Friday, March 31, 2006

March 31, 2006 – Nissan 3, 5766





March 31, 2006 – Nissan 3, 5766



Rabbi Joshua Hammerman, Temple Beth El, StamfordConnecticut



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Contents of the Shabbat O Gram:

(Click to scroll down)


Just the Facts (service schedule)

The Rabid Rabbi

Mitzvah/Tzedakkah Opportunities

Ask the Rabbi

Spiritual Journey on the Web   

Required Reading and Action Items (links to key articles on Israel and Jewish life)

 Announcements (goings on in and around TBE)

Joke for the Week




Quote for the Week


“The road to the sacred leads through the secular.”
Abraham Joshua Heschel





Don’t forget to “spring forward” one hour on Saturday night!


If you have yet to RSVP for Dan’s Bar Mitzvah on 4/22,

please do so at



IF YOU HAVE NOT RECEIVED ONE, PLEASE LET ME KNOW, BUT KNOW ALSO THAT YOU ARE INVITEDThe RSVP deadline is this weekend.  We want to be sure to get accurate numbers to the caterer.


The Hammermans




Friday Evening 

Candle lighting Candle lighting: Candle lighting: 5:59pm on Friday, 31 March 2006 - Havdalah is at 7:03 on Saturday eveningFor 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 goes out like a lamb this week - none on the 5th Friday


Shabbat Morning: 9:30 AM – Mazal tov to Jonathan Arons, who will become Bar Mitzvah this Shabbat morning! 


Children’s services: 10:30

Torah Portion:  Vayikra Leviticus 1:1 - 5:26

1: 3:1-5
2: 3:6-11
3: 3:12-17
4: 4:1-7
5: 4:8-12
6: 4:13-21
7: 4:22-26

Haftarah –: Isaiah 43:21 - 44:23

See a weekly commentary from the UJC Rabbinic Cabinet, at  Read the Masorti commentary at  University of Judaism,  JTS commentary is at: Torah Sparks can be found at Shabbat Table Talk discussions are at divrei Torah via the Torahnet home page: your Parasha I.Q.:’s Torah commentary archive:  World Zionist Organization Education page, including Nehama Liebowitz archives of parsha commentaries: For a more Kabbalistic/Zionist/Orthodox perspective from Rav Kook, first Chief Rabbi of Israel, go to 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 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:

Mincha – Ma’ariv – Havdalah: 5:30PM – Mazal Tov to Mollie Steinmetz, who will become Bat Mitzvah this Shabbat afternoon!




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





The Rabid Rabbi




Beyond “Good and Evil”


I’ve come to the sad conclusion that not everyone likes me.  Yes, unfathomable as it may seem, it’s true.  I discovered that when I checked last week’s issue of the Jewish Press, a notoriously right wing Jewish weekly, especially popular in Brooklyn and parts of Rockland County.  See for yourself at


Turns out that the writer, Daniel Greenfield, has been stalking me for quite some time: 

“…The column wasn’t a Purim shpiel; sadly, many of Rabbi Hammerman’s columns are similar in toneAnd there is, after all, a certain logic to it, since liberal Judaism has spent the last generation reimagining the persecutors of Jews as victims and the Jews as persecutors.”

So he picked on my recent JTA article about Haman and totally missed my point.  He thought I was advocating a moral equivalence, thereby letting Haman off the hook for his murderous intent.  Instead, I was acknowledging that Jewish tradition allows for moral ambiguity where good and evil are rarely, if ever, absolutes.  Morality has foundation that is absolute – God and the Torah – but those teachings have been distilled to us through many filters, including the human mind.  Because we are not perfect, neither is our ability to discern good from evil.   The Talmud and later codifiers return to that notion again and again.  It might seem contradictory that, for example, capital punishment is on the books in Talmudic and especially biblical law, but in practice, it has almost never been carried out.  In Israel’s long history of confronting ruthless murder, only Adolph Eichmann has been given the death sentence.  Compare that to many US states, where the signs in front of prisons are beginning to look like your neighborhood McDonalds (“billions and billions fried”).


I happen to think Jewish law beautifully combines a strong moral foundation with a pragmatic, humble realism.  We possess God’s Word, but not God’s Will.  We sort of know what is right and wrong, but we don’t know God.


Greenfield quotes from Isaiah: “Woe unto them that call evil good, and good evil; that change darkness into light, and light into darkness, that justify the wicked for a reward, and take away the righteousness of the righteous from him."


No one is calling good evil or vice versa – not in the abstract.  What we are doing is recognizing that people are infinitely complicated.  It is the deed that is totally good or evil – not the person. 


