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Showing posts from November, 2012

Emah's Niggun

Dan Hotchkiss: "Putting staff in charge without losing volunteer commitment"

Dan Hotchkiss: "Putting staff in charge without losing volunteer commitment"Posted onSeptember 17, 2012byDanH Boards that try to delegate authority to staff often worry that volunteers will lose commitment. It's a realistic concern: volunteers who handled large responsibilities under the board do sometimes decide, when the board passes the management baton to the head of staff, that they are no longer needed.This used to surprise me. Why would restructuring the flow of authority cause energy to disappear? Why are volunteers who take high-level responsibility under the board respond to the board's delegation of authority to the head of staff by taking a vacation? I'm no longer surprised, because I've found that maintaining volunteer commitment while moving management from board to staff  is pretty much a universal challenge.The solution, luckily, turns out to be fairly simple: the staff needs to learn to ask people to take …

November 29th, 1947

As Rabbi Daniel Treiser writes: "To paraphrase "The Matrix," "History, it seems, is not without a sense of irony." On November 29th, 1947, the United Nations voted 33 for 13 against (all the Arab nations plus Cuba, Greece and India) to partition Palestine into a Jewish state and an Arab state. The Arab nations rejected the resolution, and chose instead to attack the nascent State of Israel the day the British Mandate came to an end. Had they accepted the vote, there would have been an internationally recognized Arab state of Palestine. Instead, they chose decades of war and suffering for the population and for the Jews in Israel as well. Now, 65 years later TO THE DAY, the Palestinians come to the UN for a vote seeking 'non-member state' status, rather than come to the negotiating table with Israel. What will this mean? Symbolic victory for the PA. More international bashing of Israel. Perhaps a bump in Abbas' declining popularity. But otherwise? …

Netivot Shalom supports families in East Oakland! This year, we are collecting for teens: sports equipment, gift cards, movie passes, hard/gloves/scarves, college apparel and more!

How Does Hashem Make People?

How Does Hashem Make People? © Rabbi Menachem Creditor
Recently a young child asked me "Rabbi, how does Hashem make people?" It was one of those questions. My response was short, sweet (I hope), and pointed with gratitude to the "mere" fact of being alive.
This is a more fleshed-out reflection on that question, written with as little "filter" as possible.
I move about my daily life, largely unaware of the blood flowing through capillaries and veins, ignorant of synapses firing and toxins being filtered. Jewish tradition has us recite a blessing for our bodies' inner plumbing, designed to supported our physical beings in countless ways. We know this best when one function is impaired, and we value the saving of life above every other mitzvah. It is a profound gift to be alive, to have a body. My body exists to do good in the world, and that is how Hashem makes me.
I meet with many people each day. Some are old, some are young. Some are healthy…

I encourage my rabbinic colleagues to sign on to end tax cuts for the top 2%

Dear Rabbis:While electing the right leaders is a crucial part of our democracy, doing the actual work of governing and passing wise legislation is perhaps more important. As we're sure all of you know, a critical point in the negotiations to resolve the budget crisis is whether to sunset the tax cuts for those making over $250,000 a year. President Obama, who so many of you worked so hard to elect, is looking for widespread public support for this position and we are grateful that Bend the Arc: A Jewish Partnership for Justice is working to raise the voice of the Jewish community on this issue. We encourage you to add your name to a rabbinic letter to our elected officials.Sincerely,Rabbi Sam Gordon
Rabbi Steven Bob
Rabbi Burt VisotzkyDear Rabbinic Colleague:The coming weeks are a critical time for those dedicated to holding America to its promise to build a more just and equitable society.  As congressional leaders and the president work to bring the federal government&…

Olam Chesed Yibaneh - sung by smiling Jewish teens.

Matisyahu - Sunshine

Amud Anan Update from the Hannaton Educational Center

Amud Anan, Pillar of Defence The War in the South Kislev 5773 November 2012
Mechina Students Volunteering in the South
For the last couple of days our students devoted themselves to the residents of the south. A number of students traveled southward to Be'er Sheba to support families with children in the shelters. They are delivering food to the shelters and entertaining the young.  This is especially necessary for families who have a parent who has been called up to the army. In Ashdod, our students are working at the hospital, accompanying those hospitalized to the shelters and participating in the hospital's support system. In Ashkelon, we are located in the NOAM center which is the only shelter in its local surroundings. NOAM has opened the center to the public and the Mechinah students are serving the community there. In addition, we delivered scarves to soldiers who are heading south in order to keep them warm.
Even with all of this, we are striving to maintain a normal life…

Powerful new Jewish music from Rabbi David Paskin, available for pre-order and shipping on Friday!

Rabbi David Paskin's newest recording, T'filati, features eleven brand new songs and new arrangements for two of David's earliest compositions. Join David on a musical journey through the siddur. Learn more at!

Tears and Hope

Tears and Hope
(C) Rabbi Menachem Creditor
with deep gratitude to the children and teachers of the Oakland Hebrew Day School
Their faces, shining, beautiful, scared,
looking to me for reassurance
when I have
none to offer.
So I hold back my tears
and share my hopes for peace
and a memory of being
right where they were
when I was their age,
Afraid for family and friends,
hoping for their safety,
wondering what I'm doing
so far from home.
And once the children leave
my defenses crumble
I never stopped being their age.
And my family hasn't yet known peace.
And calling out to God
only makes me
cry more.

The East Bay Stands with Israel - Tues, Nov 20 - 7:30pm

As the crisis in Israel moves into its sixth day, millions of Israelis are living in danger. Hamas and terrorist cells operating in Gaza continue to aim rockets at Tel Aviv and Jerusalem. The cities in Israel's south are under continuous attack. This is a time for our community to come together, to support one another, and to stand in solidarity with our brothers and sisters in Israel.Please join the East Bay Jewish community for:Tuesday
November 20, 2012 / 8 Kislev 5773
7:30 – 9:00 PM
Temple Isaiah
945 Risa Road in Lafayette
The program will include prayers for peace and healing, updates on the situation in Israel and the East Bay Jewish community's response, a live feed from the shelters in Israel, a call to action, information on how to provide humanitarian relief to Israelis affected by the crisis, and an opportunity to write letters to elected officials.Co-sponsored by: AIPAC, Anti-Defamation League, Berkeley Hadassah, Beth Jacob Congregation, Congregation Beth Chaim, Co…

Berkeley Community Interfaith Thanksgiving Service

Berkeley Organizing Congregations for Action
Monday, November 19, 2012
NEWSLETTER VISIT OUR WEBSITE Interfaith Thanksgiving Worship This is a friendly reminder for you to join us tomorrow Tuesday, November 20, 2012, at 7pm. At St. John's Presbyterian Church (2727 College Ave., Berkeley, CA 94705) for a Community Interfaith Thanksgiving Worship.
For more information call: 510-845-6830 Dessert to follow Worship. BOCA HAS A NEW ADDRESS: BOCA, 1950 Addison St. Suite #107, Berkeley, CA 94704 Phone:510-665-5821 Fax: 510-665-7962 Email:

Bravo to Daniel Gordis in "As rockets rain down on Israel, an Atlanta JCC bans Peter Beinart. When did we become so narrow-minded?"

Bravo to Daniel Gordis in  "As rockets rain down on Israel, an Atlanta JCC bans Peter Beinart. When did we become so narrow-minded?"

...The American Jewish community is the most secure diaspora community the Jews have ever known. Economically, socially, politically, culturally—we have made it, and what we say and model is watched by countless others. Yet New York Times readers this week can only conclude that in the midst of that security and comfort, we’ve utterly abandoned the intellectual curiosity that has long been Judaism’s hallmark." -- read the article at

A Reflection on Nathan Englander's "Sister Hills" (from "What We Talk About When We Talk About Anne Frank")

A Reflection on Nathan Englander's "Sister Hills" (from "What We Talk About When We Talk About Anne Frank")
Rabbi Menachem Creditor
part of Jewish LearningWorks' "One Bay, One Book"

Much swirled through my soul as I read Nathan Englander's latest book, "What We Talk About When We Talk About Anne Frank," especially the second story in the book, "Sister Hils." No summary suffices, and plot-spoilers would be a crime. But this is what I feel, upon encountering Englander's masterful narrative: What are the definitions and limits of Jewish obligation? (continue reading here....)

Rabbi Mauricio Balter: War diary entry number 2, from Be'er Sheva

War diary entry number 2, from Be'er Sheva
Rabbi Mauricio Balter, Congregation Eshel Avraham
Support Israel with a donation to the Masorti Foundation!
A few minutes ago Shabbat ended, and I'm sitting here writing the second entry into my war journal. The first one I wrote four days ago, and it feels like ages ago.

I would like to share with you the experience of Shabbat. In our community, we decided to announce that the synagogue would be open for prayers and that I would be there.
The idea was not to invite or encourage people to get out of the house when we are in war. I would remind you that it is the moments of moving from place to place that are the most dangerous. Because when the sirens go off, you have to quickly find cover, which isn't always easy. In these circumstances, leaving the house is everyone's independent decision.

Yesterday, at 5PM I opened the synagogue (prayers start at 5:30). At 5:15 there was a siren. Many people who had been on their way to shul tur…

SFJCF: Update on the Situation in Israel - Sunday

Friends, This report comes from the JFNA and San Francisco Israel offices. On Sunday, the fifth day of Operation Pillar of Defense, the conflict with Gaza continues, including ongoing rocket fire against Israel.Today rockets landed next to a kindergarten in Ashkelon, hit a car, and the front of a house in Beersheva. A fireman and two residents have suffered shrapnel injuries. School remains closed within a 40 kilometer radius of Gaza for security reasons as all children remain in shelters.In addition to the three Israeli civilians killed on Thursday, three remain in critical condition including an 8-month old baby. Over 80 Israelis have been taken to hospitals with injuries in recent days. Many more have been treated for shock and emotional trauma and the true toll of this conflict will only be seen in the months and even years to come. Hospitals are currently working with significantly reduced staff as many doctors and nurses have been called up for army service. Some 4.5 million Is…