Friday, December 1, 2006

December 1, 2006 – Kislev 11, 5767

December 1, 2006 – Kislev 11, 5767


Rabbi Joshua HammermanTemple Beth El, StamfordConnecticut


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








Join your fellow community members and volunteer on Super Sunday,


(UJF's community phone-a-thon)

on December 3, 2006.

Register now to volunteer


Friday is World AIDS Day – if you are receiving this on Thursday, consider joining Cantor Littman and myself at the Interfaith Service tonight at 7 PM. Details in Announcements below



Our 7th graders planted1000 daffodil bulbs…


7th Grade Mitzvah Project Nov 2006 018


See the Beth El Cares section below find out about this exciting 7th grade mitzvah project. 

Then check out for more photos of the event,

plus our extensive library of photo albums,

articles, sermons, info about the temple,

Shabbat-O-Grams and links to the Jewish world.




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




Special Blood Drive

in honor of Bobby Silberman

(see details in Mitzvah section below)





Synaplex returns!!!!!



Download the reservation form NOW at


Here’s what’s happening: 


 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, with Nurit here for the younger children and a Scrabble tournament for older ones..


Here’s what we’ll be eating:



         Yom Tov Chicken (Sari Jaffe) – “This is a great dish to make for the New Year or Passover. 

I got the recipe from the late Tish Lilie who was a wonderful cooking demonstrator at a New Canaan food store”.

         Sweet Potato Latkes (Marge Shameer) – “Enjoy”

         Apple Cranberry Relish (Ellen Gordon) – “Great with brisket, turkey, or chicken. 

Vary the fruits added to your preference”.

         Claremont Salad(Loralee Granowitz) – “Enjoy”

         Sharon's Double Chocolate Brownies (Sharon Hittman) – “I usually bake these in foil pans and freeze them without cutting them. 

 I then give them away in the pans uncut or cut them up and present them in individual paper cupcake liners on a tray or in a wicker basket. 

One recipe makes one pan of brownies.  I have made up to 18 times the recipe but you need a gigantic bowl for that much batter.”



And here are some of the stories behind the recipes…

(we’ll be sharing lots more that night)


         “My mom, Mollie, enjoyed cooking for her family, but I don’t remember her owning any cookbooks or having a recipe collection.  I do recall, however, all of the wonderful smells and food coming from our small kitchen”.  Barbara Gold


         “This section is dedicated to my grandmother, Beate Yunker, who came from a totally assimilated German home.  Through the ironies of history, she found herself in ParkersburgWest Virginia, in the 1950s – struggling to keep kosher.  This required picking up meat sent monthly from Pittsburgh to the local Greyhound Bus station.  When I was small, I asked her why she did this.  “Because I love my husband,” she replied – an act of commitment to my grandfather Max and to the religion she respected but understood so little of”.  Fran Ginsburg


         “It is told that this recipe came from Mrs. Roth, mother of author Philip Roth”.  Kim Hittman


         “This recipe was given to me by my wonderful mother-in-law, Muriel Novack.  She had received it from her mother, Marion Jacobson”.  Lynn Villency Cohen. 


         “My mother’s finest recipe ever.  No one who has ever had it has ever forgotten the experience”.   Ellen Gordon


         “My friend Doi is a great soup maker.  She served this soup at our semi-annual women’s retreat.  Later, I made it for my mom’s 87th birthday celebration”Caroline Temlock Teichman


         “Miriam’s husband, Snekky, believed that you should eat soup after the meal to wash it down”.  Miriam Stosser


         Passed down from my mother (a Carolina southerner) to me, now to my children, and to you”.  Jennifer W. Lapine


         “This recipe has been in our family for more than 100 years.  It came from Europe and was handed down from mother to daughter”.  Millie Sobel


         “My mother made the highest, lightest sponge cakes ever and she made them for everyone (family and friends) at Passover”.  Linda Simon


         “This is Steven’s mother’s traditional recipe and an old family favorite”.  Susan Leiterstein



Quote for the Week


On this week of the progressive dinner…


“Can you accept the moments of anger and fear as guests,

be willing to receive them with kindness

without feeling obliged to serve them a five-course meal?”


-Christina Feldman in 'Compassion: Listening to the Cries of the World'





Friday Evening 

Candle lighting: 4:09 pm on Friday, 1 December 2006.  For candle lighting times, Havdalah 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 chapel


Tot Shabbat: 6:45 – in the lobby.


Shabbat Morning: 9:30 AM– on Shabbat, we celebrate the Bar Mitzvah of David Katz.  Mazal tov to David and to his parents Joan and Sheldon! 


Donate Food to Help the Hungry
All donations will be taken to the local food bank.
I will personally shelve the food so the more donations you give, the harder I will work!
Boxes will be located in the Hebrew school lobby and at my Bar Mitzvah on 12/2/06.
Thank you.
David Katz


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)



Our Torah Reading for Shabbat Morning

Parashat Vayetzei
פרשת ויצא


Genesis 28:10 - 32:3 – Jacob’s Journeys

1: 31:17-21

Haftarah Hosea 12:13 - 14:10


If you liked Storahtelling, you’ll LOVE Storahtelling’s new weekly blog about the Torah portion Find it at  ORT Navigating the BibleRashi in English; BibleGateway: Useful for comparing different translations: Note- this is a Christian site.
What’s Bothering Rashi (Bonchek) Each week, one example from the parashah is deconstructedSee 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 Other divrei Torah via the Torahnet home page: your Parasha I.Q.:’s Torah commentary archive:  World Zionist Organization Education page, including Nehama Liebowitz archives of parsha commentaries: For a more Kabbalistic/Zionist/Orthodox perspective from Rav Kook, first Chief Rabbi of Israel, go to some probing questions and meditations on key verses of the portion, with a liberal kabbalistic bent, go to or, for Kabbalistic commentaries from the Zohar itself, go to  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:



100 Blessings: Download information about the grace after meals (see Birkat Ha-mazon explained in Wikipedia and in the Jewish Virtual Library)  The actual prayer can be downloaded at Birkat Hamazon [pdf]


Morning Minyan

7:30 Weekdays, 9:30 Sundays

We’ve had Guaranteed Minyan requests for yahrzeits on Tuesday December 12 and Sunday, December 17.  If you can make it, please take a moment to sign up at the Rosner Minyan Maker at




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!

Please sign up at the Rosner Minyan Maker at



The Beth El Bar/Bat Mitzvah Commentary


Katie Zabronsky’s Commentary on Nov. 25th portion: Toldot


Katie had the unusual privilege of celebrating her Bat Mitzvah as part of a Caribbean cruise (I dubbed it a “Boat Mitzvah”) during Thanksgiving week.  It was held at a historic synagogue on St. Thomas.  Here’s what she had to say:


I am so happy that my friends and family are here with me to celebrate my bat mitzvahFamily is very important to me. This ties into my torah portion, which talks about family relationships.


These family relationships that occur in the portion aren’t always positive:  Jacob and Esau don’t get along even before they are bornAlso, each of the parents favors one of their childrenWhen Esau, the first born, comes back from a long day, he wants soup that Jacob, the second born, has made.  Jacob takes advantage of his brother’s hunger to gain his birth rightTo receive the blessing of the first born, Jacob deceives his father, with help from RebeccaWhen Esau finds out his father has already given his blessing to Jacob, Esau threatens to kill his brotherEsau marries someone that his parents do not approve ofAnd finally, Jacob runs away from homeThese are all examples of bad family relationships.


            Reading about this dysfunctional family helps me to realize how lucky I am to have such a great familyMy parents and sister are always there for me when I need themAlthough Rachel and I do fight sometimes, we aren’t quite like Jacob and EsauUnlike Jacob and Esau’s parents, my parents don’t favor one of us, but treat us both with love and fairnessSimilar to Jacob, I like to cookI usually make food for Rachel when she is too lazy to do it herself, although I haven’t traded the food to her for her birthright… yet. 


Commentators point out that after Abraham died, everything began to go downhillLike Abraham, all of my grandparents hold my family together.


Here are the ingredients to a healthy family: love, patience, respect for all family members and their different skillsIn the torah portion, Esau’s family doesn’t respect his talents, which were archery and hunting.  Jacob however was a good student and this skill was more highly respected.


            All families also include extended familyThe entire Jewish community is one big familyI felt like I was a member of that family at the Maccabiah Games in IsraelThis past summer, I also felt this at the Maccabi Games in StamfordI am so happy to be part of the Jewish family.


For my mitzvah project, my friends Jenna, and Rebecca and I, have decided to volunteer at Brighton Gardens, a home for senior citizensThere, we interact and socialize with the residents.  Everyone at Brighton Gardens has also formed their own familyThey have warmly welcomed us into their family and community, and I have found the experience to be very rewardingI will continue to volunteer at Brighton Gardens after my Bat Mitzvah.


Once again, I am so happy to be here with all of my family and friendsIt means so much to me that you all cameI would like to thank everyone for making this day possibleJudy Aronin, my tutor, has guided me through all I have learned for my Bat MitzvahNext, I would like to thank the Rabbi and the Cantor for also helping with my studiesLastly, thank you Mom, Dad, and Rachel for planning this and supporting me.  







Ranting Rabbi





A Crossroads for Conservative Judaism


This coming week, (on Dec. 5 and 6), the Committee Jewish Law and Standards of the Conservative Movement (CJLS) will be meeting to discuss several new “teshuvot” (responsa) on issues related to homosexuality and Conservative Judaism.  The impact of these deliberations will be profound and long lasting for the entire movement.  I have begun studying the lengthy responsa, which have been distributed to rabbis, and I’ll be attending one of the committee’s deliberation sessions as an invited guest.  Whatever the Law Committee decides, it is important that Conservative congregations everywhere begin to gain a better understanding of the process a sense of where we go from here.  During this winter’s Synaplex Shabbats and at other times, we’ll have opportunities to begin studying this issue together and begin to assess the impact on our own community.


One thing is certain, the Conservative Movement will be changed dramatically by next week’s events, no matter what happens.


Meanwhile, in anticipation of this deliberation, we can learn more about exactly what the CJLS is, what it does, what is the role of the congregational rabbi in all this, and some background on this issue in particular.  You can find much of that information at in excellent site set up by the Jewish Theological Seminary,   CJLS Discussion on Homosexuality (  There you will find:


Here is how the Rabbinical Assembly website describes the CJLS:


The Committee on Jewish Law and Standards sets halakhic policy for Rabbinical Assembly rabbis and for the Conservative movement as a wholeIts membership consists of twenty-five rabbis who are voting-members, as well as five non-voting lay representatives of the United Synagogue and one non-voting cantor representing the Cantors' AssemblyThe Committee discusses all questions of Jewish law that are posed by members of the Rabbinical Assembly or arms of the Conservative movementWhen a question is placed on the agenda, individual members of the Committee will write teshuvot (responsa) which are discussed by the relevant subcommittees, and are then heard by the Committee, usually at two separate meetingsPapers are approved when a vote is taken with six or more members voting in favor of the paper. Approved teshuvot represent official halakhic positions of the Conservative movementRabbis have the authority, though, as marei d'atra, to consider the Committee's positions but make their own decisions as conditions warrantMembers of the Committee can also submit concurring or dissenting opinions that are attached to a decision, but do not carry official status.


Note that it is entirely possible that the movement would adopt two diametrically opposed positions as viable halakhic options.  That has happened in any number of situations and likely will here.  The system is set up in such a way as to promote pluralism and dialogue.  I consider it the greatest strength of Conservative Judaism.


As soon as any significant information is made available to the public, I will inform the congregation.




Below is my column from last week’s Jewish Week:

Losing Touch With Touching

Joshua Hammerman

During the recent election campaign, the New York Times reported that politicians now routinely cleanse their hands with Purell after each episode of pressing the flesh with their supportersPurell, the hand-sanitizing gel that claims to kill 99.9 percent of the most common germs, seems to be popping up everywhereIt is now dispensed outside every patient’s door at my local hospital and I find myself constantly loading up on it as I stroll from room to room, swiftly rubbing my hands so the stuff will dry before I reach out to touch the next person in need.

When the Israeli novelist David Grossman first visited America, he commented, “Americans are very polite, but trying to relate to them is like kissing through glass.”

It’s impossible to be a caring pastor without occasionally holding or shaking a hand, but more and more we are being asked to do our jobs with sterile gloves and masksWe’ve become so microbially beset that we’ve lost touch with touching.

I can see where this is headingThe Torah procession of the not-so-distant-future will feature the bar mitzvah student carrying the sacred scroll, followed by the glad-handing rabbi, cantor, and proud parents, then maybe a sexton, a synagogue officer or two, and finally, bringing up the rear, a member of the ritual committee dispensing gobs of Purell to the crowd.

Our society has become so obsessed with the violation of personal space that we’ve actually found an area where the doctors and lawyers agreeThe medical profession is fixated on hygiene and the lawyers are loco about liabilityEveryone is saying, “Hands off.” Because, sadly, a pastor’s caring touch has all-too-often evolved into something more illicit, now even when that contact is totally well intentioned (as is the case 99.9 percent of the time), in this climate of pastoral paranoia, it is often perceived otherwise.

At one time, the laws of ritual purity were more important than just about any other aspect of Jewish practiceAn entire order of the Mishna “Taharot,” is dedicated to them, focusing on impure vessels and food and the spiritual contamination caused by bodily discharges, corpses and diseaseOne of the order’s 12 tractates is called “Yadayim,” or handsBut of these 12 tractates, only one was considered relevant enough to warrant discussion in the Babylonian Talmud, the tractate “Niddah,” which discusses a woman’s menstrual cycleMost Mishnaic purity laws were rendered obsolete by the destruction of the second temple in 70 CE; we recall them now with such acts as the ritual washing of hands before a meal.

The Psalmist equated clean hands and a pure heart (Psalm 24:4), and Rabbi Pinchas ben Yair was the first to liken cleanliness with Godliness (Sotah, chapter 9, Mishna 15).  Did you know that God’s ineffable name begins with the same letter – Yod – whose very name means “hand?”  If you look at the most ancient proto-Semitic alphabet, the Yod looks just like a bent arm, complete with fingers.  There is something very Godly about our hands – and there is no more sacred gesture than the human touch.

It is never easy to explain the laws of purity to modern JewsUsing the analogy of “cooties” makes it all seem so childish and shallow; these laws put us in touch with the deepest mysteries of life by constantly returning us to primal moments of passage, of birthing and dyingThe ritual bath is enjoying a renaissance among even non-traditional Jews who are being awakened to that powerful experience of spiritual renewalWith each seepage of potential life (aptly called by Rabbi Susan Grossman a “life-leak”), woman and men are encouraged to replenish their pursuit of a life-affirming sexuality through the act of immersionEven the most secular person – basically, anyone who has ever taken a hot shower after stumbling out of bed – can sense the restorative powers of flowing waters.

And even the most assimilated family knows to place water on the doorstep when returning from the cemeteryPouring water over our hands helps us to forge a passage, a birth canal, back from the abode of death to the realm of the livingThen, once we enter the house of mourning, we immediately perform another life-affirming act: we eat.

We can appreciate our ancestors’ obsession with purity because it mirrors our ownThis generation might be the most germaphobic in historyBefore Purell, there was Listerine, which in the 1920s practically invented the American aversion to bad breathIn fact, the pseudo-medical term “halitosis” was created in 1921 as part of a marketing campaignPfizer, the company that brings us Listerine and acquired Purell in 2004 clearly understands the trendListerine sales have increased by double digits over the past couple of yearsLots of new anti-germ products are flooding the market, including a portable subway strap to avoid contact with the metal one, an around-the-neck-air purifier and “antiviral” Kleenex, designed to kill cold and flu virus on contact.

In fearful times like ours, when the most dreaded enemies are unseen, we naturally tend to shy away from contact with the unknown — or, for that matter, the known, since even our most intimate friends are inundated with millions of invisible enemiesEveryone — and everything — is taintedI’ve even seen Hebrew-school kids scouring the yarmulke bin for head liceThe purity laws are Judaism’s way of acknowledging that fear of the invisible and channeling it into life-affirming action.

So now, what do we do in a Torah procession when people are afraid to shakeMaybe a Purell dispenser on the pulpit is the answerBut at the same time I will hope to remind people that each extended hand is guaranteed to be at least 99.9 percent pure: because embedded within it is the first letter of the name of Godn

Rabbi Joshua Hammerman is spiritual leader of Temple Beth El in StamfordConn.

Special To The Jewish Week



2005 Boston Community Study Released


Last week at services and then again at a UJF board meeting, I referred to this landmark study.  After decades of bad news, at last the Jewish community may have turned a demographic corner.  The Jewish population in Boston has increased markedly, and the main reason seems to be that this Jewish Village has generated a huge increase in the rate of interfaith families raising their kids as Jews.


See more about this below – and download the study to see more about its methodologyHere are some recent articles about the study: To read background material from my d’var Torah for last week, leading into a discussion of the study, click on Kolel's Parasha Study



From the CJP website:

Combined Jewish Philanthropies (CJP) and the Steinhardt Social Research Institute (SSRI) at Brandeis University have released the preliminary findings of the 2005 Greater Boston Jewish Community Study.   The study, commissioned by CJP and developed by SSRI, concludes that there has been an increase in the Jewish population, as well as the population of Jewish householdsThe study describes a vibrant community engaged in multiple ways in Jewish lifeThe study also found that the majority of children in intermarried households are being raised as Jews.  Click here to read more about the study





From the Jewish Outreach Institute:


What a Difference Outreach Can Make…

Intermarriage is often presented as the End of the Jewish People or, at the very least, the cause of a reduction in the size of the Jewish communityHowever, a new study of Boston released by the Combined Jewish Philanthropies (CJP) and the Steinhardt Social Research Institute shows that with an emphasis on outreach to the intermarried, this is not the case at allWith a concentration in programs for the intermarried, a Federation supporting the efforts, and a plethora of Jewish communal activities, intermarried parents will choose to raise their children as JewsThe Boston study concluded that almost 60% of the children raised in intermarried families are being raised as JewsThis compares to what the NJPS claims as 33%We believe that the NJPS numbers are flawed and this methodology is much more robust; the national figures may be much higherIn any case, 60% is significantly higher than any other community measured and actually leads to growth in the Jewish community—as it seems to be doing in Boston.


The number of intermarried families, for example, is close to reaching the number of in-married familiesThere is no reason not to believe that with an intermarriage rate of 37-40% (according to the study), there will soon be more intermarried families than in-married families in the community(However, the study’s authors were careful not to make any such future projections.Two articles, Investment in Outreach is Paying Dividends in Boston, Study Suggests by Sue Fishkoff and Jewish Population in Region Rises by Michael Paulson analyze the results of this new study that confirms what we at JOI have been saying: how we respond to the challenge of interfaith marriage will determine the future landscape of the North American Jewish community. In Boston, the landscape looks hopeful indeed.


Boston’s Good News on Intermarriage – (the Jewish Week)


Leonard Saxe, Charles Kadushin And Benjamin Phillips

Intermarriage is changing the face of the American Jewish communityNational estimates suggest that about half of recently married Jews have partnered with non-JewsIf that rate is sustained through the next generation, two-thirds of American Jewish families will include non-Jewish membersIntermarriage is a sociological fact, not a value statement and, as social scientists, we try to understand this trendOur findings regarding intermarriage in the recently completed 2005 Boston Jewish community study add a new dimension to this debate.

Boston Study Shows 60% of Interfaith Kids Raised Jewish Outreach Is Credited for Rise In Community’s Population

Nathaniel Popper | Fri. Nov 17, 2006

A new study has found that a significant majority of the children from intermarried couples in the Boston area are being raised Jewish — one reason for a surprising overall increase in the region’s Jewish population.



Jewish population in region rises - Results called a surprise,

By Michael Paulson, Boston Globe, November 10, 2006

As the number of Jews in the United States is thought to be flat or falling, the Jewish community in Greater Boston is growing, fueled by an unexpectedly high percentage of children in mixed-faith households who are being raised in the Jewish faith, according to a new demographic study.







Mitzvah/Tzedakkah Opportunties




Beth El Cares
Cathy Satz (968-9191;
Cheryl Wolff (968-6361;
BETH EL CARES co-chairs
7th Grade Mitzvah Project (see photo above)
Ask any member of this year's 7th grade class if they'd rather be inside a classroom or outside gardening and 97% of them will respond "gardening."
On Sunday, November 17, the 7th graders joined together for a class mitzvah project. 
Traditionally class mitzvah projects are done by Kindergartners through 6th graders,
 while the 7th graders work on their individual bar/bat mitzvah projects.  
This year, teacher Mara Hammerman and education director Eran Vasbien, wanted the 7th graders to be included in the "group" concept.  
Led by Mara and parent volunteers Lisa Pomerance and Dana Weinberg, 
the class enthusiastically dug trenches and planted 1000 daffodil bulbs to help beautify the synagogue grounds.  
A few other parent helpers, Joy Katz, Cathy Satz and Carl Weinberg were also spotted with shovels in hand, 
as were madrichim Harrison Shapiro and Dara Gold.
Most of the bulbs were planted outside the "right" sanctuary windows, 
to add to the bulbs planted last year in the new Temple Beth-El Holocaust Memorial Garden that Brandon Pomerance is working on for his bar-mitzvah project.  
Some beds were also planted outside the "left" sanctuary windows so this spring, 
congregants sitting on the other side of the sanctuary can also enjoy the flowers' beauty.
The 7th grade curriculum includes study about the Holocaust, 
so this project tied nicely to the curriculum.  
The students had so much fun, they are hoping to do more planting in the spring 
when they visit the cemetery as part of their life cycle studies.
This year, Beth El Cares will be continuing a long standing tradition of serving dinner 
at St. Luke’s and Pacific House on Christmas Eve. 
We need two team captains, one to head up the volunteers at each location, 
and we need volunteers to donate the following to make these dinners a success:
Cooked turkey 
Cans of Gravy
Cranberry Sauce (cans or homemade)
Mashed Potatoes
Sweet Potato Casseroles
Tossed Salad with Dressing on the Side
Cooked Vegetables
Fresh Fruit
Rolls and Butter
Breads (Banana, Cranberry)
Coffee, Tea, Sugar, Artificial Sweetener and Milk
Paper Goods (plates, silverware, hot and cold cups, and napkins)
If it’s easier for you, make a Monetary Contribution towards the above items 
and we’ll do the shopping.  
Make your checks payable to Temple Beth El Cares 
and note in the memo area “Beth El Cares/Xmas Eve dinner.”  
Please send your checks to the office by Thursday, December 21.





On Sunday, December 17th,

the Kindergarten, First and Second grade classes will be

Performing a Hanukkah concert at Brighton Gardens.

We will be leaving the Temple at 9:15 AM. 

The program will be between 9:30 and 10:30 AM.


After the performance please join us back at the

Temple for our Hanukkah Celebration.


Parent Volunteers are needed to provide transportation.

Please contact Joanna in the school office to volunteer.

322-6901 ext. 306


AmeriCares HomeFront

AmeriCares HomeFront is a non-profit humanitarian organization that helps community members whose physical and financial limitations prevent them from maintaining their homes.  HomeFront is currently accepting requests for assistance and will be interviewing candidates through DECEMBER 16, 2006.

To request an application, call HomeFront at 1-800-887-HOPE (4673).  Homeowners are selected on the basis of need. 

Repairs may include carpentry, painting, plastering, weatherproofing, window replacement, cleaning and yard work. 

HomeFront promises to keep all applications confidential.  Selections will be made around March 2007

 and the repair work for selected homeowners will be done in May 2007.


Speaking of the repair work, AmeriCares HomeFront is also looking for volunteers to make the repairs. 

Since the repair work will be done on Shabbat (Saturday, May 5, 2007), Temple Beth El cannot sponsor a team. 

However, any congregant who is interested in participating should contact HomeFront at 1-800-887-HOPE (4673). 

AmeriCares is also happy to accept financial contributions which are tax deductible.


For more information, go to or call 1-800-887-HOPE.




Special Blood Drive
in honor of Bobby Silberman.
It is being held at the Tully Center = 32 Strawberry Hill Court
Sponsored by The Stamford Kiwanis Club
Dec 2, 2006 .
Time :  8:00AM---1:30PM.
Please call Lydia at 325-9501 to schedule your appointment.
World AIDS Day – Dec. 1


World AIDS Day, the global day of action and remembrance on HIV/AIDS, takes place every December 1. Now in its 19th year, World AIDS Day is about increasing awareness and education and fighting prejudiceWAD reminds the world that HIV/AIDS persists, and that there are many things still left to be done. By working together, we can make a difference in the global fight against HIV and AIDS.

The most important goals of World AIDS Day include raising awareness, reflecting on the realities of the pandemic, and remembering the millions living with HIV or suffering because of AIDS. The vulnerable groups must not be regarded as victims, but as those who, when empowered, can lead the way forward. The world can no longer afford to ignore them. We must make it possible for them to envision a future.

December 1, World AIDS Day, is also about wearing the Red Ribbon reminding us all that HIV is an issue for everyone. We need your help to encourage your community and the broader public to Wise Up and Wear It as a sign of support for people living with HIV and as a symbol of hope for the future.

But World AIDS Day isn't just about one day. Truly a long-term educational effort, planning can take place throughout the year. People all over the world have been inspired to act in small, yet meaningful ways to bring attention to the AIDS crisis and promote actual structural change to stop the spread of the disease and treat those already infected.

Please get involved and campaign to make December 1, 2006 the most effective, captivating World AIDS Day yet!


Tsunami Follow-Up


I received this from TBE Member Ellyn Shander.  Please take the time to open the link and pass along this information.


Dear Josh,

As you might remember I went to Sri lanka after the tsunami two times to help with grief counselingI me t beautiful people who feel like familyThe present crises and genocide of these people is breaking my heartI am enclosing the letter and the article that I wrote on the netPlease distribute it as you can.

Best Regards

Ellyn Shander MD


Dear friends,

I am a doctor that had the honor of working in Sri Lanka after the tsunamiI am very committed to trying to get the international community and President Clinton to intervene in the present genocide of the Tamil people.

A well known journalist Michael Yon has an Internet magazine that is well read by many people all over the worldHe has graciously given me room on his magazine to write about the plight of the Tamils and to suggest ways people can help.


1.Go to the site listed below and read the article that I wrotePlease open all the links that are highlighted in the articleThey are articles that have not appeared in the general media because of the Singhalese government's censor.

2. Please send this site to anyone and everyone that you can think of that could read this letter and the articles and help spread the wordMedia contacts are especially helpfulThey may pick up the story and publicize it.

3. As you forward this link, it would be helpful if you send it with a short note from YOU that invites the person to read itThis personal touch will encourage your contacts to read it, as they don't know me.

Please excuse any inadequacies in this article.  I have written it for maximum exposure and a plea for help.

I welcome any comments.


Ellyn Shander MD

Please note that at the end of this article we post daily updates and comments.  Please visit this





Former Darfur Rebel says Government Rearming Militia.  Former Darfur rebel turned presidential adviser, Minni Arcua Minnawi, accused the Sudanese government of rearming and mobilizing the feared Janjaweed militia, violating a peace deal signed in May.  He also urged the international community to take action rather than just talk about the Darfur conflict, which has killed 200,000 and driven 2.5 million people from their homes in the vast region in the west of Sudan.  “Everybody knows that the government is rearming the Janjaweed,” Minnawi said in an interview.  “Absolutely, it is proven and I am sure that it is true,” he said.  Mostly non-Arab rebels took up arms in Darfur in early 2003, accusing central government of marginalizing the remote westKhartoum mobilized tribal militias to quell the revolt.  Those militias stand accused of a campaign of rape, murder and pillage which Washington calls genocide. Khartoum denies genocide and any links to the Janjaweed, calling them bandits.  Click here to read this entire article from Reuters.

Darfur Crisis at Worse Levels.  More people have fled their homes within Sudan's Darfur region than at any time since the conflict started there nearly four years ago, said the UN on Monday in a report on the worsening humanitarian crisis.  “The number of IDPs (internally displaced people) has reached nearly two million, the highest level since the conflict started in 2003 and an increase of some 125,000 since the July 1 report,” said a summary of the report.  The report comes amid efforts to upgrade peacekeeping operations in Darfur where violence continues between government forces and rebel factions and threatens to spill over into neighboring countries.  Click here to read this entire article from   


Adult Babysitter Needed

We are looking for an Adult Babysitter for the weekendsWe have one child, age 3.  If someone is interested they can reach me during the day at 212-733-4990.







Now that Thanksgiving is over…

Is Turkey REALLY Kosher?


It’s not so clear-cut as you would think.  While many birds are specified in the Torah, the turkey is not one of them.  See two fascinating articles on this halakhic quandary, and then decide for yourself!  A D’var Torah by Rabbi Joshua Heller, Director of Distance Learning - JTS

This week's ParashahRe'eh, contains a wonderful juxtaposition of mitzvot, which, when taken together, provide an insight into how Jews deal with novel situations and the disagreements that arise from them, and also allows me to share a peculiarity of my own family historyOne of the commandments which the Jewish people have found most difficult to follow in practice is found in Deuteronomy 14:1: "lo titgodedu.The plain sense of the verse is "You should not gash yourselves... because of the dead.One must avoid pagan mourning customs that include self-mutilationThe rabbinic interpretation of the verse, however, is that Jews should not form themselves into multiple subgroups "agudot agudot" (B. Yevamot 13b) each following a different understanding of the lawTherefore, there should not be two Jewish courts in one city, one permitting a particular practice, the other forbidding it.

All of this brings us to the humble turkeyFor most families, disagreements over turkey fall into simple categories like who gets the drumstick, the lumpiness of the gravy, or whose parents to go to for ThanksgivingFor my family, (and the Jewish family as a whole, really) the issues are weightier than one might expect.

The next verses of Deuteronomy 14 take as their main theme the laws of kosher animalsThese laws have already been stated in Leviticus, but take on new relevance in Deuteronomy as the Israelites are about to enter the land of Israel and will now be permitted to eat meat more freely than they could in the desert (Deut. 12:20)For certain types of animals, the Bible provides specific examples and criteriaFor instance, Deuteronomy 14:4-5 lists the kosher land mammals, and goes on to explain that they must chew their cud and have split hoovesJust to be sure, the text also lists those animals like the pig and the camel that one might mistakenly believe to be kosher because they have one of these characteristics and not the otherKosher fish are not listed by name, but must have fins and scalesTherefore, if one were to encounter a new species of fish or mammal, one could usually tell by simple examination whether the species is kosher or not.

The situation with birds is more complicatedThe Bible says (Deut. 14:11) "You may eat any clean bird.One might then expect a set of characteristics, or a list of species, but in fact the Bible does not provide any way to identify an edible birdInstead, it goes on to list twenty specific types and families of non-kosher birds, plus the bat for good measure, expanded to twenty-four non-kosher birds in total in accordance with rabbinic interpretation of the phrase "and their kind.This particular presentation of the law leaves many open questionsDoes that mean that all other birds are to be considered kosherGiven the vagaries of the biblical language and ancient ornithology, how can we be absolutely sure that a particular bird is not in fact a member of one of the non-kosher families?

The sages of the Mishnah (M. Hullin 3:6), presented with new birds that were unfamiliar to their ancestors, listed four criteria for making these determinationsTo confirm kosher status, birds must have certain physiological features: an extra toe, a crop and a gizzard which is easy to peelThere is also a behavioral criterion, namely that kosher birds may not be dores (display certain types of predatory behavior)Some sages, like Rashi, were concerned that these criteria were insufficientThere had been incidents, even going back to the days of the Talmud (B. Hullin 62b) where people had encountered a new type of bird, and assumed it was kosher based on the first three criteriaIt was only after some time had passed that they realized that the bird was a predator and therefore not kosherRashi and others who followed him therefore decreed that only birds for which there was a masoret (an unbroken, reliable tradition) could be considered kosher, and any new birds subsequently discovered would be considered off limits.

Fast-forward to the 1500s, as the turkey, which was native to the Americas, was first brought back to Europe by the early explorers of the New WorldWould this new bird, never before seen by Europeans, be accepted as kosherEventually, the majority of European Jews did accept it, but the process by which this acceptance came about is unclearFor indeed, while many sages of that era used the four signs enumerated by the sages of the Mishnah, some of the most prominent rabbis of the period, including Rabbi Moshe Isserles, (Mapah on Shulhan Arukh YD82:3) were firmly in Rashi's camp, and rejected the possibility of any new birds being kosherAnd yet, neither he nor his contemporaries mentioned this particular new bird by nameBy the time the turkey appeared in Jewish legal literature, in the 1700s, the issue had more-or-less been decided, with only a few vociferous holdoutsIn fact, according to the United States Department of Agriculture's 2001 statistics, Israelis now eat more turkey per capita than residents of any other country in the world!

The question is of personal interest for me as wellRabbi Yom-Tov Lippman Heller (1579-1654), was a prominent sage in the generation after IsserlesHe is best-known for his commentary on the Mishnah called the Tosafot Yom-Tov, and is often referred to by the name of his book, rather than his given nameMany of his descendants hold fast to a family tradition that he was among the early sages who declared the turkey to be non-kosherIndeed, I have distant cousins who to this day satisfy their Thanksgiving obligations with a brisket and a chocolate turkeyThe tradition relates that my ancestor realized that he would be outvoted by majority practice, but felt so strongly that he was in the right that he instructed his family to retain a higher standardHowever, my own branch of the family has a countertradition rejecting this practiceI have searched my ancestor's writings on the topic of unkosher birds, and though he follows the rulings of Rashi and Isserles, he too never refers to the bird by nameIf he felt strongly enough about this issue to command his descendants, why did he not include any of the Hebrew names for turkey in his writingsIs it possible that, as my father said, passing down the family lore along with the cranberry sauce, that the family tradition is a hoax and "The Tosafot Yom Tov never even saw a turkey?"

I therefore face an unusual November dilemma every yearDo I follow a more general family tradition, which is at variance with conventional Jewish practice, or follow instead the countertradition passed down from my own branch of the Heller clan, which is to disregard that restrictionPerhaps, in addition to meat, milk and Passover dishes, I need to purchase a fifth set just for Thanksgiving? Or do I just give up and go to my in-laws?

This tale of the turkey is more than just an amusing footnote in the annals of Jewish law and a quirk in my family treeIt also raises some important questions about how we, as Jews, grapple with disagreements over lawHistorically, the commandment of "Lo Titgoddedu" (do not divide into rival groups) has been observed primarily in the breachIn every era, groups of Jews who were equally committed to the vitality and continuity of Jewish life, have disagreed over matters of religious practiceThis includes the Babylonians and Jews from the land of Israel, Ashkenazim and Sephardim, Hassidim and their opponents, and now the various movements and even competing groups within them. In some cases (for instance, eating corn and rice on Passover, or the observance of one day of yom tov in the land of Israel, and two days in the Diaspora), the differences in practice have themselves been codified, so that an individual who normally follows one ruling would know what to do when spending time in a community that followed different practices.

In many other cases, from the completely trivial to the most essential, Jews have not able to reach consensus on common practices and principlesThe process of creating an environment where Jews from different backgrounds can even eat together, let alone pray together, can sometimes be dauntingSome may feel, like the Tosafot Yom Tov, that we cannot accept a particular practice or opinion nor follow it, even though it has become generally accepted practiceSuch situations have a way of resolving themselves over timeOne variant, whether the permissive one or the restrictive one, becomes the norm, while the other is ultimately discarded, or else the tradition will eventually incorporate both alternatives and mediate between those who accept each.

It is vital, though, in the interim, that Jews retain the ability to "talk turkey" with those who observe differently, so that we remain one people, more than the sum of our parts, rather than disconnected sects, "agudot agudot."

Shabbat Shalom,

Rabbi Joshua Heller


Why Make Aliyah to Israel?


               This past Yom Kippur, my colleague Barry Leff delivered one of the best sermons I’ve read by an American at the prime of life, explaining his decision to move to Israel.  You can read it at  His main point is that aliyah is a decision that cannot be weighed solely on reasons of logic and expedienceIt is a decision that often flies in the face of pure logic.




Spiritual Journey on the Web



Signs of Positive and Negative People (from Beliefnet)

Certain people give off positive energy, others negativeIt's the quality of someone's being, a measure of love with which they've led their livesIt also reflects the inner work they've done, their efforts to heal anger, hatred, or self-loathing, which poison us like toxic fumes.  Read more...


The Cutting Edge in Jewish Arts

Check out the latest Jewish musical performers at the J. arts website:

Here are some of the most noteworthy ones….click on the link to hear samples.

Yom Hadash

Yom Hadash is one of the top Jewish recording and touring groups in the United StatesFormed in 1997, Yom Hadash fuses world, rock, pop and funk-based music with Jewish ideas and liturgyLed by the original songs and exciting performance style of Jon Nelson, Yom Hadash’s performances and celebrated recordings have brought the band international acclaim from the reform, conservative and orthodox Jewish communitiesPerformances at the USY, NFTY, and BBYO national conventions, the Wexner Foundation, Steven Spielberg’s Genesis Program, the CAJE Conference, and countless synagogues, camps and community centers across the US have cemented the band as a central figure in the Jewish musical renaissance which has swept the diaspora during the past decade.


Ayelet Rose Gottlieb

With her dazzling free improvisational style, brilliant compositional facility, global music palette and her ability to sing in her native Hebrew, in English and with no words at all, Ayelet Rose Gottlieb is unlike anyone you’ve heard beforeOnly 27, Ayelet has a level of musical sophistication, daring and curiosity that enables her to seamlessly meld her many influences including Ornette Coleman, Laurie Anderson, Egyptian chanteuse Oum Koulthm, Eastern European melodies and Middle Eastern scales all in a breathtaking improvisational approach.

MAYIM RABIM (TZADIK, JUNE 27, 2006) is based on the Song of Songs, ancient Hebrew erotica from King Solomon that is found in the BibleThe album evolved out of her Song of Songs-based composition, “Al Mishkavi (As I Lay),” which was featured on her first CD, Internal-External, selected by ALL ABOUT JAZZ-NY as the BEST DEBUT OF 2004She composed the song cycle to 10 segments of the text and presents it in its original HebrewIn Song of Songs, Ayelet found an incredible work of poetry about love, a human sentiment that surely incorporates the full color range of emotions.


Led by harmonica innovator Jason Rosenblatt, and named for the traditional fur hat worn by Chassidic Jews, Shtreiml blends elements of klezmer, gypsy music and jazz to create a vibrant sound that is at once Eastern European Folk Music and Down-Home BluesShtreiml’s debut album, Harmonica Galitzianer, nominated for a Montreal Independent Music Award for Best World Music Album 2003, showcases Rosenblatt’s unique approach to playing the 10-hole diatonic harmonica or “blues harp.”

Rosenblatt uses recently devised techniques pioneered by harmonica master Howard Levy, to fit the instrument generally associated with the blues into an Eastern European contextAlong with Rosenblatt the group members include trombonist Rachel Lemisch, one of the leading figures in klezmer brass revival, founding member Thierry Arsenault on drums and Montreal jam band scene mainstay Adam Stotland on bassFrequent guests include, the stellar voice and incomparable stage presence of Yiddish folksong revivalist, Abigail Rosenblatt, along with founding member and internationally acclaimed hip-hop klezmer guru Josh (SoCalledDolgin.

Shtreiml is at present working with virtuoso Turkish musician Ismail Hakki Fencioglu on a project which explores the connections between Turkish and Eastern-European Jewish musicThe group has performed at festivals, concerts, clubs and private functions in Canada, Europe and the U.S.



A Zillion Hanukkah Links

Guaranteed to Last for Eight Nights (and then some)!


Nice articles on the spirituality of lighting the candles: and

Listen to (and watch, via streaming video)) Israel’s song in the 2002 Eurovision contest, “Light a Candle,” sung by Sarit Hadad.  It’s half in English and half in Hebrew, and in its simple yearning for hope captures beautifully the mood in Israel today:

CLAL Holy Days: Hanukah By Joseph Telushkin 

This Ritual Life CLAL Faculty on Rededicating Your Home at Hanukah

Links and lots of material:

Educator Cherie Kohler Fox's eight ways to celebrate Hanukkah meaningfully:
Chanukah educational links, coloring books, songs, etc

Hanukkah @ JTS

Virtual Jerusalem - Chanukah Megasite Real Audio (blessings, classes, songs)

Chanukah Fun & Coloring Book (Torah Tots)

Kidskourt Hanukkah Coloring Pages

Kid's Domain Chanukah Coloring Pages

My Hebrew Dictionary - Chanukah Related Words

Akhlah for Kids (includes blessings)

Everything Jewish: Hanukah

Being Jewish: Chanukah Gateway Chanukah

Jewish Holiday Consumer - Chanukah

Project Genesis - On-Line Menorah

ORT's Hanukkah section

Torah From Dixie Chanukah Articles

NCSY: Chanukah Articles

Neveh Zion Chanukah Pages

Halacha sheet for Chanukah

Darche Noam Chanuka Page

Israel Museum: Galleries of Menorah (English & Hebrew)

Machon Chagim: Chanukah (English)

Machon Chagim: Chanukah (Hebrew)

Jewish Agency: Chanukah (Easy Hebrew)

Judaism 101: Chanukkah

Chanukah Gateway

JIS: Online Chanukah Course

Chanukah on the Net

Nishmas: Customs of Chanukah

For Every Jew: Chanukah

DundaWare ShockDreidel (req. Shockwave)

CleverMedia: The Hanukkah Dreidel Game (req. Shockwave)
ZigZag Hannukah Lights (req. Java)

Chanukah Word Search (req. Java)

Not Just for Kids: Hanukkah Certificates

Hanukat: Celebrate Hanukkah with the Kids

It's not your Father's Hannukah (Yet it is...)

Billy Bear's Hanukkah

Surfing the Net: Hanukkah Coloring Book

History Channel: Amazing Hanukkah Feats (largest...)

Hanukkah in CyberSpace

ICJI: Chaunkah

Misrash Ben Ish Hai (Sepharadim customs)

WZO - Holidays with a Twist (Humor, 1996)

Virtual Chanukah (Russian, 1999)

Clipart for Hanukkah Clipart

Free Graphics Chanuka Graphics

Bitsela Hanukkah Clipart

Hanukah - Jewish Agency Pedagogic Center

JOI Hanukkah Activities

Adam Sandler's Hanukkah Song (Humor)

Chanukka Midi Music

Chanukka Humor

RFCJ: Hanukah Recipes

EpicuriousChanukkah Recipes

Blue Mountain Animated Greeting Cards

Care2 Animated Greeting Cards

123 Greetings

Sealing Wax Greeting Cards

Awesome Animated Greeting Cards

Judaic Greeting Cards by Raz

Greetz Greeting Cards Greeting Cards







Required Reading and Action Items



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


Virtual Aquarium - Take a  morning break in our virtual aquarium brought to you by evakniEvery once and awhile we like to post some relaxing video clips of Israel’s small stretch of aquatic paradise in the southern port city of Eilat, just to remind us that other people are having a great time.

Israeli Men Idol Worship Got to love this story we found in Ynet about American Idol’s Paula Abdul, and how she gushed over Israel’s tourist minister when he suggested a trip to Israel with the possibility of finding her a nice Jewish man whilst she is there… Israeli minister offers Paula Abdul trip to Israel, and husband while she is at itAbdul ready for a nice Jewish ’shidduch’ as suggested by Tourist Minister Isaac Herzog who appeared with her on American Idol The well known singer and dancer Paula Abdul, who recently revealed that she is Jewish, will be coming to Israel during the Hanukkah festival as the guest of Tourist Minister Isaac HerzogAbdul’s host also offered to make a “shidduch” for her during her visit.  “My dream is to visit Israel, go to the Dead Sea, to tour the Western Wall and other holy sites,” Abdul told Herzog on WednesdayHerzog is currently touring the West Coast on a tour aimed at promoting tourism to IsraelDuring the tour he also met with California’s governor, Arnold Schwarzenegger.

Who isrealli the Israeli? This little bit of video montage was brought to you by the Israeli Foreign MinistryThey recently set out to get a feel for how the world thinks of Israel and how Israelis think about themselves.

Culture | Oldest boat built by 'shell-first' method found in Israel  
After five years of digging at an underwater archaeological site off of Dor Beach in Israel, a team of expert archaeologists have discovered that a ship wreckage there is the earliest existing 'shell-first' boat, the world's oldest method of building wooden shipsPreviously, Turkey possessed the oldest boat of this type of construction, dating back to the 11th centuryHowever, the ship found in Israel is 500 years older, and thus holds great significance for understanding the timeline and politics of the ancient empires.  More...

Health | Israeli study: Job burnout increase likelihood of diabetes  
Can going to the office every day cause you to be at risk for diabetesA recent study by Dr. Samuel Melamed, an Israeli professor at Tel Aviv University, has shown a potential link between workplace stress and type 2 diabetesAccording to the results of his five-year study, apparently healthy workers who experienced job burnout were 1.84 times more likely to develop type 2 diabetesMelamed's message'The general public should be aware that emotional burnout, in addition to its impairing quality of life, may also constitute risk to healthMore...

Profiles | For Israeli researcher, a cancer-sniffing electronic nose is just another puzzle  
As a child growing up in the mixed Jewish-Arab Israeli city of Nazareth, Hossam Haick loved to do puzzlesNow, as a 31-year-old faculty member of the TechnionHaick is still using his inquisitive sense to develop an artificial olfactory system (an electronic nose) that can sniff out cancer even before tumors appearHaick was recently awarded the Marie Curie Action excellence grant totalling $2.2 million from the European Union (EU) to pursue his dreamMore...

Technology | Israeli home security system barks up the right tree  
With their keen sense of hearing and smell, guard dogs can be a great security assetThe problem is that when a dog barks, it's impossible to tell if they are howling at the moon, or warning of a burglar breaking inThe DBS (Dog Bio-Security System), developed by Israel's Bio-Sense Technologies, solves that problem with a biometric alert sensor that can differentiate and decode all the different barks of a dogAccording to FBI statistics, more than 1.2 million burglaries took place in American residential structures in 2005The DBS system, which goes on sale in the US next year, can truly turn Fido into man's best friendMore...



now for the rest


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

See also - This site was advertised on Debka File and it is a downright chilling sign of the times, both here and especially in Israel: WHAT TO DO IF A NUCLEAR DISASTER IS IMMINENT!


FROM THE REUT INSTITUTE (Israeli think tank):

Concepts 9.21.06 Existential Challenges  Map

Permanent Resistance to Israel

The concept refers to political, legal, diplomatic and military declarations and actions based upon the fundamental rejection of the Jewish right to self-determinationRead more...


9.7.06 Existential Challenges  Map

Permanent Resistance and the Jewish Diaspora

(Ha'aretzIn designing its policy against the threat posed by the permanent resistance, Israel should take into account the impact on the anti-Semitic discourse faced by the Jewish DiasporaRead more...



Defensible Borders for a Lasting Peace

 When Prime Minster Ariel Sharon first proposed his Gaza Disenagament Plan he did not seek a quid pro quo from the Palestinian sideInstead, he obtained one from the United States in the form of a letter from President George W. Bush, dated April 14, 2004, in which the U.S. assured Israel that with respect to the disputed West Bank, Israel was entitled to defensible bordersHow the idea of defensible borders works into the post-Iraq War Middle East is fully examined as well as the territorial, legal, and policy implications of this critical U.S. guarantee.

Thousands Rally for Kidnapped Israeli Soldiers in Brussels - Yossi Lempkowicz and Sarah Williams
3,500 people joined a rally in Brussels Wednesday in front of the European Commission and the European Council of Ministers headquarters on the day the European Parliament opened its monthly session, to show solidarity and support for the families of the three Israeli soldiers abducted this summer"Europe has a particular responsibility to make that UN Security Council Resolution 1701 be applied," said Roger Pinto, head of the French Siona organizationThe resolution calls for the immediate and unconditional release of the three soldiers.
    Speakers criticized the fact that the International Red Cross was unable to give the families any information about their sonsRoger Cukierman, head of the French umbrella group CRIF, denounced the use of European money to help "bloodthirsty people for whom the human being is a bargaining chip."  (European Jewish Press)


Israeli Tanks to Have Missile Defense by 2007 - Yaakov Katz
The IDF plans to purchase and install Trophy active protection anti-missile systems on its Merkava tanks by the end of 2007, a high-ranking military officer said WednesdayThe Ground Forces Command has also asked Israel Military Industries to continue development of its own original tank missile defense system, called the Iron Fist, which is in the final stages of testing and could be operational by the end of 2007(Jerusalem Post)


Israel Supreme Court: Security Fence Route in Jerusalem Legal - Aviram Zino
A special nine-judge High Court panel, headed by former Chief Justice Aharon Barak, ruled Sunday that the route of the West Bank security fence in the Bir Naballah area north of Jerusalem is legalBarak wrote: "We accept the state's position that there is a need to build a separation wall to advance the security objectives of protecting Jerusalem, nearby communities, and roads leading to it from terror activities.(Ynet News)


 IDF to Establish Enemy Training Unit - Yaakov Katz
The IDF is establishing a "Red Unit" which will study enemy tactics and impersonate Hizballah guerrillas, Hamas fighters, or Syrian ground troops during exercises(Jerusalem Post)


Palestinian Gunmen Attack Internet Cafes in Gaza - Khaled Abu Toameh
Unidentified gunmen attacked several Internet cafes in Gaza with hand grenades and bombs before dawn on Wednesday, causing heavy damageCafe owners accused Muslim fundamentalists who have been campaigning against Internet cafes"Those behind these attacks are trying to turn Palestine into a Taliban-style country, where people were executed for watching TV," said a Fatah official(Jerusalem Post)


Talking to the Rogues - Editorial
One of the worst-kept secrets in Washington is the Iraq Study Group's expected recommendation that the U.S. negotiate over Iraq's future with rogue regimes in Iran and Syria - whose support for terrorist groups and militias helped turn post-Saddam Iraq into a powderkeg in the first placeThe Bush administration - like many of its predecessors - has tried time and again to resolve differences with Tehran and Damascus at the most senior levelsWith both governments, the result has been a nearly unbroken series of diplomatic failures dating back to Jimmy Carter's presidency(Washington Times)
    See also Iran and Syria Aren't Our Friends in Iraq - Max Boot
We would have to offer Syria and Iran some mighty enticing carrots to get them to cooperate in a U.S.-led rescue effort for IraqTehran would most likely demand, at a minimum, a guarantee that we would do nothing to foster regime change in Iran or stop its nuclear programSyrian President Bashar Assad, for his part, would most likely seek an end to the international tribunal investigating the 2005 murder of former Lebanese Prime Minister Rafik Hariri because any trial would probably implicate Syrian officialsAre these wishes that Washington could or should accommodateDo we want to betray the democratic revolution in LebanonDo we want to give Iran's loony president, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, carte blanche to build nuclear weaponsAnd all in return for dubious promises that may not make any difference in Iraq(Los Angeles Times)


The Global Reach of Iran's Ballistic Missiles - Uzi Rubin
Iran's missile and space programs are progressing with singular urgencyNo other country in the world comes close to Iran in the number and variety of ballistic missiles in development or already deployedIran seems poised to add a cruise missile component to its strategic forces, and its development of a space launch vehicle may well be a harbinger of an ICBMThe range of Iran's missiles is likely to dominate the entire European continent by the end of the decade.
    Heralding the missile program with a great deal of transparency, Iran has exploited it as a psychological tool, adding it to its force of "deterrence enhancers.There is some doubt as to the quality and precision of the more advanced missiles, with Iran's claims likely exceeding the missiles' actual capabilitiesThe writer served as head of Israel's Missile Defense Organization between 1991 and 1999, and oversaw the development of Israel's Arrow anti-missile defense system. (Institute for National Security Studies-Tel Aviv University)
    See also Hizballah's Rocket Campaign Against Northern Israel - Uzi Rubin (ICA/JCPA)



Israel's Offer - Editorial (Washington Post)

  • On Monday, Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert offered the release of "numerous" Palestinian prisoners, a significant reduction in controls on the movement of people and goods in Gaza and the West Bank, and a full reopening of negotiations to create a Palestinian stateThe Olmert initiative represents a genuine opportunity for Arab governments and Mr. Abbas.
  • The challenge for the Palestinians is to break the deadlock on forming a government that can release abducted IDF Cpl. Gilad Shalit and commit itself to a peaceful settlementThat would unlock Israel's concessions on prisoners and movement, renew frozen international aid, and allow discussions on a final settlement. But it will require Hamas to soften the intransigent policy of rejection it has held since taking office.
  • Do Palestinians really want their own state, or an endless war of attrition against Israel?
  • Arab and European governments that have been insisting an Israeli-Palestinian settlement is the key to stabilizing the region must now insist that Hamas answer that question.


UN Peacekeeping Force in Lebanon Reaches 11,500 (United Nations)
    The enhanced UN peacekeeping force sent to Lebanon this summer to monitor the cessation of hostilities between Israel and Hizballah now totals 11,500 troops from 21 countries, just 3,500 below its mandated maximum strength, with additional personnel arriving from Indonesia, Portugal, and Italy




Israel: Myths and Facts


MYTH #243

"A new report proves Israeli settlements are built on Palestinian land."


A new report disseminated by Peace Now charges that “Palestinians privately own nearly 40% of the land on which the settlements have been built” (Peace Now, October 2006)This sensational allegation, however, is not supported by any evidenceThe report simply states as fact data that it says was leaked to the organization by a government officialWhen asked to produce any of the data to backup the claims, the coauthor of the study said he could not do so and that it was up to the Israeli government to release the informationThe result is that the organization has put an inflammatory allegation out before the public without presenting any documentation to back it up.

Without giving readers any information to evaluate the report’s accuracy and reliability, it is impossible to verify the conclusionsIf the data was made available, it is likely that arguments would be made about the ownership of the landAs Steve Erlanger noted in the New York Times, “The definitions of private and state land are complicated, given different administrations of the West Bank going back to the Ottoman Empire, the British mandateJordan and now Israel. During the Ottoman Empire, only small areas of the West Bank were registered to specific owners, and often villagers would hold land in common to avoid taxesThe British began a more formal land registry based on land use, taxation or house ownership that continued through the Jordanian period” (New York Times, November 21, 2006).

Palestinians can and often do challenge Israeli land seizures in courtIn fact, the Peace Now report reviews the case of Elon More in which Palestinians petitioned the Israeli High Court of Justice and the justices prevented private land from being seized for the establishment of a settlement. Often, however, the Palestinians cannot prove ownership of land they claimMoreover, while Peace Now makes a distinction, the Palestinians do not see any difference between the West Bank and Israel proper, which they also claim was stolen and belongs to them.

The Civil Administration, from which the data was leaked, also challenged the report’s accuracy, noting that much of the land believed to be privately held was actually state landThe government agency also said it carries out “an in-depth reexamination of the status of the land in order to ensure that no harm comes to or use is made of privately held Palestinian land for the needs of Israeli settlement” (Civil Administration, November 21, 2006).

Not surprisingly, the Times put the incendiary story on the front page, but, as has become typical of the “Paper of Record’s” shabby reporting, Erlanger failed to verify the informationHe said only that the paper “spoke to the person who received it from the Civil Administration official.” So Erlanger did not see the original documents and did not get a second source, as journalistic ethics require, to verify unsubstantiated claims put out by a partisan organization.

At one level, the accuracy of the report is irrelevantThe authors’ primary interest was in tarring the Israeli government, and that goal was aided by the Times, which cooperated by publishing the story in advance of the report’s official release, before anyone could respond and without checking its veracityFurthermore, even if the data would have shown that 100% of the land belonged to Jews, it would not have mattered because Peace Now believes, despite nearly 60 years of evidence to the contrary (including the recent disengagement from Gaza), that settlements are the obstacle to peace.

Every Israeli wants “peace now,” but it will not be achieved by trying to embarrass the governmentEven if data is eventually released to substantiate some or all of the claims in the Peace Now report, it will not change the dynamics of the region; HamasHizballah and Iran will be no more likely to accept a Jewish state in the Middle East. It will not even have much impact on the settlements as the tens of thousands of Jews living in the larger consensus settlements such as Ma’ale Adumim and Ariel, whose land is alleged to belong in part to Palestinians, will not be evacuated. If Palestinian claims could be proven, at worst, Israel would be expected to compensate the landowners, as it has in the past, and it will deservedly receive a black eyeMost people, however, will also understand that the situation that exists in the West Bank has always been first and foremost the result of the decision of Jordan to attack Israel in 1967 and has persisted because of the refusal of any Palestinian leader to trade peace for land.

This article can be found at

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








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


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.



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 from 7:30-8:30 PM, October-May


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


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 traditionsHow does God show love?

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




In Israel, more than in any country in the world,

culture reflects societyIsraeli film, poetry and art

serve as accurate barometers for social change and

the country’s external and internal conflictsOver

the course of several Saturday evenings, we will be

presenting a series of old and contemporary Israeli

filmsThe screenings will be followed by a discussion

to be facilitated by Rabbi Hammerman or Eran

Vaisben, the Education Director.

The film screening will take place at the main lobby

on selected Saturday nights at 8:00 p.m.

(refreshments and popcorn will be served):


December 9, 2006: Metallic Blues (2004)


Two Israeli losers head to Germany with dreams of turning a quick buck on a 1978 Lincoln stretch limo – but comedy turns to bittersweet revelation, as the two must find their way out of a land rife with the ghosts of the Holocaust.


World AIDS Day Interfaith Service 2006

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 cantorsPrayers 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!








Please join TBE for our Annual

Chanukah Celebration




Creative Chanukiah Contest


Chanukah Candle Lighting


Spin the Dreidel Contest


Junior and Senior Choir Performances


Delicious Jelly Donuts and Latkes


December 17th 10:45 am

in the Social Hall


(Day School students Semi- Final Dreidel Contest

will take place in the Social Hall at 10:30 AM)





Come to Our

Junior Choir

Chanukah Performances


Sunday, December 17th

Chanukah at TBE - 11:00-12:30 PM

Monday, December 18th

Stamford Government Center - 3:30 PM

Tuesday, December 19th

Agudath Shalom - 7:00 PM

Thursday, December 21st

Sterling Glen  4:00 PM






Are you interested in having more Kosher food options in Stamford?

If you are willing to complete an in-depth survey on the Kosher needs and

wishes in our area, please call Lorraine Kweskin at 321-1373 ext. 170 or email

Lorraine at today!

Survey may be completed either on-line or on paper.


See Shlock Rock at Agudath Sholom

Dec. 9 @ 7:00 PM

General Admission at $10 each ticket**

Seniors and Students at $5 each ticket**





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





Make Your Own Pizza


Play Yiddish Bingo




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



December 3rd, 12:15 pm (right after Hebrew school) till 2:00 PM



Social Hall










When: Saturday, December 9th

Bus Leaves Temple Beth-El at 5:30 P.M.


We will return around 11:00 P.M.


Who: Kadima (6th-8th graders) & parents and siblings are invited(younger siblings must be accompanied by a parent)


We'll also open this up to other congregants as space permits!


Cost: $50


To ensure your tickets:

You must RSVP to Edoe Cohen at and bring / send check to Temple Beth-El Hebrew School office.




Borat vs Jewface: The Politics of Jewish Humor (from Beliefnet)


Truth be told, my first three years watching Sacha Baron Cohen was spent fast-forwarding through Borat on to Ali GAnd for the last year or two Bruno has replaced Ali G as my favorite characterBut recently--maybe only the last six months or so--I have gained a new-found appreciation for that Khazakh BoratWhatever, I still think Bruno's fashion euphemism for something not being sufficiently stylish "send 'em to Auschwitz" beats Borat's middle-America sing-along of "throw the Jew down the well."

What I like about all three characters is that they highlight the idiocy of bigotryContrary to popular belief, Cohen does not "get away" with what he does because he is Jewish--he is not gay and yet his Bruno character is the best spoof on homophobia out thereCohen "gets away" with it because ultimately he is mocking those who are sexist, racist, anti-Semitic, and homophobic.

Perhaps a more provocative way to see Cohen's work is in opposition to the music album "Jewface," put out by bunch of kitchy pop-hipster Jews associated with a record label named Reboot StereophonicUnlike Borat, here it is actual Jews embracing and promoting the worst Jewish stereotypesUnlike the Borat effect, "Jewface" does not mock anti-Semitic sterotypes; it celebrates them and says yeh, there is some truth here.

The producers of this album--who, in their own words, are "all kind of disaffected American Jews, who aren’t particularly religious, don’t really practice, and don’t really lead very Jewish lives at all”--seem to think that by digging up and releasing artistic musical experiments in pathetic self-mockery (and perhaps self-hatred) they might be tapping into a whole new form of Jewish identityWith tracks such as "When Mose With His Nose Leads the Band,” who could disagree?

I mean this is art, very serious artChildren, just do me and the rest of the Jewish people--you know, those of us who are not as cool, hip, and ohh how can I ironic as all of you--a favor: Please don't forget to close your bedroom door when you're playing your music.


Rabbi Eliyahu Stern

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

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



No comments: