Friday, November 10, 2006

November 10, 2006 – Heshvan 20, 5767

November 10, 2006 – Heshvan 20, 5767


Rabbi Joshua HammermanTemple Beth El, StamfordConnecticut



Join your fellow community members and volunteer on Super Sunday,

(UJF's community phone-a-thon)

on December 3, 2006.

Register now to volunteer





Tuesday, November 14, 2006 at 8:00 p.m.


Guest Speaker:  Peter Bergen


Best-selling author and terrorism analyst for CNN


Topic:  Osama bin Laden,

History’s Most Successful Terrorist, and Al Qaeda



Check our website at for super photos of our spectacular TBE Sukkah

and mp3 and text files of the High Holidays sermons. 




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Contents of the Shabbat O Gram:

(Click to scroll down)


Just the Facts (service schedule)  

The Beth El Bar/Bat Mitzvah Commentary (new)

The (Occasionally) Ranting 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)

TBE Youth Programming

Joke for the Week




Quote for the Week


"Perhaps the most striking feature of the story of Ishamael and Issac is its balance:

Neither son is a pure victor, or a pure loser."


Bruce Feiler, from his best-selling book “Abraham”






Sat. Night at 8:00 – The Best of Israeli Cinema


This Sunday Morning: 7th Grade family program


Friday Evening 

Candle lighting: 4:30 pm  pm on Friday, 4 November 2006.  For candle lighting times, other Jewish calendar information, and to download a Jewish calendar to your PDA, click on  To see the festivals of other faiths as well, go to


Shabbat Evening service: 7:30 PM– in the sanctuary (note later time on second week of the month). 


Shabbat Morning: 9:30 AM– on Shabbat, we celebrate the Bat Mitzvah of Ilana Springer.  Mazal tov to her and to her parents Fred and Eileen Springer! 


Children’s services: 10:30 AM – (jr. congregation service in the chapel, Tot Shabbat morning downstairs. 6th and 7th graders are expected to be in the main sanctuary)




As part of Ilana Springer’s Mitzvah Project, during this week’s service we will be privileged to have a presentation during the service called “No Hate But Harmony.” 

Here is some background information on the program from its director, Jimmy Locust:


Stamford Performing Arts Center’s “No Hate But Harmony” is a show performed by teenagers for middle and high schools to show the impact and damaging effects of bullying.  Using the art forms of acting and dancing, No Hate But Harmony gives the audience a firsthand look at what the bullied feels when this intimidating act happens. No Hate But Harmony also shows how the by-standing student can help resolve this type of conflict merely by speaking up and coming to the aid of the bullied.  The great thing about No Hate But Harmony is that the audience will see how responding honorably can be empowering.

No Hate But Harmony, Working To Make Honor An Epidemic


Jimmy Locust

Founding Director




Our Torah Reading for Shabbat Morning

Parashat Vayera
פרשת וירא


Genesis 18:1 - 22:24 – The Abraham Saga Continues…

1: 21:1-4

Haftarah II Kings 4:1 - 4:37


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  Also, try  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



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!

A guaranteed minyan request has been made for this Sunday, Nov. 12.

Please sign up at the Rosner Minyan Maker at


The Beth El Bar/Bat Mitzvah Commentary


This week we introduce a new feature to the Shabbat-O-Gram: the weekly portion as interpreted by our own resident Torah scholars, our B’nai Mitzvah.  This feature carries over my High Holidays theme of including some of the best speeches heard on our pulpit over the years.  If you would like to have your d’var Torah considered for this space, please send it along (even if it was delivered many years ago – Torah is timeless).  Check any Jewish calendar (or to find out when your portion is coming up. 


This week’s d’var Torah for the portion Vayera was delivered not long ago – in fact, just last Shabbat afternoon (when we read the upcoming week’s portion), by Jake Levensohn.  Enjoy!


Parashat Vayera – Jake Levensohn (2006)


          Those of you who know me know that I have a very loud hobby.  I play the drums.  I’ve loved the drums for the past six years or so.  It all started when my Nana Linda got me a junior drum set for my birthday.  I immediately started just banging on it and realized quickly just how much I love playing the drums.  As the years progressed, I realized that I have a natural talent and saw that I could use this talent in many different ways. 


          Currently, I have my own rock band with my friends and I play the drums in my school band..  I have a drum set at home and I play it every day and occasionally give my family a real headache.


          I’ve come to appreciate some of the finer points of my chosen instrument.  I feel that drums are underestimated in terms of their importance to a band or orchestra.  Without the drums, the 1812 Overture would sound like the music on a merry go round.  And imagine the Beatles without Ringo.


          Also, people don’t appreciate how much goes into learning how to play the drums.  It takes a lot of work and practice.  It’s not a matter of hitting something with a stick.  In a band, my responsibility as a drummer is to keep the beat, while playing 5 to different variations of beats in a single song.  If I don’t do my job right, the song falls apart.


          Another thing is that each element of the drum set, from the bass drum all the way to the symbols, makes a different sound.  They all blend together in some unique way.  Some people might not think of it as “music,” but without drums, music just wouldn’t be the same.


          I’ve discovered that in many ways, playing drums is just like being Jewish.  For one thing, for a group that makes up such a tiny percentage of the population, we Jews make a lot of noise.  Like the drum, Jews have been underestimated.  There are only 13 million Jews in the world, but we’ve earned more than our fair share of Nobel prizes, and Jews have always been among the world’s most famous journalists, filmmakers, scientists, and government leaders. 


          And of course, not only have we made a mark on the arts and sciences most importantly, baseball!  Among the most famous Jewish baseball players have been Shawn Green, Sandy Koufax, Moe Berg, and most importantly for any Red Sox fan like myself, Kevin Youkilis.


          It’s not easy being a Jew.  Like the drums, it takes a lot of work and practice to be a Jew and especially preparing for my Bar Mitzvah.   And finally, just as there are all different kinds of drums, there are all different kinds of Jews. 


          My portion teaches us about the first Jew, Abraham, who was a drumbeat of conscience in his day.  When the cities of Sodom and Gomorrah were about to be destroyed for their sins, Abraham pleaded for justice on their behalf.  At the end of the portion, Abraham chooses not to argue with God when he is told to sacrifice his son Isaac.  But when they got to the place, they saw a ram caught in the bushes and, after God stopped Abraham, sacrificed the ram instead.  In order to remind ourselves of this incident, we blow a rams horn, a shofar, on Rosh Hashanah.


          If only they had found a turkey caught in the bushes.  Then they would have sacrificed it, and since a turkey has drumsticks, we would play the drums on Rosh Hashanah instead of the shofar.


          Another way we can make noise in the world is to give support to those in need.  For my mitzvah project, through an organization called AMIT, I am donating money to help an underprivileged Israeli boy to celebrate his Bar Mitzvah.  His name is Maxim. I wrote to him recently.


          And so I hope you can now see that my very loud hobby has given me special training on how, as I become a Bar Mitzvah, I might make a very loud impact on the world.






Ranting Rabbi



The Elections


          We’ve been at the eye of a national storm here in Fairfield county.   It is fascinating how we represented the national tide while also bucking it.  The tide swung Democratic while we elected an “Independent” senator and Republican congressman.  But what was the real message that was sent?  The message is that we in Fairfield county respect three things above all: moral conviction, independent thinking and civility.  Whatever my views on specific issues, I am proud to be represented by the two people who have become the national standard-bearers for moderation, Chris Shays and Joe Lieberman.  I am proud to be represented by people who both refused to bend to the bidding of the pollsters and, by and large, refused to go as negative as their opponents did.  They refused now, as they have through their careers, to follow the party line and we know that they will continue to be guided by conscience rather than expedience. 


          This is to say nothing against their opponents.  I had the privilege of having breakfast with Diane Farrell a few months ago, at her invitation, and I was very impressed.  I know that she would also have represented us with integrity, and possibly with more clout in a Democratic congress.  But I have seen the growth in Chris Shays over the years, have always admired his passion, humility and humanity and I know that he of all people is suited to play a central role as a centrist in reaching across the aisle.


          Ultimately, with all the issues at stake this year, no candidate offered solutions to our greatest concerns regarding security and the instability of our world.  The prospect of Iranian nukes is not just an existential threat to Israel, but to all of us.  Israel is, as always, the canary in the world’s mineshaft.  Last summer’s Lebanon War and the ongoing situation in Gaza serve as a constant reminder of the perils that exist.  I’m glad that our two re-elected representatives also understand the existential nature of that threat and will be best suited to work with our new congressional leadership in seeking long-term solutions.


Some articles to check re. Jewish perspectives on the elections:


Dems: Aipac Needs To Mend Fences (the Forward) As Democrats prepare to take control of Congress, they are quietly saying that the pro-Israel lobby needs to “do some work” to improve relations with their party. Read more



Letting The Bidding War For Joe Begin -

(The Jewish Week) After being written off, the independent-minded Connecticut senator could be the chamber’s new kingmaker.

For all you movie buffs,

here is an interesting piece that came out of Beliefnet this past week.

Virtual Talmud: Borat & the Politics of Jewish Humor



Synaplex: What You Had to Say


Two weeks ago, our congregation entered a new era – and people seem to like it.  Our wildly successful first Synaplex Shabbat elicited wildly enthusiastic responses.  The idea of Synaplex was to change the paradigm of how we do things – to re-imagine Shabbat,” as our logo said, but beyond that, to re-imagine lots of other things as well: community building, volunteer development, marketing, membership, spiritual and intellectual growth, individual choice, and appealing to the specific needs of each of our demographic groups. 


For the first time ever, we conducted an online survey.  Over 100 responses gave us a good indication of how the 600 + people who attended on Friday and Saturday felt about the weekend.  In what must be a first for any synagogue anywhere, no one marked either of the two “dissatisfied” options in filling out the form.  In fact, 95% chose either “very satisfied” or “satisfied” (with 66% being “very satisfied.”)  The results for each individual activity were equally positive, and our variety of services attracted large followings, ranging from the family learner’s service (well over 100 people) to the meditative service (40+ people) and yoga (also 40) to our tot and teen services (when’s the last time we had over a dozen teens leading their own service on a Shabbat morning?) and to our traditional service as well (a packed chapel).   This followed Friday night’s Shabbat Unplugged that was filled with positive energy and the sit-down oneg that was filled with warmth, all with nearly 300 in attendance.


Some other survey results worth noting: it is no surprise that, even with our variety of religious options, a number of people came for reasons that were more social or intellectual than spiritual in nature.  So hundreds of people were in synagogue on a Shabbat who would clearly have been elsewhere had it not been for Synaplex.  Nearly half the respondents indicated that they attend services very infrequently.  So we’ve reached well beyond the “core” of active congregants to engage those less involved, which was a major goal.  We reached a number of non-members as well, though that could not be accurately measured since the survey only went out to our congregant e-mail list.  And dozens signed up to volunteer at future Synaplex Shabbats – this after we sent out a hundred thank-you letters to those who volunteered at the last one.  Indeed, the paradigm has been changed.


I’ve thanked our committee and co-chairs and donors already.  Now I want to thank you the congregants of TBE, who have started something here that won’t just change our congregation for the better, it will have a significant impact on the Jewish future everywhere.  The ripple effect is already being felt.  I hope you will mark all our future Synaplex Shabbats on your calendar, with the next one being Friday night, Dec. 8.


Here are some of the comments that were shared by respondents to the survey: 

Yes, the reviews are in.  Synaplex is Stamford’s newest long-running smash hit!


“My entire family was impressed with the entire weekend. There was not only programming that was of interest to all of us, there were events that brought us closer together as a family as well as to other congregants.”


“I was especially pleased to see the smiles of the attendees, and the enthusiasm of the kids. This "mood" appeared throughout the day. As for me personally, as a TBE elder I really loved Dan's Meditation session. He brings a special dimension of Judaism to us which we don't really have "in house." And Matt, even tho we couldn't do the bike ride, I very much liked your special handout.”


“Extremely stimulating-Very content laden and, at times, inspirational. Great feeling of community.”




“Lovely environment, great to see so many children participate, nice variety of learning and programming”


“Synaplex was a spiritually uplifting, and exciting experience. It was a wonderful way to spend Shabbat with family and friends”


“It was a sensational weekend!”





Mitzvah/Tzedakkah Opportunties

Beth El Cares
Cathy Satz (968-9191;
Cheryl Wolff (968-6361;
BETH EL CARES co-chairs





Habitat for Humanity is recruiting volunteers to assist with the planning and building of 6 to 9 housing units on West Main Street in Stamford (near the Kentucky Fried Chicken). The actual timing of the building depends on site plan and other approvals, but the ceremonial ground breaking should take place in October 2006.  Please contact if you want to help in any way. Assistance is needed now in the formation stages, as well as later with the building. Bob Knebel, CEO, can tell you what jobs are available.




Any one wishing to donate 10 or more inches of hair to Locks of Love can contact Cathy or Cheryl for more information on how to donate and how to get your before and after photo on the TBE web sit


Cheryl Wolff

Cathy Satz








Why is this month called “Bitter Heshvan?”


               This is the month of Heshvan, the second month in the Jewish calendar.  It is also called “mar-Heshvan,” or bitter Heshvan, because, according to tradition, it is the only month without holidays or fast days.  I guess the rabbis didn’t count Veterans Day, Election Day or Thanksgiving.  In fact, now, this month does have two sad Jewish commemorations, including Krystallnacht (today and yesterday) and the anniversary of the Rabin assassination. 


               Now a movement is afoot to transform the meaning of this month entirely.  See for a d’var Torah by Yossi Abramowitz on the portion of Noah, from I take this excerpt:

In the month of Tishrei, which begins with Rosh Hashana, we pursue tikkim pnimi, internal fixing, aligning our values and intensions. If we are lucky, we emerge as clean and righteous as Noah, with renewed life in an uncertain age. But is that really good enough?

This year Heshvan, Noah and a global effort to step up social justice are destined for each other. According to tradition, the rain began on the 17th day of Heshvan, and the door to the arc finally sprung open a year later, on the 27th of Heshvan. Heshvan is the month recently endorsed by the Knesset as Jewish Social Action Month, and Deputy Minister Rabbi Michael Melchior, on behalf of the Government and people of Israel, has been amplifying the call for Jews everywhere to jump-start our pro-active, post-Noah activity and go out to heal the world, linking our tikkum pnimi with tikkun olam. Let’s just say endorsements are flooding in. (see and Cheshvan.orgremote website)

Having the call to social action begin in Jerusalem, and then echo in all the places of our dispersion, helps us see in a new light Noah’s descendents.


Also see this article on the subject from the Jerusalem Post:


So now, we need to join the push of Social Activism to turn this month of bitterness into a month of world-repair.  Maybe a day is in sight when Heshvan – and the world – will be bitter no more.







Spiritual Journey on the Web


The Akeda



The Akeda, the Binding of Isaac, which is read in this week’s portion (and o Rosh Hashanah as well), has fascinated people of all faiths for centuries.  From a historical perspective, it’s significance has shifted over the generations.   Within the Bible itself, this incident receives surprisingly little play.  While the story is told quite dramatically in Gen. 22, it is not repeated anywhere else in the entire Bible.   Other elements of Abraham’s life are, but not this.  Yet by the time we get to the rabbinic period, the Akeda has taken on new significance, for Jews and early Christians as well, and then for Moslems, who debated whether it was Isaac or Ishmael who was brought up to the mountain. 


Here is an annotated list of Web sites looking at the Akeda from a variety of perspectives: “Speaking of Faith” public radio program – on Abraham.  from Rav Kook – Abraham as a champion of faith. -- The Akeda as an existential, rather than a moral tale.  Excellent -- links to images of Abraham and Isaac (see for a 6th centuty mosaic that is particularly striking) -- Akeda image from the ancient Bet Alpha synagogue in Israel. -- topographical look at Mount Moriah, site of the Akeda did it really happen?

Abraham - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia - for Bruce Feiler’s book, “Abraham” - Worm-Hole Aliens, the Mikveh, and the Akeda -  a superb analysis by Virginia Spatz, based on Avivah Zornberg’s commentary.





Required Reading and Action Items



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


With Jewish Roots Now Prized, Spain Starts Digging - Renwick McLean
Now, 500 years after expelling its Jews and moving to hide if not eradicate all traces of their existence, Spain has begun rediscovering the Jewish culture that thrived there for centuries and that scholars say functioned as a second Jerusalem during the Middle Ages. Still, despite the new enthusiasm for Spain's Jewish heritage, intolerance toward Jews is far from a thing of the past, local Jewish leaders say. (New York Times)


Israeli Arts and Entertainment Breaks Through to the Big Time - Viva Press
Israeli musicians, filmmakers, actors, dancers, and artists have been shaking up the international scene in growing numbers over the last five years. The proliferation of Israeli culture throughout North America has succeeded in exposing an overlooked side of Israel and its people. (Israel21c)


Israel Sees Shale Replacing Oil - Leah Krauss
An Israeli process for producing energy from oil shale will cut its oil imports by one-third, and will serve as a guide for other countries with oil shale deposits, according to the Hom Tov company, which presented its oil shale processing method on Tuesday outside Haifa. "Israel is the most advanced in the world in the effort to create energy from oil shale," said Moshe Shahal, a Hom Tov legal representative and a former Israeli energy minister. Shahal estimated that the company's Negev Desert facility would begin full-scale production in three to four years. It would cost about $17 to produce a barrel of synthetic oil at the Hom Tov facility, Shahal said. Israel has 15 billion tons of oil shale reserves. Jordan has about 25 billion tons, and the oil shale is of higher quality. The U.S. also has a giant reserve, mostly in Colorado. (UPI)


Israel's Economy Back on Track - Neal Sandler (Business Week)
    Less than three months after a costly war in Lebanon, investors have quickly regained confidence in the Israeli economy, driving the Tel Aviv stock market to all-time highs.
    "We're not only witnessing a recovery but an across the board strengthening in nearly every sector of the economy," says Gil Bufman, chief economist at Bank Leumi. The sole exception is the tourism industry.
    Economists are now predicting growth of 4.5% for 2006, down from pre-war estimates of 5%.
    Capital continues to flow into Israel at record levels, with direct foreign investment expected to top $12 billion this year.


China-Israel Trade Tops $3 Billion (Xinhua-China)
    Zhang Xiao'an, charge d'affaires at the Chinese Embassy in Israel, said Wednesday that China-Israel economic cooperation has enjoyed a high growth rate since 1992.
    "The average annual growth rate of bilateral trade in the past 14 years is 40%. Last year, bilateral trade volume reached $3 billion...[and] we expect the volume to reach $5 billion by 2008."
    Zhang said that Israel had set up more than 200 companies in China by the end of 2005, while 800 Israeli companies are currently doing business in China.


Cruise Lines Return to Israel (JTA)
    The Tourism Ministry in Jerusalem said Tuesday that Holland America Lines and Princess Cruises said they would return to Israel's shores, having last docked there in 2000.


AOL Purchases Israeli Start-Up - Eli Shimoni (Ynet News)
    American Internet giant America On Line announced Wednesday that it has acquired Israeli start-up company Relegence for an amount estimated at $55-65 million.
    Relegence has developed a real-time financial services news engine, serving mainly the financial and business markets.


Permanent Artificial Heart Transplanted in Israel - Judy Siegel-Itzkovich (Jerusalem Post)
    An artificial heart that serves as a permanent pump was inserted successfully into an Israeli patient at Carmel Medical Center in Haifa, it was announced Thursday.
    The pump is designed to keep elderly people who are unsuited for organ transplant alive and functioning.


Israeli Makes Scientific American's Top 50 - Judy Siegel-Itzkovich (Jerusalem Post)
    Dr. Shulamit Levenberg, 37, a Technion biomedical engineer and tissue engineering researcher whose work aims toward the creation of lab-manufactured tissues and organs for transplant, has been included in the Scientific American 50 listing, honoring 50 people whose accomplishments demonstrate technological leadership.


We Are Family: King David’s Descendants Gather for ‘Reunion’ (Forward)



now for the rest


Prime source: Daily Alert of the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs

See also



When rabbis' gay-hate turns murderous - If words can kill, 'pulsa danura' is a weapon of mass destruction. (Ha’aretz)


Riots Rock Jerusalem Before Gay Pride Parade (Forward)


Israel to Pursue Action Against Gaza Rocket Fire - Jonathan Ferziger and Gwen Ackerman
Prime Minister Ehud Olmert said Israel will pursue military operations to stop rocket fire from Gaza, even as he expressed regret for the accidental killing of 18 Palestinians. The shell that hit a Palestinian home in the northern Gazan town of Beit Hanoun was "a tragic mistake'' and meant to strike militants in a nearby orange grove who had fired a Kassam rocket into Israel, Olmert said. "Military operations will continue as long as there will be firing of rockets,'' he said. (Bloomberg)


Top Hamas Officials: We Want All of Palestine, from the River to the Sea
In the nine months since it came to power, Hamas has not changed its views. Hamas Political Bureau head Khaled Mash'al told the London-based daily Al-Hayat on Oct. 12: "Why am I required to [recognize] the legitimacy of an occupying [entity]?...It is true that there is an entity called Israel, but I do not wish to recognize it."
    Hamas Foreign Minister Mahmoud al-Zahar stated on Oct. 20 that "Israel is a vile entity that has been planted in our soil, and has no historical, religious, or cultural legitimacy. We cannot normalize our relations with this entity. The history of this region has proven that occupation is temporary. Thousands of years ago, the Romans occupied this land and left. The Persians, Crusaders, and English came and went. The Zionists have come, and they too will leave. [We say] no to recognizing Israel, regardless of the price we may have to pay." Al-Zahar also said: "We [aim to liberate] all our lands....If we have the option, we will establish a state on every inch of land within the 1967 [borders], but this does not by any means imply that we will relinquish our right to all the Palestinian lands. We want all of Palestine from Naqura to Rafah, and from the [Mediterranean] sea to the [Jordan] river." (MEMRI)


IDF Inquiry: Radar Malfunction Caused Botched Shelling - Amos Harel
Maj.-Gen. Meir Kalifi, who headed the IDF inquiry into the Beit Hanoun incident, presented the inquiry's findings Thursday. The inquiry found that a malfunctioning electronic card in the artillery battery's guidance system, which was replaced five days ago, was the cause of the errant fire. The card fed the battery's guidance system with wrong coordinates. The Israeli-developed "Shilem" guidance system has been in use by the IDF for roughly 30 years. It is considered reliable, and IDF inquiries found that this is the first time this particular malfunction has occurred in the system or similar systems used abroad. (Ha'aretz)


Security Council Meets on Beit Hanoun Incident - Yitzhak Benhorin
Danny Carmon, the deputy head of the Israeli delegation to the UN, said during a Security Council meeting Thursday that the escalation in Gaza stems from Palestinian rocket fire on Israel, which is acting "in self-defense." Carmon said that Israel withdrew from Gaza in the hope that the Palestinians would manage it responsibly as a first step to the establishment of a Palestinian state that can live side by side in peace with Israel. But since Israel left Gaza, Palestinians have fired 1,000 rockets at Israel. "Israel is asked again and again to show restraint. But the question is until when. After 1,000 rockets? 2,000 rockets?" Carmon asked.
    He spoke about the need to release the Israeli soldiers while Karnit Goldwasser, the wife of kidnapped soldier Ehud Goldwasser, was present. "She is here to remind members of the Council who voted on Resolution 1701 that they are obliged to fulfill what they voted for and act for the release of the kidnapped Israeli soldiers." (Ynet News)


Palestinian Rocket Attacks Injure Three Israelis - Shmulik Hadad
Three people sustained injuries from shrapnel and several others suffered from shock Thursday evening when a rocket fired by Palestinians in Gaza landed just a few meters from a store in a crowded Sderot shopping center. Earlier Thursday, two rockets landed in the western Negev. (Ynet News)


Israel, U.S. Ponder New Ways to Collect Intelligence in Lebanon - Aluf Benn
Israel and the U.S. are considering different methods for collecting intelligence in Lebanon that would replace the overflights of Lebanese airspace by Israel. "We do not want to embarrass the government of Lebanon and create tensions with the states who deployed, at our request, troops to the United Nations force. If a solution can be found that would not require the overflights, and we could have another means to learn what goes on over there, perfect," a senior political source in Jerusalem said Thursday. Among the possible alternatives are the use of American satellites or intelligence-gathering flights carried out by other countries, with the approval of the government of Lebanon. (Ha'aretz)
    See also French Forces Almost Fired on Israeli Jets in Lebanon - Molly Moore
French peacekeeping forces in southern Lebanon came within seconds of firing missiles at Israeli F-15 fighter jets that repeatedly dived on their positions last week, according to French Defense Minister Michele Alliot-Marie. (Washington Post)


Murderous Strategies - Marty Peretz
I am not indifferent to the death of Palestinians. I am especially not indifferent to the death of Palestinians caused by Israeli fire. But I think I do know who is indifferent to the death of Palestinians, and especially ecstatic if they are killed by Israeli fire. And it is Palestinians themselves.
    The 18 killed in Gaza by a fatally awry Israeli artillery attack is nothing less than a great human tragedy. But those now dead were not targets, any more than victims of friendly fire are targets. When Palestinian weapons hit Israeli civilians, it is Israeli civilians who are the designated victims. The Palestinians make no pretense on this matter. The rockets they have been sending into Ashkelon and Sderot are not even aimed at military bases. The Palestinian authorities have civilians in their sights.
    Have pity on the Palestinians. But aim your criticism at those who think killing Jews is a solution to the Palestinian problem. (New Republic)


Stopping Palestinian Rockets - Anshel Pfeffer
Both the efficiency and morality of using "preventative" artillery fire against Palestinian rocket launchers have been debated at length over the last few years. Artillery is still the quickest and cheapest method to harass the rocket teams and minimize their threat. It is also the safest for IDF soldiers. Artillery batteries on a 24-hour alert, well within Israeli territory, are still the fastest and safest rapid-reaction tactic available.
    The Palestinian rocket teams are constantly being hunted down, by all the military and intelligence elements at Israel's disposal. In Gaza there is no job with a lower life-expectancy than a member of a rocket team. Hundreds have already been killed by artillery shelling, manned and unmanned air-strikes, tank cannon, and from ambush by ground forces. And that's not counting dozens more killed by the rockets exploding prematurely on the launching pad or in storage. The IDF can't prevent rockets being fired in almost random directions from any point in the Gaza Strip, but they have managed to make it virtually impossible for the Palestinians to take real aim. (Jerusalem Post)


When Bush Meets Olmert - David Makovsky
Israeli Prime Minister Olmert will meet President Bush at the White House on November 13 as part of a prescheduled visit to address the United Jewish Communities General Assembly in Los Angeles. Neither Bush, nor Olmert, has any firm political initiative in mind. Olmert is not coming to Washington with the strategy he had in May, when he obtained Bush's qualified blessing for his West Bank "Convergence" plan. At least for now, Olmert has taken this idea off the table. In the wake of the 2006 Israel-Hizballah war, some Israelis fear that unilateralism has emboldened Hizballah and Hamas radicals. (Washington Institute for Near East Policy)


Human Rights NGOs Neglect Hamas' Use of Human Shields
The Palestinian use of human shields to protect armed gunmen and rocket launching crews from Israeli responses is widespread but largely unreported. On Nov. 2, amidst the ongoing warfare in Gaza, armed Palestinians entered a mosque in Beit Hanoun to escape from IDF units. A standoff developed and on Nov. 3, Hamas broadcast a radio appeal for women to go to the mosque and act as human shields, providing cover for the gunmen to escape. The use of human shields contravenes Protocol I (1977) to the Geneva Convention, article 51 (7), which states that "the parties shall not direct the movement of the civilian population or individual civilians in order to attempt to shield military objectives from attacks or to shield military operations." (NGO Monitor)
    See also Fact, Fiction, and Fabrication Among NGOs - Ruthie Blum
NGO Monitor provides "raw facts about what the non-governmental organizations are doing," says associate editor Sarah Mandel. And what many of them are doing, according to Mandel, is using the mandate of their funding - championing international human rights - to pursue political agendas that seek to delegitimize Israel. Which is why NGO Monitor was established in the first place five years ago following the Israel-bashing and underlying anti-Semitism at the 2001 World Conference Against Racism in DurbanSouth Africa. "If human rights standards are applied non-universally, they cease to mean anything. This is not only applicable to Israel; it's applicable to other crises in the world which are neglected because international human rights NGOs are not interested in those crises, or because those crises don't suit their agenda," Mandel said. (Jerusalem Post)


A Liberal Brother at Odds with the Muslim Brotherhood - Michael Slackman
Gamal al-Banna is 85, and for much of his life he has been overshadowed by his famous brother, Sheik Hassan al-Banna, the founder of the Muslim Brotherhood, the Islamist political party and antecedent of a host of militant Islamist organizations, from al-Qaeda to Hamas. He is a liberal thinker, a man who would like to see Islamic values and practices interpreted in the context of modern times. Banna says the radicals are guilty of imposing what amounts to their interpretation of the Koran onto other Muslims. (New York Times)


Diary of an Arab Woman for a Humanistic Islam - Elham Manea
We live in a time where a version of Islam, Wahhabi Islam exported from Saudi Arabia, has become dominant in the Arab world. It is dominant in the mosques and the media, and is propagated actively with the support of Saudi oil money. Another version of Islam, Shi'ite Islam, exported from the Islamic Republic of Iran, is also being disseminated in parts of the Islamic world. Both are expressions of a religion that has become politicized. The re-Islamization of secular Arab societies gave ground to the belief that there is indeed only one version of Islam - Najdi Wahhabi Islam from the heart of Saudi ArabiaThe writer is a post-doctoral fellow and lecturer at the Political Science Institute, Zurich University. (Middle East Transparent)


Expert Views U.S. Middle East Policy Following Elections - Meredith Buel (VOA News)

  • Joshua Muravchik, a resident scholar at the American Enterprise Institute, argues that even with a new Congress, the chances for an Arab-Israeli peace agreement are slim.
  • He says there is a rising sense among some Arabs that armed resistance is a successful way to change the status quo.
  • Muravchik argues that because the Palestinians have witnessed the insurgency in Iraq, what he calls the perceived defeat of the Israelis by Hizballah in Lebanon, the perception that Israel was forced to withdraw from Gaza, the rise of Iranian influence, and the election of Hamas in the Palestinian territories, the chances for a peaceful solution with Israel have gotten worse.
  • "The sense that resistance, jihad, is triumphant and on the upswing is absolutely a killer to any evolution of sentiment among the Palestinians toward being willing to accept the reality of Israel as a permanent reality and to go on and make peace."









Tuesday, November 14, 2006 at 8:00 p.m.


Guest Speaker:  Peter Bergen


Best-selling author and terrorism analyst for CNN


Topic:  Osama bin Laden,

History’s Most Successful Terrorist, and Al Qaeda


One of the few Western journalists to personally interview Osama, Peter Bergen is also one of the leading experts on the subject of global terrorism.  He is a senior fellow at the New America Foundation in Washington, D.C., Adjunct Professor at the School of Advanced International Studies at Johns Hopkins University, and author of Holy War, Inc. (Free Press, 2001), a N.Y. Times bestseller that has been translated into 18 languages.


His latest book (Free Press, 2006) The Osama bin Laden I Know is the subject of a recent two-hour CNN documentary commemorating the fifth anniversary of 9/11.  The “Washington Post” review of the book wrote in part:  “What made [bin Laden] into history’s most successful terrorist?  Bergen has written what will long be a “go-to” resource for those seeking answers to such questions…a fine volume.”  Foreign Affairs reviewer named it one of the best books of the year about the Middle East.  Bergen has also written articles on the subject that have appeared in the N.Y. TimesThe New Republic, The Atlantic, TIME and similar journals.  Bergen was born in Minneapolis in 1962 and was raised in London, graduating from Oxford University in 1984.


The Hoffman Memorial Lecture is sponsored by the family of the late Harold E. Hoffman, a former member of the Stamford community who was dedicated to many civic and Jewish causes.  Some past speakers of the lecture include Elie Weisel, Abba Eban, Rabbi Marc Tanenbaum, Charles Silberman, Wolf Blitzer, Rabbi Robert Gordis, Edgar Bronfman, A.M. Rosenthal of “The New York Times,” Rabbi David Hartman, Letty Cottin Pogrebin, Thomas L. Friedman of the “Times,” Ambassador Collette Avital of Israel, Henry Louis Gates, Jr., Rabbi Avi Weiss, Daniel J. Goldhagen, Anne Roiphe, Michael H. Steinhardt, Ambassador Dennis Ross, James Carroll, Dore Gold, David Makovsky and David Horovitz.


As with all the Hoffman lectures, the public is invited to attend without charge.  Peter Bergen’s stimulating remarks will be followed by a question-and-answer period and reception.



Sat. NOV.  11 @ 8 PM -

In Israel, more than in any country in the world, culture reflects society. Israeli film, poetry and art serve as accurate barometers for social change and the country’s external and internal conflicts. Over the course of several Saturday evenings, we will be presenting a series of old and contemporary Israeli films. The screenings will be followed by a discussion to be facilitated by Rabbi Hammerman or Eran Vaisben, the Education Director.

"The Syrian Bride"  (2005)

delves into the fascinating culture of the Druse in Israel as well as the complex geo-political situation and how it impacts upon real people.  Mona’s wedding day is the saddest day of her life. She knows that once she crosses the border between Israel and Syria to marry Syrian TV star Tallel, she will never be allowed back to her beloved family in Majdal Shams, the largest Druze village in the Golan Heights.

Refreshments and popcorn will be served:


TBE Progressive Dinner and

“Murder in the Temple” Murder Mystery

Sat. evening, Dec. 2….


We are proud to present the first fundraising event of the season: The Temple Beth El Progressive Dinner and "Murder at the Temple" Mystery which takes place on Saturday, December 2, 2006.


Choose from of a wide selection of congregants' homes and delectable cuisines for dinner, and then join us for coffee and dessert at the Temple.  We'll need your help to solve the mystery of the "Murder at the Temple" (by the New York acting company, Mostly Murder!).


All adults are welcome!  Dinner starts at 6:30 p.m. and the Temple fun begins at 9:00 p.m.  The price for this event is $55 per person.  Guests are more than welcome. 


This year we are trying something new:  we've gone electronic!  Please note that because we are trying to conserve paper and costs, you will not be receiving an invitation in the mail for this event.  Instead, it is very important to open all the attachments by following the links below:


For the Invitation, please click here:


For the Brochure of Dinner Venues, please click here:


For the Preference Form, please click here:


If you have any questions or concerns, please feel free to contact Scott Allen <> or <> ; Elissa Hyman <>.







a six-session series presented by

The Israel Task Force Education Committee of the

United Jewish Federation (UJF) of Greater Stamford, New Canaan and Darien


In today’s fast-paced, information-driven world, many people are confused by media reports and unclear about the issues confronting modern Israel.  This six-part series is designed to 1) help participants develop and expand their knowledge of Israel’s history, 2) discover Israel’s people, culture, and outstanding achievements, and 3) learn how to assess media reports and to separate fact from fiction.  Based on historical facts and perspective, the series provides evidence of Israel’s continual efforts for peace; and highlights Israel’s relationship with Palestinian Arabs from 1880 to the present.

Each session begins with a presentation followed by a discussion, and includes participant folders with maps, resources list, historical background, and more.


November 12:   Session Two: 1914-1947: Building the Jewish Homeland

December 10:   Session Three: 1948-1966: War & Peace: Survival and Nation Building

January 7:         Session Four: 1967-1979: War & Peace: Territories and Settlements

January 21:       Session Five: 1980-Present: Terrorism and Israel’s Quest for Peace



The Many Demensions of Jewish Prayer”

with Rabbi Hammerman

meets select Sunday mornings 9:00-10:00 am

Next meets on Nov. 5


Bimah 101:

Prepatory course for Adult Bar/ Bat Mitzvah

With Cantor Rachael Littman

Meets weekly Sunday mornings 10:00-11:00 am


                                                     Judaism for Everyone

An Introductory Class for Dummies, Smarties…

and Those Who Don’t Know How to Ask

With Rabbi Hammerman

Meets weekly on select Sundays 11:00 am-12:00 pm

(A prerequisite for those who wish to join

the Beth El Adult Bar/ Bat Mitzvah Class.)

Fee: $50 for materials

                                                             This week: What is the Torah – What is the Bible?


Beginners’ Hebrew class

Instructor: Eran Vaisben, Education Director

Take advantage of this beginner/ class to:

Become familiar with the Hebrew alphabet

Improve your Hebrew reading fluency

Delve into a bit of modern Hebrew

Come explore the Hebrew language in a relaxed group setting!

Meets weekly on Tuesday evenings at 7:30– 8:30 p.m.









Please Join Us


Synaplex & Sisterhood Family Shabbat Dinner,

Services and Program


To Honor Our New Members!!


§         Meet new friends and share time with those you already know.


§         Share a dinner of delicious cookbook recipes and the fun stories about the creation of this treasured keepsake.


§         Hear the wisdom of Elise Klein, Bridges Director of UJF, as she helps each of us to understand how we can create a welcoming community for TBE.



Friday, December 8, 2006

Services:  6:30 pm

Dinner:   7:30 pm

Speaker:  8:30 pm

 “Creating a Welcoming Community”

Elise Klein, BRIDGES Director of UJF



Please complete and return with payment by November 29th to:

Sisterhood of Temple Beth El, 350 Roxbury Rd. StamfordCT  06902

Make Checks Payable to:  Sisterhood of Temple Beth El


RSVP/Payment Information

If you would like to purchase a cookbook, please include payment with your RSVP



Total # of Adults ______   @  $18 each  = $_______

(ages 13 and older)


Total # Children ______    @  $12 each =  $_______

(ages 3-12)


Total # Cookbooks _____     @  $18 each =  $________

(*pick up during dinner)


                               Grand Total Enclosed  $_______


Please indicate # of Vegetarian Meals Needed

# of Adults ______

# of Children _____



Full Names of Adults Attending




Names of Children Attending          Ages


___________________________            ____

___________________________            ____

___________________________              ____

___________________________              ____



Synaplex & Sisterhood Family Shabbat Dinner,

Services and Program

Honoring New Members

December 8, 2006


Services 6:30 pm

Please join us in the main sanctuary as we welcome Shabbat together and honor our new members.  There will be a Tot Shabbat for our children starting at the same time with Nurit.


Dinner 7:30 pm


Share in the Sisterhood’s celebration of the all new (first ever!) TBE cookbook.  Enjoy a dinner made from cookbook recipes that were contributed by our own TBE family.  Hear about the beautiful two year journey of over 120 Sisterhood members who contributed their hearts and kitchens to create this beautiful keepsake for all to enjoy.


If you are interested in purchasing the cookbook, please order using the RSVP (on the opposite side of this page).  The proceeds will be donated to TBE’s kitchen renovation project.


Program 8:30 pm


We are honored to have Elise Klein, UJF BRIDGES Program Director, join us to share with us how each of us can become part of our TBE community and what we can do to make it stronger.


Working together, we will discuss ways in which to create a community that all want to be part of and which all can share in – respecting our differences and celebrating our commonalities.  By strengthening bonds we create a strengthened, enriched community: opening and welcoming to all who wish to be part of TBE’s wonderful congregation.


There will be children’s programming at this time.


United Jewish Federation of Greater Stamford, New Canaan and Darien

Super Sunday
December 3 at the Stamford JCC 9am-9pm


Learning and Latte at Borders


Stamford’s long-running monthly interfaith “tri-alogue”

featuring Rabbi Joshua Hammerman, Rev. Douglas McArthur and Dr. Behjat Syed

This year’s topic:

“Moral Dilemmas for a World in Crisis”

Join us as we engage in friendly dialogue about some of the hot-button issues of the day.  

Meets on the second Tuesday of each month (except November), from 7:30-8:30 PM, October-May


Topics (subject to last-minute adjustment to keep up with the headlines)


Nov. 21 – Can an enemy become a friend?  When is forgiveness possible?  To what ends must we go to achieve peace? What does it mean to love your neighbor?

Dec. 12 – What comes first, loyalty to one’s country, or loyalty to one’s faith?  

Jan. 9 –  When does life begin and what happens to the soul after life ends?

Feb. 13 -  Can other religions be “true?”  How can pluralism work for the believer?

March 13 – Is sexuality good, evil or neither?  What are the worst “sins” for our traditions?

April 10 – What are different ways of imagining God in our traditions? How does God show love? 

May 8 – What is the future of religion in America?  The world?  Is religion a source of evil?




World AIDS Day Interfaith Service 2006

(Ninth Annual)

A Service of Remembrance, Awareness, Hope, and Healing

Thursday, November 30

7:00 p.m.





First United Methodist Church

42 Cross Rd.


(Next to Lord & Taylor)



Project NAMES Quilt Panels

made by Stamford residents will be on display during the service.


The Service

The service is open to all faiths and will include testimonies, reading of scriptures, candlelighting, special music by the Madrigals of Stamford High School, the Chamber Singers of Westhill High School, local choirs and cantors. Prayers of healing and laying on of hands by clergy from at least 15 local congregations.


The Invitation

We invite into our presence the memory of those who cannot be with us, we invite into our presence the awareness that HIV and AIDS continues to have a devastating impact globally, nationally and right here in Stamford, we invite into our presence the hope that has sustained us on this journey.


Refreshments Served by

The Westhill High School Interact Club


Support our Temple Gift Shop! 

Our featured item: 

The Sisterhood Cookbook 

Delicious Recipes! Kosher! Family Favorites!

Already a TBE Best Seller!

Are you going to a party? Some suggestions for hostess gifts:  Wine bottle or wine glass coasters, small jeweled boxes, pretty serving dishes, decorative dreidels... 


Shopping hours: Sunday mornings, 9:00 a.m. - 12:00 p.m.

Weekday shopping by appointment.

To schedule an appointment, please call Mia Weinstein at 595-0528.

Attention all TBE Members!


The 2006-07 Torah Fund Pin Has Arrived!


Do your part for Jewish Continuity!  Click here to view the beautiful pin and for more information:


The Torah Fund Pin makes a great gift for every Jewish woman.  Your donation helps support The Jewish Theological Seminary, the Ziegler School of Rabbinic Studies and the Schechter Institute of Jewish Studies, which train Conservative Jewish rabbis, cantors, educators and leaders.


Call 322-8842 to order now, and receive your pin in time for Hanukkah!


Thank you for your generosity!


Karen Hainbach

Vice President of Torah Fund, TBE Sisterhood



Temple Beth El Gift Cards!  Our gift card program is back in full swing.  Order forms can be obtained at the school office.  Any questions, please call Stuart Nekritz at (203) 322-0872.  Please get yours today!


Life Force
A Shoah Love Story

Written by Tamar Gershberg, Mary Lee Grisanti and
Michael Limone


This compelling new drama- based on the true story of a Holocaust Survivor and member of a local family,

is sure to remind all audiences of the value of a life well lived – 

and the honor in choices made in the name not only of survival but love.

An epic love story of hope and longing- with a twist that will break even the hardest of hearts.



November 9, 10, 11, 17 and 18 at 8pm, 12 at 2pm

Stamford High School’s

Strawberry Hill Players

For Tickets or Information, call 977-5483




WEDNESDAY -NOVEMBER 15 – 7:00 – 9:00 PM:  ‘The ABC’s of Geriatric Case Management: What Is a Geriatric Care Manager and What Can One Do for Me?, Carol Edelman, Director of Care Management and Geriatric Evaluation.  At the Stamford Jewish Community Center, 1035 Newfield Ave.  Part of FOCUS (Family Opportunities in Caring for Us and Seniors), a monthly series of workshops designed to address the many needs of seniors and those who care for them. Series cost is $100/pp/$180 per couple or $18 pp for each session.  Call Jewish Family Service for more details: 921-4161 or email




COLLEGE STUDENTS!  Rabbi Hammerman would like to keep in touch with you throughout the school year.  Please send your e-mail address to to be included in his college list.



Youth Programming


















Sunday, November 19th


Come join Jewish teens for an exciting adventure into New York City to see the amazing off-Broadway show Jewtopia!!!

Go to for more details on the play.


Time: Meet at the Stamford Train Station at 12:30. 

We will arrive back to Stamford at 7 p.m. (could change based on length of show).


Cost: $60 per person, this includes the show, train, and subway. Bring extra cash for food or you can bring a bag lunch.


Space is limited so send your checks in ASAP

All checks are due by November 10th

Please make all checks payable to Temple Beth El

Email Edoe Cohen  to RSVP



Make Your Own Pizza


Play Yiddish Bingo




3rd, 4th, and 5th graders (Kesher Youth Group)



December 3rd12:15 pm (right after Hebrew school) till 2:00 PM



Social Hall


Teens – from the JCC

Join us at an info session on

Thursday, November 16

at 7p.m. at the JCC

  For more info or to RSVP contact Kari Pollak at (203) 487-0948 or






A Pious Old Man

A pious man, who had reached the age of 105, suddenly stopped going to synagogue.
Alarmed by the old fellow's absence after so many years of faithful attendance, the Rabbi went to see him. He found him in excellent health, so the Rabbi asked, "How come after all these years we don't see you at services anymore?"The old man lowered his voice. "I'll tell you, Rabbi," he whispered. "When I got to be 90, I expected God to take me any day. But then I got to be 95, then 100, then 105. So, I figured that God is very busy and must've forgotten about me, and I don't want to remind Him!"

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

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