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Showing posts from August, 2014

What Kind of "Justice, Justice" Do You Pursue?

The Torah portion Shoftim (Judges) juxtaposes ritual purity with social justice. What can human rights activists learn from the Torah's wisdom to heal a world set on fire by societal ills like Ferguson's racism, and ISIS' & Hamas' terrorism?

"Overwhelmed by Argument" with Josh Kornbluth and Rabbi Menachem Creditor Videos are now online!

"Overwhelmed by Argument" with Josh Kornbluth and Rabbi Menachem Creditor
Videos of the Two-Night Conversation are now online! Part I - Part II -
(thank you to Etai Weininger and David Gill, leaders of the  Netivot Shalom Adult Education Committee, for supporting the event!)
On August 13th and August 23rd, Josh Kornbluth and Rabbi Menachem Creditor engaged in a public conversation about Israel, Zionism, Judaism, Peace, and American Jewish activism. The description of and rules for the conversation are below. It was an intense conversation between two loving friends who both love Israel and ache for Peace, who both believe in two states and are both pained by Israeli and Palestinian deaths. The disagreements were passionate, nuanced, and respectful. This was, of course, only the beginning of the work ahead. 
We invite you to please, watch the videos. Tune in. Continue learning about ways to help. Pray for Peace. For more from Jos…

This Sunday at CNS! "First Encounters: An Afternoon of Learning convened by Shma (featuring Robert Alter, Sarah Lefton, Deena Aranoff, Susan Berrin, Dan Schifrin, Rabbi Stuart Kelman, and Rabbi Menachem Creditor)

This Sunday!present

Ferguson and Israel: One Rabbi's Reflection

Ferguson and Israel: One Rabbi's Reflection
© Rabbi Menachem CreditorOn the one hand, there's no comparison. No group or individual's pain is the same. But, given the media's part in the chaos of violence in Ferguson and Israel, observers' readiness to categorize those fighting for their dignity, their children's very lives, and given the sense of the world not 'getting it,' Black and Brown Americans can understand what Jews have experienced throughout time and in these harrowing days, as missiles and bullets fly, media spins, and people judge without any understanding the facts on the ground.One more linkage between Ferguson and Israel: Restraint. The raw power of those under assault could easily explode but is instead being channeled by the clear moral thinking of leaders in an impossible situation.Since none of us are sleeping, perhaps we can be anxious in solidarity, navigating our ways through unending night.We will see better days, my sisters and…

Never Again is Right Now

Never Again is Right Now
© Rabbi Menachem Creditor "For every thing there is a time." For Jews, now is the time realize that, though we have our passionate inner tensions as a People, the world sees us as one thing, one group deserving of hatred, unworthy of self-determination, an ever-displaced People. No more. We are wanderers no more. We have come home, and we will defeat those who try to kill us. And there are those in this world who want to kill us. They are trying tonight though missiles, they tried today by savagely beating a Swedish woman for wearing a Jewish star necklace, they tried yesterday by attacking a synagogue in Geneva, and they tried last week by declaring an "Israeli-free zone" in England. It is that brutally simple. Peace is a commitment the Jewish People makes to the world. But it is a commitment premised upon us being alive to fulfill it. And we have no intention of dying. We've got work to do, ancient work under incomprehensible trials. …

Conservative Movement Solidarity Mission to Israel: First Day Update

Conservative Movement Mission to Israel Update August 2014 - Av 5774 Day 1 - August 18, 2014 (View Pictures)
Update from Rabbi Ashira Konigsburg:  Over 50 people gathered at the David Citadel Hotel this evening to open the Conservative Movement Solidarity Mission.  Our delegation includes 15 rabbis, 2 cantors, several other synagogue professionals and many lay-leaders.  We're proud that such a large group has joined our mission with little notice.  We opened tonight with greetings from Yizhar Hess, Executive Director of Masorti Israel, Laura Lewis, Executive Director of the Masorti Foundation, and Shueli Fast, the new Chair of the Masorti movement in Israel. Then our chairs, Felipe Goodman and Bob Slosberg facilitated a conversation where participants described how they came to be part of the mission and what they hoped to gain from it. Barbara Goldstein of Roslyn Heights, NY said "I came because I needed to be here." Many others echoed her sentiments. Some w…

Calling all Pounding Hearts

Calling all Pounding Hearts
© Rabbi Menachem Creditor If only the world weren't on fire
then my heart would stop pounding.
But if both fire and pounding heart are true,
then we know two things:
we are alive and we are needed. Calling all pounding hearts:
Keep beating.
There's a consuming fire
burning out there.
And we'll never make it
if you give up. ----

The Jewish People as a Tribal Family: an iEngage Conversation

The Jewish People as a Tribal Family: an iEngage Conversation With Rabbi Menachem Creditor Sunday, August 17 – Davening at 9:30am, Learning at 10:30am Congregation Netivot Shalom
There is a widely-held belief that the Jewish People are more divided today than ever before – a claim that questions the sustainability of the shared enterprise of Jewish sovereignty. In this conversation with Rabbi Creditor, we will explore how the Jewish tradition conceptualized the Jewish People as a Tribal Family, it recognized that Jewish collective identity was always a divided and tribal one, requiring the balancing of collective consciousness with individual and tribal sensibilities.
This talk is part of an ongoing series sponsored by Congregation Netivot Shalom in partnership with the Shalom Hartman Institute of North America. It is free and open to the wider community. Donations of $5 are optional and support ongoing educational opportunities at Netivot Shalom.

Two Years After Ghana

Two Years After Ghana
© Rabbi Menachem Creditor with immeasurable gratitude to AJWS for opening my eyes
Two years ago my soul was torn apart and I was redefined by my exposure to the world as it is. I stood among redeemed slaves in Ghana, and saw how little I knew, confronted with my own limits and with the sudden, blinding knowledge of my own power and responsibility. I pledged, right then and there, to hear and see and feel with my one raw heart as much as I possibly could, so that I might act rightly in the world and have no reason for shame nor reproach at the end of my days. 
Today I affirm that commitment and cry freely with the recognition that, despite my best efforts, it will never be enough. 
Our task is to serve and to lift this broken world of ours one inch closer to heaven, for our children's sakes, and for theirs as well. May we do good during our numbered days. ----
° netivotshalom. org

Strong Enough for Conversation

Strong Enough for Conversation 
© Rabbi Menachem Creditor

Here's what I believe: we are strong enough to be who we are. There's nothing less than the world at stake, and toward that vital task, I'm done making my advocacy about trying to change minds. Instead, I'm speaking my truth, and if it changes minds, fine.

So, when someone I love challenges me, I have to decide if that's a conversation worth having. If they're asking me how I feel, then I'll participate. If their goal is to tell me my feelings are illegitimate, they're not really my friend. As we learn in Pirkei Avot (an ancient Jewish text): "Love that is conditional won't last. Love that is unconditional will last."

Perhaps some of the arguments we've been in are not actually conversations, nor affirming. We should be speaking our truths, not debating, if we want to be part of the conversation our broken world truly needs.

Links for "Overwhelmed by Argument: The Conversation I Want to Have Now"

Pro Israel, Pro Peace

Pro Israel, Pro Peace Rabbi Menachem Creditor
I just received a "messaging email" from J-Street, which read "We will be pushing the American Jewish community to rally behind peace efforts with at least as much enthusiasm as it rallied for Israel during this crisis." This is far from the most worrisome email I've received, but I share here my own hurt at its phrasing, which suggests that Israel rallies (including the one at which I spoke in SF this past Sunday) was not a rally for peace. Nothing could be further from the content and tone and message of the Israel rallies I've read about and participated in.
The rallies for Israel I know about have been pervaded by prayers for peace. (The SF one this past Sunday was framed by the Israeli college students who convened it singing Lennon's "Imagine!") The JStreet email poses a dichotomy where I sense an important synergy pulsing within the Zionism I witness pouring out from within the American Jewish …

Toward Jewish Healing and Post-Tisha-Be'Av Re-entry into the Universe

Toward Jewish Healing and Post-Tisha-Be'Av Re-entry into the Universe
© Rabbi Menachem Creditor There MUST be Jewish space and time for Jews to mourn Jewishly for Jews. We spend so much soul-power being universalist activists,  as we must, as Judaism calls us to do. The universe is big enough for our particular pain too. Only then, when we unabashedly cry as Jews for Jews as we unabashedly cry as Jews for humans, can we claim to be healing this deeply broken world - as Jews.----

Now Published: The Hope: American Jewish Voices in Support of Israel

Dear Friends,
The Hope: American Jewish Voices in Support of Israel, a rapid-response book project on behalf of Israel, has now been published, and is available on Amazon. The book's table of contents is below, with some FB tags embedded. The contributors to the book are:
Shira Dicker, Jonathan Horowitz, Nora Gold, Leah Israel, Rabbi Ben Goldstein, Rabbi David Baum, Rabbi Robyn Fryer Bodzin, Rabbi Mordecai Finley, Rabbi Yael Splansky, Rich Moline, Alyssa Pinsker, Michael M. Rosen, Debra S. Rappaport Rosen, Rabbi Adam Raskin, Rabbi Michael Adam Latz, Josh Buchin, Rabbi Dan Cohen, Esther D. Kustanowitz, Rabbi Steven C. Wernick, Rabbi Rick Jacobs, Stacey Robinson, Talia Liben Yarmush, Tamar Barbash, Rabbi Menachem Creditor, Rabbi Michael Berk, Rabbi David Ackerman, Rabbi Mark Bloom, Rabbi David-Seth Kirshner, Rabbi Stephen Lewis Fuchs, Yael Massen, Erika Dreifus, and Alden Solovy
The book is currently available for $11.39 on Amazon here:…