly in our lives these days is the political scene. It is no longer "political," not that it was. It is like an ant farm that someone poured hot mustard into.... everyone is scrambling to find higher ground. It is interesting to see how it pans out. From our perspective, the Kadima party is akin to a trash compacter, where Sharon, prior to his cerebral hemorrhage, managed to cull the most corrupt and least principled of the pols in the parties. He did this by making all kinds of surreptitious promises. Now, the ants over there are scrambling to prove the promises were made, and there is nobody to corroborate them, since Sharon never was one to do things above board. His party is getting ready to implode. There is no coherent platform and there never was. Olmert has always been a scumbag (pardon my English, but I would have used an even more scatological term if I could), even in the eyes of his former party members, and is proving it by taking a bizarre stab at accelerating the expulsion of Jews from many areas, using excessive police force, garnering the judiciary to support illegal maneuvers, under the pretension that this will buy us a piece of peace-- well, actually, he isn't even qualifying his steps these days, really. We are convinced that he is under tremendous pressure from the US, and the Oligarchy, to do these steps before the next government comes in, as it will be a much more resistant government to such "concessions." At least, we pray it will be!  I do predict a dark horse will come in very strongly in the next elections.


On the Arab scene, we see things very positively. Finally there is a government which will stop lying and will say what it means, so that the obfuscation will cease. This is not to say that the media will not try to obfuscate, because it is not comfortable to know that Europe, the US, etc., are all in the same basket with Israel. We hear the sabres rattling; the click of the magazines and the safety catches being released. We watch as the predicted becomes the actual; that when Israel abandoned the Gush, the arms and manpower flowed in like water, the rescue of the "poor" Gazan did not happen (people were killed for trying to "reclaim" land that had been there prior to the Egyptian invasion in 1967). We read a letter recently which expresses what we feel; now that Hamas is in the government, any act of terror can be construed as an act of official war, and responded to as such. Now, the government cannot claim to lack control of their constituents in the Hamas, because they ARE the Hamas...


In the US, we understand that Foxman and others are baiting the evangelistic Christians, while Hands Off of the "nice" Presbyterians, Episcopalians, etc who divest of Israeli or Jewish interests, etc. We understand this, because he has a mission, which is to further alienate Israel from the world, and inculcate a negative impression of committed Jewish life. We understand this because of his connections to people and organizations which are committed to causing Israel to become weak and conciliatory. He is fulfilling his mission. Don’t ask if I am paranoid; I can back this up with proof, but I am not sure that your readers are prepared for the cognitive dissonance it will produce!


We are all fine, I will tell you more another time about Asher's former job, since we feel that the place he worked at is very much a reflection of the breakdown happening both here and in the US.


We are NOT pessimistic, however! We are sure that the best is yet to come, and we know that everything that has happened so far is just as it was written it would be happening.


We love you, and wish you were here, where it makes a DIFFERENCE to be a Jew!


Hope Dan enjoys the darbuka; I will write something very soon, G-d willing!






2 February 2006

Dear Lisa,


Good to hear from you – and I’m sure Abe Foxman is glad, too!  The reason Foxman “baited” Pat Robertson is because Pat said what many Jews are also saying ‘round your neck of the woods, that Sharon’s attack was a divine punishment for the “sins” of Gaza.  I’d rather not bore people with theology here (when I can do that two sections below – in “Ask the Rabbi”), but I find such claims to be as dangerous as they are hutzpahdik.  But I know on that one we’ll have to agree to disagree.  I don’t think anyone is giving the Presbyterians a free ride on the divestment issue, either.  Lately, the divestment movement – orchestrated by the Palestinians – has been backfiring big time, here and even more notably in England.  The Presbyterians are widely expected to overturn their resolution at their next assembly this June (see  From your end of the Front you may not have noticed that the Gaza withdrawal produced so much good will for Israel over here that even the Security Fence has been rendered a virtual non-issue.


But we share a similar approach to the Hamas victory.  Arafat was a wolf in sheep’s clothing.  Hamas is too busy attacking the sheep to bother wearing them.  I think Hamas will be forced to adopt more subtle tactics to appease the Europeans, but it will be much more difficult for the Palestinians’ traditional sympathizers to fall in line behind them.  I have no faith at all that the Europeans will ever do the right thing – my faith is that Hamas will continue to do the wrong things. 


Olmert is in a pickle and needs to look tough right now.  I’ve never loved him but the alternatives to Kadima are worse.  If he’s a scumbag, what word has been invented to describe Bibi’s integrity?  With all the crazy things that have been happening, I’m half expecting Sharon to wake up on Election Day (which of course, will delight conspiracy theorists everywhere) and whisper “vote Kadima” with his first conscious breath.  Kadima is Israel’s first real centrist party at a time when the country wants to be centrist.  Unfortunately, a little known byproduct of Kadima’s rise has been the demise of Shinui – something that you undoubtedly are thrilled to see, but now there is no party really speaking to the need for religious centrism (pluralism) along with political centrism.  But that battle will once again have to wait for more tranquil times. 


I don’t expect the next government to move quickly on establishing permanent borders, but I do wish that proposed security fence for the Jerusalem area would be shifted a few more miles into the wilderness along the Jericho road, just beyond your yeshuv and that camel at sea level.  In the current climate, with no negotiating partner, I suspect that might happen, along with a partial redeployment in the territories.  I guarantee that the next big story will be the sight of secular Palestinians pleading to be situated on Israel’s side of the barrier, rather then being left at the mercy of the mullahs.  Israel will give a little and then take a little, and then sit back and wait a generation for the next peace opportunity to arise.  That’s an optimist’s view!


Happy Groundhog Day!


Love, Josh






Mitzvah/Tzedakkah Projects




This week I had this correspondence exchange with Lauren Kahn

(whose sister Elise will be speaking here on Sunday)


Dear Rabbi Hammerman,


I hope you are doing well!


I am writing to seek your advice about an extremely unfortunate situation facing a family I know. I volunteer at the Ronald McDonald House of New York, a non-profit that provides affordable/free housing and enriching programs for children and their families when a child is diagnosed with a life threatening disease and must come to NYC for last resort treatment.


I have become extremely close with an eight year old girl, Fatma who was diagnosed with Fanconia Anemia (an extremely rare, life-threatening

disorder) and has been receiving treatment at Memorial Sloan Kettering for the past 2 years. Her family is originally from India and Zanzibar, but are currently citizens of Norway.


In December, her doctor (one of only 2 specialists with any statistically proven results with this disease) terminated her treatment saying that she only needs to been seen for follow up every two months. In addition, he informed them that he would no longer be her doctor. Her parents felt that they needed a second opinion and brought her to Columbia Presbyterian Hospital where a doctor felt that she needed to go through a number more procedures and tests.


Unfortunately, since Memorial Sloan Kettering terminated treatment, the Ronald McDonald House also asked them to leave and they are moving out today. The problems keep coming for this family as the Norwegian insurance company dropped her in December. They also do not have a permanent place to live and neither parent has a job or a work visa.


I know that you and the Beth El Congregation have done wonderful things to help those less fortunate and I was hoping you might have some ideas on how to help this family.


Please let me know if I can provide any further information for you. Thank you in advance for reading this letter.


I look forward to seeing you this Sunday!

Lauren Kahn



(I wrote back asking for more information and offering to spread the word to the congregation – here is her response)


Hi Rabbi Hammerman,


Thank you for getting back to me so quickly!


I think for now they do have a doctor that can treat her, but no insurance, although they are working with their Norwegian Insurance Company and the Norwegian Embassy to get it reinstated. I believe their main concerns are housing in the New York area, a work visa and work. I have included a letter below from her father that details their current situation.


An e-mail to the congregation would be wonderful! They can contact her father, Issak Esmail Issak at 646-691-8411 or via e-mail at


Please let me know if you need any other information from me.


Thanks again,





This is roughly our background and the current situation. When Ftama was diagnosed for Fanconi Anemia, a rare disease (only 1000 registered cases worldwide, at Rockefeller Univ. Hospital)we discovered Fatma had a complicated tissue-type, so that finding a donor for a stem-cell transplant wouldn't be easy. When they couldn't find a donor on the international registers, we went home to our native Zanzibar on our own initiative and started search among close relatives. The search resulted in Fatma's maternal grandmother being the ONLY donor. Several doctors advised us against using grandma because of her age.


We came to New York in May 04, and MSKCC accepted Fatma's grandmother as donor.


Fatma had a stem cell transplant in August 04, and continued receiving treatment until December 05. Due to several problems based on bad and no-communication situation between Fatma's doctor in Norway and her doctor at Sloan, Fatma's insurance was severed twice earlier, then finally for the third time in December. Fatma's American doctor felt we were criticizing him because he hadn't answered our requests for communicating with our Consulate in New York and Fatama's insurance, - something essential if Fatma were to continue with him.


At a meeting in January he said he was done with Fatma. And how often was Fatma to see him or another specialst?

Every two months. How can we travel back and forth with two kids? Would he continue treatment on Fatma? No, he wasn't interested as we had been calling other doctors. But didn't we have a right to call other doctors? -


Any way we said goodbye to him, and what remained unsaid, was: If he thought the parents were obnoxious, would he therefore refuse to treat an 8-year old, especially when he was very aware that worlwide there were very few experts on Fanconi? He is one of few doctors with statisical success.


We took the report to Colombia Presbyterian, and we were told Fatma needed to continue treatment, with 7 medical issues to be looked into.


Our problems:


1. We are working to getting the Norwegian insurance reinstated. we dont know how succesful we would be.


2. Issues we need help in: We have been here for more than 20 months. Neither the mother nor the father has been working in the last 3 years.

If we will continue to be here in New York, we will need to be in a position to have an income to support our family. We need to get a work permit, etc.


QUESTION: Is it possible to get some assistance on this front?


Zaitoon, my wife has done nursing in Zanzubar and in Norway.


I, Fatma's father, have taught at three levels, - primary schools, high schools, university level, in the field of languages and other. I have also published academic books and books for children. I have also written plays which have had productions in NorwaySouth AfricaIranItaly and the USA. Also published plays. I also speak and am able to communicate in several European, African and Asian languages.


3.Visa is also a problem. But I guess if one of us is able to get employment, visa would come naturally.


These are roughly our current concerns. Wouldn't mind giving a detailed picture should it be necessary. Some advice?


Much love

Zaitoon Issak





Spiritual Journey on the Web


Annual Super Bowl Prediction

 (using Jewish sources)


It’s not easy for me to make a prediction in this, a rare non-Patriot year.  But since I’ve almost always been right (my personal favorite being Pats-Rams in 2002), I must meet the challenge.  So who will it be: Steelers or Seahawks?  The fact that I am typing this on a Microsoft program (and the Seattle owner has those ties) shouldn’t influence me, since my computer also has a steel frame.


Scanning for clues:  How about the Ten Commandments? “Thou shalt not steel…” seems to be imploring me to lean Seattle’s way.  I’ve always liked Seattle, and the Native American leader Chief Seattle was known for his pearls of environmental wisdom.  But didn’t Pharaoh’s dream involve all those fat Cowhers?  And how many of them? Seven – precisely the number worn by his hot-handed quarterback.  Ah yes, but there were seven THIN cows as well.


There is to my knowledge no “seahawk” in the bible, but hawks do appear.  In Leviticus, chapter 11 Leviticus, chapter 11, the hawk is listed among unclean (unkosher) birds of prey.  Interestingly, the hawk is listed just below the raven and indeed, the last bird-team to win the Super Bowl was the team from Baltimore, the Ravens!  Now the Eagles also appear there, both before and after, possibly indicating that while the Eagles would GET to the big game before the Seahawks, they wouldn’t win it until later.  Falcons also appear in some translations. Click on “hawk” on the concordance website from Leviticus and it takes you to the Hebrew word “Netz.” (I thought they played in New Jersey!)  Shadings of its meaning focus on the bird’s blinding speed.  The numerical equivalent or the word “netz” is 140.  That is equivalent to the word “Kum,” “arise.”


Check Job 39:26“Doth the hawk fly55 by thy wisdom, [and] stretch4 her wings toward the south?  Click on the word “fly” and you’ll find the synonym “soar.” So perhaps the numerical equivalence is hinting at something here. It might come down to whether the Seahawks are headed toward the south side of the field.


The rabbis also commented on the hawk’s keen eyesight, saying in the Talmud, “It can live in Babylon and see everything that people are doing wrong in the land of Israel.”  That speaks to excellent scouting.  It is a given that the Seahawks will have a superior aerial game.


But the Steelers usually win on the ground.


The MODERN Hebrew word for steel is “Peled,” from the three letter root meaning “to consume in flames,” based on Nahum 2:3: “For the LORD restores the pride of Jacob, as the pride of Israel; for the emptiers have emptied them out, and marred their vine-branches.-- 4 The shield of his mighty men is made red, the valiant men are in scarlet; the chariots are fire of steel in the day of his preparation, and the cypress spears are made to quiver.” 


The numerical value of P-L-D is 104 – a rearrangement 140 (Netz)….hmmm…. interesting, but 140-104 is not a realistic final score. Take away the last number of each and you get 14-10, Seahawks, which makes more sense.  But….


Steel, as we know it, didn’t exist in biblical times.  Looking at the concordance, we find a connection to the Hebrew word for copper, nechoshet, a word familiar from the song “Jerusalem of Gold.”  Think of that song… “Yerushalyim shel zahav (Gold), v’shel nechoshet v’shel ORE.”  “Ore” means light, but the English transliteration of the word points to something else. To quote from the Wikipedia:  Iron ore is the raw material used to make pig iron, which is one of the main raw materials to make steel.


Pig iron?  Does this correspond to the football or to Steeler Hall of Fame linebacker Jack Ham?


Interestingly, click again to find that the root of the word nechoshet is nachash, a snake – and the Steelers in fact defeated “the Snake” (Jake Plummer) when they beat Denver two weeks ago. The copper serpent erected by Moses in the wilderness was called “Nechashtan.” Nechoshet is typically seen as a warlike instrument, ignoble and impure (Jeremiah 6:28), like base metal. So the Steelers are able to combine snake-like guile and brute warlike force – an imposing combination. 


I’m at a loss – (though probably not half as confused as you are by now). These warlike implements were forbidden to be used in building the temple (according to legend the stones were cut by a miraculous worm called the Shamir, but to my knowledge, the former Prime Minister of Israel is not playing in this game )– but does that mean they can’t win a football game?  And wasn’t Moses’ first miracle the rod-turned-snake? The hawk can’t be eaten – but does that mean it can’t eat up its opponent?  Who will win?  The hawk or the “snake?”


