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Showing posts from May, 2008

60Bloggers for Israel: “Choosing Hope”

Rabbi Menachem Creditor

We choose our destinies.  Exilic wandering, for the modern Jew, is a choice. 

As Reb Chaim of Volozhin teaches in his magisterial Nefesh HaChayiim (1824), "And this is the Torah of being a person…One should never say in their heart, God forbid, 'For what am I and what is my power to enact anything through my insignificant and and deeds?  Understand, know, and set in your heart that every detail of every deed, word, and thought is not lost.  Every one of them ascends to its own Source to cause an effect in the highest Heavens. (NH 1:4)"  No act is neutral, and we can have a cosmic impact by simply thinking differently.

This is a difficult concept.  So much happens in the world.  Cyclones and social injustice and all the other headlines combine to overwhelm even the prophets among us.  Can we reasonably believe in our power to heal the world?  Is 'Hope' an illusion?   Rabbi Israel Morgenstern of Pilov is quoted …

A Note from Rabbi Creditor: Celebrating Equal Marriage in California!

The first time I stood on the steps of the State House making good use of my right to free speech in support of Equal Marriage was in 2002 in Massachusetts. Though a rabbi I was there as a "civilian." As a fierce advocate for church-state separation I didn't feel it was appropriate to use my status as a religious leader to push a particular agenda in a civic debate. But as I encountered hateful ideas being shouted in God's name, the example of Rabbi Abraham Joshua Heschel marching arm in arm with Martin Luther King Junior during the civil rights campaigns of the 1950s pushed me forward, title and all.

While I always knew that when civil rights were at stake I could not stand idly by, what I learned in Massachusetts is that the involvement of religious communities in civil debate is just as important. And here we are again with the decision of the California Supreme Court on May 15 affirming that same-sex couples have a constitutional right to marry, a momentous st…

Spiritual Authority in a Participatory Congregation

Spiritual Authority in a Participatory Congregation
Rabbi Menachem Creditor In a world of individual empowerment, what is the place for authority?  Is there one?  Should there be?

Inherited faith traditions locate the source of religious authority in text, the heavens, or a religious leader.  Something tangible and limited.  That is likely not the way our communities views themselves (though implicit explorations of our internal senses of 'authority' do take place when new rabbinic leadership is sought, or when controversial policy/halakhic shifts are raised).
My sense is that our shuls’ authentic practices emerge from within the dynamic relationship between our living community and the sense of purpose we share with previous generations, stretching as far back as the Torah's earliest visions.  In other words, we are in constant dialogue between the past and the present.  Even for those in our community who believe that the Torah is Divinely revealed, mindful and participator…

A Note and a Special Announcement from Rabbi Creditor on Israel’s 60th Birthday

A Note and a Special Announcement from Rabbi Creditor on Israel's 60th BirthdayTomorrow night, the Berkeley Jewish community will celebrate the first annual "TOGETHER FOR ISRAEL" event at Congregation Beth El from 6-8pm, including delicious Israeli Food, Israeli Music and Dancing, Fun Giveaways, Kid's Arts & Crafts Activities, and (at 7pm) a guest speaker and screening by Elizabeth Rodgers, producer of the New Award-Winning documentary "Exodus 1947." The event is free of charge as a gift from our entire Jewish community.Join me there!I share with you these following thoughts in honor of Israel's 60th Birthday:There are those who describe the State of Israel as the stirrings of redemption. For 60 years our global Jewish family has been striving toward a beautiful dream amidst great challenge, both internal and external, to bring a safer, better, prouder day for the Jewish People and the world through the State of Israel.Rabbi Yitz Greenberg, a living…

Links for Living a Mythic Life: Mythic People II: Eastern Europe

Yom HaShoah VeHagevurah 5768: "Kisses and Memory"

Yom HaShoah VeHagevurah 5768: "Kisses and Memory"
Rabbi Menachem Creditor

There are days in which the simplest things carry incalculable meaning.  Today is one such day. 

Yom HaShoah VeHagevurah
, our Day of Holocaust and Heroism, amplifies every experience of life to a heightened place.  A smile, an embrace, a bright butterfly.  Each evokes, for those attuned to the holy moment, devastating heartbreak and deep hope.

Today, just this morning, I sang with a group of young Jewish children.  We kissed the Torah and wished it a Boker Tov, a Good Morning. And I was transported immediately back to Poland, back to the nightmares.  The camps.  A museum with Torah Scrolls made into musical instruments by the Nazis who forced Jews to play while their sisters, brothers, parents, and children were marching, working.  Dying.  Where kisses weren't.  Where Torah wasn't.  A world without song.

But today young Jewish children sang with delight and blew the Torah a kiss.

And we remember.