Friday, May 23, 2003

SHABBAT-O-GRAM for May 23, 2003 and Iyar 22 5763


May 23, 2003 and Iyar 22 5763

Rabbi Joshua Hammerman, Temple Beth El, Stamford, Connecticut


A Safe and Meaningful Memorial Day Weekend to All


For the history of Memorial Day, go to



I’m aching to put some graduation Mazal Tovs right in this space!  Please send them along!!!


MAZAL TOV to Jake Manela, who won third place in the state History Day competition for his report on Kristallnacht.

MAZAL TOV to Ruben Studdard, for becoming the next “American Idol.”

This week’s sermon topic:: “Is “American Idol” a Good Thing?”



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




This week we’ve had 9 people at minyan a few times and this morning (Friday) just barely had ten, thanks to two people who came in for a yahrzeit.  When we lack a minyan it is terribly demoralizing to those who need us the most.  Please consider coming as often as possible.  One day a week would be great, but if that is not possible, why not pick one day a month (say, the date that your birthday falls) and dedicate yourself to being at minyan on that day (or a day close to it).  We really need your help!



E-mail from the Front” 

Some new mail is in.  Go to and scroll down to the most recent entries.






Friday Night

Candles: 7:53 PM  (gettin’ later all the time)

Kabbalat Shabbat Service: 7:00 PM, OUTDOORS, WEATHER PERMITTING (otherwise in the lobby, which looks likely right now) Dress is casual!

Shabbat Morning:

Service: 9:30 AM

MAZAL TOV to Alex Agatstein, who becomes Bar Mitzvah this Shabbat morning!

Children’s services: 10:30 AM

Torah Portion – Behukotai (The end of the book of Leviticus)

Read the Masorti commentary at 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:  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 To see the weekly commentary from Hillel, geared to college students and others, go to


Morning MinyanDaily at 7:30 AM, Sunday at 9:00 AM in the chapel  (Monday – Memorial Day at 9:00)




Tzedakkah Opportunity of the Week:

“The Highest Level of Tzedakkah”


In this difficult economic climate, many of our Beth El family have fallen victim to corporate downsizing.  The latest to find himself in this predicament is Kenneth Jay Cohen.  (I remind you that we have two Ken Cohens in our congregation, both of whom are very involved in our services.  For purposes of identification, Kenneth J. is single).  Ken recently lost his position with Gartner Inc. He has over 19 years experiences in the IT field specializing in Design, Developing, Maintaining large-scale e-commerce, network and data systems. Extensive experience in Network Security, Internet Infrastructure including: Firewalls, World Wide Web, Cisco Routers, Virtual Private Networks,  Internet protocol suite, Solaris, & Linux.


Most of all Ken is a supreme mensch and dedicated worker, who attends our morning minyan daily and helps with our Shabbat lunches, among his many volunteer efforts for the synagogue.  Maimonides spoke of 8 levels of tzedakkah, the highest being the chance to provide someone with ability to support himself.  I hope that someone out there will be able to help him.


His contact information is: 203-249-6602.


As result of the e-mails I’ve been sending out lately, Laura Jacob, who works in HR, has offered to help people develop resumes and other networking options. She sent me a list of networking groups that might be of interest to people who are looking.  Thank you to Laura.  Some have also expressed the desire to have networking and support groups meeting here.  I am all for that – all it awaits is a person to take the lead in putting it together.






Stamford Hospital has recently implemented very strict policies regarding patient privacy.  Visiting clergy are no longer given unlimited access to the list of patients that are there, and patients’ names have been removed from public places around the nurses’ station and on the door of the room.  Therefore, it is more important than ever before that the synagogue be notified when you or a loved one is in the hospital.  The cantor and I do make regular “rounds” and we would love to visit any congregant; but unless we are notified, we will most likely not know that you or your loved one is there.  Help us help those you love by letting us know. 





Spiritual Journey on the Web









Introducing this week a very nice option for those looking for new sources of Torah study on the ‘Net. This d’var Torah is taken from the Hillel Web site, at


Parshat Bechukotai

"Rewards, Punishments and Free Will - Oh My!"
The Torah portion of Bechukotai includes two of the most compelling yet unnerving principles of biblical law: The first is free will. The other is reward and punishment. This portion opens with God's words to the Israelites: "If you follow my commandments (bechukotai)." If the Israelites follow God's ways, they will be rewarded with health, wealth and prosperity. If not, they will encounter anguish, destruction, poverty and starvation.

Leviticus 26:3-5, 14-18
3. If you follow My laws and faithfully observe My commandments,
4. I will grant your rains in their season, so that the earth shall yield its produce and trees of their field their fruit.
5.Your threshing shall overtake the vintage, and your vintage shall overtake the sowing; you shall eat your fill of bread and dwell securely in your land...
14. But if you do not obey Me and do not observe all these commandments,
15. if you reject My laws and spurn My rules, so that you do not observe all My commandments and you break My covenant,
16. I in turn will do this to you: I will wreak misery upon you - consumption and fever, which cause the eyes to pine and the body to languish; you shall sow your seed to no purpose, for you enemies shall eat it.
17. I will set My face against you: you shall be routed by your enemies, and your foes shall dominate you. You shall flee though none pursues.
18. And if you do not obey Me, I will go on to discipline you sevenfold for your sins. (Translation: JPS Torah Commentary, Etz Hayim)

Your Torah Navigator I
1. What are the ethical lessons we may learn from this passage?
2. Do you agree that suffering can come from failing to observe the laws of Torah?

Rashi's commentary on 26: 15
...And you break My covenant: [This means] denying the great principle of the existence of God. - Thus you have here seven sins the first of which brings the second in its train and so on to the seventh. And these are: he has not studied and therefore has not practiced the commandments: consequently he scorns others who do practice them, hates the Sages, prevents others from practicing, denies the Divine origin of the commandments, and finally denies the existence of God. (Translation: Chumash with Rashi's Commentary ed. Silberman).

Your Rashi Navigator
1. How does Rashi perceive the gravity of not following God's commandments?
2. Do you agree with Rashi's logic, does one's failure to observe parts of God's laws ultimately lead to a denial of God's existence?

Leviticus 26:41-43
41. When I, in turn have been hostile to them and have removed them into the land of their enemies, then at last shall their obdurate heart humble itself, and they shall atone for their iniquity.
42. Then will I remember My covenant with Jacob; I will also remember My covenant with Abraham; and I will remember the land.

Your Torah Navigator II
1. What criteria are required for God to remember the Covenant with Jacob and what does it mean that God will remember the Covenant?
2. What does it mean that God will remember the land?

A Word
The concept of being punished for not faithfully observing God's commandments can be troubling. History has taught us that righteous individuals often suffer for no humanly conceivable reason. The thirty-verse passage, which outlines the punishments to be meted out for disobedience is known as the Tochecha, or rebuke. Even today, when read aloud in synagogues it is customary to read the tochecha quickly and in an undertone indicating the inherently uncomfortable nature of this passage. Rabbi Bernard Bamberger, in his commentary on Leviticus (A Modern Torah Commentary. UAHC Press) suggests that while the tochecha is frightening, Bechukotai as a whole is actually a source of comfort to the modern reader. The blessings and curses are brought on by choices, and the Torah always holds open a "glimmering of hope" of new opportunities for reward and happiness. We may suffer the consequences of our choices, but we are never completely doomed by them.

While the world can seem arbitrary and overwhelming at times, Bechukotai reminds us that with free will we do have a measure of control over our destiny. Even if we cannot understand the greater mystery of the world in general, we understand that the consequences of our conduct are rarely limited to ourselves, and therefore we can try to choose wisely and responsibly. As Bamberger writes, "The question, 'Why did God let Hitler do what he did?' cannot be separated from the question, 'Why did God let Pasteur do what he did."

If we follow the commandments of Torah, the greatest of which include pursuing justice and treating one another as we would like to be treated, we improve the lot of society as a whole. No matter the failings of those who've come before us or ourselves, when we make the decision to live justly and follow God's intention, we have the power to do our share to leave the world a bit better than we found it.

Prepared by Rabbi Shena Potter, assistant director, University of Michigan Hillel.

Learn More
Additional commentaries and text studies on Bechukotai at





Required Reading and Action Items 





Israel's Concerns May Alter Road Map
In an effort to avoid a deadlock in the Middle East peace process, the Bush administration has acceded to Israel's demands that a U.S.-backed peace plan be subjected to significant revisions, U.S. officials said Thursday. They said they expected that Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon would respond by publicly accepting the plan's broad outlines. The White House plans to issue a statement Friday saying the U.S. recognizes Israel's concerns and will seek to address them.
    "The question is how to keep the concept of the road map while changing the substance," one administration official said. Sharon has objected to pulling back forces until the Palestinians disarm groups responsible for suicide bombings. U.S. officials have sympathy for Sharon's position, particularly the domestic political cost of accepting a plan that envisions a freeze on settlement activity. Sharon's cabinet is stocked with officials who oppose a Palestinian state. (Washington Post)


Analysis: Why Israelis are Reacting to Coolly to the New US Roadmap (NPR)


Navy Seizes Hizballah Arms Boat to PA - Margot Dudkevitch
Israeli naval commandos intercepted an Egyptian fishing trawler loaded with bomb components and CDs with bomb-making instructions prepared by Hizballah, as it headed for Gaza from Lebanon Tuesday night. Senior officials in the Prime Minister's Office blamed Arafat, saying only he has the financial resources able to pull off such a mission. The Abu Hassan was seized 100 miles west of Rosh Hanikra. The crew of eight included Hizballah operative and master bomb expert Hamed Muslam Musa Abu Amra. The commandos found five metal boxes containing 122-mm. rocket fuses, other weapons, and bomb-making components, including a radio activation system and electronic delay units. (Jerusalem Post)


Hamas Rebuffs Abbas, Vows to Continue Terrorism - Khaled Abu Toameh
PA Prime Minister Abu Mazen met in Gaza Thursday with a number of Hamas leaders and urged them to accept a temporary cease-fire. The meeting was attended by PA Minister for Security Affairs Muhammad Dahlan. But the Hamas officials quickly announced that they had turned down the request. (Jerusalem Post)


Israel's Hands Now Tied by Road Map - Herb Keinon
Israel's hands are now tied not by the war in Iraq, but by not wanting to do anything that would damage Abbas's chances to take action, or anything that would be perceived in Washington as being the reason why the road map cannot be implemented. According to one senior diplomatic official, we are now in a "very complex and delicate situation that could easily deteriorate into chaos. Everything could blow up, and we don't want to be blamed for scuttling the process." Escalating the situation does not serve Israel now, he said, because it is in Israel's interest for Muhammad Dahlan to start implementing his security "work plan." (Jerusalem Post)


Palestinian Minister: We Need Time - Joshua Brilliant
Palestinian minister for security affairs Mohammad Dahlan told Israel's Channel 2 TV Wednesday that the new government is rebuilding the Palestinian Authority and Israel should stop interfering. "I believe that in two weeks we shall rebuild this ministry and begin with appointments. It's the beginning of rebuilding the (Palestinian) Authority," he said. Dahlan said he did not believe Prime Minister Mahmoud Abbas would visit U.S. President Bush as long as Arafat remains in his headquarters in Ramallah. He said he was building a new Interior Ministry and "It doesn't matter if Chairman Arafat interferes or not." At the moment there is no security coordination nor any security ties with Israel, Dahlan said. A senior Israeli government official said the government was hitting "the terrorist organizations that threaten him [Abbas] more than they threaten us. We are only taking steps to prevent attacks on (our) citizens. We can't take it that every day there will be rocket (attacks) from Gaza, and terrorist (suicide) attacks. There are 59 hot alerts (of attacks)," the source said. (UPI)


Rumsfeld's Road Map for Syria - Eli J. Lake (New Republic)
    Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld sent the White House a "Road Map for Syria" - over a dozen largely punitive policy options including docking an aircraft carrier within Syrian territorial waters, using proxies to undermine Syrian intelligence agents inside Lebanon, interdicting Iranian flights to Hizballah positions in Lebanon, and sending American forces over the Syrian border in "hot pursuit" of senior Iraqi officials.


IDF: Not the Time to Exile Arafat
Director of Military Intelligence Maj. Gen. Aharon Ze'evi told the Knesset Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee Tuesday that there is no doubt Arafat is responsible for the recent wave of terror, but he said exiling Arafat would only unite the moderate and radical Palestinian factions, and that discussing such a move could lead to an increase in terror attacks. Ze'evi recommended Israel not get involved at the moment with the issue of exiling Arafat, which would only serve to turn the world spotlight on the Palestinian leader. (Ha'aretz)


Barak: Road Map Won't Work If Arafat Has Power
Former prime minister Ehud Barak said Tuesday that the road map can only be implemented successfully if Arafat is removed from a position where he can influence the dialogue between Israel and the Palestinians. "We must make certain that Arafat be stripped of any executive authority," Barak said on Israel Television. "If he has any bit of control or authority, there will be no agreement between Israel and the Palestinians." Barak described the European vision of the plan as "very dangerous to Israel," and said, "We must insist that what is implemented be as close as possible to the Bush vision." (Ha'aretz)


 The Right of Return - of Property - Itamar Levin
Israel must stand up and state categorically: We too have claims for compensation in exchange for conceding the right of return - those of the Jews from Arab countries. Private Jewish property in four Arab countries - Egypt, Iraq, Syria, and Lebanon - amounts to $10 billion. The World Organization of Jews from Arab Countries (WOJAC) estimates the total value of private and communal Jewish property at $30 billion. (Globes)


Want to Know What Egypt Really Thinks of the U.S.? - Jim Geraghty
A quick perusal of the English-language press on the streets of Cairo suggests that anti-American sentiment is far from hidden. In fact, the headlines, editorials, and columns often demonize the U.S. and its allies in fervent tones. And all of this anti-American rhetoric is in the papers because the Egyptian government wants its public to get a steady diet of criticism against America and its policies. (National Review)

Bigotry and Criticism of Israel - James Carroll (this past year’s Hoffman Lecturer, a columnist for the Boston Globe). Everyone who loves Israel, while also affirming Palestinian hopes, is disheartened. It is possible to condemn the broad Palestinian surrender to the nihilist fringe that sponsors such brutality without falling into an endemic anti-Palestinian bigotry. That the proper Palestinian demand for justice is so soaked in blood severely undercuts its claim on the world's conscience, and it is no manifestation of racial hatred to say so. But criticism of Israel is increasingly animated by anti-Semitism. This shows up most obviously in some Arab countries, but also in Europe and America where political criticism of the Sharon government morphs into transcendent scorn. A feature of anti-Semitic thinking at play here might be called the celebration of ''the ideal Jew.'' Jews as they exist are measured against Jews as they should exist, and are always found wanting. Israelis are thus commonly measured against standards of justice that Palestinians would not match, and neither, for that matter, would the administration of George W. Bush.

Palestinian FM: PA Will Not Disarm Terrorist Groups - Khaled Abu Toameh
"The Palestinian government will not initiate any conversation with the militant factions until Israel declares its unconditioned approval of the 'roadmap,'" Palestinian foreign minister Nabil Sha'ath told reporters in Cairo Tuesday. Meanwhile, a senior Palestinian cabinet minister said Tuesday that the new Palestinian cabinet still doesn't have a plan to disarm militias. "Talk about a security plan to fight Hamas and Islamic Jihad is untrue," the minister said. (Jerusalem Post)


Was Failed British Bomber Killed by His Own Side? (London Times) Israeli intelligence chiefs believe that Sharif was murdered by his terrorist handlers because they feared he would betray them if he were captured. After his bomb failed to go off, Sharif discarded his explosive belt, stole a wallet and a mobile telephone from a passer-by, and called for help from the back seat of a taxi.Police now say that Sharif was probably interrogated by his terrorist handlers, who realized that he was a liability and murdered him.


Al Qaeda's Bomb Backfire - Nawaf Obaid (Washington Post) According to the Saudi kingdom's intelligence community, the Riyadh attacks were orchestrated by Khaled Jehani, al Qaeda's "Saudi operations chief."The attacks killed many more Saudis and Muslims than Americans. According to Saudi intelligence sources, nine of the bombers had narrowly escaped a recent government raid.


In French Hill, Fear And Frustration; Israelis reflect on recent bombings, Abu Mazen and the chances for peace in a neighborhood coffee shop.


Intra-Palestinian Fighting in Lebanon Could Spread - Alia Ibrahim (Beirut Daily Star)
    Both Fatah and the Islamist groups involved in the recent fighting in the Palestinian refugee camp of Ain al-Hilweh are well aware that neither is strong enough to annul the other, says Nizar Hamzeh, a political science professor at the American University of Beirut.    "They know they have to find a way to coexist and share power."  Yasser Arafat's Fatah organization has been in control of the camps until recently. "But things have changed dramatically over the last 10 years. The camps have witnessed the rise of Palestinian Islamist groups," Hamzeh said, which according to him are in control of different parts of the camp.


The Matrix's Not-So-Little Buddha
"The Matrix Reloaded" borrows imagery from many different faiths, but especially from Eastern traditions and Christianity. If Buddhism had a Messiah, would he be something like Neo? (Beliefnet)


Inside the Neulander Trial
What would lead a respected rabbi to have his wife killed? The astonishing story of Fred Neulander (the author once was a guest of ours at Beth El) sheds light on the mind of a clergyman who violated the deep faith entrusted to him. Read a trial scene from "The Rabbi and the Hit Man" and an interview with the author. (Beliefnet)


Why Libras Tip the Scales
Is there a spiritual aspect to weight problems that should be explored with the help of astrology? Yes, says astrologer Shelley Ackerman. While some of us are so sensitive that we may subconsciously think we need that extra padding, astrology can provide insights to overcome karmic weight problems.



Key Links

Media Contact Information





The past two days have been among the most brutal in the Palestinian campaign of terror against Israel — five suicide bombs in a mere forty-eight hours have left 14 dead and scores wounded. The latest attack, just hours ago in Afula, was apparently perpetrated by a female terrorist who, halted by a security guard, detonated herself at the entrance to a crowded shopping mall.


While Israelis mourn the deceased and pray for the wounded, the media have begun in tandem to employ a disturbing new term to describe Israeli terror victims — "bystanders." On Sunday, The New York Times issued a report on the Jerusalem bus attack that began with the curious statement: "The new Middle East peace effort stalled today, after a barrage of four Palestinian attacks killed nine bystanders..."


The Associated Press issued a similar report that day, stating:

"In 93 suicide attacks since the current violence erupted in September 2000, 357 bystanders have been killed."

[AP also used the term "bystanders" to refer to terror victims in Morocco and Saudi Arabia.]

In common usage, a "bystander" is an individual peripheral to the central action in a given event — i.e., a bystander to a terrorist attack is not the intended target. The New York Times and AP, by describing Israeli terror victims as "bystanders," imply that civilian deaths are not the specific goal of Palestinian suicide bombers. This is patently false.

There is a larger issue operating here. The media have consistently refused to call Palestinian attacks "terror." Mislabeling the victims as "bystanders" grants license to the media to mislabel the perpetrators as "militants" or "activists," instead of "terrorists."


This matter was addressed in the last HonestReporting communique, which noted The New York Times' omission of Palestinian attacks from its special section on world terror.

[The National Review cited HonestReporting's research: "There's also the curious fact that many sophisticated types don't regard terrorism directed against Israelis the way they regard terrorism directed against other victims. They may not even believe that slaughtering Israeli civilians is terrorism. For proof of that, you need go no further than the pages of the New York Times. As has noted, a Times special section on May 15 listed terrorist attacks around the world - from Saudi Arabia to Chechnya to the Philippines. Conspicuously absent from the 'complete coverage' were any mentions of terrorist attacks in Israel. (It's not just under Jayson Blair's byline where you can read distortions of reality.)"]

Joining The Times once again, Associated Press today published a list of "Recent Terrorist Attacks Around the World" since 1998. None of the attacks listed occurred in Israel.


Comments to AP:

Comments to The New York Times:


HonestReporting encourages members to monitor your local media for any attempts to imply that Israeli civilians are somehow not the target of Palestinian terror, nor victims of "world terror."



The proper use of the term "bystander" appeared in a Sunday AP report worthy of broader international coverage in its own right:

"In the West Bank city of Nablus, Palestinian militiamen dragged a suspected informer [to Israel] into the main square and killed him with several shots to the head as about 200 people watched, witnesses said. One bystander said the gunmen forced their victim to kneel with his hands tied behind his back, then executed him."

Commentator James Taranto's response to this barbaric report: "Perhaps the time isn't yet ripe for a Palestinian state."








Quote of the Week 








“The best thing about the road map is the destination. That is peace between a free and independent secure Israel and a free and independent secure Palestine. I don’t believe we’re going to get to that destination according to this road map. The first thing that has to happen is that the new Palestinian leadership has to make a 100 percent effort to stop the terrorism against the Israelis. Otherwise there won’t be the confidence to start the process…”—Presidential candidate Joe Lieberman, urging Democrats to say what they think about the Bush administration’s proposed road map for peace. (A.P., May 21)




















Learning and Latte at Borders

Genesis: A Living Conversation

With Rabbi Hammerman and Rev. Douglas McArthur

Tues. May 27,

7:30 - 8:30 PM

The Final Session of the Season

Topic: The Jacob Story



















Come to the Final Family Friday of the season
on May 30 at 7:00 PM

Featuring our Junior Choir and the Aliyah Ceremony for our 7th Graders



An Exciting, New Hebrew High School is Opening in September 2003 in Stamford

Kulanu, (All together) - is the place to be for Jewish teens beginning in September, 2003. The Community Commission for Jewish Education of UJF and area Congregations are pleased to announce the integration of our current high school programs, Merkaz Torah and Etgar into one high level, stimulating after-school Hebrew High for grades 8 – 12.

Kulanu, a vibrant and close-knit community of Jewish students from different backgrounds will come together to learn about their rich Jewish tradition. Students can look forward to excellence in curriculum selection, diversity in course offerings taught by superior educators, dynamic special programming, and flexible scheduling.

Kulanu will provide an opportunity to connect, socialize, and form lasting friendships. Fun and learning will go hand in hand, especially when greater numbers of teens congregate together to make Kulanu “the place to be”.

Kulanu students will have the option of studying in three different tracks: 2 to 5 hours per week, on Wednesdays and/or Sundays. Students will also have the opportunity to do independent research and internship, under close faculty supervision. Each year students will receive a letter of achievement and detailed transcripts which will enhance their college applications.

On four special Sunday learning days, (Sha’ar), Kulanu students will be joined by teens from communities throughout lower Fairfield County. These days of learning, will be at the Stamford campus of the University of Connecticut.

In looking forward to September 2004, Kulanu will be a regional Jewish High School with the participation of students from Greenwich, Norwalk, Westport and other communities in lower Fairfield County.

For more information, contact Ilana De Laney, Community Director of Education at 321-1373, ext.114 or e-mail her at




For Barb Moskow

June 8, 2003

7:00 p.m.

Reception to follow.

RSVP to Caroline Geller in the Education Office 322-6901, ext. 306



They've called many things...

The Ten Commandments

...The Two Tablets

...The Ten Words

...The Covenant

...The “Big Ten”


But So Much About Them Remains a Mystery....

Where do they come from?

What do they really say?

What is the secret to their power?

And are there really ten?


Come to Temple Beth El On Shavuot Night

As we learn Torah with our Greenwich neighbors

from Temple Shalom


Thursday, June 5

Service at 8 in the lobby

the Tikkun Leil Shavuot* (Shavuot study session) begins immediately after.


*Tikkun Leil Shavuot is the name for the all-night study session that was made popular by the Kabbalists in the Middle Ages.  These mystics felt the night of Shavuot was a time of great holiness and divine receptivity to study and prayer.  Just as the Israelites marked that night at the foot of Sinai with intense preparation, so do we prepare once again to recieve the Torah.  Our Tikkun will not last all night, however, but just a couple of hours -- with plenty of coffee (plus juice and cookies) to go around!




Beth El Seniors

  4th Annual End of Year Barbeque

 Tuesday- June 3, 2003 at 5  P.M.


Come visit with your Temple Beth El friends for the final dinner meeting of the year.

We hope that you will join us in a great evening of fun and food.

We will be rustling up some old-fashioned barbeque on the open fire.

This is a rain or shine event. If it rains, we'll eat inside.


Reservations are a must for everyone.  Please call the Temple Office , 322-6901, ext 300 by May 29th.

Price- $5 per person.






I’m reprinting my “Wish List” that appeared last week, since it has already drummed up some important conversation (e.g. – How about an Americares-style project to construct our own playground?) With our budget very, very tight for next year, we are looking for some angels to support some of our most important programs.  For instance, we can’t even begin to plan the next Congregational Shabbaton until such additional funding emerges. Please take a look at this list and, if you are fortunate enough to have the means, let us know where you would like to help. Thanks.



1)       Adult Education – Our budget does not support extensive adult education and we are seeking private assistance to develop and fund exciting new programming.  This can range from small seminars to lecture series to a larger endowed annual event, modeled after our current Scholar-in-Residence program and Hoffman lecture.  I would like to increase the number of guest speakers that appear at Shabbat services as well. These programs also need to be marketed properly to the public.  We’re developing some great ideas for next year – if you have some interest, let’s make a Shidduch.


2)      Shabbatons – The annual congregational and individual class Shabbatons are in need of “angels.”  For the congregational Shabbaton, participants each pay for their own room and board, and we are eternally grateful to Penny and Michael Horowitz for funding the Shabbaton scholar (as well as our annual Scholar and Residence here).  But we still are in need of additional funding to allow this program to continue.  Our expenses include staffing, program development, financial aid and materials, and these costs add up to enough to place the future of our Shabbaton program in serious jeopardy.  It would be a real shame to forfeit this program, given the outstanding success of the Shabbatons over the past few years.


3)     Playground – We are in the process of collecting data that will help us to decide on the feasibility and desirability of a nursery school here, as well as exploring avenues for community partnership.  That process will take several more weeks.  If we do go ahead with the concept, there will be significant investment opportunities for those interested in the project.  One clear need would be for a nice playground.  But it is a need that goes beyond the question of a nursery school, as it would be used on the High Holidays and throughout the year by congregants and would be seen by all newcomers as a sign of our warmth and love for young children.  Since the question of a nursery school’s feasibility will be determined in part by the willingness of congregants to step forward as potential funding sources, it is important that those who are interested in this contact me as soon as possible.


4)     Prayer Books – We are grateful to the Poser and Ferber families for funding the bulk of the 200 new Sim Shalom Weekday Siddurim that we are now using at minyans, B’nai Mitzvah and Religious School services.  Individual books are still available for donation.  In addition we are slowly making progress on the creation of our new Friday Night Siddur, Tehillat Shabbat.  We thank those who have already contributed to this project (and beg their patience as we continue the work) and hope others will follow their lead.


5)     Shabbat Morning Kiddushes and Lunches – Shabbat morning is prime time for community building.  It’s what we are all about.  And nothing helps build community more than great food.  We already have adequate kiddushes and lunches, with the help of our sponsors and lunch committee members, but a major upgrade in the quality and amount offered would enhance the experience for all.  As they say, “If you cook it, they will come.”  A major annual subsidy would help us do each week what the break-the-fast already accomplishes after Yom Kippur.  Whoever donates gets to plan the menu!


6)     Friday Night Live – and other great musical experiences. Talk to Cantor Jacobson about all the fabulous ideas she has to make beautiful music at Beth El.  


7)      Sound System – Nothing is more important to a successful service or program than good sound.  Our sanctuary needs considerable work done – and for that, we need $$ help.


8)     Friday Night Outdoor services – We love our setting; but it needs sprucing up, better lighting and a design of that sacred space.


9)     Youth Scholarships – To Camp Ramah, Israel Programs and other USY events. These are vital and we simply don’t provide them.  It’s time we did.


10)  Your idea – If you have a dream, share it with us.  Together we can make it happen!


That’s my wish list.  What’s yours?




Time for a Joke…


A rabbi was walking home from the Temple and saw one of his good friends, a pious and learned man who could usually beat the rabbi in an argument.

The rabbi started walking faster so that he could catch up to his friend, when he was horrified to see his friend go into a Chinese restaurant (not a kosher one).

Standing at the door, he observed his friend talking to a waiter and gesturing at a menu. A short time later, the waiter reappeared carrying a platter full of spare ribs, shrimp in lobster sauce, crab rangoon, and other treif (non-kosher food) that the rabbi could not bear to think about.

As his friend picked up the chopsticks and began to eat this food, the rabbi burst into the restaurant and reproached his friend, for he could take it no longer.


"Morris, what is this you are doing? I saw you come into this restaurant, order this filth and now you are eating it in violation of everything we are taught about the dietary laws, and with an apparent enjoyment that does not befit your pious reputation!"

Morris replied, "Rabbi, did you see me enter this restaurant?" The rabbi nods yes.

"Did you see me order this meal?" Again he nods yes.

"Did you see the waiter bring me this food?" Again he nods yes.

"And did you see me eat it?" Nods yes.

"Then, rabbi, I don't see the problem here. The entire thing was done under rabbinical supervision!"

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