Friday, February 16, 2007

February 16 and 23, 2007– Shevat 29 and Adar 6, 5767

February 16 and 23, 2007– Shevat 29 and Adar 6, 5767


Rabbi Joshua Hammerman, Temple Beth El, StamfordConnecticut


There will be no Shabbat-O-Gram next week


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Contents of the Shabbat O Gram:

(Click to scroll down)


Just the Facts (service schedule)  

The (Occasionally) Ranting Rabbi

Mitzvah/Tzedakkah Opportunities

Ask the Rabbi

 Spiritual Journey on the Web

    The Beth El Bar/Bat Mitzvah Commentary (new)

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



Our Mens Club of the Future!



TBE seventh graders at the recent World Wide Wrap

Check out for our extensive library of photo albums,

articles, sermons, info about the temple,

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




Quote for the Week



“To Bigotry No Sanction,
to Persecution No Assistance”

George Washington's Letter to the Jews of Newport Rhode Island  (1790)


“When a person is brought before the heavenly court for judgment

 the first question he is asked is whether he was honest in business.” –

Talmud Tractate Shabbat 31a


“A person who doesn't tell the's as if he worships idols” - 

Talmud Tractate Sanhedrin 92a






Candle lighting: 5:03 pm on Friday, 9 February 2007.  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.


Friday Evening 


Candle lighting: 5:12 pm on Friday, 16 February 2006, 5:20 on the 23rd.  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.


Due to the Holiday Weekend, there will be no Tot Shabbat on the 16th


 2/23: Tot Shabbat: 6:45 PM – in the lobby – only on the 23rd


Next week on February 23, Tot Shabbat will be hosted by Sam and Ethan Essenfeld and their parents, Stacey and Elliot. Sam and Ethan, both 5, attend Westover School.


Shabbat Evening service: 6:30 PM – in the chapel (both weeks)


On the 23rd, the service will feature the naming of Samantha Devon Bradley, daughter of Jessica and Jon Bradley, granddaughter of Fred and Sandy Golove and great granddaughter of Ed Golove.  Mazal tov to the Bradley and Golove families, and all the extended relatives!


Shabbat Morning (both weeks): 9:30 AM




My son Ethan turned 16 last week, so now I’m consumed with parental worry over the idea of my child sitting behind the wheel.  So I’ve come up with some driving tips from Jewish sources, including this week’s portion.  Bring your teens and ‘tweens to this one!


Children’s Services: 10:30 AM (on Feb. 17 there will just be one children’s service, for the younger children.  All students are always invited into our main service)


Our Torah Portion for Shabbat Morning

Parashat Mishpatim – Shabbat Shekalim

 Exodus 21:1 - 24:18  

1: 23:20-25

maf: Exodus 30:11-16 (6 p'sukim)

Haftarah: (Shabbat Shekalim / II Kings 12:1 - 12:17)


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 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!



Winter Weather Advisory

Note that in the case of bad weather, weekday minyan does not take place when Stamford public schools are cancelled OR delayed.  On Sunday, minyan is cancelled if our Religious School sessions are cancelled. Friday evening and Shabbat morning’s main service is never officially cancelled, but use your best judgment in deciding whether to come.  We will endeavor to get proper notification to WSTC radio regarding cancellations, but that may not always be possible for children’s services held on Shabbat.




Ranting Rabbi


Looking back at Synaplex – and Looking Ahead


            We’ve now experienced four Synaplex Shabbats, including three combining Friday night and Shabbat day and one Friday night only.  Because of our busy spring Bar/Bat Mitzvah schedule, three of the remaining five Synaplex Shabbats will be Friday night only, including our next Shabbat Unplugged, scheduled for March 9.  This, then, is a good opportunity to gain some preliminary perspective on this grand experiment. 


            Last weekend’s Synaplex was the closest we will come this year to a complete, in-house Shabbaton, spanning Shabbat from end to end (and beyond), complete with programs large and small and opportunities for all ages to come together.  Each segment of the day was designed to address one of the three main Synaplex programming pillars: spirituality (praying), education (learning) and community building (eating, discussing, relaxing and helping one another).  Attendance was superb on all counts.  On Friday night, for instance, where we normally have fewer than 20 on a non-Shabbat Unplugged night, we had over 100.  On Shabbat morning, more than 30 were here at the ungodly hour of 8:00 AM for  breakfast, Yoga and my “Ethics of Cheerfulness” discussion, and the numbers zoomed from there throughout the day.   By some estimates, we doubled the attendance from last year’s Sisterhood Shabbat and fed up to 250 for lunch.  The kids and teens raved about their programs with Nurit Avigdor, Edoe Cohen and “Shabbat Rocks” with Jonathan Cahr.  The three workshops after lunch were well-attended (and well-received) and about 75 sat in the chapel at 3 PM (3 PM – on a Saturday???) to hear Burt Visotzky’s third lecture, where, as a special bonus, he described his ongoing dialogue with Sunni leaders and Arab heads of state.  Then, following a relaxing dinner, Havdalah Unplugged was simply a revelation.  At 5:30 PM on Saturday afternoon, the sanctuary was filled with more people and more energy than we’ve ever had for a non-Bar Mitzvah Ma’ariv-Havdalah service here.  Where did all those people come from?  Everyone loved it!  And then, we even had 30 people come for the Israeli movie at 8 PM, and another 20 stayed overnight for our USY sleepover.


            I arrived here at 8 AM last Shabbat, and, aside from a half hour breather following Havdalah, was here until 11 PM.  While very few had that kind of marathon, everyone who stepped into this building even for just an hour or two sensed the energy of the entire day. 


            Someone asked me this week what our special guests remark about Beth El when they come here.  This past month, we’ve had two distinguished speakers who have visited many communities.  Burt Visotzky estimated that he’s been to 300 Conservative shuls.  And he was wowed.  Both speakers were amazed at the sense of community and they are totally sold on Synaplex.  Benjamin Gampel told me, “This is one happy congregation!” Visotzky called it “Yom Kippur with lunch!”


