Friday, January 19, 2007

January 19, 2007– Shevat 1, 5767

January 19, 2007– Shevat 1, 5767


Rabbi Joshua HammermanTemple Beth El, StamfordConnecticut


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FULL Synaplex Schedule and Temple Rock Café information below and at our website!


The fun begins Friday night:


With Cantor Littman

And Scholar in Residence Benjamin Gampel

Dancing! Singing! Meditation! Celebration!

For all ages, the Spirit of Shabbat

Friday, Jan. 19 @7:30


For the full Synaplex Schedule,

click here.


With so many events taking place here on a Synaplex Shabbat, it is hard to pick which ones to feature. 


Of course we all know how amazing Shabbat Unplugged can be, or how spiritually moving many have found Rabbinic Pastor Dan Kilpper's meditative service.  We'll be able to sample some other special guests this weekend - we'll be able to study the portion of the week with Rabbi Eric Hoffman and hear about Maimonides' Highest Level of Tzedakkah (finding employment) with Donna Sweidan or sharing Elise Klein's sensitive advice on issues related to interfaith families.


So many of our topics are about relationships - how we all can get along.  The learner's service I'll be leading, entitled "The Power of the Word," will focus on how our prayers can teach us ways to communicate better with one another - and with God.


Mara and Elissa Stein's session was a real hit last time around, and this time they'll be focusing on family systems and how Jewish traditions, rituals and values can strengthen family relationships.


As I mentioned in prior e-mails, Arthur White's breakfast session will focus on ways to improve life for seniors, and the "No Hate But Harmony" session for teens (7th grade and up) is generating tremendous buzz.  It's all about relationships.


Of course we've also got a traditional service that will be led by David Hirshfield and other congregants, Havdalah Under the Stars at the Nature Center (and, with the forecast for clear and crisp, it's filling up - PLEASE RSVP to Observatory Entrance and parking is ¼ mile up the street from the Nature Center on Scofieldtown Road.


Oh yes, there is also, of course, the scholar in residence, Benjamin Gampel, who happens to be a marvelous and entertaining speaker, who will demonstrate how relevant medieval Jewish history can be for our times.


For TBE’s Full Synaplex Schedule for the weekend, including lecture topics and times for sessions, go to


All Shabbat events are free and open to the public – casual dress is encouraged


A special thank You to Our Sponsors: Penny & Michael Horowitz for the Scholar-in-Residence presentations, in memory of Bessie Silver & Millie Reiss, Our Anonymous Donor Family for Shabbat Unplugged and Sisterhood for “Havdalah Under the Stars.”


Contents of the Shabbat O Gram:

(Click to scroll down)



Just the Facts (service schedule)  

The Beth El Bar/Bat Mitzvah Commentary (new)

The (Occasionally) Ranting Rabbi

Mitzvah/Tzedakkah Opportunities

Ask the Rabbi

Spiritual Journey on the Web   

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

 Announcements (goings on in and around TBE)

TBE Youth Programming

Joke for the Week





Quote for the Week


"Remember that there is a meaning beyond absurdity. Be sure that every little deed counts, that every word has power. Never forget that you can still do your share to redeem the world in spite of all absurdities and frustrations and disappointments."


 -Abraham Joshua Heschel                                        




Friday Evening 


Candle lighting: 4:38 pm on Friday, 19 January 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  The United Synagogue has updated its candlelighting information. To learn more, click here.


Tot Shabbat: 6:45 and 7:30 PM


Shabbat Evening service: 7:30 PM (note later time)



Shabbat Morning: See Synaplex Schedule



Our Torah Reading for Shabbat Morning

Parashat Va-era

Exodus 6:2 - 9:35– the Ten Plagues (well, seven of them)

1: 8:16-23

Shabbat Rosh Chodesh
Numbers 28:9-15 (7 p'sukim)

Haftarah: Shabbat Rosh Chodesh / Isaiah 66:1 - 66:24

If you liked Storahtelling, you’ll LOVE Storahtelling’s new weekly blog about the Torah portion Find it at  ORT Navigating the BibleRashi in EnglishBibleGateway: Useful for comparing different translations: Note- this is a Christian site.
What’s Bothering Rashi (Bonchek) Each week, one example from the parashah is deconstructed. See a weekly commentary from the UJC Rabbinic Cabinet, at  Read the Masorti commentary at  University of Judaism,  JTS commentary is at: USCJ Torah Sparks can be found at: UAHC Shabbat Table Talk discussions are at Other divrei Torah via the Torahnet home page: Test your Parasha I.Q.: CLAL’s Torah commentary archive:  World Zionist Organization Education page, including Nehama Liebowitz archives of parsha commentaries: For a more Kabbalistic/Zionist/Orthodox perspective from Rav Kook, first Chief Rabbi of Israel, go to For some probing questions and meditations on key verses of the portion, with a liberal kabbalistic bent, go to or, for Kabbalistic commentaries from the Zohar itself, go to  Also, try  To see the weekly commentary from Hillel, geared to college students and others, go to For a Jewish Renewal and feminist approach go to .  For a comprehensive Orthodox viewpoint from the Israeli rabbi, Yaakov Fogelman, go to the Torah Outreach Program at  Guided meditations for each portion by Judith Abrams at For online Parsha quizzes from Pardes in Israel, go to Torah for Kids:  Weekly Lesson of Popular Israeli Rabbi Mordechai Elon: - and his parsha sheets:   From Bar Ilan University:



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 a Guaranteed Minyan request for a yahrzeit on Monday, January 22.  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


During this lull in our Bar/Bat Mitzvah schedule, we have a chance to reflect on the deeper meaning of the event.  Here is an account, from the Jewish Virtual Library, of the first Bat Mitzvah EVER… how far we’ve come in so short a time:

The First American Bat Mitzvah

(March 18, 1922)

On Saturday morning, March 18, 1922, twelve-year old Judith Kaplan, the daughter of Rabbi Mordecai M. Kaplan, stepped to the bimah of her father’s synagogue, the Society for the Advancement of Judaism. She recited the preliminary blessing, read a portion of the Torah sidra in Hebrew and English and then intoned the closing blessing. "That was enough to shock a lot of people," she later recalled, "including my own grandparents and aunts and uncles."

The shocking event they had just witnessed, according to historian Paula Hyman, was the first bat mitzvah conducted in the United States. Reflecting on her historic moment, Kaplan observed, "No thunder sounded. No lightning struck." Rather, Judith Kaplan and her father, founder of Reconstructionist Judaism, set the model for what has now become a widespread American Jewish practice.

As Hyman notes, "The bat mitzvah ritual was introduced into American Judaism as both an ethical and pragmatic response to gender divisions in traditional Judaism." In Jewish law, a girl reaches majority at age 12, but until the invention of bat mitzvah there was no ritual ceremony to mark this passage. Mordecai Kaplan intended bat mitzvah to give females equal standing with males and stimulate Jewish education for women so they would be better able to transmit Jewish knowledge to their children.

While it started with Reconstructionism, Hyman attributes the further evolution of bat mitzvah to the American Conservative movement. In the mid-19th century, American Reform began moving away from traditional ceremonies such as male bar mitzvah. Instead, Reform congregations introduced group confirmation ceremonies when the boys and girls in their religious schools completed their education, around age 15. Confirmation, then, was more of a graduation ceremony than a bar mitzvah. Traditional Orthodoxy did not allow women to read the Torah. Thus, if girls of 12 or 13 were to have a coming-of-age ceremony equivalent to bar mitzvah for boys, it fell to the Conservative Movement to define what that ceremony should be.

Change came gradually. As late as the 1930’s, despite Judith Kaplan’s pathbreaking example, only a handful of Conservative synagogues had adopted bat mitzvah. By 1948, however, one-third of Conservative congregations conducted them and, by the 1960s, the ceremony became the norm within Conservatism.

The earliest American bat mitzvot were, ritually, not quite the same as bar mitzvot. They were usually held on Friday nights, when the Torah is not read or, if held on Saturday morning like Judith Kaplan’s, the bat mitzvah girl would read from a printed humash, or book containing the Bible, rather than from the Torah scroll itself.

The first recorded bat mitzvah at a Reform congregation occurred in 1931 but, as with the Conservative movement, the ritual did not catch on right away. By the 1950’s, only one third of Reform congregations conducted them. Since the 1960s, as Reform has placed increasing emphasis on traditional rituals, bat mitzvah has grown to near universality in that movement’s congregations. A number of modern Orthodox congregations have now adopted some form of bat mitzvah as well. Bat mitzvah, an innovation in 1922, is now an American Jewish institution.

The introduction of bat mitzvah, which was originally meant only to mark the passage from Jewish girlhood to Jewish womanhood, raised a series of issues. As Paula Hyman puts it, "How could a girl be called to Torah as a bat mitzvah and then never have such an honor again?" Both Reform and Conservativism grappled with this problem and, by the 1970’s, a majority of congregations in both movements called women to the Torah.

If no thunder sounded when 12-year old Judith Kaplan read at the bimah of the Society for the Advancement of Judaism, Kaplan herself went on to make a joyful noise of her own. A brilliant child who learned to read English at age 2 and Hebrew at age 3, she studied at what is now the Juilliard School of Music from ages 7 to 18. She received her B.A. (1928) and M.A. (1932) in music education from Columbia University Teachers College. In 1934, Kaplan married Ira Eisenstein, then assistant rabbi in her father’s synagogue.

As Judith Eisenstein, she began a distinguished career as a teacher of musical pedagogy and the history of Jewish music at the Jewish Theological Seminary of America’s Teachers Institute. In 1959, at age 50, Eisenstein entered the School of Sacred Music of Hebrew Union College, obtained her Ph.D. and remained as a member of the faculty until 1979. By the time of her death in 1996, she had composed a significant body of original liturgical music, created and broadcast a thirteen-hour radio series on the history of Jewish music and authored a number of books, including the first American Jewish songbook for children (1937).

