Friday, January 5, 2007

January 5, 2007– Tevet 16, 5767

January 5, 2007– Tevet 16, 5767


Rabbi Joshua HammermanTemple Beth El, StamfordConnecticut


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In Memoriam: President Gerald Ford and Mayor Teddy Kollek


Some recent tributes:


His Term Was Short, but Gerald Ford Left Mark on Soviet Jewry Movement

ADL Statement on the Death of President Gerald R. Ford

Kollek's Place in American History

Longtime Jerusalem Mayor Teddy Kollek Dies at 95 (NPR)

Living in Jerusalem with wisdom (Piece written by Kollek for the Jerusalem Post in 1998)

To The World, Kollek was Jerusalem (The Jewish Week) Kollek hated nudniks, but he was listed in the phonebook (Tom Segev)


Teddy Kollek once returned home very late, as he often did,

and found a note from his wife, Tamar:

A woman rang the doorbell at 1 A.M. to complain

 that there is a hole in the sidewalk near her house

and that the city has done nothing about it for a month.

Kollek's home phone number was listed in the telephone book;

people could call him at home, and some abused the privilege. It

was 3:30 A.M., and Kollek promptly called the woman back. "This is Teddy," he said.

"I just wanted to tell you that tomorrow morning, first thing, I'll deal with the matter."
Kollek broadcast authenticity and apolitical credibility.

He had a basic fairness, a big heart and a fatherly sense of humor.

And among Israel's founding fathers, he was exceptional: He enjoyed his work.







Milton Mann and some new friends, taken at our recent Murder Mystery.

Check out for many more new pictures of that recent 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)


Jan 19-20                                   Feb. 3



FULL Synaplex Schedule and Temple Rock Café information in Announcements Below


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


“WE MUST recognize the fact that the Arabs of Jerusalem are an integral part of the city by right, not by favor, and that they are determined to live here - because it is their home..”

Teddy Kollek, z’l, former mayor of Jerusalem





Friday Evening 


Candle lighting: 4:23 pm on Friday, 5 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.


Shabbat Evening service: 6:30 PM – in the chapel


Tot Shabbat: 6:45 – in the lobby


Shabbat Morning: 9:30 AM


Children’s services: 10:30 AM – (Jr. Congregation service in the chapel, Tot Shabbat morning downstairs. 6th and 7th graders in the main sanctuary)



Our Torah Reading for Shabbat Morning

Parashat Vayechi
פרשת ויחי

Genesis 47:28 - 50:26 – The Joseph story and the book of Genesis conclude

1: 49:27-30
I Kings 2:1 - 2:12

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 Guaranteed Minyan requests (including from me) for a yahrzeits on Monday, January 8.  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 hiatus from our Bar/Bat Mitzvah schedule, I’ll be featuring some helpful information regarding this central event in any family’s life.  The following helpful links are provided by, the Bar/Bat Mitzvah resource center:

Jacob Richman's Online Torah Links
Links to sites with weekly Devrei Torah on the Parasha

The Jewish Clipart Database
Free Bar / Bat Mitzvah Clipart - Graphics

Putting on the Tefillin
Visual diagrams on how to put on Tefillin

Jewish Holiday Calendar
Dates of Jewish holidays from 2003-2006

Hebcal Hebrew Date Converter
Find out a Hebrew Date or Gregorian Date

Judaism 101
Frequently Asked Questions about Judaism

Articles about Charity
Short selected articles about the mitzvah of giving

Jewish Hotsites

Large index of Jewish related sites Israel Hotsites
Large index of Israel related sites

My Hebrew Dictionary
An on-line resource containing groups of English words translated into Hebrew. The computer section itself has over 400 terms.

Learn Hebrew - with audio and transliterations
Over 1,700 Hebrew words and phrases including Nikud (vowels)
Hebrew audio of each word / phrase
Transliterations and translations in English, French, Russian, Spanish
Multilingual Menus.

The Bible Quiz
The, free, online Bible Quiz contains more than 3,000 multiple choice questions about the 5 books of Moses. Choose a chapter and timer setting, then the fun begins. Adults, as well as children will find the quiz entertaining and very educational.





Ranting Rabbi



This Shabbat I’ll be at Temple Emanu-El in Palm Beach Florida, doing a Scholar-in-Residence weekend there on behalf of CLAL.  This weekend was scheduled months ago and I’ve been looking forward to the chance to see what’s on people’s minds “out there,” a rare opportunity for me, what with bar/bat mitzvahs and other special events scheduled nearly every week.  I’ll be doing a similar scholar in residence Shabbat on Feb. 2-3 in New CityNew York.   I’ve gotten word out to some of our TBE Floridians, who will be coming as a “cheering section” this weekend;by all means, please let your friends and relatives know about it.  The schedule for the lectures can be found in that synagogue’s bulletin, the December, 2006 edition.  The shul’s website is at


          Among the issues I’ll be discussing is the current state of the Conservative movement, especially in light of last month’s landmark decisions regarding gay rights.  I am happy to inform congregants here that our lay leadership and I are working together to devise the best ways to involve everyone in the process of educating and consensus-building as we adapt the new realities to our own situation.  It’s really an exciting opportunity to help define who we are and how we wish to be perceived by the world.  The ritual committee will play a central role in this process, which will include a discussion of these rulings during February’s Synaplex Shabbat.


2006 - The Jewish Year in Review


At services last Shabbat we looked over some of the key events of 2006 and picked our top five.  Which would be your #1?

(sources include JTA and the Forward)


-          Although Jews comprise only about 0.2% of the human race, Jewish influence on the world has been far greater than the numbers would indicate.  Is this a good thing?


-          Ariel Sharon suffers a massive stroke that leaves him in a coma.


-          disgraced GOP lobbyist Jack Abramoff pleads guilty to three felony counts of mail fraud, tax evasion and conspiracy,


-          Hamas wins a resounding victory in Palestinian Authority parliamentary elections


-          Betty Friedan, whose book The Feminine Mystique launched the feminist revolution in the United States, dies at age 85.


-          At least 1200 people demonstrate to show their anger at the murder of 23-year-old French Jew Ilan Halimi, who was kidnapped by French and other Muslims and tortured to death.


-          Ehud Olmert’s centrist Kadima Party wins Israeli elections, garnering 28 seats in the 17th Knesset. Center-right Likud, which dominated the 16th Knesset with 40 seats, falls to 11, and centre-left Labor wins 20.


-          Israel’s population tops seven million


-          Investment guru Warren Buffett invests in Israeli manufacturing firm Iscar, in what Israeli media hails as the “deal of the decade”


-          Israel’s emergency services agency is formally admitted into the International Red Cross and Red Crescent movement, ending 58 years of exclusion of Magen David Adom.


-          Gunmen from Hamas and other terrorist groups attack a military post inside Israel, killing two soldiers and taking captive Corporal Gilad Shalit.


-          Hezbollah guerrillas stage a cross-border raid into Israel, killing eight soldiers and kidnapping two, setting off a war that would last for 34 days.


-          A Muslim gunman attacks the Seattle Jewish Federation, killing one woman and injuring five people.


-          France marks the 100th anniversary of the rehabilitation of Captain Alfred Dreyfus in a ceremony led by President Jacques Chirac.


-          The UN Security Council says it will sanction Iran if it does not suspend uranium enrichment by August 31.


-          Reuters admits it altered a photograph of an Israeli air strike on Beirut, making the bombardment appear more intense.


-          German Nobel Prize-winning author Gunther Grass admits he was a member of the Waffen SS during World War II.


-          The UN Security Council approves a resolution calling for an Israeli-Hezbollah cease-fire. The resolution authorizes an increase in the UN peace-keeping force in Lebanon to 15,000 and calls on the force to assist the Lebanese army in keeping the South free of Hezbollah gunmen and preventing arms smuggling into Lebanon.


-          Sixty-three per cent of Israelis want Ehud Olmert to resign because of his handling of Israel’s war with Hezbollah, according to a Yediot Achronot poll.


-          Stamford hosts 2006 Maccabi games


-          Prime Minister Ehud Olmert says he is “reconsidering” his plan for more unilateral withdrawals from the West Bank in the aftermath of the Lebanon war.