This verse from Jeremiah 26:22 attempts to lift this West Coast fog: – “She makes a sound like a snake gliding away; for her enemies march in force, and come against her with axes, like those who fell trees.”  We know where all those tree choppers are – in the State of Washington.  Maybe we’re on to something.  But the Steelers aren’t playing the Spotted Owls, they are playing the Seahawks. 


In the Bible, the word for iron is typically barzel. The “Encyclopedia of Jewish Symbols” informs us that iron has long been seen as a powerful protector against demons. One explanation has it that the first plague on Egpyt, blood, impacted water in vessels of wood and vessels of stone, but not water found in vessels of iron. The four letters of that word also correspond to the first letters of the names of the Jacob’s four wives, Bilhah, Rachel, Zilpah and Leah.  “Rock is hard,” says the Talmud (Bava Batra 10a), “but Iron cuts it.”   So if we were playing “Rock, Paper , Scissors,” no doubt  the Steelers would win – but it’s a Super Bowl.


By inference, however, I think we have our answer.  Proverbs 30:18 states: There are three things which are too wonderful for me, yea, four which I know not: The way of an eagle in the air; the way of a serpent upon a rock; the way of a ship in the midst of the sea; and the way of a man with a young woman.  The author places the snake on the rock – and since we know that one of the Hebrew terms we’ve used corresponds to “snake,” and that “rock is hard, but iron cuts it,” and since it is the Eagle, not the Seahawk, that amazes the author – I’ve got to think that the Steelers have the edge.


By how much?  Well, Mr. Proverbs speaks of three and “knows not” of four.  So how about 3 ½ ? 


…of course it must be stated that in no way do I condone gambling and past performance should not be an indicator of future results










The God Questions, Part 2

(for part 1 see last week’s Shabbat O Gram)




1)     Does God know what I am thinking or what I will do?


When we are inspired to think a new thought, or when we are moved to help someone in need, it is God who inspires us.  God is the spark that sets off the thought, but we are free to think in our own way and act as we wish.  God doesn’t guide our every act, but in the big picture, I do feel that God sets a direction for each of us.  We were created with enough of this “God DNA” within us to give us the potential to choose to do good.  Usually it is only after the fact that we reflect on something we’ve done or an idea we’ve had and we think, “God must have wanted it this way.”


2)    Can praying make someone better (well)?


Praying brings God into our thoughts and actions.  It’s like rubbing two sticks together to create a fire.  Sometimes it works, especially if others are there doing the same thing and helping you out.  At other times the sticks are too wet or the time is just not right.  But even then, by rubbing the sticks together, it keeps us in practice and helps to dry out the kindling so that perhaps the next time it will “take.”  Once we ignite that spark, and bring God more into our lives, there is a sense of healing within us that can help us get better when we are ill; and it can help others to set off the same spark within them.  Prayer can do all that, but not all the time.


3)    Does God care who wins the World Series or Super Bowl?


It was on Simhat Torah of 1986 that I learned the answer to that question.  The night before, my beloved Boston Red Sox had blown the ultimate chance to win a World Series, losing the sixth game to the Mets in heartbreaking fashion.  I cried for half the night, wondering why God could allow this to happen.  Then, the following morning, I caught myself crying again while dancing with the Torah.  At that point I stopped and wondered what truly do I care about more:  a sports team or the Torah?  Which one had people given their lives for over the centuries?  Which one had taught me how to live a good life?  Which one had instilled people with hope during times much darker than these?  I decided that it was time to stop crying and start rejoicing with the Torah.  But I also understood that sports are important, because my caring so deeply for the Red Sox is what trained me as a youth how to care for things that are even more important.  In that sense, then, God does indeed care about the World Series and Super Bowl.


And then, of course the Sox finally won it in 2004, in a manner that could only be called miraculous, and it filled me with amazement as to the wonders of God’s ways (and Schilling’s fastball).





Required Reading and Action Items




THE RISE OF HAMAS AND THE FALL OF PALESTINEEnd Game by Yossi Klein Halevi  Only at TNR Online Post date: 01.26.06

Here then is the real asymmetry of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. Precisely at the moment when a majority of the Israeli people has accepted not just the political necessity but moral legitimacy of a Palestinian state, the overwhelming majority of the Palestinian people empowers its most hateful and triumphalist ideology.

A two-fold spin has already begun. The first spin concerns Hamas. The same commentators who once assured us that power and responsibility would transform Yasir Arafat from terrorist to statesman now assure us that Hamas leaders similarly will be transformed by the process of governance. Fatah was supposed to control Hamas; now, presumably, Hamas will control itself.

And so get ready for the era of the wink and the hint. Experts will examine Hamas statements for signs of the slightest shift; they will ignore what Hamas tells its own people and celebrate every seemingly reasonable utterance to Western journalists. And Hamas leaders will readily oblige: They will speak of "peace," just as Arafat spoke of the peace of the brave. And the peace they will mean, as the bitter Israeli joke once went, is the peace of the grave.

