Category Archives: May 2013


Here is a link to a fund to help fire victims in CA. Perhaps we can do something through them as a congregation.

What are concrete ways we can help? I received the following from my colleagues at the Board of Rabbis of Southern California. I believe this is a good start:

• The Jewish Federation has created a directed fund to support individuals and institutions impacted by the fires. Here is the link to that fund. Please send this out to your community-members so they can contribute. 100 % of the donations will go directly to those who need it.

• The Federation has also set up a hotline for those in need of housing, counseling, evacuation center information, and emergency loans from our partners at Jewish Free Loan. The hotline number is 323-761-8100.

• The Federation is opening its valley offices at Ventura and Corbin beginning at 9:00 am tomorrow morning. Representatives from Jewish Family Services and Beit Tzedek are at deToledo High School today and will be at Federation Valley offices tomorrow to assist individuals who have been impacted by the fires.

• The Federation’s valley offices are also open to organizations or individuals whose office space has been evacuated or destroyed. Please be in touch with Rabbi Ilana Grinblat if you need to use this space.

Here is a link to a resource on how to talk with and help children cope after a disaster or traumatic event.

We also encourage you to bring gift cards directly to Temple Akiba. We can then deliver them to organizations that can best use them.


There are times that life hurts. And we gather with others as much as we can. We hug each other. We cry. We reach in. We question. But most important, we love.

Rabbi Zach Shapiro

Temmple Akiba of Culver City
5249 S. Sepulveda Blvd.
Culver City, CA 90230
Rabbi Zachary R. Shapiro | Temple Akiba, Culver City, CA 90230

Contributed by Helen Cherry


There will be an Aitz Chaim board meeting this Sunday, June 2, at 2:00 P.M. at the Washington building, 1015 1st avenue North. Any congregation member is welcome to attend.


Dear Friends,

Do you need a Mezuzah for your home or office? Want to chat with a Rabbi about something? Need a dose of Torah?

I will be G-d willing visiting cities around the State on the following days:

Tuesday, May 28 – Missoula
Wednesday, May 29 – Kalispell/Whitefish
Sunday, June 2 – Helena/Great Falls

Let me know if you you’d like a visit or anything else.
( If you signed up for a free Mezuzah, I will be calling you, no need to email again)


Rabbi Chaim Bruk


Submitted by Jerry Weissman

If they had a yenta, she’d say….

MONA LISA: “This you call a smile, after all the money your father and I spent on braces?”

CHRISTOPHER COLUMBUS: “I don’t care what you’ve discovered, you still should have written!”

NAPOLEON: “All right, if you’re not hiding your report card inside your jacket, take your hand out of there and show me!”

ABRAHAM LINCOLN: “Again with the hat! Why can’t you wear a baseball cap?

GEORGE WASHINGTON: “Next time I catch you throwing money across the Potomac, you can kiss your allowance good-bye!”

PAUL REVERE: “I don’t care where you think you have to go, but midnights are too late.

MOSES: “That’s a good story! Now tell me where you’ve really been for the last forty years.”


Submitted by Helen Cherry

Temple Beth Abraham’s softball team may have found its winning edge last week in the form of a 5-foot-3, 126-lb rabbi. After losing its first 2 games of the 2013 Diablo Valley Tzedakah league season, the Oakland synagogue team asked Rabbi Mark Bloom if he could suit up for a May 5 dblheader (a few regulars were absent). Bloom, 46, is often too busy to play, but he was able to do it this time, & the results were noteworthy: a 13-6 win over cross-town rival Temple Sinai & a 10-6 win over Temple Isaiah in Lafayette. Bloom is quick to note, however, that he didn’t have much impact on either victory. (Source: Jewish News Weekly of Northern California)


A Taste of Yeshiva
Yom Limmud
Day of Jewish Learning

Chabad Lubavitch of Montana cordially invites you to attend the second “ A Taste of Yeshiva – Yom Limmud” a day of Jewish learning @ The Shul of Bozeman.

Ever dreamed of spending a day studying Talmud? Maimonides? Ever yearned to spend a day in Yeshiva immersed in Torah study? Your dream has come true; spend a day at our learning seminar with enlightening lectures and stimulating discussions. It’s a unique opportunity to find the answers to some of the questions bothering you since Hebrew School.

Guest Speakers:
Mrs. Rivkie Block of San Antonio, Texas
Rabbi Menachem Feldman of Greenwich, Connecticut
Rabbi Amram Phelps of Bozeman

Lecture Topics:
Technology Vs. Shabbat – the use of electricity on the day of rest
Talmudic Trends – Explore the life & philosophy of some of the greatest Talmudic Sages and how it shaped their consistent worldview.
Torah and the Castle Doctrine: Montana law allows the use of deadly force to “prevent or terminate the other person’s unlawful entry” to a home. Does the Torah agree?
What’s for dinner Mr. Mashiach? An overview of the menu at Mashiach’s feast

Woman of Valor – An in depth look at the beautiful Aishet Chayil song

Sunday, June 9, 2013. 10:30 AM – 4:00 PM @ The Shul.
Kosher Lunch Included.
Suggested donation – $18
Sponsor – $180

Yeshiva (n) (yeh-shee-vah) is the name given to the great academies of study where the Talmud and Jewish law were formulated. The Yeshiva as an institution has succeeded in creating an atmosphere of serious analytical study that endures to this day. In the long course of Jewish history it has been the Yeshiva more than anything else that has served as both the repository and birthplace of profound Jewish learning.
A Taste of Yeshiva
June 9, 2013 • 10:30 AM – 4:00 PM
Chabad-Lubavitch of Montana
8755 Huffman Lane, Bozeman, MT 59715-9211

RSVP at the link below.
It’s worth the drive.


EDITOR’S NOTE: Since we just celebrated the giving of the Ten Commandments, I thought I’d include these for your reading pleasure.

The Ten Commandments contain 297 words. The Bill of Rights is stated in 463 words. Lincoln’s Gettysburg Address contains 266 words. A recent federal directive to regulate the price of cabbage contains 26,911 words. – Atlanta Journal

If God had been a liberal, we wouldn’t have had the Ten Commandments — we’d have the Ten Suggestions. – Malcolm Bradbury

One of the reasons why the Ten Commandments are so short and to the point is the fact they were given direct and did not come out of committees. – H.G. Hutcheson

Somebody recently figured out that we have 35 million laws to enforce the ten commandments. – Attributed to both Bert Masterson and Earl Wilson

Say what you will about the ten commandments, you must always come back to the pleasant fact that there are only ten of them. – H.L. Mencken

I have wondered at times what the Ten Commandments would have looked like if Moses had run them through the US congress. – Ronald Reagan

There are ten commandments, right? Well it’s like an exam. You get eight out of ten, you’re just about top of the class. – Mordecai Richler

If Moses had been paid newspaper rates for the Ten Commandments, he might have written the Two Thousand Commandments. – Isaac Singer

This is the age of bargain hunters. If it had been this way in biblical times, we’d probably have been offered another Commandment free if we had accepted the first ten. – Earl Wilson


Q: Why don’t Jewish mothers drink?
A: Alcohol interferes with their suffering.

Q: Why do Jewish mothers make great parole officers?
A: They never let anyone finish a sentence!

A man called his mother in Florida ,
“Mom, how are you?”
” Not too good,” said the mother. “I’ve been very weak.”
The son said, “Why are you so weak?”
She said, “Because I haven’t eaten in 38 days.”
The son said, “That’s terrible. Why haven’t you eaten in 38 days?”
The mother answered, “Because I didn’t want my mouth to be filled with food if you should call.”

A Jewish boy comes home from school and tells his mother he has a part in the play.
She asks, “What part is it?”
The boy says, “I play the part of the Jewish husband.”
“The mother scowls and says, “Go back and tell the teacher you want a speaking part.”

Q: How many Jewish mothers does it take to change a light bulb?
A: (Sigh) “Don’t bother. I’ll sit in the dark. I don’t want to be a nuisance to anybody.”

Did you hear about the bum who walked up to a Jewish mother on the street and said, “Lady, I haven’t eaten in three days.”
“Force yourself,” she replied.

Q: What’s the difference between a Rottweiler and a Jewish mother?
A: Eventually, the Rottweiler lets go.

The Gift”
My mother once gave me two sweaters for Hanukkah. The next time we visited, I made sure to wear one. As we entered her home, instead of the expected smile, she said, “What’s the matter? You didn’t like the other one?”

Henry Goldberg invited his mother Freda over for dinner. During the course of the meal, Freda couldn’t help noticing how beautiful Henry’s roommate, Debbie, was.
Freda had long been suspicious of a relationship between Henry and Debbie. Her suspicions were heightened over the course of the evening, while watching the two react. Reading his mum’s thoughts, Henry said, “I know what you must be thinking, mom, but I assure you Debbie and I are just roommates.”
About a week later, Debbie said to Henry, “Ever since your mother came to dinner, I’ve been unable to find the beautiful silver gravy ladle. You don’t suppose she took it, do you?” Henry replied, “Well, I doubt it, but I’ll write her a letter just to be sure.” So he sat down and wrote:
Dear Mother, I’m not saying that you “did” take the gravy ladle from the house, and I’m not saying that you “did not” take the gravy ladle. But the fact remains that one has been missing ever since you were here for dinner.
Several days later, Henry received a letter from his mother, which read:
Dear Son, I’m not saying that you “do” sleep with Debbie, and I’m not saying that you “do not” sleep with Debbie. But the fact remains that if she were sleeping in her own bed, she would have found the gravy ladle by now.
Love, Mom
Lesson of the day – don’t lie to a Jewish mother.

Jewish Mother and Jewish guilt, rolled into One
Phone rings……
Jewish Mother: “Hello?”
Daughter: “Hi Mom, Can I leave the kids with you tonight?”
Jewish Mother: “You’re going out?”
Daughter: “Yes.”
Jewish Mother: “With whom?”
Daughter: “A friend.”
Jewish Mother: “I don’t know why you left your husband. He is such a good man … ”
Daughter: “I didn’t leave him. He left me!”
Jewish Mother: “You let him leave you, and now you go out with anybodys and nobodys.”
Daughter: “I do not go out with anybody. Can I bring over the kids?”
Jewish Mother: “ I never left you to go out with anybody except your father.”
Daughter: “There are lots of things that you did, and I don’t.”
Jewish Mother: “What are you hinting at?”
Daughter: “Nothing, I just want to know if I can bring the kids over tonight?”
Jewish Mother: “You’re going to stay the night with him? What will your husband say if he finds out?”
Daughter: “My ex-husband. I don’t think he would be bothered. From the day he left me, he probably never slept alone.”
Jewish Mother: “So you’re going to sleep over at this losers place?”
Daughter: “He’s not a loser.”
Jewish Mother: “A man who goes out with a divorced woman with children is a loser and a parasite.”
Daughter: “I don’t want to argue. Should I bring over the kids or not?”
Jewish Mother: “Poor children with such a mother.”
Daughter: “Such a what?”
Jewish Mother: “With no stability. No wonder your husband left you.”
Daughter: “ENOUGH!”
Jewish Mother: “Don’t scream at me. You probably scream at this loser too!”
Daughter: “Now you’re worried about the loser?”
Jewish Mother: “Ah, so you see he’s a loser. I spotted him immediately.”
Daughter: “Good bye Mother!”
Jewish Mother: “Wait! Don’t hang up! When are you bringing them over?”
Daughter: “I’m not bringing them over! I’m not going out!!!”
Jewish Mother: “If you never go out, how do you expect to meet someone???”


EDITOR’S NOTE: Student Rabbi Miriam Farber’s sermon last Friday evening was very moving, and several of us asked if it could be reprinted in the Ram’s Horn. Also, Mazal tov to Miriam on her upcoming marriage to a fellow student rabbi from Brazil on June ninth. We wish her farewell as she embarks on her journey toward a bright and promising future.

Building Covenantal Community: The Cohanim, the Kohatites, and Us

Earlier in our service, we sang the words Mi Chamocha ba’eilim Adonai? Who is like You, Adonai? With this prayer, we acknowledge God as the Redeemer, and we sing our joyful praises, like the Israelites, for freedom. Yet this prayer doesn’t tell the whole story. We know that Moses plays a key role in bringing the Israelites to this moment, even though his name is not found in the traditional haggadah. There are two midrashim that offer different understandings of exactly what happened to make the sea part.

In the first, as the tribes of Israel are standing on the shores, watching the Egyptians draw nearer and arguing amongst themselves over who will be the first into the sea, Nachshon ben Amminadav, a single person from the tribe of Judah, goes into the Sea. The sea does not part immediately, so Nachshon keeps walking, as the sea comes up to his knees, his shoulders, and finally his chin. As the water reaches his nose, and Nachshon prepares to take his final breath, the sea parts. The Yiddish saying, “To be a Nachshon,” means to be an initiator, in honor of the man who was brave enough to walk into the Sea of Reeds. In this version of that tense moment on the shores of the sea, the power for redemption rests with one man, with Nachshon ben Amminadav.

In the second midrash, God says to Moses, “All that Israel has to do is go forward. Therefore, “Let them go forward! Let their feet step forward from the dry land into the sea, and you will see the miracles I will perform for them.” The midrash quotes a verse from Exodus, which says, “And the Israelites went into the midst of the sea upon the DRY ground.” The midrash asks, if they went into the sea, then why does the Torah say, “upon the dry ground”? This is to teach that the sea did not split for them until they stepped into it and the water had reached their noses, only then did it become dry land.

In this version of the story, not God alone, and not even an individual person – a Nachshon, a Moses, or a Miriam – had the power to part the sea. The power for redemption rested with the entire people of Israel, acting together, in partnership with God.

By our Torah portion this week, B’midbar, the very first parasha in the book of Numbers, Egypt and the crossing of the sea are long behind us. The Israelites have already been wandering in the desert, in the midbar, for two years. The end of the portion describes, in painstaking detail, the process for dismantling the Tent of Meeting when the time comes to break camp. This responsibility falls upon Aaron and his sons, the cohanim. Another group, the Kohatite family within the tribe of Levi, has the responsibility of carrying each element of the Tent of Meeting as the Israelites wander through the desert. Each person, each family, each tribe, has its role in the upkeep of the Tent of Meeting.

In some ways, this biblical division of labor is not so different from the division of labor here, or in any other modern Jewish community around the world. One person or one family cannot do all the work of building and supporting a community; each person has to find the right role for themselves.

“At the breaking of camp, Aaron and his sons shall go in and take down the screening curtain…”
At the end of services, someone has to take down the tapestry hanging behind the ark.

“Over the table of display they shall spread a blue cloth; they shall place upon it the bowls, the ladles, the jars, and the libation jugs; and the regular bread shall rest upon it.”
Someone has to clean up from oneg, and put all of the reusable supplies back in the closet for tomorrow.

“Then they shall take a blue cloth and cover the lampstand for lighting, with its lamps, its tongs, and its fire pans, as well all the oil vessels that are used in its service.”
Someone takes responsibility for returning the candlesticks to their proper place, ensuring that they will be ready for the next Shabbat service here.

“When Aaron and his sons have finished covering the sacred objects and all the furnishings of the sacred objects at the breaking of the camp, only then shall the Kohatites come and lift them…These things in the Tent of Meeting shall be the porterage of the Kohatites.”
And someone carries the ark off of the bima and places it in the closet for safekeeping.

Just as each of our ritual objects and other supplies have their own place in the closet, each person in this community has a role to play.

Rabbi Jonathan Sacks teaches that society is bound together not by contract, but by covenant. While an individual can leave a contract when it is no longer in their interest to pursue the contractual relationship, a covenant binds people together even in difficult times. Covenants are not rooted in self-interest, but in loyalty and love. Contracts lead to the growth of political and economic institutions – governments, political parties, businesses. Covenants, on the other hand, create very different institutions – families, communities, and traditions.

Jewish communities all over the country are struggling with how to remain covenantal communities. Families treat religious school as another extracurricular to be scheduled and paid for, no different than ballet classes or learning a musical instrument. Some synagogues have become fee-for-service institutions, rather than places of true, deep community. Members, and even lay leaders, expect the paid professional staff to do the real, hard work of ensuring the survival of the institution.

But here, in Great Falls, there is no paid staff. And while this community may not have a jam-packed program calendar like a large synagogue in another city, it certainly is a covenantal community, one in which each person does his or her part – not only taking on the responsibilities of setting up the Bethel for services or for potluck, but also the responsibility of ensuring that this community survives, taking the very real challenge of the future to heart. This community has a great deal of Torah to teach the large synagogues of Los Angeles and New York.

Tonight, our voices have risen together in song, led by our very talented musicians, Steve, Sarah, and Hillary. Each of our voices, each of our unique instruments, is needed to help our songs and our prayers ascend to heaven. No voice is too young or too old, too out of tune, to be excluded.
In next week’s Torah portion, we find the familiar words of the Priestly Blessing. God, partner with this holy community and its members in bringing redemption.

Y’varech’cha Adonai v’yishm’recha.
May God bless and keep this community for generations to come.

Ya’er Adonai panav eilecha v’yichuneka.
May God’s light shine out from this community, teaching Torah and bringing Judaism to this corner of the world.

Yisa Adonai panav eilecha v’yasem l’cha shalom.
May God give this community a sense of shleimut, wholeness, recognizing all the gifts it holds within it.


Rabbi Markowitz concluded the services one Shabbat morning by saying, “Next Shabbat, my sermon will be about lying. In preparation, I would like you all to read the 42nd chapter of the book of Exodus.”

On the following Shabbat, Rabbi Markowitz rose to begin, and said:

“Now, then, all of you who have done as I requested and read the 42nd chapter of the book of Exodus, please raise your hands.”

Nearly every hand in the congregation went up.
“You are the people I want to talk to,” said Rabbi Markowitz. “There is no 42nd chapter of the book of Exodus!”

EDITOR’S NOTE: Yes this is a joke, but not knowing what the Torah says or doesn’t say isn’t; it has life and death implications. Did God really create the Heavens and the earth? Did He really say to Adam and Eve don’t eat from the tree in the middle of the Garden of Eden, and if so, why? Does the Torah have answers to some of life’s basic questions: Why are we here? How did we get here? What are we supposed to do while we are here? What happens after we die? Does the Torah say God helps those who help themselves? What about all the evil in the world … how did it get here, why does God allow it, and is there anything we can or should be doing about it? Why are there wars, and is there such a thing as a “good” war? How should we treat one another as peoples and nations, husbands and wives, parents and children, friends and neighbors, law-abiding citizens and criminals, old and young, rich and poor, business partners, debtors and creditors, fellow Jews, or the stranger in our midst? What happens if we break God’s laws, especially since we know beforehand that we will? How good do we have to be to be good enough? Does it really matter what we eat, drink, or wear? Who or what do we look to for guidance and direction when life gets really tough? If somebody wrote down all this stuff, who were they and why did they write it? How do we know whether it is truth or myth? What distinguishes it from — or makes it superior to — any other book of history or wisdom written by flawed human beings? Is any of it relevant to our lives today and, if so, what parts? If answers to any of these questions are to be found in the study of Torah, what a difference it would make in a person’s life to find them and live by them.