Friday, March 23, 2007

March 23, 2007– Nisan 5, 5767

March 23, 2007– Nisan 5, 5767


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)

TBE Youth Programming

Joke for the Week


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


A Bravura Performance!


Check out for more photos from last week’s scintillating Cantors’ Concert,

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

and our extensive library of photo albums,

articles, sermons, info about the temple,

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




Quote for the Week


From Avraham Infeld, this week’s Community Scholar in Residence

I run summer camps for about 2,000 16-year old Israeli and American kids every summer. There I am, one Sunday morning with 150 handpicked Israeli teenagers. Yuppies. The 300 Jewish American kids arrive and I watch them all walk into the dining room together. I cannot tell who is who, they all look the same-wearing jeans, T-shirts, Nikes, Reeboks, and pierced body parts.

The Americans are from NFTY, the youth division of the Reform movement, and at the end of the meal, the American rabbi gets up and says - 'Alright kids, the birkat .' What we call birkat hamazon (prayer after meals). The American kids sing the birkat in Hebrew, in beautiful harmony. The Israeli kids sat there in total shock. They had never seen it, they had never heard it. They had no idea what it was. They had no idea what it was good for.

And they were the only ones who understood it!




Mark your calendar for something very special:

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

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

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

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



Candle lighting: 6:51 pm on Friday, 23 March 2007.  For candle lighting times, Havdalah times, other Jewish calendar information, and to download a Jewish calendar to your PDA, click on  To see the festivals of other faiths as well, go to  The United Synagogue has updated its candlelighting information. To learn more, click here.



Friday Evening:


Kabbalat Shabbat: 6:30 PM – in the lobby

Tot Shabbat: 6:45 PM – in the Kindergarten Room (note different location!)


Shabbat Morning:


Service begins at 9:30 AM 




Children’s Services: 10:30 AM


Shabbat Mincha: 5:30 PM –




Our Torah Portion for Shabbat Morning

Parashat VaYikra – The Book of Leviticus begins

פרשת ויקרא

Leviticus 1:1 - 5:26

1: 4:27-31

Haftarah: Isaiah 43:21 - 44:23


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



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

Morning Minyan

7:30 Weekdays, 9:30 Sundays


We’ve had several people coming lately who are saying kaddish following recent deaths in the family.  We want to make sure we have a minyan each day. Your presence any morning is greatly appreciated!


Passover Resources

(see Spiritual Journeys section below for more Passover material)


Download our TBE Sale of Hametz Form


My own Passover guide A Guide for the Perplexed


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


Temple Beth El's
Second Night of Passover
Tuesday, April 3 at 7PM
Click for more information



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


Passover: Guided Learning from

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

For a host of other Pesach links:


And finally…


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





Ranting Rabbi


Today we set my own rantings aside

in favor of some creative efforts and writings from our TBE family,

and beyond…


Our entire Jewish community has been enthralled this week by the message of our first community scholar in residence, Avraham Infeld.  Some of his views are summarized in this essay, first published in 2001:  We will Not Survive as a Nation Without a Sovereign State -  Here are two excerpts from a more comprehensive essay entitled, ”Who Are We?”


I arrived in OmahaNebraska early one Sunday morning, and my host wanted to show me their Sunday School. I walk into a classroom with a group of about 25 10-year-old kids with a teacher who is trying to teach them a language they don't understand. I looked into the faces of these children and once again I saw the suffering of my people . I asked one of the children, 'why do you pray in Hebrew?' His response was, 'Because God doesn't understand English.' Jews do not pray in Hebrew because God does not understand English. Jews pray in Hebrew because Jews always did important things in the language of their culture.

Hebrew is vital to the Jewish people because the language is the way in which culture transfers itself from generation to generation. We Zionists lie when we say we took a dead language and turned it into a living language. It isn't true. We took a living language and turned it into a spoken language . Every rabbinical Responsa throughout the generations was written in Hebrew.

When a Jew tried to speak German it came out Yiddish. Why? Because there were certain things you could only say in Hebrew. When a Jew tried to speak Persian, it came out Persian-Hebrew, Spanish - Ladino, Arabic - Mugrabit. Hebrew as a conveyer of central concepts of Jewish life has always been essential to our lives.


At my welcoming party in Baltimore (in those days they threw a party for Israeli emissaries when they arrived, nowadays, only when they leave), someone said to me - see that guy over there, he is Bob, the director of the Jewish Federation. If you want to do anything, he is boss. He was a tall good looking guy, dressed to kill. I went up to him, and said 'Shalom, my name is Avraham. You've got to fix that sign.' He said 'what are you talking about?' I said, 'Judaism is not a religion'. You should have seen the look on his face. Total and absolute shock.

Imagine the following conversation between myself and Bob. Bob, are you religious? He says 'God forbid.' Do you ever eat kosher? 'If there is nothing else available, I'll eat the stuff.' Do you ever keep Shabbat? 'No.' Do you ever pray? 'No.' Do you ever go to synagogue or temple? 'I go once a year to see the guys'. Are you religious? 'NO.'  What is Judaism? 'A religion.' What are you? 'I am Jewish.' Great logic, right?

He could have done the same thing to me.                                                                                                                       

Do you ever keep Shabbat? 'At least once a week.' Do you ever pray? 'Three times a day.' Do you ever eat kosher? 'All the time.' Is Judaism a religion. 'NO way.' What are you? 'I am Jewish.'



Check out this creative startup project being

coordinated by TBE Member

Michael Swartz!  It’s called

“Refunds For Good”

Read on!




I've been working very hard on this website with my friend and business partner Jon Gorham -- at last, we have launched!

We're trying to raise millions of dollars for several AMAZING non-profits that we have researched carefully.

Here's the official press release -- please help us spread the word! Thanks.



Today, American history is being made.

After 109 years, the Phone Excise Tax (originally created to help fund the Spanish American War in 1898) is going away, and in its place is a unique, one-time opportunity to do some good for the planet.

Americans can receive a refund on their tax returns by checking a box or auditing their phone records for the past 41 months.

In February 2007 the IRS reported that one in three early tax filers was not even checking the box to get their "automatic" refund.

To address this problem, two social entrepreneurs, Jonathan Gorham and Michael Swartz in Connecticut have launched a web site to help individuals and organizations get their full phone "War Tax" refunds.

The web site makes it easy for people to donate this "found" money to three worthwhile non-profits, working for sustainable development and renewable energy.

Thirteen Nobel Peace Prize Laureates endorse this web site, as well as Martin Sheen, Ed Begley, Jr., "JR," Larry Hagman and Nate Corddry.

The web site provides a complete on-line Wizard for businesses and non-profits to calculate their phone tax refund for free (it even prints onto form 8913 automatically).

The goals of the portal are simple:

1. To help Americans get their phone tax refunds.

2. To inspire taxpayers to donate some of this money to the three exceptional non-profits carefully researched and chosen to be on the Refunds for Good website.

Refunds for Good turns guns into plow shares by redirecting this unpopular "War Tax" to places where the Earth needs help the most.

I urge you to visit:






And check out this fantastic article on the latest Bar Mitzvah trends, by TBE’s Own Gabi Birkner, writing for the New York Sun.


Latest Philanthropy Trend: Giving Away Bar Mitzvah Gifts



The latest movers and shakers on the philanthropy scene may now be in the middle of a game of freeze dance.

Teenagers celebrating their bar and bat mitzvahs have emerged as a major charitable force — with many giving away their monetary gifts totaling millions annually.

An eighth-grader who has severe nut allergies, Ian Callender, recently asked invitees to his James Bond-themed bar mitzvah party at the Mandarin Oriental Hotel to donate to the Jaffe Food Allergy Institute. The Upper West Side resident's request brought in $30,000. That money enabled the institute, housed at Mount Sinai School of Medicine, to purchase a new machine that helps doctors detect allergies.

Ian's family asked him to consider giving away his bar mitzvah money, and the youngster decided it should go to help other people with food allergies. "Every time I go to a restaurant, I have to ask, ‘Are there nuts in this?' and ‘Am I okay eating this?'" Ian, now 14, said. "It's been a major part of my life. I wanted to make my gift personal."

An Upper East Sider who relished his summers at sleep-away camp, Jacob Lewin, used his bar mitzvah money to establish a $15,000 summer camp scholarship fund, benefiting children with life-threatening illnesses. In advance of her bat mitzvah, Meredith Bilski of ChappaquaN.Y., worked with friends to raise $30,000 to start a girls' soccer team at an Israeli community center she had visited.

New York party coordinator Harriette Rose Katz said about 30% of the 100-plus bar and bat mitzvahs she plans each year involve some kind of charitable-giving component. Many families place "in lieu of gifts" note-cards in the invitation envelope, she said. With so many philanthropic dollars in the hands of youngsters, Jewish communal organizations have stepped up to teach children about responsible charitable giving. In August, the New York-based Jewish Funders Network launched a division that will act "a clearinghouse of Jewish youth philanthropy" programs across the country, the division director, Stefanie Zelkind, said. Attaching a social action component to a bar or bat mitzvah celebration is not new. Through the 1980s, it was common for American teenagers to participate in "twinnings" — bar and bat mitzvah celebrations in honor of youngsters in the Soviet Union, where religion could not be freely practiced. These days, teenagers — often urged on by their philanthropic parents — are more likely to give back through a combination of charitable donations and hands-on volunteer work.

Through a bar mitzvah philanthropy program called "Give a Mitzvah — Do a Mitzvah," 27 teenagers last year gave away a total of more than $400,000 to UJA-Federation of New York charities, the program's coordinator, Leslie Pappas, said. Federation staffers work one-on-one with teenagers to help the youngsters determine where their bar and bat mitzvah money will go, and how they can get involved in related hands-on community service projects.

In 2006, one local "Give a Mitzvah — Do a Mitzvah" participant raised $53,000, which paid for heating, cooking fuel, and warm clothing for impoverished, elderly Jews in St. Petersburg, Russia. Another collected $52,000 to fund outdoor adventure experiences for disabled teenagers in Israel, Ms. Pappas said.

Mitzvah is the Hebrew word for commandment, but also is used to connote a good deed.

Not all families follow the same model of bar mitzvah giving. Some pay into collective synagogue- or community-based funds — and give their bar and bat mitzvah-age children the precocious responsibility of making grants with that money. Such a fund was established last year at Ansche Chesed, a Conservative synagogue on the Upper West Side. Bar and bat mitzvah students last year met with representatives from charities before granting $9,000 to three organizations dedicated to fighting child abuse. The synagogue also gives each bar or bat mitzvah a $180 charitable gift certificate. Teenagers then donate that money to the nonprofit organization of their choice.

"It's very easy for kids to get very big eyes, and say, ‘I'm going to buy the biggest iPod that ever was,'" the spiritual leader of Ansche Chesed, Rabbi Jeremy Kalmanofsky, said. The synagogue's philanthropy projects teach youngsters that their coming-of-age ceremonies aren't about iPods or whatever loot their bar or bat mitzvah money can buy, Rabbi Kalmanofsky said. "It makes it, as the saying goes, a little less bar and a little more mitzvah — and I think that's a wonderful thing," he said.

A father of a child who recently celebrated his bar mitzvah, Hugh Pollack, said the focus on bar mitzvah philanthropy helps deflect attention from the lavish parties that so often mark the occasion. "Maybe after some of the excesses got people thinking, ‘Wait, we should really take a look at this," Dr. Pollack, whose son donated some of his bar mitzvah money to the Metropolitan Council on Jewish Poverty, said.

Some teenagers are even using their bar or bat mitzvah money to set up 20-year charitable "Bnai Tzedek" endowments in their names. Each year, about 5% of that endowment is donated to a charity Jewish chosen by the teenager.

This endowment model of bar mitzvah giving was pioneered a decade ago by the Harold Grinspoon Foundation. More recently, the Springfield, Mass.-based foundation, partnering with community-based Jewish groups, has helped establish 36 Bnai Tzedek programs in 26 states, and three Canadian provinces.

Even a decade ago, doing a volunteer project or giving away money wasn't de rigueur for youngsters celebrating their bar or bat mitzvahs, a Bnai Tzedek director, Valerie Gintis, said. "Now, it's not just about studying with a rabbi, and planning a party," she said. "Now, the mitzvah project has become part of the rite-of-passage — part of the ritual itself."


And speaking of “TBE’s own” in the journalistic field,

check out Sam Ginsburg’s column in the Pitt News:

Hamas no better than school bully”





Mitzvah/Tzedakkah Opportunties

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



Mitzvah Project for Alex Rosenberg



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


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


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


Thank you in advance!

Alex Rosenberg




The Highest Level of Tzedakkah: Job Networking

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



Free Them Now


Ehud Goldwasser         Eldad Regev            Gilad Schalit

 Kidnapped Israeli Soldiers


 Click for more information

 Sign the petition at


Pre-Passover Hametz Food Collection

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








There is a custom today to add the Imahot (Matriarchs) to the first blessing of the Amidah .

Is it permissible to do so according to Jewish law?


               We’ve been following this egalitarian practice for a decade now, and it is a change with the backing of Conservative Halachic authorities  - and the change has been incoropated into a number of Conservative prayerbooks.  For an opposing view, see this recently released responsa from Rabbi David Golinkin of the Schechter Institute in Israel, at  Here is a brief excerpt from the conclusion of his interesting and detailed presentation:

I have been impressed by the sincere desire to include the Imahot in the Amidah and to make the Amidah more relevant. The problem is not the goal but rather the method . The method of changing the beginning and ending of the Avot is contrary to halakhah , contrary to our liturgy and contrary to classical theology as explained above, and stems from the fact that the idea apparently originated with Jews who are not well-versed in Jewish law and in Hebrew. (24)

But there is an authentic way to insert changes and innovations into the Amidah and that is through the use of piyyutim . From the talmudic peorid onward, liturgical poets continually composed piyyutim in which they expounded the weekly portion and even related to contemporary events. (25) This approach was especially popular in the Land of Israel until the end of the Geonic period. The authentic and traditional way to add the Imahot to the Amidah is to compose a short piyyut or several short piyyutim which will be recited in the middle of Avot or in the middle of other blessings of the Amidah . (26) In this way, the Imahot can be added without changing the ancient wording of the Amidah itself.

Rabbi Dr. Einat Ramon , the Dean of the Schechter Rabbinical Seminary in Jerusalem , has composed such a piyyut and it is found in an Appendix to this teshuvah .(27) I hope that such piyyutim will be adopted by synagogues who wish to incorporate the Imahot into the Amidah in a halakhic and authentic fashion.

A Piyyut about the Imahot
for Inclusion in the Avot Blessing
by Rabbi Dr. Einat Ramon

to be inserted after the words “l'ma'an shemo b'ahavah” :

Navo'ah oholei Sarah, Rivka, Rachel v'Leah.

Utehi gemilut hasdeihen lefaneinu b'khol eit u'v'khol sha'ah.


Let us enter the tents of Sarah, Rebecca, Rachel and Leah. May their acts of loving-kindness be an example to us at all times.




Passover Journeys


Passover through Archaeology and Rare Documents

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

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



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


Here are five different versions of Had Gadya!


Ashkenaz - Switzerland tradition, Yitzhak and Mordechai Brom performance

Ashkenaz – Berlin tradition, Oskar Goldberg performance

France tradition, Adolf Attia performance

Italy tradition, Alessandro Sagerra performance

Tunisia tradition, Michael Sitbon performance







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


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


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


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

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

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


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

5767 / 2007 COMPLETE PASSOVER HAGGADAH: .rtf Edition

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

5767 / 2007 COMPLETE PASSOVER HAGGADAH: Davkawriter 3.0 and higher

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


And thanks to Lori Tobin for sending along this very cute Passover video,





1. No alarm clock needed here-instead we have the clanging of the garbage trucks as they roll through the neighborhood every morning during the 2 weeks before Pesah to accomodate all the refuse from the furious Cleaning going on in every household.  The day before the seder they make their rounds at least twice during the day.


2. Street scenes change every day according to what's halachically necessary:  For the week before the holiday, yeshiva students wielding blow torches and tending huge vats of boiling water are stationed every few blocks and in the courtyard of every mikveh.  The lines to toyvel(dunk) cutlery, kiddush cups and the like, start to grow every  day, and, at the last minute, blow torches are at the ready to cleanse  oven racks and stove tops of every last gram of hametz.

3. The day before the Seder, the yeshiva students are replaced by families using empty lots to burn the remainders of their hametz gleaned from the previous night's meticulous search.  Street corner flower vendors do great business too.

4. Most flower shops stay open all night for the two days before Pesah, working feverishly to complete the orders for delivery to grace Seder tables.


5. Meah Shearim and Geula merchants generally run out of heavy plastic early in the week before Pesah.  In a panic, I make an early morning run to the Mahaneh Yehuda market to successfully snap up a few meters of the handy material.

6. No holiday here is complete without a strike or two.  Last year, the doctors came to agreement to end their month long walkout just hours before the start of Pesah and gas suppliers at Ben Gurion airport decided to use the opportunity to cause havoc to the plans of 200,000 Israelis who travel abroad for the holiday.  A wildcat strike caused delays in arrivals and departures at the airport too.

7. Good luck if you haven't scheduled an appointment for a pre-Pesah/Omer haircut.  You can't get in the door at most barber and beauty shops.

8. Mailboxes are full of Pesah appeals from the myriad of organizations helping the poor celebrate Pesah.  Newspapers are replete with articles about selfless Israelis who volunteer by the hundreds in the weeks before the holiday to collect, package and distribute Pesah supplies to the needy.


9. The biggest food challenge to those of us ashkenazic, non-kitniyot (legume) eaters is finding cookies etc. made without kitniyot.  But most years, many restaurants in the city stayed open offering special Pesah menus-most without kitniyot, to accommodate the largely Ashkenazic tourist population that used to be their bread and butter  (matzo & butter?)  This year, with the dearth of tourists, we may end up spending most meals at


10. Since most of the country is on vacation for the entire week of Pesah, all kinds of entertainment and trips are on offer, despite the jihad being waged against us.  Ads appear for everything from the annual Carlebach festival to a "Tour de Pesah" bicycle extravaganza at the Bloomfield Science Museum.  There's Jewish Film Week at the Jerusalem Cinematheque and Tel Aviv weighs in with a Drag Festival.

11. Pesah with its theme of freedom and exodus always evokes news stories about recent olim.  Last year's focus was the Jewish community of Cuba.  Hundreds of Cuban Jews and their non-Jewish relatives arrived in Israel during the year to fill up absorption centers in Ashkelon and Beersheva. 


12. This just in: According to Israel's Brandman Research Institute study, 43 million people hours will be spent nationwide in Israel's cleaning preparations for Passover this year. How does that break down?  Of those cleaning hours, 29 million are done by women and 11 million by men.  Persons paid to clean do the remaining 3 million hours at a cost of NIS 64 million ($15.6 million).

13. On erev Pesah, dozens of members of various movements intent on preserving our connection to the Temple, re-enact the ritual Pesah sacrifice on Jerusalem's Givat Hananya.  The hill is located in the neighborhood of Abu Tor and is named for the High Priest Hananya of the Second Temple period.  Participants emphasize that their slaughter and roasting of a young goat is a preface to making the sacrifice, since they are wary of creating the impression that they are renewing the sacrificial act outside the Temple Mount.


14. Israel's two chief rabbis sell the nation's hametz to an Arab resident of Abu Ghosh. Estimated worth: 150 million shekel.  


15. In the Galut (Diaspora), Pesah is Israel it's celebrated.


Pesach Potpourri


Check out this superb collection of Pesach customs and other background material, from Prof. David Golinkin at the Schechter Institute, at   Here are some excerpts (but you really have to see the full article)…


The holiday of Pesah has been blessed with hundreds of laws. Indeed, almost one-sixth of Shulhan Arukh Orah Hayyim is devoted to the laws of Pesah. It has also been blessed with many well-known customs that have been discussed and debated by various scholars.


1.     … Passing the Matzah

When Persian Jews reach the ha lahma paragraph the mula takes the three matzot shemurot wrapped in a white cloth in his fingers, chants ha lahma… kadesh u’r’hatz… The three matzot go down the line from hand to hand. Young and old, men and women – each person is required to recite ha lahma and kadesh u’r’hatz until each participant has done so.29

What is the source of this custom? Rabbi Elazar says in the Tosefta: “One grabs the matzah for the children so that they should not sleep”.30 The rishonim gave five different explanations for this passage. Maimonides’ explanation was codified in his code (Hametz Umatzah 7:3): ”… so that the children will ask questions. And one grabs the matzah from one hand to another and the like”. This interpretation was subsequently supported by Rabbeinu Manoah (ca. 1264) and quoted by the Meiri (ca. 1300).31

So it seems that the Persian custom reflects a literal understanding of Maimonides’ interpretation of Rabbi Elazar.


2.     Seder Plate on the Head

In 1985, Shemuel ben Hallal, an Israeli who stems from Morocco via Venezuela, told me that in his family they recite the sentence “bivhilu yatzanu mimitzrayim” - “In haste we left Egypt” three times before ha lahma. Then the person leading the seder walks around the table three times tapping the seder plate on the head of each participant, each time tapping harder. The children like to jump up in order to hit the seder plate with their heads.

As it turns out, this custom did not begin in Morocco in the twentieth century, but rather in Spain in the fourteenth century.32 The first evidence for this custom is in an illustration found in the Barcelona Haggadah (ca. 1350) in which a father is shown balancing the seder plate or basket of matzot on the head of one of his children.33

The Guadalajara Haggadah, which was printed in Spain ca. 1480, is the first known printed Haggadah. The instructions before ha lahma read: “v’nosin hake’arah al rashey hatinikot” - “and one lifts/carries the seder plate on/over the heads of the children”.34 The Hida, R. Hayyim Yosef David Azulay, visited Tunis in 1774. Rahamim, the servant of his host, took the seder plate and passed it three times over the head of each male participant. When he started to do the same to the women, the Hida told him not to, using a play on words based on Judges 5:30.35

Benjamin II mentioned above, described this custom among North African Jews, especially in Tunis, ca. 1853 and related that if a person did not have the seder plate passed over his head, “he believed that he would be unlucky for the rest of his life”.36 R. Alexander Levinson, an Ashkenazic Jew, visited the Jews of Omzav in the Sahara desert. When the eldest person touched his head with the seder plate, Levinson did not know what was happening. He jumped up and flipped the entire plate. When he saw that everyone was angry at him, he told them he had done so in order to remember the parting of the Reed Sea!37

R. Ya’akov Moshe Toledano describes the Moroccan custom in his Ner Hama’arav published in 1911,38 while Ida Cowen describes the same custom among the Jews of Izmir, Turkey in 1971.39 Indeed, it is common until today among the Jews of Libya, Morocco, Tunis and Djerba.40 What is the reason for this interesting custom?

R. Shemtob Gaguine asked some Moroccan rabbis in 1932. They replied that they believe that if they circle the seder plate around the heads of the participants, it can protect them from all harm and a long list of blessings will come upon them. R. Gaguine himself wrote that in his opinion the custom was meant to encourage the children to ask questions.41 Tuvia Preschel explains that R. Gaguine guessed correctly – in an indirect fashion.

The Talmud says (Pesahim 115b): “Why do we uproot the table? The house of R. Yannai said: so that children should notice and ask questions”. R. Moshe Pisanti supplies the missing link between the talmudic custom and the Spanish-North African custom in his Hukkat Hapesah, a Haggadah commentary published in Salonika in 1569. He says that he found a source which says that we must “lift the seder plate for the recitation of Mah Nishtanah42 Furthermore, when they lift the seder plate, they pass it over the heads of the participants in order that they should wonder about it and ask questions…”43 In other words, “uprooting the table” in the Talmud so that the children should notice and ask questions became “lifting the seder plate”. In the course of lifting the plate and putting it on the side, it passed over the heads of the participants. One thing led to another and by the fourteenth century, the father was placing the seder plate on the heads of the children so that they should ask questions.


3.     Haroset with an Earthy Flavor

R. Zidkiyahu ben Avraham writes in his Shiboley Haleket (Italy, ca. 1250): “Some put a little clay or grated brick [in the haroset] in memory of the clay”.44 R. Menahem di Lonzano (Italy, d.1608) reacted to this custom:


I was aghast to see such madness. Maybe on Purim they will draw blood, in memory of the decree of death! But they need to change anguish to joy and bad to good! And this mistake stems from a scribal error in the Rashbam and Rashi to Pesahim (fol. 116a) where it says “and heres (clay) which they pound in memory of the clay”. And I checked in an old manuscript of the commentary which says: “And haroset which they pound in memory of the clay”. And this is undoubtedly correct, for this is a commentary on the words “haroset zekher latit” in the Talmud.45

The Bet David by R. Yosef Philosof (Salonika, 1740) reports that “in Salonika the elders testified that they used to put chopped calermini stone in the haroset”.46 The Hida, who quotes all of the above, concludes: “But it seems that this custom is not practiced in most towns”.47

During the American Civil War (1860-1865), a group of Jewish Union soldiers made a seder for themselves in the wilderness of West Virginia. They had none of the ingredients for traditional haroset available, so they put a real brick in its place on the seder plate!48

Finally, Shemuel ben Hallal informs me that his Moroccan uncle, who is a rabbi in Brooklyn, is accustomed to grating rocks into the haroset. Indeed, he adds so much rock that the haroset tastes terrible!

I do not believe that these customs are based on a scribal error in Rashi or Rashbam. Rather, this is an attempt to illustrate the slavery of the Israelites in Egypt in a very “concrete” fashion!

4.     Parched Grain and Nuts

In the talmudic period, parched grain and nuts were the equivalent of candy and chocolate today. Thus the Mishnah in Bava Metziah (4:12), which lists unfair business practices, says that “a storekeeper should not distribute parched grain and nuts to children because he accustoms them to come to his store”.

This is the background for Rabbi Yehudah who says in a beraita (Pesahim 109a) that one distributes parched grain and nuts to children on Erev Pesah so that they should ask questions and not fall asleep.

The Talmud Yerushalmi (Pesahim 10:1, fol. 37b) adds that Rabbi Tarfon used to do so. This halakhah was codified by Maimonides (Hametz Umatzah 7:3 and Yom Tov 6:17-18). The Soncino Haggadah published in 1486 says that the seder plate must include parched grain and nuts “for the children so that they should ask questions and not fall asleep”.49 A modern equivalent would be to distribute candy or chocolate to the children so that they should not fall asleep.



Jewish and Israeli Links:


A great resource on all things Jewish:

The best Jewish site for Jewish learning:



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


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

Media-Related Links:


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


Other Jewish Sites

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

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

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

A Jewish Guide to the Internet:

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

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

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

You can find an online Hebrew dictionary at

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

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

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

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

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




The Beth El Bar/Bat Mitzvah Commentary



Excerpts from Spencer Evans’ D’Var Torah on Parshat Vayakhel - Pekuday


In the spirit of where we are in the Jewish calendar, I would like to begin with a joke:


Q: Why do seagulls live near the sea?

A: Because if they lived near the bay, they would be called bagels.


Today is Shabbat ha-Hodesh – a new month is about to begin.   The month that is ending, Adar, is considered one of our most joyous.  In fact, The Talmud states, “When Adar begins, our joy increases.” –


But this new month that we announce today is even more joyous! 


We have so much to look forward to:

      • This Wednesday is literally the first day of spring.   And the new month of Nisan is called the month of spring.  It begins just one day earlier, on Tuesday.
      • Also, the month of March is the month of spring training.  The new baseball season is just two short weeks away – and I feel sorry for all the Yankee fans here today, especially Jarad, because you will be quite disappointed when the Mets win it all in October.  
      • Finally, we look forward to Passover, which is just a couple of weeks away.


So if in Adar we were commanded to be happy, with the coming of Nisan, now we can be especially happy.

And how do Jews express their happiness?  Well, there’s always eating.  And if eating doesn’t work, there’s always guilt.  But most of all, Jews use humor to express their happiness!


In Adar, that was done with Purim jokes and costumes.


But in Nisan, we express our joy by eating matzah for a whole week! Isn’t that fun! A week of matzah is exactly what I would have in mind during a spring vacation.  But there’s still something humorous about it.  Like watching my dog devour a piece of matzah that I sneak to her under the Seder table, and then watching her try to clean her teeth with her tongue. 


Humor has always been important to me. I even started my speech with a joke.  All of my favorite shows are on Comedy Central.  All my favorite movies are comedies, like Austin Powers, Zoolander and the Bird Cage, – and of course, the incredible Borat.


In fact, I plan to add a fifth question to the Seder this year: Why is Borat the all time best movie?  Part of the reason is because the humor is so Jewish!

It makes fun of anti-Semitism and other forms of prejudice by showing how ridiculous hatred can be.  For example, Borat throws money at cockroaches because he thinks that the Jews shape-shifted.  That scene was both funny and scary at the same time – scary because some people in this world actually believe those things.


Sacha Baron Cohen shows how people in America are very tolerant of such hatred – at one point Borat sings a song in a bar that is very offensive to Jews, but still he manages to get everyone else to sing along.


If only I could get Borat to come to my Seder, he would realize how much fun Jews can be – and also that we do eat a lot! 

So I have lots of reasons to be joyous on this Shabbat ha-Hodesh, aside from this little thing that is happening here this morning – my bar mitzvah.  I want to wish everyone a happy spring, a happy month – and happy Passover too!


For my mitzvah project, I’ve been volunteering at the Bulls Head Animal Hospital every week.  I love working with the animals, especially an old cat named Rosie, who now must be into just about her third set of nine lives. However, I am still waiting to take care of my first seagull!



Excerpts from Lindy Fruithandler’s D’var Torah on Parshat Vayikra


          As many of you know, I’m a real animal lover.  It goes back to the very beginning of my life.  I’ve been told that the second word I ever spoke was most likely “doggie.”  Legend has it that I would be in the car and when we passed someone walking a dog, I would point my finger out the window and say, “doggie.”  By the time I was five or six, I was asking for a dog.  This was no disrespect to Fluffy the guinea pig, my first pet that didn’t live in a fish tank, but I really, really wanted a dog.  I’m happy to say that my parents listened to me and my dream to own a dog came true…(PAUSE)…about four weeks ago.  That’s when Rusty came into my life.  He’s a Maltzu from the Stamford Animal Shelter.  I now can’t imagine life without him – and it’s nice knowing that I was able to help out a homeless animal at the same time.


          My portion talks a lot about animals who were not as fortunate as Rusty, because they were designated to be sacrifices.  I’m glad Judaism doesn’t allow for animal sacrifices anymore.  As much as I don’t like that system, my portion shows us how important animals were to people back then, (pause) maybe even more important than they are now.  Back then, without animals, there couldn’t have been any worship.  Our ancestors understood that animals have so much to teach us, about life and giving…and about meaning of sacrifice.


          I know one animal who has really helped me in that respect.  His name is Texas.  He’s not a state – he’s a horse, a 43-year-old horse.  That’s like being a 110-year-old person!  Most horses aren’t allowed to jump after the age of 30.  Texas can still jump three and a half feet.  He loves nothing more than to be ridden and to work for people, so he refuses to retire.  For him, the sacrifice of giving rides to people, even when he is almost too old to bear the weight, is something that gives his life a purpose.  It’s getting harder for him all the time.  While I was riding him last summer, after a couple of laps of a canter (look at cantor – that’s c-a-n-t-E-r!), he would get tired and need to switch to his other leg to lead.  But he never slowed down.


A few years ago, the people at the barn tried to retire him.  He protested by refusing to eat.  So they tried an experiment.  They gave him an experimental lesson with a real light person, and he ate that night.  Then they didn’t let him give a lesson the next day, and he didn’t eat that night.  So they let him be ridden the next day, and he ate.  When it became clear that this animal lived only to be able to give lessons, they allowed him to continue working.  During camp last summer, I rode Texas every day except Sunday,  for four hours a day; two hours with jumping.  He never got tired.  He still loves to run and gallop up to jumps.  I recently got a newsletter from camp saying that he’s doing well and is as eccentric as ever.

          As you can see, animals have a lot to teach us, especially about the meaning of sacrifice.  And the more we learn about giving from them, the more we will be able to give TO them, and to one another.

          One way that I show my desire to give is through my mitzvah project.  I have collected money, as well as dog and cat items with a box here at the temple, to be donated to adopt-a-dog.





Required Reading and Action Items



Some GOOD NEWS from Israel 21c,,

 and other sources



Soccer Mania – Israel vs England


Perhaps the most important soccer match in recent years for Israel will take place this weekend (2:30 EDT on Shabbat), as their national team takes on England in Tel Aviv.  According to


“This is potentially a killer match for either team should they lose on Saturday and the pressure on England in particular will be huge. Steve McClaren is already under intense scrutiny and seems to have little support amongst the media and support so he can no afford anything other than a victory. However, Israel have established themselves as a decent outfit that are capable of being on the fringes of qualification themselves.

After dropping points at home to Macedonia and dismally away to Croatia England are lurking behind Croatia and Russia, who could well both win on Saturday. A five-point gap between themselves and the top two would be catastrophic at this stage and leave the margin for error almost non-existent.

England are suffering from a few injuries, which has shown up the frailty of their squad and the lack of depth at their disposal. The weak areas are in attack and at full-back with only Wayne Rooney really international class in these positions. At full-back Ashley Cole, Wayne Bridge and Gary Neville are all missing, which leaves Micah Richards set to be thrown in at the deep end and Jamie Carragher asked to play out of position.

Israel have their own answer to Rooney in teenager Ben Sahar, who is creating a lot of attention and will be the player to watch if gets a go at England's defence during the match, which could be watched by very few English supporters due to a worker strike in the country.

The preparations are favouring the home nation, but England should find the quality they do still have and pull it out of the bag when it matters.”


More details:

PREVIEW-Soccer-Israel prepare celebration for embattled England

We're all set for kick-off!

Israel to show teen spirit in England clash


Other good news


Israeli mini-UAVs being used by US forces in Iraq and Afghanistan  
A tiny unmanned aerial vehicle manufactured by leading Israeli defense electronics companies Elbit is operational "and currently deployed in the global war on terror in Israel, Iraq and Afghanistan," the company said in a statement released this week ahead unveiling the UAV to the public at an air show in Australia. The Skylark, which can be carried, launched and operated by a single soldier, covers an area within a range of seven miles day or night, and can be used for both military and homeland security applications. More...


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


Profiles | Israeli social work professor lays down the groundwork for mental health  
A former 60s hippie introduced Julie Cwikel to the term 'social epidemiology' when she was working on her doctoral thesis on how social networks affect health at the University of Michigan. Now the Ben Gurion University academic and founder and director of the BGU Center for Women's Health Studies and Promotion, has gone on to write the world's first comprehensive textbook on the subject. Her book, Social Epidemiology, Strategies for Public Health Activism, teaches students how to study the connections between society and health, and to use that knowledge to promote health at both the individual and the national level. More...


Technology | Israeli discovery converts dangerous radioactive waste into clean energy  
One man's garbage is another man's treasure. That's what the founders of Israeli company Environmental Energy Resources (EER) have discovered after inventing a reactor that converts radioactive and municipal waste into clean energy, glass and recyclable material for building roads, without a trace of pollution and at substantially lower prices than competing methods. With the need for safer hazardous waste disposal methods getting more critical, it's hardly surprising that EER already has an agreement already under its belt with the leading waste management company in the USMore...


Health | Israeli system turns contaminated water into drinking water - instantly  
Israeli company Watersheer has developed an innovative new purification system which can instantly transform contaminated water into clean water. Ideal for stranded hikers, soldiers, or disaster victims who are unable to find a source of clean water, the tiny, cork size device can be plugged into virtually any size bottle, container or tap, and can purify up to 1,000 liters of water without being replaced. With an alpha version already available, the company expects to begin mass production in June. "The product we've developed is going to save lives," asserts Yossi Sandak, Watersheer's CEO. More...


Feasting on Israel’s fashion plate By KARIN KLOOSTERMAN

Good-bye ParisMilan and London. And who needs New York when Tel Aviv has its own hip fashion scene, brought into full spectrum light at the biannual Fashion Market?

For over a decade, the two-day event at the end of the winter and summer seasons draws tens of thousands of women and men - celebrities and commoners alike - looking to upgrade their wardrobe. They also come to see and be seen mingling among the 120 different Israeli designers - some on the way up like Ido Recanati, and others well established and internationally successful such as Sigal Dekel.

Continue reading The Fashion Market…


And now, two signs that the Apocalypse is coming…


JERUSALEM (Reuters) - U.S. restaurant chain Hooters, known for waitresses in low-cut blouses and short skirts, will open its first branch in Israel this summer, in the Mediterranean seaside city of Tel Aviv.

“I strongly believe that the Hooters concept is something that Israelis are looking for,” Ofer Ahiraz, who bought the Hooters franchise for Israel, told Reuters Monday. “Hooters can suit the Israeli entertainment culture.”

At Hooters, waitresses the company calls Hooters Girls serve spicy chicken wings, sandwiches, seafood and drinks.

Continue reading ‘DD’ for Effort Ahiraz…


Tired of Israelis who don’t know their dinner spoon from their soup spoon? Fingerbowls from saucers? Who can’t make a simple decorative napkin-holder for thanksgiving using only stock paper, an Exacto knife, and a pencil?

If you are, have no fear: Martha Stewart has come to the rescue. According to our friends over at Ice news, Martha Stewart’s website is now available in Hebrew, bringing millions of Israelis access to her experience in homemaking. The people of the Holy Land will now be able to surf her site, watch her videos, and learn all about the art of entertaining, decorating a home, and all of that stuff. I’m sure it won’t be long before every Israeli household has at least one set of homemade felt fine china protectors.

Probably… Check out the new Hebrew website here.

(For the English website, click here)



now for the rest


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

See also


The New PA Government: Composition, Platform, and Implications
On March 17, 2007, the Palestinian Legislative Council ratified the establishment of a new national unity government. Prime Minister Ismail Haniyeh read out the new government's platform, which clearly reflects Hamas' ideology: no recognition of the right of the State of Israel to exist, adherence to "resistance" (i.e., violence and terrorism) as a "legitimate right" of the Palestinians, and a demand for the implementation of the "right to return" (i.e., the destruction of the State of Israel).
    Prominent among the new government ministers are three independents who have replaced Hamas ministers. Foreign Minister Ziyad Abu Amro, a native of Gaza, is married to an American woman and has American citizenship. He holds a Ph.D in political science and international relations from Georgetown University and has served as Mahmoud Abbas' liaison with Hamas. (Intelligence and Terrorism Information Center at the Center for Special Studies)
    See also The New Palestinian Government Still Hasn't Renounced Terror or Recognized Israel - Khaled Abu Toameh
There is no point in pouring millions of dollars on the "unity" government as long as it's not prepared to make a clear and firm commitment to halt terror and recognize Israel's right to exist. (Wall Street Journal)


Rice's Mideast Minefield - David Ignatius
Secretary of State Rice is signaling her willingness to meet with some members of the Hamas-backed PA "national unity government," even though the Israelis have publicly opposed such a move. The space she has opened between U.S. and Israeli positions is quite small, but as she prepares for another trip to the Middle East, Rice is sending the message that she is pressing ahead with her diplomatic efforts to broker the creation of a Palestinian state.
    Israel's worry is that Rice is giving ground in ways that will only embolden Hamas. Abbas also failed to deliver on his promise that Hamas would release captured Israeli soldier Gilad Shalit before formation of a unity government. Meanwhile, Israeli security officials see Hamas expanding its military force in Gaza, with 12,000 troops and longer-range missiles with more-lethal warheads. (Washington Post)


Theoretical Truce - Hillel Halkin
The new Palestinian government is to be treated as if it were really two governments, one a "good," pro-peace-with-Israel government that can be dealt with and one a "bad," anti-peace one that will continue to be boycotted. The prime minister of this government, Hamas leader Ismail Haniyeh, continues to refuse to recognize Israel, has ruled out a permanent peace with it, and has expressed his hope and expectation that it will disappear one day. By joining forces with him on this basis, which it had pledged never to do, it is Fatah and its leader Mahmoud Abbas who have given in to Hamas, not vice versa.
    A negotiated peace with the Palestinians is at the moment unattainable. The new Palestinian government could fall apart in a matter of months. But if it doesn't, or if Hamas remains in power in any case, Hamas has often spoken of a hudna, or Islamic truce, wi th Israel that would involve a long-term cessation of hostilities without peace or recognition. Theoretically, such a truce could last for years. Under the circumstances, it might be the best deal for everyone that could be reached. (New York Sun)


Hang Tough with Hamas - Editorial (Los Angeles Times)

  • On Tuesday, the U.S. consul general in Jerusalem met the Palestinian finance minister in the West Bank town of Ramallah. In authorizing such a contact, Secretary of State Rice was breaking ranks with Israel, which has refused to talk to representatives of the Hamas-Fatah coalition. But, now as in the past, some daylight between the U.S. and Israeli positions is desirable - for both Israel and the U.S. - because it allows Washington to play interlocutor.
  • The Bush administration rightly is drawing the line, however, in refusing to restore aid to the Palestinian Authority until Hamas satisfies the Quartet's conditions. And Hamas has not done so.
  • In a speech last Saturday, the Hamas prime minister, Ismail Haniyeh, defended "resistance in all its forms" even as Abbas was pleading with Palestinians to reject "all forms of violence." On Monday, a Hamas sniper shot and wounded an Israeli electric company worker near the Gaza border.
  • Fortunately, an embargo on aid to the PA hasn't prevented humanitarian assistance from reaching Palestinians through organizations such as the UN's World Food Program. That fact makes it easier for the U.S. to argue - even as it talks to Palestinian moderates - that the Quartet must hang tough with Hamas.


MK Melchior: Alert Abbas to PA Textbooks - Haviv Rettig
"You can't have agreements while this kind of hatred is inculcated in the children," Knesset Education Committee Chairman Michael Melchior (Labor-Meimad) said on Tuesday after seeing new 12th-grade textbooks published by the PA. Melchior's statements followed a Palestinian Media Watch presentation at the Knesset showing Palestinian 12th grade textbooks teaching children in the PA that pursuing Israel's destruction was a religious duty.
    The schoolbooks, the products of the official education arm of the PA, written by Fatah-appointed officials at the Center for Developing the Palestinian Curricula and published by the PA Ministry of Higher Education, are also used by schools in east Jerusalem that are under the jurisdiction of - and receive funding from - Israel's Education Ministry. According to Melchior, the report's findings indicate a trend from "a conflict over land, which can be resolved by partition, to an existential religious conflict that cannot be resolved."  (Jerusalem Post)
    See also Report on Newest Palestinian Schoolbooks: "From Nationalist Battle to Religious Conflict" - Itamar Marcus and Barbara Crook (Palestinian Media Watch)


Turkish Delegation Inspects Dig Near Temple Mount - Lilach Shoval
A seven-man team of Turkish experts arrived in Israel Tuesday to inspect construction work near the Temple Mount in Jerusalem. (Ynet News)


Palestinian Firebomber Killed
The Israel Defense Forces shot and killed Mohammed al-Barghouti and wounded his companion, Hatem Barghouti, on Monday near the West Bank city of Ramallah. Palestinian police confirmed the two were throwing firebombs. (Reuters/Ha'aretz)


Palestinian Gunmen Carjack UN Vehicle in Gaza City
Four masked Palestinian gunmen carjacked a UN Relief and Works Agency vehicle driven by a Palestinian staff worker in Gaza City on Thursday, a spokesman for the UN's refugee mission in Gaza said. (AP/Jerusalem Post)

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


"Talks" with PA Ready to Disappoint - Editorial
Those who want to reopen the aid spigot should remember that giving money directly to the terrorists running the PA has never made the suffering people on the West Bank any less miserable. But it will enable terrorists to launch more attacks against Israel, a democratic ally, and the West. The West Bank regime is in fact a zombie state, kept alive by Western aid and without any real way to sustain itself. It's the UN's own fault. It has kept Palestinians in "camps" for more than 50 years, turning them into long-term welfare cases and keeping alive through countless anti-Israel UN resolutions the hope that, someday, they'll be able to drive Israel into the sea.
    We're perplexed by the Western powers' need to engage in endless rounds of pointless "talks" when those talks inevitably lead to disappointment and violence, not peace. There's one, and only one, path to peace. The PA must recognize Israel's right to exist and renounce the use of terrorism. (Investor's Business Daily)


Engaging Syria Won't Affect Iranian Nukes - Maj.-Gen. (res.) Yaakov Amidror
The nuclear threat in Iran will exist even if Syria completely cuts its ties with the country. Therefore, there is no real basis for those who say that the political process with Syria will help us against the Iranians. This is an illusion. The nuclear threat must be dealt with directly with the Iranians. There is no way to get around this by dealing with the Syrians. (MERIA Journal-Interdisciplinary Center Herzliya)


A Columnist's Blind Spot on Israel - David A. Harris
Nicholas Kristof is a respected New York Times columnist who earned acclaim for focusing our attention on the unfolding tragedy in Darfur. But when it comes to the Arab-Israeli conflict, he has a blind spot. Frankly, Israel doesn't need lectures from well-intentioned journalists on the need for peace. Israel needs well-intentioned partners for peace.
    There's no partner because in the January 2006 elections the Palestinians elected Hamas, a terrorist group dedicated to Israel's annihilation. The Hamas Charter spells that out clearly and unambiguously. Should Israel sit down and talk with Hamas, which controls 11 of the 17 cabinet posts in the new PA government, about the timetable for Israel's own destruction? Given the reality on the ground, and after the Gaza and Lebanon experiences, Olmert can't risk further shrinking Israel without a negotiated deal and solid international guarantees.
    Israel has sought peace and coexistence with its Arab neighbors since its establishment in 1948. But peace doesn't come by waving a magic wand or wistfully projecting one's aspirations on others. When a serious and determined Palestinian peace partner emerges as the examples of Egypt's Anwar Sadat and Jordan's King Hussein amply prove, the Israeli people will not need coaxing from an American journalist. The writer is the Executive Director of the American Jewish Committee. (Jerusalem Post)


No Special Status: Israel Does Not Enjoy Any EU Preference
- Oded Eran (Ynet News)

  • In 1994 a German visionary leader, Helmut Kohl, led the Council of the European Union to adopt a statement in the German city of Essen, according to which "preferred status" would be granted to Israeli relations with the EU. Thirteen years after that statement, there is no preference and no special status.
  • Significant implementation of the Essen Declaration would only be possible if one of the following scenarios are realized, and some say both: First, that Turkey and the EU would reach the conclusion that Turkey would not be granted full membership in the EU, and the parties would agree on a "minus membership." This would include opening the EU's institutions, agencies and plans, currently only open to member states, to Turkey as well. At such a stage, neighbors such as Israel and Ukraine could demand a similar status.
  • The second scenario entails achieving a diplomatic settlement regarding the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. There are those in Israel who believe that the EU should offer Israel and Palestine membership in its ranks in order to accelerate an agreement. As I am familiar with the workings of the EU, I am afraid that this idea would further delay the coming of the Messiah rather than hastening it.
  • The possible and desired change would call for a structural change in the EU and a strategic change of thinking in Israel. The EU would have to enable TurkeyUkraine and Israel - perhaps others as well - to join the "Euro space," if they are interested in doing so. Israel would have to decide to join the unified European market - a decision that would be made easier if Chancellor Angela Merkel succeeds in creating a free trade zone between the EU and the U.S.

The writer is Israel's ambassador to the European Union.



JerusalemOnline presents: The Video Collection

Click on any icon to watch great videos from Israel

Israel - Who Knew?
This is Israel Today

Aerial Odyssey
chapter 2
Depths of the Past

Israeli Luxurious
Real Estate
video show

Israelicious –
a Special Recipe
for Pesach

Click on any icon to watch the Best of AIPAC 2007

House Speaker
Nancy Pelosi

Former Director, CIA
James Woolsey

US Vice President
Dick Cheney

Pastor John Hagee

Foreign Minister
Tzipi Livni

AIPAC President
Howard Friedman

Prime Minister
Ehud Olmert

Former Prime Minister
Benjamin Netanyahu






MYTH #257 [Update of #237]


"Saudi Arabia has proposed a new formula for a comprehensive peace."




In an effort to jumpstart the peace process, Saudi Arabia has resurrected the idea of negotiating with Israel on the basis of a formula outlined by then Crown Prince Abdullah in 2002. Abdullah’s ideas were revised and adopted by the Arab League as a peace initiative that offered Israel “normal relations” in exchange for a withdrawal to the 1967 borders and resolution of the Palestinian refugee issue.


In response to the renewed discussion of the plan in March 2007, Prime Minister Olmert expressed a willingness to talk about the Saudi initiative. When the plan was brought up a few months earlier, Olmert reportedly met secretly with a member of the Saudi royal family (Reuters, October 4, 2006). More recently, Israel tried to persuade the Saudis to modify the plan’s position on the refugees to make it more palatable, but the Palestinians objected to any changes.

For the plan to have any chance of serving as a starting point for negotiations, the Saudis and other Arab League members will have to negotiate directly with Israel. In 2002, Prime Minister Ariel Sharon said he would go the Arab League summit to discuss the plan, but he was not invited. The Saudis were also been invited to Jerusalem to discuss their proposal, but they rejected this idea as well.


As it is, this initiative is nothing more than a restatement of the Arab interpretation of UN Resolution 242. The problem is that 242 does not say what the Saudi plan demands of Israel. The resolution calls on Israel to withdraw from territories occupied during the war, not “all” the territories in exchange for peace.

In addition, Resolution 242 also says that every state has the right to live within “secure and recognizable boundaries,” which all military analysts have understood to mean the 1967 borders with modifications to satisfy Israel’s security requirements. Moreover, Israel is under no obligation to withdraw before the Arabs agree to live in peace.

“There are some who have urged, as a single, simple solution, an immediate return to the situation as it was on June 4….this is not a prescription for peace but for renewed hostilities.”

— President Lyndon Johnson, speech on June 19, 1967


The Arab plan calls for Israel to withdraw from the Golan Heights. The Israeli government has offered to do withdraw from most, if not all of the Golan in exchange for a peace agreement; however, Syrian President Bashar Assad has so far been unwilling to negotiate at all with Israel.


The demand that Israel withdraw from “the remaining occupied Lebanese territories in the south of Lebanon” is at odds with the UN conclusion that Israel has completely fulfilled its obligation to withdraw from Lebanese territory.


The Arab initiative calls for a just solution to the Palestinian refugee problem based on the nonbinding UN General Assembly Resolution 194. Today, the UNRWA says that 4.3. million Palestinians are refugees. The current population of Israel is approximately 7 million, 5 million of whom are Jews. If the Palestinians all returned, the population would exceed 10 million and the proportion of Jews and Palestinian Arabs would be roughly 60-40. Given the higher Arab birth rate, Israel would soon cease to be a Jewish state and would de facto become a second Palestinian state (along with the one expected to be created on the West Bank and Gaza Strip). This suicidal formula has been rejected by Israel since the end of the 1948 war and is totally unacceptable to all Israelis today. Israel does, however, recognize a right for all the refugees to live in a future Palestinian state.


Israel has agreed to allow some Palestinian refugees to live in Israel on a humanitarian basis, and as part of family reunification. Thousands have returned already this way. In the past, Israel has repeatedly expressed a willingness to accept as many as 100,000 refugees as part of a resolution of the issue. In fact, one government report said that Israel accepted 140,000 refugees in the decade following the Oslo agreement of 1993 (Jewish Telegraphic Agency, February 6, 2002).


The refugee issue was not part of Abdullah’s original proposal and was added at the summit under pressure from other delegations. Also, it is important to note that Resolution 242 says nothing about the Palestinians and the reference to refugees can also be applied to the Jews who fled and were driven from their homes in Arab countries. Another change from Abdullah’s previously stated vision was a retreat from a promise of full normalization of relations with Israel to an even vaguer pledge of “normal relations.”

The Arab demand that Israel accept the establishment of a Palestinian state in the West Bank and Gaza with East Jerusalem as its capital has been part of the negotiations since Oslo. Israel’s leaders, including Prime Minister Ehud Olmert, have accepted the idea of creating a Palestinian state in part of those territories, and Israel has even offered compromises on the status of Jerusalem, but the Palestinians have rejected them all.


It is also worth noting that most of the Arab League nations have no reason not to be at peace with Israel now. Israel holds none of their territory and is more than willing to make peace with the members of the League. Several members of the League had already begun to normalize relations with Israel before the latest outbreak of violence, and their principal critic was Saudi Arabia.


This article can be found at


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

To order a copy of the paperback edition of Myths and Facts, click HERE. Myths & Facts is also available in Spanish, German, French, Russian, Portuguese, Swedish, and Hebrew.






Come to the NEXT FILM in our Israel Cinema Series!




Passover Fever (1995)


A middle-class Israeli family has a reunion for Passover

and find themselves feasting on a smorgasbord of dysfunction

as they try to cope with their innumerable problems in this drama.





» April Schedule
» April Teen Flyer



























Frogs are Jumping EverywhereAnd Hopping On Over To
Temple Beth El’s Community Seder.
Why Don’t You?


Temple Beth El

350 Roxbury Road



Second Night Community Seder

Tuesday, April 3 at 7:00 PM

(Doors open at 6:45 PM)


Led by Rabbi Joshua Hammerman and Cantor Rachael Littman

Includes traditional Kosher Seder meal

Entertainment and activities for children throughout the evening


Please complete the reservation form below and send it with your check, payable to Temple Beth El, to Temple Beth El, 350 Roxbury RoadStamfordCT 06902.

Reservation deadline is March 22, 2007 – we’ve extended it through the weekend!!!!!






 Prices:      Adults: $55, Children (3-12) $25, Children 2 and under free

                Maximum Price per Family $175, Parents & Kids

                Please check off choice of Entrée. Children’s meal will be Chicken Fingers





































Total Cost





If you have a child who would like to help with the younger children’s activities, please provide their names and ages:            _________________________, _________________________, _________________________.

If you are able to volunteer please check off your preferences:

Clean Up




Children’s Activities


Clean Up



For more information please contact Steven Mayer at 203-316-9195; e-mail or Mark Plotzky at 203-359-2290; e-mail



Learning and Latte at Borders

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

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

This year’s topic:

“Moral Dilemmas for a World in Crisis”

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

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

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


April 10 – What are different ways of imagining God in our traditions? How does God show love?

May 8 – What is the future of religion in America?  The world?  Is religion a source of evil? Can other religions be “true?”  How can pluralism work for the believer?




Support our Temple Gift Shop! 



Youth and family Programming





Temple Beth El Youth Commission

Invites you to a fun-d-raiser:







1:00pm – 4:00pm


$5 per person / $15 per family

Skate rentals available for $4.50 each


In order to reserve your place please fill out attached form by April 1st and send to the Hebrew School office.

Laser tag, mini golf, bowling, batting cages available at additional cost.

Kosher for Passover refreshments will be provided.

Questions? Email:


The Rinks at Shelton

Located off Merritt Parkway Exit 53  (1 mile North of Sikorsky Aircraft)

784 River Road (Rte 110), Shelton, CT, 06484










SUNDAY MAY 20TH , 2007

10:00 am - 12:00pm



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

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


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

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

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





Attention  2nd  and  3rd  graders!



Camp Ramah in New England Presents:



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

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


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

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

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


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


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

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





Camp Ramah in New England35 Highland CircleNeedhamMA 02494

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


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

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

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









Saturday, March 24th


8:30 p.m.                         Meet at Norwalk Rip Van Winkle Lanes

701 Connecticut Ave.Norwalk (see map below)


Pizza will be served.


10:30 p.m.                                                                        Pick Up


Price: $15


Please bring a signed waiver with you to the event.


RSVP by Wednesday, March 21st by emailing


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

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

May 5th or 6th Chelsea PierS

June 3rd - Pool Party

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

All the best!



Hey teens!

If you’re ready for a

new, hip, cool temple experience…

Come to

Teen Synaplex

Saturday, April 7th, 2007!

12:30–2:00 pm

Lunch with friends, with a performance by teen troupe

No Hate But Harmony

2:15–3:15 pm

Teen chat room on surviving high school and getting into the

college you want (hear from HS seniors)

3:20–4:30 pm

FOOTBALL (co-ed) or hear WWII survivors!

4:30 pm

Teen nosh (more food!)

Get ready to have an amazing time!

Bring all your Jewish friends!

No charge!

Temple Beth El • 350 Roxbury Road • Stamford




*CHUTZPA** according to the Funk & Wagnall's Standard Desk Dictionary " US slang meaning**:** brazen, effrontery, nerve, impudence, having gall,  cheeky."   The word is Hebrew in origin*

  Bill Gates decides to organize an enormous session of recruitment for a chairman for Microsoft Europe. The 5000 candidates are all assembled in a large room. One of the candidates is Maurice Cohen, a little Parisian Jews of Tunisian background.

Bill Gates thanks all the candidates for coming and asks that all those who  do not know *JAVA* *program language* rise and leave.  2000 people rise and  leave the room. Maurice Cohen says to himself - I do not know this
language  but what have I got to lose if I stay? I'll give it a try".

  Bill Gates asks all the candidates that those who have never had *experience  of team management of more than 100 people* rise and leave. 2000 people rise and leave the room. Maurice Cohen says to himself - "I have never managed anybody but myself but what have I got to lose if I stay? What can happen to  me"? So he stays.

  Then Bill Gates asks all the candidates who do not have "diplomas in advanced management* to rise and leave. 500 people rise and leave the room. Maurice Cohen says to himself - "I left school at 15 but what have I got to  lose if I stay?  So he stays in the room.

  Lastly, Bill Gates asks all of the candidates who do *not speak the Serbo-Croatian language* to rise and leave.  498 people rise and leave the room. Maurice Cohen says himself - "I do not speak Serbo-Croatian but what the  hell! - have I got anything to lose?"  So he stays in the room.  He finds himself alone with one other candidate - everyone else has gone.

  Bill Gates joins them and says: "Apparently you are the only two candidates who speak Serbo-Croatian, so I'd now like to hear you both have a little conversation in that language!

  Calmly Maurice turns to the other candidate and says to  him: *Baroukh ata Adonai* ".

  The other candidate answers: "*Elohenou melekh haolam*"



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: