Saturday, June 17, 2006

June 17, 2006 –Sivan 21, 5766

June 17, 2006 –Sivan 21, 5766


Rabbi Joshua Hammerman, Temple Beth El, StamfordConnecticut



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Happy Fathers Day!






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


“All journeys have secret destinations

of which the traveler is unaware.”

Martin Buber


Thanks to Sharon Goldstein for sending this photo

of our 7th graders at their Aliyah service last week.

See their inspiring statements on Jewish identity below.

I invite others who took photos to submit them for our website





And Mazal Tov also to our Beth El BCDS graduates:

Danielle Bachar

Benjamin Burstein

Jacob Cohen

Laura Eber

Katie Maimon

Ilana Polak

Lindsey Simon

Alyssa Wiener


And Mazal tov also the the first graduating class of the

Westchester Fairfield Hebrew Academy, this coming Monday




Friday Evening 

Candle lighting: 8:10 pm on Friday, 16 June 2006,- Havdalah is at 9:14 pm  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 – OUTDOORS (and it’s lookin’ good!) WEATHER PERMITTING, OTHERWISE IN THE SANCTUARY!


Tot Shabbat: 6:45 – in the lobby.  Tot Shabbat will be hosted this week by Stacye and Stuart Nekritz in honor of their children, Jason and Hannah and new experiences.  Jason participated in the North Stamford Little League and Hannah was a ballerina in the Classical Kids dance recital at West Hill High School.  Jason is finishing third grade at Northeast school and attends religious school at Temple Beth El.  Hannah attends Kinderplace and will be graduating to kindergarten next year.


For those who can’t get enough of Tot Shabbat, Nurit conducts Tot Shabbat Morning at 10:30 am every Saturday morning.  All are welcome to attend.


Shabbat Morning: 9:30 AM – Mazal tov to Alexander Cooperstone who will become Bar Mitzvah this Shabbat morning.


Children’s services: 10:30

Torah Portion: Beha’alotcha  Numbers 8:1 - 12:16

1: 9:15-18
2: 9:19-23
3: 10:1-7
4: 10:8-10
5: 10:11-20
6: 10:21-28
7: 10:29-34
maf: 10:32-34

Haftarah Zechariah 2:14 - 4:7


See a weekly commentary from the UJC Rabbinic Cabinet, at  Read the Masorti commentary at  University of Judaism,  JTS commentary is at: USCJ Torah Sparks can be found at UAHC Shabbat Table Talk discussions are at Other divrei Torah via the Torahnet home page: Test your Parasha I.Q.: CLAL’s Torah commentary archive:  World Zionist Organization Education page, including Nehama Liebowitz archives of parsha commentaries: For a more Kabbalistic/Zionist/Orthodox perspective from Rav Kook, first Chief Rabbi of Israel, go to For some probing questions and meditations on key verses of the portion, with a liberal kabbalistic bent, go to or, for Kabbalistic commentaries from the Zohar itself, go to To see the weekly commentary from Hillel, geared to college students and others, go to For a Jewish Renewal and feminist approach go to .  For a comprehensive Orthodox viewpoint from the Israeli rabbi, Yaakov Fogelman, go to the Torah Outreach Program at  Guided meditations for each portion by Judith Abrams at

 For online Parsha quizzes from Pardes in Israel, go to Torah for Kids:  Weekly Lesson of Popular Israeli Rabbi Mordechai Elon: - and his parsha sheets:   From Bar Ilan University:




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



A Guaranteed Minyan Request has been made for THURSDAY, JUNE 22

 Please sign up at - Rosner Minyan Maker


We’ve had several people coming lately who are saying kaddish following recent deaths in the family.  We want to make sure we have a minyan each day. Your presence any morning is greatly appreciated!




The Rabid Rabbi



What Does it Mean to Be a Jew?


Last week, our 7th Grade class, for its graduation (Aliyah) service, prepared a booklet of essays responding to the question, “What does being Jewish mean to you?”  Their responses are below and these brief essays run the gamut of reasons.  In addition to the essays, the students created a wall of testimony as their class gift, which can be found near their classroom, in the hallway just behind the social hall.  This beautiful collection of panels, artwork inspired and coordinated by Karen Tobias, our art teacher, as well as their classroom teacher Mara Hammerman, is a sight to behold.  Every congregant should make a point of visiting it over the coming weeks.  As you look at the panels, think of these amazing essays.


Julie Alswanger

I love being Jewish and going to the Temple for services on Saturday mornings.  I love seeing so many Jews there.  I never really knew how many people belonged to our Temple.  I love finally being able to read Hebrew.  When I was reading from the Torah at my Bat Mitzvah service, I felt like God was with me.  Also, during my Bat Mitzvah I could feel my Nana’s presence there.  Unfortunately, she died before my Bat Mitzvah.


I have been going to Hebrew School since kindergarten.  I would like to thank all my teachers who taught me during that time.


I also express my Judaism through my art work.  For example, in the seventh grade Hebrew School hallway there are paintings, painted on the wall by all my classmates.  For my piece, I drew stained glass with a designed Jewish star in the middle of it.  First I drew the design on scrap paper.  Then, with pencil I drew the outline on the wall.  After, I outlined everything in black paint.  Finally, I put colored paint on it.  These paintings are our graduation project.  I think they all look beautiful.    


Jonathan Arons

Being Jewish is not just having matzoh ball soup or eating challah on Shabbat.  Being Jewish to me means history, the history of our ancestors.  I will always remember my years of Hebrew School.  I remember making new friends, doing art projects, and going on the shabbatons.


AJ Bass

I am very happy to be Jewish for many reasons.  First, I had my Bar Mitzvah during my last year of Hebrew School.  My Bar Mitzvah was very special to me because now I’m a man.  I had to study lots of prayers and practice my speech.  When I stepped up to the bimah on the day of my Bar Mitzvah I was nervous.  But as I continued it was easier.  I felt like I accomplished something.  It’s good to be a man.


I’m also happy to be Jewish because of the history.  First, it’s really interesting to learn about Israel and the surrounding areas.  Second, it’s interesting to learn about how Israel has gone through so many wars.  Third, sometimes it’s very serious because you learn about the people who die and the people who survive.


Mitchell Berkoff

This year the seventh grade painted a mural on the wall in the Hebrew School.  The mural symbolizes what makes Jewish life so amazing.  I painted some aspects of Jewish life.  The brick that I painted has a lit candle.  It symbolizes the eternal light, which will burn forever, just like the Jewish people have survived throughout history.  I also painted a tallit.  Tallit is a prayer shawl that is worn during Jewish services.  The tallit is likely to be given to a boy or girl at their Bar/Bat Mitzvah.  The tallit is a symbol that you have entered Jewish adulthood and are ready to take on the responsibilities that go along with it.  The next object I painted was a Torah.  The Torah is the whole body of Jewish laws and teachings.  It teaches us what we should and should not do.  The Torah also tells the story of the first Jewish people and how they survived indescribable tragedies.  I also chose to paint the state of Israel.  I do intend to visit when I get older.  I did learn a lot about Israel in school, from books, and movies.  I don’t think there is a more meaningful place to feel and learn about the Jewish experience than Israel.  There is a current law that states all Jews are allowed to come to Israel and become a citizen.  This law is called “The Law of Return”.  This law exemplifies the connection the Jews have all around the world.  The last and most important object I painted was a kippah.  A kippah is worn by Jewish men and sometimes women.  The kippah reminds us that God is always watching over us and we must respect God in return.  The kippah acts as a reminder that we are Jewish and should be proud.


We don’t know why we are born to the parents we have or the places we live, but I am glad things worked out the way they did because I am proud to tell people I am Jewish.


Randi Braun

If you look in the hallway near the seventh grade classroom you’ll see paintings that the seventh graders made.  Mine is a peace sign with Israel in front of it and Shabbat candles on the sides.  What it symbolizes is that Israel just wants peace.


Being Jewish to me means that our heritage is one of the strongest in the world, because it has lasted for such a long time.  If we care enough, we can continue to make it last.


Annie Cohen

To me our religion is all about learning and experiencing life.  We have been through so much. Every journey we take in life results in some kind of ending; however, what we learn on the journey is more important than the destination.  Everything I have learned from Hebrew School, all the memories and all the experiences, led up to my Bat Mitzvah.


For many kids, Hebrew School isn’t that high on their list of priorities.  I actually like coming to Hebrew School.  I love being with my friends and learning about our heritage.  We have had so many good times in Hebrew School over the years.


Eric Cooper

I’m proud to be a Jew because of the history.  It helps me to understand my heritage.  Learning about Jewish history made me feel proud because we survived so many things, from escaping Pharoah in Egypt to the Holocaust. 


I also have more friends now, because I met a lot of kids in Hebrew School.  Being Jewish to me is also about food, especially matzah.


Jeff Cooper

Hebrew School is over, and I’m sorry to be done with it.  I met a lot of kids in Hebrew School.  Fifth grade with Mrs. Elkies was fun, and that was the year that I bonded most with my class.  Every year there was something new and interesting.  I had lots of fun going to everybody’s Bar Mitzvah.  I will never forget going to Hebrew School.  I will remember it forever.


Jenna Frank

What being Jewish means to me….


Being Jewish is a huge part of my life, and it opens up my world to new ideas and thoughts.  The Jewish memories that are most important to me involve just being happy and sharing great times with my friends and family.  Even though I am moving on, I left, along with my friends, a small painting of my thoughts about Judaism.  What it really represents for me is a piece of me that I am leaving within my temple as the years go by.  My friends are extremely important to me here at Temple Beth El and I hope to continue these friendships in the years to come.


Michelle Greenman

Being Jewish to me means appreciating our ancestors and our history.  I painted a picture of Jerusalem.  Israel is the land of the Jewish people.  It is a land of hope and promise.  The Jewish people have been through so much but still are not giving up.  Somehow, they join together and make a community that never gives up.  Our Hebrew School class represents the Jewish people by never giving up on our tasks, such as painting the wall.  We have done everything in our ability to make the wall look beautiful.  Each person in our class, as each person in Jerusalem, made a big contribution.  The entire Jewish people never give up hope.  Even after the Holocaust, there was hope for good things to come in the future.  No matter where we are or what situation we are in, there is always some way to find hope.


Eric Hazen

My favorite thing about being Jewish is that I get a Bar Mitzvah.  I can’t wait to become a Jewish man and to finally get the party that I’ve been waiting for.  I also love learning a new language and believing in one God and the Jewish heritage.


I will miss my Hebrew School and especially the friends that go to different schools.  Hebrew School was a time to see kids that I don’t usually see.


Jessie Hirtenstein

Being Jewish can mean many different things depending on who you ask.  To me, being Jewish means to be all that you can be.  Do a mitzvah to help other people, whether they are friends or enemies.  A mitzvah that I have done recently was donating a set of Holocaust books to the seventh grade classroom.  In addition to that, I recently became a Bat Mitzvah, which is a great deed to perform.


As a class project, we all drew pictures on the wall outside of our classroom.  My drawing spelled out the word “mitzvot”.  The “m” is two candles, standing for the deed of lighting candles on Shabbat.  The “i”  is a dollar and a coin, representing the mitzvah of giving tzedakah.  The two “t’s” show people reaching out to each other.  The “z” is made up of latkes, which represent Chanukah, the miracle of the light.  The “v” is Israel drawn forward and backward.  Finally, the “o” is a peace sign.  Each picture represents a different mitzvah or good deed.


This is what being Jewish means to me.  It means doing mitzvoth, and helping others as much as you possibly can.


Jonathan Karp

Being Jewish!


My life has had major changes as I have discovered my Jewish heritage.  Until a year or two ago I didn’t understand or was inactive.  But now as was shown in my picture I see the connection that I now make when I am both in the sanctuary and in prayer.  Being Jewish has made a large impact on my daily life.  Because of its unique beliefs, it gives me a different personality.  In a school that is primarily Christian, I am one of the only people who has such a different background and culture.


Hebrew School has always been fun, especially in the last two years as I’ve made more and more friends.  There are so many funny memories, from finding nicknames to playing and joking on the shabbaton.  I plan on continuing making these memories by coming to Kulanu and going to more Bar and Bat Mitzvahs.


Samantha Karp

To me, being Jewish is very important.  It is what sets me apart from the crowd, the Jewish people being a minority in the area in which we live.  It’s about celebrating Judaism in your home, as well as in the temple.  It’s also about making sacrifices and compromises.  Last, it is about going through hard times together, even if we are miles apart.


These are all very important, but I think going through hard times together is one of the most important things about being a Jew.  Through the years, the Jewish people have gone through hard times, including being taken over many times by other nations, the Holocaust, and so many different wars.  Even now, we are still fighting.  Even though it may be hard to imagine, we have made it through these hard times, and the Jewish people will do it again.


You may ask, how does this involve the class of 2006?  Well, we have made it through eight years of Hebrew School together.  At times it may have been hard to imagine graduating.  But here we are.  On a much smaller scale, we have gone through lots of experiences together.  All of us have started preparing for our Bar and Bat Mitzvahs.  I know that when I first started, I thought that learning all of the material would be difficult.  But we have all done it.  Congratulations, Class of 2006!  We are graduating!


Billie Katz

Being Jewish means…


Being Jewish means celebrating Shabbat.  Throughout our Hebrew School education, we have concentrated on different components of Shabbat.  Whether we learn about lighting the candles or eating the challah, we explore different things which are important to the Jewish religion.  My painting shows different parts of Shabbat.  The background is a Jewish star, which represents all the parts of Judaism.  On top of the star is a set of Shabbat candlesticks, a Kiddush cup filled with grape juice, and a challah.  These all represent Shabbat and my Hebrew School experience throughout the years.  These symbols also represent Judaism and parts of my life.  Many Friday nights my family and I light the Shabbat candles and say the prayers.  However, since I have become a Bat Mitzvah, I am seeing it in a new light.


David Katz

To me Judaism means a lot.  In my picture I drew modern and ancient Israel.  It shows that many aspects of Israel are new and yet many are old at the same time.  The rabbis come up with new creative ideas every day.  That is what keeps our religion new and interesting, and yet we can still follow the old traditions.  Another aspect of the new and the old in Judaism is the Torah.  It is an ancient text, yet each time it is studied by a different person it becomes new.  Judaism is a religion of the new and the old, where the past affects the future.  In Judaism, every action we do today reflects on the future.


One of my best Hebrew School memories was when our class went to the Hammerman sukkah.  We got good food, we ran around with the dogs, and it was a good experience.


Zachary Krowitz

What makes me Jewish is the way I was raised by my parents.  I celebrate the Jewish holidays and go to temple on Shabbat.  I can read Hebrew and will have my Bar Mitzvah in November.  Being Jewish means I am proud to believe in one God and that I will respect my parents and others. 


I drew a world with Jewish symbols inside it because there are Jews all around the world.  This is important because it shows that there are many Jews with different backgrounds, but we all share the same beliefs, religion, and caring feelings.


Rebecca Lavietes

To me being a Jew is not just a belief.  It’s about survival. As a people, the Jews have survived whatever was thrown at us.  From being slaves in Egypt to having six million of our people killed in the Holocaust, we keep going strong.  That makes me feel proud to be Jewish.


Abby Leibowitz

To me, being Jewish means being part of a heritage; being able to share stories, experiences, and hardships with others.  It is amazing to me how the Jewish religion can bring millions of different people, all with different views, lifestyles, and languages, to one place and make them all feel like they’re old friends.  Being Jewish means knowing wherever I am, whoever I am with, I am always part of one people.  I can go to a synagogue anywhere and fit right in. 


Jake Levensohn

Over the past four years, I have learned many things in Hebrew School.  One important thing that I learned is what it means to be a Jew.  It’s not something a teacher can teach you in a single class, but something you have to discover for yourself over time.  To me, being Jewish means to always act proud of what you are, and to celebrate all the wonderful Jewish holidays with pride, because you are celebrating the renewed freedom of the Jewish people.  Being Jewish is about freedom.  That’s why I love playing the drums.  On the wall outside my seventh grade classroom, there is a picture of me playing the drums.  Playing the drums is one of the things I enjoy doing the most.  Who knows, maybe if being Jewish didn’t make me appreciate the freedom to express yourself, I wouldn’t enjoy the drums so much!


One of my favorite Hebrew School memories was in third grade, when Mrs. Shushan’s helper Ilan gave us a reward every time we answered a question correctly.  Unfortunately, Ilan died in a car accident later that year.  Also, all of the shabbatons have been awesome.  I remember going outside at 11:00 PM to play manhunt, and then waking up at 6:00 AM to play football.  It’s been an honor to participate all of these years in the Temple Beth El Hebrew School.


Sarah Liffmann

There are many things that are great about being Jewish. You get to celebrate unique and fun holidays, learn about an interesting past, and I even get to have a Bat Mitzvah. Although i find all of these things such a great part about being Jewish, there is one thing that really has been great for me, and that was my seventh grade year at Hebrew school.


This year at Hebrew school was a lot different then the other years.

In the past years i have made some friends at Hebrew school but i wasn't very close with them. This year i have become really close friends with so many new people that i haven't talked to in the past.  With all of these new friends, it is so much fun to go to each others’ Bar and Bat Mitzvahs. Since I live in New Canaan, i only go to school with one kid in our Hebrew School grade so I thought I wouldn’t really be seeing anyone out of Hebrew school and Bar and Bat Mitzvahs, but i was wrong. This year i have had multiple sleep overs with my friends  from Hebrew school when in the past we would just talk during class, and the teachers did not like that very much. This year i had a fun teacher, and a very fun class and it is a year in Hebrew school i will never forget.


Andrew Madwed

Being Jewish to me means having a Bar Mitzvah.  It also means making at least one trip to the Western Wall in Jerusalem.  I was there, and I think it’s important for every Jew to have that experience.


Ross Neugeboren

When you are in TBE, take a walk down to the seventh grade hallway.  When you look at the wall, you’ll see the wonderful paintings done by our class.  Mine is of an outdoor scene with a stone ark.  At my camp, that was the sanctuary.  I do tech stuff, and at my camp, I always set up the sound system.  I remember meeting and loving the camp rabbi.  I once set up lights for a camp play.  When we had services in the playhouse, the Torah was positioned under the lights.  I turned the lights on, and the Torah glowed.


I was once told that I do things for people when I have no obligation to do so.  That is what I think Judaism is all about.  Jews do good deeds when they have no obligation.  So each time I help someone when I don’t need to, it makes me happy.


My best memory of TBE was on the seventh grade shabbaton.  By far, that was the best shabbaton I’ve ever been on.  We had just started using a new facility, and unfortunately it rained heavily during the entire time.  But that didn’t stop us.  I used to be a boy scout, and I was prepared to help people, as I like to do.  I had a huge mag-lite, and a smaller one.  In the dark and the rain, I guided everyone back to the bunks after the evening activity.  Of course, after that I was soaked.  Even though I could have gotten color war points for my good deed, I didn’t need them as a reward.  I liked using my flashlights like a traffic director!


Rebecca Poser

My favorite thing about being Jewish is knowing about the past and about my heritage as a Jew.  The Jewish people are one family that has gone through many things in many different places.  A Jew knows about suffering, but also knows happiness.  We have gone through good times and bad times.  Every Jewish family has traditions that they follow, and those traditions come from our heritage.  Being Jewish means family.  Thankfully, I have a family that cares for me, loves me, and teaches me what it means to be Jewish.


Jeff Rich

To me, being Jewish is having faith, hope, and believing in miracles.  My picture of a menorah shows this, because it’s a symbol of hope and miracles.  In the Chanukah story, the oil lasted for eight days when there was only supposed to be enough for one day.  Judaism is a religion of faith, hope, and miracles.  There are lots of great things to believe in.  You just have to believe.  Judaism is also about joy.  In the Chanukah story, the Jews were joyful when the menorah stayed lit for eight days, and we are joyful when we celebrate Chanukah today.


Rebecca Savransky

To me, being Jewish means beautiful music.  Music is a language through which everyone can communicate.  I believe that it is a sound which can bring an entire community of people together, despite their differences.


My picture is of a violin, surrounded by musical notes.  This represents when I had the opportunity to play Kol Nidre on Yom Kippur this year at my temple.  I was overjoyed.   When I was up on the bima next to the cantor, I felt as if I was reaching out.  It was one of the most rewarding experiences that I have ever had.


For me, this picture represents my life.  Music is an important part of my experiences.  I can’t explain my love of music in words, but no matter what happens, I believe that it will never be lost.


Peri Shapiro

To me, being Jewish means I love and care for everyone.  The first word in the second paragraph of the Shema is v’ahavta, which means love.  When I designed my picture for the wall, I included everything Jewish that I love: Passover, HannukahIsrael, and Hebrew.  And of course I included my camp.  Camp Tevya is a Jewish camp in BrooklineNew Hampshire that has taught me so much about Judaism and Jewish customs.  There I have learned Israeli dancing, and about the holiday of Tisha B’Av.  Keeping kosher there is easy.  Every summer we have Israeli Day, when we do activities that might be done in Israel and learn about Israel.  Campers get to have conversations with people from Israel, and at the end of the day we get to eat Israeli foods like falafel and humus.  In the end, Camp Tevya is a good experience for anyone who wants to learn about Judaism and love Judaism.


Morgan Temple

At the end of this year I will have been going here for eight years.  But I will never forget it.  I have made so many friends, learned about our history, and learned to read, write, and speak some Hebrew.  But most of all, I have gotten a sense of what being Jewish means to me.  I used to think that there were only a few Jewish people in the world.  I would be one out of two Jewish kids in my class.  I thought that we were not one of the main religions.  When I came to Hebrew School, I saw so many kids just like me.  When I went to services, I saw even more people.  It made me feel like the Jewish people were important in the world.


Judaism gives me a way to express myself through prayer.  If someone is sick, I can pray for them.  If the Red Sox are in the World Series, I can pray for them.  I can also express myself through art.  For our end of the year project, we each painted a block on the wall.  I painted the world, with all the Jewish people holding hands and working together, to make the world a better place.


Douglas Weisman

Being Jewish to me is to learn about our history, because it’s amazing what our ancestors went through.  I think learning Jewish history has been a great part of Hebrew School.  Being Jewish also means to me that I’m part of a very special religion and one of the first monotheistic religions of the world.  It makes me feel proud.  I’ve learned how our people survived being slaves in Egypt, the Holocaust, and wars between Israel and other Middle Eastern countries.  That is what being Jewish means to me.


Chad Weissman

On the wall, I painted a picture of me at my Bar Mitzvah.  My Bar Mitzvah means a lot to me.  It means a lot to me that I am a man.  I was also proud of myself because I worked very hard to prepare, and I felt like I did a great job.  This has been a great year.  Seventh grade was my favorite year at Hebrew School because Mrs. Hammerman made learning fun. 


Samantha Wise

Being Jewish means healing the world.  It means caring about what goes on around you, and helping those in need.  It means being with family, celebrating victory, and mourning loss.  It means looking to the past for answers for the future, and appreciating what we have.


TBE helps us discover a new aspect of Judaism: learning.  We should appreciate the gift of education.  I have learned to love the Torah, and in some respects, to understand it.  I’m on my way to becoming a Bat Mitzvah.  I see lots of work ahead, but I will give it my heart and will hopefully succeed in becoming a responsible adult.  The most important thing is to believe in yourself, and never underestimate the power of our only God.


Katie Zabronsky

Being Jewish means…


Being Jewish means bringing happiness to the world.  My picture is of a sunflower wrapped around a Torah.  A sunflower brings happiness and color to its surroundings.  A sunflower also represents children.  Because children are joyful, they light the world around them.  Jews do good deeds, which brings light and life to others.  I have visited Brighton Gardens, a senior center.  By doing this, I brought smiles to the seniors’ faces.


Matt Zielinski

Being Jewish has taught me many lessons.  First, I learned how to act and treat people according to what the Torah teaches us.  I’ve learned about the Jewish way of life from studying the many centuries of Jewish History.  From my Bar Mitzvah experience, I learned to be more confident.       





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Cheryl Wolff (968-6361;
BETH EL CARES co-chairs







Dear Temple Beth-El families,


My name is Jackie Schechter, and I'm in 7th grade.  In preparation for my upcoming Bat Mitzvah, I have decided to run a Jewish book drive to supply newly founded Jewish libraries in Nigeria.  Yes, believe it or not, there are Jews in Nigeria.  However, they don't have many resources from which to learn about their religion.  Rabbi Howard Gorin of Maryland runs a program which brings books to fill these libraries.  I'll be collecting Jewish books until July 8th to donate to Rabbi Gorin's program.  Books can span virtually any Jewish/Israeli topic, and can be in English or Hebrew. A drop-off box will be located by the office.  For more information about the book drive, you can contact me at (203)-324-4594 or visit Rabbi Gorin’s website:  Thank you for your participation.

                                                    - Jackie  





Robert Grossman, the new Executive Director of WFHA (Westchester Fairfield Hebrew Academy) needs a one bedroom furnished apartment between June 15th and the end of August.  It can be in lower Fairfield or Westchester County


In August he will move his family from Kentucky into their new home on campus.  Until then he needs a place to stay while working to get the school moved into our new campus.  


Perhaps someone in the TBE congregation knows of an available accommodation.


Robert can be reached by email: Robert Grossman


Person to Person located in Darien, Connecticut is an organization that collects new or worn items
such as clothing for babies, kids and adults.
They are looking for donations for only Spring and Summer items.
Needy families in emergency situations will go to Person to Person for assistance.
Person to Person services the Stamford, Norwalk and Darien areas.
You may donate clothing, food (canned items) and only brand new unopened toys.
We will be bringing a large donation of items on the first of every month.
Please help me with any donations that you would like to make.
I would greatly appreciate it.
I am hoping you can help me with this for my Mitzvah Project
because it is important for us to help others who may need it.
This is how you can help:
Please bring your donation to my house, 116 Wedgemere Road,
or e-mail to make arrangements for us to pick it up.
We will do this during June, July and August.
Thank you so much for helping the needy.  Eric Cooper 968-9591

Support the Fairfield County Ct Jewish Little League

and Bid on an eBay Auction for a Baseball Autographed by Stamford Mayor Dan Malloy.  

The ball was autographed at last year's FCCJLL Championships when he threw out the first pitch. 

Proceeds support the FCCJLL.
Link to the auction on eBay is:

Starting bid is just $5.00.   Auction ends on Wednesday, June 21st at 07:13:32 EDT






My name is Shira Burstein. I’m twenty one years old, and will be a Senior at Clark University this fall. I’m majoring in Psychology, and have worked with children for a few years now. I babysat at school, have worked with children as a counselor at a sleep away camp as well life guarded.  I have my own car, and am available on Tuesdays, Thursdays and Fridays during the week, as well as the weekend. You can reach me any time on my cell phone: (203) 979- 5112




The Annulli family will be staying at an ulpan in Netanya for a few weeks this summer

 and would like someone to house and dog sit from July 22 through August 24 or 25. 

Please call Richard or Melanie at

203-569-7562 or email








Actually, this week it’s not just ask the rabbi, it’s “Ask the Chancellor.”  Much has been made about  the commencement address – his farewell address – made by JTS Chancellor Ismar Schorch.  You may have read about it – now read it and see for yourself.  Was it unduly negative and bitter?  Was it brutally honest?  Was it unfair for someone who was the leader to be so critical of trends occurring under his watch?  I’ll be sharing my own reflections over the coming weeks as the Schorsch era ends and the Arnold Eisen era begins.



      The Schorsch Address

112th Commencement Exercises of the Jewish Theological Seminary

Dr. Ismar Schorsch, Chancellor - May 18, 2006

Commencement Address

Trustees, faculty, distinguished guests, graduates and friends:

Others are more worthy to speak on this auspicious occasion than I, and I regret their silence. Still, there is poignancy to this commencement as it is my last as Chancellor, and I have reluctantly heeded the wishes of my trustees. After all, it is they who over the years made it possible for me to leave my post at this time with pride and satisfaction.

I am particularly touched by the record number of students receiving degrees with me today, more than 140. The Seminary does many things, but none more important than enlarging and elevating the ranks of Jewish leadership — lay, professional, religious and academic — in the Conservative Movement and the total Jewish community. Growing that number has always been my top priority and the number graduating today is almost double what it was twenty years ago. In the process, we have tripled our endowment, grown the faculty by fifty percent, including the hiring of many women, and renovated our campus. The selection of Professor Arnold M. Eisen of Stanford University as my successor confidently acclaims the academic preeminence of the Seminary.

Yet this is not the moment to herald my record, but rather to restate the convictions that have impelled my actions. It is a moment that I have been mindful of since I took office because I believe in the wisdom of living life from the end. Is that not the salient lesson of the High Holy Day season: to remind ourselves of our mortality and to urge us to make the most of the days allotted us. Someday when I will meet the founders and shapers of The Jewish Theological Seminary in the academy on high, will I be able to convince them that I was a good steward of their legacy? Will they say of me as we say of Abraham each day in our prayers, ומצאת את לבבו נאמן לפניך, "And you, God, found him at life's end to have been unswervingly faithful to your vision?"

For me, the job of Chancellor has been nothing less than a calling. The Seminary embodies a brave, if fragile experiment to prove the compatibility of אמת ואמונה, of truth and faith, where אמונה signifies the eternal and אמת the ephemeral, a nexus where the divine and the human, the ancient and the modern intersect. This blend of piety and skepticism, of allegiance and integrity, of observance and critical scholarship is precisely what distinguishes the Seminary from a university or yeshiva, and to preserve it in all its tenuous complexity has been for me a sacred duty. The cultural forces eroding that mix are intensifying.

A few months ago, a light snowfall covered the quadrangle of the Seminary with a pristine white blanket. My fifth–floor office fronts on the quad and when I happened to look out I noticed that someone had written in large letters "Wissenschaft," the German word for science or short for "Wissenschaft des Judentums, the academic study of Judaism pioneered in nineteenth–century Germany. To his credit the student had spelled the uncommon word correctly, perhaps part of my legacy. But the word had an edge to it as if to say: "Chancellor, Wissenschaft may stir you, but it leaves us cold." As if to confirm my hunch, a kindred spirit soon addended beneath the term in equally bold, in–your–face letters "folk", while still later a third hand added to "folk" a dash followed by the word "rap."

The rebuke could not have been more comical or stinging. As opposed to the dense and demanding discourse of scholarship, students crave instant gratification. The way to the heart is not through the circuitous and arduous route of the mind but the rhythmic beat of the drums. The gate is now determinative in the Conservative synagogue. The primitiveness of rap and the consumerism of the mall threaten to trivialize the literary culture that is the pride of Judaism. Kitsch has become kosher. A synagogue out of sync is deemed bereft of spirituality.

And yet a rich tradition of spirituality, never estranged from the life of the mind, has long animated Jewish practice. At the Seminary, as at Breslau before it, critical scholarship is but the latest phase of the spiritual aquifer of Judaism's halakhic landscape. In the language of the late Professor Isadore Twersky of Harvard, the meta–halakhic realm addresses "the need to anchor the religious vita activa, the life of mitzvot, in some form of intellectual–contemplative–spiritualizing activity."

The cogency of this insight struck me this summer when I visited the gravesite of Moses Maimonides in Tiberias. To my astonishment, I discovered that Isaiah Horowitz, the author of a sprawling compendium of Jewish law called שני לוחות הברית The Two Tablets of the Covenant, was buried just a few feet away. I could not imagine an odder couple.

Maimonides, who had died in Egypt in 1204, consummated the rationalism and worldliness of Sephardic Judaism. He had written his superbly ordered codification of the totality of Jewish law, the Mishnah Torah, in a fluent Hebrew that was pithy and supple, but chose to compose his theological masterpiece, the Moreh Nebukhim, in the more universal language of Arabic. In contrast, Horowitz, who had died in Tiberias in 1626, embodied the insular but integrated world of Ashkenazic Judaism. He had begun his Hebrew compendium in 1621 as an ethical will to his children when he left his birthplace in Prague to settle in Israel to slake his thirst for kabbalah. Published in 1649 by his son, the Two Tablets of the Covenant systematically expounded the far–flung, evolving ritual of Judaism in terms of the worldview and symbolic language of kabbalah, and given its quick diffusion, the work became a major wellspring for the popularization of kabbalah. Thus fate had paired for eternity the Ashkenazic mystic and Sephardic rationalist.

What linked them to my mind was that each personified a distinctly different expression of emet ve–emunah. They shared a common emunah, that is a religious life animated by halakhah, which served to set communal norms, modes of relating to the other and sacred times for experiencing God. They diverged in the realm of emet¸ that is the spiritual aquifer which invigorates observance by rendering it meaningful. For Maimonides, Judaism operated historically to end the perversion of idolatry, with intellectual perfection leading to the love of God. For Horowitz, it operated ontologically to diminish the disorder that marked the existence of God and man. Observance did more than recall seminal acts of a sacred past; it actually restored a measure of harmony to God, thereby alleviating human suffering. In a daring move, kabbalah replaced memory with magic.

In brief, then, both Maimonides and Horowitz strove for what Bachya Ibn Pakuda in the eleventh century had called שלמות הנפש or soulful piety, in which the inner state of the pious complemented meticulous outward observance. That is how he understood the verse in Deuteronomy (18:13), תמים תהיה עם ה' אלק'ך — "You must be wholehearted with the Lord your God." The complete Jew was expected to struggle with the subtleties of emet as well as the rigors of emunah.

The history of Jewish spirituality is the never–ending effort to keep halakhah and meta–halakhah in creative tandem. Halakhah is the deed; meta–halakhah, the disposition. Halakhah is fixed, meta–halakhah fluid. Halakhah is legal, public and objective, whereas meta–halakhah is theological, private, and subjective. The intent of meta–halakhah is to inform, enrich and spiritualize our fulfillment of the mitzvot. Or to revert to my image of the aquifer, what is concealed is no less vital than what is visible.

And thus it has always been. In rabbinic Judaism, it was aggadah that nourished and sustained halakhah, as did philosophy and kabbalah in the Middle Ages. Time and again, imagination intervened to vitalize performance. With the advent of emancipation, the founders of Conservative Judaism embraced history as their new meta–halakhic worldview. In Zacharias Frankel's classic formulation of positive–historical Judaism, the term positive stood for halakhah while the term historical was its meta–halakhic underpinning. The study of history was to gird afresh Jewish adherence with a radically expanded national narrative that sought to highlight the motifs of exile and resistance, literary virtuosity and cultural contributions, insularity and integration, contextualization and development. Each new discovery added meaningfulness to a religious heritage revered for its evident antiquity. Heinrich Graetz's History of the Jews, Solomon Schechter's Studies in Judaism and Louis Ginzberg's Legends of the Jews, all still in print, are but the most sparkling specimens of history as meta–halakhah.

The malaise of Conservative Judaism today, as etched in the snow on the quad, is that its adherence to halakhah is devoid of a spiritualizing meta–halakhah. In the wake of Mordecai Kaplan's wholesale reduction of halakhah to folkways, the function of history shifted to vindicating change. Ever more identified by the inane mantra of "tradition and change," Conservative Judaism lost access to critical scholarship as a source for religious meaning, with nothing substantially spiritual to replace it. For all its emotive power, music is not a surrogate for a vibrant system of meaning. The intense grandeur of Mahler's second symphony, known as resurrection, can surely stir one's soul, but hardly leads to a belief in the mystery at the heart of Christianity.

Our impoverishment is sadly exemplified by the ambivalence toward critical scholarship in Etz Hayim, the movement's new humash. As commentary, the abridgement of the Jewish Publication Society Torah Commentary is so eviscerated as to betray not the slightest trace of the plenitude of the original to generate spiritual meaning through empathetic scholarship. As exposition, the end notes, with a few striking exceptions, are spiritually inert. Their rabbinic authors go through the paces without passion, making no effort to extract religious significance from the scholarship being mediated. While Conservative rabbis often chide the research oriented faculty of JTS for allegedly doing just that in their classes, as transmitters of scholarship, the rabbis replicated what they condemn. Ironically, the rare spiritual voice to be heard in the end notes usually emanates from one or another of the academics in the roster.

The Zohar relates that when Moses beheld the spectacle of the Golden Calf, he did not smash the tablets of the Ten Commandments as scripture records. Rather they slipped from his hands because the letters inscribed on them fled back to heaven. Minus the letters, the stone tablets were too heavy to carry. The image graphically depicts our predicament.

With history no more than an argument for supersession, the halakhic yoke has lost its lightness. Great scholarship has ceased to energize it as it had in the past. Once, the polarity of truth and faith at the Seminary had made it home for the acme of twentieth–century Jewish scholarship, a venue of ferment and fertility. Faith once moved us to study our heritage deeply, while truth asked of us that we do it critically, in light of all that we know. Willful ignorance was never an acceptable recourse. The interaction set us apart as the vital center of modern Judaism.

But no longer. Our meta–halakhic aquifer has run dry, eroding our halakhic landscape. With frequency, fundamental changes come more easily. Our forebearers embraced history to enlarge and enrich Jewish observance; we wield it, if at all, to shrink it. How quickly have we forgotten the bracing spiritual power of Gershon Scholem's Major Trends in Jewish Mysticism, Yehezkel Kaufmann's Religion of Israel, Saul Lieberman's Hellenism in Jewish Palestine, Nahum Sarna's Understanding Genesis, or Jacob Milgrom's commentaries to Leviticus and Numbers. Our addiction to instant gratification has stripped us of the patience to appreciate any discourse whose rhetoric is dense and demanding. Mindlessly, we grasp for the quick spiritual fix.

A grievous failure of nerve affects Conservative Judaism. We have lost confidence in the viability of the distinctive polarity that once resonated within. It is not a slick new motto that we need, but a vigorous reaffirmation of the old which gloriously captures our essence. When Schechter left England in 1902 to head the Seminary, he inveighed against Anglo–Jewry for its shallow quest for a decorous spiritual Judaism. What the confounding epoch of emancipation actually called for, he claimed, was more spiritual Jews. To educate and inspire Jews of such sturdy timbre remains the unaltered mission of a vastly expanded Seminary in an age of pampered and promiscuous individualists contemptuous of all norms. A Seminary true to itself still holds out the brightest beacon for the future of Conservative Judaism.






Spiritual Journey on the Web



In many different ways, we’ve begun a process of determining our own congregational needs and desires.  On Tuesday at our Synaplex forum, we broke up into small groups to do some brainstorming of the kinds of programs that would bring them – and their friends – to synagogue.  The responses really took us out of the box, ranging from having a beach party in January (with all kinds of Jewish tie-ins, like a session on synagogues of the Caribbean) to a lesson in Krav Maga (Israeli self defense).  But discussing programming possibilities only scratches the surface of a much deeper conversation about our identity.  Take a look at this article from the Alban Institute’s weekly newsletter….


Imagining Congregational Identity


by Janet R. Cawley (Alban Weekly)


When I ask people what church they go to and to tell to me in one phrase what distinguishes their church from others, I get a wide range of answers. People mention location, history, denomination, size, architecture, cultural stance, ethos, program, public presence, internal and external demographics, and theological stance. These are just a few of the ways we commonly identify our churches.


Through each of these lenses, however, we see only one aspect of that complex thing we call congregational identity. We would have to use all the available lenses to get a comprehensive picture of a congregation. In the end, we would have a huge volume of information—probably many volumes—containing the history, finances, governance, the individual stories as they affected the congregation, and many more topics. All of these studies together would capture the identity of the congregation, in theory at least. However, there are major problems with trying to do such a thorough description of a congregation. It is too big a project for the vast majority of congregations, and if they did do it, the resulting volume of information would be too big to be used by more than a few people.


Continue reading "Imagining Congregational Identity"





Required Reading and Action Items




Let’s begin with GOOD NEWS from Israel 21c and other sources


Health | Israeli doctor heads Merck team that has developed vaccine against cervical cancer  
An Israeli-born doctor stands at the head of team from pharmaceutical giant Merck who have announced the FDA approval of a vaccine that is 100% effective in preventing cervical cancer and precancerous changes linked to two types of common sexually transmitted viruses. More...


Technology | Israeli expertise mines the new water frontier  
As clean water sources become scarcer, the world is turning to Israel for new water technology. When it comes to desalinization and water recycling, Israel is on the technological cutting edge, and both investors and the leaders of economic giants like China are taking notice in increasing numbers. Boasting 31 desalination facilities including the world's largest in operation, and with 75% of its water being recycled after use - well ahead of any other country on the globe - Israel is becoming known as the 'go to' country for new water technologies. More... 


Profiles | Not your typical Israeli grandma  
Gamila Hiar, a 68-year-old Israeli Druze grandmother may not look like a pioneer and feminist icon in her traditional black cotton dress and white head covering, but looks can be deceiving. Recently honored by Israel as a torchbearer in its Independence Day celebration, Hiar established a hand-made soap industry that not only has served as an example of community building but has developed into an international enterprise active in 13 countries. Employing 25 Christian, Druze, Moslem and Jewish women, Hiar has been able to bring modern medicine, feminism and education to her community in northern Israel.  More...


Culture | Getting your iPod right (to left)





now for the rest


Israel Says It Didn't Cause Deadly Gaza Blast - Mark Lavie
Israeli Defense Minister Amir Peretz said Tuesday that Israel was not responsible for a blast that killed eight Gaza beachgoers, rebuffing Palestinian accusations that blamed an Israeli artillery round. "The accumulating evidence proves that this incident was not due to Israeli forces," Peretz said.
    An Israeli inquiry concluded the blast was caused by an explosive buried in the sand, not from Israeli shelling on the afternoon of the Palestinian family's beach picnic. Israel has been claiming that Hamas militants planted a device to set off against Israeli commandos. According to Israeli findings, shrapnel taken from two wounded Palestinians who were evacuated to Israeli hospitals showed that the fragments were not from the 155-millimeter shells used by Israeli artillery. Showing aerial photographs and film, the head of the Israeli inquiry, Maj. Gen. Meir Klifi, declared: "There is no chance that a shell hit this area. Absolutely no chance." (AP/Washington Post)

    See also Israel Denies Causing Beach Deaths - Tim Butcher
Scrutiny of shrapnel, photographs, and timings proved, according to the inquiry, that Israeli forces were not involved in actions near the beach at the time of the blast. Dan Halutz, the Israeli chief of staff, said, "We checked each and every shell that was fired from the sea, the air, and from the artillery on the land and we found out that we can track each and every one according to a timetable and according to the accuracy of where they hit the ground."  (Telegraph-UK)
    See also Annan Dismisses Israeli Claims on Gaza Beach Deaths
UN Secretary General Kofi Annan told the London-based Al-Hayat daily on Wednesday, "The Israeli claim that the beach blast was caused by an explosive charge at the site sounds strange to me. I don't believe it is possible that the Palestinians planted charges in a place where civilians often spend their time." Annan said he would send a representative on his behalf to the region to investigate the Palestinian claims that an Israeli shell killed the family on the beach. (Albawaba-Jordan)


Israel Does Not Target Innocents, Will Defend Its People from Terrorist Rockets - Herb Keinon
The Foreign Ministry is instructing its representatives to stress the following points: The Israeli Army is a cautious, professional, accurate, and ethical organization. Israel does not target innocents, yet must fight terrorists who willingly shield themselves behind their own population in their ongoing campaign to kill and maim Israeli civilians. These terrorists also manipulate and exploit the suffering they cause their own people in order to achieve fleeting advantages in their propaganda war against Israel and its legitimacy.
    Since Israel's disengagement from Gaza last August, more than 500 terrorist rockets have fallen on Israeli civilian targets, including kindergartens, schools, homes, and factories. Daily life in those Israeli towns within rocket range has been turned upside-down, streets are deserted, factories have closed down, schools have been shut, and children have been traumatized beyond measure. The government of Israel bears the responsibility to protect the lives of its citizens, and to defend its territory and population from terrorist threats. Every other government would, in similar circumstances, act in a similar manner. (Jerusalem Post)


Olmert: "1967 Borders Are Indefensible" - Gil Hoffman
Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert spoke before the British Parliament on Tuesday and said that Israel "would never agree to pull out of all of the West Bank to pre-1967 borders because those borders are indefensible." He then referred to the infighting between rival Palestinian factions, and asked, "Do you think these guys...are ready in our lifetime to engage in a serious political dialogue?" (Jerusalem Post)


The Big (and Never-Ending) Lie - Melanie Phillips
It is now clear that Israel was not responsible for the killing of the Palestinian family on the beach in Gaza last weekend. Shrapnel removed from the wounded Palestinians turned out not to be Israeli ordinance; there was no blast crater of the kind that would have been expected following a shell landing, while the evidence at the scene suggested instead a mine exploding from below; and all the shells fired from the Israeli gunboat had been fired significantly earlier than the disaster on the beach. This was the incident, remember, that Hamas used as an excuse for its announcement that the "truce" with Israel was now over.
    Meanwhile, more than 100 missiles have been fired at Israeli towns from Gaza since the weekend. The Palestinians are using their own people as human shields by firing from densely populated areas, thus making it impossible for Israel to take out these firing sites without civilian casualties. The bombardment of Israel, however, has been all but ignored by the UK media. The same media eagerly regurgitates Palestinian lies and libels to demonize Israel. No country on earth would be expected to put up with such a bombardment of its citizens. (


Welcome to the Bazaar - Warren Christopher
There are lessons from our 1979-81 negotiations over the Iranian hostage crisis, in which I was chief negotiator, that can inform our efforts in 2006. First, we must be sure we are talking with the right people. At the moment, Iran's president, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, is riding high. But he may not be as powerful as he seems. Ultimate authority remains with Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, and we have not heard from Ali Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani, former two-term president and now chairman of the Expediency Council.
    Second, our negotiators should prepare themselves for "bazaar behavior." With the Iranians, the negotiating style is likely to resemble that of a Middle Eastern marketplace, with outlandish demands, feints at abandoning the process, and haggling over minor details up to the very last moment.
    Third, if the new package of incentives does not persuade the Iranians to suspend their enrichment program, which was Washington's condition for joining the talks, I believe sanctions can play a valuable role. The writer, Secretary of State from 1993 to 1997, is co-chairman of the Pacific Council on International Policy. (New York Times)


Israel Does Not Need Palestinian Recognition - Yehuda Avner
On the first day of his premiership in 1977, Menachem Begin was asked by the BBC whether he looked forward to a time when the Palestinians would recognize Israel. "I don't need Palestinian recognition for my right to exist," he replied. Later that day he told the Knesset, "Would it enter the mind of any Briton or Frenchman, Belgian or Dutchman, Hungarian or Bulgarian, Russian or American, to request for its people recognition of its right to exist?"
    "We were granted our right to exist by the God of our fathers at the glimmer of the dawn of human civilization four thousand years ago. Hence, the Jewish people have an historic, eternal, and inalienable right to exist in this land, Eretz Yisrael, the land of our forefathers. We need nobody's recognition in asserting this inalienable right. And for this inalienable right, which has been sanctified in Jewish blood from generation to generation, we have paid a price unexampled in the annals of nations." (Jerusalem Post)


Abbas' Comeback Plan Is a Dead End - Aaron David Miller (Los Angeles Times)

  • If you had a headache, even a migraine, would you shoot yourself in the head to get rid of it? That's precisely what PA Chairman Mahmoud Abbas is doing in his current gambit to corner Hamas by forcing a referendum on the future of the two-state solution. If he succeeds, it will not help his cause, but it will undermine his credibility and set the Palestinian national movement back twenty years.
  • The problem is that the document that Abbas sees as the vehicle of his deliverance will only muddy the clarity of his own stand against terrorism and for negotiations - the very positions that make him credible with Israel and the U.S. The document endorses armed resistance in the West Bank and Gaza, urges Palestinians to free prisoners by any means, and gives preeminence to the Palestinian right of return.
  • The fact that it may represent an advance over Hamas' maximalist goals cannot hide the fact that it is a serious retreat from Fatah's more moderate objectives. Indeed, it reopens vital questions about Israel's right to exist and about Palestinian endorsement of terrorism and violence that should have been laid to rest by now.
  • Abbas risks locking himself into positions that raise serious doubts about his own moderate intentions and could formally link him to prospective partners and committees (the document calls for the creation of a committee to direct resistance in the occupied territories) that will undermine his own approach toward negotiations.
  • Abbas' approach may play well in the Palestinian Peoria, but it will do little to advance his case in Washington and Jerusalem. In the end, his success or failure will be determined by his capacity to create a process that replaces the occupation with statehood - something that can only be achieved with Israeli and American support.

The writer, a former senior State Department Middle East negotiator, is a public policy scholar at the Woodrow Wilson Center.



Olmert in France: We'll Do Our Best to Strengthen Abbas - Ronny Sofer
Speaking before the French National Assembly, Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert vowed Wednesday to support PA Chairman Mahmoud Abbas and enable him to lead the PA towards adopting the principles set by the Quartet: recognizing Israel, renouncing terror, and standing by its previous agreements with Israel. Olmert stressed that in any event, "we have decided to move forward in order to bring about the result everyone wishes to see: A Palestinian state and defensible borders for Israel. We will continue in this direction, with or without negotiations." (Ynet News)


Three Hurt as Islamic Jihad Fires Rockets at Sderot - Avi Issacharoff, Amos Harel and Mijal Grinberg
Islamic Jihad fired a salvo of Kassam rockets into the western Negev city of Sderot on Thursday, wounding three people. Two rockets slammed into an open area near the city, a third hit near the city's entrance, and the fourth crashed into the Sderot industrial area, damaging a factory. On Thursday, Hamas denied it instructed its operatives to stop rocket fire, adding that it fired two Kassam rockets at Israel early Wednesday. (Ha'aretz)
    See also Palestinian Rocket Lands Near Strategic Facility - Shmulik Hadad
A Kassam rocket fired Wednesday afternoon from the northern Gaza Strip landed near a strategic site in Ashkelon's industrial zone. (Ynet News)


·  Palestinian Suicide Politics - Editorial
On Monday, several hundred Fatah "soldiers" stormed and then set fire to the Hamas-dominated Palestinian Parliament in the West Bank city of Ramallah, reportedly in retaliation for a Hamas attack on a Fatah building in Gaza. That's only the latest in a series of clashes and assassinations that now claim more Palestinian lives than the Israeli army. For once, the term "cycle of violence" actually applies.
    Israel's full withdrawal last year from Gaza was supposed to have given the Palestinians an opportunity to demonstrate their ability to govern themselves. What it has shown so far is how little Israel's occupation had to do with the deepest sources of Palestine's grief. Until the Palestinians realize that they can't elect a terrorist group without consequence, there will never be any hope for their state, whenever its birth, whatever its borders. (Wall Street Journal, 15Jun06)


Investigate Palestinian Aggression - Editorial
Palestinian aggression, in the form of unprovoked rocket attacks, is responsible for the recent events in Gaza. What is indeed "regrettable" and "deplorable" over the last few days is the lack of international will to apply international law to the Palestinians as a result of their deluge of rockets on Israeli civilians. Israel should condition its cooperation with any UN inquiry into Friday's deadly Gaza beach explosion to the UN's willingness to conduct a parallel investigation into Palestinian rocket attacks against Israel. (Jerusalem Post)


The Seductive Beat of the Militant Islamic Drum - H.D.S. Greenway
Canadians have told me that their model for immigration is more of a quilt rather than a melting pot, meaning that cultural identities are recognized and honored, rather than asking everyone to assimilate. But if a patch on the Canadian quilt could possibly contemplate the kind of terrorism that has been alleged in Ontario, what to do? Or, as Mark Kelly of the Canadian Broadcasting Corp. wondered, "Maybe multiculturalism is just a nice idea for people who haven't been bombed yet."
    There has arisen in recent years a phenomenon of home-grown youths in Western countries, who, susceptible to the seductive beat of the militant, Islamic drum, are finding romance and adventure in the jihadi cause. The whole jihadi culture has become fad-like, sexy, and cool, says Jessica Stern, a terrorism specialist at Harvard University. Unless these impressionable youths can be inoculated from jihadi seduction, the fire next time may come from the boys next door. (Boston Globe)


Daniel Pipes: "The Elimination of Israel Is a Consensus Goal Among 80% of Palestinians" - Ruthie Blum (Jerusalem Post)

  • In Israel last month, Middle East scholar and author Daniel Pipes gave a lecture on "The Muslim Claim to Jerusalem." Pipes produced empirical evidence to demonstrate that any and all Arab claims to "al-Quds" (Jerusalem) are, and have always been, merely utilitarian.
  • "Israel's war goals consist of winning the acceptance of its Arab enemies, in particular that of the Palestinians. Acceptance means no longer using force - or other means, for that matter - to eliminate the Jewish state. The Arab war goals, conversely, are to eliminate the Jewish state," said Pipes in an interview.
  • "The Palestinians hold the notion of occupation dear to them, to the point that no matter what Israel does - even withdraw forces completely from Gaza - they say the occupation continues. Israelis are trying to "un-occupy," in terms of currency, utilities and much else, and the Palestinians are saying, 'No, we're your unwanted stepchild, and we're yours.'"
  • The ultimate Palestinian war goal is "definitely the elimination of Israel. That is to say, there is far wider agreement on this than on the notion of a Palestinian state....The great debate among Palestinians is not over goals; the elimination of Israel is a consensus goal among 80% of the Palestinian population."
  • "The dominant Palestinian slogan last summer was, 'Today Gaza, tomorrow Jerusalem.' There's no question that they saw the Israeli withdrawal from Gaza as a vindication of their use of force."
  • "The Arabic-speaking Muslims have had a great deal of difficulty in coping with modern life, and blame others for their problems. They're not introspective and not productive and constructive in their self-criticism." There needs to be "a sense of taking responsibility for themselves. An attempt to be introspective, to figure out what the problems are."
  • "There are positive examples. The ruler of Dubai, Sheikh Muhammad Bin Rashed Al Maktoum, has recently come out with a book titled My Vision, for instance. He's of note, because he actually achieved something. He stayed away from ideology and built an economic success story."



Israel: Myths and Facts



Fact Sheets

#45: Fact Sheet - The Palestinian Referendum

(June 12, 2006)

Mahmoud Abbas called for a July 26, 2006, referendum on a proposal drafted by jailed terrorist leader Marwan Barghouti and Hamas and Islamic Jihad prisoners held by Israel. The document, or “prisoners peace plan,” has been portrayed in the media as a historic step in the peace process because it reputedly recognizes Israel, drops Palestinian territorial claims beyond the 1967 borders and renounces violence and terrorism against Israeli citizens. A closer look at the actual document indicates the proposal’s contents are very different than the media descriptions.


The “prisoners peace plan” is really not about peace with Israel at all; it is aimed at ending the civil war between Palestinian factions. The plan actually represents a giant step backward by the Palestinians and reduces the prospects for peace because it undercuts positions taken by Abbas and his associates in the Fatah leadership that suggested a willingness to accept compromises — such as exchanges of territory, adjustments to the border in Jerusalem, and concessions on the refugee issue.


