Aug 28, 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?

Aug 24, 2014

"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!

(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 Josh, visit For more from Rabbi Creditor, visit

To receive information about Rabbi Creditor's trip to Israel June 21-30, 2015, 
contact or "like" the Facebook page for the trip at


We care, and because we care, we despair. Will there be any outcome for Israelis and Palestinians, for Israel and Palestine, in which both Peoples are acknowledged and respected? Where one group's national aspirations are not deemed unworthy? This is the conversation Josh wants to have, the conversation we believe we need. We need is as Jews. We need it as people. We need it as one People among many Peoples. Will there ever be a solution? We don't know. We worry. Everyone suffers when some suffer. And so someone who cares is convening a loving, respectful conversation with a very clear mandate: More hope, More dignity, More love.

Here are the rules for the conversation Josh invited us to share:

1)     If your position is that Israel should cease to exist as the Jewish Homeland, that is not the conversation we are going to have.
2)     If you believe Jews are better than Palestinians, that is not the conversation we are going to have.
3)     If you believe that only Jews have the right to a state, that is not the conversation we are going to have.
4)     If you believe Israel's concerns about security are imagined, that is not the conversation we are going to have.

The jumping-off-point for our conversations were these two books:
My Promised Land, by Ari Shavit
The Crisis of Zionism, by Peter Beinart

Rabbi Menachem Creditor ▶
To join Rabbi Creditor's email list, send a blank email to!

Aug 20, 2014

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!   
First Encounters 
An Afternoon of Learning
Sunday, August 24th, 1-4pm 
@ Congregation Netivot Shalom
Congregation Netivot Shalom and the journal 
Sh'ma are co-sponsoring an afternoon of learning focused on "First Encounters" to ready ourselves for the month of Elul and begin the process of preparing for the High Holidays. Join Stuart Kelman, Sarah Lefton, Deena Aranoff, Dan Schifrin, Robert Alter, Menachem Creditor and Susan Berrin for an afternoon of facilitated discussion around themes of "first encounters" with: God, art, death, birth, the opening lines of Torah, and the book of Joshua.

1:00 - 1:30 Opening 
Rabbi Menachem Creditor will teach about Elul as preparation for the new year and the theme of "first encounters" 

1:45 - 2:30 - First Session Block

Sarah Lefton on first encountering the Land: When the spies, and then later Joshua and the people, first enter the Land, what does that encounter look like? Sound like? Try out the approach G-dcast uses-storyboarding and voiceover-to make sense of the story in a new way that slows down your reading and flexes your midrash muscles.

Rabbi Stuart Kelman examines what to expect when you're not "Expecting":  Before entering the tahara room for the first time, one conjures up all kinds of thoughts and images. Is this what it's really like to encounter the 'meitah'?

2:45 -3:30-Second Session Block

Robert Alter examines the opening words of the Torah, Breishit Barah Elokim, In the beginning, God created the world: What does the grammar and vocabulary of this sentence tell us about the writer's conception of creation and the world?

Deena Aranoff explores the metaphor of birth coursing through the shofar service: Hayom Harat Olam, Today, the world is born. This session will explore the social, ethical, and theological implications of the use of birth imagery in our account of creation of the world.  

Susan Berrin and Dan Schifrin on having sacred experiences in "unexpected" places.  "God was in this Place, and I did not know..." (Martin Buber walks into a museum...) We will explore the ways art and museums can function as a "holiness accelerator," and how the experience of responding to art can help us shift from a materialistic "I-It" orientation to the more spiritual "I-Thou" in the rest of our lives.

3:30 - 4:00 shmoozing and refreshments

BIOS of Presenters  
Robert Alter is Director of the Center for Jewish Studies at the University of California at Berkeley. He has written about literary aspects of the Bible and translated a substantial part of it.

Deena Aranoff is assistant professor of medieval Jewish studies at the Graduate Theological Union in Berkeley. Her interests include rabbinic literature, medieval patterns of Jewish thought and the broader question of continuity and change in Jewish history.
Susan Berrin is the editor of the journal Sh'ma.

Rabbi Menachem Creditor is the spiritual leader of Congregation Netivot Shalom.

Rabbi Stuart Kelman is the founding rabbi of Congregation Netivot Shalom and the academic dean of the Gamliel Institute, an online course of study for Chevra Kadisha.

Sarah Lefton is the Founding Director of G-dcast, the non profit Jewish animation and app studio that's produced over 100 animated shorts on Torah and Talmud, and 6 apps for preschoolers about the holidays.

Dan Schifrin is the Ideas columnist for "J," and the moderator of the upcoming "In Conversation" series at the Jewish Federation of the East Bay. He recently stepped down as writer in residence and curator of interpretation at the Contemporary Jewish Museum, where he worked on the exhibition "Beyond Belief: 100 Years of the Spiritual in Modern Art," in conjunction with the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art.
Congregation Netivot Shalom 
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