-          Joe Lieberman wins another senate term running as an independent.


-          US elections see a record number of Jewish candidates elected to serve in the United States Congress: 13 in the Senate and 30 in the House of Representatives. 


-          The growing Iranian nuclear threat and “holocaust denial” conference


-          New survey bumps estimate of American Jewish population up from 5.2 million to 6.4.


-          Conservative movement Law Committee approves option allowing for commitment ceremonies and gay ordination.


-          Survey of Boston Jewry indicates a rise in population and that 60% of children of Dual faith households are being brought up as jews, with only 8% being brought up in the other religion.


-          Phenomenal success of reggae rapper Matisyahu – the number 2 reggae album of 2006.


-          Israel’s Philharmonic turns 70


-          Worldwide acclaim for movie “Borat” and Sacha Baron Cohen.


-          Jimmy Carter’s new book, “Palestine: Peace Not Apartheid.”


-          Arnold Eisen chosen next JTS Chancellor


-          Ruth Messenger leads Jewish response to Darfur crisis


-          Scarlett Johanssen: Says the Forward, “Scarlett Johansson seems to have cured filmmaker Woody Allen of his shiksa fetish… Queen Esther and Bess Myerson, move over; a new Jewish beauty has conquered the world.”


-          Jon Stewart’s Daily Show called by NBC’s Brian Williams “a freestanding branch of government.”


-          Elie Wiesel’s 1958 classic “Night” reissued, and chosen by Oprah Winfrey as a book club selection, (thus redeeming her from a scandal involving her previous selection)  days after one of her book club selections was unmasked as a fraud.  “Night” immediately hits the best seller list and is found on syllabi from middle school tp post-graduate.


-          Shawn Green traded to the mets. “The messiah has arrived,” read a fan's hand-made sign at Green's Shea Stadium debut.


-          “Reboot,” “Nextbook,” “Heeb,” “Bar Mitzvah Disco,” “Jewtopia: the Book” and other cutting edge, hipster books and websites aimed at reaching the next generation


-          Mel Gibson, pulled over on the Pacific Coast Highway on July 28 on suspicion of drunk driving, launches into an antisemitic tirade against the arresting officer, who, in a neat bit of casting, turns out to be Jewish. (the final word on Gibson) belonged to comedian Dennis Leary, who launched into an on-air anti-Mel tirade while appearing as a guest commentator at an August 15 Boston Red Sox game. His muse: Kevin YoukilisBoston's Jewish first baseman. Leary cracked the jokes  “You happy Braveheart, huh? You see that grab, Mel? I hope in rehab they're showing replays of that”  but Youkilis, 27, supplied the setup and inspiration with three great plays in a row, each sending Leary into a greater frenzy. In the end, Youkilis's performance was the perfect answer to the Gibsons of the world, doing more than any press release or angry blog post to boost Jewish pride.



The Synaplex Spirit is spreading.  See the recent Jewish Ledger article below and note that our neighbors in Greenwich now are doing Synaplex too.  And mark your calendars for our next two Synaplex Shabbats (see below for details)


“Now playing at seven Connecticut congregations: Synaplex”

CT Jewish Ledger


By Judie Jacobson




It is 9 a.m. on a Saturday morning in late October and the doors to Temple Beth El in Stamford have swung open to welcome worshippers. Then again, not everyone is there to worship.

Some are off on a Body-Mind-Spirit Bike Ride ….others are there for the class in Kabbalistic Yoga…still others are there for the study session with the shul’s spiritual leader, Rabbi Joshua Hammerman.

At 10 a.m. worshippers have a choice to make: will they attend the traditional service, the meditative service, the teen service or the Family Learner’s service?

For those who want to make a day of it, the afternoon is filled with activities like Israeli dancing, a family scavenger hunt, all sorts of workshops, Storahtelling, and something called “Pet Palooza.”

Just another typical Shabbat at Temple Beth El? Not really. In fact, it is the Conservative congregation’s inaugural Synaplex Shabbat.

And that means something for everyone.  One size does not fit all


Now in its fourth year, the Synaplex initiative was created and launched by STAR (Synagogues: Transformation and Renewal), a Minneapolis-based organization dedicated to revitalizing synagogues. Focusing on Shabbat n which STAR’s executive director Rabbi Hayim Herring refers to as “Jewish prime time” n the Synaplex vision is not to come up with strategies to increase attendance at prayer services, but rather to make Shabbat more meaningful by offering an array of concurrent activities one Shabbat a month.

“One size doesn’t fit all in American Jewry today,” says Rabbi James Prosnit of Congregation B’nai Israel in Bridgeport, whose Reform congregation was one of the original 17 synagogues in the Synaplex pilot program.

“You enrich your congregation life by having different types of learning experiences on the Sabbath. For instance, on some Shabbat mornings we would have our regular minyan service, a healing service, a nature walk, a tot Shabbat… Our goal was to try to involve more people in more things by having different entry points for various groups within the congregation.”

To understand Synaplex think Cineplex, says Rabbi Fred Greene, who was responsible for the B’nai Israel program during the five years he served as the congregation’s assistant rabbi.

“Just like Cineplex theaters has many smaller theaters instead of one big screen theater, the Synaplex model says that having 400 people for one event isn’t always the best thing, because it may be a one shot deal. Instead, it advocates multiple entry points n smaller, more intimate, more focused, more meaningful opportunities for people to connect.”

According to Greene, Synaplex not only provides participating synagogues with an idea, but it also supplies the support services needed to implement it.

“There are lots of congregations that have wonderful programs, but they don’t always seek out or respond to congregants needs,” says Greene, who left B’nai Israel in July to become rabbi at Temple Beth Tikvah in RoswellGeorgia.

“Synaplex gives synagogue leaders, both lay and clergy, the tools to plan, prepare, market and assess programs that provide various gateways for people.”

It is that kind of direction that Beth Hillel Synagogue in Bloomfield is looking for.

“Instead of doing programs that have no relationship to one another or anything else, this will help give us a way to tie our Shabbat programs together,” says Rona Gollob of Simsbury, a vice president at the Conservative congregation, which will host its first Synaplex Shabbat this weekend, highlighted by guest Cantor Aryeh Rothschild.

Reaching inward

Interestingly, increasing membership numbers and/or boosting turnout at synagogue is not the overall goal of Synaplex n although an evaluation by STAR of the program at its 17 pilot congregations does indicate at least modest success in those areas.

Strengthening Jewish identity, creating a sense of Jewish community, helping individuals and families on their Jewish journey…that’s what it’s all about, say those in charge of Synaplex programs at its more than 100 participating synagogues.

“The goal of Temple Sholom is to foster a meaningful connection for our members with their Judaism and their temple,” says Rabbi Mitchell Hurvitz, whose Conservative Greenwich congregation recently joined the program.

Likewise, Prosnit sees Synaplex as more inwardly focused.

“Over the years our congregation has had a small increase each year, so I’m not sure that our Synaplex affiliation affected new members coming to us. I do think it helped us make our current membership more aware of some of the special Sabbath programs that take place here.”

And that is Gollob’s goal, as well.

“At least this first year, we are more concerned with in-reach than outreach. We want to get our own members more involved,” she says.

Lessons learned

At Beth El Temple in West Hartford, a Synaplex pilot congregation, the program is already embedded in the Conservative synagogue’s culture.

“(Synaplex) has really become a part of the shul,” says ritual director Howard Sowalsky, who has directed the program since its inception almost four years ago.

“Our congregants now look for what else they can experience on Shabbat besides services.”

In addition, notes Sowalsky, “Synaplex has affected the way we approach many systems here at Beth El.” Including, he says, “larger projects, like working with the Board.”

Greene also identifies the development of lay leaders and volunteers as a byproduct of the Synaplex initiative.

“The whole idea of Synaplex is having multiple entry points…understanding that suit congregants different needs. That means that we need to be more responsible. We need to find the right people to do the right task. Not everybody is able to chair a committee, but everybody has a gift to give. Synaplex is about synagogue transformation: helping synagogue leaders to engage more people more often on more Shabbat. It’s a good way to engage volunteers in a meaningful way. So, all in all, holistically, it’s a great program.”

In addition to those noted above, other Connecticut congregations participating in the Synaplex program include Temple B’nai Israel in Willimantic, a Reconstructionist congregation, and Beth Jacob Synagogue in Norwich, a Conservative congregation.



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.


(see more in announcements below)




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



We have an opportunity for you.  
An elderly member needs assistance getting around to places.  
She is looking for someone who is able to drive her for food shopping, doctor’s appointments, etc.  
If interested, please contact Mindy in the office at 322-6901, ext. 301 or
Cheryl Wolff
Co-chair Beth El Cares
TBE Congregant Forging New Responses to Autism

TBE congregant Steven Freedman is inaugurating a new venture that might be of help to families here.  See below:



Join our teleseminar - “Autism: Breakthrough Approach, Radical Results”
on Tuesday Jan. 9th, 8:00PM EST, sponsored by the Sensory Training Institute in Darien, treating ADHD, Autism, and other sensory-based issues with a unique and effective Sensory Learning Program.

Register at: or 888-595-6382 (24 hr). There are only a handful of spaces available at this point – register NOW and save your space!

Please let me tell you what happened, and WHY you or someone you know should be a part of this:

This 13 year old boy’s Mom has called me up almost every day with a brand new behavior change after 3 weeks of our BREAKTHROUGH approach to Sensory Integration, with ADHD, Aspergers Syndrome, and Autism being three of the primary issues we can make a difference with – first it was:

Adding new words to his vocabulary
Dressing himself in the morning
Playing together with siblings
Sitting calmly with the family for dinner
Being much more relaxed at school and at home

Recently he’s been going to the kitchen, and PREPARING HIS OWN BREAKFAST! These are all things that Mom NEVER DREAMED was possible. So many things have VASTLY improved their family life, there’s just too much to list here.

So I said to Mom we must set up a teleconference to share some of these amazing breakthroughs with other parents of children with autism, and let them know these Behavior Breakthroughs are not only possible, they are REAL, and they are happening here at The Sensory Training Institute in Darien with the only Breakthrough Approach to pure Sensory-based learning in this area.

JOIN THE CONFERENCE CALL on Tuesday Jan. 9th, 8:00PM EST. Sponsored by the Sensory Training Institute. Register at: or 888-595-6382 (24 hr).

If someone else you know and love suffers from Autism, FORWARD THIS EMAIL! You may help improve the lives of them and their family – forward this message, it may be the greatest gift you could give them.

Thanks for taking a moment to read this, and sharing it with someone you love.

Steven Freedman
Director, Sensory Training Institute
745 Post RoadDarienCT 06820

Register at: or 888-595-6382




Darfur Clergy Letter

To see all the signatories, including myself, go to


December 14, 2006




Dear Mr. Natsios,

CC: President George Bush


We, the undersigned religious leaders, are calling for a comprehensive diplomatic offensive on Darfur from the U.S. to ensure the deployment of a peacekeeping force that can protect the people of Darfur. In order for peace to be secured in the region, there needs to be an immediate  implementation of Resolution 1706, which calls for the deployment of a United Nations peacekeeping operation. As the U.S. Special Envoy to Darfur, you will play a very important role in determining the next steps on the Darfur crisis, to break the current deadlock and to lead new international action to stop the ongoing genocide. The credibility of the U.S. on Darfur will be judged by the successful pursuit of a diplomatic offensive at the UN to overcome Khartoum’s opposition to a UN force and galvanize Security Council action to protect the people of Darfur.


Although the African Union (AU) mandate has been extended beyond September 30th, the AU mission lacks the capacity to provide protection for civilians in Darfur, and there is an urgent need for the deployment of a robust international peacekeeping force to support the AU. We stress that any extension of the AU mandate will not buy more time to negotiate the deployment of a UN force and that the decision to deploy UN peacekeepers must take place within days, not months, in order to avoid a security gap in Darfur.


In order for the people of Darfur to receive protection, the U.S. must act on the numerous leverage points it holds to overcome current international obstacles to the deployment of a peacekeeping force for Darfur. We urge you and this Administration to make this a top priority. The strong words and rhetorical statement by this Administration are welcome, but they cannot substitute for concrete action to stop the genocide. We invite you to

consider taking the following steps to break the deadlock on Darfur.


• The U.S. should make clear to Khartoum that the future of U.S. relations with Sudan depends on Khartoum’s cooperation with the international community in allowing a UN peacekeeping mission into DarfurThe Sudanese government had previously stated that it would welcome a UN mission after the signing of a peace deal in Abuja, and it must now adhere to this commitment.


• The U.S should push for new sanctions against senior Sudanese government officials responsible for the continuing violence in Darfur, pursuant to UN Security Council Resolution 1591. Thus far, only four individuals have faced sanctions, and no sitting Sudanese official has been targeted. The U.S. should seek further targeted sanctions through the Security Council, including asset freezes and travel bans.


• The U.S. should offer its cooperation to the International Criminal Court (ICC) in its proceedings against those charged with war crimes and crimes against humanity in DarfurThe relationship between the U.S. and Sudan, particularly with regard to counter-terrorism efforts, has provided the U.S. with unique insights and information that should be made available to the ICC.


• The U.S. should encourage other countries to enact comprehensive bilateral sanctions against Sudan, as the U.S. has had in place since 1997, precluding investment in Sudan’s growing industry and other such economic relations. Such sanctions would register international outrage at the ongoing crisis in Darfur, for which the Khartoum government must be held responsible.


• The U.S. should use its relationships with governments around the world to “internationalize” pressure on Khartoum and create a united front for new and urgent action on DarfurJust as the U.S. has leverage with the Sudanese government, it also has bilateral leverage with Sudan’s allies on the Security Council (particularly RussiaChina and Qatar), and it must use this leverage now to enlist their support to pressure Khartoum to admit a UN peacekeeping operation into Darfur.


The actions of this administration will determine the fate of the people of Darfur. Your appointment to this position must be followed by new U.S. action to achieve the deployment of a UN force to Darfur. Nothing less than peacekeepers on the ground can stop the genocide, and nothing less will be acceptable to the millions of Americans who continue to take action on this crisis. As religious leaders, we represent the communities within our

faith who are deeply concerned about the violence in Darfur and are determined to stand with activists to finally end the genocide.





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.







Job Bank: The Highest Level of Tzedakkah


I received this notice of an available position from Rev. Dick Schuster at Lifeworks….



Date:                      January 3, 2007

To:                                   Interested Persons

Re:                                  St. Luke’s LifeWorks - Position Available

The following position is available for application:


CHIEF FINANCIAL OFFICER                            FINANCIAL SERVICES                                                           FULL-TIME


Responsibilities: Responsible for accounting and financial operations of the agency. Interface with financial institutions, government agencies, boards of directors, major funders, management, and staff. Supervise Accounting Manager and Senior Accountant.  Manage audit requirements including payroll, cash receipts, disbursements, accounts payable and accounts receivable.  Provide accurate financial reports as needed by internal and external customers, including SLLW’s Board of Directors, government funders, lending institutions, and major funders. Manage cash flow, negotiate loan conditions, and handle government grant payments.  Lead annual budgeting process that results in a balanced operating and capital budget.  Responsible for oversight of grant management function.  Supervise staff in the preparation for all required audits.  Develop a service entity to provide capable financial services for other non-profit agencies.  Make presentations and perform financial analysis as required for Executive Director,  , Executive Committee, and the Board of Directors.

Qualifications:  Bachelor's degree in finance, accounting, or a related field required.   CPA or master's degree in related field or equivalent professional certification desirable.  Previous experience supervising the accounting function in a not-for-profit agency (5+ years).  Management Information Systems (MIS) experience preferred.  Computer proficiency required, especially with spreadsheets.


All candidates interested in this position should submit a resume along with a cover letter with salary requirements to: Louise Varricchio, Director of Human Resources, St. Luke’s LifeWorks/Bread & Roses, 141 Franklin Street, Stamford, CT 06901 or you can e-mail your resume or fax 203-363-5927.





Do We Have a Right to Privacy?



               Here is a Jewish view on the right to privacy.  With every cell phone now potentially a camera, with webcams in many bedrooms and millions of videos on YouTube, and with “private” e-mails routinely given mass distribution, this has become one of the most pressing issues of our generation.  Throw in the key privacy provisions of landmark rulings like Roe V. Wade and this issue gains even more significance.


               Rabbi David Golinkin is one of the foremost halakhic authorities in he Conservative movement.  Here’s his recent responsum on that question:




Responsa in a Moment

Volume 1, Number 4

December 2006


A Responsum Regarding the Right to Privacy (1)

by Rabbi David Golinkin

Hoshen Mishpat 154: 3, 7


Question: It is common practice today for one company to sell the vital statistics of its clients to another company. It is also accepted that organizations - including rabbinic and philanthropic organizations - sell or give their email and mailing address lists to other organizations. Computer software known as “spyware” frequently enters home and business computers and collects personal information about users without their informed consent. This information is then used for future advertising and marketing purposes. Finally, Caller ID allows a company receiving a call to see the caller's phone number on a screen. As a result, companies which receive orders via 800 numbers then sell the customer's phone and credit card numbers to other companies. What is the halakhic attitude towards these practices?


Responsum: At first glance, these questions seem trivial. What does it matter if someone distributes my vital statistics and as a result I receive junk mail and junk phone calls? Who does it harm? But on second thought, these practices symbolize a much more serious phenomenon - the inability of modern man to maintain privacy and confidentiality. We live in an age of lack of privacy. There are many newspapers and "entertainment" programs devoted entirely to gossip and slander. Photographers and cameramen invade funerals and photograph the anguished cries of bereaved families. Our vital statistics and medical records are recorded on computers which can be invaded without too much effort. Through the Internet, one can break into the private computers of millions of individuals and companies.


Finally, eleven years ago we witnessed what was probably the greatest show trial in the history of mankind. A poll taken in February 1995 showed that 82% of the population of the United States planned to follow the O. J. Simpson trial, along with millions of people around the world. (2) Proponents of this massive invasion of privacy cited the "public's right to know". Yet there is no such "right" in American or Jewish law. On the contrary, as we shall see below, in Judaism every human being has the right to privacy and confidentiality unless he or she waives that right and allows someone to enter his home or to reveal his secret.


Therefore, there is no doubt that the halakhah forbids disclosure of vital statistics or confidential information about anyone without the express permission of the person in question. This conclusion is based on four prohibitions leading from the more general to the specific case under discussion.


I) Visual Privacy: Hezek R’iyah


First of all, the Torah itself clearly shows great respect for visual privacy. In Genesis 3:7, we are told that Adam and Eve "perceived that they were naked and they sewed together fig leaves and made themselves loincloths". Later on, in Genesis 9:20-27, we read the story of Noah who got drunk in his tent. Ham, father of Canaan, saw his father's nakedness and told his brothers Shem and Yefet who took a cloth and walked backwards, covering Noah's nakedness without looking. When Noah woke up, he cursed Canaan and blessed Shem and Yefet. Thus the Torah clearly indicates the importance of ֹvisual privacy and condemns those who violate this basic right.


In the Mishnah, this right to visual privacy gave birth to the concept of "hezek r'iyah" or damage caused by looking. The Mishnah in Bava Batra 3:7 states: "In a common courtyard, a person should not open a door opposite a door and a window opposite a window". The Talmud (Bava Batra 60a) learns this principal from Balaam. It says in Numbers 24:2,5 that Balaam saw Israel dwelling according to tribes, after which he exclaimed "how goodly are your tents O Jacob, your dwelling places O Israel!". "What did he see? He saw that their tent openings did not face each other. He said: these are worthy for God's presence to rest upon them". The Rema adds in the Shulhan Arukh (Hoshen Mishpat 154:7) that it is forbidden to stand at your window and look into your neighbor's courtyard "lest he harm him by looking". The Shulhan Arukh further rules (ibid., 154:3) that if Reuven wants to open a window into a common courtyard, Shimon can prevent it, and if Reuven opens the window, Shimon can block it up.


II) Privacy from Intruders


A second type of privacy protected by Jewish law and lore is the privacy of one's domicile from unwanted or unannounced intruders. This attitude is expressed in three aggadic or non-legal statements. The first two state that one should not enter a house, even one's own, without warning. Rabbi Shimon bar Yochai (second century c.e.) states in Leviticus Rabbah (21:8, ed. Margaliot, pp. 486-487) that "God hates four things which I also dislike...and a person who enters his own home suddenly and - there is no need to add - his neighbor's house." This idea is echoed by Rav, after which the midrash relates that Rabbi Yohanan used to clear his throat before entering Rabbi Hanina's house in order to make sure that he wasn't invading anyone's privacy.


We learn in Pesahim 112a that "Rabbi Akiva commanded his son Yehoshua seven things: my not enter your house suddenly, how much the moreso your friend's house".


The third source goes one step further. Midrash Lekah Tov (to Leviticus 1:1, p. 3) states that one may not enter his friend's house without permission and it learns this principle from God Himself! In Exodus 40:35 we are told that Moses could not enter the Tent of Meeting, whereas Leviticus 1:1 implies that God spoke to Moses in the Tent. "From this we learn that a person should not enter his friend's house unless his friend [i.e. God!] says 'enter'."


Furthermore, protection from intruders also found legal expression. In Deuteronomy 24:10-11, the Torah forbids a creditor from entering the house of a debtor in order to take a pledge:

When you make a loan of any sort to your fellow, you must not enter his house to seize his pledge. You must remain outside, while the man to whom you made the loan brings the pledge out to you.


The rabbis added that even an officer of the court may not enter the debtor's house in order to take a pledge (Sifrei Devarim, par. 276, ed. Finkelstein, p. 295; Tosefta Bava Metzia 10:8, ed. Lieberman, pp. 118-119; Bava Metzia 113a-b) and this was codified by Maimonides  (Hilkhot Malveh V’loveh 2:2) and the Shulhan Arukh (Hoshen Mishpat 97:6). Thus, even a person with a very good reason, may not invade another person's territorial privacy.


III) Protecting the Mail: The Herem of Rabbeinu Gershom


A third type of privacy protected by Jewish law is the privacy of one's mail as defended by the herem (ban) of Rabbeinu Gershom Me’or Hagolah (Germany, 960-1028). He is the reputed author of a series of takkanot or rabbinic enactments governing various aspects of Jewish life.(3) One of the takkanot attributed to him says that "One should not read his friend's letter" and some versions add: "without his knowledge and without his permission". (4) Indeed, until today some observant Jews write hdr”g (חדר"ג), an abbreviation of "herem d'rabbeinu Gershom", on the outside of their letters.


IV) Confidentiality


Finally, in addition to all of the above laws and legends which are intended to protect a person's privacy, there are sources which prohibit the disclosure of secrets or confidential information or require the permission of the person in question before that information may be revealed. Proverbs 11:13 says that "A base fellow gives away secrets, but a trustworthy soul keeps a confidence". The Mishnah (Sanhedrin 3:7) uses this verse, as well as Leviticus 19:16, to teach that judges are not permitted to reveal their deliberations after a verdict is reached and this ruling was codified by the Rif (Sanhedrin, ed. Vilna, fol. 9a) and by Maimonides (Sanhedrin 22:7).


The Talmud (Sanhedrin 31a) adds a story about a student who revealed a secret from the House of Study twenty-two years after the fact. It is not clear what kind of secret is intended; Rashi (ad. loc.) says that it was some bit of slander or gossip. In any case, Rav Ami threw him out of the House of Study, saying: "This is a revealer of secrets!" This source was followed by Rabbi Eliyahu ben Hayyim of Constantinople (1530-1610). He ruled in his responsa (Ra’anah, No. 111) that if one of the communal leaders revealed the secret deliberations of the City Council, he is disqualified from serving on the Council.


The last source we shall quote has the most direct bearing on our case. We read in the Talmud (Yoma 4b):

How do we know that when a person tells something to his friend, the latter may not repeat it until the person says to him "go and say"? As it is written (Leviticus 1:1):  "And God spoke to [Moses] from the Tent of Meeting to say…” (6)      


This source was codified by Rabbi Moses of Coucy (France, ca. 1236, Semag, Negative Commandments, No. 9) and by Rabbi Abraham Gumbiner (Poland, 1637-1683, Magen Avraham to Orah Hayyim 156, middle of subparagraph 2). It means that one may not reveal a confidence without the express permission of the confider. Thus, it is clear that Jewish law and tradition prohibit a business from revealing its clients' particulars to other companies without the express permission of the person in question, both because of its general approach to privacy and because of the specific prohibition against disclosing secrets.


There is no question that it will be difficult to change society's attitude towards privacy and confidentiality. But through our opposition to the so-called trivial practices described in the question, we can begin to arouse public consciousness to the problem and to slowly restore to each individual the privacy and the confidentiality which they deserve according to Jewish tradition.


 David Golinkin


8 Tevet 5767




1. This responsum began as part of a lengthy paper entitled "A Halakhic Approach to the Information Superhighway" which was delivered at the Whizin International Symposium on Technology and Ethics held at the University of Judaism in Los Angeles in February 1995. It was subsequently published in Conservative Judaism 48/3 (Spring 1996), pp.10-13 and has been revised for this column.


2. Newsweek, February 13, 1995, p. 17.


3. On the takkanot attributed to Rabbeinu Gershom, see Louis Finkelstein, Jewish Self-Government in the Middle Ages, New York, 1924 (and reprints), pp. 111-138; Entziklopedia Talmudit, Vol. 17, cols. 378-454; and Israel Schepansky, Hatakkanot B’yisrael, Vol. 4, Jerusalem, 1993, pp. 78-128.


4. For the many versions of this takkanah, see Finkelstein, pp. 31, 178, 189, 195, 211; Entziklopedia Talmudit, cols. 452-454; and Schepansky, pp. 95-96.


5. It should be noted that the number twenty-two is a round number in rabbinic literature. Yeruham Fishel Ber, Divrey Meshulam, Frankfurt am Main, 1926, pp. 45-48 cites sixteen examples of this phenomenon and many others can be added.


6. Rashi ad. loc. says that "leimor" ("to say") is being  understood as "lo emor" ("do not say"), while the Meiri ad. loc. explains that the redundant "leimor" teaches us that God spoke to Moses in order that he should tell others.




Rabbi Alfred Cohen, Journal of Halacha and Contemporary Society, 1 (Spring 1981), pp. 53-102


Entziklopedia Talmudit, Vol. 8, cols. 659-702, s.v. Hezek R’iyah


Rabbi David Golinkin, Insight Israel: The View from Schechter, Second Series, Jerusalem, 2006, Chapter 20 and the bibliography listed there


Rabbi Norman Lamm, Judaism 16/3 (Summer 1967), pp. 301-312


Rabbi Nahum Rakover, Hahaganah al Tzina't Haperat (Privacy), Jerusalem, [1970], 18 pp.


Rabbi Elie Spitz, Jewish and American Law on the Cutting Edge of Privacy: Computers in the Business Sector, University Papers, Vol. VI, No. 1, University of Judaism, October 1986, 16 pp.




Spiritual Journey on the Web

Some Great Sites to Explore…

A new site just launched by the Jerusalem municipality.  Filled with hotel and sightseeing information, restaurant recommendations and menus, history, upcoming events, nightlife and the arts, all on an easily navigable homepage.  It’s the next best thing to being there.

A nice, concise online Hebrew glossary, giving translations and deep explanations for hundreds of words and phrases – all in English transliteration.


Rosh Chodesh

Head of the Month; New Moon

First day of the Jewish month, celebrated as a minor holy day; it is observed for one day (if the preceding month had 29 days) or two days (if the preceding month had 30 days). it is celebrated by reciting a short form of the Hallel psalms, reading from the Torah with four persons given aliyot, and adding a musaf prayer. The day is also of special significance for women, especially in the modern period, because of the relationship between the menstrual cycle and the lunar calendar.  See further: Rosh Chodesh Index

BTW, go to the homepage, to find an entire transliterated Torah, Hebrew Bible Names, an encyclopedia of blessings and prayers, all 613 mitzvot, annotated, and, oh yes, some head coverings by Devorah.


See the article below to begin to understand the fascinating story of


Tehran cemetery web catalog allows Iranian Jews abroad to mourn

By The Associated Press

As a young woman in Tehran during the 1970s, Susan Manavi never visited a cemetery, even after her grandparents were laid to rest a couple of years before Iran's 1979 Islamic Revolution.

Although they were buried in a Jewish cemetery near the city, Manavi's parents adhered to an Iranian cultural taboo that death and youth should be kept apart, so as not to tempt fate.

Now 52 and living in Los Angeles, Manavi first laid eyes on her grandparents' headstones two months ago on the Web site The site has photographs of thousands of graves from Beheshtieh Cemetery.






Required Reading and Action Items



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

 and other sources


FROM Beliefnet:


Survey: How Do You Raise Spiritual Kids?


Virtual Talmud: A New Year for Jewish Extremism?

Discussion: Can You Be Both Jewish and Atheist?




FROM Israel21c:

Israeli startup enables computers to 'understand' human language  
Most people have gotten comfortable with the idea of chatting on their computer - but the day may not be far away when we'll be able to chat with our computer. A new application created by Jerusalem-based start-up Linguistic Agents will allow computers to accurately decode human language - a development which is bound to revolutionize the world of computers. Currently, we change the way we communicate in order to get our computers to understand us. Linguistic Agents' new technology will change all that, says the company's COO Simcha Margaliot. "The same way you talk with friends, you'll talk to your computer."  More...


Culture | American business students sample Israeli-style innovation  
A group of 30 business students from the Unversity of California at Berkeley spent an eye-opening winter break visiting some of the most innovative and entrepreneurial aspects of Israel's business culture. The brainchild of student Danel Mayer, the tour succeeded in providing background and understanding for the future business leaders about the possibilities of collaborating with Israeli companies and entrepreneurs. More...


Health | Israeli medical diagnostics 'moo-ves' to the farm  
Israeli start-up Veterix has developed an innovative new electronic capsule that sits in the stomach of a cow, sheep, or goat, and sends out real-time information on the health of the herd to the farmer via email or cellphone. The e-capsule, which also sends out alerts if animals are distressed, sick, injured or lost, is now being tested on a herd of cows in Israel. The company believes that the device will lead to better and healthier meat and milk supplies. More...


Culture | Israeli film 'Sweet Mud' to compete at Sundance Festival  
After being rejected from film school, Dror Shaul has worked his way up through the Israeli film industry the hard way - from his first job as a driver to today's position as one of the country's top filmmakers. Now, the acclaimed director's new movie, Sweet Mud, a powerful coming-of-age drama about a 12-year-old boy growing up on a kibbutz with his psychologically unstable mother, is making international waves - it's competing at the prestigious Sundance Film Festival in late January, and this week is being considered for an Oscar nomination as Best Foreign Film. More...


Technology | Forget the tall tales - Israeli lie detector keeps Skype users honest  
The 130-150 million Skype users worldwide have a new reason to be satisfied customers - an Israeli-developed free lie-detector that can be added on to the Internet phone service which will enable callers to tell if the person on the other end of the line is being truthful. The KishKish lie detector is based on voice stress analysis (VSA), a technique used for many years in law detection, but for the first time being made available to the general population. More...


Rwanda to pattern youth village on Israeli Ethiopian model  


Global Democracy | Absenteeism is catchy, finds Israeli study


Profiles | Israel's Mor Meluka rides a wave of surfing success



FROM CLAL’s website -


“Jewish Voices, Jewish Values” 
“…What makes a Jewish community truly alive? Perhaps the most important answer is: significant conversations among Jews…I am proposing that the New York Jewish community create an ongoing network of study, debate and discussion groups focusing primarily on social policy issues that already are or should be significant in contemporary American society. These would be deliberately Jewish conversations — rooted in Jewish sources and values… ‘The Jewish Public Square’ is where we share ideas, swap life stories and debate the principles that should guide the course of community action. Let’s start the conversation….” By Tsvi Blanchard (from the New York Jewish Week Directions)

“Saying Yes to Mess”
“…Stop feeling bad… ‘order can be profane and life-diminishing,’ he [Irwin Kula] said the other day. ‘It’s a flippant remark, but if you’ve never had a messy kitchen, you’ve probably never had a home-cooked meal. Real life is very messy, but we need to have models about how that messiness works.’ His favorite example? His 15-year-old daughter Talia’s bedroom, a picture of utter disorder — and individuality… ‘The room was an invitation…to search for a deeper meaning under the
scurf….’” By Penelope Green (from the New York Times)


Gay Rights Dialectic 
“…The Conservative movement's decision to both prohibit and legitimize full inclusion of homosexuals has something important to teach Americans…rather than either side needing to win, there is a lesson to be learned in the spiritual insight that there is partial truth in contradictory opinions. Keeping polarized opinions in a conversation is precisely the way to discover more inclusive truths that create new possibilities and opportunities….” By Irwin Kula (from the Washington Post Letters to the Editor)


now for the rest


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

See also


The Iraq Study Group: Implications for Israel


Iran's Secret Plan for Mayhem - Eli Lake
Iran is supporting both Sunni and Shiite terrorists in the Iraqi civil war, according to secret Iranian documents captured by Americans in Iraq. Iranians captured by American forces were carrying documents that offer insight into Iranian activities in Iraq. The documents show how the Quds Force - the arm of Iran's Revolutionary Guard that supports Shiite Hizbullah, Sunni Hamas, and Shiite death squads - is working with individuals affiliated with Al-Qaeda in Iraq and Ansar al-Sunna. An American official said, "We found plans for attacks [and] phone numbers affiliated with Sunni bad guys."
    While the Iranian plans do not extend to cooperation with Baathist groups fighting the government in Baghdad, the news that Iran's Quds Force would be in contact, and clandestinely cooperating, with Sunni Jihadists who attacked the Golden Mosque in Samarra (one of the holiest shrines in Shiism) on February 22 could shake the alliance Iraq's ruling Shiites have forged with Tehran. Many Iraq analysts believe the bombing vaulted Iraq into the current stage of its civil war. (New York Sun)


Fears of a Gaza-Based Reporter - Nidal al-Mughrabi
When Israel pulled troops and Jewish settlers out of Gaza in 2005, we had hoped that it might bring some peace. But the violence did not stop. Militants continued rocket attacks on Israel. When I navigate Gaza's streets, I often think about who is driving in front of and behind me. Are they militants from Islamic Jihad, Hamas, or Fatah? Driving at night, I fear that gunmen will stop my car and steal it. Passing Palestinian police stations, I worry I will get caught in a gunfight between rival factions. More than 300 Palestinians were killed in factional and clan fighting in 2006. Hundreds of cars have been stolen in the past few months alone. (Reuters)


Inter-Palestinian Fighting in Gaza Kills Five - Avi Issacharoff
Five Palestinians, including four Fatah members and a woman bystander, were killed Wednesday in Gaza. In Khan Yunis, three security officials loyal to PA Chairman Abbas were killed when gunmen attacked their vehicles. Abbas' Preventive Security force blamed Hamas for the attack. (Ha'aretz)
    See also Fatah Suffers Losses in Clashes with Hamas - Ali Waked
On Wednesday, ten Palestinians were kidnapped by both Hamas and Fatah. Palestinian sources reported that senior Fatah military leader Hassan al-Qasas narrowly escaped an assassination attempt after gunmen fired an RPG towards him on Wednesday. Ahmad Sarur, a resident of Beit Lahiya, said, "Everywhere you go there are masked Hamas fighters."
    Also Wednesday, a Hamas member who serves as Interior Minister Sayeed Siyam's bodyguard was wounded after a bomb he was working on apparently detonated prematurely in Gaza City. Another Hamas member died Tuesday under similar circumstances. (Ynet News)
    See also Gunmen Target Hamas Officials in West Bank
Assailants targeted three senior Hamas officials in the West Bank, kidnapping one, torching the car of a second, and shooting in the air as a third emerged from a mosque, officials said Thursday. (AP/International Herald Tribune)


PA Warns Americans and Europeans to Leave Gaza
The Palestinian security establishment has advised American and European citizens to leave Gaza following kidnapping warnings, Israel Radio reported Wednesday. The warning came as searches continued for Jaime Razuri, 50, an Agence France Presse photographer from Peru kidnapped in Gaza on Monday. (Jerusalem Post)


Palestinian Rocket Attacks Continue - Shmulik Hadad
Palestinians in Gaza fired a Kassam rocket Wednesday evening that landed in Israel north of the Erez Crossing. (Ynet News)

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


America's Many Failed Attempts at Mideast Peace - Michael Oren
American attempts at Arab-Israeli peacemaking began in 1947, when Harry S Truman supported the UN plan to partition Palestine into separate Arab and Jewish states. But the Palestinian Arabs rejected that compromise, and Arab armies tried to destroy the Jewish nation. U.S. leaders tend to view the Middle East as an arena for demonstrating their diplomatic prowess and for affirming America's status as a world power. A deeper impetus may be the desire of Americans, many of whom are religiously observant, to bring tranquility to the Holy Land.
    Nearly six decades of American mediation have registered only one lasting success: the 1979 treaty between Egypt and Israel. But that agreement was only made possible by the courage of Anwar Sadat, who became the first Arab leader to visit Israel. American mediation can succeed only after the emergence of local leaders who, like Sadat and Begin, have both the will and the strength to make peace. The writer is a senior fellow at the Shalem Center in Jerusalem. (Boston Globe)


Iran Has Some Radical Plans for the New Year - Joel C. Rosenberg
The Islamic messiah known as the "Twelfth Imam" or the "Mahdi" may come to earth in 2007 and could be revealed as early as this spring. The official Iranian government news website IRIB says the world is now in its "last days." It claims that the Mahdi will first appear in Mecca, and then Medina. He will conquer all of ArabiaSyriaIraq, destroy Israel, and then set up a "global government" based in Iraq. Such Islamic beliefs are driving the Iranian regime and help explain why Iran has no interest in helping the U.S. and EU create peace in Iraq or the region.
    An Iranian television series called "The World Towards Illumination" has been running since last November to help answer questions about the end of the world as we know it. The program also says that Jesus is coming back to earth soon as a Shiite Muslim leader to serve as a deputy to the Mahdi to destroy the infidels. Bottom line: The leaders of Iran are preparing for an apocalyptic war with the U.S. and Israel. It's not a question of "if" but "when." (National Review)


Al-Qaeda TV, Based in Syria, Carried by Egyptian Satellite - Daveed Gartenstein-Ross and Nick Grace
Al-Qaeda and its allies now have their own 24-hour television station. Based at a secret studio in Syria, its signal is broadcast to the entire Arab world from Nilesat, a satellite owned by the Egyptian government. In the past, al-Qaeda tapes were generally released to Al Jazeera, but Al-Zawraa, the 24-hour insurgent station, hit the airwaves on November 14. The easiest route to shutting down Al-Zawraa is to persuade Egypt, which receives $2 billion a year in U.S. aid, to remove the station from Nilesat. (Weekly Standard)


Why Are Arabs Upset by Saddam's Execution? - Efraim Karsh (New Republic)

  • While Saddam Hussein's execution was greeted with delight by many of his victims - Iranians, Kuwaitis, and Iraqi Shia - it also generated widespread criticism among many Arabs and Muslims. This evokes one of the more confounding paradoxes relating to Saddam - the wide discrepancy between his actual track record and the adulation in which he was held by non-Iraqi Arabs.
  • Saddam transformed Iraq into the most repressive police state in the world, where a joke or a reported thought could cost a person his life, where tens of thousands of civilians were brutally murdered by their government, and where millions starved while their unelected ruler spent incredible sums of money on monuments and palaces for himself.
  • Saddam embroiled his country in a string of catastrophic foreign adventures that claimed more than one million lives and wrought untold physical and economic wreckage. Upon his ascendance in 1979, Iraq was a regional economic superpower, boasting some $35 billion in foreign exchange reserves. Twenty-three years later, it had been reduced to dire poverty and underdevelopment, with tens of billions in foreign debt.
  • Why has such an abysmal record been widely applauded by Arabs and Muslims?
  • It is the Middle East's violent political culture that has created and perpetuated the monstrosity of Saddam (and his ilk). Only when this culture is fully eradicated will the region's inhabitants be able to look forward to a better future. Saddam's execution, at long last, sets a precedent of holding a local tyrant accountable for his crimes.

The writer is head of the Mediterranean Studies Program at King's CollegeUniversity of London.


Former PA Minister to Al-Qaeda: "We Hate the Americans More than You" - Yaakov Lappin (Ynet News)
    Fatah leader and former PA minister Abu Ali Shahin, responding to a statement by al-Qaeda's deputy leader, Ayman al-Zawahri, criticizing Palestinian Fatah leaders for contacts with the U.S., addressed al-Qaeda on PA TV on Jan. 1, saying:
    "Do to Bush whatever you want, and we wish you success....We are fighting the Americans and hate the Americans more than you!"
    View video (Palestinian Media Watch)


Jewish Members Assume Key Committee Positions in New Congress - Hilary Leila Krieger (Jerusalem Post)
    In the new 110th Congress, Tom Lantos (D-Calif.) will become chairman of the House International Relations Committee and Gary Ackerman (D-NY) is set to chair its Middle East subcommittee.
    Nita Lowey (D-NY) should be chairing the House Appropriations Committee's Subcommittee on Foreign Operations.
    In the Senate, Joe Lieberman (I-Conn.) will head the Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee, while Barbara Boxer (D-Calif.) is expected to take over the Foreign Affairs Middle East Subcommittee.
    Many Republican backers of Israel, who no longer head committees, will continue to serve in minority leadership roles.


Arabs vs. Israel: A View from Pakistan - Farrukh Saleem (Jang Group-Pakistan)
    Of the 330 million Muslims living under Arab rulers, a mere 486,530 live in a democracy.
    The only "parliamentary democracy" in the region with universal suffrage, multi-party, multi-candidate, competitive elections is Israel.
    Knowledge makes Israel grow by 5% a year, while "rates of productivity" in Arab countries are negative.
    Israel now has six universities ranked as among the best on the planet, while the 22-member Arab League does not have a single university in the top 400.
    In the Arab world, one in two women can neither read nor write.
    Roughly 23% of Arab engineers and 50% of Arab doctors emigrate.


Smuggling Tunnel between Gaza and Egypt Collapses (AP/International Herald Tribune)
    A smuggling tunnel under the border between the Gaza Strip and Egypt collapsed Thursday morning, Palestinian security officials said.
    Israel says antitank missiles, tons of explosives, and thousands of rifles have reached militants in Gaza through the tunnels.


The Palestinian Death Cult - David Horowitz
There are more than a million Arabs living in Israel. They don't go around killing each other. The reason is that in Israel - unlike any other Arab state - they are free. They are even part of the Israeli government. And unlike the Arabs in Gaza they are not followers of a state-sponsored death cult which teaches them to kill for Allah and especially to kill Jews.
    This death cult is the problem in the Middle East, the source of the conflict, and the reason why Palestinian factions are killing each other. The sickness that has consumed the Palestinians of Gaza and the West Bank is self-generated, an emanation of the death cult they have been nurturing for decades. (FrontPageMagazine)


It's Not About Israel - David A. Harris
British Prime Minister Tony Blair and outgoing UN Secretary General Kofi Annan have been among the most prominent of those viewing the Israeli-Palestinian conflict as the root cause of many of the Middle East's problems. True, genuine peace between Israel and the Palestinians would remove one of the long-standing conflicts in the Middle East. But to suggest that such a settlement would take the wind out of radical Islam's sails is unsupported by the facts.
    Even if Israel did not exist, would Iraq and Iran have chosen not to pursue an eight-year war that cost more than a million fatalities? Would Iraq have decided not to invade Kuwait in 1990? Would it have rethought its use of chemical weapons against both its own Kurdish population and Iran? Would Syria have refrained from slaughtering over 10,000 of its own citizens in Hama in 1982? Would it have relinquished its hold on Lebanon? Would Saudi Arabia have stopped exporting its Wahhabi model of Islam, with its rejection of non-Muslims as so-called infidels? Would al-Qaeda not have attacked the U.S. in 2001?
    In reality, the destabilizing factors in the Middle East run far deeper than the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. The sad truth is that it is political oppression, intellectual suffocation, and gender discrimination that explain, more than other factors, the chronic difficulties of the Middle EastThe writer is executive director of the American Jewish Committee. (Jerusalem Post)



Crime and Punishment - Editorial
There will be few, beyond the Ba'athist terrorists in Iraq, who will mourn Saddam's death. If ever a man deserved to hang, it was Saddam, brutal dictator and mass murderer. Perhaps the link between Saddam's criminality and his subsequent execution will help establish the principle that tyranny will be punished rather than appeased. (Sunday Times-UK)


King Saddam Meets His End - Barry Rubin
Saddam was really a king. His intention was to pass down power to his son, to create a republican monarchy. This is what happened in Syria, where Hafez I left the throne to Bashar I.
    What is most important is how Saddam is interpreted. To many, the great majority that accepts radical Arab nationalism and even lots of Islamists, Saddam is basically a hero. He fought America; he fought Israel. If this is what prevails, then there is no hope for the Arabic-speaking world. For in that case, Saddam's mismanagement, wasteful wars, murder, torture, and intimidation are simply not important. And if these things do not matter, they will continue to be repeated and exalted. (Jerusalem Post)
    See also Saddam Hussein, 1937-2006: A Dictator's Arc of Power Ends in Utter Ignominy - Joshua Partlow (Washington Post)


Better Off Dead - Yoel Marcus (Ha'aretz)

  • It is hard to comprehend how the execution of a cruel dictator, personally responsible for the murder of more than one million Iraqis, Iranians, Kurds, and Shi'ites during his 24 years in power, came as such a shock to the high-minded souls of the world, especially those in the EU who called the hanging of Saddam Hussein a "barbaric act."
  • A leader who doesn't blink an eyelid at employing chemical warfare to murder thousands of Kurds and an equal number of Shi'ites, and then buries dozens, if not hundreds, of them in mass graves, who is capable of launching an eight-year war against Iran that ends up killing a million people, is not an ordinary murderer.
  • He is a war criminal who deserves to be put to death. Israel did not hesitate to hang Adolf Eichmann.
  • The common denominator between the Nazi murderers and Saddam was an obsessive desire to wipe out the Jews. Saddam was a megalomaniac who pledged to burn Israel to a crisp.
  • He began to build the first nuclear reactor in the Arab world with the express purpose of putting an end to Israel.
  • He encouraged and financed suicide bombings and terror against Israel's civilian population, and fired 40 Scud missiles at us.




Eight Resolutions for the New Year – From Nigel Savage of Hazon

(Nigel, a TBE Scholar in Residence, several years ago, continues to be one of the most innovative voices in the Jewish world)


Hazon’s mission is to create a healthier and more sustainable Jewish community, as a step towards creating a healthier and more sustainable world for all.  We’re fresh from the food conference, and wanted to share with you some highlights from that as well as eight (one for each Hanukah candle) non-obvious things you can do this year to work towards this goal:


1. Get on your bike.  Sharon Lebewhol, daughter of the founder of the 2nd Avenue Deli, learned to ride a bike for the first time at our Food Conference in December.  She told everyone, “I just learned how to ride a bike – I feel like I can do anything!”

Over 110 people have already signed up for the Israel Ride. Experience Israel in a unique way, from the seat of your bike instead of the tour bus. January 2 is your last chance to use the 'gift' discount code to receive $100 off registration. Register for the Israel Ride!

For the Israel Ride information session closest to you, visit the Israel Ride web site:


2. Build a relationship with the people who grow your food: talk to farmers at the farmers market, or the produce man at your grocery store; and if you can, join a CSA. If you live in one of the following cities, join Tuv Ha’Aretz this season: Berkeley, CA; Houston, TX; Atlanta, GA; Philadelphia, PA; New York City or Long Island, NY; West Orange, NJ; or Modi’in, Israel. 

If you live somewhere else, find a CSA near you through


3. Get a group of friends together to learn about Jews, food and contemporary life.  Our curriculum book will be available in the spring. If you’re interested in pre-purchasing a bulk order of 20 or more for a 25% discount, email Anna at

If you're in New York for Tu B'shvat, join Hazon for our 5th annual Tu B'shvat seder at the JCC in Manhattan, Saturday, February 3rd, 7:00pm.  Learn, be inspired, eat delicious organic fruits and nuts, and drink plenty of wine as we celebrate the holiday of the trees.  Examine how food connects us to Jewish tradition, to the Earth, to other people, and to ourselves.  The seder sells out every year - don't miss out!


4. Learn how to bake challah with friends or family.  Find out if your parents or grandparents have a recipe, or look at Hazon's online resources. Our recipes of choice:

Daniella Halstuch's Whole Flour Challah

Dr. Phyllis Bieri's Challah


5. Engage tradition in a new way. On the first day of Chanukah, Dr. David Kraemer proposed that we follow Beit Shamai instead of Beit Hillel in the way that we light the menorah—in order to in fact follow the spirit of Beit Hillel’s position.  Beit Hillel explains that we should light one more candle each day of Chanukah to symbolize our joy increasing.

But—are we not thinking about ways to simplify our days, lessen our footprint, own less stuff, as a way to make our lives calmer, saner, more holy?  Could we not symbolize this shift—from consumerism to simplicity—by decreasing the number of candles we light every night, and make the very real and radical statement of increasing our joy even as we decrease our stuff?  You’ve got 11 months to think about this for next year…


6. Stop talking about eco-kashrut.  Just as Adam Warbach, Ted Nordhaus and Michael Shellenberger  argued in as series of articles about the “Death of Environmentalism” in 2005, ‘environmental’ or ‘eco’ as a label does more harm than good by relegating the concerns of a movement to the fringe. Instead, integrate your ideals. Kosher literally means “fit”.  What is fit for us to eat today is different than it was a thousand or two thousand years ago.

Consider what it means to eat food that is “fit” – not only for us as Jews, but for the earth as well. This is one of the biggest discussions in the Jewish world right now: what should we eat, and on what basis do we make our decisions?  Read more about our thoughts on this issue on


7. Celebrate Shabbat with your food…the rest of the week.  We often think of Shabbat as a day to eat celebratory meals, special food, and lots of it.  But this celebration stands out less if, on the other six days of the week, we are also eating huge meals, lots of rich food, lots of wine, lots of desert. Consider that celebrating Shabbat might in fact mean cutting back during the rest of the week; that in restricting ourselves just a tiny bit, we actually enable ourselves to appreciate the bounty and wonderful joy of a festive Shabbat.


8. Support food justice work—here, in Israel, around the world.  Click here to make a donation to MazonHazon YeshayaAmerican Jewish World Service, and Hazon .

Join the New York ride or the Israel Ride -- the $400,000 and $600,000 we raise from each respective ride supports Hazon's food work and that of our grantees and partners. Read more about where the money goes at


We invite you to join the discussion about Jews, Food & Contemporary Life on

With all best wishes for a happy, healthy & fulfilling new year,






MYTH #246 [update of #233]

"Israeli forces deliberately targeted civilians during the war instigated by Hizballah."


Three weeks after the beginning of the war initiated by Hizballah on July 12, 2006, Human Rights Watch (HRW) issued a report that charged Israel with indiscriminate attacks against civilians in Lebanon” (“Fatal Strikes: Israel's Indiscriminate Attacks Against Civilians in Lebanon,” August 3, 2006). HRW did not claim that its representatives were present when any of these alleged crimes occurred. Rather, the report explained that its information was gleaned from interviewing “eye-witnesses and survivors” of Israeli strikes who “told HRW that neither Hizballah fighters nor other legitimate military targets were in the area that the IDF attacked.” To reinforce its interpretation, the report added that when HRW investigators arrived at the various scenes, they did not see “any signs of military activity in the area[s] attacked, such as trenches, destroyed rocket launchers, other military equipment, or dead or wounded fighters.”

There was no dependable method by which HRW could assess the veracity of what it was told by the “witnesses,” many of whom were in areas where the population was sympathetic to, or intimidated by Hizballah. Indeed, there was no means by which it could be sure that they were not Hizballah cadres, since members of the group do not ordinarily wear uniforms or display identity badges.

As for the absence of physical signs of Hizballah’s presence at bomb sites, the report seemed to assume that the group would have left in place damaged weapons and fallen and injured comrades during the hours, or more likely days, that passed before HRW's investigators arrived at each site. For the especially grave accusation that civilian deaths were inflicted “deliberately,” no evidence was offered. Civilians were injured and killed during the war, but individuals claiming to be witnesses denied Hezbollah had been in the area.

When challenged about the group’s methods, HRW director Kenneth Roth said, essentially, trust me. Anyone watching TV, however, saw the images of rockets being fired from civilian areas, and the photos of weapons and armed men in what should have been peaceful neighborhoods. Numerous witnesses also told reporters very different stories than those reported by HRW, giving examples of weapons caches in mosques and fighters using UN troops as shields (Alan Dershowitz, "What Are They Watching?" New York Sun, August 23, 2006). HRW had no trouble accepting the word of the Lebanese people it interviewed, but gave no credence to evidence presented by Israel, such as weapons captured in fighting in civilian areas or videos showing the deployment and launching of rockets from areas that were attacked.

Two days after the release of their report on Israel, and while being subjected to serious criticism for having double standards, a relatively short statement (7 pages compared to 51 on Lebanon) was released by HRW (“Israel/Lebanon: Hezbollah Must End Attacks on Civilians,” August 5, 2006). Rockets had already been falling on Israel for three weeks before Roth managed to call on Hizballah to stop its attacks and declare that “Lobbing rockets blindly into civilian areas is without doubt a war crime.” Even in this report documenting strikes on Israeli hospitals, educational institutions, businesses and civilian homes, HRW couldn’t resist reiterating its charges against Israel.

The decision by HRW to treat Israel as the main culprit in this war also entailed a studied refusal to make basic moral and legal distinctions. The group did not differentiate between Hizballah’s action in initiating the conflict and Israel's reaction in self-defense, nor between Hizballah’s openly announced and deliberate targeting of civilians and Israel’s efforts to avoid civilian casualties by, for example, appealing to Lebanese civilians to evacuate areas it intended to attack (and thereby giving up the element of surprise and increasing the risk to its own troops).

Most remarkably, HRW did not take note of the contrasting goals of the combatants. One of Hizballah’s declared aims is to destroy Israel, while Israel's goal was to survive and to protect its citizens. HRW justifies this self-imposed moral blindness on the grounds that its touchstone is law, not morality.

The spurious allegations made by HRW, as well as similar ones published by Amnesty International, were further undermined by a report issued in November 2006 by the Intelligence and Terrorism Center at the Israeli Center for Special Studies. This publication provides extensive documentation and photographic evidence of “Hizballah’s consistent pattern of intentionally placing its fighters and weapons among civilians.” It also shows that Hizballah was “well aware of the civilian casualties that would ensue” from this activity.

This article can be found at

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

To order a copy of the NEW paperback edition of Myths and Facts, click HERE. The previous edition of Myths & Facts is also available in Spanish, German, French, Russian, Portuguese, Swedish, and Hebrew.




Save the Date: 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 Shabbats


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, meditative and learner’s Shacharits and “Miriam’s Minyan” for women.

o       Plus “Moses’ Minyan, exploring through prayer the changing roles men play.

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




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 top 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 Chair, 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


Trust me, when you have to give yourself more room and loosen your belt, and not have to clean up, you will appreciate how much fun this event really is.








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  $_______













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)



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


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

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

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

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




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


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



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


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.



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.




Save the date –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.



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!


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



Youth Programming




For all teens, Grades 9-12

USY General Meeting


 from 6:30 to 8:00


Come help plan upcoming events,

including our always fantastic Purim Carnival!





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 (NOTE: TIME HAS CHANGED)


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




WHEN: Sunday, January 28th


TIME: We will meet at

GO VERTICAL at 2:30pm

Pick up is at 4:30pm.


Go Vertical is located at:

727 Canal StreetStamford

Phone: 203-358-8767


COST: $30 – for Kadima members

$35 – for non members

(please bring check or cash


Reply to

by Monday, January 22nd to RSVP.


There is room for only 25 kids.

First preference will go to Kadima members

 if more than 25 RSVP.


In order to participate you MUST bring the waiver filled out and signed by a parent.



While not a joke per se, thanks to Roz Feinstein for sending along this video link to a rousing performance by some Yeshiva boys.



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

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