Reading the text of this “peace plan,” it is striking that the language is confrontational rather than compromising. The document calls on the people to “confront the Israeli enterprise,” to form a “united resistance,” and to “liberate” their land and prisoners. Nowhere in the document is there any mention of a Palestinian state coexisting with a Jewish State or any explicit recognition of Israel. The only reference to peace in this “peace plan” is in the context of protests against the policies of the Palestinian Authority. The referendum does not call for an end to terror against Israelis, only an end to violence among Palestinians. It does, however, endorse continued attacks on Israelis.


The first point of the plan states, “The Palestinian people... seek to establish their independent state with al-Quds al-Shareef (Jerusalem) as its capital on all territories occupied in 1967 and to secure the right of return for the refugees and to liberate all prisoners and detainees...” The demand for all territories Israel captured in 1967 directly contradicts the agreed framework for negotiations, namely, UN Resolution 242. That resolution calls for Israel to withdraw from territory (not all the territory), but also requires the termination of all claims and the right of all states to live in peace within secure and recognized boundaries free from threats or acts of force


Nothing in this section or the rest of the document indicates the Palestinians will drop their claims to Israeli territory should they establish a state in the pre-1967 borders. The document, for example, does not recognize any Israeli claim to Jerusalem. The document also explicitly calls for continuing acts of violence, noting in point three the “Palestinian people’s right to resistance...and continuing popular resistance against the occupation in all its forms, places and policies....”


By advocating the “right of return” for Palestinian refugees, but not specifying that they should return to the future state of Palestine, the signers of the document are inferring that the refugees should return to Israel, the equivalent of advocating a one-state solution to the conflict.


The current Israeli population is approximately 7 million, 5.3 million are Jews. If every Palestinian was allowed to move to Israel , the population would exceed 11 million and the Jewish proportion would shrink from 76% to 48%. The Jews would be a minority in their own country, the very situation they fought to avoid in 1948, and which the UN expressly ruled out in deciding on a partition of Palestine. Furthermore, most Palestinians now live in historic Palestine , which is an area including the Palestinian Authority and Jordan. When Palestinians speak of the right to return, however, they don’t mean just to Palestine, but to the exact houses they lived in prior to 1948. These homes are either gone or inhabited now.


Palestinian intellectual Sari Nusseibeh has noted that if the refugees are not resettled in a future Palestinian state, “what does a two-state solution mean?” This is exactly why Hamas views this provision as crucial. Aziz Dweik, Hamas’ parliament speaker, said that approval of the referendum “would kill all other past initiatives and understandings excluding the right of return. It would push others, not us, to the corner, since others, not us, have shown a willingness to compromise on the right of return.”


The referendum also misrepresents UN resolution 194, which was a nonbinding resolution that all Arab states voted against in 1948. That resolution called upon the Arab states and Israel to resolve all outstanding issues through negotiations either directly, or with the help of the Palestine Conciliation Commission. It also recognized that Israel could not be expected to repatriate a hostile population that might endanger its security. The solution to the problem, like all previous refugee problems, would require at least some Palestinians to be resettled in Arab lands.


The Christian Science Monitor ( May 31, 2006 ) described the prisoners who wrote and signed the proposed plan as a “moderate and influential force.” These prisoners, however, are among the most dangerous terrorists serving sentences in Israeli jails:


  • Marwan Barghouti is serving five life sentences and 40 years for terrorist attacks that killed five people;
  • Sheikh Abdel Khaliq al-Natsche is senior Hamas leader who ran a network of charities that directly funded the Izz al-Din al-Qassam Brigades;
  • Sheikh Bassam al-Saadi led Palestinian Islamic Jihad in Jenin;
  • Abdel Rahim Malouh was No. 2 in the PFLP and helped plan the murder of Israeli tourism minister Rehavam Zeevi;
  • Mustafa Badarne recruited DFLP members to attack Israeli soldiers and civilians.


According to recent Palestinian polls, the referendum has overwhelming support. Even if the referendum were adopted, however, it is unclear that it would have any meaning given that the elected representatives of the Palestinian Authority from Hamas have rejected the document and the idea of a national referendum. In fact, Hamas and Islamic Jihad prisoners who helped author the document have withdrawn their names from the plan and, on June 11, 2006, Hamas announced its intent to block the referendum and accused Abbas of trying to undermine its authority with the referendum.


Read all Fact Sheets









Thinking of making a Job Change

or looking for a new Job? 


These two workshops will get you thinking about how to make your next move. 


6/14 & 6/28 - 7.30-9.30pm, TBE, Library (entrance on the Office level) 


6/14:  How to develop momentum in your job search~ Job Searching the Five O'clock Club Way.  


6/28 :   Beat the odds: How to make the Internet Job Search work for you 


Please confirm with Donna Sweidan if you are interested. She will be making handouts and will need to know how many to prepare. or 203.613 1049


 Donna Sweidan, a career coach and counselor in Stamford and TBE member, has facilitated numerous “Job Search Strategy groups” in her work as a career counselor. Before starting her own business, Careerfolk, she was the Founding Director of Career Services at The New School in New York. Her clients have ranged from 17 to 71 years of age and their interests have varied just as much.


She is graciously offering these valuable workshops to her TBE family free of charge. 



Sisterhood Cookbook

First Ever!


Available September 2006. 

Delicious Recipes! Kosher! Family Favorites!

Order your copies in advance ($18 per book) 


Call Beth Silver 967-8852



Registration materials are now available for the 2006-2007 TBE Religious School

If you are interested in registering your child (children), please respond to Caroline at and include your address so she can mail you the forms!




UJF and JCC Continues the Exciting New Initiative in

Adult Jewish Education:

The Florence Melton Adult Mini-School


The United Jewish Federation and the Jewish Community Center are starting a list for new classes in the fall of 2006. 

The Florence Melton Adult Mini-School


  • is an internationally recognized program of adult Jewish study developed by the Hebrew University of Jerusalem
  • is designed for adults interested in serious study without enrolling in an academy of higher learning
  • engages students in two years of study;  30 two-hour weekly sessions per year (knowledge of Hebrew is not required)
  • topics include key ideas in Jewish theology, ethics and the history of Jewish life


For more information about class registration, please contact Ilana De Laney at (203) 321-1373, ext. 114 or email her at or Jonathan Fass at (203) 487-0958 or email him at





Thanks to my sister Lisa for forwarding this one:

One dark night outside a small town near PoulsboWashington, a fire started inside the local chemical plant and in a blink of an eye it exploded into massive flames.

The alarm went out to all the fire departments for miles around. When the volunteer fire fighters appeared on the scene, the chemical company president rushed to the fire chief and said, "All our secret formulas are in the vault in the center of the plant. They must be saved. I will give $50,000 to the fire department that brings them out intact."
But the roaring flames held the firefighters off. Soon more fire departments had to be called in as the situation became desperate.
As the firemen arrived, the president shouted out that the offer was now $100,000 to the fire department who could bring out the company's secret files.

From the distance, a lone siren was heard as another fire truck came into sight.
It was the nearby Chasidic Jewish rural township volunteer fire company composed mainly of Jewish, ultra-orthodox men over the age of 65. To everyone's amazement, that little run-down fire engine roared right past all the newer sleek engines that were parked outside the plant.

Without even slowing down it drove straight into the middle of the inferno.

Outside, the other firemen watched as the Chasidic old timers jumped off right in the middle of the fire and fought it back on all sides.

It was a performance and effort never seen before. Within a short time, the Chasidic old timers had
extinguished the fire and had saved the secret formulas.

The grateful chemical company president announced that for such a superhuman feat he was upping the reward to $200,000, and walked over to personally thank each of the brave fire fighters.

The local TV news reporter rushed in to capture the event on film, asking their chief, "What are you going to do with all that money?"

"Vell," said Moishe Goldberg, the 70-year-old fire chief, "Da first thing ve gonna do is fix da brakes on dat dam truck!"



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