            Now I won’t pretend that Gampel’s estimation is 100 % accurate.  Not everyone here is happy here all the time.  But what each of these speakers saw, and what many others also saw last weekend, was TBE at its best, TBE as it could be.  Synaplex has given us a small taste of the kind of holy community we could become – and a glimpse of what in fact we already are: a family that can spend lots of time together, a community that is ever nurturing, learning, seeking, striving, caring, dancing, singing, meditating, exploring, embracing, loving…and, naturally, eating. 


            All this, and we aren’t nearly running on all cylinders yet.  Our Synaplex committee has been tremendous, but we still need more volunteers.  We especially need to have someone pull together our publicity and marketing efforts.  Yet despite these challenges, and the supreme challenge of staging back-to-back Synaplex Shabbats just three weeks apart, we achieved “Yom Kippur with lunch.” Imagine what we’ll be able to accomplish when we really get it together!   


            My thanks to all who made it possible – all who have dared to dream the dream.


            But enough of what I have to say.  Here’s what some of you said:



“What I loved best about Synaplex…”



Here are some of the comments we’ve received from last week’s Synaplex Shabbat.


“It was an excellent day. To see the number of young people who came to Havdalah Unplugged as well as the healthy mix of young and seniors and all therein was a delight to behold. Beth-El is rocking. Most quotable phrase of the day: From Burt Visotzky-‘Synaplex is like Yom Kippur with Lunch!’”  Don Adelman


“My hearty applause for all of this recent Synaplex, but especially for Havdalah unplugged - a high-energy way to face the coming week and wrap up a lovely Shabbat.”

David Robinov


Kundalina Yoga with Raema and Jackie was an AWESOME way to start Shabbat morning!  The discussion led by Roni and Mara on "Dealing with Difficult People" was EXCELLENT.   The hour flew by!  More discussion groups on this topic are definitely needed.  Havdalah Unplugged provided me with an uplifting, cozy and special experience!  The band, choir and Cantor Rachael were TERRIFIC!  I have never been in such a wonderful and enthusiastic group that meets with the Rabbi, on Sunday mornings on "The Meaning of Prayer".  The discussions led by the Rabbi are so informative and interesting. THANK YOU!

Heidi Ganz


“Once again Temple Beth El has proved itself the place to be on Shabbat. As the congregant who probably had the most misgivings about Synaplex, I am now one of its biggest supporters… The day had something for everyone and the speaker was an excellent choice whose subject matter seemed to hold interest for everyone. I know I made the right choice in attending your venue for the afternoon.  After reading the responsa that was the handout, I now have many, many questions to ask. Havdalah Unplugged was an absolute delight and no matter how much we say we enjoy listening to Cantor Littman it is still an understatement. How fortunate we are to have such a great team at TBE. Thank you for Synaplex and every Shabbat.”

Suzanne and Norman Stone


“I was totally moved by Beth Silver's response as recipient of the Rose Rosner volunteer honor.  It is amazingly "Beth" to be humble and appreciative concerning what the Temple means to her and gives her.  As many of our volunteers can verify, they truly believe that they receive more than they give.  This is what makes TBE such a special place.  It is the coming and working together, without looking for recognition (even though volunteers receive commendation from staff and fellow congregants) that propels TBE forward. 

Beth was so eloquent in her comments and really was surprised that she was selected for the honor.  Perfect choice, she is a joy to know and be with.

 Also, so enjoyed the Scholar In Residence and Roni and Mara's presentation on "difficult people".  I am beginning to see that all persons need "guidance" in improving relationships.”

 Sandy Siegartel



“We were all having Seudah Shlisheet (the ‘third Sabbath meal’ a light dinner in late afternoon) , the "Unplugged" rehearsal was in the background, there were about 30 or so people in the Social Hall, the various programming successes of the day were being discussed, the "warm-fuzzy" vibe was still palpable even by this post 5:00 hour.  Fran Ginsburg walked over to note that the Main Sanctuary was filling up.   I know it may not sound like a "peak" moment, but it was for me.  The whole weekend various members of the congregation had turned out for something and for just about 24 straight hours it was clear we delivered on our promise.” 

Adam Eitelberg


Here are some of the results of the online survey done after the January Synaplex

Thank you to the 62 who responded

Overall, were you satisfied with your Synaplex™ experience?


Very Satisfied   60.7 %

Satisfied            31.1%

Neutral                6.6 %

Dissatisfied          1.6 %

Very Dissatisfied    0%

(So how many things in life get a 92% approval rating?

This might be unprecedented in the history of synagogues!)


How long have you been a member at the Temple Beth El?


One year or less   3.2 %

1-3 years               6.5%

3-5 years               11.3 %

5-10 years             29%

10-20 years           22.6%

Over 20 years       27.4 %

(The widespread satisfaction cuts across demographic and generational lines.

A number of non members also attended and really enjoyed the programs)


How often over the past 12 months have you and/or your family attended Shabbat services at Temple Beth El?


Never                    0%

1-5 times               12.9%

6-10                       19.4%

10-15                     19.4%

Over 15 times       48.4%

(more than half of those who came are not “regulars,”

 indicating some success at bringing in less-connected congregants- a prime objective)



And finally, to assist in our mid-year assessment, I reprint what I wrote in the Shabbat-O-Gram exactly a year ago.

Note that since last winter, the number of synagogues in the Synaplex network has ballooned to over 150!


Stamford Jewry’s



I’m proud to announce that Temple Beth El has been selected as one of ten new pilot communities nationwide for the Synaplex™ program.  We will join about three dozen other congregations that have successfully implemented Synaplex over the past three years.  We will be the first to bring Synaplex to Lower Fairfield County.


 I am grateful to our Board, which last month voted overwhelmingly to endorse our participation.  I also appreciate the seed funding we’ve received from the Jewish Community Endowment Foundation and other donors, as this exciting project begins to take shape for an October launching.


Synaplex will benefit us in so many ways, ranging in marketing to volunteer development, membership recruitment and retention, fundraising, community building and of course, programming.  We’ll be using the resources of STAR (Synagogue Transformation and Renewal) which was created by the same philanthropic visionaries that have brought us Birthright Israel and have revived Hillels on college campuses all over the world.

This partnership has brought tremendous energy to all who the congregations that have come before us.


If you have any questions about Synaplex or just can’t wait to become involved, contact me or another senior staff member, or our co-chairs Judy Aronin and Adam Eitelberg.  Meanwhile, to tide you over, some quick answers to FAQs from the STAR website (



What is Synaplex™?

Synaplex™ is a community-building initiative that enables contemporary Jewish individuals and families to celebrate Jewish life through a menu of innovative options, in the realms of prayer, study and social and cultural programs all taking place throughout Shabbat in the synagogue.




Who developed Synaplex™?

Synaplex™ was developed by STAR (Synagogues: Transformation and Renewal), a philanthropic partnership of the Charles and Lynn Schusterman Family Foundation, Jewish Life Network/Steinhardt Foundation and the Samuel Bronfman Foundation with the goal of enriching American Jewish life in the 21st Century.






Who is participating in Synaplex™?

Currently, nearly 40 congregations across the country representing all denomination and non-denominational synagogues are participating in Synaplex™. View the current listing.




How might my congregation be different by participating in Synaplex™?

Synaplex™ congregations are known for innovative programs that deepen the participation of members and attract the unaffiliated. They use their volunteer talent more creatively than most and therefore bring in new energy into their community.  As a result, participating congregations have seen sustained increases in Shabbat attendance of about 50% on Shabbat morning and 80% on Shabbat evening.




What can congregants expect from becoming involved with Synaplex™?

Synaplex™ is about choice, connections, and community. Congregants and those who are currently unaffiliated are invited to make choices about the programs and activities in which they will participate. They may make connections with the people with whom they may already know and will also have an opportunity to create new connections. Participants truly become part of a caring community where their presence matters!



And last but certainly not least… What will a typical TBE Synaplex Shabbat look like?


There is no such thing as a typical Synaplex™ Shabbat. That’s the beauty of Synaplex™--we’ll be designing each one in a manner that best meets the needs of our community at that time.  Some congregations hold Synaplex™ on Friday evening, others on Saturday morning, while still others have it throughout Shabbat and conclude with havdalah and a post-Shabbat activity.  Over the course of the year (with approximately one Synaplex Shabbat per month, none conflicting with Bar/Bat Mitzvahs), we’ll do all of the above.  We’ll be taking the best of what we’ve done over the past few years – Shabbat Unplugged, Scholars in Residence and Congregational Shabbatons, for example, and bringing it all to the next level.


When people experience Synaplex™, they immediately feel the excitement as people settle in one space in the building (and sometimes move to another!). Families with young children are in the social hall enjoying a Shabbat Romp experience, for example, while the empty-nesters relax at the Candles and Quiet Conversation dinner.  The teens are in the youth lounge having dinner to be followed by a program and service-learning project. In the main sanctuary, congregants bring the weekly Torah portion to life through dramatic performance. In one room, individuals nourish their bodies and souls through Torah and Yoga, while in another; young adults connect socially while playing board games and drinking coffee and talking about the perils of Jdate.  One thing is certain: Shabbat in the synagogue is where it’s at, and people love being there.


What we do here will depend in large part on your suggestions and desires.  We’ll combine tradition with innovation and look for most meaningful ways to reach each person.  Over the coming months, we’ll be reaching out for your involvement. 




Mitzvah/Tzedakkah Opportunties


Free Them Now


Ehud Goldwasser         Eldad Regev            Gilad Schalit

 Kidnapped Israeli Soldiers


 Click for more information

 Sign the petition at



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

Pre-Passover Hametz Food Collection

As you clean your cupboards in preparation for Passover, please consider donating unopened boxes, bags and cans of hametz to a local food pantry.  For your convenience, you can deposit those items in a box outside the Helen Golin Gift Shop, from March 22nd to 28th.  We will then deliver the food to a local food pantry.  Check your e-mail for more information.



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







What are the Four Parshiot?



This week we begin the series of special Shabbats that will lead us along the path guiding our preparations for Passover. There are four special portions (parshiot) that are read.  Some excellent background is found at the O-U website, beginning with this week’s special portion: Shekalim:  See -, from which the following is excerpted:


Shabbat Shekalim

Resh Lakish said "On the first of Adar, an announcement is made concerning the Shekalim." (Bab. Tal. Tractate Megillah)

The first of the Four Special Shabbatot is Shabbat Parshat Shekalim. It occurs either on the last Shabbat of the month of Shevat, or on the Shabbat which in that year coincides with Rosh Chodesh Adar, or on a Shabbat early in Adar. A special reading, taken from Parshat KiTisa (Shemot 30:11-16) is appended to the regular Torah reading.

The reading describes a census of the Jewish People that was taken while the Jews were in the Wilderness, after their Exodus from Egypt. The Torah, here and in other places, teaches that it is forbidden to count Jews in the ordinary manner; rather, the People should be called upon to contribute items, which would then be counted.

In the case of this census, the item that was contributed, by rich and poor alike, was a half shekel, the "shekel" being the coin in use at the time, roughly equivalent to our dollar. The collected shekels, or "shekalim, in Hebrew, were then used for the construction and upkeep of the Mishkan, the portable Temple, which was used until the Temple found its permanent residence (despite its destruction twice, the place retains its holiness) in Jerusalem.

The equal participation of all the People symbolizes that all Jews must share in achieving national goals, by giving up his selfish, personal interests for the sake of the nation. One who does so gains infinite benefit, because the mission of Israel is dependent upon the unity of the whole. (Rabbi Samson Raphael Hirsch, cited in the ArtScroll Stone Edition of the Chumash)

The verses also speak in terms of atonement that is achieved by participation in this half-shekel assessment… A solitary human being can seldom survive Divine scrutiny; what person is free of sin and shortcomings? But when a nation becomes one, it ascends to a higher plane, because all its individuals merge their virtues with one another. This is also the reason that it is better to pray with a "minyan," a quorum, to establish a community, whose virtues can merge, instead of praying individually.

Parshat Shekalim recalls the time of Purim, which was also a time of Divine scrutiny and judgment for the Jewish People. The name of the Day of Atonement, Yom HaKippurim, the "Day which is like Purim," is also suggestive of this relationship, although Purim also contains the word "Pur," lottery, to suggest how G-d uses what seems to be "chance" in His administration of the world.

At the time of Purim, an edict had been issued by an earthly "court;" namely, the "court" of Haman and Achashverosh (often acting unknowingly as an emissary of the Heavenly Court), calling for the harsh punishment, if not the total destruction, G-d Forbid, of the Jewish People. The Fast of Taanit Esther, combined with the Repentance of the Jewish People, drew the nation into a unity, which was once again able to receive upon itself the "yoke of the Kingdom of Heaven," and renew their acceptance of the Torah, "the Jews accepted again what they had begun to do," (Megillat Esther 9:23), and thus merit their redemption.





Spiritual Journey on the Web

The Joyous Month of Adar in Kabbalah

from the

According to the ancient Kabbalistic text Sefer Yetzirah, each month of the Jewish year has a letter of the Hebrew alphabet, a zodiac sign, one of the twelve tribes of Israel, a sense, and a controlling limb of the body that correspond to it.

Adar, which begins this Sunday and Monday, is the twelfth month of the Jewish calendar.

he word Adar is cognate to the Hebrew adir, meaning “strength.” Adar is the month of good fortune for the Jewish people. Our sages say of Adar: “Its azal [fortune] is strong.”

Purim, the holiday of Adar, commemorates the “metamorphosis” of the Jews’ apparent bad fortune (as it appeared to Haman) to good. “When Adar enters we increase in joy.” The festival of Purim marks the high point in the joy of the entire year. The Jewish year begins with the joy of the redemption of Pesach and concludes with the joy of the redemption of Purim. “Joy breaks through all barriers.”

he joy of Adar is what makes the month of Adar the “pregnant” month of the year (i.e., seven of the nineteen yearsin the cycle of the Jewish azalar are “leap years,” “pregnant” with an additional month of Adar). When there are two AdarsPurim is celebrated in the second Adar, in order to link the redemption of Purim to the redemption of Pesach. Thus we see that the secret of Adar and Purim is “the end is wedged in the beginning.”

Red_BallB030.gif (916 bytes)Letter

The letter kuf means “monkey” (kof), the symbol of laughter of the month of Adar. In accordance with the idiom “as a monkey in the face of man,” the kuf also symbolizes masquerade, an accepted custom of Purim. Before the miracle of Purim, God Himself “hid His face” from His children Israel (in the entire story of Purim, as related in the book of Esther, His Name does not appear even once). By initially hiding one’s true identity, pretending to be someone else, the innermost essence of one’s true self becomes revealed. On Purim we reach the level of the “unknowable head” (“the head that does not know itself nor is known to others”), the state of total existential hiddeness of self from self, for the sake of “giving birth” to one’s ultimate self anew.

The word “kuf” also means the “eye of a needle.” Our sages teach us that even in the most irrational dream one cannot see an elephant passing through the eye of a needle. Yet, on Purim one experiences this great wonder, which, in Kabbalah symbolizes the truly infinite essence of God’s transcendent light entering into the finite context of physical reality and revealing itself in full to the Jewish soul.

Red_BallB030.gif (916 bytes)Mazal (sign)
dagim (Pisces-fish).

Fish are the creatures of the “hidden world” (the sea). So are the souls of Israel “fish” that swim in the waters of the Torah. The true identity and fortune of Israel is invisible in this world. The revelation of Purim, the revelation of Israel’s true identity, reflects the revelation of the world to come (the miracle of Purim is understood to reflect in this world the ultimate miracle: the resurrection in the world to come).  The word “dag” (the singular of “dagim”) is interpreted to represent the “tikkun” (rectification) of da’ag–“to worry.” In the Bible, the word for fish–dag–actually appears once written as da’ag: In the time of Nechemiah, certain unobservant Jews desecrated the holiness of the Shabbat by selling fish in the market of Jerusalem. Their “fish” had turned into excessive “worry” over earning a livelihood. In the opposite direction, the fish of the joy of Purim, the strong (though initially hidden, as fish) azal of Adar, convert all the worry in the heart of man to the ultimate joy of redemption with the new birth of self from the “unknowable head.”

Red_BallB030.gif (916 bytes)Tribe
: Naftali.

In Kabbalah, the name Naftali is read (as two words): nofet li, “sweetness is to me.” The mitzvah on Purim to reach the level of the “unknowable head” by drinking wine etc., is expressed, in the words of our sages, as: “one is obligated on Purim to become sweet, until he is unable to differentiate between ‘cursed be Haman’ and ‘blessed be Mordechai.’”


Jewish humor pushes limits on stereotypes

By David Briggs
Religion News Service
Published January 19, 2007

Where have you gone, Uncle Miltie?

The comic's appeal and humor were so universal that Milton Berle was given the unofficial title "Mr. Television" during the 1950s.

Think of Jewish humor today, and one pictures the episode of "The Simpsons" in which Krusty the Klown tries to revive a flagging career by turning his adult bar mitzvah into a TV spectacle featuring Mr. T.

Or Larry David portraying an obnoxious man in an interfaith marriage who is comfortable buying scalped tickets to a High Holy Days service in HBO's "Curb Your Enthusiasm."

Or, on the farthest edges, Golden Globe winner Sacha Baron Cohen as a Kazakh anti-Semite who believes Jews can transform themselves into cockroaches in the movie "Borat: Cultural Learnings of America for Make Benefit Glorious Nation of Kazakhstan."

In the last generation, Jewish humor has become part of mainstream American comedy, achieving an acceptance that allows some of the brightest stars, from Jon Stewart to Jerry Seinfeld, to be open about their identity in their work, something Berle and others of his era were less inclined to do.

"America has become much more comfortable about being Jewish," says Rabbi Moshe Waldoks, co-editor with William Novak of the recently released 25th-anniversary edition of "The Big Book of Jewish Humor."

But some people wonder whether everyone is in on the joke, and in particular, whether the virulent anti-Semitism of the Borat character or the over-the-top neuroses of David may reinforce stereotypes rather than break them down.

"Unfortunately, there is still anti-Semitism in the world," said Rabbi Richard Block of The Temple-Tifereth Israel in BeachwoodOhio. "It's possible to kid oneself about how safe it is."

In their book, Novak and Waldoks tell how "traditional" Jewish humor goes back to 19th Century life in European villages. Persecution, poverty and being uprooted gave rise to much of the humor of the era, the authors say. But what many of the jokes also have in common are earthiness and subtlety that appeal to regular folks and intellectuals.

In 20th Century America, Novak and Waldoks note, the success of Jews in permeating society tended to dilute the ethnic identity of much Jewish humor. While traditional Jewish humor was primarily in Yiddish, modern Jewish comedians have such access to the general public that they no longer must depend on the approval of the Jewish community.

In the introduction to their original book, the authors said there had been a price to pay for the openness of American society to Jewish performers, which has resulted in "the parevezation, or neutering, of much of the material."

The evidence of Jewish comics being conscious about their identity is everywhere, Waldoks said, from Billy Crystal's autobiographical Broadway show "700 Sundays" to Adam Sandler's Hanukkah song on "Saturday Night Live."

Popular TV shows such as "Seinfeld" and "Curb Your Enthusiasm" integrate Jewish situations into the humor in "a very natural way," Waldoks said.

Block said Jon Stewart, the host of Comedy Central's "Daily Show" who was born Jonathan Stuart Leibowitz, reflects a Jewish sensibility in the way he blends optimism with a strong sense of irony and a certain cynicism about current events.

"The way he integrates his Jewish identity and his humor is very positive and is in some ways exemplary," Block said.

But Block and others express concern that some of the stereotypes made fun of by comedians such as David and Baron Cohen "might reinforce bigotry and prejudice," especially for those who may not pick up on the subtlety of the satire.

Particularly controversial is the "Borat" film, in which peasants participate in the "running of the Jew" and a gun dealer is asked which weapon is best to protect against attacks by Jews.

Baron Cohen and his supporters say the film uses satire to uncover and mock prejudice. Waldoks called "Borat" "an anti-anti-Semitic film."

The Anti-Defamation League expressed concern that some people would not be sophisticated enough to get the joke, "and that some may even find it reinforcing their bigotry." The organization also said it recognized that Baron Cohen, who is proudly Jewish, is using humor to unmask the absurd and irrational side of anti-Semitism.


Jewish and Israeli Links:


A great resource on all things Jewish:

The best Jewish site for Jewish learning:



Israel Defense Force,
Israel Government Gateway, links to Government Ministries,
Israel Knesset,
Israel Ministry of Foreign Affairs,
Israel Prime Minister’s Office,
Israel Central Bureau of Statistics,
Israel Tourism Ministry, North America,
Buy Israeli Products,,
Jaffee Center for Strategic Studies,
Begin-Sadat Center for Strategic Studies,
Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs,
One Jerusalem,
Twenty Facts about Israel
Myths & Facts: A Guide to the Arab-Israeli Conflict
Jerusalem Archaeological Park,


Israel Info Center – Israel Activism Portal,
US White House,
US State Department,
US Senate,
US House of Representatives,
THOMAS (search for US Legislation),
United Nations Watch,
Embassy of Israel – Washington, D.C.,

Media-Related Links:


Jerusalem Post,
Jewish Telegraphic Agency,
Ha’aretz English Edition:,
Independent Media Review and Analysis,
Middle East Media Research Institue (MEMRI),
Palestinian Media Watch,
Israel Insider,
Jewish World Review,
America’s Voices in Israel,
@The Source Israel,


Other Jewish Sites

Data JEM – an GEM for Jewish Education! Database for  Jewish educational materials:

The best Jewish kids’ site on the Web is , with games, virtual tours and “J-Pod” downloads, kids of all ages will LOVE it.

Another superb educational site is -- you can be a self-taught “maven” on all things Jewish!

A Jewish Guide to the Internet:

On Jewish Vegetarianism and Animal Rights: (hey, you KNEW I’d put this one in)

How many Jewish hockey players are there? (None right now…there’s a lockout).  Find out at

Glossary of Yiddish Expressions:  )Please be patient, this page is farshtopt with information)

You can find an online Hebrew dictionary at

Nice Jewish parenting site  Jewish Gates is an amazing site, filled with material on Jewish history, ritual and culture. 

Go straight to the linked index at and go to town!  The Jewish Super Site; a similar site is and my personal all-time favorite,

The sourcebook for Jewish history (all periods) can be found at

Online Texts Related to Jewish History.  All the primary sources “fit to print.”

Israel Campus Beat – to get all the latest information on Israel relevant to students on college campuses




The Beth El Bar/Bat Mitzvah Commentary


Soon we’ll be back to Bar Mitzvah season and feature our kids’ speeches, but for now…

I’ve received this mock Bar Mitzvah invitation from about ten people this week!

So I figured it must be making the rounds….here it is:



In keeping up with the Rosen's and the Abelson's,

It is with great stress, emotional and physical fatigue,

and incredible financial sacrifice beyond comprehension,

that we invite you to join us as our wonderful son

 Jacob Adam

 is called to
the Torah as a Bar Mitzvah.

Saturday, May 12th

(yes, we realize it's Mother's Day Weekend)

Temple Israel

14 Coleytown Road

Westport , Connecticut 06880


  at the ungodly hour of 9:00am even though you don't really need to be there until 10:20am to catch the real action.

If you make it through the three hour service, please skip the kiddush (its
just cookies and cake) and join us instead for an overly

large and ostentatious evening meal, which starts at 7:00pm.

(not 8:00pm, or you will miss out on all the appetizers). 

  Birchwood Country Club

25 Kings Hwy S.
 , CT 06880

(which we had to join just for this event and

you would not believe the initiation fees)

You will be in the presence of lots of boisterous and expensive entertainment

and 60 to 70  unruly pre-teens wearing expensive dresses,

funny hats, fake bling and brand new white ankle socks... 

as well as 80-100 middle aged+ adults, some balding, some with bad toupees.

Most will be professionally coiffed, designer attire galore, lots of REAL bling, and "tootsed" to the nines.

At least 1/3 will be hormonally challenged and some will act stupid while under the influence.

Some will not even know where or who they are.  Some will complain about the food. Blah Blah Blah. 

Please have the courtesy of showing up if you RSVP that you are attending,

or you will be billed $210.00 a plate if you are a no-show. 

Please RSVP as soon as you get this and not the day before the cut-off date. I can't take the stress.


The gift of choice is either green, or contains a routing and account number.

"Off the top of your head" gifts and Gift Cards are a waste of your time and ours. 


Hope you can make it!

 Lisa and David Miller


Dress: Black Tie optional 

Theme: 007 James Bond

  BYO Kippot.  I don't have the strength.




Required Reading and Action Items



Some GOOD NEWS from Israel 21c,,

 and other sources


Meet Israel's 'winning' guru - Yehuda Shinar  
Forget talent, says Israeli entrepreneur Yehuda Shinar. The way to win - whether on the sports field or in the office - is by changing the way you think. A former graphologist, Shinar conducted years of research into 'winning' behavior before perfecting his 12-step 'Winning Model' - an unorthodox program designed to help athletes and managers alike maximize their potential. Shinar's strategies have been enthusiastically implemented by numerous sports organizations in the UK, helping England to victory in the rugby World Cup, and assisting Scotland's swimmers at the Commonwealth Games in Australia. Soon the rest of the world will be able to learn from the Israeli winning guru when Random House publishes his book on the subject in September. More...


Health | Israeli startup's electronic monitoring system takes the guesswork out of labor  
In an age of high-tech wizardry, the only way until today to check the widening of the cervix during labor has been the old-fashioned method of a manual examination, which is painful to the woman and not even particularly accurate. Now Israeli company Barnev has developed a unique device that performs the cervix examination electronically, giving doctors a safer, more accurate picture of labor, and mothers-to-be a far more pleasant and less stressful experience. The device has just received FDA approval and is now being introduced to the US, which is good news for the four million American women who give birth every year. More...


Culture | WNBA stars sparkle in Israeli league  
Israel has become a desired moonlighting destination for a growing number of stars of the WNBA - the American women's professional basketball league. 17 WNBA players are earning big money and getting in shape for their regular season by leading their teams in the competitive Israeli women's league. In small towns like Ramle, the American players are treated like hometown heroes, and they in turn have fallen in love with their adopted country. According to Monique Currie of the Chicago Sky, who has helped turn Elitzur Ramle into a championship team, 'what you see on TV in the States and what you hear on the radio is not what we experience here.' More...


Technology | Express yourself - Israel's Vringo puts video into your ringtone  
Israeli startup Vringo has developed the world's first video ringtone service for cellphones. Designed to appeal to a younger audience, the 'Vringo' can either be created by the user, or downloaded as licensed clips from movies, TV shows or music videos. The result - according to Vringo's founders - is creating a warm personal element to the often-cold impersonal world of 21st century communications technology. Called a 'mashup' of Myspace, Youtube and ringtones, many predict the Vringo will be the next cool thing in cellphone technology. More...


Global Democracy | Darfur becomes part of Israeli vocabulary  
It may have taken a couple of visiting American and Australian college students to light the fire, but Israelis have taken up the torch of protesting the plight of refugees in the Darfur region of Sudan. Newly-formed advocacy groups are raising awareness of the genocide, holding rallies, and aiding the Sudanese refugees who have made their way to Israel.  More...


now for the rest


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

See also


From Ha’aretz:





 - The David Project Center for Jewish Leadership is a non-profit organization whose mission is to promote a fair and honest understanding of the Arab-Israeli conflict. We work to develop educated, skilled and courageous leaders to defeat the ideological assault on Israel that is taking place on campuses, in high schools, in churches and in the general community.


Hamas Delays Formation of PA Unity Government - Avi Issacharoff
Mahmoud Abbas Wednesday postponed the appointment of Prime Minister Ismail Haniyeh to form a unity government after Hamas presented a number of conditions. Hamas wants the unity government to recognize every decision made by the current Hamas government, including the establishment of a Hamas security force and various political appointments. On Tuesday a Fatah leader in Gaza, Maher Mekdad, said that Abbas wanted to appoint Mohammed Dahlan as deputy prime minister, but Hamas sees Dahlan as a sworn enemy and is fiercely opposed to the appointment. (Ha'aretz)


Gen. Gabi Ashkenazi Sworn In as IDF Chief of Staff
Gen. Gabi Ashkenazi took office on Wednesday as the Israel Defense Force's 19th Chief of General Staff. (Jerusalem Post)
    See also Gen. Ashkenazi: "Despite Our Yearning for Peace, the Time Has Not Yet Come to Sheath Our Sword" (Jerusalem Post)
    See also Gen. Ashkenazi: CV (Jerusalem Post)


Condi's Summit Won't Bridge Palestinian Gaps - Zev Chafets
Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice is scheduled to meet with Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert and Palestinian leader Mahmoud Abbas in Jerusalem next Monday. The event is already being called, in Hebrew, "the delusional summit." Rice wants to talk with the parties because that's what diplomats do, but it is doubtful that she expects results. The gaps are too wide and the animosities are too deep, not just between Israel and the Arabs but among the Palestinians themselves. If the two Palestinian sides can keep the peace until next Monday, Abbas will meet with Rice not as the leader of the unified Palestinian people, but as Hamas' junior partner and mouthpiece. And nothing he can say will move the peace process an inch. (New York Post)


Absurd to Call Israel an Apartheid State - Irshad Manji
I respectfully challenge Jimmy Carter's recent critique of Israel as an apartheid state. Would an apartheid state have several Arab political parties, as Israel does? Would the vast majority of Arab Israeli citizens turn out to vote in national elections, as they've usually done? Would an apartheid state extend voting rights to women and the poor in local elections, which Israel did for the first time in the history of Palestinian Arabs? Would an apartheid state award its top literary prize to an Arab? Israel honored Emile Habibi in 1986. Would an apartheid state encourage Hebrew-speaking schoolchildren to learn Arabic? Would an apartheid state be home to universities where Arabs and Jews mingle at will, or apartment blocks where they live side by side? Would an apartheid state ensure conditions for the freest Arabic press in the Middle EastThe writer is the author of The Trouble with Islam Today: A Muslim's Call for Reform in Her Faith. (Australian)


The International Implications of the Hamas-Fatah Mecca Agreement
- Lt. Col. (res.) Jonathan D. Halevi
(Institute for Contemporary Affairs/Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs)

  • The Mecca agreement between Hamas and Fatah does not presage a favorable diplomatic turn. It is merely a tactical political measure calculated to create a false impression regarding Hamas' political flexibility in order to whitewash the organization into being accepted as a legitimate player in the international arena without it having to meet the three preconditions of the Quartet.
  • In practice, Gaza under Hamas rule continues to be a hotbed of terror organizations, including those with ties to al-Qaeda.
  • The political flexibility of Hamas, as expressed in the Mecca agreement, derives first and foremost from Hamas' inability to score a decisive triumph, as well as from the international political and economic pressure which eroded public support for the Hamas government and the carrot and stick policy of Saudi Arabia (Hamas' financial patron). Hamas' main objective is the removal of the international boycott on the Palestinian Authority.
  • Despite the desire of the EU countries to see a stable and democratic Palestinian government, past experience demonstrates that the billions of dollars poured into the Palestinian Authority since the Oslo process commenced have only served to strengthen the radical forces. If assistance is now extended to a Palestinian government where Hamas predominates, the West would be sawing off the limb of the tree which constitutes its Middle Eastern perch.
  • Hamas, as part of the Muslim Brotherhood movement, does not conceal its aspirations to foment Islamic revolution throughout the Middle East, which would topple the moderate regimes allied with the West and establish an Islamic caliphate which will threaten Europe.

Dr. Michael Oren - Bestselling Author, Historian, and Senior Fellow at the Shalem Center in Jerusalem

Bestselling author, renowned historian, and Senior Fellow at the Shalem Center in Jerusalem Dr. Michael Oren participated in a special Conference of President dialogue regarding US involvement in the Middle East. Dr. Oren, who is currently in the US promoting his new book “Power, Faith and Fantasy: America in the Middle East: 1776 to the Present”, spoke extensively about the history of American involvement in the region, dating back to 1776.  


The Temple Mount Controversy

Temple Mount Truths
Why is the media taking Arab propaganda at face value encouraging incitement to violence? (


Discovery of Mosaic Halts Work at Jerusalem Walkway - Donald Macintyre (Independent-UK)
    A geometric patterned fifth or sixth century AD Byzantine mosaic fragment was exposed by archaeological workers Wednesday at the bottom of an underground shaft where one of the pillars for a walkway connecting to the Temple Mount in Jerusalem is intended to go.
    "We have a real time discovery," reported Gideon Avni, director of excavations and surveys at the Israel Antiquities Authority.
    Dr. Avni vehemently denied claims by some Islamic leaders - and echoed by demonstrators from Cairo to Damascus - that the excavations posed a threat to the foundations of the mosques, saying they were all taking place in a limited area outside the walls of the compound.
    The Israeli authorities are arranging for webcam pictures of the dig to prove his case.


Temple Mount Wisdom - Gilad Kariv
Anyone with eyes in their head and an honest heart knows that repairing a bridge at the Mughrabi Gate isn't part of an Israeli conspiracy to take over the Temple Mount, and that those are indeed renovation works whose time has come. The scope of the hypocrisy of Islamic Movement leaders is further clarified in light of the fact that in recent years the Waqf authorities, with the Islamic Movement's encouragement, removed hundreds of tons of Temple Mount soil that contained archeological findings holding immense religious and historical significance. The Waqf also dug huge halls under the al-Aqsa Mosque and almost brought about the collapse of the holy Mount's supporting walls. With this being the daily reality at the Mount, the arguments articulated by leaders of the Islamic Movement and those who back them show nothing but a lack of religious, public, and leadership integrity. The writer is a Reform rabbi and attorney. (Ynet News)




MYTH #252

"Israel is damaging the Temple Mount and threatening Islamic shrines."



“We denounce this blatant act of provocation and the complete disregard for the sanctity of the holy mosque. This act will ignite the feelings of Muslims all over the world and is in fact a retrogressive step in the efforts to achieve peace in the region” (Haaretz, February 11, 2007). This statement from the Malaysian Foreign Minister refers to the Israeli excavation and plan for construction at the site of the Mugrabi ramp in the Old City of Jerusalem and serves as a call to action and incitement rather than as a warning of a concerned observer.


In February 2004, the Mugrabi ramp, which provided access to the Temple Mount, collapsed as a result of numerous natural disasters. The Jerusalem Municipal Authority approved the building of a permanent bridge to replace the wooden structure that was built as a temporary entry. The commencement of an archeological dig, required by law to salvage any artifacts in the area before construction begins, has been met with outrage and violence from the Islamic world, which claims that Israel’s actions are meant to destroy Islam’s third holiest site to replace it with the Third Temple.


The construction and excavation at the Mugrabi ramp site is located 50 yards from the Temple Mount and poses no danger to it or to the Al-Aksa mosque specifically. Israel has a record of safeguarding the holy places of Christians and Muslims and has no interest in the destruction of the Temple Mount, the holiest site in Judaism. In contrast, the Muslim Waqf, which has been in control of the Temple Mount since 1967, banned the Israel Antiquities Authority from the area in 2000 to conduct illegal construction on an underground mosque. In the process, the Waqf dumped 13,000 tons of dirt containing artifacts from the First and Second Temple period in Municipal garbage dumps, rendering many of the ruins useless.


Muslim leaders are expressing outrage over the excavation and construction in an effort to unite the Palestinians against Israel and to distract from internal Palestinian factional tensions. The Palestinians have a long history of using false accusations of Jewish threats to Muslim holy sites to rally the Muslim population, going as far back as the riots of the 1920’s. Riots today echo the Western Wall tunnel riots of 1996 when Israel was also falsely accused of endangering Muslim shrines by opening an additional exit to the already existing tunnels. The tunnel exit was a significant distance from any Muslim holy places and posed no danger whatsover to the Temple Mount. The exit actually facilitated the use of the tunnels and helped make them a popular archeological park (Jerusalem Post, February 8, 2007).


The media and international organizations have served to perpetuate these false accusations by reporting on conflicting “claims” rather than by accurately reporting the facts, which contradict the rumors.


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.

Dr. Bard is available for media interviews and speaking engagements on this and other topics.

You can help AICE continue this work by becoming a sponsor of the Jewish Virtual Library. Click here for more information.








» Click here for more information






PURIM Carnival


Saturday, March 3, 2007

At Temple Beth El

For all ages!!!


$12 per child and $30 for a family package of three or more,

for unlimited access to all attractions!!

Featuring a giant inflatable obstacle course, bounce castle, games, prizes, and more!!!!


6:30—7:30 PM: Family Megilla reading, costume parade and goodies in the Sanctuary

7:30 – 9:00 PM: Our SPECTACULAR carnival, put together by our USY and Kadima groups in the Social Hall

8:15 PM:  Full Megilla reading in chapel

9:00 PM:  Bus leaves taking teens who wish to attend the Purim Boat Cruise in Greenwich



COME IN COSTUME!!!! (kids and adults)




This program has been subsidized by a generous contribution from the Sisterhood of Temple Beth El


Get Your Mishloch Manot Here


With Purim approaching, its time to honor family and friends

 with sweet treats


Its time for the holiday, TBE’s USYers will be creating delectable treats.

Candy, Fruit, and Hamantaschen;

There’ll be plenty of food for noshing!

Cost: $ 7.50 per bag

Orders Due By: Sunday February 25th

Hand/send your order to the Hebrew School office

Bags will be available for pick up and distribution at the Purim Carnival


Name of the person of family you would like to receive

the bag, their phone number, and email if known


Name (as you would like it to appear):________________________________________

Phone Number and Email:_________________________________________________



Phone Number and Email:






















Number of Orders:


Amount Enclosed:




Our Next Synaplex Shabbat will be


Cantor Littman’s



Friday, March 9 at 7:30 PM



Followed by a Sit-Down Oneg and Rebbe’s Tish

A special Tot Shabbat will also be held at 7:30






                                         Frogs are Jumping Everywhere

And Hopping On Over To

Temple Beth El’s Community Seder.

Why Don’t You?


Second Night Community Seder

Tuesday, April 3, 2007 at 7:00 p.m.


Come to our Seder and have some fun

Sharing matzoh and goodies with everyone!

Rabbi Hammerman and Cantor Littman will lead this night

And we’ll sing, talk and eat to our hearts’ delight!


There will be something for everyone, all ages, grandparents, parents, and kids, and that there will lots of participation, parts given out, holiday activities for kids, and meaningful discussion for adults, all to create a real family and community feeling.  The complete delicious meal, will feature all of the ritual Seder trimmings, without any of the work of cooking, setting up or cleaning up.  Bring your relatives and friends, anyone with whom you would like to share the Seder. .   

Why leave your house to shop in this terrible weather - do it all online at We look forward to serving you delicious foods for this Thursday night dinner and Shabbat.  If you need delivery then please send us an email once you've placed your order to: All food is prepared fresh on Thursday - enjoy Dougies BBQ, Chopstix Chinese, Petak's Delicacies and don't forget the best bakery around- Zadies!!!!
- Yehuda & Yehuda
The Stamford Kosher Team




 The Many Demensions of Jewish Prayer”

with Rabbi Hammerman

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


Bimah 101:

Prepatory course for Adult Bar/ Bat Mitzvah

With Cantor Rachael Littman

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


                                                     Judaism for Everyone

An Introductory Class for Dummies, Smarties…

and Those Who Don’t Know How to Ask

With Rabbi Hammerman

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

(A prerequisite for those who wish to join

the Beth El Adult Bar/ Bat Mitzvah Class.)

Fee: $50 for materials


 Modern Conversational Hebrew Ulpan

Instructor: Eran Vaisben, Education Director


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

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

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

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

Prerequisite: Hebrew reading


Learning and Latte at Borders

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

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

This year’s topic:

“Moral Dilemmas for a World in Crisis”

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

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

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

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? Can other religions be “true?”  How can pluralism work for the believer?




Support our Temple Gift Shop! 


Community Scholar-in-Residence Program


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

March 20, 2007

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

“Being Jewish in the iPod Age”

Maintaining and translating Jewish values into contemporary Jewish life

Infeld is known for his searing intellect, brilliant insights

into Jewish life and enthusiastic, dynamic speaking style,

Avraham Infeld is not to be missed.

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

visit UJF website at or contact

Dr. Ilana De Laney

203.321.1373 ext. 114 or

This program made possible through the generosity

of the Herbert and Sarah M. Gibor Charitable Foundation

We PROMISE you won’t be disappointed!


Youth Programming




*** All USY events are now open to 8th graders

8th grades are welcome to continue to attend Kadima events as well.

March 3rd - Temple Beth El's Famous Purim Carnival! 

USY members are invited to volunteer and help man the different booths.

(Transportation will be provided for those going on to the Teen Cruise)

March 31st or April 1st - Comedy Club in New York!

May 5th or 6th Chelsea Piers

June 3rd - Pool Party

We hope to see you at these events.
If you have any questions or suggestions please feel free to write me at or call 917-348-9790.

All the best!



Some cute ones, courtesy of Sandy Golove:


A little boy was attending a wedding of a close relative.
After the ceremony, his cousin asked him  "How many women can a man marry?"
Sixteen," the boy responded.
His cousin was amazed that he had an answer so quickly.
 "How do you know that?"
 "Easy," the little boy said. "All you have to do is add it up, like the Rabbi said: 4 better, 4 worse, 4 richer, 4 poorer."
A little girl became restless as the rabbi's High Holy Day appeal sermon dragged on and on. Finally, she leaned over to her mother and whispered "Mommy, if we give him the money now, will he let us go?"
After the circumcising of his baby brother in shul, little Jonah sobbed All the way home in the back seat of the car. His father asked him three time what was wrong. Finally, the boy replied "That rabbi said he
wanted us brought up in a Jewish home, and I want to stay with you guys!"
The Religious School Teacher asks "Now, Sammy, tell me frankly, do you say prayers before eating?"
"No sir," little Sammy replies, "I don't have to.
 My Mom is a good cook."
After a Shabbat service at the Temple in OwensboroKentucky, a mother with a fidgety seven-year old boy, told me how she finally got her son to sit and still and be quiet. About halfway through the sermon, she leaned over and whispered, ''If you don't be quiet, Rabbi Cohen is going to lose his place and will have to start his sermon all over again!"
It worked."
A little girl was sitting on her grandfather's lap as he read her a bedtime story. From time to time she would take her eyes off the book and reach up to touch his wrinkled cheek. She was alternately stroking her own cheek, then his again.
Finally she spoke up "Zaydeh, did God make you?"
"Yes, sweetheart," he answered, "God made me a long time a go."
"Oh," she paused, "Zaydeh, did God make me too?"
"Yes, indeed, honey," he said, "God made you just a little while ago."
 Feeling their respective faces again, she observed, "He's getting better at it, isn't he?"


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

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