Friday, November 3, 2006

November 3, 2006 – Heshvan 13, 576

November 3, 2006 – Heshvan 13, 5767


Rabbi Joshua HammermanTemple Beth El, StamfordConnecticut



Thank you to all who made last week’s

inaugural Synaplex Shabbat so successful.

  If you have not yet filled out the Synaplex survey,

please take a few moments to do so, at



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

and mp3 and text files of the High Holidays sermons. 




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



Contents of the Shabbat O Gram:

(Click to scroll down)


Just the Facts (service schedule)

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




“These three things are always here.

Just to be is a blessing.

Just to live is holy.

Rabbi Chanina, the Deputy of Priests, would often say,

“Pray for the welfare of the government,

for were it not for the fear of it,

people would swallow each other alive.”


Pirke Avot 3:2





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: 6:30 PM– in the sanctuary. This week, we will be combining our regular service with our 6th grade class.  Following the service, the 6th grade families will have their class dinner.


Tot Shabbat – 6:45 PM – in the chapel


Shabbat Morning: 9:30 AM– on Shabbat, we celebrate the Bar Mitzvah of Jonathan Karp.  Mazal tov to him and to his parents Sharon and Doug Karp! 


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)



Saturday Mincha and Havdalah – 4:00 PM – This Shabbat afternoon we celebrate the Bar Mitzvah of Jake Levensohn, son of Hope and Peter Levensohn.  Mazal tov to all!



Our Torah Reading for Shabbat Morning

Parashat Lech-Lecha
פרשת לך־לך


Genesis 12:1 - 17:27 – The Abraham Saga Begins…

1: 16:1-6

Haftarah Isaiah 40:27 - 41:16


See a weekly commentary from the UJC Rabbinic Cabinet, at  Read the Masorti commentary at  University of Judaism,  JTS commentary is at: Torah Sparks can be found at Shabbat Table Talk discussions are at divrei Torah via the Torahnet home page: your Parasha I.Q.: 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 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 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!

We’ve had a special request for a guaranteed minyan on Sunday Nov. 5 at 9:30 and for Tues. Nov. 7 at 7:30.

Please sign up at the Rosner Minyan Maker at






Ranting Rabbi




Today marks the 11th anniversary of the assassination of Prime Minister Rabin.  It is especially sobering to consider how hopeful we were back then and how bleak are the hopes for peace now.  Whether or not the hopes of November 4, 1995 were misplaced is a matter for conjecture, but there are many who believe to this day that had Rabin lived, history would have turned out quite differently.

Read about that dark chapter in the Jewish Virtual Library, at



Below is an excerpt from my column in this week’s Jewish Week…



‘Power To The Person’

Joshua Hammerman


In case you missed it, we have entered the Era of the Individual. Groupthink is yesterday’s news. Mass culture is over. Thomas Friedman proclaimed it in his recent best seller, “The World is Flat.” “It just happened — right around the year 2000 … people all over the world started waking up and realizing that they had more power than ever to go global as individuals.”

The hottest property online right now is YouTube, a celebration of unbridled individuality, where millions of videos call out for attention, homemade outtakes intermingling with masterpieces, Steven Spielberg and Steve from Secaucus on the same web page.  Some of the videos are quite good. Many are quite bad — but it doesn’t matter, because when there are millions of them, people will find the good ones.

If the battle cry of the 20th century was “Power to the People,” the battle cry of the 21st is “Power to the Person.”  But that has been Judaism’s battle cry all along, at least ever since the final moments of Creation, when God decided to make humanity with a touch of divinity.  Rabbi Yitz Greenberg teaches that there are three fundamental dignities that are inherent to our being created in God’s image, basing his views on a Mishnaic teaching from tractate Sanhedrin. These dignities — that life is of infinite value, all people are equal and that each individual is unique—have been dramatically affirmed by the flattening of the earth and the globalization of cyber-culture.

Chris Anderson’s trend-setting new book, “The Long Tail,” says of the marketplace, “The era of one size fits all is ending, and in its place is something new, a market of multitudes.” He adds that “the mainstream has been shattered into a zillion different cultural shards. Increasingly the mass market is turning into a mass of niches.”

While some have questioned the legality of copyrighted materials appearing on YouTube, this market of multitudes is so “kosher” that I may start calling it O-U Tube.  During the recent war in Lebanon, a home video of Israeli soldiers praying before their tanks crossed the border was one of the most moving scenes to find its way around the Internet — it was home grown and it was real. What can be so bad about people choosing to run from the corporate communications behemoths, preferring instead the handiwork of individuals? Where’s the crime when famous journalists are quoting average Joes from podcasts or the Blogosphere? That’s the “long tail,” the unlimited number of choices we have and the infinite opportunity each of us has to be heard, read and seen.

