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Congregation Beth El, Norwalk, CT

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Hebrew Date

7 Elul 5774

What's Happening at Beth El

Tue Sep 02
7th of Elul, 5774
Tue Sep 02
Nitzan Student Orientation
Wed Sep 03
8th of Elul, 5774

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Events Calendar

September 2014
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For Our Community on Shabbat from Jerusalem Print Email

  Being in Jerusalem right now is an experience of incongruence. My kids swim at the local public pool. They feed the goats and ducks at their idyllic day camp in the city limits yet somehow in a remote, natural wonderland. At night we walk in the cool Jerusalem breezes sipping sweet drinks and eating heartily at restaurants that are filled with laughter and relaxed chatter. There is no obvious sign of the conflict unfolding only a few miles down the hills to the west.  

  Yet this is a time of conflict. Israel is at war. A war to protect the citizens near Gaza who have been under rocket barrages on and off for the past ten years. A war to defend nearly every inch of this country, where at least some of these thousand plus rockets have been targeted. A war to end the need for nursery schools and hospitals to be protected; the need for the elderly to flee, at a moment's notice, to a bomb shelter- in 90, or 30, or 15 seconds. A war to destroy the 30 tunnels (and counting) that have been discovered. Burrowing from the Gaza Strip into Israel, mere yards from Israeli communities, these tunnels have been employed to attack the innocents nearby with murder and capture. They were constructed, it is presumed today, to launch an all-out surprise land assault on Israel when the time was right. Thank God they are being eliminated. And let's pray that they will not be able to be reconstructed.

  But the incongruence does not end there. My peaceful summer stands in unimaginable contrast to the human suffering in Gaza itself. Yes, this suffering is the responsibility of the absolute rulers of the region, Hamas. They do in fact pursue an evil, pointless policy intended to effectuate sympathy and support, but never national success. They do not hope to build a state or improve the lives of their people. They hope only to gain more funds from Qatar, where the top Hamas leadership can be found today. They seek more symbolic victories. (Look! Ben Gurion airport was nearly closed for 30 hours!) But they have no strategy worthy of the term. Their own innocents are the greatest victims of their choices. By placing rockets and munitions in hospitals, in UN schools and mosques; by shooting rockets from apartment buildings; and by making flight from the most dangerous locations difficult or impossible - they have guaranteed the humanitarian disaster that is Gaza today.

  For all of these reasons I feel, as do Jews everywhere, a sense of grief for the Palestinian suffering. But, not so much grief that I cannot see the need for my own community to defend itself.

  Yet, the incongruence does not end there. Because as much as the strategy of Hamas is horrific and irrational- I fear that our strategy is unclear as well. In fact this week, as I participated in a Rabbinical Assembly solidarity mission, I heard the speaker of the Knesset, Yuli Edelstein, say that it is difficult to say exactly what our strategy is. Because after you blow up their rockets and tunnels, after you do the defensive work that is required, we will eventually leave Gaza. And without a local authority that is committed to peaceful coexistence, we know that these tunnels will be re-dug and the rockets re-launched. Even toppling Hamas, if it is possible at all, is unappealing because we are not guaranteed anyone more committed to peace. (Did you notice that Iraq has not exactly been working out as planned lately?) And even as we can claim the moral high ground, war inevitably leads to acts of violence that are hard, or impossible to defend. Why kill a Palestinian spokesman for Islamic Jihad? Did we do enough to protect the members of entire families that were wiped out by one of our missile attacks? And in a time of relative security in Israel, (thanks to the Iron Dome system), when we can bomb everywhere we choose at any time - when are we called upon to exercise restraint, even in the face of evil?

  This week, as part of the solidarity mission, I got a glimpse for a moment of pure clarity. Without any feelings of incongruence or uncertainty, I was blessed to hear personally from Rachel Frenkel, the mother of the murdered yeshiva boy Naftali. This remarkable woman spoke with hope and love. She was somehow able to move beyond her personal sense of endless loss to give the gathered strangers a kind of support and guidance we could not have imagined. She said, as awful as her experience was, it was a time, as is this war, when the people of Israel have felt united. We have felt like one people, grieving with strangers in their homes and coming together in bomb shelters. As one people, with "one heart," we can take comfort even in our pain. This oneness now must point us to respecting one another even in times without conflict. It must remind us that we are always one family. But Rachel's sense of Jewish oneness, unlike so many others', does not exclude the humanity even of the community which produced her son's killers. She told us how she reminded her 4 year old last week, that there are good Arabs and human beings everywhere. That God's will is for all of us must somehow find a way to live with mutual respect. That was why she reached out to the family of the murdered Arab boy, Muhammed Abu Khdeir, seeking to share a common horror, and a common hope. She offered us this breathtaking vision based upon her experience: "Loss is endless. But also love is endless. Acts of Hesed (Loving-kindness) can redeem." All we could say was, Amen.

   That is what I feel as Shabbat approaches Jerusalem. With love and hope in retreat, now is the time we need it so much more. With hearts united, with all Jews, and with all human beings, I pray for Shalom.


R. Ron Fish

 
A Prayer for Peace of the Other Print Email

We are overwhelmed with grief and anguish. Ayal Yifrach (age 19), Naftali Frenkel and Gilad Shaar (both age 16) were murdered. They were abducted on their way home from Yeshiva. And they were murdered by those who perceive Jews as only the enemy and not fellow human beings; those who see only ‘other,’ and never child, neighbor or frightened soul.

I fear for all of us who inhabit a world where the ‘other’ remains so dehumanized. I fear for the children of Syria and Iraq and Libya who have known such fear without respite for years. I fear for the girls of Nigeria and the boys of Sudan. I even fear for the children of Gaza and Hebron.

But tonight is different. Tonight this fear is not a diffuse humanism, spread across all peoples equally. Tonight I fear for my own. I fear for my children, now asleep in Jerusalem, as they will awaken tomorrow in a nation primed for conflict. I fear for the children of Israel wherever they are: from Tel Aviv to Alon Shevut; from Kiryat Gat to Kiryat Arba. I fear for the children now sent out to engage in acts of heroism and danger, to protect our children. And I fear that they not lose their sense of the humanity of ‘their’ children.

May the God of Abraham protect the children of Yitzhak and the children of Yishmael.

May the one we call Harachaman and they call al Rahman al Rahim (the most Merciful) create people whose hearts are filled with mercy.

May the One who asks us, in the words of the prophet Micah, that we simply act justly, love mercy and walk humbly with our God- save us from ourselves.

May You grant us the world of our prayers; the world we see in our most fervent hopes and dreams.

May you grant us the strength to see your presence in all the ‘others’ with whom we share this planet.

May that be Your will.

Amen.

 
Welcome to Congregation Beth El Print Email

Your Home for Meaningful Jewish Prayer, Learning and Living in Central Fairfield County

Under the leadership of Rabbi Joseph Ron Fish, Beth El is a growing, vibrant community that provides its membership with spiritual, educational and social nourishment through a commitment to Conservative Judaism. We are a house of gathering & study with dynamic programming for all ages. Congregation Beth El received 5 Solomon Schechter Awards for Excellence in Synagogue Programming from The United Synagogue of Conservative Judiasm. Join our members from throughout Fairfield County for Shabbat, Holidays, quality programming and an inspiring connection to Jewish life.

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Baum Family Gift Print Email
Baum

Congregation Beth El was the recipient of a $1,000,000 gift from the Baum family in memory of Walter Baum. Earnings from this gift  will be used to improve and maintain  the synagogue’s  65+ year old building.  Pictured during the recent check presentation are (left to right): Rabbi Ron Fish, Win Baum, Merle Baum, Mark Baum and Keith Satter.

“Walter Baum was a very involved member of the synagogue,” noted President Keith L. Satter. “One of his areas of interest was the beautification of our facility and this gift will allow us to continue to improve our facility into the future, just as Walter would have liked.”

 
Upcoming Programming at Beth El Print Email

Click on the highlighted copy for the event flyer

 

Friday April 11 1:00 PM sell your Hametz for Passover

April 13 - 22 Passover Service times

Sunday April 20th 1-4 PM Ice Skating Party at the Sports Center of CT in Shelton. Made possible by the Saffan Family and the Sports Center of CT

Tuesday June 3 7:00 pm Shavuot Dinner and Learning and Installation of Officers Learning will feature Dr. Jeremy Pressman of UCONN. RSVP to This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it or call (203) 838-2710 no later than May 7 


Click here for a full list of Beth El flyers  

 
Donations Print Email

Please click on the link to see those who graciously donated to Beth El

December-January-February

September, October, November

June, July, and August

 
This months Yahrzeits Print Email
Click here to see a list
 
Beth El Food Certificate Program Print Email

The Food certificate program at Beth El has expanded

The office now has 7 more choices for purchase in addition to the currently avilable stores (Stew Leonard’s, Stop & Shop, Shoprite, Fairway, Bev Max, A&P and Whole Foods). The new stores are: Barnes and Nobles, CVS, iTunes, Dunkin Donuts, Starbucks, Lord & Taylor, and Panera. (When purchasing certificates for the newly available stores credit cards can not be accepted.) For more information see the "Buy Food Certificates & Support Beth El" page

 
Photos & Journal from Our Annual Gala Print Email

Click Here to enjoy Photos from our Annual Gala

icon 2012 Beth El Gala Journal (11.94 MB)

 
Beth El in the News Print Email

Recent articles that featured Beth El

http://www.thehour.com/hanukkah/image_8a1d4ca0-4637-11e2-bc48-0019bb30f31a.html

http://www.thehour.com/hanukkah/image_8ac2194c-4637-11e2-9c09-0019bb30f31a.html