Friday, May 11, 2007

May 11, 2007– Iyar 24, 5767

May 11, 2007– Iyar 24, 5767


Shabbat Shalom, Happy Mother’s Day

 And Happy Yom Yerushalayim!


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

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)

Joke for the Week



Shabbat Unplugged THIS FRIDAY!



If you would like to be a Synaplex Supporter for the coming year, please see me!



Mazal Tov to Maxine Freilich on becoming president of the JCC!



Graduation takes place this coming Wednesday evening.


Nat Anker, Ben Avny, Stephanie Bachar, Rachel Benjamin, Sam Berman, Marc Freundlich, Ely Gerbin, David Ginsberg, Lauryn Goldstein, Andy Granowitz, Zach Jackson, Rob Kempner, Allison Kruk, Alex Lopatin, Matt Neems, Libby Osher, Mike Rich, Rachel Spaulding, Deborah Stein, Dan Stone and Ilana Verwey.


Quote for the Week




“The world is not comprehensible,

but it is embraceable:

through the embracing of one of its beings.”
-- Martin Buber




Welcome to the JCC Tzahal Shalom soldiers!


Some of the soldiers this week meeting with Kulanu students

Several will be joining us for services this Shabbat morning

And we’ll have the chance to dialogue with them



Candle lighting: 7:42 pm on Friday, 11 MAY 2007.  For 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:


Shabbat Unplugged: 7:30 PM – in the SANCTUARY


Shabbat Morning:


Service begins at 9:30 AM




Children’s Services: 10:30 AM


Our Torah Portion for Shabbat Morning

פרשת בהר־בחקתי

Leviticus 25:1 - 27:34

1: 27:1-4
2: 27:5-8
3: 27:9-15
4: 27:16-21
5: 27:22-25
6: 27:26-28
7: 27:29-34
maf: 27:32-34

Haftarah: Jeremiah 16:19 - 17:14

If you liked Storahtelling, Storahtelling’s new weekly blog about the Torah portion is at  Also check out Torahquest 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, Reconstructionists 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





Ranting Rabbi

Jerusalem’s Liberation, Plus 40

Those old enough to recall May and June of 1967 have trouble communicating to younger generations just how precarious things were back then.  Israel was at the breaking point, with the Egyptian noose ever tightening around the straits of Tiran and in Sinai, and with Syria threatening attack from the north.  Some have said that May 1967 was when our culture first began to grapple seriously with the Holocaust that had occurred 20 years before (but had been suppressed in the collective Jewish memory), because it looked like it could happen again.  It’s hard to recall how vulnerable Israel seemed back then.

Everything changed with the Six Day War.  It was American Jewry’s “Summer of Love,” the time when we went overnight from the perennial underdog to proud defenders of Zion.  The song “Jerusalem of Gold” never left our lips.  Each time we looked at a map of Israel, we couldn’t believe that all those biblical places were suddenly OURS – most of all, Jerusalem.

So much has changed since then, but 1967 remains an event that shaped our world, for better and for worse, but mostly for the better.

And now, it is May again, and the doomsayers are out in force, fearful of the existential threat from Iran and the internal corruption that is threatening to bring Israeli democracy to its knees.  But the economy is booming fully recovered from last year’s war (and then some), and the internal structures guaranteeing accountability have done their job.  There is much to celebrate on this 40 anniversary of the 6 days that shook the world.  Most of all, we know that the hopelessness of May – any May - can easily turn into a swift and sudden triumph.

The Iranian Nuclear Threat

At last week’s Rabbinical Assembly convention we heard a superb briefing from Gidi Grinstein of the Reut Institute an Israeli think thank.  See another of his recent lectures here, and more from the Reut institute below in the “Required Reading” section:

Teleconference: Reframing the Iranian Threat - Not Just Nukes: You are invited to listen to the presentation, view the slideshow, and discuss the insights. Click here...

Mitzvah/Tzedakkah Opportunties

Inreach and Outreach

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

This year blood drive was not as successful as last year’s at Temple Beth El.  We are hoping that you will consider giving blood at a different drive, if Sunday’s date did not work for you.  Below are the following dates/locations for you to make that happen.  Please identify yourself as a Temple Beth El member when you give.

Tully Center every Saturday from 8:30am -12:30pm

Stamford Government Center on Tuesday, June 12 from 8:00am to 1:00pm

Bob’s Discount Furniture on Wednesday, June 27 from 1:45pm to 7:45pm.

Potential donors can call 1-800-GIVE-LIFE to schedule an appointment.

How did we do?

This year we collected 33 productive pints from 39 presenting donors.  Those 33 pints may help to save the lives of up to 99 Connecticut hospital patients.  The patients and their families thank you for your effort.  Last year we collected 47 pints.  Please consider replenishing the supply.

I want to thank Sheryl Young, Laura Markowitz, Beth Kaplan, Mindy Hausman, and Sue Greenwald for their help before, and during the blood drive.  Also, thank you to all who came down to give blood.


Is anyone interested in a social group or network that is geared toward Singles and Empty nesters?  

If so, please e-mail me at

Room Rental Requested

Lillian Wasserman is loved by so many of us through her many years of service to the Bi Cultural day school.  Lillian is looking to rent a room locally so that she will not have to commute from her daughter Rivka’s home in Westchester (which is logistically very difficult).  If you have a spare room available – maybe a child is leaving for college? - contact Rivka at

We Want to Get Closer!

JWB Jewish Chaplain's Council wants to support the troops directly by sending them and their families holiday packages during their deployment. To do so, we need the following information:

  1. Name
  2. Branch of service
  3. Length of stay overseas
  4. Preferred mailing address
  5. Preferred home address
  6. Preferred e-mail address
  7. Are there any young children who would like to receive packages? If so, we need the ages and names of the children.

If you know someone who would like to participate in this outreach program, please e-mail us at  

Privacy Policy:
We respect the privacy of our troops, and will not sell, rent, or otherwise distribute any information you give us

Jeremy Simon’s Mitzvah Project

Jeremy Simon’s mitzvah project is collecting toys/games for children in the pediatric unit at Stamford Hospital.  When a child enters the hospital for day or in-patient surgery, they are given the opportunity to pick a toy from “David’s Treasure Tree Toy Closet”.  It is theirs to keep and gives them comfort while they are in the hospital.  The toys/games can be for younger kids through teenagers, preferably something they can play by themselves.  If you are interested in donating something, there is an orange container outside the temple office.  Please feel free to drop items in it and Jeremy will be delivering them in person to Stamford Hospital.  It is his hope that by doing this mitzvah, he will be making a small difference in someone else’s life.

A message from Bat Mitzvah student Emily katz

The holocaust was to "never happen again".  Yet today a genocide continues unnoticed in Dafur.  As we speak over 3.5 million men,women and children are left starving and homeless everyday. That is the reason I, have started to raise money for the people of Darfur.  Please help the people Dafur put out this genocide, so we know there will never again be another holocaust. Please go to this website and donate money for those people in Darur, every penny counts.  All money will be greatly appreciated.  Thank You!

Click on

Sunday, June 3, 2007

The Bennett Cancer Center Walk, Run & Ride


The Walk, Run & Ride will be on June 3, 2007 in the morning. Each year, more than 50 TBE members participate together to raise money for local cancer patients and their families.  Please join our team for 2007! 


We welcome ALL new and past walkers to the Sisterhood’s TBE Walk Team.  We always have a great time for a great cause.  You can walk at your own pace and you will have other TBE members to walk with!  Although there is no set amount for personal fundraising, please try to raise $100 in sponsorships.


2007 - New Start Location and Route: We will gather at Mill River Park in Stamford to walk/run a 5K route down Main Street, to Atlantic Street, up Bedford Street and down Summer Street.  The RIDE will feature a 50K and a 100K that loops through Stamford, New Canaan, Darien and back.


Important Information:  To participate please do the following:


§         Register on-line:  go to the new web-site  Follow the instructions to “register with an existing team”. 

§         Register by mail:  call Beth Silver for a participation form.

§         All participants receive an event t-shirt.  If you would like the TBE logo on the event t-shirt, you MUST contact Beth Silver before May 15 to place your order (even if you marked a t-shirt size on-line or by paper registration.  Beth doesn’t receive information about your TBE logo t-shirt order unless you contact her). 


Call or email Beth Silver for details at 967-8852, or  If you are unable to join the team this year, please consider donating or sponsoring the TBE team.  We will walk on your behalf!


Looking forward to having YOU on the team!    


Thank you!


Sisterhood of TBE

Free Them Now


Ehud Goldwasser         Eldad Regev            Gilad Schalit

 Kidnapped Israeli Soldiers

• Click for more information

• Sign the petition at


U.S. Congress Focuses Attention on Jewish Refugees from Arab Countries

Contact: Stanley Urman or Shelomo Alfassa: 917-640-8028


(WASHINGTON, D.C.) May 8, 2007 - Jews in Arab countries "were compelled to leave their homes because of circumstances that included terror and government edicts;" so stated Congressman Gary Ackerman (D-NY) who, as Chair of the House Subcommittee on the Middle East and South Asia, stressed that: "Jewish refugees from Arab lands are of great concern to the Committee."

These statements were made during a Congressional Hearing that took place on May 8, 2007 on Capitol Hill. Rep. Ackerman told how Jews lost their "entire businesses, not just their personal assets, but the property of entire communities; and most painful of all, not only did they lose their personal dignity and security, but their entire national identity."

Other members of Congress who were in attendance and made statements included: Rep. Mike Pense (R-IN), Rep. David Scott (D-GA), Rep. Steve Chabot (R-OH), Rep. Ron Klein (D-FL), Rep. Bob Inglis (R-SC), and Rep. Sheila Jackson Lee (D-TX).

Testifying as expert witnesses were Dr. Howard Sachar, Professor Emeritus of History and International Affairs at George Washington University, and Dr. Shibley TelhamiAnwar Sadat Professor for Peace and Development at the University of Maryland.

The ranking Republican on the Subcommittee, Rep. Mike Pense remarked how Jews from Arab countries "have suffered pogroms, exiles, confiscation of property - all for the alleged crime of Zionism." In addition, Rep. Pense called attention to the ill treatment of Palestinian Christians by Palestinian Arabs. He noted that the percentage of Christians in the Palestinian Territories has dropped from 10% to 8% in the last two decades, a situation he called "outrageous and tragic."

In commenting on a lack of awareness about Jewish refugees, Rep. Ackerman added that "Jewish refugees have been successfully absorbed in Israel and elsewhere and, perhaps, as a result, their claims and misfortune have been largely ignored." Rep. Pense concurred: "There is a great deal of world opinion about one group of refugees (i.e. Palestinians). There is a great deal of world ignorance about the other (i.e. Jewish refugees)."

Additional initiatives on behalf of the rights of Jewish refugees from Arab countries will be undertaken on Capital Hill over the next few months. On May 15-16, 2007, a delegation comprising officials of major Jewish organizations will be making representations in support of Senate Resolution 85 and House Resolution 185 - both on the rights of Middle East refugees. Over the course of two days, meetings will be held with senior officials of some 20 Senators and Congressmen, seeking additional co-sponsors for these Resolutions that call for US recognition and support for the rights of Jewish refugees from Arab countries.

On June 19, 2007, the Congressional Human Rights Caucus will convene a special Hearing on the mass violations of human rights of Jews under Islamic regimes and their subsequent flight from their longtime residences in Arab countries throughout North Africa, the Middle East and the Gulf Region. Under the auspices of its Chairman, Congressman Tom Lantos, the Congressional Human Rights Caucus will hear from legal experts on the rights of Jewish refugees from Arab countries as well as from 'living witnesses' - Jews who will testify as to their plight in, and flight from, the Arab countries in which they were born.

For additional background on these events, and/or more information on the issue of Jewish refugees from Arab countries, contact Stanley A. Urman, Executive Director of Justice for Jews from Arab Countries at 917-640-8028.


Conservative Judaism at a Crossroads

The continuing saga…

The following “Ask the rabbi” question appeared in the MIDWAY JEWISH CENTER CYBERSHUL, an e-letter prepared by my colleague Rabbi Rafi Rank.  Rabbi Rank, I feel, did an excellent job of responding to the (somewhat obnoxious) question at hand

Dear CyberRav,

Now the entire country has been updated with the on-going soap opera of Conservative Jewry.  Maybe JTS [the Jewish Theological Seminary, the mother ship of the Conservative movement] should just look at the political and moral positions espoused by Conservative Christian groups and simply take the opposite direction.  And by the way, now that we’ve removed homosexuality from the treif listing, can we make my shrimp cocktail before Shabbos Dinner kosher?

Not Feeling Warm and Fuzzy


Dear Not Feeling Warm and Fuzzy,

I don’t believe I’ve ever gotten a question about a shrimp cocktail before.  There’s a short answer and a long answer to this question.  Let me begin with the long answer, which is inextricably tied to your apparent frustration with a movement that “just can’t say ‘no’.”

First of all, I want to briefly remind you that the Committee on Jewish Law and Standards did not adopt a blanket reversal of the prohibition on homosexuality.  It adopted two papers and to answer a very complicated question in an overly simplistic manner, one paper said “no” and the other paper said “yes under certain circumstances.”  But there is another issue that ought to be dealt with first and that is the nature of absolute prohibitions in the Torah.

Let’s take for example: Honor your father and your mother.  This rule is fairly straight forward.  Imagine now a situation where a father has been sexually abusing his daughter for 15 years.  The father dies and the daughter comes to the rabbi to ask if she must recite kaddish in his memory.  Should we demand of her such devotion in light of her relationship with her father?  The idea here is not to dismantle a time-honored law, but the extent to which it can be reasonably applied given certain circumstances.

Thou shall not murder.  Clear?  I would hope so.  Then again, one day, a Holocaust survivor confides to you that while a prisoner in Auschwitz, he arranged for the poisoning of a commandant by filling his boot with rancid meat and broken glass.  Shall the survivor be charged with murder?  One might say, this is different since the act could be understood as self-defense.  True—but then that is exactly the point.  The intent is not to dismantle the law proscribing murder, but rather to temper its application given certain circumstances.

One more example:  Thou shall not steal.  Clear?  It’s pretty clear.  But what about an orphaned  teenager who is homeless and navigating his way through a war-torn city.  He has no money, no means of support, and hasn’t eaten in three days.  There is a loaf of bread on a shop owner’s cart.  Should he, on principle, starve to death, or steal the bread in an act of self-preservation?  What would you want such a young man to do?  I think we could understand the theft without revoking the law against theft. 

Laws are neat.  Reality is not. 

So now the question turns to homosexuality.  Had the Committee on Jewish Law and Standards overturned the law, it would have revoked the law, something referred to as “akirat davar min haTorah” [uprooting a rule from the Torah].  However, it did not do that.  It rather adopted a paper which claims, like in so many other instances of Jewish law, that there are certain circumstances which would render the application of this law unacceptable.  The permissive paper on homosexuality states that the law stands, but its application must be guided by compassion for people who are constitutionally homosexual and thus unable to sustain a heterosexual relationship. 

So unless you can come up with extenuating and extraordinary circumstances as to why you should be able to have a shrimp cocktail before Shabbos dinner, the answer is “no,” and that is the short answer to your question.

Have a good Shabbos and a Kosher one, too!

Rabbi Rafi Rank


Here is some more news regarding JTS…

JTS accepts gay cantorial student

(JTA) The Jewish Theological Seminary accepted its first openly gay cantorial student.
Congregation Beth Simchat Torah said in a release Tuesday that member Marisa James is the first openly gay cantorial student to be accepted into the JTS Cantorial School. JTS confirmed James' acceptance.
"This has been a long struggle, and we are very proud that one of our members will break this barrier," said Rabbi Sharon Kleinbaum of the New York City congregation. "This is a bold step toward justice for all."


Make no mistake about it – this is not your father’s Conservative movement.  Although these matters have been in discussion for decades, once the changes began to be implemented, things have happened very rapidly.  This can be particularly confusing for those who have not been tuned into the discussions and are only now seeing the results.  This country has changed, dramatically, and we hardly noticed it happening.  And while Torah and religion are often seen as anchors protecting us from the winds of radical change, history has shown that our understanding of God’s will also responds to the cry of each generation.

Now, as we try to absorb the new realities of Conservative Judaism, specifically the implications of last December’s Law Committee decisions, we need to talk about the implications for our own community.  I feel that it is very important that every congregant have the chance to be heard and to be brought into the process as we grapple with new realties.  Our ritual committee agrees.  Of course my door and inbox remain wide open for those who want to express their feelings or ask questions privately, but we’ve also scheduled three public forums for education and discussion.  One already occurred, at the February Synaplex, and it was well attended.  The second will take place on Sunday, May 20 at 10 AM.  The third will be during the Synaplex Shabbat of June 23.  I’ll also speak a little about these matters during my rabbi’s report at the TBE Annual Meeting on the 31st.   With no contested board election this year, we can begin to focus our thoughts on defining the deep values that unite us as we lay the groundwork for a long term process of strategic planning.

We can also meet less formally.  Over the past week, I’ve spoken with a number of congregants who have contacted me with questions or whom I’ve seen at events.  If you want to gather a dozen friends and invite me to your living room, I’ll be there!  The matter goes way beyond the practical discussion of commitment ceremonies and ordination.  It gets to the core of what Judaism is all about.  This defining moment for the movement is really an opportunity for each congregation to define itself.  I encourage you to be part of that process for TBE.

Spiritual Journey on the Web

What's so Jewish About Mother's Day?

A man calls his mother in Florida. "Mom, how are you?"
"Not too good," says the mother. "I've been very weak."
The son says, "Why are you so weak?"
She says, "Because I haven't eaten in 38 days."
The man says, "That's terrible. Why haven't you eaten in 38 days?"
The mother answers, "Because I didn't want my mouth to be filled with food if you should call."

When I was growing up, I used to love the little satiric book by Dan Greenberg, "How to be a Jewish Mother." It contained the typical jokes about dominating, overprotective mothers and obedient, castrated sons. There's still lots of Jewish Mother jokes on the Web, such as those found at, "Jewish Mothers' Food Definitions,"$148?mode=day, "Jewish Mother Jokes," and more assorted jokes at and Here's a typical one:

A Jewish young man was seeing a psychiatrist for an eating and sleeping disorder. "I am so obsessed with my mother... As soon as I go to sleep, I start dreaming, and everyone in my dream turns into my mother. I wake up in such a state, all I can do is go downstairs and eat a piece of toast." The psychiatrist replies: "What, just one piece of toast, for a big boy like you?"

Of course, Jews didn't always stereotype their mothers negatively. When Rabbi Yosef heard his mother enter the room he would say, "I must stand up, for the glory of God enters." Rabbi Tarfon used to help his mother get into bed by bending down and allowing her to use his back as a step ladder (nowadays, most people prefer to tell their mothers to get OFF their backs). For Jews, it used to be that every day was mothers day.

Exactly a century ago, in 1907, Anna Jarvis campaigned for a national day to honor mothers. It is said that she was at odds with her mother at the time (ah… the power of maternal guilt). Read about her at For Jews, the "patron saint" of maternal figures would have to be the matriarch Rachel, who stands watch over her children even in death, as in life. At, you can read how Rachel's Yahrzeit has been transformed into a national Mothers Day of sorts in Israel, especially among pre-schoolers (it occurs in the fall, on the 11th of Heshvan).

To read the fifth commandment is to understand that Mother's Day is indeed a daily occurrence for Jews -- or at least it should be. Sometimes it isn't easy to respect our moms. Take this Talmudic account, as related in a sermon by Rabbi Elan Adler of Baltimore (with whom I shared many great times when he lived here in Stamford):

The Talmud tells of Dama the son of Netina, who was once wearing a gold-embroidered silken cloak sitting among Roman nobles. It is clear that Dama ben Netina was highly regarded and respected. One day, his mother came to where he was sitting, tore off his elegant gown, struck him on the head, and spat repeatedly in his face. The Talmud says that with all this, he did not shame her. For he knew that the Torah demanded, "kabed et avicha v'et imecha," honor your father and your mother in all circumstances. The word "kabed" without vowels can also be read as "kaved", meaning a heavy load or burden. Sometimes, it is a heavy burden to respect our parents, especially when they are no longer capable, or when we don't see eye to eye with them. (find the rest of the sermon at

And indeed, there are also times when we can't honor our parents as much as we would like, specifically when they are abusive. Aish's Web site discusses these limits in an article found at

But, for the most part, mothers are due the highest respect and honor. As the saying goes, "God could not be everywhere, so God created mothers."


Jerusalem Day is next Wednesday, May 16th:

40 years since reunification!

Some Links NEW - THE BEST JERUSALEM TOURISM PORTAL Online Magazine about Israeli life (before they starting charging extra for their supplements)

Jerusalem Municipality Website

Jerusalem Capital of Israel (1)

Jerusalem Capital of Israel (2)

The status of Jerusalem

Basic Law: Jerusalem

Internet Exhibit: Pray for the Peace of Jerusalem

Compilation of Additional Documents about Jerusalem  Bar Ilan University's Center For Jerusalem Studies: Jerusalem: Life Throughout the Ages in a Holy City,

Israel Ministry of Foreign Affairs: Jerusalem Through the Centuries,

Jewish Virtual Library: Jerusalem,

The Israeli Knesset: Jerusalem Day,

Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs: Jerusalem in International Diplomacy, by Amb. Dore Gold,

Jewish Agency: Sources for Yom Yerushalayim,

OU-Yom Yerushalayim Guide & talking points,

The Beth El Bar/Bat Mitzvah Commentary

Excerpts from Kyle Tuckman’s D’var Torah on Kedoshim

When I was about seven, my uncle took me to my first Yankee game and from that moment on, I knew that sports would be my life.   Since then, I’ve become a four-season sports nut, playing in different leagues in baseball, football, lacrosse and basketball.  So it was natural that I try to look for sports connections to my Torah portion.  Needless to say, I found many.

My portion is filled with laws, many of which have sports connections.  Even the title, Kedoshim, which means “holiness,” has a sports tie-in.  In our services, when we say the phrase “KadoshKadoshKadosh,” it is customary to rise up on our tip toes, as a way of trying to get closer to God and to elevate our actions.  In another of my favorite sports, snowboarding, when we go off a jump, the time you are in the air is called hang time.  So my portion could be called a Jewish form of hang-time.

My portion instructs us to be kind to strangers, because we were strangers in the land of Egypt.  In football, the visiting team gets to call the coin toss and in baseball, the visiting team gets to bat first. 

Kedoshim also tells us to be honest and fair in business dealings.  While we can often find fault in refs and umpires, they do try to be honest and fair.  It’s also important that players be honest and fair, by not betting on sports and not taking steroids.

The portion also tells us not to place a stumbling block before the blind.  I guess that might mean that we shouldn’t mistreat the umpires.  But seriously, it also could be talking about crack back blocks in football, where players will get clipping penalties for blocking someone from behind.  Last football season, I got called for one of those.  As soon as the flag was thrown I knew it was on me.  That was the last time that happened all season. 

Sometimes a stumbling block can be a good thing.  Many commentators speak of the need not to mislead people by giving them the wrong information or advice.  But on a football field, that’s exactly what you are trying to do.  On one play that worked well last season, we lined up all our wide receivers, tight ends and running backs to the right.  The quarterback than ran a bootleg to the left behind all the blockers.  This play worked once each game.  Eventually defenses caught on.  Trick plays don’t always work, unless you’re Boise State, which placed lots of stumbling blocks before Oklahoma last New Years. 

Finally, the portion also tells us to rise before our elders.  In Judaism, we honor those who came before us by handing down traditions to the next generation.  But in basketball, we literally rise in honor of our predecessors.  Think of the line of dunk shot creators, going back to the days Elgin Baylor.  He handed the tradition up down Dr. J, who gave it to Michael Jordan, then Vince Carter, who handed it to Kobe Bryant, to Labron James to Kyle Tuckman.  OK, I can’t dunk it yet, by after the hard work of preparing for this bar mitzvah, I think I can do anything.

My portion also instructs us to leave the produce from a corner of our fields for the poor.  In that spirit, I’m helping to restore a corner of Stamford, as part of the East Side partnership that is described in my booklet.

So whether in sports or in life, we all should try to live a life of Kedusha, of holiness and hang time.


Required Reading and Action Items

Some GOOD NEWS from Israel 21c,,

 and other sources

Israeli study finds air pollution cuts vital mountain rainfall  
Research carried out by Hebrew University's Prof. Daniel Rosenfeld and Chinese scientists has concluded that there is a direct inverse relationship between the amount of pollution particles in the air and a decline in rainfall. Their study shows that airborne particulate pollution from China's factories and vehicles is seriously reducing rainfall in hilly areas of the country, a phenomenon that will have dire consequences for water resources. According to Rosenfeld, the study, is relevant to all other hilly semi-arid regions of the world, including California. 'We have to take note of what is happening to our water resources... the world has to cut down on air pollution.' More...

Global Democracy | Life-saving surgery for children exposes big heart of Israeli organization  
Since Israeli doctor Ami Cohen founded Save a Child's Heart in 1992, more than 1,600 children from Third World and developing countries - some of which have no relations with Israel - have received life-saving heart surgery. In addition to bringing the young patients to Israel from places like Gaza, China, Rwanda and Ethiopia, the organization, based at Wolfson Medical Center in Holon, has also flown Israeli surgeons on hundreds of missions to these countries to treat children on site. Ultimately, though, with their highly developed programs in which local medical staff are brought to Israel to be trained in pediatric cardiology and anesthesia, SACHS hopes to provide the tools for doctors in underdeveloped locations to treat the children themselves. More...

Global Democracy | American airport directors study Israeli security methods   
Representing airports from California to Florida visited Israel this week to learn about the security arrangements at Ben Gurion International Airport near Tel Aviv, where no successful hijacking has occurred on a plane leaving the airport, and no attack has taken place inside the terminal since the 1970s. Among the issues raised during the visit were profiling passengers, which Israel uses instead of random security checks. 'The Israelis are legendary for their security,' said Steven Grossman, head of aviation at the Oakland International Airport  More...

Culture | King Herod's tomb unearthed by Israeli archaeologists  
In one of the most significant archaelogical finds in the Middle East, a Hebrew University team has discovered the grave, sarcophagus and mauseoleum of King Herod who ruled Judea from 37 BCE to 4 CE. The find was unearthed at Herodium, one of the most outstanding among Herod's building projects and one of the largest complexes in the Roman Empire. The location and unique nature of the findings, as well as the historical record, leave no doubt that this was Herod's burial site, said chief archaeologist Professor Ehud NetzerMore...

Finding Ancient King's Tomb Bolsters Israeli Claims - Samuel Sockol
The discovery of Herod the Great's tomb at Herodion National Monument dusted off the competing Israeli and Palestinian claims to the region between Bethlehem and the Judean desert. Israelis said the reported find of the Jewish king's tomb supported their historic right to the area. Herod, who ruled Judea from 37 BCE to 4 BCE, is renowned for monumental building projects, including the expansion of the Jewish Temple in Jerusalem and the construction of the fortress at Masada and of temples and palaces in Caesarea. At Herodion he built a complex that served as a palace, sanctuary, administrative center and mausoleum. (Washington Post)
    See also Photo Gallery of King Herod's Tomb Doron Nissim (; Video News Report (BBC News)

Culture | Israeli modeling talents make the big time  
Israel's models are beginning to make waves in the global fashion industry, turning heads with their unique and exotic appearance. A new generation of models such as Bar RefaeliMor KatzirEsti Ginzburg, Moran Atias and Esti Mamo are regularly appearing on the pages of magazines like Sports IllustratedElleVogue, and W. And according to some industry insiders, the modeling and fashion world is not choosing to work with Israeli models just because they're beautiful - but because Israel is 'in'. More...

now for the rest

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

 Israel May Join OECD Next Week - Moti Bassok
Israel has a very good chance of being voted into the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development next week. Finance ministers of the 30 OECD countries are meeting next Tuesday and Wednesday in Paris and are expected to vote in favor of the proposal. If accepted, Israel will officially join a group of the most developed countries in the world. OECD membership is a stamp of quality for investment houses, foreign investors, international credit rating firms, economic organizations and companies. Raising capital, both by companies and the government, will cost less. (Ha'aretz)

Palestinian Rocket Fire at Israel Continues
Three Kassam rockets fired by Palestinians in Gaza landed in the Israeli town of Sderot on Thursday morning. (Jerusalem Post)

The Arab Commission - Thomas L. Friedman
Hizbullah's leader, Hassan Nasrallah, was quoted by the BBC last week praising Israel for conducting an inquiry into last year's war, in contrast with the Arab regimes that "do not probe, do not ask, do not form inquiry if nothing has happened." The Arab leader who most needs to be probed is Nasrallah himself. He started the war with Israel, which was a disaster for both sides. If there were an honest Arab League inquiry commission into the war, it would say Nasrallah demonstrated a total failure to anticipate Israel's response to his unprovoked attack across the Lebanon-Israel border.
    In unilaterally launching a war against Israel, without a vote of the Lebanese cabinet - of which Hizbullah is a member - the militia did grievous harm to Lebanon's fragile democracy. All the fears that if you let an Islamist party into government it will not respect the rules of the game were fulfilled by HizbullahAs a result of the war, Hizbullah was pushed off the border by Israel and, in its place, the UN inserted a new peacekeeping force of some 10,000 troops, including a big European contingent, led by France and Italy. Today, less than a year after a war that Hizbullah called a "divine" victory, Lebanon is weaker and Israel is stronger. That is why, if the Hizbullah leader had any honor, he would resign. (New York Times, 9May07)

A Better Mousetrap - Michael Goodwin
You hear it all the time: If only the Israelis and Palestinians would make peace, the rest of the world would follow. The next time you hear it, remember that the Palestinian version of Mickey Mouse preaches death to Jews and Americans. There can be no peace with a culture like that. Farfur, the clone of Walt Disney's gentle Mickey, sings and dances on the Hamas children's TV show "Tomorrow's Pioneers" about the need to eat right, pray - and kill. That Hamas comprises most of the Palestinian government shows Farfur is no rogue character - it is sponsored by the very people Palestinians elected to represent them. It is wrong and hypocritical to blame Israel for Arab violence and to insist that the solution is for Israel to make concessions to pacify its enemies. Israel's first duty is to protect itself. If Palestinians want peace, they have to abide by the basic rules of civilization. Playing Mickey Mouse games with violence isn't one of them. (New York Daily News)
    See also Hamas Is Ordered to Curb Militant Mouse
The Palestinian government Wednesday shelved a controversial children's show aired by a Hamas television station in which a Mickey Mouse look-alike calls for Israel to be vanquished and Islam to "lead the world." (Times-UK)

Global Investment in Iran: Interactive
"Global Investment in Iran: Interactive" documents more than $150 billion worth of major contracts and both private and government lines of credit - over 300 separate worldwide transactions - that have taken place with public and private Iranian entities since 2000. In 2006 alone, nine countries - Belarus, China, France, Germany, Hungary, Italy, Japan, Russia, and Turkey - did significant business with Iran in four major sectors of the economy: energy, construction, military, and transportation. Ten companies and organizations invested at least $4.3 billion, with the biggest investments made in Iran's energy sector. 2007 promises to be an even richer year for investment in the Islamic Republic. (American Enterprise Institute)
    See also Lock and Load Your Portfolio - Cliff May
A campaign to cut off investments in terror-sponsoring countries is gaining momentum. The Center for Security Policy, a Washington think tank, has organized a "Divest Terrorism Initiative" - - a campaign to persuade pension funds, college endowments, 401(k) plans, retirement account managers and individual investors to make sure their money is not used to support regimes that underwrite terrorism.
    About 100 public pension systems in the U.S. currently have an estimated $200 billion invested in publicly traded companies - American and foreign - that conduct commerce with terrorist masters. Drying up this cash flow is more than a way to make a statement. It's a way to pressure regimes to change their behavior, and perhaps even to push them toward collapse. Without foreign investment, the government of Sudan, responsible for the genocide of black Muslims in Darfur, can't get its oil out of the ground. Iran's oil is flowing, but output will decline steeply over the next few years if foreign investment in technology and equipment can be turned off. (

Hebron: The Quietest City in the Territories - Danny Rubinstein (Ha'aretz)
    For two months, there have been no checkpoints between Jerusalem and the Arab part of Hebron.
    With the exception of the point of contention at the Tomb of the Patriarchs, Hebron is the quietest and safest city in the West Bank.
    There are no militias, no armed gangs and no hooligans. There is a traditional tribal social structure, no refugee camps inside the city and the town's large and powerful families do not permit lawlessness.

Iran's Economic Crisis - Amir Taheri
Economic issues spell the most trouble for Ahmadinejad's struggling presidency. Last week tens of thousands of angry workers, forming an illegal umbrella organization, flexed their muscles against Ahmadinejad on International Labor Day in Tehran and a dozen provincial capitals. Ahmadinejad centered his 2005 presidential campaign on a promise to "bring the country's oil money to every family's dinner table." With inflation running around 18% and unemployment jumping to more than 30%, the average Iranian is worse off than three years ago - and that despite rising oil revenues. There has been a massive flight of capital, mostly into banks in Dubai, Malaysia and Austria. Ayatollah Mahmoud Shahroudi, the Islamic Chief Justice, claims that as much as $300 billion may have left the country since Ahmadinejad was sworn in.
    Ahmadinejad's entire economic philosophy seems to be designed to do more harm than good. He seems to believe the global economic system is a Jewish-Crusader conspiracy to keep Muslim nations in a position of weakness and dependency. (Wall Street Journal)

Does Al-Qaeda "Coordinate" with Iran? - Blake Hounshell
One of the big debates in the "war on terror" is whether and to what extent Iran is working with al-Qaeda. Nasser Ahmad al-Bahri, a bodyguard for Osama bin Laden (who is apparently still alive), told the Al Arabiya satellite channel (Arabic) that top al-Qaeda leaders such as Seif al-Adel and Abu Hafs the Mauritanian are responsible for the "coordination file" with Iran. The reason for the alliance? Al-Bahri says it's because "our enemy is one and that is the United States." That doesn't mean, he says, that al-Qaeda supports "the Iranian agenda." (Foreign Policy/Carnegie Endowment for International Peace)

President Truman and the Birth of Israel - Michael Beschloss (Newsweek)

From Presidential Courage: Brave Leaders and How They Changed America 1789-1989 (2007)

Accept Responsibility - Shlomo Avineri (Ha'aretz)

The writer, a professor of political science at Hebrew University, is a former director-general of the Israel Ministry of Foreign Affairs.

From the Reut institute – reactions to the release of the Winograd Committee report condemning the government’s handlong of last summer’s war:

Memo to Winograd: Updating Israel's National Security Concept
Part A of the Reut Institute's memo to the Winograd Committee called for part of the Committee’s conclusions to focus on updating Israel’s National Security Concept. Read more...

Memo to Winograd: Strategic Support Unit for the Prime Minister
Part B of the Reut Institute's memo to the Winograd Committee recommended establishment of a Strategic Support Unit in the Prime Minister's Office to help the Prime Minister ask the right questions, reveal working assumptions and identify blind spots. Read more...

Gaza: Clash between Military Logic and National Security Logic

The possibility that the cease fire in Gaza could collapse re-creates the Israel dilemma between the military logic and the logic of national security. Read more...


MYTH #262

"The Arab peace initiative reflects the Arab states' acceptance of Israel."


Imagine if one day someone who has always despised you let it be known through a third party that they were willing to be your friend. But first you had to meet some conditions and, if you didn’t, your enemy would try to kill you. How seriously would you take your adversary’s offer of friendship?

This is similar to the position Israel finds itself in following the Arab League’s reiteration of its “peace plan.” Israel has made clear that it is prepared to negotiate with the Arab states on the basis of the plan, but that many of their demands, such as the withdrawal from all territory captured in 1967 and the acceptance of a “right of return” for Palestinian refugees, are unacceptable.

If the Arab proponents of the plan were sincere, the response should be that they are prepared to sit down with Israel’s leaders and discuss how to overcome the disagreements. But this has not been the Arab response. Rather than accept an Israeli invitation to come to Jerusalem to negotiate or exploit the willingness of Israel’s leaders to go to an Arab capital for talks, the Arabs have told Israel it must accept the plan or face the threat of war. Here are a few examples:

Saudi Foreign Minister Prince Saud al-Faisal, said: “If Israel refuses, that means it doesn’t want peace and it places everything back into the hands of fate. They will be putting their future not in the hands of the peacemakers but in the hands of the lords of war.” 120

The Syrian information minister, Muhsen Bilal, declared: “If Israel rejects the Arab League peace proposal, resistance will be the only way to liberate the Golan Heights.” 121

The secretary general of the Gulf Cooperation Council, Abdulrahman al-Attiya said that Israel should respond expeditiously to the Arab peace initiative because the Arabs are in no mood to wait interminably. 122

Make peace on our terms or else. Is this the rhetoric you would expect from leaders who have moderated their views and want to seek an accommodation with Israel?

Peace plans are not worth the paper they are printed on if the proponents continue to talk about war and pursue policies such as supporting terrorists, arming radical Muslims, inciting their populations with anti-Semitic propaganda and enforcing boycotts that promote conflict. Progress toward real peace requires the Arab states to show by words and deeds that they are committed to finding a formula for coexisting with Israel. The only ultimatum should be that if the first efforts to reach an understanding do not succeed, they will try and try again.


120David Blair, “Accept peace plan or face war, Israel told,” Telegraph, (March 28, 2007).
121Roee Nahmias, “Syria: Without peace, resistance will liberate Golan Heights,” Ynet News, (April 16, 2007).
122“Arabs won't wait decades for Israeli response to Arab Peace Initiative: GCC,” Kuwait News Agency, (May 3, 2007).

This article can be found at

MYTH #260

"The Jews started the first war with the Arabs."


The chairman of the Arab Higher Committee said the Arabs would “fight for every inch of their country.” 1 Two days later, the holy men of Al-Azhar University in Cairo called on the Muslim world to proclaim a jihad (holy war) against the Jews. 2 Jamal Husseini, the Arab Higher Committee’s spokesman, had told the UN prior to the partition vote the Arabs would drench “the soil of our beloved country with the last drop of our blood . . . .” 3

Husseini’s prediction began to come true almost immediately after the UN adopted the partition resolution on November 29, 1947. The Arabs declared a protest strike and instigated riots that claimed the lives of 62 Jews and 32 Arabs. Violence continued to escalate through the end of the year. 4

The first large-scale assaults began on January 9, 1948, when approximately 1,000 Arabs attacked Jewish communities in northern Palestine. By February, the British said so many Arabs had infiltrated they lacked the forces to run them back. 5 In fact, the British turned over bases and arms to Arab irregulars and the Arab Legion.

In the first phase of the war, lasting from November 29, 1947 until April 1, 1948, the Palestinian Arabs took the offensive, with help from volunteers from neighboring countries. The Jews suffered severe casualties and passage along most of their major roadways was disrupted.

On April 26, 1948, Transjordan’s King Abdullah said:

All our efforts to find a peaceful solution to the Palestine problem have failed. The only way left for us is war. I will have the pleasure and honor to save Palestine. 6

On May 4, 1948, the Arab Legion attacked Kfar Etzion. The defenders drove them back, but the Legion returned a week later. After two days, the ill-equipped and outnumbered settlers were overwhelmed. Many defenders were massacred after they had surrendered. 7 This was prior to the invasion by the regular Arab armies that followed Israel’s declaration of independence.

The UN blamed the Arabs for the violence. The UN Palestine Commission, which was never permitted by the Arabs or British to go to Palestine to implement the resolution, reported to the Security Council on February 16, 1948, that “powerful Arab interests, both inside and outside Palestine, are defying the resolution of the General Assembly and are engaged in a deliberate effort to alter by force the settlement envisaged therein.” 8

The representative of the Jewish Agency told us yesterday that they were not the attackers, that the Arabs had begun the fighting. We did not deny this. We told the whole world that we were going to fight. 9

The British commander of Jordan’s Arab Legion, John Bagot Glubb admitted:

Early in January, the first detachments of the Arab Liberation Army began to infiltrate into Palestine from Syria. Some came through Jordan and even through Amman . . . They were in reality to strike the first blow in the ruin of the Arabs of Palestine. 10

Despite the disadvantages in numbers, organization and weapons, the Jews began to take the initiative in the weeks from April 1 until the declaration of independence on May 14. The Haganah captured several major towns including Tiberias and Haifa, and temporarily opened the road to Jerusalem.

The partition resolution was never suspended or rescinded. Thus, Israel, the Jewish State in Palestine, was born on May 14, as the British finally left the country. Five Arab armies ( Egypt, Syria, Transjordan, Lebanon and Iraq) immediately invaded Israel. Their intentions were declared by Azzam Pasha, Secretary-General of the Arab League: “This will be a war of extermination and a momentous massacre which will be spoken of like the Mongolian massacres and the Crusades.” 11


1New York Times( December 1, 1947).
2Facts on File Yearbook, (NY: Facts on File, Inc., 1948), p. 48.
3J.C. HurewitzThe Struggle For Palestine, (NY: Shocken Books, 1976), p. 308.
4Facts on File 1948, p. 231.
5Facts on File 1947, p. 231.
6Howard SacharA History of Israel: From the Rise of Zionism to Our Time, (NY: Alfred A. Knopf, 1979), p. 322.
7Netanel LorchOne Long War, (Jerusalem: Keter Books, 1976), p. 47; Ralph Patai, ed., Encyclopedia of Zionism and Israel, (NY: McGraw Hill, 1971), pp. 307-­308.
8Security Council Official Records, Special Supplement, (1948), p. 20.
9Security Council Official Records, S/Agenda/58, (April 16, 1948), p. 19.
10John Bagot GlubbA Soldier with the Arabs, (London: Staughton and Hodder, 1957), p. 79.
11Isi LeiblerThe Case For Israel, (Australia: The Globe Press, 1972), p. 15.

This article can be found at

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

Iran Alert

The Conference of Presidents has launched a new website,  IranAlert features:


- the latest news, updated daily, on the Iranian nuclear threat, missile program, and Iran divestment campaigns;

- recent analysis and commentary, as well as a collection of "must reads";

- key documents from the International Atomic Energy Agency, the United Nations, the US Government, and other governments;

- background information on Iran's nuclear and missile programs; and

- links to Iran divestment bills in state legislatures.


Temple Beth El Adult Education Program presents:



In Israel, more than in any country in the world, culture reflects society. Israeli film, poetry and art

serve as accurate barometers for social change and

the country’s external and internal conflicts. This week screening:

May 12, 2007: The Policeman (1971)

Academy award nominee for the best foreign film (1971)

Azulai is a policeman in Jaffa, whose incompetence is only matched by his soft-heartedness. His superiors

want to send him to early retirement, but he would like to stay on the force, and the criminals

of Jaffa don't want to see him leave either...

The program will start at 8:30 p.m.





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.



invites you to a panel discussion on

Changing Perspectives on God

in an Age of Terrorism

Thursday, May 17, 2007

7:30—9:00 PM

At the Bethel A.M.E. Church

150 Fairfield Ave.

in Stamford


Dr. Kareem Adeeb

President and Imam of the American Institute for Islamic and Arabic Studies

Rabbi Josh Hammerman

Temple Bethel El in Stamford

Rev. Elizabeth Krentz-Wee

St. Michael’s Lutheran Church in New Canaan

Q&A Session to Follow 


Reverends Gary Brown and Ron Evans

will be presented



for their years of valuable interfaith contributions to our area. 

Some very brief council business will also be conducted.

Afterwards please stay for conversation and light refreshments.

Support our Temple Gift Shop! 


The Fairfield County Jewish Couples 20s/30s Meetup Group

Meet other local Jewish couples. It is always nice to have one thing already in common. We are not religion pushers or ultra-religous people. We are just a group of couples looking to find a social network in Fairfield County.

You know that stage, college is over, the real world began. Yet you aren't in the children phases yet. How do you meet people? Dinner parties, Drinks, Friends to share and celebrate your birthday with...


Saturday, June 16, 2007, 7:00 PM 2007


(A location for this event hasn't been chosen yet)


Join Us for our very first Meetup! We are thinking of having everyone over to our house. A BBQ just to get to know everyone. No specific activities. Nothing is set in stone-so if you have any ideas bring them on!

Looking forward to meeting everyone!


The InterFaith Council of Southwestern Connecticut invites you to join with others of interfaith commitment on the following occasions:



Our Spring General Assembly

Thursday, May 17th, at 7:00 PM

at Bethel A.M.E. Church

150 Fairfield Ave.

in Stamford.


With a panel discussion focused on "Changing Perspectives on God in an Age of Terrorism."   Christian, Muslim and Jewish panelists--Rev. Elizabeth Krentz-Wee of St. Michael's Lutheran Church in New Canaan, Dr. Kareem Adeeb, President and Imam of the American Institute for Islamic and Arabic Studies, and Rabbi Josh Hammerman of Temple Beth El in Stamford--will address this topic with Q&A to follow.  Also Reverends Ron Evans and Gary Brown will be presented with Interfaith Council Distinguished Service Awards for years of valuable interfaith contributions to our region. Some very brief Council business will also be conducted.

USY is Having
a Scavenger Hunt in the
Palisades Center!



COST: $30!

WHEN: Sunday, May 20th

TIME: Meet at Temple Beth-El at 1pm

Plan to be picked up at 7pm

Don’t forget to bring spending money!

We’ll have one hour to shop.

Please RSVP by emailing

And by bringing in a check + a signed waiver to the

Hebrew school office no later than Wednesday May, 16th.


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