As Robert Louis Stevenson wrote:

There is so much good in the worst of us, and so much bad in the best of us, that it behooves all of us not to talk about the rest of us.”



How Can I Become a Good Person?

The Telushkin Approach


Just a few weeks ago, Rabbi Joseph Telushkin gave is 13 ways that we can become better people.  Because the lecture was given on Friday night, no one had first-hand notes as to what those ways are.  Fortunately, Rabbi Telushkin has featured similar suggestions in an article in this month’s issue of Reform Judaism, coinciding with the publication of his new book, “A Code of Jewish Ethics.”  The book has been receiving excellent reviews, btw, and we can all be proud that it first went on sale here at TBE.  Below you can see the listing of his suggestions (which are somewhat different from the lecture he gave here) – the article can be read in full at


1. Do good deeds often.

2. Cultivate the friendship of people who are both good and wise

3. Avoid people with bad character and unkind dispositions.

4. Live up to the reputation to which you aspire

5. See every act you do as one of great significance.

6. If you offer personal prayers to God for your own well-being and success, pray for others before you pray for yourself.

7. Cultivate and develop your moral strengths

8. Keep a daily "character journal" focusing exclusively on the area in which you wish to improve yourself.

9. When trying to correct a bad trait, temporarily embrace the opposite extreme.

10. Avoid even sins that seem minor because, as a rabbinic maxim teaches, "One sin will lead to another" (The Ethics of the Fathers 4:2).

11. When confronted with a situation that leaves you uncertain as to whether you are taking the right action, ask yourself one question: "What is motivating me to act in this way, my yetzer tov (good inclination) or my yetzer hara (evil inclination)?"

12. Look at your life from the future.

13. Emulate God




Jewish Farmers in Connecticut


A Jewish author is writing a book about Jewish farmers past and present in Connecticut.  If anyone knows of someone who has information on this subject, please contact Dr. Kenneth Libo at or 212-227-0732






For more information, go to

If you are interested in participating in our steering committee or would like an info packet, contact me at







Mitzvah/Tzedakkah Projects




Our latest “Locks of Love” Mitzvah hero,

Rebecca Satz

Rebecca’s quote: “It’s very short, Mommy!”



Before           After





From a Student in our Hebrew School


Hello.  I am doing a fundraiser for "Walk Against Hunger".  I am going to be walking with my mom for 3 miles on May 7, 2006.  I was wondering if you could please help support me by including this in your shabbatogramIf any TBE member would like to contribute, they can do so by writing checks (which are tax deductible) to "Connecticut Food Bank" or "Walk Against Hunger."  The checks can be sent to me at 57 Saw Mill RoadStamford CT, 06903.  When people donate, we as a whole are helping the hungry.  


Thank you very much,

~Haley Erskine~


TBE Job Bank (the Highest Level of Tzedakkah)


I received this blurb from a student who is now teaching some of our teens at Kulanu:

A JTS graduate student and Columbia alum is available for Hebrew & Jewish Studies tutoringTake advantage of a friendly, fun and flexible learning experience tailored to your specific needsFor details please call Ariela at 646-369-6887 or email her at





Beth El Cares
Cathy Satz (968-9191;
Cheryl Wolff (968-6361;
BETH EL CARES co-chairs
Blood Drive
Give the Gift of Life! Get involved in a short term mitzvah project that will save lives.  
Who benefits from these blood donations? 
People who are born prematurely, people with auto-immune and other blood disorders, people involved in accidents… 
Many people, including temple members, have received blood transfusions in the past and some people need regular blood transfusions.  
On Sunday, April 30th between 8:30 am and 1:30 pm we need 125 healthy adults who are at least 17 years old, 
weigh at least 110 pounds and have not given blood since the beginning of March.  
The Red Cross will provide the “beds”; we need to put “arms in the beds”.  Color War points will be awarded to your child’s color war team!
Contact Cheryl Wolff to schedule your donation time or to volunteer to help.  


Lock of Love

As promised, Beth El Cares will be hosting another group donation for children and teens to cut their hair for “Locks of Love”.  

If your hair is 10” or longer (in a ponytail), mark Sunday May 7 on your calendar.

Guy Sasson & Company will be coming to Temple Beth El to start haircuts at 12:00 noon

 (right after Religious School)Advance sign-up is required. 

Mother and daughter teams will be acceptedRebecca and Cathy Satz are hopeful they’ll both have their 10” by then-they’re close!


Contact Cathy Satz to schedule your appointment.


Beth El Cares Shabbat

We hope you can join us at Shabbat morning services on Saturday April 15,

when we will be hosting a panel discussion regarding Hurricane Katrina and its aftermath. 

