The FJMC's Sefer Haftarah is at North Suburban Synagogue Beth El, Highland Park, Illinois for three weeks.

This week's Unraveller is not yet sponsored.

This week's portion in the FJMC Sefer Haftarah scroll, the travelling haftarah scroll that visits a different synagogue each week and contains all of the haftarot, was sponsored by the Sinai Temple, Los Angeles.

FJMC New England Region
Hebrew Word Initiative

And he opened

And he opened
Each week, a set of 5 words are chosen by volunteers from the parsha ha'shavoa.

Did you know that the FJMC offers individual Haftarah parshiyot suitable for framing? Click here for the PDF

Use this link when shopping at
All purchases via our Amazon links provide critical support to the FJMC, at no additional cost to you!

Visit the FJMC website for upcoming events!
Editorial Board
Rabbi Wayne Allen
Rabbi Leonard S. Berkowitz
Rabbi Paul Drazen
Dr Rela Mintz Geffen
Hazzan Alberto Mizrahi
Rabbi Stephan Parnes

Newsletter Chairmen
David Goldis
Bob Watts

Interested in other Masorti weekly newsletters and commentaries? Click here

Looking for an Unraveller?
Sign up here for free home delivery!
Click here to unsubscribe.

Registration opens
December 15!

Conservative/Masorti Men at the Crossroads: Responding to a Changing World
July 24-28, 2013. Boston, Massachusetts.

Yellow Candles

Yellow Candles
FJMC Yom Hashoah Yellow Candles website
Order now, early bird discounts in effect








It's time for Build-A-Pair
The best way to teach about tefillin!

HeneniThe "Build a Pair" Program is a comprehensive and fun learning program to introduce 5th, 6th or 7th graders to the joy and mitzvah of Tefillin in Jewish life. Multiple components interplay to explore the religious significance, the construction of, and the practice of "laying" Tefillin. A comprehensive education program with videos helps the religious school teach students the meaning of Tefillin in Jewish life and practice. Students practice writing their Hebrew/Jewish names and the SHEMA (first line) to insert into pre-made wooden Tefillin boxes. Students decorate the boxes in any creative way they wish, allowing for personal expression. Students either compete or cooperate in writing a "wRAP" song to sing at a Big Event. The Big Event can be the World Wide Wrap (WWW), sponsored by the Federation of Jewish Men's Clubs (FJMC), held annually on the morning of Super Bowl Sunday. The WWW program is designed to introduce and re-introduce Jewish men [and women] to the significance of "laying" Tefillin. The "Build a Pair" student program attracts the parents to see their children in their model Tefillin sing the "wRap" songs, allowing two generations (or more!) to join in the mitzvah together, and to let the students' sing their "wRAP" song for an appreciative audience.

World Wide Wrap is Sunday, February 3, 2013
The Bar Mitzvah Wrap!


December 14, 2012

Haftarah for Hanukkah
Zechariah 2:14-4:7

With help from Debbie Friedman (z'l), one verse of the Haftarah we read this Shabbat Hanukkah stands out as most familiar: "This is the word of the LORD to Zerubbabel: Not by might, nor by power, but by My spirit—said the LORD of Hosts" (Zechariah 4:6). While the association of the theme of the Haftarah, a prophetic vision of the menorah, makes for a natural connection with Hanukkah, the Rabbis make a calculated decision in selecting this passage for this special Shabbat. As Professor Michael Fishbane wrote in the JPS Haftarah Commentary (p. 225), "By giving Zechariah's prophecy the proclamatory ending "not by might, nor by power, but by My spirit," the Rabbis transformed the text into a divine warning. Groups wishing to "force the end" through military might, or support projects promising restoration of the Temple, are given divine notice of the futility of their plans."

Such a decision about the Biblical readings is consistent with the Rabbinic view of the meaning of Hanukkah in virtually all realms. As children, we learn the two interrelated miracles of Hanukkah—the military victory of the Maccabees is one, the surprising extended use of a limited supply of oil is the second. The Rabbis sharply downgrade the role of the Maccabees in the relatively brief discussion of Hanukkah in the Babylonian Talmud (said brief attention thereby also downgrading the significance of the Festival entirely!). The story we learned puts the military and spiritual miracles on virtually equal footing; as we saw above from Fishbane, the message of the Rabbis' choice of this haftarah is that not only is the flexing of military muscle of diminished importance, it's downright futile!

Yes, it's true, we say 'Al Hanissim on Hanukkah, a passage that celebrates the victory of our few over their many, our righteous over their wicked, and so on. But in the prayer, the addressee is God—for God is the sole source of victory. As we consider the Rabbis' Hanukkah agenda, consider the other times of the year that we say 'Al Hanissim—Purim and Yom Ha'atzma'ut, Israel Independence Day. In both Hanukkah and 1948, military success is a crucial component of the story. The Maccabees and the nascent IDF, though vastly outnumbered by their enemies, exercised their power to achieve victory. As people of faith, we attribute our success to God, but we had to take up arms in order to benefit from God's guidance.

What about Purim? What power did we exercise in that story? The Shalom Hartman Institute's Engaging Israel curriculum explores this very question. As the Megillah's narrative unfolds (pun intended), Haman manipulates the king into condemning the Jews, who are in no position whatsoever to defend themselves. Yes, we have a woman on the inside, but she's just one in the king's stable of wives. Mordecai implores Esther to do bring her People's plight to the king's attention, but she hasn't even identified publicly as part of this People! She and we are at the mercy of the king's interest when she enters the royal chamber uninvited. If he wasn't happy to see her, that would be the end of her, the end of our chance to infiltrate the seat of power, the end of us. And then again, if the king had been able to sleep that night, he wouldn't have called for the royal archives to be read, and wouldn't have learned that Mordecai played a leading role in saving him from assassination. It took a great deal of luck for the story to take a redemptive turn. In the absence of that luck, we are exterminated. As Rabbi Donniel Hartman says in reflecting on the Purim story, "There is no nobility in powerlessness."

The Rabbis, by choosing this haftarah for Shabbat Hanukkah, were trying to stifle an active expression of Jewish power, at least military power. Zechariah's prophecy is a beautiful text, but how does it sit with you? I, for one, need both elements of the miraculous—God's role and ours in concert—to make meaning of Hanukkah. Powerlessness isn't an option, but neither is an absence of the sense of the spiritual.

This week's Haftarah commentary was written by Rabbi David Wise. Rabbi Wise has served the Hollis Hills Jewish Center in Queens, NY, since 2005. A 1996 graduate of JTS, he spent nine years in New Jersey as the rabbi of Temple Beth El of Somerset. He has served on the executive council of the Rabbinical Assembly and on its Committee on Jewish Law and Standards. A native of Toronto, Rabbi Wise is a product of United Synagogue Day Schools, USY, and Camp Ramah. He spends his summer vacation teaching at Camp Ramah in the Berkshires. He met his wife, Judy Krinitz, when they were both USY Israel Pilgrimage Staff, and together they are proud parents of Jordana and Elie. A believer in hopeless causes, Rabbi Wise remains a loyal fan of the Toronto Maple Leafs, as indicated by his e-mail address, lastcup67@aol.com.

Recognizing our Maasim Tovim
Doer of Good Deeds Honorees

Hal Baker
Michigan Region

Hal Baker and his family joined Congregation Ahavas Achim in Southfield, Michigan in 1960. Hal became a charter member of the congregation's "Mr. & Mrs. Club" in 1965 and twice served as its President. Following the merger of Ahavas Achim and Beth Aaron, Hal continued to be active in the new congregation, Beth Achim, and served as Men's club President from 1984 to 1987 and again from 1994 to 1995. 
When Beth Achim and Adat Shalom merged, Hal continued his leadership within the Men's Club, becoming President of the Men's Club from 2002 to 2005. He has also contributed to the Federation of Jewish Men's Clubs on a regional level, serving as Vice-President of the Michigan Region for the past four years. 
Hal has chaired the Men's Club Yom Hashoah Yellow Candle Program at Beth Achim and at Adat Shalom since 1965. He has also co-chaired the Synagogue's annual Chanukah Sing-a-Long program for the past 30 years, which takes Men's Club members and religious school students to senior residences to bring music and Chanukah cheer to the elderly. 
Beyond the synagogue, Hal has been a very active supporter of the Jerry Lewis Muscular Dystrophy Association Telethon for 35 years. In addition, he and his wife, Marsha, are both devoted volunteers on behalf of teen suicide prevention. Hal was an employee of Sears for 42 years, and for the past eight years has worked for Adat Shalom. Join us in congratulating Hal for his years of service to FJMC, his shul, his region and his community. Kol Hakavod! 

To continue reading this article, click here.


New Publications

Leadership - Innovation - Community
Understanding the Haftarot:
An Everyperson's Guide

In this stimulating and unusual book Rabbi Charles Simon, Executive Director of FJMC, provides the reader with the context to understand how the haftarot were organized, why they might have been selected and suggests reasons for finding meaning and value.
You can purchase it a number of ways.
Intermarriage: Concepts & Strategies for Families and Synagogue Leaders
If family members and community leaders wish to become engaged in the process of Keruv they often need to ask, "Does Keruv have an ideology and theology? And if so what is it?" Then they need to learn how to respond to intermarriage from the perspective of both gender and religion. This publication reflects the most current thinking about intermarriage to date and attempts to provide family members and community leaders with the needed understanding to effectively work with intermarrieds or potential intermarrieds.
You can purchase it a number of ways:

Yad Shel Chai
The Yad Shel Chai program was created by an FJMC club in Jacksonville, FL. The program is designed to provide an incentive for Torah readers to get a personalized Yad with their Hebrew name. Help create a synagogue culture where young people or your Men's Club members who regularly read Torah at Shabbat and minyan services can be recognized for their accomplishments. The program encourages Torah Study, helps increase the number of Torah readers, and provides significant long term benefits to the participant and congregation for minimal cost.

The beautiful silver-plated "fjmc" baubles to create a connection to your club. The silver plated beaded Yad can be personalized with the reader's name. It is 22.5cm long (8 7/8")

The Yad Shel Chai program is extremely simple to implement and manage. Work with your Rabbi and School Administrator to encourage teenagers to read Torah. Work with the Ritual Director to implement for the kids and adults alike. You can easily track the portions read and plan your rewards.

The original program envisions that when a student approaches 18 readings, the organizers order a Yad via the order form on the Yad Shel Chai page. The cost is $85 per Yad, plus $15 shipping and handling (regardless of how many you order). If you have any questions, please email YadShelChai@fjmc.org.

Help the Unraveller begin our 4th year!
Sponsor the Unraveller now!
Contact FJMC Sponsorship Chairman Tom Sudow
for details and to reserve your week!

LEADERSHIP                              -                              INNOVATION                              -                              COMMUNITY
FJMC, 475 RIVERSIDE DR, NY, NY, 10115 (212) 749-8100 Unsubscribe from the Unraveller here       |       Subscribe to the Unraveller here
FOLLOW US ON TWITTER! http://twitter.com/unravellerfjmc This e-mail letter is hosted and distributed by INTERACTIVEPAGES, Toronto