Friday, February 8, 2008

Shabbat-O-Gram February 8, 2008 – 2 Adar 1, 5768

February 8, 2008 – 2 Adar 1, 5768


Rabbi Joshua HammermanTemple Beth El, StamfordConnecticut


Thank you to the Katz family for sponsoring this week’s Shabbat Announcements and Shabbat-O-Gram

 in honor of Emily’s reading from the Torah this Shabbat morning.



Happy 17th Birthday, Ethan!



Special Occasion?  Sponsor a Shabbat Bulletin, (sent every Friday morning via e-mail),

the Shabbat Announcements (Distributed each Shabbat at the Temple)

& the Shabbat-O-Gram.  Sponsor all three publications for only $72

All sponsors will be acknowledged at the beginning of each of these announcements

and also listed in our Bi-monthly Bulletin.  Call Mindy in the office at 322-6901



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.” 

Prior Shabbat-O-Grams are archived at




Contents of the Shabbat O Gram:

(Click to scroll down)

Just the Facts

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

Joke for the Week


Quote for the Week


“When Adar arrives, we increase our joy."

(Talmud Ta'anit 29a)

The gematria of word 'in joy’ [Heb. b'simchah] is the same as that of 'year' [Heb. shanah]
This means that the joy that a person is inspired to have at this time will be a source
from which he can draw upon himself joy for the whole year. And so it should be Gods will.
                                                                                                  (Rebbe Avraham Yehoshua Heschel of Apt.)

Happiness is…

“And Mordecai went forth from the presence of the king in royal apparel of blue and white, and with a great crown of gold, and with a rob of fine linen and purple; and the city of Shushan shouted and was glad. The Jews had light and gladness, and joy and honor.”

Book of Esther 8:15-16

"The Constitution only gives people the right to pursue happiness. You have to catch it yourself."
-Ben Franklin

"The best way to cheer yourself up is to try to cheer somebody else up."
-Mark Twain

"I have no money, no resources, no hopes. I am the happiest man alive."
-Henry Miller


"Most people would rather be certain they're miserable, than risk being happy."
-Robert Anthony


"Be happy while you're living, for you're a long time dead."
-Scottish Proverb


“Who is happy?  The one who is content with what she has.”

- Talmud, Pirke Avot







Candle lighting: 4:53 pm on Friday, February 8, 2008.  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.



Shabbat Services:


6:30 Dinner for 4th grade families


7:30 Friday night in the sanctuary, (NOTE SPECIAL TIME), led by our 4th graders


Shabbat morning @ 9:30, Children’s services at 10:30


Morning Minyan:  7:30 Weekdays, 9:30 Sundays





Now you can become more comfortable with the prayers of our morning service by heading to…



Reminder of our “No School No Shul” policy: On days when Stamford public schools are cancelled or delayed, morning minyan is officially cancelled.  During school vacation weeks, please use your own judgment.  If significant snow has fallen during the night, it is unlikely that our lot will have been plowed out by morning.  On Sunday, when our religious school is cancelled because of weather, minyan is also cancelled.   Friday night and Shabbat morning services are never cancelled, but people are asked to use their own good judgment on days when the weather is very bad.


Torah Reading For Shabbat Morning

Torah Portion: Terumah


The construction of the Sanctuary

Torah Portion: Exodus 25:1 - 27:19

1: 25:1-5
2: 25:6-9
3: 25:10-16
4: 25:17-22
5: 25:23-30
6: 25:31-33
7: 25:34-40



Haftarah: I Kings 5:26 - 6:13





The (occasionally) Ranting Rabbi


The Anne Frank Rule

by Joshua Hammerman
 To The Jewish Week


In Shalom Auslander’s angry, narcissistic, yet shockingly brilliant memoir “Foreskin’s Lament,” he describes the horrible way his parents inflicted guilt as “going Holocaust” on him, as in “Do you know how many Jews died at the hands of the Nazis so you can keep kosher?” The Holocaust itself becomes a character in the narrative: “Mr. Holocaust,” he calls it, the bearer of eternal Jewish trauma. Auslander is numbed by the naked bodies in the newsreel footage he watches at school assemblies. He struggles with the horror even as he trivializes it, out-Rothing even Philip Roth in his cynical detachment.


Similarly, in the documentary “Kike Like Me,” recently broadcast on the Sundance channel, Jamie Kastner takes us on a sophomoric, self-indulgent road trip through the Jewish world, culminating with a visit to Auschwitz. It is an infuriating yet revealing window into the YouTube generation at its most cynical and most shallow. Borat meets BuchenwaldKastner, like Auslander, is simply one lost young Jew trying to figure out how this big Holocaust piece fits into the rest of the puzzle known as Jewish identity. It’s a big piece, but it’s just another piece.


As we marked the 63rd anniversary of Auschwitz’s liberation this week (Jan. 27), we approach an important threshold: The Holocaust has receded far enough into history to begin its assimilation into the larger Jewish story. 


This process is inevitable and for the most part beneficial. When we lose a loved one, the grief eventually gives way to “normalcy” — but not normalcy as it was before the person died. Instead, a new equilibrium forms, an altered worldview, in which the story of that departed relative becomes one with our own, imbuing our lives with added meaning.  


The Holocaust is hardly typical, but it is noteworthy that prior tragedies in Jewish history eventually yielded rich new fruit. Seven decades after the destruction of the First Temple, the Jews returning from Babylonian exile brought with them the seeds of a vibrant new form of Judaism.  Out of the ashes of the Second Temple’s destruction emerged a radically new rabbinic ethic. And, following the traumatic expulsion from Spain in 1492, it took about two generations for those refugees to begin finding new kabbalistic answers to their gut-wrenching questions. 


Historians will argue the fine points here, but what is irrefutable is that the Holocaust is becoming in some manner normalized, especially among Jews born long after the liberation. I sympathize greatly with the survivors forced to swallow the shocking fruits of this new normalcy.  One shudders at how they must respond to Auslander’s insolent prose or David Deutch’s humor, as quoted in Heeb Magazine, including “jokes” like “So I guess you don’t think the Holocaust is funny. But I gotta tell you, it killed them back in Poland.”


And we thought that the greatest danger to the memory of the Holocaust came from the anti-Semitic deniers! I ask the survivors to have patience, somehow, and to recognize that out of this rudeness will emerge, eventually, renewal. 


On the other hand, while this generational seismic shift is taking place, it is clear that boundaries are needed to protect the martyrs from the shockmeisters. Just as the ancient rabbis believed in building a “fence around the Torah” to safeguard the commandments, so must we build a “fence around Auschwitz” to protect the memory of the slain. In a culture that revels in free expression to the point of unruliness, we need to establish some basic rules.


In my house, we have the Anne Frank Rule.


One night during a recent school vacation, my family was engaged in a stimulating round of “Apples to Apples” — that popular game where a rotating judge picks a descriptive card (like “refreshing,” or “feh!”) and other contestants select cards that they hope the judge will consider the best possible match (like “Passover” and “Alan Dershowitz”).   Naturally, we were playing the Jewish version. 


I’ve found this game to be a very helpful tool in navigating through the complex choices of Jewish identity. Echoing the randomness of such choices, “Apples” effortlessly shuttles us from lox to Leviticus and from Moses to Jackie Mason; from the sublime to the ridiculous.


This reflects the same randomness experienced by Auslander, Kastner and their contemporaries, as they shuffle various pieces of the Jewish identity puzzle through their psychological playlists.


This particular game was one of our all-timers. It came down to the final hand, with my two teenagers and I each having a chance to win. With the game on the line, we doubled the stakes and pulled out two descriptive cards: “odd” and “offensive.” 


Ethan and Dan played “Crown Heights,” “my bedroom,” “J-Date” and “Dennis Prager.” I suppose any of those could have been the best match.  But I held the trump card in my hand.


You see, I had just drawn “Anne Frank.”


We have a little rule in my family, one suggested to us by a close friend.  Whoever plays the “Anne Frank” card automatically wins that hand. No questions asked. The idea is that it would be offensive to Anne’s memory, and by extension, all Holocaust victims, for Anne to lose to, say, “Joan Rivers” or “potato kugel.” 


But here, the exact opposite would be occurring. Anne would win for matching “odd” and “offensive.” How could we shame her in this way?


I succumbed to that logic and pulled back the card. I lost the battle but won the war, as my family then engaged in a dialogue about how, just as Anne’s is no normal card, the Holocaust is not just any old piece of the Jewish identity puzzle.  


This Golden Age of global free expression is busting boundaries and demolishing dictatorships everywhere. But in our yearning to infiltrate the Great Wall, let’s remember to preserve that fence around Auschwitz.   As the Shoah recedes into history, let it never recede into normalcy.



God, Judaism and the Internet


On Wednesday, I had the pleasure of participating in a Jewish Week forum on Jews and the Internet.  Read the Editor’s Blog report on the evening here. Check The Jewish Week's web site over the next several days for videotaped highlights.  Below are some quotes and sources that I shared to help spark the discussion. 


1) Rabbi Avraham Ya’akov of Sadigora (19th century)


“You can learn something from everything:

o        From the railway – we learn that one moment’s delay can throw everything off schedule;

o        from the telegraph we learn that every word counts;

o        and from the telephone we learn that what we say Here is heard There.”


2) Martin Buber   “All real living is meeting”


3) Fritjof Capra, “The Web of Life”

“To regain our full humanity, we have to regain our connectedness with the entire web of life. This reconnecting, religio in Latin, is the very essence of the spiritual grounding of deep ecology.”


4) Chris Anderson, “The Long Tail”

 “The era of one size fits all is ending, and in its place is something new, a market of multitudes.” “The mainstream has been shattered into a zillion different cultural shards. * Increasingly the mass market is turning into a mass of niches.”


* In Lurianic Kabbala, holy sparks are embedded in shards of shattered divine vessels scattered throughout the universe.


5) The great Hasidic master Rabbi Nachman of Bratzlav“It is good to have a special room set aside for sacred study and prayer, secluded meditation and conversation with God….and speak with Him about everything that is going on in your life.  Confess to Her all your sins, transgressions and failings, and speak to Him freely as one speaks to a friend.  You should speak at length, talk and talk some more, argue with Her, sigh and weep, and ask that S/He have mercy and allow us to achieve true devotion."   


6) Joshua Hammerman, “ Seeking God in Cyberspace”

Sit down in front of your computer late at night and see what is there. Reach out to connect — and not necessarily with people. Simply connecting to the latest news, to stock results or late ball scores, is enough to evoke a feeling of “humble surrender” and awe. How lovely can this universe be, how orderly and sound, when, without waking a soul, I can order cut-rate plane tickets to Chicago? How close to the mountaintop can one ascend, when, with a few clicks, one can see the deep blue earth from the perspective of a roving satellite hundreds of miles up? How dusty must my weary pilgrim’s feet get, when I can click my way to a live shot of Jerusalem’s Western Wall in seconds, and fax my prayer to be placed within its ancient cracks?

ON PRIVACY: Joshua Hammerman, "Invasions of Privacy" (The Jewish Week 7/27/2007 )


“The ancient rabbis wondered what was it that moved the Moabite prophet Balaam to bless Israel when his intent all along had been to curse them. They concluded that when he saw all the tents of Israel laid out, he was amazed that they were set up in such a way that no one could look into another person's dwelling place. Now, if you've ever lived in close quarters (i.e. Manhattan) you know that is very hard to do. Based largely on this midrash, the Talmud came up with some important guidelines: prohibiting the installation of a window if it looks in on someone else's house, for example, and ruling that a person should knock before opening a closed door. By extension, a creditor is not allowed to enter the home of a debtor but must remain outside to receive the pledge.

Much later, in the 10th century, a sage named Rabbenu Gershom decreed opening someone else's mail to be punishable by excommunication, from which is derived the general principle that we can't pick through our neighbor's garbage to search out secrets. What's private must be respected. How often are we forwarded e-mail notes that were sent by a third party, without the permission of that third party? Gershom would have had a problem with that.


J-Date vs. Genesis and Yenta the Matchmaker: A Comparative Grid


                      J-Date             Eliezer                            Yenta

3rd Party Involvement


Yes (plus camels)



$30/month and up

Slave wages

Yenta gets to gloat


The whole world can know

You get to wear a veil

The whole town WILL know

Success Rate

“Countless” marriages

Excellent – if you have camels

1 in 5 success rate with Tevye

Potential for Deviants



Lazer Wolf

# of People Served

Over 600,000




Profiles viewed/ Click!system

Similar tastes

Veiled (Gen. 24:50 - look for opposites)

“The way he sees and the way she looks…”

Compatibility of families





Nurit and Melanie’s Holiday Songs


            Now available in our gift shop, a new CD compilation of children’s holiday songs from our own Nurit Avigdor, assisted by Melanie Roloff, daughter of TBE teacher Galit Roloff.  Nurit has entertained and taught children here for generations, and her music continues to enchant children here every week on Shabbat morning and three times a month at Tot Shabbat on Friday.  This CD contains some of our all-time Nurit favorites.  Check it out at our gift shop!




Mitzvah/Tzedakkah Opportunities


Beth El Cares:

Inreach and Outreach


Mitzvah Suggestion for the Week


Bone Marrow Registry – the Gift of Life


            Over the past few weeks, I’ve received a number of appeals for bone marrow registry and have forwarded them on to you.  It is clear that the need is great, the risk to register and possibly donate is extremely low and we can save lives.  Just last week, our own Ben Hittman, son of Kim and Richard Hittman, donated bone marrow after discovering that he was a match, and he has likely saved a life.  Here is Ben’s personal message, a Shabbat-O-Gram exclusive!


Earlier this year, I had the opportunity to donate bone marrow stem cells to a 15 year old boy with Leukemia. Perhaps the most difficult part of the process came in the beginning, when I first learned that I had to the power to change someone’s life. This overwhelming responsibility, however, was no match for the good I knew would come from agreeing to donate. A procedure that affected me for under a week will change someone else’s life forever, and that type of effect was simply too important to pass up. There are only so many ways to genuinely change the life of somebody else, particularly somebody as desperate as a 15 year old boy with Leukemia.  The short amount of time I spent donating bone marrow stem cells was worth every minute, and perhaps more, because it was an easy thing to do, the right thing to do, and a good thing to do. This type of donation affects real people in dire circumstances, and I cannot emphasize enough the impact giving a part of yourself can have in saving the whole of another.


A plea from,the family of Mindi and Michael Brown

(Michael grew up here, the son of Gordon and Sheila Brown)      


February 4, 2008

Dear Friend,


Our nephew, Marc Weinstein will turn 10 on March 25. An event in all children’s lives but an unbelievable milestone considering the fact that Marc has been suffering from HLH (Hemophagocytic Lympho Histiocytosis) since its onset at 14 months of age. HLH is an auto- recessive rare genetic disorder that affects approximately 1.2 out of 1 million births.


Our family tragically lost the battle for Ross, Marc’s brother, from this disease and we are determined to save Marc. There are different genetic forms of this disease but in Marc’s case the gene hasn’t been identified. We have been blessed to enjoy Marc and overcome each specific obstacle, but this fall, Marc suffered a life threatening seizure. A spinal tap revealed HLH in his brain. Chemotherapy, immune suppression and anti-seizure drugs brought Marc’s disease somewhat under control.


The flare up necessitates the replacement of his existing immune system. We know from experience that the treatment is barbaric and heart wrenching but we believe that Marc will persevere. He is strong willed, intelligent, patient and deserves the chance to live a full and normal life. Actually, he has been an inspiration through his journey because he does not feel sorry for his predicament. He has never complained about his fate because he has faith he will be cured. Ultimately, we feel Marc has a purpose and will realize his full potential after his newly engrafted immune system has a chance to take hold.


Now we need you!  You can help us in 2 ways.


We need to find prospective bone marrow donors, who are from Eastern European decent AND we need to raise money for Bone marrow testing kits. Each kit is $52 and provides a chance for life.




South Huntington Jewish Center 2600 New York Avenue MelvilleNY  11747



    9:00 AM to 3 PM                                         10 AM TO 3 PM




Island Rehab 300 Hempstead Tpke West Hempstead, NY  11552



    10 AM TO 3 PM 


You can be a donor If you are between 18-60 yrs. of age and in good general health.   It is only a simple swab of cells from inside the cheek. You may be able to save Marc's life or someone else's.


We also hope to raise enough money for 400 testing kits, which are $52 each, your donation will be greatly appreciated. Please copy and pass on this letter to as many as you can. The fact is that this drive must succeed to save Marc’s life. 






    300 Hempstead Tpke

    West HempsteadNY  11552


Thank you in advance and we hope to see you.



Mindi and Michael Brown and Family


For more information, please call 631-692-5216 or 631-367-2299




If you arefascinated by the rich historical legacy of our congregation, please give some thought to participating in this important project.  At the meeting on Monday, people will have a chance to enjoy the JHS’s large Temple Beth El Collection, ably guided by the Society’s founding president and world class historian Irwin Miller and it’s Archivists Maggie Levy and Vivian Miller (emeritus) and perhaps a few others.  It is a moment in history – for history – whose time has come!






L’dor vador … past, present and future


Our past has done so much to make us who we are as Temple Beth El

;;; yet we know so little about TBE’s and individual congregants’ past glories within the Temple and the larger community. How can we better use it to guide our individual,  congregational and community growth … spiritually and morally, in pride and in numbers?


Our future will no doubt be very bright, with many of us involved

… yet, will our grandchildren and their grandchildren even know what we’ve done … or how to further our work for the benefit of themselves, the congregation and the community?


The Temple’s Trustees have authorized a new committee to solve these challenges and take the utmost advantage of the opportunities that become evident, and appointed a part president to chair it (Fred Golove) We are currently the only congregation in the community to formalize a standing committee to REMEMBER, with a mission to help its congregation strategically. .


And YOU can be involved … listen, enjoy and/or work!!!


BETH EL REMEMBERS (our historical preservation and dissemination committee) has been formed and will hold its kickoff meeting on Monday night, February 11, 2008, from 7:00 p.m. to 9:00 p.m. The meeting will be held in downtown Stamford at the local Jewish Archives, an operation of the Jewish Historical Committee of Lower Fairfield County, where we will be joined by the JHS’s Archivist and it’s world class Historian. The JHS Archives has a large TBE Collection and we will spend some fun time looking through and understanding it. We will then start into our major business of planning the Committee’s work.


All interested adults including teenagers who are b’nai mitzvah are invited to this meeting. Space for this first meeting is limited because of the ample but somewhat limited meeting facilities at the Archives. Please call Steve Lander at the Temple (322-6901, ext. 304) to let us know that you want to attend and just before the meeting we’ll provide location and parking information on a first come first served basis (with the exception that those desiring to join this committee will be given priority for attending).


Bar/Bat Mitzvah Projects:


Keep watching for projects to appear in this space….






Why are there two Adars this year?

Let’s start simply, with; also, try

The Jewish calendar is primarily lunar, with each month beginning on the new moon, when the first sliver of moon becomes visible after the dark of the moon. In ancient times, the new months used to be determined by observation. When people observed the new moon, they would notify the Sanhedrin. When the Sanhedrin heard testimony from two independent, reliable eyewitnesses that the new moon occurred on a certain date, they would declare the rosh chodesh (first of the month) and send out messengers to tell people when the month began.

The problem with strictly lunar calendars is that there are approximately 12.4 lunar months in every solar year, so a 12-month lunar calendar loses about 11 days every year and a 13-month lunar calendar gains about 19 days every year. The months on such a calendar "drift" relative to the solar year. On a 12 month calendar, the month of Nissan, which is supposed to occur in the Spring, occurs 11 days earlier each year, eventually occurring in the Winter, the Fall, the Summer, and then the Spring again. To compensate for this drift, an extra month was occasionally added: a second month of Adar. The month of Nissan would occur 11 days earlier for two or three years, and then would jump forward 29 or 30 days, balancing out the drift.

In the fourth century, Hillel II established a fixed calendar based on mathematical and astronomical calculations. This calendar, still in use, standardized the length of months and the addition of months over the course of a 19-year cycle, so that the lunar calendar realigns with the solar years. Adar II is added in the 3rd, 6th, 8th, 11th, 14th, 17th and 19th years of the cycle. The current cycle began in Jewish year 5758 (the year that began October 2, 1997).

In addition, Yom Kippur should not fall adjacent to Shabbat, because this would cause difficulties in coordinating the fast with Shabbat, and Hoshanah Rabba should not fall on Saturday because it would interfere with the holiday's observances. A day is added to the month of Cheshvan or subtracted from the month of Kislev of the previous year to prevent these things from happening.

Ready for something more advanced? Go to and scroll down to #3, the Hebrew Calendar.  Be prepared to take an Excedrin afterwards…this is complicated stuff – but fascinating.





Spiritual Journey on the Web



An Incredible Collection of Traditional Jewish Sources Online:


Rivka Lieber recommended this blog to me – a very moving account of a woman who makes aliyah:

My Shrapnel is the name of the blog, the entry is “Why I Made Aliyah” Click here


Here’s a list of Jewish initiatives supported by



imageThe Hekhsher Tzedek  (A new initiative of the Conservative Movement)

Hekhsher Tzedek is bringing Jewish values in food production front and center, sometimes for the first time, to any consumer of kosher products.

Keeping kosher is a central part of Jewish identity and this initiative will engage consumers in social justice as well as reinforce the relevance of kashrut to contemporary life.

It will demonstrate that both ritual and ethical commandments (mitzvoth) have an equal place at our tables and that isolating one at the expense of the other is to do a disservice to Jewish tradition and the meaning of kashrut.

Hekhsher Tzedek will also show that Judaism speaks to the greater community about the meaning of compassion, fairness and the presence of one G-d.

Learn more about the Hekhsher Tzedek


imageBig Tent Judaism

Big Tent Judaism takes its lead from the values and vision of our Biblical forbearers Abraham and Sarah’s tent, which was open on four sides to welcome all who approach. Individuals and organizations that practice a Big Tent Judaism seek to engage, support and advocate for all those who would cast their lot with the Jewish people, regardless of prior knowledge or background.

The Big Tent Judaism Coalition is a group of Jewish communal institutions who strive to create an inclusive and welcoming Jewish community, and who are willing to work toward the following GOALS through partnership, communication, and advocacy:

  • Connect individuals and households not currently engaging with the organized Jewish community to local institutions that will be welcoming toward them through inclusive and meaningful programs;
  • Provide professionals and lay leaders at Jewish institutions the skills and sensitivities needed to become more inclusive and welcoming.

Learn more about Big Tent Judaism


imageThe Jewish Bloggers Campaign For Responsible Speech Online

The recommendation for bloggers carrying this banner is that they be mindful before pressing the “Publish” button and that they ask this consideration from their site’s contributors — both other bloggers on their site and visitors. Ask yourself before posting, “Is what I’ve written a kiddush Hashem (a santification of God’s name) or a chilul Hashem (a desecration of God’s name)?” If it’s the latter, consider revising your remarks to preserve your point, while minimizing whatever harm you may do to your fellow. In other words, attack the idea, not the person, and do so tactfully and respectfully.

Learn more about this campaign


imageA Light Among the Nations

Get involved in this nationwide campaign launched by COEJL and the JCPA as a Jewish response to global warming. The campaign is engaging the Jewish community in awareness, advocacy, and concrete action to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and promote energy conservation and sustainable legislation. This is one of those calls to action that can change how American Jewry responds to the daunting environmental problems confronting us and future generations.

Learn more about A Light Among the Nations

The Green Menorah Covenant

The Green Menorah is the symbol of a covenant among Jewish communities and congregations to renew the miracle of Hanukkah in our own generation: Using one day’s oil to meet eight days’ needs: doing our part so that by 2020, US oil consumption is cut by seven-eighths.

We invite you to join in this covenant to heal our planet and our human race from the climate crisis of global scorching.

There are three aspects of the Covenant: hands-on action by congregations and congregants to reduce CO2 emissions on their own; infusion of Jewish festivals, life-cycle events, , prayers, and education with eco-consciousness; and advocacy for change in public policy.

Learn more about The Green Menorah Covenant







The Beth El Bar/Bat Mitzvah Commentary



Leah Hazen on Parashat Mishpatim


               Last year in school I read Robert Frost’s poem, “the road less traveled”. In my life I have tried to take the road less traveled. For me that means to be different, to stand out, and be who you are. But i’ve also discovered that life would be much easier if there were something to point you in the right direction, or a fence to keep you on track.


               A few weeks ago my friend and I were skiing on a trail, and we spotted a path branching off from it. So after a ten minute descent, we found out that the path was a dead end. We ended up having to take off our skis and climb back to the top through waist deep snow. If only there had been a fence to keep us on the correct trail, it would have saved us, and our parents from a big scare!


               My torah portion teaches us that even the torah needs a fence (WELL SORT OF).  Among the many laws found in this portion there is one that is both very famous and very strange. It tells us not to cook a baby goat in its mother’s milk. (YUCK!)


               We don’t know the reason behind this law, but probably it had to do with a strange worship or ritual that was practiced at that time. The torah considers it animal cruelty, since the mother could see her baby being killed.


               Later on the rabbis expanded the idea by adding new laws that would make it almost impossible to make the mistake of cooking the kid in its mothers milk. So, that is how Jews began the practice of separating dairy products from meat. They call this placing a fence  around the torah. Even though my portion doesn’t say anything about cheeseburgers, it teaches us a lot about how we need boundaries to keep us safe.


               Take my dogs for example. Last year  we installed an invisible fence on our property in order to keep our dogs from getting into the street. So, we put the collars on the dogs, and let them run around the yard… and Gracie ran right into the street. She is not the brightest dog… but, since then the fence has for the most part protected them from getting into anymore trouble.


               At my school I am one of several 7th grade representatives, and one of our jobs is to help everyone get along and have a good year. My biggest concern is bullying, because I once was bullied and I know how it feels. My goal is to find ways to stop people from bullying before they get into big trouble. One way is to have meetings with small groups of kids, who sign a contact so that they wont repeat anything they hear during these discussions.


               So, by building trust we create a boundary so that the kids don’t go too far. 


               People aren’t the only ones who are bullied. There are several laws in my portion that talk about being kind to animals. Through my mitzvah projects I’m hoping to both help animals, and teach people to be more sensitive and kind. I’m donating money to the A.S.P.C.A, and I also filled these bima baskets with supplies to give to an organization called PAWS, which takes care of abandoned or misplaced animals and find them good homes. PAWS is special because they do not euthanize the animals they take in. I’ve also volunteered at, and collected money for HORSE, which is an organization that helps abused horses


               So, as I become bat mitzvah today, I hope that everyone will appreciate the fences and warning signs on the path, even if we decide to take the road less traveled!




Required Reading and Action Items



Who Won the Jewish Vote?

Among Connecticut and Massachusetts Democrats, it was Obama:


See Where You Stand




Israeli start-up lets you pay by phone [VIDEO]
By Sharon Kanon  

Who doesn't worry about cash or credit cards being stolen? Wouldn't it be great if you could buy a gift, purchase groceries, or even pay a bill without cash or a card?   The latest versatile application for mobile phones makes paying for goods or a bill safe and easy. Cell-Cash, a new patent pending product just released by Israeli start-up Cell-Apps turns your mobile phone into an electronic wallet. "It is the world's only secure mobile wallet," Michah Himmelman, president and CEO of Cell-Apps tells ISRAEL21c.  more

Finding peace on unsteady ground
By ISRAEL21c staff    
Like all natural disasters, earthquakes know no boundaries and that's the reason one Israeli seismologist, Dr. Hillel Wust-Bloch has masterminded a new earthquake mapping research partnership between Jordanian, Palestinian and Israeli scientists. more

Turning landmines into punchlines [VIDEO]
By Susan Karlin   
It took less time for Moses to receive the Ten Commandments than it did for four Jewish and Arab comics to get a mixed crowd of 300 Israelis, Palestinians, Americans and Europeans laughing at the same, politically charged jokes.  more

Chess club brings hope to Ramle's children
By Leah Stern   more



now for the rest

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

Muslim Extremists from Egypt Poured into Gaza to Fight Israel - Khaled Abu Toameh
Thousands of Arab men flocked to Gaza from Egypt in the past two weeks, offering to join in the fight against Israel, sources close to Hamas said Wednesday. Some of the men had come from Iraq where they had been carrying out attacks against U.S. troops. "Hamas has turned the Gaza Strip into an international center for global jihad," said one PA security official. "Most of the men who entered the Gaza Strip through the breached border are now being trained in Hamas' camps and schools." Another PA security official said that a number of Iranian security experts had also entered Gaza to help train members of Hamas and other armed groups. (Jerusalem Post)
    See also Report: Egyptian Radicals Enter Gaza to Aid Palestinian Militants - Roee Nahmias
Some 2,000 Egyptian radical Islamic activists have infiltrated into Gaza to join the struggle against Israel, the Egyptian Al-Masry Al-Youm newspaper reported Wednesday. The jihadists met with Islamic Jihad and Hamas leaders and requested to engage in "martyrdom operations," but the men were told to return to Egypt. (Ynet News)


Two Children Injured by Palestinian Rocket at Israeli Kibbutz - Yonat Atlas
Two girls - Tchelet, 2, and Yardena, 12 - were injured from shrapnel Wednesday when a Kassam rocket fired by Palestinians in Gaza landed near a kindergarten at Kibbutz Be'eri. "This time the rocket fell without warning; it just exploded right before my eyes," said Gladis Za'arur-FishbeinTchelet's mother. Another Palestinian rocket hit a house in Sderot. (Ynet News)
    See also A Kibbutz in the Shadow of Kassams - Tovah Lazaroff (Jerusalem Post)
    See also Hamas Says It Fired 26 Rockets into Israel
Hamas said Wednesday that its fighters launched 26 rockets into Israel since Tuesday night. (Xinhua-China)


PA Glorifies Dimona Terrorists - Yadid Berman (Jerusalem Post)
    The terrorists who perpetrated Monday's suicide bombing in Dimona were glorified in three newspapers controlled by the PA, including the official Al-Hayat al-Jadida, controlled by Mahmoud Abbas, Palestinian Media Watch reported Wednesday.
    "The perpetrators of the operation died as shahids (glorious martyrs)," Al-Hayat al-Jadida reported on Feb. 5.
    The Palestinian dailies Al-Iyam and Al-Quds also defined the bombers as shahids.
    Also described as shahids in the Palestinian media were two Palestinians who attempted to murder Israelis in Kfar Etzion's Makor Haim High School several weeks ago.


Power Reductions to Gaza to Begin Thursday
Israel will begin reducing the amount of electricity it supplies to Gaza on Thursday as part of punitive measures against the Hamas government there. The power cutback was made possible by a High Court of Justice ruling last week. The plan will reduce the flow of power by 5% in three of the 10 power lines used to supply Gaza with electricity. (Jerusalem Post)


A Coming Hamas-Israel War? - Robert Baer
At this point Israel has to be wondering if Hamas is planning a real war, something along the lines of the 34-day war in 2006 between Israel and Hizbullah. Count on it, Israel will do something to change the status quo in Gaza. One option is to build a bigger and higher wall around the country, but it will do little good against Hamas rockets. What Israel sorely misses is the capacity to strike fear into its neighbors: deterrence. The Winograd Commission spelled it out in bleak terms in its report on the Lebanon war. "Israel cannot survive" unless it is able to deter its enemies - teach Hamas and Hizbullah a lesson they won't forget. (TIME)


How to Turn Gaza Over to Egypt - Daniel Pipes
Given that Gazans have shown themselves incapable of responsible self-rule and Cairo has tacitly allowed the smuggling of arms since 2000, Mubarak needs to be made responsible for GazaRobert Satloff of the Washington Institute for Near East Policy suggests to me that Jerusalem announce a date certain for the severing of Israel's provision of water, electricity and trade access. Once Jerusalem cuts supplies, Cairo has no choice but to furnish them. In the end, Arab solidarity demands that Egyptian "brothers" fill in for the Israeli enemy. (Jerusalem Post)


Rampant Islamic Jew-Hatred in Europe - Andrew G. Bostom
According to European Commissioner for Justice, Freedom, and Security, Franco Frattini, who is the EU official responsible for combating racism and anti-Semitism in Europe, Muslims are responsible for 50% of the documented anti-Semitic incidents on the European continent. Since the number of Muslims in Europe is estimated at 15-20 million among 495 million Europeans, or some 3-4% of the total population, Muslims in Europe account for at least 24 times the number of anti-Semitic incidents as their non-Muslim European counterparts.
    In a study of attitudes of 5,000 Europeans published in 2006 in the Journal of Conflict Resolution by Yale University biostatistician Dr. Edward H. Kaplan, and Dr. Charles A. Small of the Yale Institute for the Study of Global Anti-Semitism, anti-Israel sentiments strong ly and independently predicted the likelihood that an individual was anti-Semitic. Furthermore, in a controlled comparison to European Christians, European Muslims were nearly eight times more likely to be overtly anti-Semitic. (American Thinker)


Try Wearing Israeli Shoes - Yuval Rotem (New Zealand Herald)

  • Would New Zealanders ask their government to sit idly by while a terrorist organization fires missiles on Tauranga or Hamilton? This is what is being asked of Israelis - to sit idly by while the residents of their southern town of Sderot are fired on by missiles from the terrorist organization Hamas. Let New Zealanders put themselves in the shoes of Israelis for just one day, without a vast ocean to protect them, without a democratic and secure neighbor like Australia, and with a terrorist organization mere miles away whose only reason for existing is their nation's destruction. Only then can democratic, informed debate happen.
  • Hamas in Gaza focuses its weaponry on civilians; on children in schools and kindergartens, on families' homes. They fire their missiles from deep within civilian neighborhoods, taunting Israeli Defense Forces to fire back, knowing that injury to the innocent people of Gaza would fuel their propaganda campaign. Israel acts only in self defense. When they do fire on Gaza it is merely in response to Hamas' missiles and they are focused on the militants themselves.
  • The people of Gaza are not the enemy, nor is there any benefit from Israel making them so. The people of Israel, in withdrawing from Gaza in 2005, sought to gain a democratic and secure neighbor, but Hamas increased violence from Gaza, including raids over the border into Israel to kill and kidnap Israeli soldiers.
  • Ever since Hamas won parliamentary elections in January 2006, Israel and the international community - including the UN, EU, Russia and the U.S. - have put forth a consistent message: to end its isolation, Hamas must recognize Israel's right to exist, renounce violence, and agree to abide by previous agreements signed between Israel and the PA. These are not very difficult conditions. Indeed, they are the bare minimum that Israel should expect from a "partner for peace" or even a non-belligerent neighbor.

Israel's Ambassador to New Zealand responds to a column which accused Israel of being a terrorist state.


Israel Hones Airstrikes - Nidal al-Mughrabi and Dan Williams
On Monday, Palestinian rocket crew commander Amer Qarmout was killed in an airstrike and two of his comrades were wounded. As Israel escalates its aerial campaign against militants in Gaza, it is employing hi-tech tactics designed to reduce the damage and the number of bystanders hurt. "There is a trend in terms of the very dramatic improvement in hitting the terrorists and not non-combatants," a senior air force commander said. The air force says its strikes now cause around one civilian casualty for every 20 militants killed or wounded, compared to a roughly 1-to-1 ratio when the practice was introduced in 2002.
    The strikes are generally at night and employ ordnance of such low explosive power that cars that are hit often remain largely intact. "The impact is only on the target," h e said, but sometimes munitions in militants' vehicles go off unexpectedly, causing "secondary" casualties. "I think the intel (on Gaza) is getting better and better," he said. The most valuable information is in real time - images of the ground fed to the Israeli war room by surveillance drones. (Reuters)


Israel Isn't to Blame for Chaos Around Egypt's Wall - Jonathan Gurwitz
 Hamas militants blew up that wall on Jan. 23 to end the Israeli blockade of Gaza, did you notice whose wall it was they destroyed? It was Egypt's wall. Funny, then, that the term "Israeli blockade" should have become so widely and so conventionally accepted with regard to GazaTo blockade means to impede passage on all sides. It turns out that there is a back door to Gaza, which shares a seven-mile border with Egypt.
    In two-and-a-half years, Palestinians in Gaza have fired more than 4,000 rockets at Israeli civilian targets. Daily life in the southern Israeli city of Sderot consists of wailing sirens and 15-second dashes for cover. No nation in the world would withstand this daily barrage on its citizens and not take decisive action. No nation would sit passively as an enemy co mmitted to its destruction grows menacingly on its border.
    Hamas is the Palestinian franchise of the Muslim Brotherhood, the Egyptian wellspring of the modern Islamist movement and the chief political opposition to the Mubarak dynasty. (San Antonio Express-News)


This month’s issue of Commentary magazine contains an article by Norman Podhoretz advocating military action against Iran’s nuclear facilities. He compares the current time to 1938, and says that absent such action, today’s leaders will be treated by history as worse than Neville Chamberlain at Munich. Here is a link:


An Israeli Signal to Hamas - Ron Ben-Yishai (Ynet News)

  • The IDF strikes on Hamas bases in Gaza Tuesday are directly linked to Monday's suicide bombing in Dimona, apparently carried out by Hamas men from Hebron in the West Bank. The IDF strikes were meant as a signal to Hamas' leadership: If you escalate the fighting originating in the West Bank, we will hit you where it hurts the most: attacks on bases of the forces used by Hamas to enforce its rule in Gaza.
  • The objective was to show Hamas that Israel has the ability to escalate the fighting should Hamas continue with its suicide bombings, whether from the West Bank or via Sinai. The same is true should heavy rocket fire continue to target Israel's Negev region.
  • Should Hamas not be deterred by the strikes, the IDF will move on to the next phase: Surgical strikes that would target the organization's political and military leadership.
  • Should this fail, the security cabinet is expected to approve an intensive ground incursion into Gaza. Security officials are increasingly realizing that such an operation is apparently unavoidable.
  • Sooner or laterIsrael will be forced to seal off the Philadelphi Route on its own and regain its operational freedom and intelligence superiority in every point in Gaza.


Dimona Suicide Bombing Highlights Israeli Security Problem Along Egyptian Border - Amos Harel and Avi Issacharoff (Ha'aretz)
    Monday's suicide bombing in Dimona means the southern Negev has become the target for attacks and Israel is faced with a serious security problem along its 300-kilometer border with Egypt.
    In light of Egyptian difficulties in shutting off Gaza, a wave of additional terror attempts is expected in the coming weeks.
    In addition, the agreement with the Palestinian Authority whereby Israel allows previously wanted men to give up their weapons and remain free, which was considered a great success at the time, is starting to fall apart.
    There are now armed Fatah activists who are openly violating their agreements with the security forces.


ISRAEL: Myths and Facts


Gaza settlers’ greenhouses have bolstered the PA economy.”


On the eve of Israel’s disengagement from the Gaza Strip in August 2005, Middle East envoy James Wolfensohn brokered a deal to purchase greenhouses built by Jewish settlers in the hope of providing employment and export income to the Palestinian people and boost the fledgling economy. Wolfensohn and a number of other donors, including several American Jews, bought the greenhouses, which averaged more than $75 million in total crop output annually, and gave them to the Palestinian Authority.155

Almost immediately after Israel’s withdrawal from the Gaza Strip, many greenhouses were ransacked and looted. In September 2005, looters in Neve Dekalim, the largest Jewish settlement in Gaza, walked away with irrigation hoses, water pumps, and plastic sheeting, often while Palestinian policemen watched.156

Despite pleas from the Palestinian Prime Minister to leave the structures intact, the security situation around the greenhouses worsened. In 2006, roving gunmen destroyed greenhouses in the former settlement of Morag, and dozens of armed militiamen ransacked more than 50 acres of greenhouse space in the former settlement of Gush Katif.157 Witnesses said the militants used bulldozers to demolish the buildings’ frames, and then destroyed or stole whatever equipment they could find inside, including irrigation computers.158

The Palestinian Company for Economic Development, the organization in charge of running the greenhouses, complained that hundreds of greenhouses and other agricultural installations were destroyed. In an appeal to the Palestinian Authority leadership, the company said, “These greenhouses and other installations and projects provide a source of income for over 4,500 families. We are very disturbed by the recurring attacks and thefts. Such actions jeopardize the largest agricultural project carried by the Palestinian Authority after the Israeli withdrawal.”159

In addition to rendering the greenhouses useless for their intended purpose of building up the PA economy, Hamas has also established terrorist training centers on some of the lands of the evacuated settlements. Abu Abdullah, a senior member of Hamas’ military wing, said the two former settlements of Eli Sinai and Dagit are now advanced training zones.160

Nearly 70% of the greenhouses have been completely destroyed, most recently by Palestinians who dismantled some of the remaining greenhouses to sell to Egyptians after the Gaza-Egypt border was breached in January 2008.161 The treatment of the greenhouses is an example of how, contrary to Palestinian propaganda blaming Israel, the economic troubles in the Gaza Strip are largely self-inflicted.


155Jonathan Pearlman, “Fruitless Enterprise,” The Jerusalem Report, (August 7, 2006).
156Lara Sukhtian, “Palestinians loot greenhouses; Pumps, hoses taken; Abbas appeals for order,” The Boston Globe, (September 14, 2005).
157Khaled Abu Toameh, “Gaza: Gunmen raze Morag hothouses,” Jerusalem Post, (May 14, 2006).
158Arnon Regular, “Palestinian militants ransack former Gush Katif greenhouses,” Ha’aretz, (October 2, 2006).
159Khaled Abu Toameh, “Gaza: Gunmen raze Morag hothouses,” Jerusalem Post, (May 14, 2006).
160Aaron Klein, “Ex-Jewish cities now for Hamas terror training,” World Net Daily, (March 20, 2007).
161Will Rasmussen, “Gaza's greenhouses become hot property in Egypt,” Reuters, (January 31, 2008).

This article can be found at

See also Mitchell Bard's blog:

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


Joke for the Week

  A rabbi meets a couple and asks them how many children they have.  
 "Sadly we are not blessed with any children yet."  
 "Let me write down your names and place a note in  the Kotel for a
 Five years later he meets the women again and asks,
 "So how is the family?"
 "Well rabbi, we  were blessed with 10 children, two sets of twins and two
   sets of triplets."
 "Amazing! I would like to  congratulate your husband. Where is he?"
 "He is in  Israel." She replies
 "What is he doing there?"  
 "Trying to find that note you placed in the  wall."  


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

To be removed from this mailing list, send an e-mail request to

No comments: