Friday, March 28, 2003

Shabbat-O-Gram, March 28, 2003, II Adar 25, 5763


Shabbat-O-Gram, March 28, 2003, II Adar 25, 5763

Shabbat Ha-hodesh

Rabbi Joshua Hammerman, Temple Beth El, Stamford, Connecticut

Our Prayers Go Out to Our Armed Forces and to all innocent human beings in Iraq, Israel, America and throughout the world.


Thank you to Charles Carter for becoming the first to sponsor a Shabbat-O-Gram, in honor of the birthday of his wife, Dorothy Davidson.




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

Check out photos from Purim at our web site


“E-mail from the Front” 

As these fateful weeks continue, lots more new “E-mail from the Front” has come in.  Go to and scroll down to the most recent entries.


Spiritual Journey on the Web








A Prayer Wheel for the American Fighting Man and Woman


Thanks to Lisa Pomerance for forwarding to me the most moving poem that appears below.  It was forwarded to her as part of a “Prayer Wheel.”  The idea is that, when you reads this, please stop for a moment to say a prayer for all our fighting men and women, then forward this request and prayer to others, so that they too might pray on the soldiers’ behalf.  Ideally, the prayer will go all the way around the cyber-world and be returned to you by another human being who cares as passionately about this.  And even more ideally, it will be seen by our troops in Iraq, including a few from our own community, who will be inspired and comforted by our love.


Another Prayer Wheel for our servicemen and women can be found at  Other prayers for their safety can be found at the following locations: Union of American Hebrew CongregationsUnited Synagogue of Conservative JudaismUnion of Orthodox Jewish Congregations of America

The idea is that there is spiritual strength in numbers, an idea that Jews are very familiar with.  We call it a minyan!   An online Prayer Wheel multiplies that number by hundreds of thousands.   See for a good article describing the healing powers of Prayer Wheels.  Imagine being a marine in Iraq right now, knowing that millions of Americans are forwarding prayers to one another online, just to express concern for him.  Some of have occasional Internet access, and they can see for themselves.  Forward this Shabbat-O-Gram to a soldier!  Let them know we are praying for them!


Of course, at the same time, we also pray for the innocent civilians of Iraq, continually victimized by their own leaders and all too often caught in the crossfire.  And ultimately we pray for peace and security for all.


On the Internet, Prayer Wheels often appear in a Christian context (see, but the idea is drawn from Eastern Traditions – a Tibetan model (which actually IS a wheel) can be found at and  Find a prayer wheel for Earth at, complete with an audible mantra!  Jewish Prayer Wheels are harder to find on the Web, but a good place to start is, which will lead you to some options for meditation.  A great site for Jewish renewal in general, with some links to other very good sites, is


And now, a Poetic Tribute to our American Fighting Men and Women, the “prayer heard ‘round the net.”



The average age of the Infantryman is 19 years.
He is a short haired, tight-muscled kid who, under normal circumstances
is considered by society as half man, half boy.

Not yet dry behind the ears,

not old enough to buy a beer,

but old enough to die for his country.

He never really cared much for work and he would rather
wax his own car
than wash his father's; but he has never collected
unemployment either.

He's a recent High School graduate; he was probably an
average student,
pursued some form of sport activities,

drives a ten year old jalopy, and
has a steady girlfriend that either broke up with him
when he left,

Or swears to be waiting when he returns from half a world away.
He listens to rock and roll or hip-hop or rap or jazz or
swing and 155mm Howitzers.
He is 10 or 15 pounds lighter now than when he was at
home because he is working or fighting from before dawn to well after dusk.

He has trouble spelling, thus letter writing is a pain for him,

but he can field strip a rifle in 30 seconds and reassemble it
in less time in the dark.

He can recite to you the nomenclature of a machine gun or

grenade launcher and use either one effectively if he must.

He digs foxholes and latrines and can apply first aid like a


He can march until he is told to stop or

stop until he is told to march.

He obeys orders instantly and without hesitation, but he
is not without
spirit or individual dignity.

He is self-sufficient. He has two sets of fatigues: he
washes one and wears the other.

He keeps his canteens full and his feet dry.


He sometimes forgets to brush his teeth, but never to clean his rifle.
He can cook his own meals, mend his own clothes,

and fix his own hurts.

If you're thirsty, he'll share his water with you;

if you are hungry, his food.

He'll even split his ammunition with you in the midst of battle
when you run low.

He has learned to use his hands like weapons

and weapons like they were his hands.

He can save your life - or take it, because that is his job.

He will often do twice the work of a civilian,

draw half the pay and still find ironic humor in it all.

He has seen more suffering and death
then he should have in his short lifetime.
He has stood atop mountains of dead bodies,

and helped to create them.
He has wept in public and in private, for friends who have fallen in combat

and is unashamed.

He feels every note of the National Anthem vibrate through his body while
at rigid attention,

while tempering the burning desire to 'square-away'

those around him who haven't bothered to stand, remove

their hat, or even stop talking.


In an odd twist, day in and day out, far from home, he defends
their right to be disrespectful.
Just as did his Father, Grandfather, and Great-grandfather, he is paying
the price for our freedom.

Beardless or not, he is not a boy.
He is the American Fighting Man that has kept this
country free for over 200 years.

He has asked nothing in return, except our friendship and understanding.

Remember him, always, for he has earned our respect and admiration with
his blood.


The Prayer:

"Lord, hold our troops in your loving hands. Protect them as they protect us. Bless them and their families for the selfless acts they perform for us in our time of need. Amen."




Friday Night

Candles: 5:56 PM 

“Family Friday” Kabbalat Shabbat Service: 7:30 PM, in the sanctuary

Shabbat Morning:

Service: 9:30 AM

MAZAL TOV to Dara Gold, Who becomes Bat Mitzvah this Shabbat morning!

Children’s services: 10:30 AM

Torah Portion – Shmini, Shabbat Ha-Hodesh (a special Shabbat in which we announce the upcoming month of Nisan, considered to be THE month in the Jewish calendar, the month of liberation.

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

Shabbat Mincha/Havdalah:

Service at 5:30 PM

MAZAL TOV to Andrew Silver who becomes Bar Mitzvah this Shabbat afternoon


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

The New Weekday Sim Shalom Prayer Books HAVE ARRIVED!!!  We are now using them at our morning minyan.  Come by and check them out!







Required Reading and Action Items 



Prayer service explains war to children  (CT Jewish Ledger) By Sherry Shameer  MARCH 28, 2003 STAMFORD — The day after the first bombs dropped over Iraq, Rabbi Joshua Hammerman led a special service at Temple Beth El to pray for victory, safety, and peace.

Israel National Information Center New online - The Israel National Information Center website contains on-line briefings, updates, and coverage.

Iraq Readying Toxic Arms
Statements from Iraqi prisoners of war and electronic eavesdropping on Iraqi government communications indicate that Saddam Hussein has moved chemical weapons to the Medina Division, one of three Republican Guard divisions guarding the approaches to Baghdad, Army officials said. They strongly believed he would use the weapons as allied troops moved toward Baghdad to oust him and his government. Intelligence information pointed to Mr. Hussein deploying 155-millimeter artillery weapons with shells carrying mustard gas as well as sarin, or nerve agents, an especially deadly weapon. Mr. Hussein used these chemical agents against the Iranians and the country's Kurdish population in the 1980s.
    Some military officers said Mr. Hussein had, in the last week or so, moved the artillery pieces that could fire chemical weapons into hiding, not only near the Medina Division, south of Baghdad, but in western Iraq. Intelligence officers said that although deployment of such weapons would give the lie to Mr. Hussein's denial that he had them, he might be calculating that the step would stunt the American assault. Officials said well-hidden Iraqi artillery sites about to launch such a weapon could possibly avoid detection. (New York Times)