It’s the mark of Godliness.

The “zillion cultural shards” brings to mind the Kabbalistic concept where shards of divinity were scattered throughout creation following a primordial divine “big bang.” We live in a dizzying world, a “flat world,” empowering the individual as never before in history.  But each of us has a piece of God in us; each of us can now bring our little bit of godliness directly into contact with billions of people.

There are no more yearning huddled masses, because each of us now breathes free. And each of us, no matter how big or small, can make all the difference. We’ve never been so empowered and dignified, perhaps since Eden. Each of us matters….





the morning after…the month before


The beauty of the Synaplex Shabbats that we began last week is that, unlike other valuable events, we won’t have to wait a year for the next one to happen.  In fact, the next one is only a month away.  More details about that elsewhere.  I’m finding that many people who had held some reservations about the idea became full-fledged converts last week.  It was pretty hard not to be enthusiastic about the idea when so many hundreds of people found their way to meaningful Jewish experiences on Shabbat in a synagogue. 


Anyway, given that people might now be more able to understand what we were trying to do, here is what the people at Synaplex say about why this project has become so important:


The Challenge Synaplex Addresses

There is an old saying, “If we don’t change our direction, we’ll end up where we’re headed.” The funders of Synaplex looked at the trends, talked with the experts, and came to the undeniable conclusion that if American synagogues were to succeed in bringing more people back to synagogue on Shabbat, they would benefit from making some “direction adjustments.” 

The statistics are sobering:

  • 52 percent of American Jews do not believe in God [1]
  • American Jews are demographically endangered [2]

And, according to research on Jewish “Millenials” and Gen X’ers, [3] the diversity in the population is only going to magnifyThe research indicates that members of these two generations:

  • have fewer memories of Jewish family celebrations and fewer experiences of being in the synagogue with their families
  • are less interested in classical Jewish rituals
  • are accustomed to self-directing their life choices
  • celebrate religious, cultural and ethnic diversity and have weaker Jewish social bonds than did their parents
  • value subjective spiritual experiences as a way of knowing the world over traditional propositional truths

What we know about American Jews

  • American Jews enter Jewish life through many Jewish portals: study, social action, culture, spiritual, as well as prayer
  • people undergo spiritual, emotional, cognitive and physical developmental changes throughout their lives. What suits them at one stage of life will not necessarily appeal to them at another stage
  • a large percentage of Jews today identify as secular

Not relishing the direction these statistics were taking American synagogues, STAR funders decided it was time for a new direction.

Synaplex is designed to help synagogues better serve the Jewish community’s diverse population of new family structures, including but not limited to: large numbers of singles, single-parent, gay and lesbian, bi-racial, empty-nester and adoptive families. Greater diversity means no single approach or program will satisfy the needs and interests of the American Jewish community.

What Synaplex Believes

Synaplex believes that Jewish identity is created within a community of shared meaning and intimate groups, in which participants engage in high-quality experiences. 

Synaplex believes synagogues should facilitate that community building by offering flexible programming to match the diversity of spiritual, cultural and educational interests of congregants and potential congregants. 

Synaplex believes synagogue involvement is a process, and people first need to experience the value of belonging before they are ready to join.


[1] Harris Interactive Survey, 2003

[2] National Jewish Population Survey, 2000-2001

[3] Millenials (born between 1979 and 1994)
       Gen X’ers (born between 1964-1979)




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








What Was Kristallnacht?


This coming week we mark the anniversary of Kristallnacht, the Night of Broken Glass, when many say the Holocaust really began.  Here is some background on this tragic anf foreboding night, excerpted from the Jewish Virtual Library.  To see the full article, go to:


Almost immediately upon assuming the Chancellorship of Germany, Hitler began promulgating legal actions against Germany's JewsIn 1933, he proclaimed a one-day boycott against Jewish shops, a law was passed against kosher butchering and Jewish children began experiencing restrictions in public schools. By 1935, the Nuremberg Laws deprived Jews of German citizenshipBy 1936, Jews were prohibited from participation in parliamentary elections and signs reading "Jews Not Welcome" appeared in many German cities. (Incidentally, these signs were taken down in the late summer in preparation for the 1936 Olympic Games in Berlin).

In the first half of 1938, numerous laws were passed restricting Jewish economic activity and occupational opportunities. In July, 1938, a law was passed (effective January 1, 1939) requiring all Jews to carry identification cards. On October 28, 17,000 Jews of Polish citizenship, many of whom had been living in Germany for decades, were arrested and relocated across the Polish border. The Polish government refused to admit them so they were interned in "relocation camps" on the Polish frontier.

Germans pass broken window of Jewish-owned shop (USHMM Photo).

Among the deportees was Zindel Grynszpan, who had been born in western Poland and had moved to Hanover, where he established a small store, in 1911. On the night of October 27, Zindel Grynszpan and his family were forced out of their home by German police. His store and the family's possessions were confiscated and they were forced to move over the Polish border.

Zindel Grynszpan's seventeen-year-old son, Herschel, was living with an uncle in Paris. When he received news of his family's expulsion, he went to the German embassy in Paris on November 7, intending to assassinate the German Ambassador to France. Upon discovering that the Ambassador was not in the embassy, he settled for a lesser official, Third Secretary Ernst vom Rath. Rath, was critically wounded and died two days later, on November 9.

The assassination provided Joseph Goebbels, Hitler's Chief of Propaganda, with the excuse he needed to launch a pogrom against German JewsGrynszpan's attack was interpreted by Goebbels as a conspiratorial attack by "International Jewry" against the Reich and, symbolically, against the Fuehrer himself. This pogrom has come to be called Kristallnacht, "the Night of Broken Glass."

On the nights of November 9 and 10, rampaging mobs throughout Germany and the newly acquired territories of Austria and Sudetenland freely attacked Jews in the street, in their homes and at their places of work and worship. At least 96 Jews were killed and hundreds more injured, more than 1,000 synagogues were burned (and possibly as many as 2,000), almost 7,500 Jewish businesses were destroyed, cemeteries and schools were vandalized, and 30,000 Jews were arrested and sent to concentration camps [added by Mitchell Bard from his book The Complete Idiot's Guide to World War II. NY: MacMillan, 1998, pp. 59-60].

The burning of the synagogue in Ober Ramstadt (USHMM Photo).

The official German position on these events, which were clearly orchestrated by Goebbels, was that they were spontaneous outburstsThe Fuehrer, Goebbels reported to Party officials in Munich, "has decided that such demonstrations are not to be prepared or organized by the party, but so far as they originate spontaneously, they are not to be discouraged either.(Conot, Robert E. Justice At NurembergNY: Harper & Row, 1983:165)

 Three days later, on November 12, Hermann Goering called a meeting of the top Nazi leadership to assess the damage done during the night and place responsibility for itPresent at the meeting were GoeringGoebbels, Reinhard Heydrich, Walter Funk and other ranking Nazi officialsThe intent of this meeting was two-fold: to make the Jews responsible for Kristallnacht and to use the events of the preceding days as a rationale for promulgating a series of antisemitic laws which would, in effect, remove Jews from the German economy. An interpretive transcript of this meeting is provided by Robert Conot, Justice at NurembergNew York: Harper and Row, 1983:164-172):

'Gentlemen! Today's meeting is of a decisive nature,' Goering announced'I have received a letter written on the Fuehrer's orders requesting that the Jewish question be now, once and for all, coordinated and solved one way or another.'

'Since the problem is mainly an economic one, it is from the economic angle it shall have to be tackled. Because, gentlemen, I have had enough of these demonstrations! They don't harm the Jew but me, who is the final authority for coordinating the German economy. `If today a Jewish shop is destroyed, if goods are thrown into the street, the insurance companies will pay for the damages; and, furthermore, consumer goods belonging to the people are destroyed. If in the future, demonstrations which are necessary occur, then, I pray, that they be directed so as not to hurt us.

'Because it's insane to clean out and burn a Jewish warehouse, then have a German insurance company make good the loss. And the goods which I need desperately, whole bales of clothing and whatnot, are being burned. And I miss them everywhere. I may as well burn the raw materials before they arrive.

'I should not want to leave any doubt, gentlemen, as to the aim of today's meeting. We have not come together merely to talk again, but to make decisions, and I implore competent agencies to take all measures for the elimination of the Jew from the German economy, and to submit them to me.'

It was decided at the meeting that, since Jews were to blame for these events, they be held legally and financially responsible for the damages incurred by the pogrom. Accordingly, a "fine of 1 billion marks was levied for the slaying of Vom Rath, and 6 million marks paid by insurance companies for broken windows was to be given to the state coffers. (Snyder, Louis L. Encyclopedia of the Third ReichNew York: Paragon House, 1989:201).

Kristallnacht turns out to be a crucial turning point in German policy regarding the Jews and may be considered as the actual beginning of what is now called the Holocaust. 

1.     By now it is clear to Hitler and his top advisors that forced immigration of Jews out of the Reich is not a feasible option.

2.     Hitler is already considering the invasion of Poland.

3.     Numerous concentration camps and forced labor camps are already in operation.

4.     The Nuremberg Laws are in place.

5.     The doctrine of lebensraum has emerged as a guiding principle of Hitler's ideology. And,

6.     The passivity of the German people in the face of the events of Kristallnacht made it clear that the Nazis would encounter little opposition—even from the German churches.

Following the meeting, a wide-ranging set of antisemitic laws were passed which had the clear intent, in Goering's words, of "Aryanizing" the German economy. Over the next two or three months, the following measures were put into effect (cf., Burleigh and Wippermann, The Racial State: Germany, 1933-1945NY: Cambridge, 1991:92-96):

1.     Jews were required to turn over all precious metals to the government.

2.     Pensions for Jews dismissed from civil service jobs were arbitrarily reduced.

3.     Jewish-owned bonds, stocks, jewelry and art works can be alienated only to the German state.

4.     Jews were physically segregated within German towns.

5.     A ban on the Jewish ownership of carrier pigeons.

6.     The suspension of Jewish driver's licenses.

7.     The confiscation of Jewish-owned radios.

8.     A curfew to keep Jews of the streets between 9:00 p.m. and 5:00 a.m. in the summer and 8:00 p.m. and 6:00 a.m. in the winter.

9.     Laws protecting tenants were made non-applicable to Jewish tenants.

10. [Perhaps to help insure the Jews could not fight back in the future, the Minister of the Interior issued regulations against Jews' possession of weapons on November 11. This prohibited Jews from "acquiring, possessing, and carrying firearms and ammunition, as well as truncheons or stabbing weapons. Those now possessing weapons and ammunition are at once to turn them over to the local police authority."]

One final note on the November 12 meeting is of critical importance. In the meeting, Goering announced, "I have received a letter written on the Fuehrer's orders requesting that the Jewish question be now, once and for all, coordinated and solved one way or another.The path to the “Final Solution” has now been chosenAnd, all the bureaucratic mechanisms for its implementation were now in place.





Spiritual Journey on the Web



What are the Jewish issues

 in next week’s elections?


While a religious institution cannot endorse candidates, it is important that we help people to understand the issues involved and to go out and vote.  Here are some sites that present those issues from varying political perspectives and from Jewish angles. (a conservative approach)  Religious Action Center, the Reform movement’s arm of activism, primarily known for left leaning views.  They also have a Voter Guide at including some Some Thoughts on Citizenship, Responsibility and Political Involvement as well as state ballot initiatives, as well as nice material on why it is so important to vote.

Aipac’s web site ( gives lots of info on matters of concern to Jews and to Israel including pending and recent legislation (with a record of who voted for what).  Here is a sampling.

Stop Iran's Nuclear Program

In response to Iran’s continued enrichment of uranium, a key step in developing nuclear weapons, the House of Representatives and Senate have overwhelmingly passed legislation that renews and strengthens sanctions aimed at curtailing funds Iran has to pursue nuclear weapons. The legislation renews for five years existing sanctions on foreign companies investing more than $20 million in Iran’s petroleum sector and enacts into law current executive orders preventing U.S. companies from doing business in and with Iran. The bill also strengthens U.S. authority to sanction those helping Iran’s nuclear pursuit, urges the administration to launch investigations into investments in Iran’s petroleum sector, rejects the signing of nuclear cooperation agreements with countries engaged in nuclear cooperation with Iran, and expresses support for Iranians seeking to promote democracy in their country. Please thank your members of Congress for supporting this critical legislation. Click here for related material.

Blocking Hizballah Terrorism

In the aftermath of the war between Israel and the terrorist group Hizballah, Congress has overwhelmingly passed a resolution that calls on the international community to ensure that Iran and Syria are not allowed to rearm Hizballah and urges the Lebanese government to request that international troops help monitor its border with Syria. Introduced by Reps. Tom Lantos (D-CA), Henry Hyde (R-IL), Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (R-FL) and Gary Ackerman (D-NY), the bill urges the international community to insist upon the full implementation of U.N. Security Council Resolution 1701, which calls for disarming Hizballah and empowering the Lebanese government. Passed in the House by a vote of 411-5, the resolution further commends Lebanese Prime Minister Fouad Siniora and his government for deploying the country’s armed forces to the border with Israel. Please thank your House member for supporting this important resolution.

Sanctioning Syria

While the President has already imposed some sanctions on Syria under the Syria Accountability and Lebanese Sovereignty Restoration Act of 2003, increased pressure on Syria from additional U.S. sanctions is needed to hold the Syrian regime accountable for its continuing support of terrorism. Reps. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (R-FL) and Eliot Engel (D-NY) led 115 House Members in sending a letter to the president urging him to impose the full range of potential U.S. sanctions on Damascus for its ongoing support of Hamas and Hizballah. Please thank your member of Congress for signing the Ros-Lehtinen/Engel letter.

Outlawing Hizballah

Despite Hizballah’s recent wave of attacks on Israeli civilians, the European Union (EU) has failed to add the heavily armed terrorist network to its list of terror groups, allowing it to raise funds throughout the continent. In letters to EU foreign policy chief Javier Solana, more than 200 members of the House and 88 senators have urged the EU to reverse this policy. The House letter, signed by 209 lawmakers, was led by Reps. Elton Gallegly (R-CA) and Robert Wexler (D-FL), while the Senate letter was led by Sens. Gordon Smith (R-OR) and Bill Nelson (D-FL). Please thank your members of Congress for urging the EU to take action to isolate Hizballah.

Stand By Israel

After Hizballah and Hamas launched unprovoked strikes against Israel, the House and Senate passed resolutions condemning the terrorist organizations—along with their state sponsors, Iran and Syria—and backing Israel’s right to defend itself against their attacks. The resolutions, sponsored by bipartisan leaders in both chambers, also call for Hizballah to be disarmed and for the full weight of American financial, diplomatic and economic sanctions to be imposed on Syria and Iran. The House passed the measure 410 to 8 while the Senate approved the resolution unanimously. Please thank your members of Congress for supporting Israel at this critical time.

Prohibit Aid to Hamas

The Palestinian government is now controlled by Hamas, a terrorist organization that has refused to renounce violence, recognize Israel’s right to exist or accept previous Israeli-Palestinian agreements. In response, both houses of Congress have passed the Palestinian Anti-Terrorism Act, which would block aid to the Palestinian Authority until its leaders reverse course on all three issues. The House passed the bill by a vote of 361 to 37, while the Senate unanimously approved the legislation. The bill, introduced by Reps. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (R-FL) and Tom Lantos (D-CA) in the House and by Sens. Mitch McConnell (R-KY) and Joseph Biden (D-DE) in the Senate, allows humanitarian assistance to the Palestinians to continue. Please thank your representative and senators for voting for the legislation. Click here for related material.

Support Foreign Aid to Israel

For decades, presidents and lawmakers of both parties have backed aid to Israel as a means to ensure that America’s closest ally in the Middle East has the means to defend itself. The House of Representatives overwhelmingly approved $2.46 billion in aid to Israel as part of the fiscal year 2007 foreign aid bill. The bill, which passed 373 to 34, provides Israel with $2.34 billion in military assistance, $120 million in economic aid and $40 million to assist Israel in absorbing refugees. Please thank your representative and urge your senators to support foreign aid to IsraelClick here for related material.






Required Reading and Action Items



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



Global Democracy | Blue-and-white turns green as Israel forges an alternative energy future  
Celebrating 5 years - Environment
It's not easy being green, but Israeli society has made significant strides towards greater environmental awareness over the past five years. Not only has there been a revolution in the way Israelis relate to their environment and legislate environmental policy, but there has also been a breakout of Israeli innovators who have become pioneers in creating protective technologies that are cleaning our environment and developing alternative forms of energy. More...


Health | From new ideas to Nobel prizes, Israeli university research sets the pace  
Celebrating 5 years - Research
Innovation at Israeli universities is nothing newBut what has rapidly improved over the last five years has been the journey from research lab to the marketplace. The blossoming and expansion of technology transfer companies - businesses housed on campus that are devoted to taking the products of the university's minds and presenting them to the world - has flourished with the end result being medicines and devices ranging from multiple sclerosis drugs to satellite communication 'smart cards' making their way into American homes and offices. And with four Nobel Prize winners to its credit in the last five years, Israeli universities have a lot to be proud of. More...


Culture | Israeli rockers to light up NY indie showcase  
The CMJ Music Marathon - the American independent rock music annual showcase in New York City - is going to have an Israeli accent this yearFour acts from Tel Aviv will rock Manhattan's Makor Club with their English-language music - Ex-Lion Tamer, Katamine, Anat Damon and Rockfour. They're the tip of an iceberg of a thriving Israeli music scene that is setting its sights on the international arena. More...


Culture | Real life hoop dreams for Israel's Gaza evacuees


Israel Plans Elephant Park (JTA)
Israel's Tourism Ministry announced Wednesday that it plans to open a park by 2008 near Kibbutz Nahal Oz where 30 female elephants from Asia will roam free or be harnessed for visitors to ride.


From Masorti




The Masorti (Conservative) Movement in Israel is dedicated to spreading the message of pluralism and inclusive and traditional Judaism to Israeli society.  The following is a story about Masorti Rabbi Barry Schlesinger who was recently elected president of the Israeli branch of the Rabbinical Assembly.

Rabbi Schlesinger’s religious roots were not in the Conservative Movement. He grew up in an Orthodox family in EnglewoodNew Jersey, made aliyah in 1972 and studied social work at Bar Ilan University. After his graduation, he and his wife settled in the Northern Israeli town of Tzefat where he was director of Project Renewal and director of the Sector Community Center in Tzefat's Caanan Neighborhood.

He became director of the Moross Community Center in the Jewish Quarter in Jerusalem. In 1993 he enrolled in the Schechter Institute of Jewish Studies MA Program with specialization in informal education. This experience ultimately led him to the Schechter Rabbinical School where he received smicha in 2001. Since 2001, Schlesinger has been Rabbi of Kehillat Moreshet Avraham in East Talpiot, Jerusalem.  Rabbi Schlesinger sees Kehillat Moreshet Avraham as a Jewish Community Center and a focal point for Jewish education, cultural activities, chessed projects and tefila for the local residents and the southeastern Jerusalem area.

“I will dedicate my term to strengthening the Conservative Movement and Masorti rabbinate in Israel,” said Rabbi Schlesinger.  “Israelis need Masorti rabbis and Masorti rabbis have to be in the front lines reaching out to all Israelis.”

Since the Rabbinical Assembly’s founding in 1901, it has been the creative force shaping the ideology, programs, and practices of the Conservative movement and is committed to building and strengthening the totality of Jewish life.  Rabbis of the Assembly serve congregations throughout the world, and also work as educators, officers of communal service organizations, and college, hospital, and military chaplains.

Rabbi Schlesinger will replace Rabbi Peretz Rodman who served as the President of the Rabbinical Assembly in Israel for the last two years. 

If you are interested in learning more about the Masorti Movement, please contact:

Masorti Foundation for Conservative Judaism in Israel
475 Riverside Drive, Suite 832
New York, NY 10115-0068
1.877.287.7414 toll-free

now for the rest


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

See also



A New Road for Israel - Avigdor Lieberman
To the editor of the New York Times: Your editorial got it wrongThe Middle East peace process has failed miserably, and trying to breathe new life into an already defunct process is not the way to go. I suggest we redefine our goals and focus on bringing security and stability to the Middle East instead of setting our sights on an unrealistic, unattainable fantasy. The declared missions of Hamas and Hizballah are not to expel Israel from Lebanon or Gaza but to eradicate all Jews from Tel Aviv, Haifa, and Jerusalem, and until they achieve that goal, they will not lay down their arms.
    Israel is where the war on terror started. Sadly, we have had to stand alone for many decades in the face of unrelenting attacks on our Western ideas and values of freedom and democracy. After the terror attacks of 9/11, Madrid in 2004, London in 2005 (and the list goes on), the world knows better. That's why old thinking, regardless of how well intentioned, simply won't work. It is time to go back to the drawing board, re-evaluate the goals of the peace process, and start anew. The writer is Israel's new Minister of Strategic Affairs. (New York Times)
    See also The Wrong Partner in Israel - Editorial (New York Times)


Scenes from the Jihad - Jeff Jacoby
At this point in the war against radical Islam, the radicals are on the marchFrom Ahmadinejad's swagger to Hizballah's war on Israel to the plot to blow up jetliners leaving London, our enemies are aggressive, relentless, and unequivocal in their determination to defeat us. Meanwhile, Western Europe is turning into Eurabia before our eyes, as a fading native population with its effete secular culture of pacifism and relativism is superseded by a surging Muslim cohort. Most Muslims are not Islamists or terrorists, of course. However, most of them keep quiet in the face of the radical offensive. That is all the radicals need to keep driving the jihad forward.
    Radical Islam is not going away. Like Nazism and communism, it is an ideology that produces the systemic murder of innocents. Like those earlier totalitarianisms, it will go on murdering until it is crushed. Like them, it is impervious to appeasement and contemptuous of weakness. The longer Americans sleep, the farther the jihad advances. (Boston Globe)


Lebanon War Reaffirms Arab World's "Resistance" Doctrine - Ehud Yaari (Washington Institute for Near East Policy)

  • Militarily, Israel dealt Hizballah a severe blow in this summer's Israel-Hizballah war: the group lost its grip on the Lebanon-Israel border, lost its arsenal of long-range missiles, and suffered serious causalities. Yet, despite displaying vulnerability in the later stages of the war, Hizballah secretary-general Hassan Nasrallah quickly recovered. The war allowed Hizballah to reaffirm the potency of the muqawama, or resistance, doctrine.
  • The perception that Israel failed in its wartime objectives was exported from Israel to the Arab world and has been used as proof of the resilience of the muqawama strategy. The doctrine holds that, to defeat one's adversaries, more can be achieved by armed resistance than by political agreement.
  • The muqawama doctrine does not call for the strengthening of armies to compete against adversaries' armed forces. Instead, it calls for battles to be waged against civilian populations.
  • Israel's neighbors - Syria, Egypt, Jordan, and the Palestinians - have all been threatened by the possibility that nonstate actors will hijack their foreign and domestic policy agendas. The fact that Egypt and Saudi Arabia criticized Hizballah's actions demonstrates that Arab states understand how anti-state precepts threaten their stability.
  • The goals of the muqawama doctrine are not achieved through the defense of a single, national territory, but rather through a continual wearing down of the enemy morally, physically, and psychologically.


PA Income Down 60% Since Hamas Took Power (AP/International Herald Tribune)
    The Palestinian Authority's income fell by 60% after Hamas took power in March, even as the government payroll expanded, creating an increasingly unsustainable situation, the International Monetary Fund reported Wednesday.
    Between April and September, the government took in just $500 million, down from more than $1.2 billion in the same period in 2005.
    The report said the number of PA civil servants grew by 5,400 this year, to more than 142,000 in mid-June.
    Most of the hiring took place in the security services, and some 20,000 new recruits are currently being trained and could be added to the payroll in the future.
    It now costs about $100 million a month to cover salaries for government workers, compared to about $80 million a month in mid-2005. The increase is also due to a generous across-the-board pay increase in late 2005.
    Economist Samir Hleileh, who served as Palestinian Cabinet secretary before Hamas came to power, warned that the current system of payments is setting back years of financial reform carried out by former Finance Minister Salam Fayyad, who had set up a single Treasury account to clean up rampant mismanagement and corruption.


Palestinian Emigration on the Rise (Jerusalem Post)
    Palestinians are leaving the territories due to the harsh security and economic situation there, the Palestinian Foreign Ministry said on Wednesday.
    Ahmed Suboh, a Palestinian Foreign Ministry official, said that over the last four months, foreign and Arab diplomats in the territories have authorized 10,000 Palestinians to enter their countries, and that some 45,000 additional emigration requests were currently being evaluated.


Egyptians See Israel, Denmark, U.S. as Enemies (AFP/Ynet News)
    A poll made public on Wednesday by an Egyptian state institute showed that 92% of Egyptians see Israel as an enemy - despite the peace agreement between the two countries.
    60% say Denmark is an enemy of Egypt, while 50% view America as an enemy.
    Countries crowned as "friends" of Egypt include Saudi ArabiaLibya, the PA, Sudan, and Syria.







You are cordially invited to Temple Beth El’s Annual Sisterhood

Paid Up Membership Brunch


Mrs. Diane Ferber-Collins


Diane Ferber-Collins has an MBA in Marketing and is completing her Masters in School Psychology.  Finding herself at home and noticing that there were many objects in her home that she was not using/did not need/never opened, she began her EBAY garage sale odyssey. Today, Diane has experience with what sells easily, will attract bidders, and insider tips to share.  She has taught an Ebay course to adults in the Darien Continuing Education Program for several years, and brings that content to Beth El.


Also Featuring:

Brunch food from Temple Beth El’s own cookbook.


Where: Temple Beth El  

When: This Sunday, November 5, 2006

Time:     10:00 a.m. – 12:00 p.m.

And please consider joining Sisterhood if you haven’t joined already




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.




22nd Annual Harold Hoffman Memorial Lecture


Guest lecturer: Peter Bergen

Best Selling Author and Terorrism Expert for CNN


Tuesday, November 14

at 8:00 PM



Osama bin Laden, History’s Most Successful Terrorist



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.



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 <>.


Looking forward to seeing you there!


Scott Allen

Elissa Hyman

Co-chairs for the TBE Progressive Dinner




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!



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.



 Come One, Come All on November 12

Register for Tapestry, a community wide evening of adult education





Friday, December 8 - Synaplex Shabbat

Exotic multi-cultural Shabbat dinner celebrating the new Sisterhood Cookbook,

New Member Shabbat, December Dilemma, Themes: Diversity and Hospitality,

Elise Klein of “Bridges” is our keynote speaker   


Friday and Sat. January 19 and 20 - Synaplex Shabbat/Shabbat Unplugged

Scholar in Residence Dr. Benjamin Gampel


Fri and Sat. February 9 and 10 - Synaplex Shabbat

Sisterhood Shabbat

Scholar in Residence, Rabbi Burt Visotzky

Havdalah Unplugged        


Friday March 9 - Synaplex Shabbat, Shabbat Unplugged,    


Shabbat, April 7 – Beth El Cares Synaplex Shabbat - Passover     


Friday May 3 - Synaplex Shabbat/Shabbat Across America,


Friday, May 10 – Synaplex Shabbat/Shabbat Unplugged


Shabbat, June 23 -Synaplex Shabbat, adult b’nai mitzvah    


Download a volunteer form at

or  Click here for the Volunteer Form


contact our Synaplex committee at


Fill it out and send it back – and join the dozens who have already stepped forward!


And for more general information about Synaplex,

go to



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?




LIFE FORCE : A Shoah Love Story

A play by Tamar Gershberg , Mary Lee Grisanti , and Michael Limone



My name is Mary Lee Grisanti, I teach in the UConn English Department (Stamford Campus) and I am writing to make everyone aware of an extraordinary project underway in the City of Stamford.


A few years ago, writer Tamar Gershberg and I were given grants by the CT Commission on the Arts and Stamford Cultural Development Corp. to develop a drama from the memoirs of Tamar's uncle, Willi Tannenbaum, written in the first few months after his liberation from Auschwitz. This play will now be performed by Stamford High School, under the direction of Michael Limone. The production will then travel to the Connecticut Drama Competition in March and to the Edinburgh Fringe Festival in Scotland in August.


Most of our public high school students know little of the Holocaust. In order to make sure that their work is deeply informed and sensitive, their teachers, parents and other community partners have committed to giving the students intensive Holocaust education. In the future, we hope to take the production to more schools.


Willi, the son of a Hasidic family from Tarnow who ran away to live the cabaret life in pre-war Berlin, survived the Holocaust because of his excellent knowledge of languages, and his gregarious and principled personality. He escaped the first year of the war on Aryan papers with the help of a compassionate German woman who loved him. But when he saw the immensity of what was happening, Willi returned to his family in Tarnow and took his place among them. He was sent to Plashow (the Schindler camp, though he did not succeed in working for Schindler) and ultimately Auschwitz. Again and again he made decisions for the good of others which should have cost him his life, but miraculously did not. Willi did not lose his humanity in the "Unhumanmaking Machine" (the manuscript's German title). The play includes what happens after the Holocaust as Willi searches for his lost love -- who has kept him alive in Auschwitz by sending him packages through a Polish political prisoner.


LIFE FORCE is a true example of how stories come to life in community. Please join us.


LIFE FORCE: A Shoah Love Story


Stamford High School Auditorium

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








Youth Programming




Not as long as a Shabbaton,
Not as short as yesterday's great bowling event...

Kadima's 3rd Annual Election Day Sleepover
Sleepovers seem to be high up on the kids list of things they would like to do with Kadima this year,

so we thought it would make sense to take advantage of the long weekend. 

(Reminder: Kadima is the 6th-8th grade youth group)

Please see the attached flier for details and RSVP soon.  It will be one of the highlights of the year!

Edoe Cohen
Temple Beth-El Youth Advisor

In case you have trouble with the flier:

What: Sleepover with games, snacks, movies and more.
Where: Temple Beth-El
When: Monday - Tuesday, November 6th-7th, 8pm - 10am
Price: $10
Sleeping over is not mandatory - kids can be picked up before the night is up if they prefer to sleep at home.
Please RSVP no later than this Friday, Nov. 3rd by replying to this email.















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




Hats Off!

A Rabbi was walking, slowly, out of a shul in New York, when a gust of wind blew his hat off and down the street. He was an old man, who walked with the aid of a cane, and he couldn't run after the hat. Across the street, a young gentile man saw what was happening, rushed over and grabbed the hat. He then returned it to the Rabbi.

"I don't think I could have retrieved my hat by myself," said the Rabbi. "Thank you very much!" He then placed his hand on the man's shoulder and said, "May God bless you."

The young man thought to himself, "I've been blessed by the Rabbi, this must be my lucky day!" He decided then and there to go to the racetrack. In the first race he noticed a horse named 'Stetson' at 20 to 1. He bet $50 and, sure enough, the horse came in first. In the second race, a horse named 'Fedora' was at 30 to 1, so he bet all his money on that horse. Fedora came in first, as well.

At the end of the day the man returned home to his wife. She asked him where he'd been. He explained about catching the Rabbi's hat, and being blessed by him, and how he then went to the track and did so well betting on horses named after hats.

"So where's the money?" she said.

"I lost it all in the ninth race. I bet on a horse named 'Chateau' and it lost."

"You fool," exclaimed his wife, 'Chateau' is a house, 'chapeau' is a hat!"

"It doesn't matter," he said, "the winner was some Japanese horse named 'Yarmulka'."


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

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