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A Note from Rabbi Creditor & Two Recommended Action Steps

A Note from Rabbi Creditor & Two Recommended Action Steps

5 Tevet, 5769
January 1, 2009

Chevreh, this is a hard time for our people. In the Talmud we read, regarding the Jewish people, that "later troubles make [us] forget earlier ones. (TB Berachot 13a)" Memories of Mumbai haven't faded in the least, and now the incredible pressure the State Israel faces to do both what is necessary and what is right in Gaza is simply overwhelming. It is in moments like this that the unity of the Jewish people is truly tested, and more important than ever.

Violence is ugly. These attacks hurt everyone involved. Palestinians dying is as wrong as Israelis dying. Peace, reconciliation, dialogue and diplomacy are the preference, the content of our deepest prayer and advocacy. But we've come to a crossroads with Hamas, which doesn't even recognize the legitimacy of Israel's existence. There is no moral equivalence between the missile that pierced an Israeli kindergarten this mo…

J: Local Jews defend, criticize Israel

J: Local Jews defend, criticize Israelby dan pine, staff writerFriday January 2, 2009Lying awake in a Bedouin tent somewhere in the Negev, Daniel Feder could hear the faint rumble of bombs echoing across the desert night. Not far away, Israel was waging war against Hamas. "We were out of the range of any rocket fire," the rabbi of Burlingame's Peninsula Temple Sholom said Dec. 30 by phone from Israel, during a weeklong congregational mission. "But we have a clearer sense not only of the restraint Israel has shown since 2006, but the importance of Israel responding with strength. If Israel loses its deterrence, Israel and its citizens will be more vulnerable." Feder's view is one along a broad spectrum of local reaction to Israel's sudden assault on Hamas. Like other Bay Area Jews contacted by j., he supports Israel in its struggle with an implacable foe. But he also feels the sting of civilian casualties resulting from the campaign. "Whenever human…

A Prayer for Elusive Harmony

A Prayer for Elusive Harmony© Rabbi Menachem Creditor
The worst compliment an a cappella singer can get is this: "Your voice sounded great!  I could hear you over everyone else in the group!"
Having recently reunited with an old college a cappella friend, I've begun reflecting on the power singing in a group has had throughout my life.  It was because of the unpredictable harmonies of a Jewish a cappella group that I discovered my own Jewish voice and ultimately chose to become a rabbi.  It was at a joint concert that I met my future wife, a talented singer.  But those life moments are not the point.  Those mid-life punctuations are about me.  The power of that music was, and remains, its ability to bring strong, unique voices into blended harmony.
A memory of singing in London with Pizmon, the Jewish a cappella group of Columbia University, Barnard College, and the Jewish Theological Seminary:  We had just revised an arrangement of David Broza's "Yihiyeh Tov/It wi…

Emergency Masorti Appeal

MERCAZ USADecember 2008Tevet 5769A Message I Wish I Did Not Have To WriteDonate Now.
Click Emergency Appeal in the Gift Allocation.Once again, Israel faces crisis. Once again you, as I, will receive a multitude of appeals for funds. You may recall that earlier this year the Masorti Foundation worked with our colleagues in the Conservative movement to coordinate fundraising efforts. We were successful in providing support not only for programs in and for residents of Sderot and nearby areas, including support for summer day camp for young children, but also in underwriting the bulk of the cost for significant physical improvements to the Masorti kehilla in Ashkelon. This was especially important because of the 200 young children in the gan program at the kehilla.We need your help again. Day trips out of the affected areas have proven to be quite important from a psychological perspective. The Masorti movement in Israel has already sponsored close to 40 trips from Sderot. Participants a…

Newsweek: A Return to Deterrence: Can Israel restore its aura of invincibility?

Sponsored By A Return to Deterrence: Can Israel restore its aura of invincibility? Kevin Peraino Newsweek Web ExclusiveOf all Israeli casualties in the 2006 war with Lebanon, the loss of the Jewish state's aura of invincibility was perhaps the most devastating. For the better part of the preceding 40 years — since its lightning victory in the 1967 Six-Day War — Israelis were devoted to that image as a security guarantee in one of the world's roughest neighborhoods. "Deterrence" is one of the most-frequently used (and over-used) words in the Israeli lexicon; the concept has been raised almost to cult status. To Israelis it is much more than a strategic abstraction. For many, it is a rule that has been learned by rote. Historian Amatzia Baram recalls how his mother used to recite a Yiddish proverb to drive home the point: "Over the bent tree, all the goats will jump."This week's assault on Gaza, dubbed Operation Cast Lead by the Israeli military, is bein…

Letter to the NYTimes

To the Editor,

It is all too easy to have Israel's actions be the focus of a headline this past week ("Israeli Attacks in Gaza Strip Continue for Second Day", Dec. 28).  Yes, the violence and deaths are truly terrifying in magnitude.  But what of the Gazan weapons-smuggling tunnels, forty of which were destroyed by the IDF early Sunday morning?  What of the thousands of cell phone calls the IDF made to Palestinian civilians, warning them to stay away from militants in advance of the attacks?  Cell phone warnings and avoidance of civilian deaths have not been the strategies of Hamas, the duly elected leadership in Gaza.  Hamas is ultimately responsible for the horrible violence and death of these past days, having barraged Israel's southern region with smuggled weapons instead of recognizing Israel's existence as a first step towards the peace we all seek.  Hamas deserves the headline, and thereby the global accountability.

Rabbi Menachem Creditor
Berkeley, CA

Rabbi M…

Letter to the SF Chronicle

Dear Editors,

It is all too easy to focus on the thousands of protesters against Israel's retaliatory actions this past week ("Across Mideast, thousands protest Israeli assault", Dec. 28).  And yes, the violence and deaths are truly terrifying in magnitude.  But what of the Gazan weapons-smuggling tunnels, forty of which were destroyed by the IDF early Sunday morning?  What of the thousands of cell phone calls the IDS made to Palestinian civilians, warning them to stay away from militants in advance of the attacks?  Cell phone warnings and avoidance of civilian deaths have not been the strategies of Hamas, the duly elected leadership in Gaza.  Hamas is ultimately responsible for the horrible violence and death of these past days, having barraged Israel's southern region with smuggled weapons instead of recognizing Israel's existence as a first step towards the peace we all seek.

Rabbi Menachem Creditor
Berkeley

Rabbi Menachem Creditor
-- www.netivotshalom.org
-- www.sh…

How normal will life be for Obama girls?

MSNBC.com
How normal will life be for Obama girls?: The public is fascinated by famous tweens Malia, 10, and Sasha, 7

The Associated Press -updated 12:46 p.m. PT,Sat., Dec. 27, 2008 NEW YORK - They're only 10 and 7, and already designers are angling to dress them. They've been on the cover of People and Us Weekly. And there's that standing invitation — unlikely though it is to be redeemed — to the set of "Hannah Montana."Malia and Sasha Obama are unquestionably the world's most famous tweens, and they haven't even moved into the White House yet. When they arrive, do they have even a chance at the normal existence their parents have often said they want for them?A look at history suggests that the media, at least, will keep their distance. Chelsea Clinton, 13 when she entered the White House, was largely left alone at the request of her parents. Amy Carter, who came at age 9, was allowed to live a fairly normal life. And the much younger Kennedy kids were kep…

For The Inauguration of President Barack Obama by Ira F. Stone

The Imperishable Divide

How the heart
with its necessary
division maintains
its tasks changing
color as it moves
from one chamber
to the other with
news of the furthest
and messages
for the closest

How it especially
takes the breath
through hinterlands

How susceptible
to ache and
ready to swell
in pride or
cower in
disappointment

How it heals itself
and breaks and scars

How it is damaged
by blockages anywhere
in the system but

How its wholeness
is always various
and when healthy
throbs with near-mad
hope and believes
if it is not endless
it is at least prepared
to give itself over
to the waiting
hands of its children
to be carried in their
hearts as though
there is a unity across
the imperishable divide

msnbc: "Charity gets personal amid economic hardship"

MSNBC.com
Charity gets personal amid economic hardship For some msnbc.com readers, crisis spurs acts of spontaneous generosity By Kari Huus Reporter msnbc.com updated 3:10 a.m. PT,Wed., Dec. 24, 2008 Heading into the holidays amid deepening recession, Angela Smith has one concern that eclipses  her own worrisome situation — the thought that Santa might not make it to some homes."Yes, we are in an ugly economic crisis and I'm scared like everyone else, but I'd rather go without than see little children suffer," said Smith of Cocoa, Fla. She said she took the little cash she had in reserve and spent it on goody boxes for children who otherwise might have nothing on Christmas morning. Smith was among the hundreds of readers who responded to an msnbc.com query asking how the turbulent economy is affecting their charitable activities. She also was among the vast majority of respondents who said they plan to keep up or even increase contributions to favorite charities or those …

Malcom Gladwell: "Annals of Education"

Annals of Education: Most Likely to SucceedHow do we hire when we can't tell who's right for the job?by Malcolm Gladwell December 15, 2008 On the day of the big football game between the University of Missouri Tigers and the Cowboys of Oklahoma State, a football scout named Dan Shonka sat in his hotel, in Columbia, Missouri, with a portable DVD player. Shonka has worked for three National Football League teams. Before that, he was a football coach, and before that he played linebacker—although, he says, "that was three knee operations and a hundred pounds ago." Every year, he evaluates somewhere between eight hundred and twelve hundred players around the country, helping professional teams decide whom to choose in the college draft, which means that over the last thir…

Forward: "Tradition and (50 Years of) Change" by Rabbi Elliot Cosgrove

Tradition and (50 Years of) Change
http://www.forward.com/articles/14736/
By Elliot Cosgrove
Thu. Dec 18, 2008 Article tools Text size:   Larger|Smaller   Print this article   Email this article   Other articles by Elliot Cosgrove   More in Forward Forum
Few books have an iconic status specifically for Conservative Jews, but it is fair to say that "Tradition and Change: The Development of Conservative Judaism" is one of them. This year marked the 50th anniversary of the publication of this landmark volume of essays on movement ideology, edited by the late Rabbi Mordecai Waxman. For a half-century, it has served as a veritable reference manual — thevade mecum —for anyone interested in the intellectual roots of Conservative Judaism and its institutional arms. Today, "Tradition and Change" continues to illuminate Conservative Judaism's rich past, but it also offers valuable insights for a movement that has been struggling with uncertainty about its future.In order to u…