The essence of Hamas is a commitment to destroy the religious affront of Jewish sovereignty. For Hamas to "moderate" would mean turning into an apostate of its own most sacred truth. If the process of moderation didn't happen to the less devout Fatah, which continues to reject Israel's legitimacy and now opposes terror only on temporary tactical grounds, it surely won't happen to Hamas.

Gold Medal For Conscience  On eve of Winter Olympics, Irish Catholic skater's decision to forgo personal glory during Nazi Games is coming to fuller light.
Steve Lipman – Jewish Week

U.S. to Israel: Transfer Funds to PA - Yitzhak Benhorin
The U.S. wants Israel to continue transferring funds to the PA during the transition period before the establishment of a Hamas government. American Ambassador to Israel Richard Jones has already held contacts on the matter with officials in Jerusalem. The U.S. is interested in maintaining the flow of funds in an effort to boost the standing of PA chairman Abbas. (Ynet News)
    See also U.S. Working to Strengthen Abbas - Nathan Guttman
The U.S. administration is working to strengthen Abbas' position and has publicly called on him not to resign. (Jerusalem Post)

Palestinian Rockets Hits Ashkelon Industrial Zone and Sderot - Shmulik Hadad
Palestinians fired Kassam rockets from Gaza Thursday that hit the southern industrial zone of Ashkelon and the southern Israeli town of Sderot. (Ynet News)

How Not to Help Hamas - Editorial
Palestinians receive more international aid, per capita, than any people in the world. The upset victory by Hamas in the Palestinian elections offers a rare opportunity for the U.S. and the international community to rethink under what conditions humanitarian aid could be provided to Palestinians without the risk that it would be siphoned to Hamas. President Bush is right to threaten to cut off U.S. aid to a Palestinian government controlled by Hamas. U.S. law and common decency preclude taxpayer money from going to a terrorist group that has vowed to annihilate Israel. (Los Angeles Times)

Hamas and "Peace" - Editorial
In the wake of the Hamas victory in the Palestinian legislative elections, Washington is already under pressure to emulate the wrong-headed policies of the late 1980s and early 1990s, when American policy-makers labored to persuade Arafat and the Palestine Liberation Organization to say they recognized Israel's right to exist. The result was the 1993 Oslo Accords and the endless and naive "peace process" that followed: seven years of substantial Israeli political and territorial concessions in exchange for empty promises to end the conflict with Israel and to prevent Palestinian terrorism. Now there is a new drumbeat of demands that Washington court Hamas - in other words, that we repeat what failed.
    It makes no sense to go chasing after the likes of Hamas boss Mohammed Zohhar, to cajole him into making a meaningless statement laden with caveats about continuing "a ceasefire" with Israel - even as Hamas and its terrorist allies fire rockets into Israel and prepare for a new round of terrorist strikes. Washington and the EU should never, ever, subsidize Zohhar and his ilk. (Washington Times)

Hamas Invites Sanctions If It Clings to Terror - Michael Kraft
Hamas leaders have repeatedly called for the end of Israel and use terrorist attacks against civilians as a tactic to achieve that goal. Should a Hamas-controlled government support terrorism in deed as well as rhetoric, a new Palestinian state should be declared a state sponsor of terrorism, lose foreign aid, and face economic sanctions.
    State sponsors of terrorism face sanctions that include a ban on economic and military assistance; export controls over equipment that could be used for military or terrorist as well as civilian activities; and no tax credits for American individuals and firms doing business in the country - which discourages investment. The sanctions also require the U.S. to oppose loans from the World Bank and other international institutions. The writer is a former senior adviser in the State Department Counterterrorism Office. (Detroit News)

Why Hamas Leaves Me Neutral - Daniel Pipes
Not much separates Hamas anti-Zionism from Fatah anti-Zionism except that Hamas terrorists speak forthrightly while Fatah terrorists obfuscate. Differing emphases and styles, more than substance, distinguishes their attitudes toward Israel. Hamas and Fatah together won all but 13 seats in the legislative council. A leftist terrorist group, the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine, got three seats. With the possible exception of some marginal figures, then, the Palestinian legislative council wall to wall rejects Israel's right to exist. Or, in David Horowitz's biting description, Palestinian Arabs are "the first terrorist people." (New York Sun)
    See also The First Terrorist People - David Horowitz
Hamas is a party of Islamic fanatics who are part of the global jihad against the U.S. and the West, whose hero is Osama bin Laden. Hamas was the biggest foreign supporter of Saddam Hussein. With this vote in record numbers, the Palestinian people have joined en masse the Axis of Evil. The Palestinians are the first people in the history of humanity to embrace terror and genocide as a way of life. Palestinian schools train kindergarteners and first graders to aspire to murder innocent Jews by blowing themselves up alongside them. At the core of this sickness is a hatred for the West and Israel for the crimes of being successful, democratic, and tolerant. (FrontPageMagazine)

The Palestinian Authority and the Challenge of Palestinian Elections
- Maj.-Gen. (Res.) Giora Eiland (Institute for Contemporary Affairs/Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs)

·         The government of Israel could accept the roadmap because it differed from the Oslo process in one significant respect. In Oslo, the notion was that peace would bring security. The political process was to develop certain horizons for the Palestinian people, and hopes for a better future were to reduce the incentives and motivation for terrorism. But it didn't work.

·         The roadmap is based on the opposite concept, in which the security problems have to be addressed first. Israel does not intend to repeat the same mistake again and have a political process under the continuous threat of another wave of terrorism.

·         Israel made a historic decision in February 2003 to accept the roadmap, which envisions a two-state solution, with the establishment of a Palestinian state alongside Israel. However, the Palestinians have yet to make two crucial strategic decisions which they cannot ignore or escape. The first is to understand that political achievements cannot be gained through terrorism. The second is to recognize that a two-state solution means that on one side there will be a Palestinian state, but on the other side there will be a Jewish state. I have never heard any real Arab leader say loud and clear that Israel has the right to exist as a Jewish state.

·         Prime Minister Sharon did not think a further unilateral withdrawal in the West Bank was a smart thing to do. This was not his intention and there were no such plans. The prime minister believed that Israel has to stay exactly where we are as far as territory is concerned, and to insist that the Palestinians begin to do what they have to do in the security realm before other political movement can take place.

The writer is the head of Israel's National Security Council. This article is based on his presentation of November 16, 2005.

To subscribe to the Daily Alert, send a blank email message to:




MYTH #206

“The Palestinian Authority held a democratic election and Israel and the rest of the world must accept that Hamas was the victor.”


Winston Churchill said that “Democracy is the worst form of government except for all those others that have been tried.” It was a step forward, then, for the authoritarian Palestinian Authority to hold elections that by all accounts were conducted fairly. Nevertheless, so long as the Palestinian people continue to be denied by their leaders the freedoms of speech, religion, assembly and the press, the election cannot be considered truly free and democratic.

While democratic outcomes are preferable to the alternatives, the rest of the world is not obligated to have a relationship with elected leaders whose policies and views are dangerous. Adolf Hitler was elected by the German people, but few people would suggest today that the rest of the world should have ignored his genocidal views and treated him as an equal just because he emerged from a democratic process. Similarly, the current Iranian president was elected and is still widely viewed as a pariah because of his threats to destroy Israel and to pursue nuclear weapons in defiance of the rest of the world.

The Palestinian people chose to elect members of an organization whose avowed purpose is the destruction of Israel by violent means. Hamas is recognized throughout the world as a terrorist organization. Since the election, Hamas leaders have reaffirmed their commitment to the Hamas covenant calling for the liberation of all of Palestine and they have made clear it they have no intention of disarming.

Israel now has on its borders a quasi government run by people who oppose negotiations and compromise. Hamas can now take over all of the security services and weapons that have previously been given by Israel and others to the Palestinian Authority to keep the peace. The institutions that were bound by agreements to stop the violence, confiscate illegal weapons, end smuggling and cease incitement are now controlled by the very people most responsible for terror, gun running, and the use of the media and schools to demonize Israel and Jews.

Most of the world understands that Hamas is not a partner for peace and that it is a terrorist group that threatens the stability of the region. The United States and other countries rightly have said that it must recognize Israel and renounce terror before any diplomatic or economic support can be given to the PA. Of course, we went through a similar exercise in 1993 when similar demands were made of the PLOYasser Arafat made the necessary commitments in a letter to then Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin, but he never matched the words with deeds. The world will be wise not to make the same mistake with Hamas.

This article can be found at


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.







Jewish and Israeli Links…


Online Texts Related to Jewish History – you will not believe how much is here.  All the primary sources “fit to print.”




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


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

Media-Related Links:


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


Other Jewish Sites:

Data JEM – an GEM for Jewish Education! Database for Jewish educational materials:

The best Jewish kids' site on the Web is , with games, virtual tours and “J-Pod” downloads, kids of all ages will LOVE it.   

Another superb educational site is -- you can be a self-taught “maven” on all things Jewish!

See the contents of nearly the entire Babylonian Talmud, in translation at

See file:///C:/Documents%20and%20Settings/JoshuaH/Local%20Settings/Temporary%20Internet%20Files/OLKD9/My%20Documents/ for great resources on the Talmud.

See file:///C:/Documents%20and%20Settings/JoshuaH/Local%20Settings/Temporary%20Internet%20Files/OLKD9/My%20Documents/ for the best visual introduction to a page of Talmud anywhere.

A Jewish Guide to the Internet:

On Jewish Vegetarianism and Animal Rights: (hey, you KNEW I’d put this one in)

How many Jewish hockey players are there? (None right now…there’s a lockout).  Find out at

Glossary of Yiddish Expressions:  )Please be patient, this page is farshtopt with information)

You can find an online Hebrew dictionary at

Nice Jewish parenting site  Jewish Gates is an amazing site, filled with material on Jewish history, ritual and culture. Go straight to the linked index at and go to town!  The Jewish Super Site; a similar site is and my personal all-time favorite, 

The sourcebook for Jewish history (all periods) can be found at

Online Texts Related to Jewish History.  All the primary sources “fit to print.”

Israel Campus Beat – to get all the latest information on Israel relevant to students on college campuses - the best place on the planet to find Jewish Jokes

Conservative Responsa (fascinating decisions related to applying Jewish Law to our times):

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

               Israel (Masorti – Schechter Institute):





Davenning Resources – compiled by The Shefa Network: The Conservative Jewish Activist's Network

Audio Siddur: an unbelievable collection of Davenning audio files by Rabbi Mark H. Zimmerman. A wonderful davenning resource created by Chavurat
 Kol Zimrah, with the intention of enabling individuals and communities to lead
and participate in their own exuberant and melodious Friday Night Services. The purpose of this site is to promote the proliferation of Nusach and to make a Nusach readily accessible to those who have a
desire to learn and a desire to deepen their Judaism. This site is a volunteer work in progress.

 Files from the DC Minyan

Several MP3 files recorded (with the great help of Kehilat Hadar), that review the Friday night and Shabbat
morning davenning, as well as detailed instructions for service leaders.  We hope these will be valuable both to those who have led before and
would like to review, as well as to those who are learning to lead for the first time.

Ellie's Torah Trope Tutor will teach you the tunes for each of the Torah cantillation marks for Torah and Haftorah, Megillah and High Holiday
Torah reading.

Navigating the Bible II offers audio recordings of all Torah readings, complete with vocalized Hebrew text, a copy of the text without vocalization,
transliteration, and translation.





Family Tu B'Shevat Seder and Dinner

Sunday, February 12th at 4:00 p.m.


Join TBE in Celebrating Our Own Version of Arbor Day – with Music, Learning, Fun and Food!


Family Tu B'Shevat Seder and Dinner - Sunday, February 12th at 4:00 p.m.

Join TBE in Celebrating Our Own Version of Arbor Day with Music, Learning, Fun and Food!  Learn How Nature Can be Divinely Inspired!

Sponsored by Temple Beth El Sisterhood

Italian Entre for Adults -- Pasta for Children

Individual Adult:              $14

Individual Child (Ages 2-12):  $8

Maximum Per Family:            $42

Please bring Non-Member Family and Friends

Individual Adult:              $16

Individual Child (Ages 2-12):  $10

Be an Angel and Be A:
Patron Family:                     $100
Sponsor Family:                    $50

RSVP By Monday, February 6th with payment and form to the Sisterhood of Temple Beth El, 350 Roxbury RoadStamfordCT 06902.  Your payment is your reservation.


Family Tu B’Shevat Seder and Dinner: Sunday, February 12, 2006

Name: _______________________________________

Telephone Number:______________

# Adults:______________________   # Children:______    
Ages of Children: _______________

Total $ Enclosed: __________________

Yes -- I would like to be a Patron or Sponsor Family!

Please contact Dora Salm ( or Jackie Herman ( if you have any questions or would like to help with this event.

Special Note:  This service contains nuts.  Anyone with a nut allergy should contact the planning committee so that we can make special arrangements.


Sponsored by Temple Beth El Sisterhood


Adult Education Classes




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

Next session:  Tuesday, Feb. 14 at 7:30 p.m.

Topic:  David and Solomon

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




with Rabbi Selilah Kalev

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





An Introductory Class for Dummies, Smarties…

and Those Who Don’t Know How to Ask

with Rabbi Joshua Hammerman

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

This week – the World Wide Wrap @ 9:00




with Rabbi Joshua Hammerman

Sunday, March 12th

 at 11:00 a.m.

What is Kosher – and why???




with Rabbi Selilah Kalev

Tuesday, Feb. 14, 7:30 p.m.



TALMUD FOR EVERYONE with Rabbi Joshua Hammerman

Wednesday, Feb. 15 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.


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!

Shabbat Across America Dinner at 7:15 p.m. 

Nurit Avigdor will have a special children’s program during the lecture


ALL are welcome!


Friday, March 3rd

Rabbi Telushkin will speak during dinner:

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

Sign up for Shabbat Across America


Shabbat, March 4th

Rabbi Telushkin will speak on:

“What Jewish Humor Tells Us about the Jews”

with question and answer period during lunch


Saturday, March 4th at 7:30 p.m.

at the home of Ron and Grecia Gross

Rabbi Telushkin will speak on:

“Jewish Literacy: How to Become a Knowledgeable Jew”

RSVP to our education office at


Sunday, March 5th at 10:00 a.m.

“You Shall Be Holy”

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

A Code of Jewish Ethics




and, on that Shabbat morning…


Dedication of a Plaque on Noah’s Ark

Remembering SHIRLEY FISH

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

By the TBE Discussion Group


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


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




(Monday in Israel)


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


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


Munchies provided


Entrance through the Gate at Agron 6



Big Kashrut Announcement:

“Sweet on You” coming to JCC


We are pleased to announce that Sweet On You will be opening a bakery and cafe at the JCC this spring, at 1035 Newfield Ave.StamfordCT.  The cafe will be open to everyone in Stamford; Sweet On You and the JCC welcome both members and non-members with open arms. 


At the cafe, you will be able to get our full line of dairy hand baked goods, gourmet coffee, specialty coffee drinks, teas and unbelievable hot chocolate, H&H bagels baked fresh daily with or without cream cheese and smoked fish, a broad selection of breakfast items, homemade soups, sandwiches, salads and hot entrees, handmade pizza and all-inclusive kids' meals.


We will be open from 8am -7pm Monday-Thursday, 8-2 Friday, and will feature hot brunches 8:30am-2pm Sunday. 


Judy and Rebecca have thrown themselves into this project with great zeal.  We have met with countless producers, toured coffee roasting plants and are tracking down the best coffee roasters, cappuccino machines, kosher cheeses and produce for your dining pleasure.  We are also engaging a well-known architectural design firm to transform the cafe into a space young and old can delight in, including soft and hard seating and wireless Internet routing so you can work on your computer while sipping a latte.

We are working tirelessly and aim to open after Passover this spring.  Until then, you can reach us via email or by phone at our usual numbers -- Judy at 322-4557 and Rebecca at 595-0490. 


Thank you for being the best customers a small business could ask for.  We look forward to seeing you at the cafe.


Judy Roll and Rebecca Martin




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. 



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


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


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


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

Ron Gross, Marty IsraelHerb Kahan, Alan Kalter, Mark Lapine, Milton Mann,

Neil Perlman, Gerald Poch, Brian Rogol and Jack Wofsey


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



2006 Fairfield County Ct Jewish Little League

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

See the Website for More Details!

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

Questions: Please contact league commissioner Seth Marlowe




JCC Maccabi Games

Athlete Tryouts Are Coming

Sign-up Time is Now!


Calling all teenage Jewish athletes and volunteers!


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


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


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


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


A Free Concert

 Featuring Pharaoh’s Daughter


February 12, 2006, 2:00 pm


 Hosted by Congregation Beth El of Norwalk


In celebration of Camp Ramah New England


Sponsored by The Olshansky and Singer Family funds


Supported by Local Area Synagogues and Day Schools





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

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







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







Shevat 5766 / 1/30/06

Theme: "Modern Jewish Conflicts"

Stand Up for Sit Downs, the Answer to the Arab-Israeli Conflict
Zach Seeskin, Brandeis University

When we think of the success of the civil rights movement, we do not think of Brown v. Board of Education or the Civil Rights Act of 1964. We think of boycotts, sit-ins, freedom rides, and the March on Washington. These grassroots actions won the hearts and minds of the people...

Be Open-Minded Without Dropping Your Ideals
Risa Weinstein
KOACH Rabbinic Intern

It was to my surprise, delight, and comfort, … when two of the service leaders from the Orthodox seminary approached me and told me they supported my decision to pray alone.

An Interview with Jeremy Goldmeier, University of Missouri

How do you go about explaining traditions to classmates? Inaccurately, for the most part.

Jews for Jesus, A Winning Oxymoron
Maya Berezovsky, KOC Editor
University of Minnesota

Most Jewish people I know hate being approached on the street with, "Have you accepted Jesus?" or any derivation of that. It is like that person is stomping on what we believe in, spitting like a fire extinguisher at the very fire that warms our soul.


Humor: Business at the beach…

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.

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

It's not too late! Register for the 2006 KOACH Kallah, Listening for God, with Rabbi Amy Eilberg, co-founder of the Yedidya Center for Spiritual Direction and artist-in-residence Neshama Carlebach. Learn more and register online...

Taglit - birthright israel

Free trip to Israel! Join KOACH for a memorable Taglit-birthright israel experience (in partnership with Hillel) this spring. Tell your own story by walking in the footsteps of your ancestors and hearing their words and melodies. Online registration begins February 8. Learn more...


What do you consider to be the most pressing issue facing Judaism today?
(Take the mini-poll...)

How do you define being a Conservative Jew? Three-fourths of you chose the same answer!  (See the results...)


Ask and ye shall receive? Study along with KOACH this month and consider how and whether we make requests of God. Download "Hey, God, Can You Do Me a Favor?" and see a list of similar resources.





In the spirit of the Olympics and Maccabi

…and direct from AJ Bass’ Bar Mitzvah, the top ten sports you would find in a Jewish Olympics:


10. The 100 yard kid-dash

9.  Hagbah (Torah) lifting - with equal weight on different sides

8.  Etrog juggling

7.  20 Meter Mikvah sky dive

6. Asking for more bread at restaurants

5. Shabbat elevator racing

4. Repentathalon

3. Fencing – the Israelis are the hands down favored in this one.

2. Jewish Geography Challenge

1. Accounting

Is shlepping an Olympic sport?  Yes, we call it Jew-haul.

For these and more…see



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

To be removed from this mailing list, send an e-mail request to


No comments: