February 9, 2007– Shevat 22, 5767
Rabbi Joshua Hammerman,
We welcome Scholar in Residence Rabbi Burton Visotzky
Download the complete schedule at
A special thank you to all those who have made this weekend possible!
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Contents of the Shabbat O Gram:
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Five Beth El-Bi Cultural 8th Graders preparing to leave for
See photos of the first few days of their trip at
Check out www.tbe.org for our extensive library of photo albums,
articles, sermons, info about the temple,
Shabbat-O-Grams and links to the Jewish world.
Here are some photos of 7th graders (and the cantor) wrapping at last weekend’s World Wide Wrap. Check our website for more, going up soon…
Thanks to Dan Young for taking the pics.
Yashar Koach to our 5th grade,
who collected enough money to donate
to rebuilt the damaged forests of northern
Quote for the Week
This week’s quote is inspired by Roni Lang’s Synaplex presentation this weekend, on “Dealing with Difficult People.”
“If civilization is to survive, we must cultivate the science of human relationships--the ability of all people, of all kinds, to live together, in the same world at peace.”
Franklin D. Roosevelt
Click HERE for the full Synaplex schedule
for Friday and Shabbat
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 http://www.hebcal.com/. To see the festivals of other faiths as well, go to http://www.interfaithcalendar.org/. The United Synagogue has updated its candlelighting information. To learn more, click here.
Our Torah Portion for Shabbat Morning
Exodus 18:1 - 20:23 – The Ten Commandments
Haftarah: Isaiah 6:1 - 7:6; 9:5 - 9:6
Haftarah for Sephardim: Isaiah 6:1 - 6:13
If you liked Storahtelling, you’ll LOVE Storahtelling’s new weekly blog about the Torah portion Find it at http://storahtelling.blogspot.com/. ORT Navigating the Bible; Rashi in English; BibleGateway: Useful for comparing different translations: Note- this is a Christian site.
What’s Bothering Rashi (Bonchek) Each week, one example from the parashah is deconstructed. See a weekly commentary from the UJC Rabbinic Cabinet, at www.ujc.org/mekorchaim. Read the Masorti commentary at http://www.masorti.org/mason/torah/index.asp. University of Judaism, JTS commentary is at: http://www.jtsa.edu/community/parashah/. USCJ Torah
THE ENTIRE HEBREW BIBLE (AS WELL AS OTHER JEWISH SOURCES) CAN BE FOUND WITH SIDE-BY-SIDE TRANSLATION AT http://www.mechon-mamre.org/
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]
7:30 Weekdays, 9:30 Sundays
A Guaranteed Minyan request has been made for this Sunday, Feb. 11. Please click on the date in the Rosner Minyan Maker at our website, www.tbe.org. if you can make it. Thanks
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
The View from Netanya – From Jan Gaines
Jan, a long time TBE member, lives for half of the year in Netanya,
I'm looking at the brown waters of the sea, and the gray skies. We have had 4 days of strong storms, bringing good rain but reflecting the not very peaceful situation here. I'm waiting for blue skies to return. Sun somehow makes things more hopeful.
The country is in a mess. The cultural system of protexia and macho male predators has finally caught up with a new reality in
You read the news so you know that from the President on down to civil servants in the Tax Authority, there are indictments pending or coming all over the place. At times I feel the police are overly aggressive, not to mention our killer press, but then the Israeli way is not to be quiet. If we had good leadership at the top I think people would feel more confident but as it is, there is almost zero confidence in either the Knesset or the PM and cabinet. It seems to go from bad to worse. Most of us are just waiting for the next, or "other shoe to fall". However, Olmert is an expert at the game of politics and is protecting himself at all costs so many people feel we are stuck with him for awhile unless the police can find something with his real estate house deal that is enough to bring an indictment. I doubt it.
And since the Arabs/Palestinians see our internal strife, it emboldens them to call for more "resistance". The Arab Knesset representatives don't hesitate to meet with Syrians or Hizbollah or anyone else they chose and roundly condemn
I fear Hamas will win out over Fatah because they are unbending, and we continue to prop up Abbas who is just a nicer looking but weaker Arafat. I keep hoping that Muhammed Dahlan will at some point take control, rather than operate behind the scenes, but he probably wouldn't last a day in the job before being bumped off. So the West continues to put good money after bad, hoping to stabilize the situation. But it won't work.
So how about the country of
Yes, our weakest populations are single family mothers, the elderly and of course the Ethiopians. However, the private sector is still very active in trying to help, and with the new emphasis by the UJF nationwide, I think it will make a difference. I see it in small ways right here in Netanya. A good friend who runs 3 sewing centers for Ethiopian men, giving them meaningful daily employment, has run on a shoestring for 3 years but now tells me she has funding from New York City UJF and what a big help that is. My own projects with Forgotten People's Fund, both the vitamins and the expanding Nutrition classes, are doing better financially (thanks to any of you who have helped through the Stamford Endowment) so that I don't worry from month to month if we have enough to keep the program going for another cycle. I see the new police cars that replaced the broken down vans I used to ride in 5 years ago with the civil patrol and I'm not sure where that money came from but I think it was in response to the 2nd intifada. Yes, it takes time for the money to get here and be put to use, but it's very gratifying to see tangible evidence of its success.
However, we're still making sandwiches for school kids, we're still getting calls for help from our ever growing Ethiopian population here in Netanya (over 12,000 which is maybe the largest for any one city in Israel), the nutrition classes are still in demand and now seniors are asking for help as well, and most of all, the need for extra help for Ethiopian school children is very tangible. I've started working with 12 year old girls once a week at one of the schools (religious) which is predominantly Ethiopian. Trying to help them with English. Tthey can't read or even recognize basic words, which Sabra kids at their age have already mastered. It's true that this is only ESL, but it is required in the curriculum and if these kids are ever going to get ahead, they must have the basics. It breaks my heart and leaves me frustrated. I have 3 lovely, loving girls who really want to learn and I'm busy repeating names of colors, numbers, family members and a few common adverbs like "who" and "when" and "why". And I'm certainly not much of a teacher or have any training in this. Our group is composed of some women from Herzliyah Pituach, among them the Canadian ambassador's wife who is a real "Jewish doer", and a group from here in Netanya. But once a week for 90 minutes isn't going to do the trick, and the English teacher (who is Russian like so many of them) has her hands full coping with a big class of rambunctious kids. I could go on about the Education system here but that's another story and a very big problem nationwide.
I don't want to give you a skewed picture focusing only on problems. What I see with most Israeli families is still a growing standard of living, a committment to living every day in full and especially enjoying more leisure time on weekends, and a resolve to just shut these problems out, don't talk about them especially on a national level because there's nothing they can do, and focusing inward on family and friends. The good old Israeli "help when needed" standards are still much in evidence. They may argue, disagree violently, come almost to blows, but in a crisis, THEY ARE THERE FOR EACH OTHER. That is what I see all the time and what keeps me optimistic about this country. In spite of the disastrous war this summer, what we saw was Israelis closing ranks and pulling together. That exists on an individual, as well as a collective level. If I'm sick, I will have 3 different people calling to ask if they can shop for me (or bring me chicken soup). That's such a comfort and such an inspiration.
The sun is trying to come out now, altho the sea is still muddy from the winds blowing up the sand. The Kinneret is rising so no one complains about the rain. And I am going to my Ethiopian girls this afternoon, ready for hugs and a few more adjectives- - -maybe we'll make up a little song.
Beth El Cares
Cathy Satz (968-9191; email@example.com)
Cheryl Wolff (968-6361; firstname.lastname@example.org)
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.
Kosher Meals of Wheels
From Matt Greenberg of the JFS
Jewish Family Service and Congregation Agudath Sholom, in response to several requests from congregants,
are exploring the viability of creating a Kosher Meals on Wheels program,
similar to those found in cities across the country. The purpose would be two-fold.
1) To provide nutritious meals to people who would otherwise not have them,
or have trouble finding them and
2) Provide a weekly visit to those who otherwise would be isolated.
This could be for the elderly who have difficulty getting out,
those in need of temporary assistance, or those with maladies that prevent their mobility.
The only way such a program would be viable would be if there were enough people signed up
to make it worthwhile to a caterer to prepare the meals.
Agudath Sholom currently has five individuals interested.
I am wondering if you could find a way to poll your congregants either by email,
weekly bulletin or Shabbat announcements to determine if there are enough people to make this a reality.
Please let me know if you are interested in this – email@example.com
Mitzvah Project – Dog-related Items
LINDY FRUITHANDLER WILL BECOME BAT MITZVAH ON MARCH 17. PLEASE READ THIS NOTE FROM HER REGARDING HER MITZVAH PROJECT:
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
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!
To check out Adopt-A-Dog for yourself, please visit their website at www.adoptadog.org.
Is it Appropriate to have Yoga in a Synagogue on Shabbat?
With the return on Neshama Yoga to our Synaplex schedule this weekend, this question will again arise, as it does at many other Synaplex synagogues (of all denominations). It turns out that Yoga is perhaps the most popular Synaplex event nationally. This might seem peculiar to many, including those not familiar with the profound Jewish and spiritual connections. For more details about our own Neshama Yoga, check out the recent Jewish Ledger article at http://www.jewishledger.com/articles/2007/01/16/news/news13.txt.
The subject is indeed complicated. When we talk about Judaism’s borrowing from other cultural traditions, we fist must ask what, after all, is “purely” Jewish? Even the word “synagogue” is Greek. The most common melody for Adon Olam originated in a German beer hall. When you get into the realm of spirituality and mysticism, the lines become even more blurry.
Adam Eitelberg, Synaplex co-chair, recently responded to this question in writing. Adam also spoke to the issue of the Synaplex bike ride, which was cancelled in October due to bad weather, and his response really gets to the heart of the Synaplex philosophy itself. This week’s Shabbat will once again show the compelling power of inclusiveness, outreach and choice. We’ve now seen again how one size doesn’t fit all. The survey from our January Synaplex once again demonstrated this, with over 90% of the respondents either being “satisfied” or “very satisfied” with the programming and nearly everyone clamoring for more. We are most definitely on the right track.
Here are excerpts from Adam’s comprehensive response, along with links to other resources.
“For one person, yoga or any other “physical” activity performed on Shabbat would be considered a halachic no-no. This person may believe that they are adhering to an age old tradition of literal interpretation wherein they follow a set of rules and standards that has changed little in three millennia.
Then you may have others where Yoga is seen as a means to both physiological and spiritual mastery. To this individual the meditative practice may bring them closer and clearer to an idea of G-D that may or may not resemble that of the first person. Interestingly enough both parties have embraced the true essence of Shabbat. Whether through prayer and devotion or through meditation and centering each has brought themselves closer to G-D. Each has taken place in the miracle of Shabbat and they both have been given the opportunity to do it at Beth-El, and on the same day; not unlike the one quantum electron existing in two distinct spaces at once. Or for a more “Jewish” perspective the first person is more inclined to pursue a connection with G-D as portrayed in the Torah while the second person may have a more Kabbalistic view of G-D.
For someone who may not even be inclined to hold the beliefs of the first two as either noteworthy or relevant; the many and long standing similarities between Jewish Mysticism (which in and of itself does not adhere to the Torah view of G-D) and Hindu philosophy may be a matter if interest, and one they would feel comfortable exploring within their “Temple Walls”. Tens of thousands of Jews are culturally influenced through their own heritage and include this practice in their daily life. I would not wish to tell them that their connection to G-D does not reflect an eastern European sensibility in approaching G-D on Shabbat and is therefore a halachically questionable practice. Then there may just be the person who thinks Yoga is cool, and the fact that they can do it at their synagogue is a reason to connect.
…The responsibility of the institution is to open its doors to the community, to embrace its diversity and foster a sense of connection. This is the avenue that a program like Synaplex takes. It reaches out to membership beyond core participants. It creates an environment where tefilah is encouraged through options. Where discussion can encompass anything from the use of technology to A.J. Heschel’s illuminations on Shabbat. It reflects the sensibility of its time. It allows congregants to become participants instead of just attendees. We are all better served when the institution reflects and embraces the community; we are all short changed when the community is put in the position of having to accept an institution of narrow view… . Synaplex programming …explores and re-explores…to make being Jewish a relevant and understanding way to live. It davens, it discusses, it sets a stage for all players and not just a chosen cast.
For additional reading on Yoga please review the enclosed material at the end of this response.
If you are so inclined to read on … bike riding…
Although this activity was cancelled due to weather and therefore limits practical discussion on whether or not it was an appropriate program I can tell you that there was a great deal of care in its preparation. Although this program was not something I myself would have been inclined to do, I was impressed with the source material that was to be an accompaniment on the ride. After some eye opening thought, it became clear that congregants getting together on Shabbat; participating in something of their own personal interest and making the ever important connection to G-D through nature was in fact another very appropriate way to embrace Shabbat through diversity. In retrospect, I am sorry that the ride did not take place; I am sure that more than a few congregants would have been touched in some way by having participated. Again the program may have been “out of the box” but it was still Jews celebrating Shabbat through choices, connections and community.
Shabbat is more than law, it is a celebration of creation, it is a time to reflect, and it is when we are supposed to congregate. These programs invite people into our doors, and in doing so bring an even larger part of the community together. That is as much within the spirit of Shabbat as is davening in a traditional style service. A reality of modern Conservative Judaism is that many of our affiliates do not believe in the G-D of our ancestors, but they still believe in being Jews. We need to be mindful of making a home for them as well.
Bear in mind that programs do not replace services on Shabbat. The last Synaplex event had five separate service options (exceeding the quantum model of two) but during that time, no other programs were running.
These links are to organizations that explore and educate on the connections between Judaism and Indian culture and religion. They are followed by an article about how these practices are finding Jewish modes of expression.
Dr. Katz is Professor of Religious Studies at
Arguably the world's leading authority on Indian Jewish communities, he is a pioneer in the field of Indo-Judaic Studies and has been involved in Jewish-Hindu/Buddhist dialogue for three decades. His Who Are the Jews of
You can view a number of conference papers on this and related topics at
Giulio Busi, Freie Universitat
Margaret Chatterjee, Indian institute for Advanced Study
Barbara C. Johnson,
P. R. Kumaraswamy,
Richard G. Marks,
Tudor Parfitt, SOAS,
Joan G. Roland, Pace University
“The Baghdadi Jews of India: Perspectives on the Study and Portrayal of a Community”
L. N. Sharma,
Braj M. Sinha,
Or check out the University homepage at http://www.fiu.edu/~judaic/study_abroad.html
Orthodox Jews Find East Meets West in Meditation
By Shoshana Kordova, Religion News Service
"Now think of the meaning of the food that we put into our bodies, and we'll begin with the bracha (blessing) before we eat," Ophir said.
"Think about what it means to eat a grape, to eat an apricot or a nut. What it means to feel the food, to taste the food, to sense it. Now take a deep breath and see if we can recreate the sensations of the eating and elevate those sparks of holiness within the food."
In teaching Jewish meditation, Ophir, 52, has become one of a long line of Orthodox Jews to adopt practices often associated with Eastern religions. Others include Sarah Eiger Hertzberg, an artist who teaches about the circular mandala designs used in Buddhism and Hinduism, and Diane Bloomfield, who uses yoga to experience the meaning of liturgical and biblical verses.
But rather than choose one tradition over another, Ophir, Eiger Hertzberg, and Bloomfield are fusing Orthodox Judaism--often considered inflexibly traditional--with alternative practices that in the West are typically considered nontraditional.
Now, they are teaching others how to do the same.
Ophir, whose appearance and personal history make him seem an unlikely meditation teacher, combines the spiritual with the textual: He teaches from a seven-page booklet of Talmudic and rabbinic sources related to eating before he moves on to the meditation. Ophir grew up Orthodox in
For Ophir, there is no dichotomy between traditional Orthodoxy and meditation. He rejects the popular conception of meditation as an "Eastern influence."
"Meditation is inherent to Judaism," Ophir said, and Jewish prayer is a form of meditative practice. "It's not just reciting the words--it's feeling the words, it's experiencing love and awe through the words."
Stanley Schneider, a supervising psychoanalyst who heads the Integrative Psychotherapy Program at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem, said he has seen an increased number of Israelis searching for spirituality for the past two years, although others said such a rise goes back at least a few years more.
"People turn to these (spiritual) things during times of uncertainty, times of conflict, times of crisis--and I think that's probably a good way to describe recent times," Schneider said.
Some people meld Judaism with meditation by focusing on Hebrew letters, the sacred "Shema Yisrael" verse ("Hear O Israel, the Lord our God, the Lord is one"), or just the word "Shema."
"People relate very much to the idea that the Shema is a Jewish mantra," said Rabbi Avraham Arieh Trugman, who has been teaching about meditation and spirituality for 30 years. Although he uses a Sanskrit word to refer to a mystical incantation, Trugman cites the mystical books of the Kabbalah as evidence that meditation has an established history in Judaism.
But Yitzhak Ginsburgh, a Lubavitch rabbi who writes and lectures about Kabbalah, said there is a uniquely Jewish approach to spirituality--and that practices intimately connected with non-monotheistic religions cannot be part of it.
"Yoga has negative energy which is connected to ... idol worship, and is thus unacceptable, even if the person practicing does not have these negative thoughts," reads a response on the website of Ginsburgh's Gal Einai Institute of Israel.
Nonetheless, Eiger Hertzberg, an Israeli artist in her 40s who became religious at age 28 through the Lubavitch Hassidic sect, sees no problem with using the mandala symbols to represent concepts ranging from the sun to the flames of Sabbath candles, or with facilitating meditation through art.
"I don't think there's a contradiction between what I'm doing and religious issues," said Eiger Hertzberg, who lives in
Eiger Hertzberg said she often teaches religious Jews "who feel they are missing the personal and more creative side of worshipping God."
For people like
"It's the physical practice that's kind of a metaphor or a reflection of your spirit. It's all about wherever you're at, going a little bit more -- even if it's just imagining your spine lengthening," said Bloomfield, the author of "Torah Yoga: Experiencing Jewish wisdom through classic postures."
Bloomfield, who lives in
Although Ophir was raised in a religious Jewish home, many other Orthodox practitioners of traditions associated with the East, including Bloomfield and Eiger Hertzberg, are "ba'alei teshuva"--the Hebrew phrase for Jewish people who become religious.
"I think for me, bringing in the yoga helps me to really make this real in my life and not a good idea or some kind of dazzling spiritual thought," said Bloomfield, a
A Jewish View of Valentine's Day
Or, how I stopped worrying and learned to love February 14.
By Debra B. Darvick