Friday, March 30, 2007

March 30-April 7, 2007– Nisan 12-19, 5767

March 30-April 7, 2007– Nisan 12-19, 5767


Shabbat Ha-gadol


Happy Passover!


Click here for a special announcement:


And remember…Next week is Our Family Skating party on Sunday the 8th

And on Shabbat the 7th



“Matza and Mitzvah”

Download next week’s full Synaplex Schedule















Rabbi Joshua HammermanTemple Beth El, StamfordConnecticut


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




Contents of the Shabbat O Gram:

(Click to scroll down)


Just the Facts (service schedule)  

The (Occasionally) Ranting Rabbi (History Made at JTS)

Mitzvah/Tzedakkah Opportunities

Ask the Rabbi

 Spiritual Journey on the Web

    The Beth El Bar/Bat Mitzvah Commentary

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


See photos of our TBE teens at our new USY website:


Check out for photos from our recent Cantors’ Concert,

Plus Purim photos, Passover downloads, April’s Synaplex Schedule

and 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



There is one who sings the song of one’s own life,

And in it, finds personal satisfaction…


There is another who sings a song of his people.

He leaves the circle of his own individual self

Because he finds it without sufficient breadth…


There is another who reaches toward the more distant realms,

going beyond the boundary of Israel

to sing the song of humanity…


Then there is the one who rises toward the wider horizons,

until she links herself with all existence.

With all God’s creatures….


Rabbi Abraham Isaac Kook




Mark your calendar for something very special:

Passover festival services on days 2 and 7 this year will be held in unison with Temple Shalom of Greenwich

Day 2 will be in Greenwich and Day 7 will be here.

Days 1 and 8 will be held here, as usual.

Children’s Service with Nurit will be held at 10:30 on days 1,7 and 8.





Even though we won’t have junior congregation during the weekday festival days (e.g. this coming Tuesday, the first day of Passover), services will be especially family-friendly and everyone will have the chance to participate!


Also, remember that Shabbat morning service credit is given for attendance at any festival morning service.




Candle lighting: 6:58 pm on Friday, 30 March 2007.  For candle lighting times for Passover,  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:


Kabbalat Shabbat: 7:30 PM (NOTE LATER TIME) – in the sanctuary – with our 4th graders!

Next Friday night it will be at 6:30 PM in the chapel.


No Tot Shabbat this Friday, but NEXT Friday it returns, and so does Matzo Man! 

At 6:45 PM – in the lobby


Shabbat and Festival Mornings:


Service begins at 9:30 AM 




Children’s Services: 10:30 AM


Shabbat Mincha: 5:45 PM 




Our Torah Portion for Shabbat Morning

Shabbat HaGadol

שבת הגדול

Parashat Tzav

פרשת צו

Leviticus 6:1 - 8:36

1: 8:1-5

Haftarah: Malachi 3:4 - 3:24


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



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

Morning Minyan

7:30 Weekdays, 9:30 Sundays

Monday, April 2 - Ta'anit Bechorot – Fast of the First Born

Siyyum will take place at the end of the minyan


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!


Passover Resources

(see Spiritual Journeys section below for more Passover material)


Download our TBE Sale of Hametz Form (due Sunday!!!)


My own Passover guide A Guide for the Perplexed


Keeping the Story Alive: Questions and Reflections for the Seder Table


Temple Beth El's
Second Night of Passover
Tuesday, April 3 at 7PM PROMPTLY (come at 6:45)




Those high school students wishing to attend services on Passover, April 3, 4, 9 and 10, may obtain an absentee letter for their school’s attendance office by contacting Ellen at 322-6901, ext. 308 or


Passover: Guided Learning from

Guided Learning presents the content for this section by level of depth, and offers you a specific order by which to read through the articles at each level. You can go directly to one of the four levels by clicking below, or take a quiz that will suggest the appropriate level for you based on your results. Or, you can opt to start at the Primer and work your way through all four levels of Guided Learning one by one. Quiz on Passover  Level I: Primer Level II: Topical Overviews Level III: Deeper Explorations Level IV: Analysis & Interpretation

For a host of other Pesach links:

And finally…

Two nice links if you are interested in getting rid of the “hametz of the soul”





Ranting Rabbi


History Made at JTS


         This week’s historic decision by the Jewish Theological Seminary on the issue of inclusiveness and homosexuality has taken the Jewish world by storm.  Later this week, the movement’s Israeli seminary decided to uphold the ban on gay and lesbian students.  See coverage in the Forward  Rabbi Joanna Samuels wrote in the Forward,  “Far from weakening the movement, this will strengthen the convictions of Conservative Jews to teach and live as Jews committed to the balance between tradition and change.”  The Jewish Week ( states that…


The movement’s Rabbinical Assembly has also become proactive about addressing the implications of these major policy changes. In February it established an Ad Hoc Committee on Implementation of the CJLS Teshuvot on Homosexuality. Its seven members have already met several times, says chair Rabbi Jeffrey Wohlberg, senior rabbi at Adas Israel Congregation in Washington, D.C.

“We want to be of service to the members of the Rabbinical Assembly by helping explain how the teshuvot are to be applied, how to deal with the questions raised because of those teshuvot, among rabbis and from members of congregations to their rabbis,” he said.


         Those answers will be forthcoming from the movement.  Meanwhile, our own ritual committee had its regularly scheduled meeting, coincidentally, on the evening after the JTS news broke.  We are also exploring in a systematic way the implications of last December’s Law Committee decisions.  For congregations and rabbis, a key question involves the performance of commitment ceremonies, but the main matter is one of how we define ourselves as a community with regard to inclusiveness. 


         Over the past several years we’ve become more inclusive in welcoming interfaith families, for example, inviting non Jewish parents of b’nai mitzvah to have greater participation in their child’s bar/bat mitzvah service.  Just last week one such family celebrated a bat mitzvah with us, and it was one of the most stirring services in recent memory.  Read Joelle’s speech in The Beth El Bar/Bat Mitzvah Commentary below to get a sense of what I mean.  I am extremely proud of how we have staked out a position of warmth and inclusiveness without sacrificing the integrity and authenticity of Jewish practice and belief. 


         Now we are called upon once again to make decisions – and these are decisions that we must make together.  While my own views on the matter of inclusiveness for gays are widely known (both Cantor Littman and I are members of the movement’s advocacy group), I have pledged to our board not to accept requests to perform commitment ceremonies while the congregation is still in the process of forming consensus  around a position.  The position the congregation takes will go far in defining who we are and where we stand, not just in relation to this issue but in regard to the movement as a whole, as well as within our own Jewish community.  For me it is not about gays and lesbians per se, but about forging a dynamic, compassionate, living Judaism, one that grapples with the past without being chained to it; a halakha with a moral heart, bearing enough elasticity to mold itself to changing realities while affirming ultimate ones, recognizing that God’s image resides in every human being.


         I expect there to be ample opportunity for congregants to be heard on this matter.   Already, we’ve had our forum at the Feb. Synaplex, which was well attended.  I’ve also fielded comments and questions from a number of you, including several e-mails this week in response to the JTS announcement (all of the “it’s about time” variety).  What’s most important is that everyone feels a part of this conversation.


         If you have any questions, I encourage you to contact me.  Meanwhile, my best wishes to you and your family for a good and sweet Passover.


NPR and Israel


A recent alert by CAMERA indicates that NPR continues to run stories about Israel in a biased manner.  See the letter below, check the sources and then see for yourself.  What do you think?


National Public Radio continues to present biased coverage of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, tilting disproportionately toward Palestinian/Arab perspectives and virtually ignoring the anti-Jewish and anti-Israel incitement that pervades much of Palestinian society.


With regard to two major controversies in the last year -- the Jimmy Carter book and the Walt/Mearsheimer "study" excoriating the so-called "Israel lobby" for allegedly betraying American interests -- NPR yet again aired skewed portrayals. Interviewers gave Israel's detractors free rein to level false charges, failing to challenge or correct. (see examples below)


Some NPR affiliates have been fundraising recently.  Let these local stations -- which purchase NPR news programs --  know that you will withhold your financial support as long as NPR continues its distorted reporting.


Here are several examples of NPR problems from the last year:


Overview of Recent NPR Bias


NPR's Fresh Air Allows Carter to Revise History While Smearing Israel

Jimmy Carter Can't Make Up His Mind


"Israel Lobby" Authors Find Friendly NPR Forum


More Terror Bias at NPR


NPR Coddles Hamas





1) Share your concern about NPR's unfair reporting with your local NPR affiliate's station manager.  Write a letter and send a cc (courtesy copy) to NPR's president.  Or telephone them both.   Tell them that you feel compelled to withhold donations until NPR reports regarding Israel are accurate and balanced.


NPR President Kevin Klose:  202-513-2000 To send an email, go to Then, in the Contact Box, next to Recipient, select "Office/Service" Then, click on the arrow for office or service, scroll down and click on "NPR management", which is last on the list.


To find the address of your local NPR affiliate, go to  At top, click on "Find a station."


2) Let affiliate "underwriters" (donors) and volunteers in your area know about NPR's unfair and biased reporting.  These underwriters and/or volunteers are often listed right on the affiliate's Web site.  For example, you can find a list of companies that volunteer at Boston's WBUR by clicking <> here.  Similarly, Albany's WAMC has an Underwriter  <> Directory" .


3) Please send CAMERA a blind copy (bcc) of your letters:



Inclusivity’s Difficult Questions

In an article entitled “Inclusivity's Difficult Questions - - from Sh’ma - A Journal of Jewish Responsibility,” Rabbi Sanford Ragins writes of a case not atypical of what many rabbis face: 

A colleague recently brought me the following problem: “I was approached by John who was raised in a family that practiced Christian Science. He has been happily married for some time to a woman who has a strong background in Conservative Judaism. They were not married by a rabbi but today they keep a kosher home, their children were welcomed into the covenant of Abraham by a mohel and now attend a Jewish day school, and they are active members of my synagogue. John has long since abandoned any specifically Christian practices and has come to love Judaism.”

When John came to discuss his conversion, my colleague questioned him closely about his belief in Jesus (none) and his identity as a Christian (none). Then he explained what would be required: further study, milah, and mikvah. John agreed readily, but when he heard the questions he would be asked in the ceremony and came to, “Do you renounce your former faith?” he blanched. “I cannot answer 'yes' to that,” he said with considerable feeling. “That would be an insult to the loving way my mother and father raised me.”

Go to the article to see how Rabbi Ragins responded.  The go around your seder table and ask, “What would you have said?”




Mitzvah/Tzedakkah Opportunties

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



Let all who are hungry come and eat
Get Passover seder & synagogue materials here.


Free Them Now


Ehud Goldwasser         Eldad Regev            Gilad Schalit

 Kidnapped Israeli Soldiers


 Click for more information

 Sign the petition at


A Passover Prayer for Israel's Missing Soldiers (
    Please add a prayer at your Passover seder for Israel's kidnapped and missing soldiers.


USY’s Israel affairs and religious education committees in our Seaboard region have put together a seder supplement.



Mitzvah Project for Alex Rosenberg



My Bar Mitzvah project is to raise money for the Ronald McDonald House. The Ronald McDonald house is a “home away from home” for family members to stay when a child is in the hospital with a serious illness.


I will be doing this in two different ways. One is by making and selling buttons, with whatever design you would like on them (see samples above). The second is by collecting the metal caps on the top of cans which will then get turned into the Ronald McDonald fund to recycle in exchange for cash.


There are two ways you can help me with my project. One is by ordering 1” pins, which are one dollar each; email me at the address below and I can make custom designs for you. I will also leave a specially marked container by the office at the temple, as well as other places around town, where you can leave can tabs for me to turn in for cash.


Thank you in advance!

Alex Rosenberg




Names Recovery Month Launched in Advance of Holocaust Remembrance Day
(March 12, 2007Jerusalem)  Nissan 5767, (March-April 2007) 
has been designated Names Recovery Month by Yad Vashem.  
The month, including both Passover and Holocaust Remembrance Day (27 Nissan/April 16), 
will be marked by local community campaigns to recover names of Holocaust victims.  
Thousands of Jewish communities will engage in this historical grassroots initiative. 
Concurrent to Names Recovery Month, Boris Maftzir, Manager, 
Shoah Victims' Names Recovery Project in the FSU, 
will be in the United States in March, 
to launch a special campaign in Russian speaking communities throughout the U.S.
Names Recovery Month is part of the overall 11th hour campaign 
calling upon people to memorialize Jews murdered in the Holocaust by recording their names, 
and when available, photos and other biographical data on Pages of Testimony.  
It has taken upwards of five decades to document over 3.1 million names 
currently listed in the online Central Database of Shoah Victims' Names. 
"Millions more names may be lost forever," warns Avner Shalev, Chairman of Yad Vashem.  
"Jewish communities play a key role by actively reaching out to the generation 
that best remembers before it is too late."
Thousands of posters and tens of thousands of Pages of Testimony are being distributed to synagogues, 
Holocaust centers, Jewish community centers, agencies, federations and schools globally 
in preparation for Names Recovery Month
Communities are enlisting volunteers to assist survivors and their families 
to complete Pages of Testimony in memory of Shoah victims.
Since the Names Database went online ( in November 2004, 
there have been over 11 million visitors, from 215 countries. 
Some 465,000 names and biographical details and nearly 5,000 photos 
have been added to the Database, available in English, Hebrew and Russian.
More information and material about the Database 
and the 11th hour names recovery campaign, 
can be found at:

The Highest Level of Tzedakkah: Job Networking

Camp Ramah in New England is seeking nurses for the 2007 Summer.

Compensation plus camper tuition discounts available.

For more information contact Camp Ramah's Infirmary Director, Olga Tomanovich at


Experienced MBA with solid background in Information Technology & Finance seeking position to use technical and analytical skills. Primarily interested in Finance and Investment industry. Skills and interests include Business Analysis, Business Process Re-engineering, Operations & Project Management, System Design and Enhancement and Business Modeling Concepts. I can vouch for this person being a real mensch.  Contact me at if you can perform this great mitzvah of networking







What does my dog have to do with the Laws of Passover?

And who’s inspecting the toilet paper??? 


               Believe it or not, lots!  It is axiomatic in the laws of Passover that food that is for human consumption needs to be Kosher for Pesach.  But rhe laws of this holiday go even farther than normal Kosher laws.  We also can’t gain benefit from “hametz.”  Even things that are inedible for us can still be unusable on this holiday.  Things like dish soap for instance, which can’t be eaten but may contain hametz products – are they OK?  One standard used is that if something is Nifsal mayachilat kelev,” it can be used on Pesach.  “Nifsal” means “inappropriate” or “unusable” or “unfit.” “Mayachilat kelev” means “for a dog to eat.” So the phrase could mean, “Something you wouldn’t even feed to your dog.”

               So things that are unfit even for a dog to eat do not require special Passover kashrut certification.  That includes dish soap, in many opinions, cosmetics, pure alcohol, as well as burnt bread.  That’s why we burn the hametz – to render it so disgusting that even Fido would turn his nose at it. 

               Passover observance can really bring us to absurdities.  Check out this blog from Israel 

               Upon exiting the W.C., one of our guests this Shabbat said “You guys are so frum - even your toilet paper is kosher!”

I went in to check, and indeed, marked on every package of our Shabbat toiler paper/tissues was a stamp that said “Kosher for Pesach leMehadrin, Badatz”. Basically, our toilet paper is under the strictest rabbinical supervision.

Now, since it did not say Dairy or Meat, I think that I can safely assume that our toilet paper can be considered Pareve, and can be used with both dairy and meat meals. And with Pesach fast approaching, we will not have to sell our surplus toilet paper to the local non-Jew.

However, being that the toilet paper is Kosher for Passover, this raises some other very important questions:

  • Is the toilet paper only for people who eat Kitniyot? Or can Ashkenazim like us use it as well?
  • Does the toilet paper contain Gebruchts?
  • If? we have an open package of toilet paper before Pesach, are we allowed to use it on Pesach? If not, how do we kasher it? Is boiling it good enough? Or will we have to use a blow torch?

Any assistance in answering these questions will be much appreciated.

To which these replies were received: 

Yaakov Says:
March 12th, 2006 at 9:01

Well, since this isn’t shmurah toilet paper, we didn’t plan on using it on the Seder night anyway, so I didn’t think that the month thing would apply. However, it is also worthy of investigation.

Ron Katz Says:
March 29th, 2006 at 23:23

When people found out that ‘gniza’ (paper from sifrei Torah, tfillin etc) was part of the old paper used in some Israeli recycling plants to make toilet paper, they called for supervision. So kosher toilet paper does make sense (kosher in the sense: fit for use by a religious jew). Kosher for pesach is a standard thing that badatz puts on all products that have no problem being used on Pesach.

cheski Says:
March 30th, 2006 at 9:37

Why is there a problem with toilet paper? Especially after it is used, it is not ‘raui l’achilat kelev’ anymore?

Yaakov Says:
March 30th, 2006 at 14:46

I don’t know…I have seen some dogs do some pretty disgusting things…

               You’ll be happy to know that I have personally inspected every roll of toilet paper used at TBE! (Before…not after!)

               If you are really interested in the concept of “what is so disgusting a dog won’t eat it,” a detailed (and I mean detailed) explanation can be found at In one instance, he gets into the interesting question of toothpaste.  Would your dog eat toothpaste?  See 

The toothpaste that we use today has a pleasant taste (but is inedible), but it commonly contains glycerin (which might be manufactured from a forbidden animal) and might have Chametz ingredients. Common practice in the observant community is to be lenient and use “regular” toothpaste, though some are strict and use only toothpaste with entirely Kosher ingredients. In fact, I recall that in December 1992 when visiting the home of Rav Moshe Stern (the Debritziner Rav and the author of Teshuvot Be’er Moshe) to observe a Get, that the toothpaste in his home was one with a Kosher certification.

A charming anecdote that occurred in Rav Yosef Dov Soloveitchik’s Shiur (lesson) at Yeshiva University in the 1970’s (reported by Rav Yosef Adler and many others) is often cited in support of the common practice to be lenient. The Rav stated in Shiur that toothpaste is not Ra’ui Liachilat Kelev (unfit for canine consumption) and thus one is permitted to consume it on Pesach even if it contains Chametz. The next day in Shiur a student raised his hand and explained that he conducted an “experiment” the night before. He related that he placed toothpaste in his dog’s feeding bowl to see if his dog would eat it – and indeed, the dog ate the toothpaste!! Rav Soloveitchik simply responded, “Your dog is crazy.” This story illustrates the ruling that we cited last week from Rav Soloveitchik that the standards of edibility are not determined by aberrant behavior.

               Well, I know that one of my dogs IS crazy and would probably eat toothpaste – though it is noteworthy that we have dog toothpaste for the canines – they prefer poultry flavor.

               Which brings us to the issue of actual pet food.  In rabbinic times, the Pre Purina age, there was no such thing – table scraps and garbage were all the rage.  Now, there are kosher for Passover, certified pet foods (I wonder which rabbi does the taste test!)  Keep in mind a couple of things.  First of all, table scraps are OK, of course.  Secondly, anything all-meat needs no certification (dogs don’t have to keep Kosher in the usual sense).  And finally, pets are automatically considered Sephardi – in other words, they can consume the kitniyot (legumes, rice, corn, soybeans, etc.) that Ashkenazi Jews don’t traditionally eat on Passover (though I’ve indicated at other times that such a practice is not necessary).  So my dogs, for instance, eat a food that has rice in it, along with meat,  their food does not need Passover certification.  To which I say, thank God!  

               Take care to buy pet products before Passover begins, when the restrictions on hametz are also more lenient (see my Guide for the Perplexed for more on that)

               The Aish website has a nice explanation of all this at

               But if you are still wondering, head on over to - you can switch over to an entire line of kosher pet foods!  Soon you dog will be waiting three hours before Milkbones!

               Happy Pesach to all our four legged friends.  Now excuse me.  I’ve got to go finish inspecting the toilet paper!


OK - So what about Cosmetics?

Must Cosmetics Be Kosher for Pesah?

By Rabbi David Golinkin



Do cosmetic products such as make-up, perfume and shampoo require a Kosher for Pesah label?



Rabbi Isidor Grunfeld states in his book The Jewish Dietary Laws: (1)

Cosmetics often contain spirits which are Hametz. It is, therefore, customary to clear them away and use special cosmetics such as face powder etc. specially prepared for Pesah.


This was also the opinion of two other twentieth-century rabbis: R. Eliezer David Greenwald and R. Gedalia Felder.


However, it is clear from the Talmud, the Rishonim (early rabbis, ca. 500-1500 c.e.) and most of the Aharonim (later rabbis, ca. 1500 ff.) that cosmetics do not require a Kosher for Pesah label.


The Mishnah in Pesahim (3:1 = fol. 42a in the Talmud) states:

The following things must not be used (2) on Pesah: Babylonian kutah [pudding], Median beer, Idumean vinegar, Egyptian zitom [a kind of beer], the dyer’s broth [made with bran], cook’s dough [which is placed on top of the pot] and the scribe’s paste. R. Eliezer says: takhshitey nashim [women’s ornaments] too.


These things are forbidden because they are ta’arovet hametz, an admixture of hametz and other ingredients.


Rashi explains in his commentary to Pesahim 42b at the bottom that takhshitey nashim means: “Kohl, and rouge, and perfumes which they hang on their necks to give a good smell”. More recently, Dr. Samuel Krauss and Rabbi Saul Lieberman have shown that this is the simple meaning of takhshitey nashim in both Talmuds and in other rabbinic sources. (3)


The Babylonian Talmud rejects the reading takhshitey nashim by asking (42b bottom): “takhshitey nashim salka da’atakh?!” - “Women’s ornaments, can you think so!?” It then corrects the reading in the Mishnah to “tipuley nashim” i.e. women’s cosmetics such as fine flour which was used by wealthy women as a depilatory to remove hair. (4)

In any case, the Sages at the beginning of the Mishnah disagree with R. Eliezer and would allow one to keep “takhshitey nashim” or make-up in the house on Pesah.

A similar opinion is found in the Tosefta (Pisha 3:3, ed. Lieberman, p. 151; cf. Rabbi Lieberman, p. 515):

Kilor [ eye salve], isplanit [=bandage] and retiya [=plaster] which contains flour – one does not need to remove them [before Pesah]. Melugma [a poultice which is mostly flour] which became putrid - one does not need to remove it [before Pesah].


The major halakhic authorities followed the Sages in our Mishnah and not R. Eliezer, as stressed by Maimonides and the Bartenura in their commentaries ad loc. This was probably because R. Eliezer’s opinion was a da’at yahid, a minority of one,


Among the major halakhic authorities, Maimonides, the Tur and the Shulhan Arukh all followed the Sages.


Maimonides ruled in his Mishneh Torah (Laws of Hametz and Matzah 4:12):

An admixture of hametz which is not food at all or not food for all people – such as theriac (5) and the like – even though it may be retained, it may not be eaten until after Pesah, even if it contains only a minute quantity of hametz.


Rabbi Jacob ben Asher (Toledo, ca. 1340) in his Tur (Orah Hayyim 442) quotes Mamonides’ opinion and says that R. Isaac ibn Ghiyat agrees.


Rabbi Joseph Karo (Israel 1488-1575) in his Shulhan Arukh (Orah Hayyim 442:4) quotes Maimonides verbatim.


The commentaries on the Shulhan Arukh stress that these things are forbidden to eat “but they are mutar b’hana’ah [one may benefit from them]. (See Magen Avraham ad loc., subparagraph 7; Kaf Hahayyim, ad loc., par. 46; Mishnah Berurah ad loc. subpar. 22.)


Among more recent authorities, Rabbi Zvi Hirschhorn, R. Nahum Weidenfeld and R. Yitzhak Yosef allowed the use of all cosmetics on Pesah. This is the correct ruling as we have seen above.


As we have seen in our lengthy teshuvah regarding the custom of not eating rice and kitniyot on Pesah, Jews - especially Ashkenazic Jews - like to look for humrot (stringencies) on Pesah(6) Therefore, it is important to stress that we are not only commanded to avoid Hametz (Exodus 12:15 etc.) but also to rejoice on Pesah (Deut. 16:14 as interpreted by Pesahim 109a). May we all strive to find the proper balance between these two mitzvot.


David Golinkin


7 Nissan 5767




1.     For rabbis quoted without a specific reference, see the Bibliography below.


2.     So explains Rabbeinu Tam in Tosafot to Pesahim ad loc. Rashi ibid. and Maimonides in his commentary to the Mishnah say: On account of the following things, you transgress the injunctions of not seeing hametz and not finding hametz in your house.


3.     See Rabbi Lieberman and S. Krauss, Kadmaniyot Hatalmud, Vol. 2, Part 2, Tel Aviv, 1945, p. 307.


4.     Yerushalmi Pesahim 3:1, fol. 29d actually gives takhshitey and tipuley as variant readings of our Mishnah. See Prof. Lieberman for an explanation of the two readings.


5.     Theriac was an antidote for snakebite which included crushed snakes! See Julius Preuss Biblical and Talmudic MedicineNew York, 1978, pp. 436-437 and R. Saul Lieberman, Tosefet Rishonim, Vol. 1, Jerusalem, 1937, pp. 167-168.


6.     See David Golinkin, Responsa of the Va’ad Halakhah, Vol. 3 (5748-5749), pp. 35-56, which is also at Interestingly enough, an Israeli Orthodox Bet Din ruled this year that it is permissible to eat kitniyot in Israel on Pesah (! Their reasons are very similar to the ones I gave eighteen years ago.


Prof. David Golinkin is President of the Schechter Institute of Jewish Studies in Jerusalem. Feel free to reprint this article in its entirety. If you wish to abbreviate it, please contact Rabbi Golinkin at  The opinions expressed here are the author's and in no way reflect an official policy of the Schechter Institute.



Schechter Institute of Jewish Studies, Inc. is dedicated to the advancement of pluralistic Jewish education in Israel and Europe.  A non-profit organization, it supports four educational institutions based in Jerusalem, Israel:  Schechter Institute  of  Jewish  Studies: A Graduate School for Israeli Educators, where over 500 students learn Jewish studies within a pluralistic environment  Schechter Rabbinical Seminary which trains Conservative/Masorti rabbis in Israel  TALI Education Fund which provides Jewish studies programs for  30,000 Israeli children in 170  state schools and kindergartens  Midreshet Yerushalayim  which provides Jewish education to  Russian immigrants in Israel and Jewish communities in the Ukraine and Hungary.  See more at




Spiritual Journey on the Web


Passover Journeys


From Venice

The Venice Haggadah (thanks to David Hirshfield for sending me the link)


to Jerusalem

A Breathtaking Look at Israel's History

Aerial Odyssey
Chapter 2 - Depths of the Past
Click Here to watch the video



Israelicious Recipes





Ready-To-Use Original Passover Haggadahs,
Passover Seder Parodies, Downloadable Games
and Four Questions translations


Passover through Archaeology and Rare Documents

This interactive site features rare artifacts from the collection of the JTS Library, including Haggadah manuscripts from throughout history.  Download them and bring them to your seder! 

I give this one Four Stars – (or maybe four cups, or whatever)



And for those looking for Passover melodies from around the world, go to


Here are five different versions of Had Gadya!


Ashkenaz - Switzerland tradition, Yitzhak and Mordechai Brom performance

Ashkenaz – Berlin tradition, Oskar Goldberg performance

France tradition, Adolf Attia performance

Italy tradition, Alessandro Sagerra performance

Tunisia tradition, Michael Sitbon performance







This is the newest 2007 "upgrade" of the Songbook for your Seder of more than 80 popular, parody and traditional songs in English, Hebrew and a few in Yiddish. A songbook for all ages.


This very basic and brief Haggadah is intended for the most elementary Seder, perhaps for the less experienced leader or the family with young children. Download the PDF and print as needed. It does NOT have all the songs in the 5767 Seder Songbook, and I would encourage you to download the Seder Songbook and print it separately for your selective use.


Haroset - no matter how you spell it is one of the very special treats for the Seder. Yet it is a very important part of the ritual - whether maror is dipped in it alone or the Hillel "sandwich." The ingredients have varied from the time of the Talmud and from country to country. Download as a PDF. For home or for schools. Read, eat and enjoy.


Every family has their own unique needs, interests and wants for their Passover Seder. Download this English PDF for Suggestions and Helpful Hints to create and tailor a Haggadah to make it maximally appropriate to your family. No more cut-and-paste with paper, xeroxes with funny lines and white-out, pictures that aren’t quite legible. In short, you can publish your own Pesah Haggadah for your Seder, and you can do so easily using desk-top publishing. In creating your own family Haggadah, you are also creating your own Family Heirloom, a treasury of memories for many years and generations to come. You use edition or you can “update” it as the family grows.

5767 / 2007 COMPLETE PASSOVER HAGGADAH (Davkawriter 6 Platinum edition)

This is the complete Haggadah and Songbook in Hebrew, English and Transliteration. Download into Davkawriter 6 for the maximum effect in Hebrew and English format support to edit your own Haggadah. Each section of the Haggadah has been separated to facilitate ease of editing.


This is the complete traditional Haggadah and an accompanying Songbook for your Seder. Download it as a PDF. Each section of the Haggadah and each Song has been separated such that you can edit for yourself from the PDF print-out the contents for your Seder.

5767 / 2007 COMPLETE PASSOVER HAGGADAH: .rtf Edition

This complete Haggadah and Songbook is available in an .rtf file that can be downloaded especially to an earlier Davkawriter edition, Mellel II for the MAC and also to any other wordprocessor for editing and printing. Each Seder section and Song is separate to facilitate editing your own Haggadah.

5767 / 2007 COMPLETE PASSOVER HAGGADAH: Davkawriter 3.0 and higher

This edition of the traditional Haggadah and the Songbook is available to those who have an earlier Davkawriter 3.0 and higher edition (but not Davkawriter 6). Download and then edit your own Haggadah.



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



Excerpts from Joelle’s Peikes’ D’Var Torah on Vayikra


                               Life is full of choices.   No one is more aware of that than I am.  About three years ago, I made two significant choices that have changed my life.  First, I decided to really explore my Jewish heritage.  I started coming to services and then Hebrew School.  The second choice, which was made at about the same time, was to become a vegetarian.  I just felt it was the right thing to do, and my parents supported me.  My mom went out and bought lots of vegetarian cookbooks.


               And so here today, both of these choices are coming together.  On the day that I am becoming Bat Mitzvah, my portion, which speaks of the ancient ritual of animal sacrifices, forces us to reflect on what animals and people can mean for one another. 


               In fact, not all the sacrifices WERE animals.  Poor people brought grain instead.  In the Torah these people are referred to as “nefesh,” or “souls,” and the chief rabbi of Israel, Rav Kook, said that these offerings were truly gifts of the soul.  Rav Kook was also a vegetarian.


               I think animals have souls as well – and they are constantly making sacrifices for us.  I’ve had the most personal experience with my two dogs, my ferret, and a very special horse named Burt.  I am also a big octopus fan.  I find that animals have very human characteristics.  An article I read recently states that beings with souls have mental activity that consists of beliefs,.. intentions,.. desires.. and sensations. 


               My dogs are insane, and funny, and they certainly show desire, like when Zoe refuses to come inside, even in frigid weather.  Murphy, meanwhile, has a soul, but I’m not sure he has a conscience.  While Zoe is outside, Murphy is inside destroying the entire house and nipping at me.  And he can’t fathom the possibility that anyone would dare pay attention to Zoe. … Isn’t jealousy a “human” emotion?


               At the horse farm where I ride, there is a little Shetland pony named Dudley.  His girlfriend, Magic, lives in the next stall over.  According to what I’ve heard, whenever Magic goes out for a ride, Dudley whinnies with excitement.  Doesn’t that tell us that horses are capable of forming relationships – a “soul-ish” trait?


               My ferret, Ms. Frizzle, likes to bite my feet, and even lick my chin.  My mother sometimes puts her in my bed in the morning and Ms. Frizzle becomes a very efficient alarm clock. 


               There are endless accounts of binding relationships among animals and between animals and their humans.  Critics would have us believe that animals act solely on instinct.  But, how many times have we heard stories about an animal sacrificing its own safety to rescue a person or another animal?  A dog jumps into icy waters or dangerous rapids to save a drowning man; or refuses to leave a burning building until all family members are safe.  It’s not only dogs.  I have heard of cats, birds and even one very heroic hamster who wouldn’t rest until they had alerted their humans to danger.  This is not mere instinct -- the survival instinct would compel the animal to run away and save itself.  Instead it puts itself in harm’s way to save another….  Sacrifices.


               And I believe also that the animals I love have made the choice to love me as well.  We have a special connection. 


               My mitzvah project has helped me to forge other special connections.  I love spending time with the kids at CTE, a local after-school program for low-income families.  I go there at least one day a week to help them with their homework and other projects.  I usually work with the 5 and 6-year-old class, but will fill in wherever I’m needed.  It didn’t take long before I felt welcome and comfortable there.  They are so happy and responsive, and I love getting to know them and being helpful.  When I have lots of my own homework, sometimes I’m tempted to skip it, but in the end I’m always glad when I decide to go……Sacrifices.


The baskets you see on the bimah contain some books, games and art supplies for donation to CTE.  In addition, in place of centerpieces at the reception this evening, donations have been made to a few favorite organizations of mine, such as the Ocean Conservancy, Greenpeace, and the ASPCA.


Which brings me back to the choices I’ve made and the question many of you must be asking.  Why would someone who is a high school freshman want to go through this?  Why did I choose to become Bat Mitzvah? 


People frequently ask me why I wanted to do this.  I worry that I don’t have the “right” answer for them.  In the beginning, it was really just curiosity.  My friends were talking about Hebrew school and I wanted to see what it was all about.  And I thought it would be cool to speak fluent Hebrew.  Well, it’s three years later and I don’t speak Hebrew, and I’m still not sure I know what it’s all about.  Here’s what I do know.  I feel good when I’m here.  This is a community, and I belong.  Mara Hammerman’s class instilled in me a desire to stay and learn more.  The Hammermans make me feel like this is my home.  I like learning the Hebrew prayers, I like that the Talmud has laws governing everyday occurrences - like who gets served first at dinnertime… and what to do when you encounter a lost donkey.  Most of it is really just common sense, but isn’t it nice to follow a religion that is logical?   I like that there are prayers for everything, like before a road trip - and when you arrive safely - or when you wash your hands.  I especially love when we stand to face the ark, we are also facing Israel.  I guess this makes me feel connected to something bigger. 


And I think it makes me want to be a better person. 




Excerpts from Tess Litchman’s D’var Torah on Tzav


On days like today, the words thank you gets thrown around a lot, like thank you for coming, thank you for the wonderful presents, thank you G-d for keeping me from tripping with the Torah in my hands.  The word becomes almost as routine the phrase “how are you” when you don’t even wait for an answer.


But if you take the time to think about what you’re saying, the phrase “thank you” has so much more meaning on a day like today. When I look out I see at least three generations of people who came from across the country to celebrate with me as I become a Bat Mitzvah.  I see friends cheering me on. I see my Dad trying not to tease me and my mother trying to hold back the tears.  I see my sister Delancey who won’t admit it but I know was the source of many of the surprises awaiting us at the party and I see my little brother Eli’s eyes filled with admiration.


I could spend the rest of the year coming up with thank yous for this day. Each one is a reminder of why we are here - a celebration of prayer, of thank yous and of all the sacrifices I made in order to become a Bat Mitzvah.


My Torah portion teaches us the origin of thankfulness.  It has its roots in what now seems like the arcane practices of sacrifices.  Scholars throughout the years have struggled to find modern relevance in the cookbook detail in my parsha of exactly how and when each sacrifice is to be made.  It was tricky business and the nuances confusing.  If the sacrifice was brought in a clay pot, the pot had to broken and if in a copper one, it had to be washed in a certain way.  If eaten on the day of the sacrifice, it is a peace offering but if eaten any later it is considered an abomination and it is no longer a valid offering. 


We can ask what could possibly be the difference. That is the point behind my  torah portion.  The question is what is the difference between the deed and the intention?  When it comes to rituals and objects,  the act is not as important as but how one feels when doing it. It is the experience of doing the act and not the outcome that causes holiness.


The prayers that we are supposed to recite each day in the morning, afternoon and evening have replaced the sacrificial rituals that were to be performed at those times. The prayers we offer cannot be done out of routine--without emotion and good intent they are meaningless.  Only if we truly feel our prayers, our devotion, and our thankfulness will they bring us closer to G-d.


I believe that our prayers, our desire to walk in G-d’s ways are best shown by how we treat each other and how we acknowledge our respect and appreciation for each other.  How we show our compassion in thought and deed. And really when we think of all that we cherish and admire, we are thankful.


In America we have one holiday all year long where we focus on thankfulness.  The Torah is saying that we should feel it all the time.


There are many different ways of expressing that thanks.  Sometimes it can be done without words.  For my mitzvah project, I helped create over a hundred bracelets in order to raise money for a foundation that is looking for a cure for a rare tumor that has affected my family. It has been a labor of love, and my way of thanking those who have helped us.  There will be sample bracelet and a sign up sheet at the party if you would like to support my Mitzvah project.


Some of you will be thankful to know that I’m nearing the end of my service and this speech!





Required Reading and Action Items



Some GOOD NEWS from Israel 21c,,

 and other sources


Tel Aviv 'dating school' teaches singles how to be a good date  
For many people, dating is a problematic process that ends too often in failure. Now a new course has opened in Tel Aviv that tries to teach its students how to be more effective, self-aware, and informed daters. Date School is the only psychotherapy-based dating program in Israel, and perhaps the world. The school's key message is that dating is an art, and the best way to succeed is by identifying one's good points, and learning how to market these assets. Practice makes perfect. More...


Health | The Israeli brain vitamin  
Lipogen PS, an Israeli-produced natural food supplement that improves brain function in children and adults, is going to be showing up in a lot of American food soon. Studies have linked the nutrient to improvements in memory and mood, and specifically to the delay of symptoms of early-onset Alzheimer's, a growing problem in the US as the population ages. Long available in pill form, Lipogen PS has now been approved by the FDA to be used as a food additive. Production has been ramped up, and interest in the supplement from US companies is running high. More...


Health | Israeli device transmits heart data directly to doctors  
A portable electrocardiograph machine developed by Israeli company SHL can transmit highly detailed data on heart activity to physicians by mobile phone. The CardioSen'C is considered an advance in portable heart-monitoring devices because it uses many more electrodes to measure heart activity and is equipped to communicate the results instantaneously to a cardiologist. The company says its machine can dramatically reduce deaths from heart attacks through early diagnosis of patients who might otherwise hesitate before calling a doctor or rushing to a hospital to be monitored. More...


Technology | Israeli team pioneers direct communication between computers - without the Internet  
PhD students at the Technion, under the guidance of Professor Roi Friedman, have developed software called WiPeer which enables mobile and desktop computers to communicate directly with one another in a local area without any mediating factor, such as an Internet server. The software, which is available free on the Net, enables users to send messages, pictures, files, movies and games to one another wirelessly within a 100-300 yard radius. And they're not content with that breakthrough - now the researchers are developing cellular phone software which bypasses the cellular operator and will offer free calls to anyone within close proximity, such as a shopping mall, a school, or a sports stadium. More...


Global Democracy | Israeli at helm of massive food relief operation in the Congo  
A trip to the Sudan marked the start of a whole new career for Haifa-born Aya Shneerson. A former CNN reporter on freelance assignment in the war-torn country in the late 1990s, she was persuaded by her hosts at the World Food Program (WFP) to become their spokesman. Since then she has traveled across the world to some of the poorest regions of the earth. Today Shneerson is the head of the WFP provincial office in the Congo, in charge of distributing 5,000 tons of food a month to the conflict-stricken population. It is a job that has many challenges, but one that also offers special rewards. More...


Israel's humanitarian rescue missions abroad (video)


First Temple Wall Found in City of David - Etgar Lefkovits (Jerusalem Post)
    A wall from the First Temple was recently uncovered in Jerusalem's City of David, strengthening the claim that it is the site of the palace of King David.
    The new find was made by Dr. Eilat Mazar, a senior fellow at the Shalem Center's Institute for the Archeology of the Jewish People.


There’s more to life than Gemara (YNet),7340,L-3378392,00.html - Yeshiva high schools need to reconsider their unrelenting focus on Gemara


Israel thrashes Estonia 4-0 (Sports video – Israel also tied England last weekend in another Euro soccer qualifier)


Revolutionary ruling: 'Yes' to kitniyot on Passover (Ynet)


The Western Wall Heritage Foundation is preparing to welcome the thousands of visitors coming to the Kotel during Passover.

• Birkat Kohanim will be broadcast live on the kotel website. (The Priestly Blessing, recited daily during the festival)
• During Chol HaMoed, there will be a special shuttle bus service (for a fee) between the Karta parking lot across from Jaffa Gate and the Western Wall Plaza.
• Birkat Kohanim (the Priestly Benediction) will be taking place on Thursday, the second day of Chol HaMoed (April 5th) at approximately 9:00 a.m. during Shacharit morning services, and again at approximately 10:15 a.m. during Mussaf.
• Chief Rabbis of Israel, Rav Shlomo Amar and Rav Yona Metzger, along with Rav Shmuel Rabinowitz, rabbi of the Western Wall and holy sites, will be greeting visitors to the Kotel from 10:45 a.m. until noon on the same day.
• During Chol HaMoed, the Western Wall Tunnels will be open to the public free of charge and with no reservations required. 
• The Tunnels will be open on Wednesday and Thursday (April 4th and 5th) from 10am to 10pm, and on Sunday (April 8th) from 9am to noon.
• The tours will be given only in Hebrew. Waiting in line may be necessary.
• The Generations Center will be closed during the week of Passover.
• For more information, and to view live broadcasts from the Kotel, please visit us at


now for the rest


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

See also


Lawsuit Over Chabad Building Puts Rebbe’s Living Legacy on Trial (the Forward)   The unanswered question at the core of the lawsuit is whether the global leadership of Chabad — men like Rabbi Yehudah Krinsky and Rabbi Yisroel Shemtov — actually disagree with Fuchs and the gabbais about the rebbe’s status as messiah.A number of affidavits in the lawsuit assert that almost all Chabad leaders do privately believe that the rebbe was the messiah but have been afraid to talk about it publicly, for fear of scaring off the unaffiliated Jews who attend Chabad services around the world.


Israel: "Now Is Not Time for Final Status Talks" - Herb Keinon
"In the current situation it is impossible to reach a political settlement with the Palestinians," Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni said on Tuesday. She said the new PA unity government was not abiding by the conditions set by the Quartet and that PA Chairman Mahmoud Abbas was "disappointing, especially because he failed to condition the formation of the new Fatah-Hamas coalition on the release of captured IDF soldier Cpl. Gilad Shalit."
    Earlier Tuesday, a senior Israeli diplomatic official said that for the first time since 2000, Israel and the Palestinians will begin regular discussions on all aspects of a future Palestinian state except for borders, Jerusalem, and refugees. This followed Secretary of State Rice's announcement that Abbas and Prime Minister Olmert had agreed to hold biweekly meetings. The "most important thing to come out of Rice's visit," the official said, "was that the Israelis and Palestinians decided to resume talks on the parameters of future Palestinian statehood, on the characteristics of this statehood." The official said that despite Abbas' weakness and "inability to deliver," there was need to talk to someone, and Abbas was the natural candidate. (Jerusalem Post)


Chief of Staff: "IDF Must Win" - Gideon Alon
Israel Defense Forces Chief of Staff Lt.-Gen. Gabi Ashkenazi presented the Knesset Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee on Wednesday with his governing principles: "The purpose of the army is to ensure the state's supremacy and to win in the face of every challenge." "My objective is to ensure that the IDF's operational fitness is such that it is clear in every war who won and who lost....We can't allow what happened in the Second Lebanon War to happen again." Ashkenazi also noted an overall trend of growing regional instability, which can be seen in increased capability on the part of Israel's enemies. (Ha'aretz)


Gunmen Attack Hamas Leader's Car in Gaza, Wound Five
A sports utility vehicle filled with gunmen chased a car through Gaza City on Wednesday carrying Abu Salah Shinbari, a Hamas leader from Beit Hanoun, and his wife and two young children, witnesses said. The gunmen riddled the car with at least 10 bullets, injuring the four as well as a bystander. (AP/Jerusalem Post)

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


The Saudi "Peace" Plan Ultimatum - Editorial
During her visit to the Middle East this week, Secretary of State Rice has been touting a peace plan advocated by Saudi Arabia as the basis for Israeli-Palestinian negotiations - even though it has serious flaws that have raised well-founded concerns from the Israeli government. Parts of the Saudi plan, particularly provisions demanding that Israel yield all of the West Bank territory it captured in a defensive war and return to its precarious pre-1967 borders; requiring that it yield the Golan Heights to a Syrian Ba'athist regime that is aligned with Iran; and leaving open the possibility that Palestinian refugees from the 1948 war and their descendants might be permitted to return to their former homesteads inside what is now Israel, are unacceptable. Israeli Prime Minister Olmert quite sensibly has asked that these provisions at a minimum be significantly modified.
    The U.S. government has invested considerable political time and effort over the years in trying to advance the cause of peace between Israel and its Arab neighbors. But in the real world, advancing any plan for Israeli-Palestinian peace today would appear to face tremendous if not insurmountable obstacles - so much so that it is difficult to understand why Rice has seen fit to spend so much political capital in wartime on a diplomatic initiative with so little likelihood of success. If the Saudis want to be taken seriously as peacemakers, they need to stop issuing ultimatums to Israel and start issuing them to the Palestinian irredentists they continue to lavish money on. (Washington Times)


Faced with Iranian Blackmail, Europe Must Show Real Solidarity - Timothy Garton Ash
Last week, while the EU celebrated 50 years of peace, freedom and solidarity, 15 Europeans were kidnapped from Iraqi territorial waters by Iranian Revolutionary Guards. What is Europe going to do about it? Where's the solidarity? Where's the action? Europe has more direct, immediate leverage on Iran than the U.S. does.
    Europe should flex its economic muscles. The EU is by far Iran's biggest trading partner. More than 40% of its imports come from, and more than a quarter of its exports go to, the EU. Much of this trade is underpinned by export credit guarantees given by European governments, notably Germany, France and Italy. The total government underwriting commitment in 2005 was £3.9b., more than for Russia or China. In the Commons Wednesday, former foreign secretary Malcolm Rifkind asked if Britain's European friends - and GermanyFrance and Italy in particular - might be prevailed upon to convey to Iran the possibility that such export credit guarantees would be temporarily suspended until the kidnapped Europeans are freed. (Guardian-UK)


Palestinian Handouts - Linda Chavez
One year ago, the U.S. and the EU decided to cut off aid to the PA after Palestinians elected Hamas, a U.S.- and EU-designated terrorist organization, to lead their government. Now, it turns out, Western sources, including the U.S. government, have actually put more money into the West Bank and Gaza since Hamas took over than in previous years. The Palestinians will never have a better life if they continue their destructive, self-defeating hatred of the Jewish state and its people. Palestinians have developed a culture built on hate. Until they learn to devote their energies into helping themselves rather than tearing down each other and their neighbors, we should not spend one more dime on aid. (Washington Times)



Are the Saudis Seeking Peace? - Dore Gold (Jerusalem Post)

  • Israeli diplomats had hoped that a modified peace plan might be adopted by the Arab heads of state at the Riyadh Arab summit on Wednesday that would leave out any references to the return of Palestinian refugees to Israel - a non-starter across the Israeli political spectrum. When that seemed unlikely, there was increasing speculation that at least some other statements would be made separately that would try to reach out to Israeli public opinion and build mutual confidence.
  • But rather than obtaining some flexibility, Israel was handed an ultimatum when Saudi Foreign Minister Saud al-Faisal warned Israel that its rejection of the plan would leave its fate in the hands of the "lords of war."
  • The real problems with the Saudi peace initiative go well beyond the issue of the "right of return." The Saudi plan demands "full withdrawal" from "all the territories" Israel captured 40 years ago in the 1967 Six-Day War, thus negating the territorial flexibility contained in UN Security Council Resolution 242 that intentionally did not use such limiting language.
  • Adopting the Saudi plan as presented would lead to the redivision of Jerusalem. It would also strip Israel of the "defensible borders" that President Bush said was Israel's right in his April 2004 letter to Ariel Sharon. In 2007, with al-Qaeda jihadism pouring out of western Iraq and Iran on the ascendancy across the region, these security assurances have only grown in importance.
  • The paramount problem of Saudi Arabia today is not the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. What is shaping Saudi Arabia's new diplomatic activism is the rapidly expanding Iranian threat and the weakness of the Western response.


Israel: "Arrow Missile Interceptor Can Fully Protect Against Iran" - Yaakov Katz
Recent modifications made to the Arrow enable Israel's ballistic missile defense system to successfully intercept and destroy any ballistic missile in the Middle East, including nuclear-capable missiles under development by Iran, said Arieh Herzog, the head of the Defense Ministry's Homa Missile Defense Agency. "Our Arrow operational system can without a doubt deal with all of the operational threats in the Middle East, particularly in Iran and Syria," he declared. Such a system also serves as a deterrent. "If someone thinks that a large percentage of his missiles will be intercepted, he will think twice before attacking," Herzog said. (Jerusalem Post)


Olmert: No Palestinian "Right of Return" - Herb Keinon and David Horovitz
Prime Minister Ehud Olmert told the Jerusalem Post that Israel would not accept the return to Israel of any Palestinian refugees. It is "out of the question," he said. "I'll never accept a solution that is based on their return to Israel, any number." Olmert also said Israel would not recognize a "right of return." "I will not agree to accept any kind of Israel responsibility for the refugees," he said.
    The initiative adopted Thursday by the Arab League was the same one passed in Beirut in March 2002, commonly known as the Arab Peace Initiative. It is not, however, identical with the so-called Saudi initiative from a month earlier that did not mention the refugee issue. "The Saudi initiative looks better in this respect than the Arab initiative," Olmert said. (Jerusalem Post)


Hamas: Military Operations Have Not Stopped - Khaled Abu Toameh
Hamas leader Khaled Mashaal declared that his movement would continue to launch attacks on Israel despite the formation of the PA unity government. Addressing supporters in Gaza City by phone, Mashaal said: "We will never give up our principles; anyone who thinks that Hamas is tired or weak is mistaken. Hamas has not stopped its military operations."
    Meanwhile, Yasser Abed Rabbo, a former PA information minister who is currently a close advisor to PA Chairman Abbas, Thursday discussed Abbas' agreement to meet with Israeli Prime Minister Olmert twice a month: "I don't see any point in holding these meetings. We agreed to them only to appease the Americans." (Jerusalem Post)


Explosion in Hamas Leader's Home Kills One Child, Injures Two
Nidal 'Aamer Killab, 5, was killed and his brother Ahmad, 3, and his sister Fatima, 6, were moderately injured in an explosion in their family's home in Khan Yunis in southern Gaza. The children's father is a leader within Hamas and the head of public relations for the pro-Hamas Executive Force. Khan Yunis has witnessed a wave of abductions and gunfire exchanges in the context of family and factional conflicts for over a year. Scores of residents have been injured or killed in these violent outbursts. (Maan News-PA)


Two Fatah Terrorists Killed in West Bank - Amos Harel
An IDF force shot and killed two armed Fatah militants - Muhind Marish, 20, and Ala Gliz, 24 - in Nablus Tuesday. The two had been involved in shooting incidents, bombings, and suicide bomber attacks, including an incident in Nablus when a bomb was thrown at an IDF force in July 2006, killing a soldier and injuring five others. The same Fatah cell, whose members received funding and orders from Hizbullah in Lebanon, was responsible for dispatching a suicide bomber that carried out an attack on French Hill in Jerusalem in September 2004, killing two border policemen. (Ha'aretz)


After Rice's Visit - Aluf Benn
Condoleezza Rice ended another disappointing trip into the diplomatic minefield of the Middle East. In her closing statement, Rice maneuvered between the adamant refusal of Prime Minister Ehud Olmert to discuss a final status agreement with the Palestinians and her desire to come home from this trip with some sort of achievement. Olmert is not afraid of Rice. He perceives that President George W. Bush is willing to let Rice venture on her shuttle diplomacy; if she solves the conflict and a Palestinian state is established, he will cut the ribbon and host the ceremonies. But Bush is not allowing Rice to pressure Israel's prime minister. (Ha'aretz)


The Arab League Summit - Zvi Bar'el
"The Arab citizen has gotten used to the idea that Arab summit meetings bring no benefit. He expects the meetings to produce declarations, but realizes that these declarations will mean nothing," Lebanese analyst Mohammed Mashmoushi wrote in Al-Hayat last week. A senior Jordanian visitor in Israel this week told Ha'aretz that the Arab summit meetings long ago stopped serving as a serious forum for debating the Middle East's problems. In fact, it is difficult to point to even one Arab League achievement in the past few years. It did not prevent the war in Iraq, and it cannot present an Arab formula for solving that country's problems. It is out of touch on the Palestinian issue, both in terms of a solution and the internal Palestinian crisis. (Ha'aretz)


The Saudi Initiative - Dennis Ross
The Arab League is poised to reaffirm the Saudi initiative that offers the Israelis peace, but only after Israel has taken all the steps the Arabs want. Conflicts are rarely solved by one side making all the concessions before it sees what it gets in return. Today, with Hamas continuing to embody rejection, the Arab world must show that if Israel meets its terms (or something close to them), it will receive peace and security not as a slogan but as a reality.
    At this point, a plan that lays out the final contours of an agreement is unachievable. No one is prepared to embrace the necessary compromises. The Arab League is only conceding Israel's existence - useful, but hardly a breakthrough. (Financial Times-UK)


Stop Appeasing Those Who Kidnapped British Servicemen - Editorial
It is depressing that the Western response has been so feeble. Some misguided "understanding" of the kidnapping seems to inhibit any response that may exacerbate tensions. This is precisely the wrong message. It encourages Tehran's hardliners and probably prolongs the bargaining over the men's detention. Even the Shia-dominated Iraqi government has called on Iran to release the men - a far bolder call than anything coming from London or Washington. The coalition cannot allow Tehran to intimidate its neighbor. It must set a deadline for the men's release and tell Iran bluntly that its piracy justifies immediate and more drastic sanctions. (Times-UK)


The Results of Diplomacy: In Iran's Case, They've Been Pretty Thin - Editorial
Iran is parading captured British sailors before cameras and using their purported confessions of trespassing in Iranian waters as propaganda in a way that suggests an eagerness to escalate rather than defuse confrontation with the West. The diplomatic campaign against Iran has been pretty successful by the usual diplomatic measures. Not only has the U.S. worked relatively smoothly with European partners with which it differed bitterly over Iraq, but it has also been effective lately in winning support from RussiaChina and nonaligned states such as South Africa.
    Critics who lambasted the administration's unilateral campaign against an "axis of evil" a few years ago ought to be applauding the return to conventional diplomacy. We, too, think it's worth pursuing, especially when combined with steps short of a military attack to push back against Iranian aggression in the region. Still, two years after President Bush embraced the effort, it has to be noted: The diplomatic strategy so far has been no more successful than the previous "regime change" policy in stopping Iran's drive for a nuclear weapon. (Washington Post)


Iran's Actions Will Only Increase Its Isolation - Editorial
Revolutionary Iran's complete contempt for normal diplomatic procedures was manifest from its inception. In November 1979, just seven months after Ayatollah Khomeini had come to power, students seized the American embassy in Teheran. Of around 90 people inside the compound, 52 were held hostage for more than 14 months.
    The difficulties for the British Government in securing the release of the 15 sailors and marines are twofold. First, there is the well-attested readiness of Iran to defy international norms of behavior. Second, it is, as usual, hard to identify which part of the regime, its clerically appointed or elected civilian component, is responsible for the kidnapping. It is unclear what the Iranians hope to gain by their latest outrage. It will not persuade the Security Council to remove the sanctions imposed on Teheran last Saturday for its refusal to stop enriching uranium. All it does is isolate Iran further. (Telegraph-UK)


The Revolutionary Guards Are the Real Power in Iran - David Ignatius
The Iranian Revolutionary Guard orchestrated the seizure of 15 British sailors and marines at a time when it is under intense and growing pressure. The Revolutionary Guard was targeted in the UN sanctions enacted against Iran's nuclear program - which is run by the Revolutionary Guard. The military group may have wanted to retaliate by imposing its own brute sanctions against Britain, one of the five permanent members of the Security Council. The Revolutionary Guard may also have hoped to sabotage diplomatic negotiations over the nuclear issue. (Washington Post)
    See also The Iranian Revolutionary Guards' Qods Force: Lessons Learned - Dan Diker (ICA/JCPA)


Is a U.S.-Iran War Inevitable? - Robert Baer
A grim fatalism has settled over Iran of late, the resigned belief that a war with the U.S. is all but inevitable. Tehran is convinced the U.S. or one of its allies was behind the March 2006 separatist violence in Iranian Baluchistan, which ended up with 20 people killed, including a Revolutionary Guard member executed. And the Iranians believe there is more to come, accusing the U.S. of training and arming Iranian Kurds and Azeris to go back home and cause problems. Needless to say the Iranians are not happy there are American soldiers on two of its borders, as well as two carriers and a dozen warships in the Gulf.
    Our Arab allies are jumping ship, apparently as fast as they can. At the opening of the Arab summit on Wednesday, Saudi King Abdallah accused the U.S of illegally occupying Iraq. The day before, the leader of the United Arab Emirates sent his foreign minister to Tehran to tell the Iranians he would not allow the U.S. to use UAE soil to attack Iran. That leaves us with Kuwait and Iraqi Prime Minister Maliki to face IranThe writer is a former CIA field officer assigned to the Middle East. (TIME)


Why Is Putin Now Getting Tough on Iran? - Bret Stephens
Nearly from day one of his presidency, Vladimir Putin has been Iran's best friend at the UN and, not so coincidentally, the leading supplier of its advanced conventional weapons. Then, on March 19, Iranian, European and U.S. sources reported that Russia had informed Iran that it would not supply the reactor with the uranium it needs to function unless Iran complied with UN resolutions calling on it to suspend its enrichment program. At the Security Council, U.S. diplomatic sources confirmed that Russia had been remarkably cooperative in negotiating Saturday's unanimous resolution on Iran, going so far as to blunt an attempt by some of the nonpermanent members to insert language calling for a nuclear-free Middle East - code for disarming Israel. In the meantime, the Kremlin preserves all its options, a reminder, as Glen Howard of the Jamestown Foundation observes, of an old KGB maxim: First create a problem, and then offer to be part of the solution. (Wall Street Journal)


Iran Escalates - Thomas G. McInerney
President Reagan once famously quipped that his strategy in confronting the Soviet Union was "We win, they lose." Today, we need a similarly clear strategy to confront Iran, if we are to successfully counter its aim to drive the U.S. from the Middle East and - as we see with the 15 British sailors the Iranians have taken hostage - attempts to intimidate Western powers into inaction. While we dither at the UN, the Iranians will acquire nuclear weapons, give support to our enemies in Iraq and undermine our credibility with our European allies. We need to demonstrate now that there are viable military options in dealing with a rogue regime in Tehran and that not all of those options will leave us embroiled in a shooting war with yet another large, sprawling nation in the Middle East.
    Let us remember that Iran is a very diverse nation whose population is only 51% Persian. The rest is Azari (24%), Kurdish (10%) and a mix of other ethnic minorities including Turkman, Arab and others. This is a rich environment for unrest and one reason why there were an estimated 4,300 protest demonstrations in 2005 alone. Iran imports 40% of its domestically consumed gasoline. Shutting off or even restricting the supply of gasoline flowing into the country would put the regime in a crunch and drive up public discontent without creating a corresponding humanitarian crisis. Lt. Gen. McInerny is retired assistant vice chief of staff of the Air Force. (Wall Street Journal, 30Mar07)


Iran and America: Capture Kharg Island? - James A. Lyons Jr.
In November 1979, when the U.S. embassy was sacked and our diplomats were taken hostage, I recommended to the then-acting chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, Adm. Tom Hayward, that our only good option was to capture Kharg IslandIran's principal oil export depot. If we did this, we could negotiate from a position of strength for the immediate return of our embassy and our diplomats. Unfortunately, the Carter administration rejected any offensive operations as a means of responding to this blatant act of war against the United States. We were humiliated and seemed to the world to lack the courage to defend our honor.
    There is no time to waste. Immediate diplomatic and military pressure must be brought to bear to obtain the immediate release of the British sailors and marines. The capture of Kharg Island could be viewed as part of a larger economic sanction that the UN Security Council has already endorsed. It is not an attack against the Iranian people. In fact, it could further encourage the popular antigovernment movement against Ayatollah Ali Khamenei's corrupt and already shaky regime. The economic cost to Iran would be catastrophic at minimum. Most of all, such a move would end almost 30 years of our Iranian appeasement policy, demonstrating to Tehran we finally mean business. If Iran fails to respond to this measured action, we must be prepared to execute more forceful options. The choice would be Iran's to make. The writer, a retired U.S. Navy admiral, is a former commander-in-chief of the U.S. Pacific Fleet and senior U.S. military representative to the UN. (Washington Times)


Bill Clinton Criticizes Carter's Book - Jennifer Siegel
Former president Bill Clinton spoke out against Carter's book, Palestine: Peace Not Apartheid, during an appearance in March before the United Jewish Federation of San Diego County. "If I were an Israeli I wouldn't like it, because it's not factually correct and it's not fair," Clinton reportedly said. In addition, the American Jewish Committee released a letter from Clinton thanking the group's executive director, David Harris, for speaking out against the book. "Thanks so much for your articles about President Carter's book," Clinton wrote in a handwritten note dated January 11. "I don't know where his information (or conclusions) came from, but Dennis Ross has tried to straighten it out, publicly and in two letters to him. At any rate, I'm grateful." (Forward)


Inside Hizbullah's Hidden Bunkers - Nicholas Blanford
It had taken seven months of searching to finally discover one of the underground bunkers that had enabled Hizbullah to fire thousands of rockets into northern Israel last summer even under the pounding of Israeli air and ground operations. The elaborate network of bunkers and fortified firing positions built over a six-year period in sealed-off valleys and hilltops throughout south Lebanon was key to Hizbullah's ability to survive Israel's onslaught during last summer's month-long war. One bunker complex discovered and dynamited by Israeli troops a week after the ceasefire reportedly covered more than a square mile and was fitted with hot and cold running water and air conditioning.
    After several unsuccessful attempts to find one, last week I received map coordinates for two bunkers in a valley near the Christian border village of Alma Shaab. We almost missed the manhole cover beneath its layer of dirt, dead leaves and twigs. The room must have been at least 100 feet underground, and could probably have withstood a direct hit by a heavy bomb. A few hundred yards away we found two rocket firing positions, one of them located in a 15-foot deep pit with reinforced concrete walls. Even from a few yards up the hill, the position was all but invisible. And during the war, Hizbullah gunners had tossed fire-retardant blankets over the launchers immediately after unleashing their rockets to hide the lingering heat signature from prowling Israeli aircraft.
    The effort that went into building the fortifications in this valley alone had been extraordinary, and these were just three of dozens, possibly hundreds, scattered throughout southern Lebanon. The steel plates and girders, as well as the digging tools, sandbags and other equipment, had to be carried by hand up the steep slope from the valley floor and welded into place in the tunnels. (TIME)


Unserious Summit - Editorial (Jerusalem Post)

  • The Arab states seem serious about looking like they are serious about achieving peace. If the Arab states were serious about achieving peace, they would not be putting forward an ultimatum, complete with threats of war if it is not accepted, to which no Israeli government could possibly agree.
  • The problem is that the Arab side continues to insist on coming to the table with a demand that clearly negates the objective of the entire exercise: two states living side-by-side in peace.
  • It is assumed that Israel would not even demand that Israelis living in what would become a Palestinian state be allowed to stay, let alone that Jews or Israelis would have a right to move to Palestine. Yet Palestinians, and the Arab states in their revived plan, not only assume that a million Arabs who are already full citizens of Israel would stay, but that millions of Palestinians would have a right to move to Israel.
  • If Israel's sovereignty is to mean anything, then Palestinians can have no more right to move to Israel than Israelis would to a future Palestine. The Arab states, if they want peace, need to be saying this. If they cannot, it shows that they may be serious about making Israel look obstructionist, but not about achieving peace.

    See also Saudis Leave Rice Stranded - Scott MacLeod (TIME)

  • The Arab League summit that concluded in Riyadh Thursday re-affirmed the body's peace offer to Israel, but it hardly suggested the sort of "bold outreach" to the Jewish state for which U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice had been lobbying. Indeed, the summit appeared to reveal a yawning gap between the outlooks of the U.S. and its key Arab ally, summit-host Saudi Arabia.
  • Rice seemed to be expressing the hope that Saudi Arabia's King Abdullah, who she praised as the author of the 2002 Arab initiative, would authorize direct Saudi-Israeli talks. Plainly, however, the U.S. and the Saudis are not exactly in lockstep, and the distance between them is widening by the day as American credibility in the Middle East nosedives as a result of the U.S. failure in Iraq.
  • The Saudi-U.S. differences are highlighted by the summit's endorsement of the Mecca Agreement under which Hamas and Mahmoud Abbas agreed to establish a national unity government to end Palestinian infighting. In contrast to the continued U.S. insistence that Hamas be boycotted, the Saudis believe that peace negotiations can only succeed if Hamas can be drawn into the process.
  • Saudi Arabia's increasingly public divergence from U.S. positions is a comparatively new development - until fairly recently, Abdullah appeared willing to support Bush as much as possible. But the message out of the Riyadh summit is that the Saudis, along with the other Arab states, have concluded that Washington's policies are neither wise, effective, or in long-term Arab interests.
  • In his summit speech, Abdullah called the U.S. military involvement in Iraq an "illegitimate foreign occupation," and demanded an end to the "unjust" American-led embargo on the Hamas-dominated Palestinian Authority. All of this amounted to a sharp debunking of Rice's suggestion that Saudi Arabia and other Arab allies form a new moderate bloc to confront IranSyria, Hamas and Hizballah.


Hostage Gambit - Amir Taheri
The British sailors would not have been captured without Tehran's approval at the highest level. Ever since it erupted on the scene, the Khomeinist revolution has always accompanied a hardening of its position by seizing hostages. In November 1979, just eight months after seizing power, the Khomeinist regime endorsed the seizure of American diplomats as hostages in Tehran. During the following quarter-century, the Islamic Republic was involved in seizing more than 1,000 hostages from more than 30 countries in Iran or through its Hizbullah agents in Lebanon. These included a French ambassador to Tehran, Guy Georgy, two German bankers, and eight American and French journalists - plus dozens of businessmen, priests and tourists from countries such as South Korea and Italy. Right now the Islamic Republic is holding a German hostage.
    Western apologists for the Khomeinist regime have already started blaming the U.S. for having made the mullahs nervous. The argument of the apologists is: Don't do anything that makes the mullahs unhappy, or else they will do more mischief. The truth, however, is that making the mullahs nervous may be the only way of persuading them to end their defiance of the UN and stop trying to export Khomeinism to neighboring countries. (New York Post)


Why Did Saudi King Abdullah Cancel Dinner with Bush? - Jim Hoagland (Washington Post)

  • President Bush had scheduled a mid-April White House gala for Saudi Arabia's King Abdullah, signifying the president's high regard for an Arab monarch who is also a Bush family friend. Now the White House is pondering Abdullah's sudden and sparsely explained cancellation of the dinner.
  • Administration sources report that the cancellation followed Saudi decisions to seek common ground with Iran and the radicals of Hizbullah and Hamas instead of confronting them as part of Rice's proposed "realignment" of the Middle East into moderates and extremists.
  • Abdullah's reluctance to be seen socializing at the White House this spring reflects a scampering back by the Saudis to their traditional caution in trying to balance regional forces, and their displeasure with negative U.S. reaction to their decision to return to co-opting or placating foes.
  • Don't count on Abdullah to put new force behind his long-stalled Israeli-Palestinian peace initiative at the Arab summit this week in Riyadh. Rice had hoped the summit would provide a boost in her current proximity talks with Israeli and Palestinian officials, but she appears to have struck a dry well.
  • A few months ago, Bandar bin Sultan, the Saudi national security adviser, was championing the confrontational "realignment" approach in Saudi family councils: Iran's power would be broken, the Syrians would have to give up hegemonic designs on Lebanon, etc. Now the Saudi prince visits Tehran and Moscow regularly.


America's New Plan for Middle East Peace - Youssef Ibrahim
Several news reports quoted senior American officials speaking of a "new game plan" as Secretary of State Rice embarks on her fourth Middle East trip in four months. A quaint new "Arab Quartet" - Egypt, Jordan, Saudi Arabia, and the United Arab Emirates - is described by TV news as "all important" in Middle East peace efforts. Yet the Arab Quartet is about as useless and toothless as the Arab League itself, none of whose members are prepared to recognize Israel's right to exist unconditionally. It seems the new plan is that "Ms. Rice may be able to get some sort of formal or informal mechanism going that could give Israelis hope of eventually normalizing relations with the Arab world," American officials told the New York Times. (New York Sun)


Does Israel Need to Reach an Agreement with Syria Now? - Interview with Maj.-Gen. (Res.) Giora Eiland by Pazit Rabina
"Does Israel need to reach an agreement with Syria now? The answer is no. Israeli withdrawal from the Golan Heights in return for partial normalization and insufficient security arrangements is not in Israel's national interest.... Israel has serious reasons why it should not make a deal with Syria today: an Israel-Syria agreement does not solve the problem of a nuclear Iran...and unlike in the past, such an agreement would not solve the problem of Hizbullah, which today takes direction from Iran. In addition, the U.S.Israel's major ally, cares little for the idea."
    Eiland also believes that an agreement with Israel would lead the Sunni majority in Syria to challenge the current regime led by the Alawite minority, so the duration of any agreement with Assad would not be assured. "Beyond all future considerations, the bottom lin e is that there are no security arrangements that would compensate for giving up the Golan Heights. And I say this as someone with deep knowledge of the security arrangements discussion with the Syrians seven years ago."
    Eiland also noted that an Israeli withdrawal to the 1967 borders would do little to improve the lives of the Palestinians in Gaza, and that a return to the Clinton parameters is no longer attractive to either side. Gen. Eiland is former head of Israel's National Security Council. (Makor Rishon-Hebrew, 23Mar07)


Sliding Toward Somalia in Gaza - Avi Issacharoff
The bullet-riddled body of Arafat Nufal, an officer in the Palestinian Preventive Security Service, was found Friday hanging from a pole in the Al Moraka district near Gaza. The story of his murder, which began when he tried to reclaim his stolen car, illustrates how Gaza is becoming a Palestinian Somalia, as Palestinian politicians celebrate the artificial unity deal. Since the disengagement, the vehicles of the Palestinian security forces have become all the rage for the car thieves of Gaza, who often sell them to Hamas.
    According to the human rights group B'Tselem, 36 Palestinians were killed in infighting in February. Seven people were killed in the past weekend. A UN worker who recently visited Gaza says the situation there has deteriorated. "You see militants at every other junction," he says. "Everybody knows who's holding Alan J ohnston, the BBC correspondent kidnapped two weeks ago. It's a large family, and they're after money. Instead of surrounding the premises and acting against them, the security forces are negotiating with them," said Z., a Fatah leader in northern Gaza. (Ha'aretz)


Lebanese Support of Nasrallah Wanes - Roee Nahmias (Ynet News)
    A recent article in the London-based Al-Hayat focused on stories of residents of southern Lebanon who lost their homes and businesses in last summer's war, and who struggled to cope with the cold winter; forgotten while Hizbullah focused on its political battle against Prime Minister Siniora in Beirut.
    Hizbullah did in fact distribute $10,000 in reparations to every family to rent a furnished apartment for one year, insufficient compensation for a destroyed home.
    "But we don't see them anymore. After the war they forgot us and went to Beirut. They forgot the south and started seeking power," Bint Jbeil resident Um Hussein explained.


EU Observers at Gaza Border Catch Woman Smuggling Crocodiles (AP/Fox News)
    A woman with three crocodiles strapped to her waist was stopped at the Gaza-Egypt border on Thursday after a body search by a female European border guard turned up the animals, each about 20 inches long, concealed underneath her loose robe, according to Maria Telleria, spokeswoman for the observers who run the crossing.
    Wael Dahab, a spokesman for the Palestinian guards at the crossing, said another woman tried to bring in a monkey tied to her chest, and another traveler tried to smuggle in a tiger cub.


Kidnapped BBC Journalist Aware of Dangers of Reporting from Gaza - Stewart Purvis (Guardian-UK)
    Kidnapped BBC Gaza correspondent Alan Johnston talked about the possibility that one day somebody with a gun would come for him just as they had come for so many foreigners before.
    With just three weeks to go until the end of his three-year posting in Gaza, his freedom to report came to a sudden halt two weeks ago.
    He told of how kidnappers regularly demanded a job in the local security services.
    "It is ironic really, Gaza is the only place in the world where your kidnapper's demand is that he should be allowed to become a policeman."




MYTH #258


"Palestinians were the only people who became refugees as a result of the Arab-Israeli conflict."




Although much is heard about the plight of the Palestinian refugees, little is said about the Jews who fled from Arab states. Their situation had long been precarious. During the 1947 UN debates, Arab leaders threatened them. For example, Egypt’s delegate told the General Assembly: “The lives of one million Jews in Muslim countries would be jeopardized by partition” (New York Times, November 25, 1947).



The number of Jews fleeing Arab countries for Israel in the years following Israel’s independence was nearly double the number of Arabs leaving Palestine. Many Jews were allowed to take little more than the shirts on their backs. These refugees had no desire to be repatriated. Little is heard about them because they did not remain refugees for long. Of the 820,000 Jewish refugees between 1948 and 1972, 586,000 were resettled in Israel at great expense, and without any offer of compensation from the Arab governments who confiscated their possessions (Arieh Avneri, The Claim of Dispossession, NJ: Transaction Books, 1984, p. 276). Israel has consequently maintained that any agreement to compensate the Palestinian refugees must also include Arab reparations for Jewish refugees. To this day, the Arab states have refused to pay anything to the hundreds of thousands of Jews who were forced to abandon their property before fleeing those countries. Through 2005, at least 115 of the 774 UN General Assembly resolutions on the Middle East conflict (15 percent) referred directly to Palestinian refugees. Not one mentioned the Jewish refugees from Arab countries (Jerusalem Post, December 4, 2003).


The contrast between the reception of Jewish and Palestinian refugees is even starker when one considers the difference in cultural and geographic dislocation experienced by the two groups. Most Jewish refugees traveled hundreds — and some traveled thousands — of miles to a tiny country whose inhabitants spoke a different language. Most Arab refugees never left Palestine at all; they traveled a few miles to the other side of the truce line, remaining inside the vast Arab nation that they were part of linguistically, culturally and ethnically.


This article can be found at


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


To order a copy of the paperback edition of Myths and Facts, click HERE. 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.


Part 2 of "The Ethiopian Exodus" on Think Tank will air on your local PBS outlet on April 7,. New YorkNY: WNET, Saturday, 9 AM


To view Part 1 online, go to


At the end of 1984 and in May of 1991 the Israeli government orchestrated 2 massive covert operations to transport virtually the entire Ethiopian Jewish community to Israel. The first was codenamed Operation Moses; a six week campaign to secretly transport 8000 Ethiopian Jews to Israel . The second was Operation Solomon; an unprecedented mass evacuation by airlift of over 14000 Ethiopian Jews in less than 26 hours. A new feature film titled Live and Become dramatizes these awe-inspiring events and explores the challenges faced by the transplanted Ethiopians as they struggled to integrate into Israeli society. To learn more about the story behind these remarkable moments in human history Think Tank is joined by Sirak Sabahat, star of the film Live and Become and participant in Operation Solomon at the age of 12 and Mitchell Bard, Executive Director of the American Israeli Cooperative Enterprise and author of many books including, From Tragedy to Triumph: The Politics Behind the Rescue of Ethiopian Jewry.









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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)


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?



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SUNDAY MAY 20TH , 2007

10:00 am - 12:00pm


Our kindergarteners and their wonderful teacher, Marlyn Agatstein, would like to invite you to visit their class. On Sunday, May 20, 2007, we will be opening our classroom and welcoming your family to come and share our classroom experiences with us. You will have the opportunity to explore our curriculum, sing with Nurit Avigdor, our music teacher, meet Karen Tobias, our creative art teacher, and cook delicious food for the holiday of Shavuot. This open house event will take place in the kindergarten room (lower level) at Temple Beth El Hebrew School.

We look forward to your joining us at 10:00 a.m. for two hours chock-full of fun activities. Feel free to bring the entire family with you!

If you have any questions, please do not hesitate to call/e-mail

Eran Vaisben, our Education Director:; 203-322-6901, ext.305

or Sheryl Young, our Hebrew School Committee Chair:;  203-975-1990.




Attention  2nd  and  3rd  graders!



Camp Ramah in New England Presents:



Mini-Session A: Wednesday, July 25 – Sunday, August 5

Mini-Session B: Tuesday, August 7 – Sunday, August 19


Y Come be a part of this incredible Jewish community for kids!

Y The Ramah Mini-Session is specifically designed for new campers.

Y It’s a chance for anyone currently in grades two and three to learn why so many people say that the summers they spent at Ramah changed their life.


Camp Ramah is not simply a fun place, it is a fun Jewish place.  Our campers are exposed to the richness of Jewish life, including the beauty of Shabbat, the meaning of prayer, and familiarity with Hebrew.


Mini-Session campers get a taste of every aspect of the Ramah camping experience.  Campers can choose from a wide variety of sports and programming options, including:


New adventure course, baseball, basketball, soccer, archery, tennis, volleyball, ultimate frisbee, photography, video, newspaper, boating, drama, nature, woodworking, and arts & crafts.





Camp Ramah in New England35 Highland CircleNeedhamMA 02494

ph: (781) 449-7090  fax: (781) 449-6331


Camp Ramah, the camping arm of the Conservative Movement, has been providing Jewish children with a unique

recreational and educational program for 50 years.  Each summer over 600 campers from the East Coast come to

Camp Ramah in New England for innovative, fun, and transformative Jewish camping experiences.







Hey teens!

If you’re ready for a

new, hip, cool temple experience…

Come to

Teen Synaplex

Saturday, April 7th, 2007!

12:30–2:00 pm

Lunch with friends, with a performance by teen troupe

No Hate But Harmony

2:15–3:15 pm

Teen chat room on surviving high school and getting into the

college you want (hear from HS seniors)

3:20–4:30 pm

FOOTBALL (co-ed) or hear WWII survivors!

4:30 pm

Teen nosh (more food!)

Get ready to have an amazing time!

Bring all your Jewish friends!

No charge!

Temple Beth El • 350 Roxbury Road • Stamford




I’m not typically an Aish Ha Torah fan – but this was well done – like a piece of matzah! Thanks to Sheila Romanowitz for sending it along.


Also check out


One of their top rated jokes – in honor of the Masters (rabbinic and golf)


The Pope met with his Cardinals to discuss a proposal from Ehud Olmert, the leader of Israel.

"Your Holiness", said one of his Cardinals, "Mr. Olmert wants to challenge you to a game of golf to show the friendship and ecumenical spirit shared by the Jewish and Catholic faiths."

The Pope thought this was a good idea, but he had never held a golf club in his hand. "Don't we have a Cardinal to represent me?" he asked.

"None that plays very well," a Cardinal replied. "But," he added, "there is a man named Jack Nicklaus, an American golfer who is a devout Catholic. We can offer to make him a Cardinal, then ask him to play Mr. Olmert as your personal representative. In addition, to showing our spirit of cooperation, we'll also win the match."

Everyone agreed it was a good idea. The call was made. Of course, Nicklaus was honored and agreed to play. The day after the match, Nicklaus reported to the Vatican to inform the Pope of the result. "I have some good news and some bad news, your Holiness," said the golfer.

"Tell me the good news first, Cardinal Nicklaus," said the Pope.

"Well, your Holiness, I don't like to brag, but even though I've played some pretty terrific rounds of golf in my life, this was the best I’ve ever played, by far. I must've been inspired from above. My drives were long and true, and my putting was absolutely perfect.With all due respect, my play was truly miraculous."

"And there's bad news?", the Pope asked.

"Yes," Nicklaus sighed. "I lost to Rabbi Tiger Woods by three strokes."


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

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