Of course, her monumental "first" remains her own bat mitzvah.

From: American Jewish Historical Society






Ranting Rabbi




How Can Conservative Judaism Thrive Again?


That’s the question incoming JTS Chancellor Arnold Eisen is going around the country asking these days.  In that spirit, and in light of the recent law committee decisions, the movement sent out a detailed survey recently to rabbis and other assorted leaders.  Read about it, and bloggers’ reactions, at:

JTS Poll Out (Jewish Week)

The survey itself can be found here.


Meanwhile, I’ve put together some of my own suggestions for the movement:


Some Suggestions for Revitalizing the Conservative Movement

By Joshua Hammerman


·        Be “The Movement that Looks Like America

o       Most Americans agonize over complex issues like abortion, capital punishment and sexual orientation. Their religion should, too.  Americans are craving an authentic spiritual alternative to the so-called “moral clarity” of fundamentalism, a few questions to go with all the pat answers.  This muddle in the middle is an uncomfortable place to reside, but it is equally a dynamic one.  So while other movements offer easy responses (which for Reform often is “Why not?” and for Orthodoxy, “No way!”), Conservatives look for the kind of dialectic that has been central to rabbinic Judaism since Talmudic times.


·        Embrace Theological Humility and Intellectual Honesty

o       Be the true inheritors of the title” Yisra-El” (those who struggle with God) – questioning truths rather than owning them; embracing science, validating doubt.  There is no such thing as a knee-jerk Conservative response to anything, and that is how it should be, because what people yearn for is a religion based on the humble assumption that no human entity possesses the entirety of Truth.  The strength of Conservative Judaism lies in the creative tension that is at the core of its ideology.  Like most of us, Conservative Judaism lives in a real world of tough questions. It thrives on the unresolved conflicts that force us to confront imperfection: Judaism’s, society’s and our own.

·        Advocate “Passionate Centrism” – not Muddy Compromise

o       Being a passionate religious centrist means never being afraid to say “tayku,” while affirming that even diametrically opposing positions can be the words of the living God.

o       Don’t apologize for not being God. That’s a strength, not a weakness.


·        Revelation is Here and Now

o       “The classical Jewish view teaches “the decline of the generations” — since Sinai we have grown further from revelation and stand, as a result, on a lower level of holiness. This is not a true covenantal understanding. The covenant does not fade or weaken with time. Our future is as promising as our past is powerful. For the Covenantal Jew, dialogue between the Jewish people and God began in the Bible and continues today.” (Rabbi David Wolpe)

o       Our own self image has impact on our self image as a movement – we’re the movement that is always slouching, the “ever dying people.”  It’s time to straighten up and stop slouching.


·        “Apocalypse Later” 

o       If you are planting a tree and the Messiah comes to the gates of the city, finish planting the tree, then go out to greet her.” (Talmud)

o       It makes sense to finish planting the tree, for two reasons.  1) If the Messiah turns out to be Al Gore, you’ll get some real brownie points.  And 2), because in rabbinic Judaism, the Messiah’s actual coming is beside the point.  For the rabbis, the key to waiting for the Messiah was the waiting itself.  They understood how dangerous it is when messianism gets out of hand – that’s why they call it messianism: because things get so messy -- and the Judaism that they created was expressly designed to prevent that from happening.  The early rabbis following the destruction of the second temple had seen the dangers of messianism run amok at least twice in their lifetimes, with the rise of early Christianity and with the Bar Kochba rebellion of the year 132.  But the rabbis didn’t dare eliminate the messianic strain entirely from Jewish tradition.  The belief in some sort of end of days, the ultimate goal of a perfect world, a Nirvana -- is essential to all spiritual quests.  So while we dare not eliminate speculation about the Messiah, nonetheless, authentic rabbinic Judaism falls squarely on the side of Apocalypse Later.


·        “They Like Us…They Really Like Us!”  We Need To Capitalize on Judaism’s Popularity

o       …the Wall Street Journal ran a front-page article titled “You Don’t Have to Be Jewish to Want a Bar Mitzvah,” detailing the growing trend of non-Jewish children begging their parents for big bar/bat mitzvah bashes of their own.
When non-Jews can so casually assimilate what has long been the decisive generator of Jewish identity, it makes us wonder what sort of monster we’ve created.  A successful monster, that’s what.  Think about it: Mainstream America is now so completely comfortable with Judaism that it can dabble in overtly Jewish symbols without denying their Jewishness. These kids aren’t clamoring for mere “parties” but for bar mitzvahs. Without batting an eye, they are choosing to live within the framework of Jewish idiom.  All we have to do is add content and stir. Certain Jewish values are already built into even the most secularized and over-the-top bar mitzvah: the love of family, for instance.  But the hard work has already been done. From a marketing perspective, bar mitzvah is becoming the Coca-Cola of American adolescent initiation rites.  The most amazing thing is happening: Non-Jews are teaching Jews how to be Jewish.”  (Joshua Hammerman, “Bar Mitzvah Nation,” the Jewish Week, 5/7/04)


·        Champion Human Dignity – Become the Mussar (Ethics) Movement

o       Rabbi Eliezer says, “Let your neighbor’s dignity be precious to you as your own.  (Avot 2:10) (Quote used in Gay Rights decision)

§         Gay decision based on this premise: a negative commandment can be overruled for the sake of maintaining human dignity

o       Social action, yes…but Social INTERACTION even more crucial

§        Behavioral covenants – create model communities

o       I’m a good person but a bad Jew.” – Render that statement obsolete.  Judaism should be seen as a tool for bettering the human condition.

§         Less focus on ritual (e.g. Shabbat and Kashrut) as cornerstones than as means to ethical ends

§         Campaign against Gossip

§         Climate change and energy policy

§         Business ethics

§         Food and contemporary life

§         Privacy Issues

§         Relationships

§         Shalom in the Home (Domestic violence)


·        The Power of the Individual – One Size Doesn’t Fit All

o       Synaplex / power of choice / multiple services / reaching people at different stages of the journey

o       Acceptance above all – be a movement of LOVE, not rejection

o       Every Jew is a Jew by Choice.


·        Embrace the Sacred Journey – Welcome Fellow Travelers

o       The journey is dynamic - the ladder of observance – 24/7 “striving Jew”

o       Barriers to participation need to be broken down (“Judaism for Dummies”)

o       “Keruv” extended to all – including non-traditional family units.

o       Judaism is merely our language of expressing the universal experiences of being human.  It is an exquisitely beautiful, textured language, derived from a history of astounding length, breathtaking variety and unmatched portability.

o       Conservative Judaism is best equipped to draw from the wisdom of all dimensions of the Jewish experience. (Etz Hayyim)

o       As we are on a journey, our operative direction should be neither left nor right, but forward. 

o       As a co-traveler and guide, the Rabbi’s role needs to be redefined and invigorated.


·        Hybrid Judaism – Hybrid Jews

o       Be the true inheritors of the title “Ivri” (“one who crosses over”)

o       Maimonides learned from the Islamic scholar Averroes, Kabbalah learned from Sufi mysticism, Heschel learned from Reinhold Niebuhr. Covenantal Jews glory in this interchange, which is not threatened by the insights of others but enriched by them. (Rabbi David Wolpe)

o       Racial purity is for Nazis.  We live in a real world of overlapping and ever shifting identities.  We are always “becoming” Jews. 


·        The Show Must Go On – “Sing Unto God a New Song”

o       What people bemoan as clergy-centered "performance Judaism" has little to do with it being a performance and lots to do with it being a bad performance. How does one differentiate good from bad? The answer has little to do with how polished or aesthetically balanced the performance is; it's based more on how intense and authentically human are the emotions evoked by it. Almost always, the people decide. They vote with their tears, their singing voices and their feet….There is a Darwinian aspect to this that we must understand. That which brings life to our worship will survive, and that which doesn't will not. …The psalms themselves are imploring us, "Shiru L'Adonai, Shir Hadash," "Sing unto Adonai a new song." The caravan has moved on to new ways of making our ancient, sacred prayers come alive. Service attendance will continue to decline until we all understand that it's either good show -- or no-show. (Joshua Hammerman, “The Show Must Go On,” The Jewish Week, 2/9/00)

o       Shabbat service should be  seen as a drama in 52 acts.

o       Hebrew as strength, not a handicap – aim for authenticity and passion


·        Take “Yes” for an Answer

o       Judaism is a glass-half-full religion.  So why, then, do so many Jews tend to be glass-half-empty people, weighed down by our glass-mostly-empty history.  Why does bad karma happen to good religions?  On paper at least, Judaism is optimistic to the core, a faith based on messianic aspiration and a positive view of human potential. 


·        A Life-Affirming Zionism – Israel (People, Land, and State) as a “Light Unto the Nations” and a “Light Unto the Jews.”  Diaspora Jewry as Full Partners

o       Israelis love everything American – they are beginning to love pluralism too. Israelis are also on spiritual quests of their own – we can share our journeys with them

o       Rav Kook: “The Old becomes New and the New becomes Holy.”

o       Need a Birthright Israel for families

o       Perhaps the most important verse in Second Isaiah is chapter 66:14: "You shall see and your heart shall rejoice, your limbs shall flourish like grass."  That verse was engraved in one of the stones of the Western Wall, most likely by a Jewish worker during the rule of the Roman emperor Julian (361-363), when for a brief time it appeared that the Temple might be rebuilt.   Those hopes were dashed when a fire broke out at the site, and a month later Julian was killed in battle.  But to see this stone and this verse at the Kotel today reminds us that hopes once dashed can also be revived.  And to see the grandeur of Jerusalem rebuilt, even during these difficult days, can only make the heart rejoice.  66:14 is welcome in its optimism, and the message is amplified by the comfort provided just one verse before, 66:13, containing words that must have been on the minds of those Jewish workers 1,700 years ago: “As one whom his mother comforts, so will I comfort you; and you shall be comforted in Jerusalem.”


·        Be Less About the Brain – More About the Heart

o       It’s not an ideology that we need – it’s a pulse!

o       The movement has tended to shed it’s most passionate parts fueling its intellectual shell:  Reconstructionism, neo-Hasidism, Havurah movement, BJ, all offshoots of the movement.


·        Institutionally, the movement needs to be reinvented.

o       Overcome fear of change, fear of failure

o       Everything needs to be re-explored

§         Name (Conservative?  Covenantal?) 




Jimmy Carter Morphs into Brother Billy


Jimmy Carter's offensive against US Jewry

Has Carter crossed the line? | Jerusalem Post – Alan Dershowitz


Here is an excerpt from Dershowitz’ article:

In my book, The Case for Peace, I argued that criticism of Israel - even unfair and strident criticism - should not be equated with anti-Semitism. I went on to list a series of criteria for determining whether the line had been crossed into the abyss of anti-Semitism. Among these criticisms are:

* Employing stereotypes against Israel that have traditionally been directed against "the Jews."

* Characterizing Israel as "the worst," when it is clear that this is not an accurate comparative assessment.

* Singling out only Israel for sanctions for policies that are widespread among other nations, or demanding that Jews be better or more moral than others because of their history as victims.

* Emphasizing and stereotyping certain characteristics among supporters of Israel that have traditionally been used in anti-Semitic attacks, for example, "pushy" American Jews, Jews "who control the media" and Jews "who control financial markets."

* Accusing Jews and only Jews of having dual loyalty.

* Blaming Israel for the problems of the world and exaggerating the influence of the Jewish state on world affairs.

* Falsely claiming that all legitimate criticism of Israeli policies is immediately and widely condemned by Jewish leaders as anti-Semitic, despite any evidence to support this accusation.

* Seeking to delegitimate Israel precisely as it moves toward peace.

* Circulating wild charges against Israel and Jews.

I invite you, the readers, to review these factors and to decide for yourselves whether you believe Carter's post-publication remarks have crossed the line from legitimate criticism of Israel to illegitimate anti-Semitism.


Our 5th Grade’s Winter Mitzvah Project:

A Time to Plant


During last summer’s war between Israel and Hezbollah, thousands of rockets fell in the north of Israel. These rockets destroyed 2 million trees and 20,000 acres of land. In January our 5th grade class will start a campaign to raise money to buy as many trees as possible to be planted in the Galilee.  This campaign will culminate on Tu B’Shevat, the new year for trees, which takes place at the beginning of Feb.  As part of this campaign, we’ve invited a speaker from the Jewish National Fund to update us on the current situation.  Micha Danieli will address the congregation during Shabbat morning services on January 27.


Micha DanieliMicha Danieli is the Jerusalem Emissary for JNF/KKL as well as the Long Island Regional Director for JNF.

In the recent past, Micha was involved with Keren Hayesod a fundraising organization that primarily helps Israel build and develop. He started as the National Campaign Director in South Africa, where he worked for four years. He later went to Berlin where he became the Keren Hayesod Emissary. While there, he established a branch and set up the Keren Hayesod infrastructure. Many of Micha’s other endeavors include being an Aliyah Shaliach in London, as well as the General Director of the Maccabi-Israel where he was responsible for all Maccabi sport groups. Between 1965 and 1979, Micha Danieli was a member of the Israel IDF Security Forces where he was a Combat Engineering Officer.


Micha Danieli received his BA in Economics and MA in Development of Country Economy from Tel Aviv University.





From the USCJ


Tzedek Hekhsher
The United Synagogue and the Rabbinical Assembly are considering the possibility of establishing the tzedek hehksher, which would certify kosher products as being consistent with Jewish social values. We are beginning by looking at the conditions for workers at meat-packing plants. To read a press release, click here; for an in-depth report, click here.


Halakhic Status of Gay Men and Lesbians
The USCJ background materials re. December 6 decisions of the Committee on Jewish Law and Standards. For more information, including links to the teshuvot and to a video of panels we held before the vote.




Mitzvah/Tzedakkah Opportunties




Beth El Cares
Cathy Satz (968-9191;
Cheryl Wolff (968-6361;
BETH EL CARES co-chairs
Mitzvah Project – Dog-related Items



For my mitzvah project I am helping Adopt-A-Dog, a volunteer organization in Greenwich, CT, which helps find good, safe homes for homeless animals.  They have found homes for many Katrina dogs that lost their families in the hurricane.  To help them, I am donating money I have raised, and collecting dog-related items such as toys, collars, bones, and leashes; and cat-related items such as toys, collars, and catnip.  Any crates that your dog or cat no longer use would be greatly appreciated by Adopt-A-Dog   You do not have to be  dog or cat owner to help - Adopt-A-Dog also needs new or used blankets, pillows, soft table cloths, and really anything else that the animals can sleep on.  I can collect some of these items myself, but I need your help to collect enough needed items to make a big difference.


I will have a collection box out in the Hebrew School entrance at the temple for any donations. For any items that are too big for the box, please contact me and we will come pick them up at your home.  


You can also help Adopt-A-Dog by saving "Weight Circles" from Purina Brand Dog Food.  Adopt-A-Dog receives 8 cents for every pound of weight circles sent in to Purina.  Adopt-A-Dog buys 1,000 pounds of dog food every month!  Each label that you clip and donate from a 20 lb. bag gives them $1.60 towards their food bill.  A 50 lb. bag label means $4.00 in meals for their pooches.  Trust me, it adds up!  Please clip the labels off the side of each bag you buy and place them in the envelope attached to the collection box. 


On behalf of all the homeless dogs and cats at Adopt-A-Dog, thanks so much for your help! 


Lindy Fruithandler



To check out Adopt-A-Dog for yourself, please visit their website at



Israel's Captive Soldiers

Gilad Shalit, abducted from southern Israel into Gaza on June 25, 2006
Ehud Goldwasser, abducted from Northern Israel, July 12, 2006
Eldad Regev,abducted from Northern Israel, July 12, 2006
Guy Hever, disappeared from his army base, August 17, 1997
Ron Arad, shot down over Lebanon,October 16, 1986
Zachary Baumel, missing-in-action since June 11,1982
Zvi Feldman, missing-in-action since June 11, 1982
Yehuda Katz, missing-in-action since June 11, 1982

Please do your part to bring Gilad Shalit,

Ehud "Udi" Goldwassser and Eldad Regev home to their families without delay. represents a broad base of national Jewish organizations and community leaders that share a common urgency to advocate on behalf of these soldiers and their families, as well as Israel's other missing soldiers, Zachary Baumel, Tzvi Feldman, Yehudah Katz, Ron Arad and Guy Hever. Learn More


You can make a difference: Join one million people worldwide by signing the petition,

keep them close to your heart by wearing the dog tags.










Why a New Year for Trees?


Tu B’Shevat will fall in two weeks and, although we are now finally feeling some of the effects of winter, it seems strangely out of place this year.  We’re just not suffering enough to really year for spring.  OK, now that I’ve given us the evil eye, here is something to help you prepare for this festive event that in this environmentally aware era is growing in popularity:

Click on, where you’ll find guided learning on the many aspects of this holiday, including:


Share the Wealth

Tu Bishvat, Judaism's version of Arbor Day, provides a lesson in sharing our material blessings with God--by giving of them to needy human beings.


Photo: Jack Hazut

Four Kinds of Tu Bishvat

·        Rabbinic ·        Kabbalistic (mystical) ·        Zionist ·        Ecological

The Kabbalistic Seder

·        Part I: Nature as a Sacred Text

·        Part II: Evil Symbolized by Fruit

·        Part III: The Seder as Atonement for Sexual Impropriety

Elsewhere on This Site

The Nature & Environment section explores Jewish law and theology concerning the environment






Spiritual Journey on the Web

Jerusalem of White


From the CT Jewish Ledger:


By Mark Mietkiewicz
Published: Tuesday, January 16, 2007 6:36 PM EST





While winter was slow to come to most of North America, things have been quite different in Israel. An early winter storm blanketed Jerusalem and brought much of the country’s mountainous regions to a standstill. Although Jerusalem gets a sprinkling of snow most winters, real storms are still a fascination for residents of the capital. Thanks to the Internet, we can share in the wonder of this winter’s Jerusalem of white.

The best place to start your tour is at YouTube for videos [] and Flickr for photos. [] Go to those sites and search for “Israel snow” or for “Jerusalem snow.” You’ll find hundreds of entries including a video demonstrating what must be the universal reflex for anyone experiencing a first snowfall: trying to catch as many flakes on your tongue as possible. []

After the large storm of 2000, the Jerusalem Post sent out its photographer to cover the city. You can take a look at several popular neighborhoods in snow, and then there’s Meir who decided that cross-country skiing is faster than walking in downtown Jerusalem. [] Guy Shachar has created several lovely PowerPoint shows about snow (among many others) that you can download and enjoy. []

Jerusalemite (and former Chicagoan) Joyce Schur says when snow hits, her city comes to a standstill. “People just want to stand around staring at it… [the] reason being because no one knows what to do with it! No one can figure out how to get it out of the way… There’s also no such thing as ice scrapers or calcium chloride. The city’s municipal workers rush to the Super-Sol and grab big blue boxes of kosher salt for de-icing streets like Herzl (I am not exaggerating).” []

They’re better prepared up north. The Golan’s Mount Hermon, home of Israel’s ski slope, is the only place that you might find snow throughout the winter. When it opened in 1969, mules were used to get up the hills. There are ski lifts now. Ski Hermon’s Hebrew-only Web site has a couple of ski-cams, a virtual tour of the slopes and a snow depth report. When I checked: 18 inches toward the base of the ski run and 28 inches at the top. []

With all the attention on Jerusalem and the Golan, can we ever expect to see a white Tel Aviv? Don’t bet on it, says Ha’aretz. “The Mediterranean’s temperature never drops below 12 degrees (54°F), even in extreme circumstances. Only an external cold wave could overcome the relatively warm winds from the sea = something that occurs once every 30 or 40 years. The elders of Tel Aviv remember (or perhaps not) the great snow of February 1950, which piled up to half a meter. [] Here are some photos from that rare storm including a Tel Aviv palm tree in the snow. []



Although this winter’s was a large storm, snow is nothing new to the Holy Land. Thousands of years ago the prophets were also moved by its beauty. It was King David who said to G-d in Psalm 51:9, “Purge me with hyssop, and I shall be clean: wash me, and I shall be whiter than snow.” [].

Mark Mietkiewicz is a Toronto-based Web site producer who writes, lectures and teaches about the Jewish Internet.



Required Reading and Action Items



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

 and other sources



Check out this JTA article:

Renewal eyes consistency in training rabbis,

where you will see a picture including Rabbinic Pastor Dan Klipper

(who leads the Meditative Service at Synaplex).  Mazal Tov to him on his ordination!

And read about Neshama Yoga (which  will return at next month’s Synaplex) in this week’s Jewish Ledger: Kabbalah meets Kundalini


FROM Israel21c:


Beating heart tissue from embryonic stem cells created in Israeli lab  
An Israeli scientific team from the Technion have succeeded in creating in the laboratory beating heart tissue from human embryonic stem cells. Moreover, the researchers - Dr. Shulamit Levenberg and Prof. Lior Gepstein - have succeeded in creating blood vessels in the tissue, which will enable its acceptance by the heart muscle. With heart disease the leading cause of death in the US, the Israeli development marks a major step in the efforts to generate new tissue destroyed by heart attacks. More...


Health | Israeli team part of international discovery of new gene for Alzheimer Disease  
Israeli researchers from the Technion are part of an international team of scientists who have uncovered a major new gene - SORL1 - for late-onset Alzheimer disease. Replicated in four distinct ethnic groups (North American and European Caucasians, African-Americans, Caribbean-Hispanics, and Arabs residing in Israel), SORL1 is only the second gene discovered for late-onset Alzheimer's. APOE, the first gene, was identified in 1993. The researchers believe that the reduction of SORL1 in the brain increases the likelihood of developing Alzheimer disease, which affects 4.5 million Americans. More...


Technology | Turning shale and asphalt into oil   
Ten years ago, Haifa-based company Hom Tov tried to interest investors in their revolutionary oil-producing technique which recycles oil shale, a flinty rock impregnated with hydrocarbon. At the time, the estimates that the process could produce oil costing $16 a barrel seemed too steep to justify the huge infrastructure costs. Today, with prices over the $50 per barrel mark, interest in the technique has returned, and the company is forging ahead with developing a way to create affordable and environmentally-friendly fuel which could serve as a guide for other countries with oil shale deposits.  More...


Technology | Israeli startup revolutionizes Internet to TV integration   
Two-year-old Israeli company TVNGO has developed a revolutionary new hardware and software system that enables Internet overlay on TV broadcasting. This unique technology, which can be controlled by the viewer with his remote control, has already been tested successfully in Israel, and is about to go into operation with a cable television company in China. TVNGO gave industry leaders a preview of the new technology at the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas last week, and it's only a matter of time until Americans are using the Internet on their TVs. More...


Culture | Telling Israel's stories to kids


now for the rest


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

See also


‘Feeling Of Disgust In The Country’ Israel reeling with resignation of chief of staff, criminal probe of Olmert and other scandals.
Stewart Ain (the Jewish Week)


Inside Israel’s Image War Find out more... Gary Rosenblatt - Editor and Publisher (the Jewish Week)


Jewish Membership in Congress at All-Time High By Elizabeth Williamson (Wahsington Post) While Democrats celebrated the election of the House's first female speaker, another milestone passed more quietly: The 110th Congress includes more Jewish lawmakers than any other in history, and all but four are Democrats.


Rice Resists Seeking Talks with Iran - Anne Gearan
Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice said in Berlin on Wednesday that now is not the time for the U.S. to talk to adversary Iran. The Iranians "refuse to do what the international community insists that they do," a reference to a UN demand that Iran roll back nuclear activities. Until the Iranians comply, "this is not the time to break a long-standing American policy of not engaging with the Iranians bilaterally," Rice said.
    Rice also announced that the Quartet - the U.S., EU, Russia, and the UN - will convene a Mideast strategy session early next month in Washington. (AP/Washington Post)


Israel, Palestinians Gird for Talks - Richard Boudreaux
Secretary of State Rice will return to the region next month for three-way talks with Israeli Prime Minister Olmert and PA Chairman Mahmoud Abbas. Olmert's aides said he views the encounter as part of a "pre-negotiation stage" in which the two sides build trust through initial steps, such as Israel's easing of cargo restrictions, a halt to Palestinian rocket attacks, and an exchange of prisoners. "We're still at the early stages of building the confidence necessary to open peace negotiations," said Miri Eisin, the prime minister's spokeswoman. "We're not there yet, and we're not going to be cutting corners."
    Israelis feel burned for having tried to negotiate a peace deal with Yasser Arafat, only to see those talks give way in 2000 to a Palestinian uprising. Israel is also distrustful of Abbas' authority, which was weakened by the militant Hamas movement's victory in parliamentary elections a year ago, and is loath to discuss territorial concessions with a leader it sees as unable to restrain large-scale violence against the Jewish state. (Los Angeles Times)


Israel to Introduce Pilot ID System to Foil 9/11-Style Attacks - Dan Williams
Israel will issue all commercial airlines that fly to its territory with a pilot identification system designed to prevent September 11-style attacks, Israeli officials said Tuesday. Planes without the "Code Positive" system, developed by the Israeli firm Elbit, will be turned back from Israeli airspace. Israel is widely considered to have the world's most sophisticated aviation security.
    Danny Shenar, head of security at the Transportation Ministry, told Israel's Army Radio, "This system was developed to prevent aviation mega-terror over Israel, in the form of a plane coming through one of the borders and crashing into a target in Israel....The system should be operational by the end of the year....Using this card, it will be possible to verify that the person flying the aircraft is indeed the person qualified to fly it." Shenar said it would be impossible for a hijacker to force a pilot to hand over identifying details. (Reuters/Washington Post)


IDF Objects to U.S. Plans to Give Abbas' Forces Battle Equipment - Amos Harel
The Israel Defense Forces has raised objections to U.S. plans to equip Mahmoud Abbas' forces with battle gear as part of an $86 million U.S. program to strengthen the PA presidential guard, an Israeli security source and European diplomats said Wednesday. "The IDF's objections in this case center on equipment, such as body armor, that is liable to wind up in the wrong hands and be used for terrorism," an Israeli security source said. (Ha'aretz)


Palestinian Rocket Fire at Israel Continues
A Kassam rocket fired by Palestinians in Gaza landed in the western Negev on Wednesday. (Jerusalem Post)

Global Commentary and Think-Tank Analysis (Best of U.S.UK, and Israel):


Lost in the Middle East - Editorial
Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice is making a high-profile effort to revive the Israeli-Palestinian peace process - in spite of an unfavorable situation in the region - in order to solidify an alliance of "the mainstream" against Iran and in support of U.S. policy in Iraq. The administration has decided to seek $98 million in funding for Palestinian security forces - the same forces it rightly condemned in the past as hopelessly corrupt and compromised by involvement in terrorism. Those forces haven't changed, but since they are nominally loyal to "mainstream" Mahmoud Abbas and serve as a check on the power of the "extremist" Hamas, they are on the right side of Ms. Rice's new divide. So is Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak, a thuggish autocrat who was on the wrong side of Ms. Rice's previous Mideast divide between pro-democracy forces and defenders of the illiberal status quo.
    The administration's concern about Iran is well founded. Yet the new U.S. policy betrays President Bush's freedom agenda, giving a free pass to dictators who support the new geopolitical cause. Mr. Bush and Ms. Rice have said again and again that such trade-offs during the Cold War helped lay the groundwork for groups such as al-Qaeda - which was founded and is led by Saudis and Egyptians. (Washington Post)


U.S. Repeating Mideast Mistakes? - Steven A. Cook
Iran consistently has sought to use its position on the Palestine issue to extend its influence throughout the Middle East at the expense of U.S. allies such as EgyptSaudi Arabia and Jordan. Unlike those states, the Iranians have followed through with financial support. The $35 million that Hamas-affiliated Prime Minister Ismail Haniyeh was recently discovered carrying into Gaza was reported to be Iranian money. To the Iranians, assisting Hamas financially against Fatah is just another facet of what has become a successful effort to build Tehran's prestige among average Arabs. Washington's support for Mahmoud Abbas and Fatah is not only an effort to cripple Hamas, but also to blunt Iran's growing regional power. Abbas' defeat would cede yet another important part of the Middle East to Irani an influence, reinforcing the sense that the U.S., Israel and major Arab powers are on the defensive and unable to deter Iran's drive for power.
    On one level it makes sense to arm forces loyal to Abbas against Hamas, but the policy is based on the assumption that Fatah can either weaken Hamas or fight the organization to a draw. It is entirely possible that Hamas would prevail; after all, Hamas is better equipped and better organized than the Fatah-affiliated forces. The policy of training forces loyal to Abbas is in many ways similar to the mistakes the U.S. made in Iraq, where Washington essentially trained one set of militias to fight their rivals. The writer is a fellow at the Council on Foreign Relations. (Newsday)


The Arab Lobby "Network" - John Perazzo
According to the Arab American Institute, there are approximately 3.5 million people of Arab heritage in the U.S. today. Nearly 40% are Lebanese, mostly Christians, who are largely unsympathetic to the Arab lobby's anti-Israel perspectives. Only about 70,000 Palestinian Americans reside in the U.S., a small percentage of the Arab American population, but the Palestinian cause heads the Arab lobby's list of concerns.
    The Atlanta-based Carter Center has been a longtime recipient of Arab funding. Saudi Arabia's King Fahd made several large donations to the Center, including a 1993 gift of $7.6 million. As of 2005, the king's nephew, Prince Alwaleed Bin Talal, had given at least $5 million to the Carter Center. (FrontPageMagazine)



Can a Conventional Army Vanquish a Terrorist Insurgency?
- Maj.-Gen. (res.) Yaakov Amidror (Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs)

  • Total victory is not the sole model of victory which history recognizes. Israel enjoyed a temporary victory over Palestinian terror in Gaza in the beginning of the 1970s, when Ariel Sharon was head of the IDF Southern Command. The terror did indeed return to Gaza, but this was after fifteen years of quiet. Historically, successful counterinsurgency campaigns were waged by the U.S. in the Philippines (1899-1902) and by the British in Malaya (1948-1960).
  • It is necessary to adopt an alternative concept of victory, which should be called "minimal victory," in which terror is not destroyed, but is contained at a minimal level, and one must invest constant energy in order to prevent its eruption.
  • Temporary victory and minimal victory do not provide a solution to the ideological conflict. Nonetheless, a political solution is not the affair of the army, and efforts to obtain it cannot be divorced from the obligation to fight determinedly against any attempt by the enemy to secure achievements through violence, as in the case of the present attempt by the Palestinians to attain political achievements through terror.
  • This "minimal victory," in which terror is contained and checked before it strikes, becomes more significant if, due to the terror organizations' prolonged lack of success, they consciously or not decide to reduce the number of their terror attempts. Such an achievement is possible, for example, when the terror bodies are too busy protecting their own lives instead of planning terror and carrying it out.
  • Israel went to war in the West Bank in April 2002 in Operation "Defensive Shield" after it counted 132 dead, the majority civilians, in the preceding month (meaning the equivalent of 1,400 deaths a year). In a continuous and uninterrupted effort since that campaign, Israel's terror casualty rate declined to 11 civilians for all of 2006. This is the type of victory over terror that one can demand of the army.
  • If the decision on the battlefield does not lead the political bodies to an understanding that the situation permits them to withstand the demands of the terror organizations, and they elect for one reason or another to compromise or surrender, withdraw or concede, then all the work invested by the military echelon will be in vain.



MYTH #248

"Israel is obstructing progress toward a Palestinian state."


Newspaper headlines in mid-January 2007 said it all: “ Palestinian Opposes Provisional State” (New York Times, January 14) and “Abbas Rejects ‘Temporary Borders’ for Palestine” ( Washington Post, January15). Israel once again offered to move the peace process forward and advanced ideas to allow the Palestinians to achieve independence before the thorniest issues are resolved, but Mahmoud Abbas, following in the footsteps of his mentor Yasser Arafat, chose to prove again the Palestinian penchant for never missing an opportunity to miss an opportunity.

Abbas not only rejected the chance for peace and interim statehood, he declared his continued support for violence against Israel. Speaking at the 42nd anniversary of the founding of Fatah on January 11, 2007, in Ramallah, Abbas said, “Let a thousand flowers bloom, and let our rifles, all our rifles, all our rifles, be aimed at the Occupation.” Paying tribute to Arafat, Abbas continued, “I say to the master of the martyrs your sons will continue your march. I say to you, your lion cubs will continue this struggle, this battle until a Palestinian state is established on the land of Palestine with Jerusalem as its capital.”

Abbas also used the type of anti-Semitic rhetoric normally associated with Hamas. While criticizing Israeli counter-terror operations, he said, “The sons of Israel are mentioned as those who are corrupting humanity on earth” (Jerusalem Post,, January 11, 2007).

At the very moment when the United States, Israel and Europe are trying to strengthen his position against Hamas in the belief that he will act to stop terror, Abbas was condoning attacks against Israel. Just days before Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice arrived to ask him to fulfill his commitments under the road map for peace, Abbas announced he supported the very actions the road map calls for him to stop. This is the familiar tactic of Palestinians who pretend to be moderates in English for the Western press and then express their true feelings in Arabic to the Palestinian public.e that he is responsible for as president of the Palestinian Authority. Abbas is now just trying to survive. To do so, he must unify the factions fighting for dominance. Since he is unwilling to confront his opponents militarily, he hopes to cajole them to cease their mutiny against him by playing the Israel card. He is asking for unity to fight against their common enemy – Israel. Simultaneously, he seeks the means to stay in power from the West by presenting himself as the only alternative to Hamas. And it is working because he is being armed and financed even as he continues to allow the attacks against Israel to continue.

The Palestinians’ latest rejection of an offer for statehood can now be added to the long list of missed opportunities starting as far back as 1937. Will the Palestinian people ever choose a leader who will put their interests first and choose prosperity over power, peace over violence and the future over the past?

This article can be found at


A Moving Invocation


Rabbi Jonah Dov Pesner

Founding Director, Just Congregations

Union for Reform Judaism


Inauguration of Deval Patrick

Governor of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts

January 4th, 2007


Governor Patrick, Lieutenant Governor Murray, elected and civic leaders, people of the

commonwealth, I am most deeply honored to offer these words of invocation to open this

sacred assembly.

In the Talmud, the ancient rabbis teach that whenever we encounter a large gathering of

people, it is appropriate to offer the following blessing:

“Blessed is the Wise One

Who understands secrets

For the mind of each

Is different from the other

Just as the face of each

Is different from the other.”

Source of all life,

Out of many,

You have made us ONE.

You have created us splendidly

In our distinctiveness:

You have made us a spectacular,

Living tapestry

Many colors and complexions

Rich in languages and beliefs,

Varied in our blessings,

And challenged by our curses.

Indeed the face of each one

Is different than the other –

And here we gather


Face to face.


Look around! See the beauty of the faces,

Each one unique

Reflecting the very image

Of the divine

Each one from a common source

A single, sacred family.

Yet behind every face

Hide so many secrets.

Private, painful secrets of suffering.

If only we would find your Wisdom O God

Revealing all the secrets,

The pained suffering

Of parents who watch helpless

As their children are plagued

By guns, drugs, and gangs

The private pain

Of children struggling to care for their parents

As they age and grow frail,

The secret suffering of immigrants

Who like us came to this place

To seek a better life

And labor hidden and underpaid in jobs

Upon which the rest of us depend,

But won’t do ourselves

Of our gay and lesbian brothers and sisters

Who daily confront blatant discrimination,

Inequality and humiliation

Of those who sleep in the streets,

Those who are overworked and underpaid,

Those who are abused in their own homes

Those who are left behind

By their disabilities.

So many secrets,

Private sufferings.

Yet we have hope.

Yes we have faith.

Because we have each other.


Assembled here in the light of day

Bathing in the unseasonable warmth of your presence,

We affirm that democracy

Is not built with bricks and mortar;

We know your ancient wisdom

Is found in no cathedral,


Nor shrine –

It is here,

Face to face

It is everywhere humanity gathers

And out of many,

Makes one.

Let our secrets of suffering

Give way to stories of



And Redemption

Stories of redemption

Like a kid from the South Side of Chicago

Becoming the governor of Massachusetts

Representing the people

We the people;

Let us never forget the faces

The secrets

And the stories

God, grant us your wisdom

That we may never forget that

Democracy happens out here –

Face to face –

Among the people

As we join together

In one spirit

And write one shared story:


The story of a commonwealth

That acts like a commonwealth

Where secrets of private suffering

Where tales of lonely languish

Are joined

Through the power of the people

Rising up


Encountering one another

Face to face

And writing a new story

One story

Echoing Isaiah’s ancient call:

“If you banish the yoke from your midst

The menacing hand

And evil speech

And you offer your compassion to the hungry

And satisfy the needs of the afflicted,

Then shall your light shine in the darkness

And your gloom shall be like noonday…

You shall be like a watered garden

Like a spring whose waters never fail.

And you shall rebuild ancient ruins

You shall restore the foundations of many generations

You shall be called the repairer of the breach…”

This is the story of redemption;

The story of a true commonwealth



And Redeemed.

Amen. May this be God’s will.




Saturday, February 3rd, 2007
Temple Rock Café

Break out your blue jeans, and your dancing shoes

and join us for a full evening of food, cocktails, dancing and good friends. 

All this while you peruse the unbelievable items up for bid at the Silent Auction.

 Kick off Super Bowl weekend when TBE transforms into the Temple Rock Cafe

with some rockin' music, and awesome activities. 

Mark your calendars for this Temple Beth El fundraising "extravaganza".

 What:  Temple Rock Cafe

 When:  Saturday, February 3rd from 7:30 p.m. -midnight

Where: Temple Beth El Social Hall @ 350 Roxbury RoadStamfordCT

Cost:    Only $90 per person either by check, MasterCard or Visa.

Food:  Dinner (buffet), dessert and full bar.

Entertainment:     Dance to the tunes of "The In Laws" band

playing Rock and Roll and Pop music spanning the 60's, 70's, 80's and 90's.

 RSVP: To with our NEW online RSVP form

or send us the card you receive in the mail with your payment by January 19th.

 Bring your checkbook or credit card and enthusiasm--there will be plenty of opportunities for you to support the Temple at our primary fundraising event of the year!

 Questions?  Contact or call 203.322.6901, ext. 304


Temple Rock Café Silent Auction

Dear Fellow Congregant:


We are very excited about Temple Beth El’s 2007 primary fund raising event “Temple Rock Café” that will take place at TBE on Saturday evening

February 3, 2007!


This event will prove to be a fantastic evening for all adult members (FOR ALL AGES) of Temple Beth El and their guests. Rockin music will be provided by “The In Laws” band playing music spanning the 60’s, 70’s, 80’s and 90’s in addition to great food, drink and dancing.


The evening will be highlighted with a Silent Auction in which we need your help in donating items and services. Silent auction items and services can be just about anything of any value such as:


Sports tickets      Day of Golf           Yoga Lessons

Vacation Package              Salon/Nail Service            Baby Sitting

Music Lessons    Theater Tickets    Art Work

Jewelry   DVD/Music Items              Time Shares

Autographs/        Frequent Flier

Memorabilia        Miles


The Silent Auction is the main fund raising component of the evening as the ticket price only covers the cost of the event. All profits will go directly to the Temple’s operating budget which is in dire need of all of our help to provide the


level of services that we have all become accustomed to.

We encourage all congregants to please do their best in participating even if you do not plan on attending the event.

Contact us for a donation form for items and services that you are willing to contribute.

Thank you in advance for your participation and we look forward to hearing from you.

Break out your blue jeans and dancing shoes and get ready to rock with your friends at The Temple Rock Cafe!

Peter Kempner Elissa Hyman

Co-Chair Co-Chair






Synaplex Shabbat


Jan 19-20




 [Dr. Benjamin Gampel ] Benjamin Gampel is the Dina and Eli Field Family Chair in Jewish History at The Jewish Theological Seminary. He teaches courses in medieval and early modern Jewish history, with a special focus on the medieval Sephardim, and lectures widely on the entire range of Jewish history.

Dr. Gampel spent close to a year doing research in local archives in Spain for his first book, The Last Jews on Iberian Soil. After a great deal of painstaking work compiling materials for the project, Dr. Gampel was able to recreate some of the long-forgotten history of the Jews of the Iberian peninsula. He also edited the volume Crisis and Creativity in the Sephardic World, which was published by Columbia University Press in 1998. At present, he is writing a book on the pogroms and forced conversions of 1391 in the Iberian peninsula, and the effects of those events on the course of Jewish history.

An energetic scholar and teacher, Dr. Gampel is dedicated to bringing the history of the Jews to a broad public audience. He has addressed synagogues and lay groups, organizations of all stripes, and scholarly conclaves.

Dr. Gampel received his doctorate from Columbia University.

Scholar’s Lecture Topics:

Friday Night:

“Judaism and the Rise of Islam”


Shabbat Morning:

 “Sex, Food and Lush Garden: Religious Piety Confronts Sensual Pleasure”


Saturday Afternoon:

“Gazing into the Countenance of the Divine.

Confronting the Riddle of Jewish Apostasy”






o       Shabbat Unplugged with Cantor Littman, Friday at 7:30. – note the time.  Sponsored by an anonymous donor.  Followed by Scholar-in-residence presentation, sit down oneg and Rebbe’s Tish.  Plus Tot Shabbat at 6:45 and continuing at 7:30.

o       Arthur White will speak during breakfast on two exciting new projects designed to increase self-sufficiency: Literacy in prisons and using technology to help seniors stay in their homes.  Among his many titles, Arthur is Special Advisor to the Federal Bureau of Prisons and Founder of “Reading is Fundamental.”

o       Meditative service with Dan Klipper, Traditional Service led by David Hirshfield, Learner’s Service for adults with Rabbi Hammerman. Special Junior Congregation presentation with Jonathan Cahr, Teen Service, including “No Hate but Harmony.”  

o       In the afternoon…

§         Study the Weekly Portion with Rabbi Eric Hoffman

§         “Finding the Right Job,” with Donna Sweidan, Career Counselor

§         Discuss how families transmit values, traditions…and baggage…”from generation to generation,” with Mara Hammerman and Elissa Stein

§         “Interfaith and the Family,” with Elise Klein, director of UJF’s Bridges program

§         Lots of surprises for kids and teens, including our TBE Winter Sports Spectacular

§         Food a plenty (of course!)


Then, it’s all topped off by:

o       Havdalah Under the Stars (and the first sliver of the New Moon), LIVE, from the Stamford Nature Center Observatory, presented by our Youth Commission, at 6:30 – $5 per child - This is a family event. All children must be accompanied by an adult - Dessert and Light Snack will be served to everyone. This program has been subsidized by a generous contribution of  Temple Beth El Sisterhood

o       And more…



The Full Schedule:


Friday Night, January 19, 2007


 6:45 pm & 7:30 pm - Tot Shabbat

 (2 services) Nurit Avigdor


7:30 pm – Shabbat Unplugged with    Cantor Littman


Following Friday Night Services

 Please Join Us


Sit-down candlelight Oneg Shabbat 


"Judaism and the Rise of Islam”              Dr. Gampel  


Rebbe’s Tish

            Songs, stories and schmoozing


Saturday Morning and Afternoon

January 20, 2007


8:45 am – Breakfast with Arthur White Increasing self-sufficiency by using technology to help seniors stay in their homes and to promote literacy in prisons.


9:45 am – Adults please choose one:


      Traditional Shabbat Service

       David Hirshfield


      Meditative Service

      Rabbinic Pastor Daniel Klipper


      “Living our Prayers”         

       Rabbi HammermanAn adult learner’s service looking at our prayers from an ethical perspective.


10:00 am–12:30 pm – For our children:


       Tot Sabbath Morning Nurit Avigdor


       Special Junior Congregation  Jonathan Cahr


       Teen Service includes

       “No Hate but Harmony”


11:15 am – All adults join together for

       the conclusion of services and

       Dr. Gampel’s talk.


11:30 am – “Sex, Food and Lush Garden: Religious Piety Confronts Sensual Pleasure” Dr. Gampel


12:30 pm – Luncheon


 Fun Indoor and Outdoor Children and Teen Programming for the Afternoon!!


1:30 pm - “Gazing into the Countenance

       of the Divine. Confronting the Riddle

       of Jewish Apostasy” Dr. Gampel


3:00 – 4:00 pm –  Please choose one: 


      “Finding the Right Job: Essential

       Strategies for Success in Your Job

       Search” Career Counselor,

       Donna Sweidan of Careerfolk, LLC


      “Interfaith and the Family” Elise Klein, Director of Bridges, UJF. Share your own experiences on the complex realities of life in a mutli-religious family.  How can we work to make all members of blended families feel welcome and respected while still staying true to our own beliefs?


       Study of the Weekly Portion –

       Parsha Vaera Rabbi Eric Hoffman


       “The Perpetuation of Family Values and Traditions”

       Mara Hammerman & Elissa Stein. How families transmit values, traditions…and baggage…from generation to generation.


6:30 – 8:00 pm – “Havdalah Under the Stars” Our first ever family Havdalah program at the Stamford Museum & Nature Center Observatory. Havdalah service, crafts, star gazing and dessert. Children must be accompanied by an adult. RSVP to Carl Shapiro at 203-353-0657 or


Casual dress encouraged.

Please feel free to come and go as you please.

Visit for the latest information about events and schedules (times subject to change).




And Coming February 9-10…

Synaplex features…



Sisterhood Shabbat

February 10, 2007


Including Miriam’s Minyan at 9:30am

Sisterhood Shabbat (beginning with Torah service) will begin at 10:30am


Please join us for a Synaplex weekend and annual Sisterhood Shabbat.

Members of Sisterhood will lead the service, with the d’var torah delivered by scholar-in-residence Dr. Burton L. Visotsky.  A luncheon will follow.


If you are interested in participating in this wonderful event, please contact us with your name, phone number and email address.  Our contact information is below for your convenience. 

There are English readings, Hebrew/torah readings and non-speaking parts available.

We look forward to hearing from you and together sharing another beautiful Shabbat experience at Temple Beth El.


                               Denise Greenman                                        Linda Hempel Braun

                               329-8594                                                         975-7352




Plus Scholar in Residence

Rabbi Burton Visotzky [Dr. Burton L. Visotzky]

BURTON L. VISOTZKY serves as the Nathan and Janet Appleman Professor of Midrash and Interreligious Studies at the Jewish Theological Seminary, where he joined the faculty upon his ordination as Rabbi in 1977. He has served as the Associate and Acting Dean of the Graduate School (1991–96), as the founding Rabbi of the egalitarian worship service of the Seminary Synagogue, and as the director of the Louis Finkelstein Institute for Religious and Social Studies at JTS.

Prof. Visotzky has been a visiting scholar at Oxford University, a visiting fellow and life member of Clare Hall, University of Cambridge, as well as a visiting faculty member at Princeton Theological Seminary, Hebrew Union College, and the Russian State University of the Humanities in Moscow (where returned to teach in May, 2006). Dr. Visotzky is also Adjunct Professor of Biblical Studies at Union Theological Seminary, New York. In Spring, '04 he was Visiting Professor of Religion and Judaic Studies at Princeton University. Rabbi Visotzky has been chosen to serve as the Master Visiting Professor of Jewish Studies at the Pontifical Gregorian University in Rome, during Spring, 2007.  Dr. Visotzky received his B.A. with honors and highest distinction from the University of Illinois (Chicago), a Masters in Education from Harvard University, and his M.A., Rabbinic ordination, and Ph.D., and D.H.L. (hon.) from the Jewish Theological Seminary.

Prof. Visotzky's articles and reviews have been published in America, Europe, and Israel. He is the author of eight books. Visotzky's popular volumes include: Reading the Book: Making the Bible a Timeless Text (1991), The Genesis of Ethics: How the Tormented Family of Genesis leads us to Moral Development (1996), The Road to Redemption: Lessons from Exodus on Leadership and Community (1998), and From Mesopotamia to Modernity: Ten Introductions to Jewish History and Literature (1999). In addition to these popular works and his scholarly monographs, Visotzky is currently completing A Delightful Compendium of Consolation: A Novel, set in eleventh-century North Africa.

With Bill Moyers, he developed ten hours of television for PBS on the book of Genesis, serving as consultant and a featured on-screen participant. The series, "Genesis: A Living Conversation," premiered in October, 1996. Visotzky was also a consultant to Jeffrey Katzenberg of DreamWorks for their 1998 film, "Prince of Egypt".

Visotzky sits on the Board of Advisors of the Stein Center for Law and Ethics at Fordham Law School, the Steering Committee of the New Israel Fund Rabbinic Council, and served on the Board of Trustees and Executive Committee of CancerCare. He is active in Jewish/Christian/Muslim dialogue internationally, most recently in Cairo and DohaQatar.

Rabbi Visotzky is active as a lecturer and scholar-in-residence throughout North America, Europe, and Israel. His study groups and books have been hailed on radio, television, and in print. He is married to an attorney, Sandra Edelman. They make their home in New York City and KentConnecticut.


Scholar’s Lecture Topics (for portion of Yitro):


Friday night:

“What is God’s Place in the Synagogue?”


Saturday Morning (in honor of sisterhood Shabbat):

“Three Mothers: Mother of all life, Mother of all Jews, Mother of all Prophets:

Portraits of Eve, Sarah and Miriam.”


Saturday afternoon:

“Who Spoke the Ten Commandments?  

Word of God or Hand of Moses?”


Plus …

First-ever Havdalah Unplugged with Cantor Littman



o       Friday night service at 7:30, followed by scholar in residence lecture and Rebbe’s tish

o       Shabbat morning features the return of Yoga and meditative Shacharits and “Miriam’s Minyan.”

o       children’s and teens services and programming

o       Sisterhood book discussion

o       Afternoon discussion of Conservative Law Committee decisions

o       Israeli Movie Night: “Walk on Water”





Many thanks to Penny and Michael Horowitz for their sponsorship of our Scholar in Residence presentations,

in memory of Bessie Silver and Millie Reiss

to an anonymous donor family for sponsoring January’s Shabbat Unplugged,

and to Allen and Beverly Kezsbom for their sponsorship of Havdalah Unplugged




This Sunday - Jan 21 at 9:00 AM


Movie and discussion from 9-11 AM, open to all. 

Followed by a reunion for TBE Israel Adventure groups from 2004 and 2005. 

Our guest will be Peter Abelow of Keshet Tours,

who has been our guide on the most recent two TBE Israel trips.


The movie:



Elidad Schneid usually got nervous before major games of the Gush Katif inter-settlement basketball league. As a member of the Netzer Hazani team, the winner of most of the league's championship trophies, he should have been particularly nervous hours before the tournament final against Neve Dekalim. But he wasn't. He was too busy planning for another battle scheduled for the same day: the battle over his home.


Schneid is one of the few basketball players interviewed in Home Gamea new documentary following the struggle of the Netzer Hazani community to hold on to its Gaza Strip homes in the days before the fateful August 2005 implementation of Prime Minister Ariel Sharon's disengagement plan.  The documentary was produced by Peter’s son Avi Abelow, who developed the idea for the film after taking a leave from his Tel Aviv consulting job to support the Gush Katif settlers. After infiltrating Netzer Hazani two weeks before the disengagement began, he used his digital camera to document what he hoped would not be the Gaza settlements' final days. Despite having no previous experience in the film industry, he assembled his footage to create a short film to help raise money for Gush Katif residents after their evacuation, offering donors a longer version as a bonus. This longer film eventually evolved into a full-fledged documentary.


Home Game's insider footage includes teenagers painting the settlement in orange, the color associated with the anti-disengagement movement; a near violent encounter between young settlers and border police; the settlers' return of their weaponry to the IDF; emotional meetings in which settlers discuss painful decisions about how to prepare for their evacuation; the heart-wrenching day of the evacuation itself; and, of course, the final home game.


Dr. Peter Abelow is the Managing Director  of Keshet, the Center for Educational Tourism in Israel. Peter, a graduate of Brooklyn Law School, served as General Studies Principal of Ohr Torah High School in NY, Educational Director of Student Activities at the Ramaz School in NY and Principal of the Beth Tefiloh Community H.S in BaltimoreMD before making aliyah in 1990 with his wife, Debbie, and their four children.  They live in the town of Efrat, just south of Jerusalem, and their greatest pride is without a doubt their 7 grandchildren, all of whom also live in Efrat.


As a teen growing up in New York, Peter was an Eagle Scout, and he has succeeded in transferring his love of the outdoors and his passion for Israel into a new career.  He became a licensed tour guide and has captivated groups and families with his unique style of making Israel come alive in a meaningful and enjoyable way. In addition to his significant managerial role as a director of Keshet and his guiding of select Keshet groups, (including Temple Beth El in August 2004 and 2005!), he is a contributor to the Hadassah Magazine Jewish Parenting Book, has lectured to fellow educators at numerous CAJE (Coalition for Advancement of Jewish Education) Conferences and writes the Israel Tourism Column for the quarterly Jewish Action magazine.




A Seder in the Winter?

Family Tu B'Shevat Seder: Sunday January 28th


The Sisterhood is excited to announce our upcoming Family Event, Temple Beth El's first annual Tu B'Shevat Family Seder at Temple Beth El on Sunday, January 28th at 4:00 p.m.  Rabbi Hammerman and Cantor Littman will both be on hand to provide insight and background on this special holiday.  This fun-filled, educational special event will appeal to families of all ages as we explore the spiritual, cultural religious significance of Tu B'Shevat, a holiday known as a New Year for the Trees.  (Our very own version of Arbor Day!)  Please join us for an education afternoon as we learn new blessings, songs and traditions to ring in this very special holiday.  We'll also be having a crafts project for the kids to tie in with Tu B'Shevat.  In addition to learning and songs, a Kosher, dairy dinner will also be served.  Eating is a very important element of Tu B'Shevat as we learn about the religious meaning of each type of food served at the Seder portion of the event.  Please see the registration form below for information and details on the dinner portion of the event. 


Family Tu B'Shevat Seder and Dinner

Sunday, January 28th at 4:00 p.m.


Join TBE in Celebrating Our Own Version of Labor Day ­

With Music, Learning, Fun and Food

Sponsored by Temple Beth El Sisterhood


Italian Entrée for Adults

Pasta for Children

Individual Adult:                      $15

Individual Child (Ages 2-12):  $9

Maximum Per Family:            $48


Please bring Non-Member Family and Friends

Individual Adult:                     $16

Individual Child (Ages 2-12): $10


Be an Angel and Be A:

Patron Family:                       $100

Sponsor Family:                    $50


Special Note: This event contains nuts.  Please report any nut allergies to the planning committee and we will make special arrangements.



RSVP By Monday, January 22nd with Payment and Form to the Sisterhood of Temple Beth El, 350 Roxbury Road, Stamford, CT 06902.  Your payment is your reservation.

Family Tu B’Shevat Seder and Dinner: Sunday, January 28th, 2007


Name: _______________________________________    Telephone Number:_______

# Adults:______________________   # Children:______     Ages of Children: ________

Total $ Enclosed: __________________

*      Yes -- I would like to be a Patron or Sponsor Family!

Please contact Dora Salm ( or Jackie Herman ( if you have any questions or would like to help with this event.





And Speaking of Seders…


2nd Night of Passover - The Seder


Believe it or not, this outstanding event will return to our temple.  We will have plenty of activities for children of all ages, and share our experiences as one giant family.  We will enjoy a terrific meal, and someone else cleaning up after us.  We will learn new facts about Passover, and introduce our new game, Pin the Matzah Ball on the Pharaoh!  This years co-chairs, Steven Mayer is asking for help with the various committees so that we ensure a successful event.  Please contact Rabbi Hammerman, or Steve Mayer at 203-316-9195; e-mail –to let us know if you plan to attend.









Please help the 5th grade religious school students reach their tzedakah goal:


Purchase 100 trees to rebuild northern Israel’s forests


During Hezbollah’s attack on Israel this past summer, 20% of Northern Israel’s forests were destroyed resulting in the loss of 2 million trees and 20,000 acres of land.  The soil, wildlife (many animals were killed), and scenic beauty of the region were lost.  Also, tourism and the economy are suffering badly.

Our 5th grade students are making a noble effort to rebuild the forests.  In the spirit of tzedakah and Tu B’Shevat (February 3), please help them reach their goal by purchasing a tree or making a donation.

All funds raised will be donated to the Jewish National Fund’s Operation Northern Renewal program.

Thank you so much.

Parents of the 5th Grade Students


Please complete and return with payment by January 31st to:


Temple Beth El Hebrew School Office

 350 Roxbury RoadStamfordCT  06902


Make Checks Payable to:  Temple Beth El

(in the memo please write – JNF Operation Northern Renewal)


Donor Name ___________________________

Phone Number _________________________

Email Address _________________________


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


             or                Donation Amount  =  $_______


                              Grand Total Enclosed  $_______










A Parlor Meeting

Regarding a Jewish High School in Southern Connecticut

Come hear
Rabbi Danny Lehmann
Head Master of The Gann Academy – The New Jewish High School in Greater Boston who will share his insights and experience as he celebrates his 10th year as Head Master of a pluralistic Jewish High School.

Come learn about the initiative to create our Jewish High School of Connecticut - our progress and goals

Sunday, January 21, 2007                                                              

 7:00 pm

At the home of Fred and Eileen Springer

50 Pembroke Drive,


Dessert and coffee/tea will be served.

This meeting is for anyone who cares about Jewish education and

the future of our youth and our community.


RSVP to  or


Directions: From the MERRITT PKWY. Take CT-137 N / High Ridge Road Exit - EXIT 35. 
Turn LEFT onto CT-137 / HIGH RIDGE RD.  Keep RIGHT at the fork and continue on CT-137 / High Ridge Road.   Turn RIGHT onto N Stamford Road. At STOP SIGN turn LEFT to stay on N Stamford Road.  Next corner turn SLIGHT RIGHT onto Cascade Road.  After STOP SIGN turn LEFT onto Pembroke Drive, house is the second house on the left #50.



Support our Temple Gift Shop! 


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.


"Keeping Up with the Steins"

Movie Showing & Discussion

January 27, 2006

7:30 PM

Hosted by Sisterhood

Benjamin Fiedler has a lot to be nervous about; his Bar Mitzvah is fast approaching, and his parents are caught up in plans to make his party even more lavish than the one the Steins threw for their son. Amid his family's debate over whether to invite an estranged grandfather, the youth solves the problem by arranging for Grandpa to arrive two weeks early.

Come see the movie, "Keeping Up with the Steins," and join us for a lively discussion.  This movie explores the Bar Mitzvah ritual and the family dynamics that often accompany it. Open to all adult members including B'nai Mitzvah aged children. Candy and popcorn to be provided.   Free!  (Movie rated PG-13) 


Bar/Bat Mitzvah Class of 2007 


Upcoming Family programs

Sunday mornings at 9:00 AM

Jan. 21 – Bima 101, Mock Wedding and Mitzvah projects

Feb. 4 – The World Wide Wrap (open to all congregants)


February 4, 2007


Get Ready To Wrap & Roll!



star                                                                                                                          star




We are looking for some volunteers to help out at a special family evening presented by the YOUTH COMMISSION for families with children of all ages.


Temple Beth El’s Annual Purim Carnival


Saturday March 3, 2007




Please contact Roz Rubin at 356-0515 or Carl Shapiro at 203-353-0657 if you are interested in helping out




 The Many Demensions of Jewish Prayer”

with Rabbi Hammerman

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


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



Modern Conversational Hebrew Ulpan

Instructor: Eran Vaisben, Education Director


Do you have good basic Hebrew reading skills? The primary goal of this class is to further your overall

understanding and use of the Hebrew language. This class emphasis is on communicative skills that

will enable you to communicate in simple Hebrew for everyday situations. This first level Ulpan class

is covering a variety of dialogue, articles, stories and songs.

Prerequisite: Hebrew reading


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)


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?




There is an $18.00 fee for non-members

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

Starting January 2nd– March 27th (No Session on February 20th)


To register please call/email the Hebrew School office:

(203) 322-6901, Ext. 306



Community Scholar-in-Residence Program


President Emeritus of National Hillel & Early Architect of “birthright israel

March 20, 2007

7:30 pm at Temple Beth El (opening session)

“Being Jewish in the iPod Age”

Maintaining and translating Jewish values into contemporary Jewish life

Infeld is known for his searing intellect, brilliant insights

into Jewish life and enthusiastic, dynamic speaking style,

Avraham Infeld is not to be missed.

For more information on the other events of the three-day program,

visit UJF website at or contact

Dr. Ilana De Laney

203.321.1373 ext. 114 or

This program made possible through the generosity

of the Herbert and Sarah M. Gibor Charitable Foundation

We PROMISE you won’t be disappointed!


We are proud to announce the GRAND OPENING of Stamford (Glatt) Kosher!!!!!
Starting the first Shabbat in February, we will be offering a spectacular
assortment of weekly shabbos take out with delicacies from world famous
eateries at competitive prices. We will be offering Dougies Grill, Chopstix
Chinese, Zadies Bakery and more....All you do is shop, order and pay online;
we will then deliver the food to your home. (or you can pick it up on
Thursday night in Stamford) Please visit our website, and leave us your
suggestions and comments to help us best meet your needs. We look forward
to serving you and making your Shabbat a wonderfully, delicious experience.

R. Yehuda Jeiger

R. Yehuda Tucker


Youth Programming






Havdalah Under the Stars


A special family evening presented by the YOUTH COMMISSION for families with children of all ages.



(Entrance and parking is ¼ mile up the street from the Nature Center on Scofieldtown Road)


January 20, 2007

6:30 to 8:00 pm


Price: $5 per child (Child must be accompanied by an adult)


Event will include short service, craft, view of the stars, and dessert/light snacks for everyone.


To RSVP for your family contact Carl Shapiro or 203-353-0657


This program has been subsidized by a generous contribution from

Sisterhood of Temple Beth El




Hello Temple Beth El USY Parents!


This is Harrison Shapiro, the USY chapter President.  I would like to see all of you (or your kids) at our trip to New Roc City on Saturday night, January 27th.  It should be a lot of fun.  Remember you can bring friends even if they are not members.


Please RSVP by replying to

To get the group rate we must order tickets in advance by Monday, January 22nd.


USY is going to



WHEN: Saturday, January 27th

TIME: Meet at Temple Beth El at 6:45 P.M.

Plan to be picked up at 11:00 P.M.

COST:       $40 Members

$45 Non-Members

Please make checks payable to Temple Beth El


Go-Karts, Laser Tag, Arcade, and Transportation!!!

Please RSVP by FRIDAY, JANUARY 19th to the Temple Beth El Hebrew School office or by email to



Join the JCC Maccabi trip to Israel this summer

 a 4-week action packed tour from June 24 – July 23. 

We will travel all over Israel from east to west and north to south.  We’ll see all of the traditional sites as well as go hiking, biking, climbing, kayaking, repelling, snorkeling, “jeeping,” and camel riding.  The trip will also tour with teens from our sister city Afula/Gilboa.  If you are entering 10th, 11th, or 12th grade in September 2007, and if you want to meet and tour with teens from across the U.S. – not just Stamford – then this trip is for you.  The cost for the full 4-weeks is $4,500 for Stamford JCC members, and $4,750 for non-members.  You can definitely use your $500 Gift of Israel from your Bar/Bat Mitzvah toward this trip.  If you sign up a friend, both you and your friend receive an additional $100 off.


For more information or to register for JCC Maccabi Israel, contact Nancy Schiffman at 487-0970 or, or Bob Abrams at 487-0958 or



College Students!

Registration is now open for the


The Original FACE BOOK:

A Jewish Guide to (non-virtual) Community

February 22 - 25, 2007

University of Pennsylvania


  • Enjoy a spirited Shabbat
  • Lots of students from North America
  • Meet representatives from Israel Programs
  • Celebrate!!
  • Community Service Projects
  • Israel Updates
  • Vision the future of the Conservative Movement
  • Learn from peers and other scholars
  • Sing, Dance and Laugh!
  • Have an awesome time!


Rabbi Pamela Barmash

Washington University

St. LouisMO



Aaron Freeman and Sharon Rosensweig



Scholarships available from KOACH, some Hillels and local congregations.


For details, go to or e-mail




Jews in our Government

While this isn’t exactly humor, comedy has a capricious side, and the blurring boundaries of Jewish identity can, like politics, make for uncanny twists and “strange bedfellows.”  Thanks to Chuck Donen for forwarding this.

1. Which sitting US  Senator had the most Jewish grandparents?
a. Senator Dianne Feinstein  (D, California)
b. Senator George Allen (R, Virginia)
c.  Senator Hillary Clinton (D, New York)

a - Of the three, only  Senator Feinstein is Jewish and she wins with 3 Jewish grandparents  (although not her mother's mother), Senator Allen had 2 (his mother's  parents) and Senator Clinton had a Jewish step-grandfather.

2.  The late Israel Goldfarb was the father-in-law of:
a. Senator Russ  Feingold (D, Wisconsin)
b. Senator Arlen Specter (R,  Pennsylvania)
c. Senator Harry Reid (D, Nevada - Incoming Majority  Leader)

c - Incoming Majority Leader Reid's father-in-law was  a Jewish immigrant from the Ukraine named Israel Goldfarb, who came to  America early in the 20th century. Most of his family perished in the  Holocaust. Senator Reid and his wife are practicing Mormons. Senator  Specter, a practicing Jew, late father-in-law was Jewish. Senator  Feingold has had a Jewish father-in-law and a non-Jewish one and  currently is father-in-law-less.

3. Which Member of Congress  has the most Jewish grandchildren?
a. Representative Steve Israel (D,  New York)
b. Representative Nancy Pelosi (D, California - Speaker of  the House-elect)
c. Representative Eric Cantor (R,  Virginia)

b - House Speaker-elect Nancy Pelosi, who is not  Jewish, has 2 Jewish grandchildren. Congressmen Israel and Cantor are  Jewish, but not yet grandparents.
4. The current Holy Book  controversy in Washington stems from
a. The first Muslim elected to  Congress wanting to take the oath on the Koran
b. Jews wanting to be  able to take the oath with a Torah
c. Christians insisting on being  sworn in with the New Testament

a - Incoming Congressman Keith  Ellison, a practicing Muslim, plans to take the Oath of Office in  January holding the Koran. Jews and Christians have been taking the  oath holding their holy scriptures since the founding of the republic.

5. The current US Jewish population is hovering  around 2% of America's
300,000,000 people.
Which of the  following is true?
a. The Supreme Court is more than 20% Jewish - the  largest number of Jews in history.
b. The new US Senate will  be 13% Jewish - the largest number of Jews in history.
c. The  new US House will be 8% Jewish - the largest number of Jews in  history.
d. All of the above

d- all of the above! We  should kvell!!

I guess another miracle of modern American  Jewish life if that the Chairman of the Republican National Committee  is a practicing Jew, Ken Mehlman, who celebrated becoming Bar Mitzvah  at age 13. The Chair of the Democratic National Committee is Howard  Dean, a practicing Christian, whose Jewish son celebrated becoming Bar  Mitzvah at age 13.


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

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