After the Bush-Blair Meeting - Aluf Benn
After the press conference at Camp David by U.S. President George Bush and British Prime Minister Tony Blair, the president stood by his promise to Ariel Sharon and rejected the proposal of his British guest to step up the pressure on Israel in an effort to fend off the growing criticism of the war in Iraq. The paragraph on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict was pushed to the sidelines, and Bush reiterated, without overt enthusiasm, his commitment to the implementation of the "road map." It seems that Bush made it clear to his guest that he is not pleased with the expression of any doubts regarding his commitment to a solution to the conflict, and that he did not think there was any reason to reimburse the British for their support with Israeli concessions.
    At the Prime Minister's Office they say that Sharon does not oppose the implementation of the road map. On the contrary, he would like to push the diplomatic process when he has a Palestinian partner. The dispute revolves around the wording of the plan. Israel is demanding to present its comments on the road map before the official document is made public. (Ha'aretz)
    See also When Will Abu Mazen Visit Washington? - Uzi Benziman
Information obtained by Jerusalem says that Abu Mazen is signaling his refusal, at this stage, to receive an invitation to visit Washington. He is evidently seeking to avoid any open contacts with President Bush so as not to be perceived in the Arab world as a collaborator with the administration that has just invaded a large Arab nation and is marching on its capital. (Ha'aretz)

"Webloggers" Signing On as War Correspondents - Howard Kurtz
This has become the first true Internet war, with journalists, analysts, soldiers, a British lawmaker, an Iraqi exile, and a Baghdad resident using the medium's lightning speed to cut through the fog of war in Weblogs. (Washington Post )
See also Best of the Warblogs - Jane Perrone (Guardian-UK)

How the Media Warriors Invaded Iraq with Satellite Phones - Rogel Alpher
The uproar over the army's failure to provide access to critical information during the war in Afghanistan has given rise to the Pentagon's "embedding" program, which allows for the deep integration of members of the media in the combat units. Does this mean the public is getting more reliable information about the big picture of the war, or is the embedding program only helping the Pentagon isolate and control the reporters; to create a battle fog that is saturated with rumors and fabrications as part of a psychological warfare; to divert the public's attention by means of detailed but very partial reports about the fighting at a given moment at a particular square kilometer of the arena; and to buy the collaboration of the broadcast channels in America in not showing graphic images of prisoners of war (since the media and the military are fighting in Iraq "together"). (Ha'aretz)

Syrian, Palestinian Volunteers Join Saddam - Ze'ev Schiff
Dozens of volunteers, primarily Palestinians from the refugee camps in Lebanon, have crossed over into Iraq through Syrian-controlled border posts. Syrian military analyst Hitham al-Kilani told Al Jazeera on 24 March, that "the Syrian border was opened to Syrian, Arab, and Muslim volunteers wishing to reach Iraq and participate in the fighting against the American invasion." Syria is the sole country that has opened its border to volunteers seeking to join the Iraqi forces, unlike Iran, Turkey, and Jordan, whose borders remain blocked. It has been reported that there are many volunteers in Jordan who are interested in crossing into Iraq. Hamas has called on all of Iraq's neighbors to open their borders and allow volunteers through. (Ha'aretz)

Powell Plans Post-Iraq Pressure on Sharon Concerning Road Map - Richard Cohen
Secretary of State Colin Powell is planning to take the Israelis and the Palestinians and knock their heads together. Only recently has the administration said it is serious about getting - "imposing" is probably the better word - a plan to end the incessant violence between Israelis and Palestinians. I asked Powell who besides him in the administration favored a plan that would mean going to the mat with Sharon. "The president," he responded quickly. "He understands that the whole world is going to be looking to him to do something about the Middle East once Iraq has been dealt with." Before the Israelis and the Palestinians can get their act together, however, the Bush administration will have to do the same. At the moment, the State Department, which used to conduct American foreign policy, has been outgunned by the Pentagon, the National Security Council (now with Elliott Abrams), and Dick Cheney, a vice president with very strong views about the Middle East. (Washington Post)

Kofi Annan's Offense - Charles Krauthammer
Turkey's refusal to let us send the 4th Infantry Division to attack Baghdad from the north has cost us heavily. It has allowed Saddam Hussein to concentrate his defenses to the south and essentially cut in half the size of the heavily mechanized enemy he has to deal with. Even more important, we've been held back by our own scrupulousness. There has never been a conflict in which one belligerent has taken more care not to harm the civilians of the other. And it has already cost us. We know that the "irregulars" - the SS thugs whose profession heretofore had been torture and repression in the service of Hussein's psychopathic son Uday - use human shields, fight in civilian disguise and attack under a fake flag of surrender. Our restraint in choice of targets and in the treatment of those who appear to be civilians and those who appear to have surrendered has cost us not just time and territory but lives. And yet, being who we are, we do not change the rules of engagement.
    Kofi Annan's pronouncement Wednesday that he was "getting increasingly concerned by humanitarian casualties in this conflict" is doubly disgusting because he said nothing about Iraq's use of human shields, of fake surrenders, of placing a tank in a hospital compound - flagrant Iraqi violations of the laws of war. Nor does he denounce the parading of POWs on television and the apparent execution of American and British POWs. (Washington Post)

Leisure & Arts BY MICHAEL MEDVED On Oscar night, Hollywood thanks everyone but the troops (Journal Online)

Saddam Hiding Scuds, Launchers under Bridges (Jerusalem Post) Israel Television Channel 1 reported that Saddam is hiding missile launchers, of Russian manufacture, and Scud missiles on specially constructed trucks which move around the country and hide under bridges, making them invisible to satellite surveillance and coalition warplanes.    According to Israeli officials, some of these trucks may have been hidden in western Iraq, and coalition forces have been bombing bridges and trucks in that part of the country intensively for the past few days.    Israeli officials say these trucks are fully capable of launching Scud missiles.
    Israel sees this as a threat and it is for this reason that Israel's threat assessment has not changed. Israel is still on high alert.

High-Level Team Drawing Up Alternative to Quartet Peace Plan - Herb Keinon (Jerusalem Post) A blue-chip panel established by Defense Minister Shaul Mofaz is drawing up a plan for an Israeli diplomatic initiative that could serve as an alternative to the Quartet's road map for peace in the Middle East. The committee, headed by National Security Advisor Ephraim Halevy, includes Mossad head Meir Dagan, Shin Bet head Meir Dichter, and Chief of General Staff Lt.-Gen. Moshe Ya'alon. According to Halevy's plan, the Palestinians are to abandon their demand for the right of Palestinian refugees to return to pre-1967 Israel even before Israel agrees to a Palestinian state with provisional borders. The plan also stipulates that Israel's agreement to a Palestinian state will be conditional on the Palestinian agreement to declare an end of the conflict with Israel. Both the right of return and the end of conflict clause are considered by many to have been what doomed the Camp David talks in the summer of 2000.

French Jews Attacked at Anti-War Rally Several dozen assailants struck two young Jews with metal bars on the sidelines of a demonstration against the war in Iraq Saturday, the Hashomer Hatzair youth organization in Paris reported. (AP/Ha'aretz)

Palestinians Rejoice at Saddam's "Victories" - Khaled Abu Toameh
Palestinians in Ramallah celebrated the capture of American and British soldiers by the Iraqi army on Monday. "This is a big day for the Iraqi people and all the Arabs and Muslims," says a mustachioed Palestinian policeman at Yasser Arafat's headquarters in the city. "They have just shot down two Apache helicopters," an excited merchant shouted hysterically as he ran out of his shop. Manarah Square in the center of Ramallah, the scene of daily pro-Saddam demonstrations, is decorated with Iraqi flags and posters of Saddam Hussein. (Jerusalem Post).  See also Saddam's Support Wide in West Bank (Boston Globe)

The Iraq war is far from over, but where the road map is concerned, the Day After may already be here As the hour of decision draws near in Baghdad, a separate Middle East moment of truth for George Bush and Tony Blair - a battle to implement the "road map" for peace between Israel and the Palestinians - may also be close at hand. (Ha-aretz)




Quotes of the Week 




“…[If] the background noises emerging from various quarters in London and Washington are any indication, the fall of the Iraqi dictator may portend the rise of yet another brutal regime, one located a few hundred miles to the west, in Palestinian-controlled Ramallah. Fearful of the Arab world’s anger over Western intervention in Iraq, British P.M. Tony Blair has forged an axis with U.S. Secretary of State Powell, pushing and cajoling George W. Bush to make ‘Palestine’ his number one post-Iraq priority. Media reports this week that the CIA is establishing a special department to oversee implementation of the ‘road map’ leading to a Palestinian state are but the latest in a string of indications that Israel will soon be asked to pay the political price for the war in Iraq. Call it the Mother of All Ironies: Saddam’s downfall may turn into his most formidable of triumphs, as the removal of his regime sets the state for the creation of Palestine, at Israel’s expense…”—Columnist Michael Freund (Jerusalem Post, March 26)


“…The new, Islamic-influenced government of Recep Tayyip Erdogan transformed that formerly staunch U.S. ally into Saddam’s best friend. The main reason Turkey now permits U.S. overflights is that America has demonstrated its capability of doing it the long, hard way, from the west through Jordan. For that, America owes King Abdullah plenty; it owes Erdogan nothing… Fortunately, President George W. Bush sent a firm message to troublesome Turks: ‘We expect them not to go into northern Iraq.’ Maybe, after undermining the genuine friendship between Turkey and the U.S. by helping Saddam make the war longer and bloodier, Islamist politicians and secular generals in Ankara will agree to fulfill Bush’s expectation.”—Columnist William Safire (N.Y.T., March 24)


“I wanted to join the human shields in Baghdad because it was direct action which had a chance of bringing the anti-war movement to the forefront of world attention… [By] the time I left Baghdad five weeks later my views had changed drastically. I wouldn’t say that I was exactly pro-war…but I have a strong desire to see Saddam removed… I was shocked when I first met a pro-war Iraqi in Baghdad, a taxi driver… I explained that I was American and said, as we shields always did, ‘Bush bad, war bad, Iraq good.’ He looked at me with an expression of incredulity. [H]e…started to speak in broken English about the evils of Saddam’s regime… This guy was telling me how all of Iraq’s oil money went into Saddam’s pocket, and that if you opposed him politically he would kill your whole family. It scared the hell out of me… Anyone with half a brain must see that Saddam has to be taken out. It is extraordinarily ironic that the anti-war protesters are marching to defend a government which stops its people exercising that freedom.”—Daniel Pepper (Jer. Post, March 26)

















Thursday, April 1 7, 7:00 p.m.






B i k u r  C h o l i m

T r a i n i n g


Know someone who is sick or alone?


We do.


Jewish Patients need you !


Become a Bikur  Cholim  volunteer . **


** Bikur Cholim is Hebrew for “visiting the sick”.


 Jewish Family Service of Stamford & the Rabbi Isaac N. Trainin Bikur Cholim Coordinating Council of the Jewish Board of Family and Children’s Services,

in collaboration with

Temple Beth El, Temple Sinai, Congregation Agudath Shalom, Young Israel Synagogue, The Fellowship For Jewish Learning, Chavurat Aytz Chayim and the Jewish Community Center

 are sponsoring a training program for Bikur Cholim volunteers. We will all learn how to be more effective, compassionate and competent visitors to the sick,

homebound and elderly.


The training program includes:

q       Introduction to Bikur Cholim; The Role of the Visitor

q       How to relate to patients with sensitivity and compassion

q       How to listen and respond to patients




Sunday, March 30th at the Jewish Community Center, 1035 Newfield Ave., Stamford, CT

9:45   Registration and Coffee

10:00-11:30   Bikur Cholim Training

11:30-12:00   Follow Up Meeting


For more information & to RSVP call Sara Jamison, MA, MSW @ (203) 921-4161





“Six Million Times One”


Community Yom Hashoah

April 28, 2003

7:00 PM


Temple Beth El


Request to the Community:

If you would like to include photographs of your loved ones who perished during the Shoah in our community event, please call Ilana De Laney, 321-1373, ext. 114.


Excitement and celebration!


Sunday, May 4, 2003

5:00 pm

Installation of Cantor Deborah Jacobson

Light Supper Reception


Followed by...


Spectacular Musical Concert with

Danny Maseng "Soul on Fire"

Watch your mail for your invitation.










Attention high school students!

Absentee letters, for the attendance office at your school, are now available for the last two days of Passover (April 23-24).  Call Mindy at ext. 301 or e-mail your request to



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  

No comments: