Friday, January 25, 2002

Shabbat-O-Gram for Shabbat Shira, January 25-26, 2002 -- Shevat 13, 5762


Shabbat-O-Gram for Shabbat Shira, January 25-26, 2002 -- Shevat 13, 5762

by Rabbi Joshua Hammerman, Temple Beth El, Stamford Connecticut


Shabbat Shalom


Well, I think we've finally gotten rid of the bugs.  Mazal Tov!  The Shabbat-O-Gram is now available to everyone both in plain text and full-color html versions.  It is being e-mailed out in plain text, but if you wish to see it in all its html splendor (and it IS a treat, if I must say so myself), you can click to it on the Web, at  

If you wish to unsubscribe, you can do so automatically, by going to and submitting your e-mail address there.  Again, I apologize for any glitches and ask for your patience, as well as your feedback. Ultimately, having Web-based list serve capabilities will enhance our ability to communicate in numerous ways.


We had a wonderful Shabbaton last week.  The photos are up on our web site at  Many thanks to our photographers, Charles Donen and Matt Kasindorf.  (Excuse me while I indulge my kinfolk for a moment -- Hammerman family and assorted cousins, you'll find some nice photos of your growing nephews/cousins Ethan and Daniel if you click around a little).


This Shabbat-O-Gram is dedicated in memory of Ilan Mirkov, our community exchange student from Afula who died tragically in an auto accident just one day after we returned from the Shabbaton.  In a very short time, Ilan became beloved by young and old alike, and by people throughout our community.  Our kids especially are devastated by this loss.  One of the highlights of the Shabbaton for me was sitting around the table on Saturday evening with Ilan and others, singing Israeli songs.  He was able to communicate to our children a real passion and love for Israel.  And who will ever forget how, in December, he spoke out at a community forum held here of that love for Israel. We will all miss Ilan.  Recent photos of Ilan are located at our web site ( 


JUST THE FACTS: Services and Such...

Friday Night:
Candles: 4:45 PM
Kabbalat Shabbat: 8:00 PM, in the chapel.  Led by Cantorial Intern Laura Berman

Shabbat Morning (family service, in the lobby)
P'sukey d'zimra (psalms and meditations): 9:15
Shacharit (morning) service begins: 9:30.
MAZAL TOV to Alan Tanz, who becomes Bar Mitzvah this Shabbat morning!

Torah Portion: Shabbat Shira (The Sabbath of Song, including the portion Beshallach, featuring the crossing of the Red Sea and Song of the Sea, and the Song of Deborah as our haftarah).  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:

Children's Services: 10:30. The older service is hosted this week by grade 6.  All grades are welcome!

Shabbat Mincha-Ma'ariv-Havdalah: 4:15 PM
MAZAL TOV to Joshua Weiner, who becomes Bar Mitzvah this Shabbat afternoon!

Morning Minyan: Daily at 7:30, Sundays at 9:00.


If you are looking for a liberal Jewish setting for online text study, you'll find it at the Kollel.   Click on  for some thoughts on Tu B'Shevat and on  for Mishnaic insight on the spirituality embedded in a simple blessing over "the fruit of the tree."'

Tu B'Shevat, the New Year of Trees, occurs next Sunday night and Monday.  Some suggested links for further study: A nice introduction can be found at (from the "Jewish Virtual Library  -- while you're there, check out the rest of this valuable site, including the "Breaking News" section at .  We're not doing a Tu B'Shevat seder for adults here this year, so why not do one at home?  See some background on the subject at   You can download a Seder format from, and find a number of Tu B'Shevat links (including seders) at  For another good source of Tu B'Shevat info, go to  There's so much out there about this holiday that it's hard to separate the forest from the trees, so to speak.

Which brings us to the whole area of eco-Judaism, often emphasized on Tu B'Shevat and a growing concern for many.  Click on to find a fascinating take on "Eco-Kosher and Feng Shui."  This article compares Jewish and Eastern forms of environmentalism, focusing on the rabbinic concept of "Bal Tashchit," prohibiting the needless waste of our natural resources.  Fascinating reading.  To find out more, take a trip to the Teva Learning Center.  "Teva" means nature, and this camping program has become a sort of Jewish "Outward Bound" for many students, including, I believe, sixth graders at Bi-Cultural.  Teva is at and is coordinated by an organization called Shomrei Adama (Keepers of the Land).  Last but not least, there is the Coalition on the Environment and Jewish Life (COEJL), found at  Here's there mission statement: "The Coalition on the Environment and Jewish Life engages Jewish institutions and individuals in bringing the moral passion of Jewish tradition and social action to environmental stewardship in order to preserve the integrity of creation, advance social justice, protect future generations, and strengthen the Jewish community."

This site has numerous educational links and action alerts.  This comes at a time when I fear that action alerts will increase dramatically.  How ironic, that, on this New Year of Trees, with the threats of Ozone depletion and global warming already so real, our forests and wildernesses face uncertainty from an administration that goes by the green-friendly name of "Bush."  Ironic indeed, that under Bush, the environment might just hit , to use another political name of note, its "nadir."

Tu B'Shevat is a fine time to reconnect with that Land of Israel.  Our ancestors in Europe looked forward to that taste of dates, figs and other fruits from the holy land, including (ugh) carob (aka Bokser).  As we read in, "After the exile of the Jews from Israel, Tu B'Shevat became a day on which to commemorate our connection to Eretz Israel. During much of Jewish history, the only observance of this day was the practice of eating fruit associated with the land of Israel. A tradition based on Deuteronomy 8:8 holds that there are five fruits and two grains associated with it as a "land of wheat and barley, of vines, figs and pomegranates, a land of olive trees and [date] honey." Almonds were also given a prominent place in Tu B'Shevat meals since the almond trees were believed to be the first of all trees in Israel to blossom. Carob or St John's bread - was the most popular fruit to use, since it could survive the long trip from Israel to Jewish communities in Europe and North Africa."  I've been checking out "carob" web sites -- this far nothing to recommend.

We can experience the Israeli natural landscape more directly at  Ohr Samayach has a nice catalog of articles on the love of the land of Israel, at  And you can discover just why I treasure my subscription to Eretz Magazine, Israel's National Geographic, by exploring the links to articles and photos based at

And the best way to show that love, naturally, to be there.  Second best?  Plant a tree: call the JNF at 800-542-TREE (8733) to participate in their special EZ TREE offer, or go to the web site at  No, you won't be able to find a photo of  "your" tree there.  But you will find a picture of Jackie Kennedy planting one, at  In participating in this planting, Jackie was being a modern day Honi Ha Ma'agel (Honi the Circle Drawer). Find out about him at, and bring the kids along for this part of the journey (nice music too at this site).  "Just as those who came before us plant for us," Honi said back in the days of the Talmud (,  "so do we plant for our children." 

Only a week ago, a terrorist tried to destroy childhood innocence at a Bat Mitzvah celebration in Hadera.  Our response -- is to plant, for that Bat Mitzvah girl and all who come after.  And how could I not end this  Shabbat-O-Gram dedicated in memory of Ilan Mirkov with a special focus on the love of the Land of Israel?  Contact JNF and plant trees in memory of Ilan Mirkov (The name Ilan MEANS tree!), and in honor of that 12 year old girl, Nina Kardashova.

Happy Tu B'Shevat!


1) Looking for a portal to Jewish sites? Try  BTW, if you check Conservative synagogues, you will find that we are linked to it.  Ha-rishima, which means "the list," weaves together both Israeli and Diaspora sites, including a number of media links not found elsewhere. 

2) US Support for Israeli Actions Growing:

3) Inside Israel by  David Clayman, "The Winter of Israel's Discontent : Update on What Israelis are Thinking, Reading, Doing and Saying."-- American Jewish Congress.  The latest edition can be found at

4) It's not too early to be thinking about Purim - An interesting twist on the Fast of Esther can be found at

5) Last week's Bat Mitzvah Massacre in Hadera,  We already have one of our upcoming  B'not Mitzvah who will be dedicating her service to Nina Kardashova, the 12-year old whose celebration was ambushed by a terrorist (and her step-grandfather killed)

5) Send out a Tu B'Shevat postcard to your friends and family. Go to for some beautiful options.

6) Jewish Week article on the film featuring last week's Scholar in Residence, Rabbi Steve Greenberg, "Trembling Before God."

7) While you're at the Jewish Week site, you can click on the "opinions" section and see my latest column in this weeks issue, which, if all goes according to plan, will be posted later today.   But how many things go according to plan these days?


1) "And God saw everything that God had made and it was very good. And God said, "This is a beautiful world that I have given you. Take good care of it and do not ruin it."
It is said that before the world was created, the Holy One kept creating worlds and destroying them. Finally, God created this one and was satisfied. God said to Adam and Eve, "This is the last world I shall make. I place it in your hands: hold it in trust." (
a Midrashic anecdote, for Tu B'Shevat)

2) This world, our world, is imbued with holiness . . . . We are not seeking to escape the everyday, but to hallow it. We do this by cleansing ourselves of the negative behaviors that keep us from encountering the world -- and all beings in it -- with a sense of awe, wonder, kindness, and compassion . . .  (Rabbi Rami Shapiro)

3) From Rabbi Paul Friedman, written the morning after this week's terror attack in downtown Jerusalem:

"Yesterday,the skies were open,the rains poured down on our land.
Yesterday,the sound of the gun , the cries of the wounded.
This morning ,blue skies. Two of the wounded died in the night. As we walked down Jaffa Road ,silent policemen sat in their cars.The glass is cleaned away:yesterday the police were there immediately:not in time for thirty wounded Israelis ,but in time to prevent even worse.
My wife remembers the first time in her life she saw a policeman with a gun. Growing up in London , she had never imagined such a thing. She asked me , what sort of a city is this?.It was sunny on that day also, in August , 1958,outside Rockefeller Center , in New York City ,
New York City , which today is also standing fast , against the faces of darkness.
We sit here in Cafe' Rimon ,in Jerusalem. It's 7:30 A.M. , and already there are other Israelis waiting for their morning coffee.
"Who rolls away the light before the darkness.
Ken Yhi Ratzon. May it be His will.
Before we were even out of bed , there was a fax on our machine. A group of young Jews from Los Angeles,coming to our home for Se'udah Shlishit in February. They're part of the answer,like the Missions , like the Birthright kids , like the young Oleh ,just arrived , who sat in our kitchen last week.
Like you. Lehitraot. See you soon here in israel.
An Arab mother faces the cameras. She says she is proud. Inside , she is bleeding ,is crying. Arab mother ,your son died for nothing. Be angry with those who sent him to kill. Rise up and let your voice be heard,before your other sons , too, die , in vain.
From Yerushalayim
Paul Freedman"



"What’s All This About Jewish Mysticism?" A Three Part Introduction to Kabbalah

Sundays, January 27th and February 10th 10:00am 11:30 am
Learn the language, philosophy, personalities and traditions of Jewish mysticism and strategies for applying these teachings to your everyday life.
Class fee is $18.00 for all three sessions. Please RSVP to 322-6901 ext. 306


Midrash - Adding Color to the Bible
(Continues on Wednesdays due to popular demand)
We will study the creative genius of our rabbis as they enrich the biblical text with stories, legends, and lore. These inspired texts blend the sacred position of Torah with the real human struggle for spiritual understanding. All texts will be in Hebrew and English for all learners to join. Meets every Wednesday at 7:30 p.m.

Conservative Judaism What’s It All About?
Conservative Judaism: Not Reform and Not Orthodox. What are we? Being Conservative is an exciting meaningful expression of Judaism. We will gain a deeper understanding of our Movement, our approach to rituals and how we struggle to balance traditions and modernity. Come learn together the challenges and the insights of being a Conservative Jew. This course will be offered twice each Sunday, at 9:00 a.m. - 10:30 a.m. and 11:30 a.m. - 1:00 p.m.,  February 3rd, 10th. You may attend one or all weeks.
There is no charge for

The first planning session for this year’s Cantor’s Concert will be held at the Temple on Wednesday, February 6 at 7:30 pm. All Men’s Club members and Choir members are urged to assist with this year’s event. The concert, featuring the Boston Conservatory Klezmer Band, is set for the afternoon of April 21. For more details please contact Gerry Ginsburg at 322-1324.

Temple Beth El To Honor Hazzan Rabinowitz

Prior to his change in status to Hazzan Emeritus, and in recognition of the 32 years of dedicated service he has given to our community, Temple Beth El is preparing our tribute to Hazzan Sidney and Sandy Rabinowitz

To prepare for these events, the organizing committee is asking you to:
1. Note these dates on your calendar:
May 4 - Dinner Dance at Temple Beth El
May 19 - Community Event to Honor Sidney and Sandy Rabinowitz

2. Send us any memories, history, personal observations, programs, photos or other memorabilia that can help us make these events as noteworthy as they should be for a truly noteworthy man.

Those wishing to honor the Hazzan with a gift to the temple can do so with an entry in a journal being prepared for the May 4 event. Watch your mail for details or contact Roberta Aronovitch (for information) at 203-322-6901 ext 304 or by e-mail at

Family Shabbat Dinner -- Friday, Feb. 8.  Sign up by contacting our Education office.


Kadima (Grades 6-8) Midnight Dive-In and Sleepover: Sat-Sun Jan 26-27
At the JCC, in conjunction with the JCC and two other synagogues; featuring floating on rafts while watching a movie on a big screen TV and lots of other fun activities.
Register by January 25 to Nancy Levy, JCC Youth Director, at 322-7900 X141. NO WALK INS ACCEPTED

USY: ATTENTION USY MEMBERS!! (Grades 9-12) Stamford USY has been selected to host Mid-Winter Kinnus!! February 1-3, 2002. We are very excited to be hosting USY members from Connecticut and Western Massachusetts!! Please save the date and plan on attending for this awesome weekend - we need you there!! This event is open to Jewish teens in grades 9 through 12. If you are interested in helping plan or are able to host people at your home, please call Marcie at 322-6901, ext. 324 or e-mail


Shabbat Shalom (and Go, Pats!)

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