We will feature at least two panelists, Gabi Birkner, staff writer for the Jewish Week

who has been to the south several times since Hurricane Katrina and has written some moving reports

and Rosaline Feinstein, congregant, who has also written a moving report detailing her recent visit to the south.

The panel may also include some students who recently spent a few days performing mitzvah projects in New Orleans with the JCC.



Rally to Stop Genocide

Sunday, April 30th

2:00 - 4:00

(Group will gather beginning at 1:00)

The Mall WashingtonDC


Carl Weinberg is working with Beth El Cares to organize a group from Stamford to attend this rally.  

For more information about the rally and other Darfur initiatives,

contact Carl at 539-5560 (day), 322-8675 (evenings) or


DARFUR UPDATE – April 9 at 11:00 here at TBE!!!!


The Darfur Support Coalition of Fairfield County has been very active in raising awareness of the terrible genocide taking place in Darfur (Western Sudan)Some of their recent activities include:  
      o Participation in a national Million Voices for Darfur post card campaign to
         President Bush asking him to use his influence to create an international
         force to protect the refugees in Darfur.
      o Planning and recruiting for a bus trip to Washington on April 30 to join the
         national rally to stop the genocide in Darfur.
      o Working in concert with other Darfur support groups  to convince the State of
         Connecticut to divest itself of companies that are investing in or otherwise
         supporting Darfur.

There are still too many people who are unaware of what is happening in Darfur.  We will be seeing a presentation designed to raise awareness of the crime against humanity that is taking place there, and what we can do to help stop itThe presentation includes an overview/background of the current situation, a 10 minute DVD, a Q& A period and handouts.





Spiritual Journey on the Web


Passover Resources


Here is the link to updated and expanded 5766 / 2006 Pesach materials from Rabbi Barry Dov Lerner.  The new material includes a complete Haggadah with Seder SongsThere are Seder Supplementary Readings and Passover Preparation information.


The link will take you to these resources:

This is a complete traditional Haggadah, updated for 5766 / 2006 in Hebrew, English and Transliteration and including the updated Seder Songs collection and in PDF to preserve Hebrew and English formattingEach Haggadah section and each song appears on separate page(s)To edit for your use, download the document and then print one copyFrom the printed pages, select those Seder and Song elements appropriate to your Seder needs from which you can make sufficient copies for your Seder participants and bind them into individual Haggadot.

5766/2006 Haggadah NEW SEDER SONGS 5766 / 2006

This is the most up-to-date collection of Seder Songs which is printed in a PDF format and one song per pageDownload and then print a copyNow select those songs, place them where you wish for them to be part of your Seder, print as part of your Haggadah or separately as a Songbook and then bind in sufficient quantity for all of your participants.

5766/2006 Haggadah NEW for 5766/2006 Jewish Family Haggadah: Very Brief Format
This is the most recent update of a "minimum" edition of a Seder which can be customized for your Seder.

5766/2006 Haggadah NEW For 5766 / 2006 JEWISH FAMILY HEIRLOOM HAGGADAH

You can create your own Haggadah that reflects the wants, needs and interests for your Seder participantsHere is a list of ideas on how your Haggadah becomes a Family Heirloom TreasureAdd to the texts in Hebrew, English and modern transliterated Hebrew your preferred readings, Seder Songs, digital pictures and drawings.  


Download it now and get some fantastic hits like:


Who Let the Jews Out

(Sung to "Who Let the Dogs Out" by Jonathan Gleich;

Who let the Jews out?

OyOyOy, OY!

Who let the Jews out?

OyOyOy, OY!

Who let the Jews out?

OyOyOy, OY!

Who let the Jews out?

Well Pharaoh was angry,

Nefretiri was weeping

(didi ,di , di)

The Jews were all

Leaving the hall.

(didi ,di , di)

there's no one to build all the pyramids

(didi didi)

No one there to build them a mall.

And Nefretiri shouted

Who let the Jews out?

OyOyOy, OY!

Who let the Jews out?

OyOyOy, OY!

Who let the Jews out?

OyOyOy, OY!

Who let the Jews out?

OyOyOy, OY!

Moses came to me, saying

All the Jews have been praying

That there leaving, don't be grieving

Taking everything that they own.

And Pharaoh really got angry

OyOyOy, OY!

And told them that they could not go

OyOyOy, OY!

So Moses pointed his staff at the ceiling

OyOyOy, OY!

And frogs it began to snow








 Why do we rid our homes of hametz?


Getting rid of leavened products (hametz) is a perennial pain in the neck, but essential to being fully prepared for the holiday.  An excellent essay on the subject has been written by Rabbi Kerry Olitzky and can be found in his book, Preparing Your Heart for Passover: A Guide for Spiritual Readiness published by the Jewish Publication Society and online at

Here is an excerpt…


The rabbis suggest that the leaven transcends the physical worldThis leaven, this hametz, also symbolizes a puffiness of self, an inflated personality, an egocentricity that threatens to eclipse the essential personality of the individualIronically, it is what prevents the individual from rising spiritually and moving closer to holinessThus, what hametz effectively does in the material world is exactly what it precludes in the realm of the spiritThat’s why it has to be removed.


Rabbi Arthur Waskow calls this kind of hametz the “swollen sourness in our lives.” Some people say hametzis also a term for the yetzer hara (our inclination toward evil), which is understood by the rabbis to be part of every individual’s psychospiritual makeupThe yetzer harais part of a complex of natural drives and urges (for sex and food and the like) that is held in balance by its opposite, the yetzer hatov (inclination to do good).


Just as the rabbis understood that hametz can be used to make bread rise, it also has the potential to over-ferment and spoil the bread; neither is the yetzer hara totally evil nor the yetzer hatov fully without guileAs yeast has its purpose, the yetzer ha-ra has its functionBut this drive to do evil requires balance in our lives, what the philosophers refer to as “the golden mean,” something that will hold it in check from literally overwhelming the individual[An example of this would be Maimonides’ shevil ha-zahavwhich basically means “the golden mean.”]


Hametzis also the baggage we carry from broken promises, failed relationships, and personal disappointments that weigh heavily on usIt is the refuse of daily living, the residual stuff that emerges from poor decisions, mistakes in judgment, and moral failureWhat do we do with this kind of hametzCan we hide or sell itCan we clean or burn this type of “yeast”Dr. Tamara Green helps us to frame the question when she asks, “Into what locked cabinet do I put all the pain and struggle that made the last previous year so difficult?”


To participate in this act of spiritual cleansing by selling your hametz, download the form at our website,




Required Reading and Action Items




Let’s begin with GOOD NEWS from Israel 21c 



Israeli voters make their voices heard  
Millions of Israelis went to the polls yesterday to vote in the 2006 Knesset electionsDespite a low turnout, the wide range of parties offered by Israel's diverse democracy was well represented in the results - with Kadima, the party founded by incapacitated Prime Minister Ariel Sharon, receiving the most seats with 28, followed by the Labor Party, led by Amir Peretz with 20The surprise of the election - the emergence of the Pensioners Party with seven seatsMore...


Casting a vote for Israeli democracy   
As Israelis headed to the polls this week, thousands of university students in the United States were also casting their own virtual ballots over the InternetThe organizers behind the unique educational endeavor, called IsraelVotes, feel that the mock Israeli election promotes understanding of Israeli politics on US campuses and celebrates the Middle East's most vibrant democracy in actionMore...


Erel Margalit's powerful visions  
Israeli venture capitalist Erel Margalit has already conquered the high tech world as managing partner of Jerusalem Venture Partners, one of Israel's most successful venture capital fundsRanked 48th on Forbes magazine's prestigious Midas List of 100 high tech investors with the 'golden touch,' Margalit, whose real expertise is in nurturing budding technologies into successful companies, is attempting to bring that same magic to transform the city of Jerusalem into a creative hotbed of technology and artsMore...




now for the rest



Sharon's Party Is Winner in Israel - Scott Wilson
The Kadima party led by acting Prime Minister Ehud Olmert won 28 seats in the 120-seat Knesset elections Tuesday, in a vote that hinged on his plan to draw the country's final borders through unilateral withdrawals from the Palestinian territoriesBut the election, which drew one of the lowest voter turnouts in Israeli history, left Kadima with an uncertain mandate to move aheadOlmert will have to enlist other parties to form a coalition governmentThe Labor Party finished second with 20 seats, while the religious Shas party finished third with 13 seatsThe party Israel Is Our Home led by Avigdor Lieberman, an immigrant from Moldova, won 12 seats, while the Likud Party, led by former prime minister Binyamin Netanyahu, won 11 seatsEntering the Knesset for the first time with 7 seats is the Pensioners Party led by Rafi Eitan, a former Mossad agent involved in the 1960 capture of Nazi leader Adolf Eichmann(Washington Post)
    See also Additional Election Results
National Union-National Religious Party - 9 seats, United Torah Judaism - 6, Meretz - 4, three Arab parties - 10 (Ynet News)


Olmert Pledges to Compromise, But Says Israel Won't Wait Too Long - Ravi Nessman
Acting Prime Minister Ehud Olmert said Tuesday: "In the coming period, we will move to set the final borders of the State of Israel, a Jewish state with a Jewish majority....We will try to achieve this in an agreement with the Palestinians."The time has come for the relate to the existence of the State of Israel, to accept only part of their dream, to stop terror, to accept democracy, and accept compromise and peace with us.(AP/Forbes)
    "It is time for the Palestinians to change their ethos, to accept compromise as soon as possibleIf they manage to do this soon, we will sit and work out a planIf not, Israel will take control of its own fate, and in consensus among our people and with the agreement of the world and U.S. President George Bush, we will act.(Jerusalem Post)


* Q&A - Our experts answer your election questions (Ha’aretz)


Israel's New First Family (PBS)
    Wide-ranging interviews with Ehud Olmert, his wife Aliza, and their son Shaul present an intimate portrait of a family, often at odds politically, as they prepare for a new era.


Ehud Olmert: A Biography, By Ami Isseroff


Triangle Fire Still Burns (Jewish Week)
From chalked names to old sheet music, stories stay alive.
Jonathan Mark - Associate Editor  - The UPI reporter, William Shepherd, was just by chance on the corner of Manhattan's Washington Place and Greene Street when on March 25, 1911 flames started licking out of the eighth and ninth ...complete article



An End of U.S. Role in Pushing for Peace? - Richard Beeston
Thirty years of intense U.S.-led diplomacy, aimed at finding a peaceful solution to the Arab-Israeli conflict, could draw to an end in the wake of Tuesday's Israeli elections and the confirmation of a new militant Palestinian governmentEver since Washington brokered the Camp David agreement in 1979, successive U.S. administrations have dispatched envoys to the region and produced dozens of plans in the search for an elusive peaceNow, however, the "peace process" could be coming to an end.
    For the time being there is no question of direct official contact between the new Palestinian government and the West at any senior level until the movement fundamentally changes its policiesAmerica and the EU insist that Hamas recognize Israel's right to exist and abandons the use of violenceWestern diplomats concede that in the present climate the chance of any real negotiations is virtually nil(Times-UK)



A Victory Over Terrorist Media - Editorial
The Treasury Department struck a blow against one branch of Iran's propaganda network on Thursday, designating Hizballah's al Manar satellite television operation as a Specially Designated Global Terrorist organizationThe designation prohibits transactions between Americans and U.S. entities and al Manar, and freezes any assets al Manar may have under American jurisdictionAs the Treasury Department made clear, the issue is al Manar's role in facilitating the activities of Hizballah, an organization that has killed more Americans than every other terrorist group save al-Qaeda.
    "Any entity maintained by a terrorist group - whether masquerading as a charity, a business or a media outlet - is as culpable as the terrorist group itself," said Treasury Undersecretary for Terrorism and Financial Intelligence Stuart LeveyThe Treasury Department cited an incident in which an al Manar employee carried out operational surveillance for Hizballah while acting under cover of employment by al Manar(Washington Times)



Power Will Not Moderate Hamas - Martin Kramer (

  • Hamas entered parliament with an absolute majority in its first election with its militia, its guns, and its ideology intactIts speedy and sweeping ascent has simply validated its past militancy.
  • It has achieved, in 20 years, what the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt has not achieved in 80 years.
  • The Hamas concept of victory through "resistance" delegitimizes Israel's peace with Egypt and Jordan.
  • Hamas will devote its rule to achieving three goals:

1.      It will seek to consolidate its grip over the institutions of the Palestinian quasi-state, at the expense of Fatah.

2.      It will move gradually to Islamize Palestinian life(Last year, a poll showed that two-thirds of Palestinians believe Islamic law should be the sole source of legislation.)

3.      It will write its own "roadmap" in Palestinian consciousness, leading away from a two-state solutionFor that purpose, Hamas will make the media and the schools into extensions of the mosques.



Responses to the Kennedy School Paper about “the Israel Lobby”


A Nation Like Ours - Jeff Jacoby (Boston Globe)

  • America's longstanding solidarity with Israel suits most Americans just fineU.S. policy tends to align closely with Israel's because Americans like IsraelThey instinctively sympathize with Israel's fight for survival in one of the world's most dangerous neighborhoodsAmericans recognize in Israeli society a modern liberal democracy - a country like their own.
  • With all its flaws, Israel has the freest and fairest political system in the Middle East and the only one that guarantees complete freedom of worship to Christians and Muslims.
  • Israel is an invaluable American ally - a stable and dependable base in a most unstable part of the globe. From military R&D to world-class intelligence services, from a deepwater port to sophisticated air facilities, from counterterrorist expertise to a solid democratic culture, Israel brings assets to its strategic relationship with the U.S. that few countries can match.
  • American history is deeply rooted in Judeo-Christian soil, nourishing a special kinship between America's Christians and the Jewish people''I really wish the Jews again in Judea an independent nation," former President John Adams wrote in 1819.
  • Americans sympathize so strongly with the Israelis because both face a common enemyUnlike Walt and Mearsheimer, who can find ''no moral basis" for taking Israel's side, most Americans make a clear moral distinction between suicide bombers and their victims.


"Israel Lobby" Critique Roils Academe - Charles A. Radin
A paper co-written by the academic dean of Harvard University's John F. Kennedy School of Government is setting off a firestorm in academic and political circles because of its assertions that U.S. foreign policy is dominated by an ''Israel lobby" that ignores U.S. national interest and makes the U.S. a target of Muslim terroristsThe significance of the paper, according to those who condemn it, as well as those who embrace it, lies in the Harvard and University of Chicago credentials of the authors and in the fact that it has been presented in a high-level academic forum, in a heavily footnoted style associated with accurate, objective scholarship.
    Ronald A. Heifetz, the King Hussein Bin Talal lecturer in public leadership at the Kennedy School, said Tuesday that Mearsheimer and Walt had exceeded the bounds of academic freedom and that the dean of the Kennedy School should look into the matter''When a member of the Harvard faculty speaks, people are inclined to view us as credible sources of analysis and insight," Heifetz said''We have a special responsibility to clarify the difference between voicing an opinion and presenting a work of scholarship....It behooves us to be careful about what we say...if we express a point of view that can be embraced by David Duke and the Muslim Brotherhood to justify racist, terrorist activities."
    Alex Safian, associate director of the pro-Israel Committee for Accuracy in Middle East Reporting, said there were numerous factual errors such as overstatement of the proportion of U.S. foreign aid received by IsraelSafian also asserted that the authors' real issue is that U.S. foreign policy is subject to public politics and the give and take of interest groups''Their problem is not that a cabal is running U.S. foreign policy," he said''It is that they would like to be in the cabal."  (Boston Globe)
    See also Study Decrying "Israel Lobby" Marred by Numerous Errors - Alex Safian (CAMERA)
    See also The Basis of the U.S.-Israel Alliance: An Israeli Response to the Mearsheimer-Walt Assault - Dore Gold (ICA/JCPA)
    See also Harvard Co-Author of Jewish Lobby Report to Step Down as Dean - Richard Beeston
Harvard University confirmed Wednesday that Stephen Walt will be stepping down in June as academic dean of the John F. Kennedy School of Government to become an ordinary professor. (Times-UK)

·  Policy Analysis - Paranoid Style - Max Boot
In his classic 1964 essay, "The Paranoid Style in American Politics," the late Richard Hofstadter noted: "One of the impressive things about paranoid literature is the contrast between its fantasied conclusions and the almost touching concern with factuality that it invariably shows." As examples, he cited a 96-page pamphlet by Joseph McCarthy that contained "no less than 313 footnote references" and a book by John Birch Society founder Robert Welch that employed "one hundred pages of bibliography and notes" to show that President Eisenhower was a communistFor a more recent instance of the paranoid style, "The Israel Lobby and American Foreign Policy," a "working paper" by John J. Mearsheimer and Stephen M. Walt - with 83 pages of text and 211 footnotes - is as scholarly as those of Welch and McCarthy.
    Their very first footnote demonstrates a terminal lack of seriousness: "Indeed, the mere existence of the Lobby suggests that unconditional support for Israel is not in the American national interestIf it was, one would not need an organized special interest group to bring it about.By that standard, Social Security, the 2nd Amendment, and Roe vs. Wade must not be "in the American national interest" either, because they are all defended by even more powerful lobbies.
    Mearsheimer-Walt can't see any legitimate reason why all these people (along with most Americans) might support Israel - support they claim is "in good part" responsible for our "terrorist problem.In reality, Osama bin Laden was far more inflamed by our support for the Saudi royal family than for IsraelBut Mearsheimer-Walt never mention the existence of the Saudi lobby, whose success in influencing American policy is far more mysterious considering that Saudis, unlike Israelis, are leading participants in anti-American terrorism(Los Angeles Times)


An Unfair Attack - David Gergen (U.S. News)

  • It brings no joy to issue a public rebuttal against a valued colleague, but there are moments that demand no lessThe occasion is the publication of a nerve-jangling essay by professors John Mearsheimer of the University of Chicago and Stephen Walt, the academic dean and my colleague at Harvard's Kennedy School of Government.
  • Not only are these charges wildly at variance with what I have personally witnessed in the Oval Office over the years, but they also impugn the loyalty and the unstinting service to America's national security by public figures like Dennis Ross, Martin Indyk, and many others.
  • As a Christian, let me add that it is also wrong and unfair to call into question the loyalty of millions of American Jews who have faithfully supported Israel while also working tirelessly and generously to advance America's cause, both at home and abroadThey are among our finest citizens and should be praised, not pilloried.
  • Over the course of four tours in the White House, I never once saw a decision in the Oval Office to tilt U.S. foreign policy in favor of Israel at the expense of America's interest.

    See also America Takes Side of Israel - Jeff Jacoby
A Gallup poll released last month puts American support for Israel at near-record levelsIn short, solidarity with Israel is an abiding feature of American public opinion(Boston Globe)
    See also The Israel Conspiracy - Bret Stephens
Has there ever been an anti-Semitic conspiracy theory that does not share the basic features of the Mearsheimer-Walt hypothesisThe late editor of the Wall Street Journal, Robert Bartley, is cited by Mearsheimer and WaltRobert Bartley was a man of modest Christian beliefs and principled political convictionsHe supported Israel for much the same reason he supported Great Britain, Poland, and Taiwan - because they were friends of the U.S., because they were democracies, because they were places where his core beliefs in free men and free markets held sway(Wall Street Journal, 25Mar06)
    See also Harvard's New Protocols of the Learned Elders of Zion - Lowell Ponte
Anti-Semitism can appear in many forms, many disguisesAlthough ballyhooed as a work by two major scholars, "The Israel Lobby and U.S. Foreign Policy" is neither peer reviewed nor published in any scholarly journal(FrontPageMagazine)







MYTH #214

"Israel is knowingly desecrating a Muslim holy place in Jerusalem by building a museum on top of a cemetery."


An offshoot of the Islamic Movement in Israel petitioned the Israeli Supreme Court to halt the the Simon Wiesenthal Center from constructing a new Museum of Tolerance in the center of Jerusalem. The petitioners, from a group called “the Al-Aqsa Corporation,” claim the museum is being built on part of an ancient cemetery where 20,000 soldiers from Saladin's army are buried, and want the area recognized as an Islamic waqf. This would give them exclusive rights to any decisions regarding use of the landThis claim is very controversial because it would in effect place a Muslim enclave in the heart of West Jersualem.

Over forty years ago, an Islamic court ruled that the land was no longer sacred and could be used for construction or other purposesEven four decades before that ruling, in 1922, the infamous Grand Mufti of JerusalemHaj Amin al-Husseini, built a luxurious hotel on part of the landThe Mufti ruled that construction was possible if the tombs were removed and reburied in another place, and he made plans to build a Muslim university on the same tract of land (The Jerusalem Report, March 20, 2006).

The cemetery has been abandoned for well over a century and, in 1964, an Islamic court ruled that its status was mundaras (erased), meaning that its holiness had expiredMuslim scholars and religious leaders have allowed the “recycling” of cemeteries that have not been used for more than a generationThe Islamic Movement, however, sees the dispute as an opportunity to claim part of Jerusalem as a Muslim enclave.

The Israel Antiquities Authority has been especially careful in removing remains found at the site for reburialThe Wiesenthal Center has also offered to re-inter all of the remains in the part of the cemetery that still exists, and plans to renovate and fence off the area.

This article can be found at

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

To order a copy of the NEW paperback edition of Myths and Facts, click HEREThe previous edition of 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.

You can help AICE continue this work by becoming a sponsor of the Jewish Virtual LibraryClick here for more information.







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







Nisan 5766  3/30/06

Theme: "Torah = Truth?"

Leap of Faith
By Alyssa AppelmanKOC Assistant Editor

Okay, so I know that Dawson’s Creek isn’t everyone’s basis for religious analysis, but try to follow me here.

Jiminy Cricket
By Adam Bergman, University of Missouri - Columbia

…With a little help from the Torah and the little guy on your shoulder - what is his name? Oh yeah, Jiminy Cricket!

The Truths
By Jennifer Kerner, SUNY New Paltz

As my mother told me, the true facts of a story are only known to God.

By Emily Green, KOACH West Coast Fieldworker

After exploring the Universe through astronomy I’m pretty sure that it took a lot longer than 24 hours for the sun, the moon, and the stars to be formed; but who said that "God-days" were counted like "human-days?"












"Five Rabbis, Four Questions: (and then some):

A Pre-Pesach Pow-wow With Stamford's Board of Rabbis"


The Stamford Board of Rabbis will host a panel discussion about the themes of Passover on Wed., April 5 at Temple Beth El, 350 Roxbury Rd at 7:00 PM.   In an informal, participatory setting, the rabbis will discuss the ins and outs of the Haggadah, the ritual items on the seder plate, Jewish concepts of freedom and tips for a great family Seder, along with other questions. 



The Board of Rabbis, currently chaired by Rabbi Ira Ebbin, meets monthly, serving important leadership functions in the community, including advocacy, education and community building.  Programs such as these are especially helpful in promoting Jewish awareness in a spirit of communal solidarity. 



The panel, featuring Rabbis Ira Ebbin, Marc Disick, Daniel Cohen, Phil Schechter and Joshua Hammerman, will be moderated by Ilana De Laney, the community's director of education.  The event is co-sponsored by the Community Commission of Jewish Education of the United Jewish Federation, along with the Board of Rabbis.  The program is free and open to the public. 




Adult Ed on Sunday


This week

9:00 AM “Judaism For Everyone”

“The Movements – Conservative, Orthodox, Reform and Whatever



Next Sunday, April 9


9:00 AM “Judaism for Everyone”

 “How to Run the Best Seder in Town






The Darfur Support Coalition of Fairfield County has been very active in raising awareness of the terrible genocide taking place in Darfur (Western Sudan)Some of their recent activities include:  
      o Participation in a national Million Voices for Darfur post card campaign to
         President Bush asking him to use his influence to create an international
         force to protect the refugees in Darfur.
      o Planning and recruiting for a bus trip to Washington on April 30 to join the
         national rally to stop the genocide in Darfur.
      o Working in concert with other Darfur support groups  to convince the State of
         Connecticut to divest itself of companies that are investing in or otherwise
         supporting Darfur.

There are still too many people who are unaware of what is happening in Darfur.  We will be seeing a presentation designed to raise awareness of the crime against humanity that is taking place there, and what we can do to help stop itThe presentation includes an overview/background of the current situation, a 10 minute DVD, a Q& A period and handouts.



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

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

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

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

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

Neil Perlman, Gerald Poch, Brian Rogol and Jack Wofsey

Sisterhood is inviting you to a Ladies’ Nite Out!

Thursday, April 6, 2006

At Temple Beth El

7:00 Shopping Bazaar opens
7:30 Fashion Show begins

See the latest fashions from


Designer clothes at off-prices

Join us for a fun-filled evening!

Enjoy shopping at our Spring shopping bazaar.

Sample dairy desserts from the new soon-to-be-released Sisterhood Cookbook – “From Our Table to Yours.”

 Preparations by Dr. Fran Ginsburg and her team of Sisterhood chefs!

View the latest fashions modeled by our very own Sisterhood members:  Marlyn Agatstein, Amy Fishkow Benjamin, Rachel Benjamin, Sarah Benjamin, Alana Kasindorf, Jeannie Kasindorf, Jodi Maxner, Sue Shapiro, and Mia Weinstein
Hair by Guy Sasson and Makeup by Sue Berkoff

New and Fabulous Silent Auction plus our favorite Raffle prizes (1/$5 and 5/$20).

Patron               $20 ($25 door)               Make checks payable to Sisterhood and send to:
Non-member     $25                                 Eileen H. Rosner, c/o Temple Beth El
Sponsor             $36                                 350 Roxbury Road, Stamford, CT 06902
Benefactor        $54
Prepaid Raffles (1/$5 and 5/$20)

Mindy Fishman         Maureen Leffand
203.594.9171            203.569.7024

First Ever! Sisterhood Cookbook

Available in September 2006

Delicious Recipes! Kosher! Family Favorites!

Please help to defray the costs

\be a sponsor, place an ad, order your copies now ($18 each).

**Proceeds to fund kitchen renovation and other TBE capital improvements**

**Call Beth Silver 967-8852 for information**



Rally to Stop Genocide


Sunday, April 30th

 1:30 pm -  4:00 pm




by Showing Our Solidarity With The People of Darfur


Group transportation will be organized for the CT delegation.   

Transportation from Hartford, contact Andrea Cobrin-Long /860-727-5770.

Bus transportation from New Haven, contact Lauri Lowell at (203) 387-2424 ext: 318.

Bus transportation from Westport, Contact Rabbi Orkand

Temple Israel 203-227-1293  or


CT Coalition to Save Darfur website -


Genocide: "NOT ON OUR WATCH!"


Organized by the SAVE DARFUR Campaign








Jewish Medicine

A group of leading medical researchers have published data indicating that Seder participants should NOT partake of both chopped liver and charoses.
It seems that this combination can lead to Charoses of the Liver.
At our seder, we had whole wheat and bran matzoh, fortified with Metamucil.
The brand name, of course, is..."Let My People Go.
Old Jewish men in Miami get hernias from wearing chai's which are too heavy.
This condition is called chaiatal hernia!"
If a doctor carries a black bag and a plumber carries a tool box, what does a mohel carry?  bris kit!


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

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