Friday, May 9, 2003

SHABBAT-O-GRAM for May 9, 2003 and Iyar 8 5763


May 9, 2003 and Iyar 8 5763

Rabbi Joshua Hammerman, Temple Beth El, Stamford, Connecticut





Shabbat Shalom  






Happy Mother’s Day

(To you too, Mom!)



And B’ruchim Ha-ba’im to the Tzahal Shalom Israeli Soldiers who will be joining us at services this Shabbat morning





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


E-mail from the Front” 

As the world’s focus shifts back to good ol’ Israel, more new “E-mail from the Front” has come in.  Go to and scroll down to the most recent entries.




JUST THE FACTS… (note Fri. night time shift to 7)



Friday Night

Candles: 7:40 PM 

Tot Shabbat: 6:30 PM (in the lobby)

Kabbalat Shabbat Service: 7:00 PM, OUTDOORS, WEATHER PERMITTING (otherwise in the sanctuary)


Shabbat Morning:

Service: 9:30 AM

MAZAL TOV to Peter Katz, who becomes Bar Mitzvah this Shabbat morning!

MAZAL TOV to Marc Teichman and Caroline Temlock on their Ufruf this Shabbat morning

Children’s services: 10:30 AM

Torah Portion – Emor

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

Morning MinyanDaily at 7:30 AM, Sunday at 9:00 AM in the chapel




Standing on Shoulders: A Plea for the Service of Healing



            Once, in a tropical country, there was a splendid bird, more colorful than any that had ever been seen before, with every color in its plumage.  It lived at the top of the tallest tree, perched so high that no single person could ever hope to reach it.  News of this remarkable creature reached the palace, and the King ordered that the bird be brought to him the next day.  Within hours, many of his subjects lined up to form a human ladder alongside the formidable tree.  They were to stand on each other's shoulders until the highest person could reach the bird and bring it back to the King.


            While they were standing balanced on one another's shoulders, some of those near the bottom decided to wander off.  As soon as one of them moved, the entire chain collapsed, injuring several of the King's subjects.  The bird remained at the top of the tree, uncaptured. 


            The subjects had doubly failed the king.  For even greater than his desire to see the bird was his wish to see his people closely joined together.


            On Thursday evening, May 22, we will be holding a special Service of Healing.  With the help of the Sisterhood and Jewish Family Services, using new prayers and old, we'll reach out to those whose lives are immersed in suffering and try to build a human ladder of love. 


While all people are welcome here all the time, for that special service we extend a special invitation to those who are suffering:  whether from AIDS/HIV, cancer, bereavement or neglect, whether from substance abuse or domestic violence, we want to welcome them here.  Churches have special healing services all the time; they run support groups for those at the fringes (or those who simply feel that way -- and don't we all, at some point).  But this type of program is a rarity in synagogues.   Jews in distress often have nowhere to turn for spiritual support when they need it most.


            That's where you come in.  I need two things:


            1) Help us spread the word among those who would most benefit from a service of healing.  Bring them here.  Tap into their communities, their newsletters.  We want to welcome them here that day.


            2) If you can possibly make it, come to show your love.  The kind of healing this service will engender is possible only if all of us are there to let them rink of our strength, our hope, our health.   Perhaps we all might draw new strength from the sacred energy that we all bring to this. 


             In the words of a Hasidic adage, "When a person is singing and cannot lift his voice, and another comes and sings with him, another who can life his voice, the first will be able to lift his voice too.  That is the secret of the bond between spirits."


            And as we lift our voices together for renewal of body and spirit, our human ladder will touch the sky.  And we'll all come to feel God's presence in the glow of the human heart.




The Highest Level of Tzedakkah



Potentially good news for Temple Beth El!  Neil Perlman, our past president, is looking for another job opportunity and is considering coming back to the Stamford area.  If Beth El had a Mount Rushmore for its past presidents, Neil’s face would most certainly on it.  He assumed the job during one of our congregation’s most difficult financial and leadership crises and he did a superb job.


For the last 14 years, Neil has been the Chief Information Officer for 2 companies ranging in size from $300MM to $3 billion.  In both companies, he was a member of the Senior Operating team, and worked hand-in-hand with the business executives to significantly improve the bottom line. 


In addition, Neil has worked on the business side as both a Chief Financial Officer and a Chief Administrative Officer.


Neil is looking for a Senior IT position where he can help a company achieve competitive advantage through Information Technology.  This could be the number 1, 2, or 3 position depending on the size of the company.


Anyone who has job ideas, or would just like to network / catch up with Neil, should feel free to call (Home: 412-220-9716; Cell: 412-498-2400) or e-mail him: (




Tzedakkah Opportunity of the Week:

ZIV Tzedakkah Fund Annual Report


Danny Siegel’s dynamic and creative Ziv Tzedakkah Fund has numerous ideas for your own family tzedakkah projects.  Many are listed in their annual report found at, or for the 2002 report, go to:  Read about some true Mitzvah heroes.


Here is some of the introduction to this report:


Give away a tenth so that you may be wealthy.  (Talmud, Shabbat 119a, based on Deuteronomy 14:22)

An unknown source: We do well by doing good.

Churchill: We make a living by what we get, but we make a life by what we give.

From December 1st, after we had issued our last Update, through late January, money came pouring in.  We received nearly twice as much as in previous years during that time period.  Naomi and I have discussed this many times, and reviewed it with friends. There were no real spikes in the patterns of giving: While we added more names to our mailing list, it was no greater number than normal.  No one sent a check for $25,000 or $50,000 that might have accounted for such an increase. 

We believe the reasons are many; not the least of which is that so many people looked deep inside themselves and, for lack of a less colloquial term, considered “what it was all about.” So many people, sometimes unable even to formulate the question, wanted to give an answer by their actions.  They were reconfirming their belief in goodness by re-asserting their power to do good, to do Mitzvahs.  In this way, they could best exemplify the teachings of our Mitzvah heroes — the Rabbanit Kapachs and Shmuel Munks and Joël Dorkams and Ranya Kellys of the world: hope overrides and surpasses despair, hope brought to life by Mitzvah-acts of caring.  This is the meaning of the Talmudic passage (Ketubot 17a) that states: If a funeral procession and a wedding procession meet at a crossroads, the wedding procession takes precedence. The Ziv/Radiance of the Mitzvahs and Mitzvah heroes shines that much more brightly when the world around darkens through such wanton destruction of human life.

Furthermore, we believe that our mode of personal Tzedakah, that emphasizes the work of Mitzvah heroes — our great teachers in Tikkun Olam — appealed to new people as well as took on greater appeal to those who have donated to us in past years.

We have now given away more than $5,000,000.  “Old-timers” remember the first time we reached $100,000 and, years later, our first $1,000,000.  As founder, I feel a little like Paul Newman (himself, now past the $100,000,000 mark), in awe that we have reached this point in our joint endeavor. 

Yishar Kochachem, all the more strength to all of you!

Again I say, read on, and Lechaim…To Life!


And to Perform a Mitzvah Right Here at Home, Try this Idea, Courtesy of Jackie Herman…


     I am looking for a senior citizen who is active and able to push a double stroller and/or a grocery cart who needs transportation to and from the grocery store on Friday mornings. I need assistance getting my grocery shopping done with my twin 10 month old boys and would be happy to pick up and drop off a senior citizen who needs help with their grocery shopping. I would either need for the senior citizen to be willing and able to push the grocery cart or the stroller. If you are interested, please call Jackie at 595-0085. Thank you.






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 are there.  Help us help those you love by letting us know. 





Spiritual Journey on the Web









Editorial, Jerusalem Post, May 6, 2003


   Today we remember our fallen; tonight we celebrate the freedom and independence that they fought for… It is a time to take stock as a nation. How things look depends largely on how far one looks. In the short term, there is no denying that once again we will be celebrating under the threat of terrorism, and that simply carrying on with a degree of normality is a triumph of its own. Unemployment is high and many are suffering from the effects of a prolonged economic downturn, with little relief visible on the immediate horizon.


   But a longer view is also in order. On Israel's founding 55 years ago, our population stood at 806,000. It is now 6.7 million, an eight-fold increase. Three million people have immigrated to Israel since 1948, including a million since 1990 and, perhaps most remarkably, 31,000 in the past year.  Judging by these figures, we have made steady progress toward a goal that most nations take for granted--establishing our permanence as a state. On another level, progress on this basic objective has not been, or at least not seemed, steady.


   The Oslo Accords, signed almost a decade ago, were built on the assumption that the Arab world in general, and the Palestinians in particular, had reconciled themselves to our existence, and all that was left was to negotiate borders with a Palestinian state. During Oslo's heyday it seemed to many that the Arab-Israeli conflict was behind us… Few imagined at this time that just a few years later Yasser Arafat would reject a state over 97 percent of the disputed territories and launch a terrorist offensive against Israel to boot.


   The viciousness of the war against us these past 30 months, in which over 760 Israelis have died, over 520 of them civilians, has set back our views regarding Arab intentions to those held during the early years of the state. At that time, there was no question that the bulk of the Arab world would wipe us off the map if given half a chance. But if our belief in the Arab readiness for peace was premature, realizing this can hardly be seen as a step backwards in Israel's objective situation. If anything, our moments of greatest danger have been when we were caught in the throes of an illusion. Our new realism, however disconcerting, should be seen as a step forward toward a peace that will last.


   Even more important than our improved perceptions is the great advancement in our strategic position that has just occurred. Not since Egypt made peace with Israel have we been able to shift a major Arab nation off the list of states that pose an immediate strategic threat. Iraq's immediate future remains uncertain, but Saddam Hussein is permanently gone from power, and there is reason to believe that the next Iraqi government will not be a threat to its neighbors, including Israel.


   Another great and dangerous illusion that has been substantially dispelled is that terrorism against Israel is an isolated phenomenon, without strategic implications for the West as a whole. The latest revelations, such as the capture of Palestinian arch-terrorist Abu Abbas in Iraq and reports that the suicide bombers at Mike's Place in Tel Aviv last week were tied to Iran, only accentuate what we have long known: there is only one Islamist terror network and it is targeting the U.S. and Israel simultaneously.


   America's war against the terrorism network is a war against our enemies, and our war against terrorism is part of the global struggle led by the United States. We are no longer alone in this struggle, either as victims or as combatants fighting back. The road map, a throwback to the pre-9/11 paradigm that still dominates European and UN thinking, is a harmful distraction, but it does not change the fundamental reality: The greatest and most powerful nation in the world is now in the trenches with us in a way it never has been before.


   It would, of course, be better on this anniversary if we did not have to fight, and if the euphoria of the mid-90s had been more related to reality. It would be better if, as we remember our fallen and celebrate our independence, we would no longer have to guard our kindergartens, coffee houses, and malls. It would be better if the U.S. and Israel had more support from other democracies, given that we have been attacked and are fighting back. But it is better to be in a fight that has a chance of bringing lasting peace than in a "peace" built on denial, leading only to war.





Required Reading and Action Items 






To see a brief movie commemorating Israel’s 55th, click on

And while you are at this fabulous Web site (The Jewish Exchange),, check out the terrific streaming audio offerings.  Lots of great music.

Bennett's Gambling Shows Religious Split

Dan: Varieties of Religious Experience (5-2-03) "Rachel Elior's new book, "The Temple and Chariot, Priests and Angels, Sanctuary and Heavenly Sanctuaries in Early Jewish Mysticism" is one of a very small number of research books that bring up, sharply and in depth, the question: "Who, in fact, are we?" It deals with many historical issues and ideas... However, in this book, unlike the others, these issues come together as a whole that casts doubt on notions that have been accepted for many years and demand of the reader that he grapple anew with the essence of Jewish tradition as a whole. - "Israel Helps SARS Detection



In tribute to a Fallen Soldier, by his Mother


HaTikvah - Israel's National Anthem (a history and literary exploration)


A Real Peace Process - Dennis Ross

Whether Mahmoud Abbas will ultimately become the first prime minister of a new, independent Palestinian state will depend on whether he can, in his words, stop the "armed chaos." He faces several obstacles. Arafat will continue to resist any efforts that erode his power and build Abbas'. He will seek to block efforts to confront Hamas, Islamic Jihad, or the Al Aqsa Martyrs Brigade - and, indeed, has already opposed disarming the Al Aqsa Martyrs Brigade. Sheik Ahmed Yassin, the spiritual head of Hamas in Gaza, has already rejected the idea that Hamas will give up its arms or its violent struggle. Abbas must be able to stop or at least profoundly curtail the violence. He must reach concrete understandings with the Israelis on security - what he will do, when he will do it, how and where he will do it. (Los Angeles Times)

The Most Effective Peace Process - Saul Singer (Chicago Sun-Times) If the shooting stopped tomorrow, we would not be back to the square one of 1993, or of 2000, but to a situation more difficult than when Oslo was signed. For the last 30 months, the Palestinians have been glorifying terrorism on an almost hourly basis. It is a measure of how deeply the ethos of "martyrdom" has penetrated that even Abbas' speech, hailed for its moderation, was permeated with it. In almost the same breath as Abbas condemned terror, he praised the "courageous uprising against Israel's aggression" and claimed that Palestinians had "fought with honor." How would a Palestinian learn from this that suicide bombings or shooting children in their beds is wrong rather than heroic? If Abbas is unable to speak clearly against terrorism, it is hard to see how he can act clearly against it. The Palestinians have a lot of catching up to do to reach the point where they can really accept that the Jewish people have a right to national self-determination in this land. There is not much Israel can do to hasten this process, except to block all the alternatives. At this point, until further notice, fighting terror and its sponsors is the greatest educational tool, and therefore the most effective peace process.

Palestinians to "Solve" Problem of Illegal Weapons by Recruiting Terrorists into Security Forces (Tzamtzam News-Hebrew fonts required) Rashid Abu Shabak, head of the Palestinian preventive security service in Gaza and Muhammad Dahlan's former deputy, told the Islam Online chat forum on May 4 that the Palestinian security services would absorb terror organization activists into their ranks as a way to "solve" the problem of the illegal possession of weapons by nongovernmental forces.

Documents on Israel Found in Baghdad - Judith Miller (New York Times) U.S. soldiers have found a trove of Iraqi intelligence documents and maps relating to Israel. The finds included a map of Israel highlighted with the locations of Iraqi Scud missile strikes during the Persian Gulf war of 1991, a perfect mock-up of the Knesset and other official Israeli buildings, and a satellite picture of Israel's nuclear complex at Dimona.  Also found was a "top secret" intelligence memo dated May 20, 2001, from the Iraqi intelligence station chief in an African country describing an offer by a "holy warrior" to sell uranium and other nuclear material.  The documents were found during a search prompted by a former secret police official's claim that he had hidden an ancient copy of the Talmud, dating from the seventh century, in the basement of his headquarters. Instead, the search team found the operations center of the Israel-Palestine department of the secret police.

Dahlan Appointment Creates Friction between Arafat and Abbas - Khaled Abu Toameh
Abbas announced at a Fatah central committee meeting chaired by Arafat Tuesday that he is transferring the Interior Ministry's responsibilities for security to Muhammad Dahlan. "This is not what we agreed," one official quoted Arafat as shouting at Abbas. According to a source, there is no guarantee the move will succeed, because security forces' commanders remain loyal to Arafat, and some have said in private that they refuse to serve under Dahlan. A Fatah source predicted that many Fatah members and security services officers loyal to Arafat would try to create obstacles for Dahlan and make it difficult for him to implement his decisions. Dahlan reportedly requested $30 million from the U.S. and the EU to help him implement his plan to reorganize the security forces and combat terrorism. PA officials said they expect Hamas to agree to a cease-fire ending terrorist attacks for a year or two. (Jerusalem Post)


Al Qaeda and Syria - Richard Wolffe
While Syrian intelligence allowed the U.S. to foil a planned al Qaeda attack on the U.S. Navy’s Administrative Support Unit in Bahrain last year, “We clearly don’t have the full support of the Syrian government on the al Qaeda problem," Cofer Black, the State Department's coordinator for counter-terrorism, told reporters last week. "They have allowed al Qaeda personnel to come in and virtually settle in Syria with their knowledge and their support." If Syria fails to mend its ways on terrorism, it is hard to see how the Bush administration can hold onto its hope of reforming the Muslim world. (Newsweek)



ADL Analysis:
Roadmap to Mideast Peace? Opportunities and Concerns

On April 30, the United States, United Nations, European Union and Russian Federation presented the "Performance-Based Roadmap to a Permanent Two-State Solution to the Israeli-Palestinian Conflict" to Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon and newly confirmed Palestinian Authority Prime Minister Mahmoud Abbas. If implemented seriously and sincerely, the Roadmap provides a new opportunity to end the two-and-a-half years of Palestinian terrorism and violence and to renew Israeli-Palestinian negotiations and a final and comprehensive peace agreement as envisioned by U.S. President George W. Bush in his speech last June 24.

At the same time, the Roadmap contains in its approach some fundamental flaws, erroneous assertions and unanswered questions. There is the possibility that some of these concerns may be met by changes in the document over the next few weeks.

Below are the highlights of the potential opportunities and potential pitfalls of the Quartet Roadmap:

Potential Opportunities:

§       If undertaken seriously, the Roadmap offers a concrete formulation for Israel-Palestinian peace, implementing the President's vision articulated in his speech of June 24, 2002 of "two states, living side by side in peace in security." The three-phase plan puts into action the ending of Palestinian terrorism and the terrorism infrastructure; the amelioration of quality of life conditions for Palestinians; the halt on new settlement construction by Israel; the development of a viable and democratic Palestinian Authority government structure; the creation of an interim Palestinian state and the eventual conclusion of a comprehensive Israeli-Palestinian peace agreement.

§       The Roadmap calls for serious and sustained Palestinian action to end terrorism against Israelis. The Palestinians are obligated to declare an end to terrorism, and "undertake visible efforts on the ground to arrest, disrupt and restrain individuals and groups conducting and planning violent attacks on Israelis anywhere," and for the Palestinian Authority to begin "sustained, targeted and effective operations aimed at confronting all those engaged in terror and dismantlement of terrorist capabilities and infrastructure (including) commencing confiscation of illegal weapons and consolidation of security authority, free of association with terror and corruption."

§       In construction, the Roadmap is performance based. Thus, unless the Palestinians meet their obligations on cracking down on terrorism there will be no moving to the next phase and greater Palestinian autonomy. This construction attempts to correct one of the key failures of the Oslo Process, whereby violations in upholding signed agreements, particularly in the security realm, were often swept under the carpet and not seriously dealt with amidst the pressures to move the peace process forward.

Potential Concerns:

§       Who is going to determine performance? The Roadmap states that progress is dependent on the "consensus judgment of Quartet, and taking into account actions of both parties and Quartet monitoring." In an address to the Anti-Defamation League on April 29, Assistant Secretary of State for Near East Affairs William Burns said that the U.S. would lead the peace effort in concert with the Quartet. However, if this is indeed a "consensus" process, history demonstrates that three-quarters of the Quartet - the U.N., E.U. and Russia - are far more vigorous in highlighting Israeli violations than Palestinian infringements. There is a concern that these entities may justify or underplay Palestinian violations and pressure Israel to implement steps, such as redeployment from territories, that will endanger its security when the conditions are clearly not in place.

§       The Roadmap text implies equivalency between Israel and the Palestinians in areas of violence and incitement. At the beginning of Phase I, Palestinians are obligated to issues a statement calling for the end to "...armed activity and all acts of violence against Israelis anywhere. All official Palestinian institutions end incitement against Israel." The Israelis are obligated to issue a statement "calling for an immediate end to violence against Palestinians everywhere. All official Israelis institutions end incitement against Palestinians." This text implies that Israeli defensive military action against terrorists is equivalent to Palestinian acts of terrorism against civilians. Moreover, while there is much documented on Palestinian anti-Israel and anti-Semitic incitement, there is no evidence of Israeli incitement being a problem.

§       The Roadmap implies that ending the "Israeli occupation" of the West Bank and Gaza Strip (assuming Palestinian terrorism is under control) is the key to Israeli-Palestinian peace. This conceptual approach is simplistic and flawed. Ignored is the reality that since 1948 the conflict has been about the Arab and Palestinian refusal to truly accept Israel's right to exist. Indeed, in the past decade significant movement on ending the occupation (notably in the offer by Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Barak at Camp David in July 2000), was rejected by the Palestinian leadership. Many Israelis and supporters of Israel were left concluding that the Palestinian aspiration was not an independent state in these territories existing alongside Israel, but rather a goal of a Palestinian state replacing Israel. The Roadmap plays lip service to this concern by obligating the Palestinians to issues as statement "reiterating Israeli right to exist in peace and security." However, in focusing primarily on ending the "occupation" as a measure of ending the conflict, and not paying attention to ultimate Palestinian goals and intentions, there is a risk of Israel giving up the tangible (land in the West Bank and Gaza Strip) for the intangible (assurances of intentions to live alongside Israel in peace), which may be insincere and hollow.




The claim to a Palestinian refugee "right of return" has become a sticking point in the effort to relaunch Mideast peace talks. Israeli Prime Minister Sharon declared that Palestinians must discard this long-controversial demand, but new Palestinian Prime Minister Abbas on Tuesday refused to do so.

In its report on this important exchange, the Associated Press erroneously stated: "Israel has always objected to the right of return for about 4 million Arabs who fled the war that followed Israel's creation in 1948, but never made renouncing the demand a condition for peace talks before."


In fact, no party has ever claimed that 4 million Arabs fled Israel during its War of Independence. The actual number of Arab refugees in 1949 was, according to Israeli sources, 538,000. The UN puts the figure at 720,000, while Palestinians have claimed up to 850,000.


A later reference in the AP article quotes a more accurate figure of 700,000. But with its earlier, inflated reference to 4 million, AP misrepresents the historical significance of the refugee issue and its supposed moral claim — precisely the goal of today's Palestinian negotiators.


As accurately reported by USA Today, the 4 million figure has been used by Palestinians and the UN to approximate the number of refugees and their descendants since 1949. This includes about 1.5 million Palestinians who have been absorbed into Jordanian society, and has only been used to calculate those who may now qualify for some form of UN aid.

Associated Press, supplying news to 15,000 media outlets, bears special responsibility to report accurately. In this case, the erroneous figure appeared in newspapers such as The Toronto Star and Chicago Tribune.


Comments to AP:

Comments to The Toronto Star:

Comments to Chicago Tribune:

HonestReporting encourages members to monitor their local media for the erroneous AP article, and to request a clear and immediate correction.



The AP was accurate in one respect — Israel has always objected to the Palestinian claim to a refugee "right of return" to property in today's Israel. On what basis has Israel objected?

1) Voluntary flight: As documented by Professor Efraim Karsh, the vast majority of refugees from the 1948 war were exhorted to do so by their Arab brethren, who urged them to make way for oncoming Arab armies intent on driving the Jews into the sea. Karsh estimates that only 5 to 10 percent were actively expelled by Israelis.

2) No legal basis: As documented by Professor Ruth Lapidoth, the claim to a Palestinian refugee "right of return" lacks basis under a) general international conventions, b) major UN resolutions, and c) relevant agreements between the two parties.

3) Regional precedent: At the time of the creation of the State of Israel, a similar number of Jews were expelled and dispossessed by Arab governments. The Arab states have never made any effort to compensate these Jews, who were absorbed by Israel. Despite having tremendous resources to do so, Arab states have refused to absorb the Palestinian refugees and have often worked to ensure they remain in poverty so as to use them as a political tool against Israel.

4) Effective destruction of Israel: Even diehard Israeli peaceniks such as writer Amos Oz acknowledge that "implementing the 'right of return' means eradicating Israel... It will make the Jewish people a minor ethnic group at the mercy of Muslims, a 'protected minority,' just as fundamentalist Islam would have it"; Oz's colleague A.B. Yehoshua states that the end of the Palestinians' tragedy will come when they cease focusing on returning to their homes in Israel proper and focus instead on returning to a Palestinian homeland.


Key Links

Media Contact Information


Quotes of the Week 








In Honor of Mother’s Day, as well as this past week’s Yom HaZikaron (Memorial Day in Israel) this heartfelt plea from an Israeli mother

(thanks to Judi Gladstein for forwarding it to me)


On this Memorial Day for Israel's fallen, I have a confession to make: After living here for eight years, I sometimes think, ENOUGH, I can't cry anymore.  Have heard all the stories.  Seen the films.  Read the recollections. Isn't it enough to live here, to have made the investment and endure the difficulties in just the day-to-day living?  Isn't it enough that we, on some subconscious level, think that we are 'better' than galutniks and deserve to be cut some slack?  A loosening of the heartstrings that tether us to the universal 'Jewish experience'?

When a soldier dies here, no one EVER says, "Thank God it wasn't my son." "There but for the grace of God go I" is a second skin to those of us living
here because if it isn't me/you/yours/mine today, it may be tomorrow.

A roll of the heavenly dice can change life forever.  We in Israeli feel this truth more acutely than most, I think.

When my twelve-year-old son said to me this week, 'It isn't terrible to die for Eretz Yisroel because you know you are dying for something,' I want the ground to open up and swallow me.  I never said those words to him but it has been an ironclad truth in shaping my own Zionism.  Through osmosis or
suckling-at-the-breast or listening to me talking with others as he grew up, my absolute belief in the eternal right of Jews to live, indeed to own this holy
piece of land has been transmitted and accepted by him.  But what he could not know, because cowardice or busyness will not let my mind wander into
uncomfortable territory, is that I will not think about paying the ultimate price.  I will not think about what a terrible truth is borne by our youngsters.
What we have done to our children here.  What we may have taken from them.

And if the price of thinking about losing a son in defense of Eretz Yisroel is unbearable, what must it feel like to experience same?  Other women have been thrown into the roles of 'mother of a dead soldier' neither having been asked if they are strong enough or brave enough or sufficiently steeled.

I'm frightened to call my older son in yeshiva because I don't want to love him so much today.  At first I thought - - part of the confession - - that
distancing myself will make the day pass with less pain, less trepidation, less anguish about tomorrow.   But this is only half of the story.  Contact means
love in a loving family and I want to love him less - - if only for today - - so that if I am ever to get that pre-dawn knock-on-the-door I can be stronger by
virtue of having loved him less.   Even if it's only-for-today.

I will never find solace in that it isn't me trudging along a path at Har Herzl this morning, holding a beautiful bouquet.  There is no satisfaction in knowing it isn't me pulling the weeds growing alongside a grave.  I can never feel relief that the name etched into a tombstone doesn't bear the name of anyone I know.  I accept that it is my job, regardless of however many psychologists may disagree, to weep with other mothers, to die just a little bit with them, as they/we continue to bury our boys, our sweet laughing, brimming-with-life babies who are sent out too young to defend that which the world would convince us is no-longer-precious.

Be Well.


































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 Stamford and Greenwich neighbors

from Temple Shalom of and Greenwich Reform Synagogue


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!






Time for a Joke…


Two buddies, Bob and Earl, were two of the biggest baseball fans in America. Their entire adult lives, Bob and Earl discussed baseball history in the winter, and they pored over every box score during the season. They went to sixty games a year. They even agreed that whoever died first would try to come back and tell the other if there was baseball in heaven.

One summer night, Bob passed away in his sleep after watching the Yankee victory earlier in the evening. He died happy.

A few nights later, his buddy Earl awoke to the sound of Bob's voice from beyond.

"Bob is that you?" Earl asked.


Of course it's me," Bob replied.

"This is unbelievable!" Earl exclaimed. "So tell me, is there baseball in heaven?"

"Well I have some good news and some bad news for you. Which do you want to hear first?"

"Tell me the good news first."

"Well, the good news is that yes, there is baseball in heaven, Earl."

"Oh, that is wonderful! So what could possibly be the bad news?"

"You're pitching tomorrow night."


The Web link for this week's Shabbat-O-Gram is - - The site is continually updated during the week with corrections and additions.  Feel free to forward this link to your friends. People can subscribe to the weekly Shabbat-o-Gram at   I also send out mailings to college students, Gen Xers and teens, so let us know if you wish to be placed on any of those lists.  If you wish to unsubscribe, contact  

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