Sep 1, 2015

From @CNSBerkeley: The Men's Shelter Dinner Report

From Netivot Shalom:
The Men's Shelter Dinner Report 
chesed gif   
Men's Shelter Report, August 2, 2015
With coaching from Hilla, Dani developed a lovely, new dinner menu:  cilantro-lime rice, homemade baked tortilla chips, burrito bowls, green salad, dessert.  "Burrito bowls, burrito bowls," I muttered while shopping at Smart and Final in San Pablo and at Monterey Market.  What could those be?  Whatever they were, they sure took a lot of fresh vegetables! 
With some timely help from residents, I unloaded my little car about 4:30 PM.  There are four prep areas in the Shelter kitchen and by habit and long-time convention they are areas for preparing the entrĂ©e, the salad, the dessert and the drinks.  The food got sorted out onto the appropriate prep area and awaited the arrival of our first shift volunteers.  Yonit headed straight for the salad area 'cause that's her specialty.  A flurry of washing and chopping assorted lettuces, cucumbers, olives, radishes, green onions and in twenty-five minutes or so two large trays of salad were ready.  In the meantime, Dani was orchestrating the grilling of peppers, onions, and zucchini while the rice started bubbling on the stove.  Stacks of corn tortillas were cut-up, brushed very lightly with olive oil, and placed on trays ready for baking.  CJ and Adam helped shred the chicken (thank you Whole Foods Gilman Street for your donation) and cut up the tofu and set them to warming while the black beans began to bubble in their cauldron.  The cantelope was peeled and sliced and placed onto dessert plates along with a "smidgen" or possibly a "scosh" of a yummy garbanzo-based cookie-like sorta-brownie made by Dani, and room on the side for ice cream.  Kobi, Casey, Gina, Sofie, and Noa arrived and helped get the buffet table set up.  Dani's plan was for the men to create their own burrito bowl selecting from rice, beans, cheese, grilled vegetables, chicken or tofu, and salsa followed by salad, tortilla chips, and iced tea.  The guys really liked having a broad choice of what went into their bowl and came back for seconds.  Way, way too much stuff in hand for the men to also pick up dessert so Noa delivered the dessert to each resident.  The personal service and the ice cream was definitely a hit.  While Noa and Kobi helped with ice tea and dessert, Gina and Sofie set up their respective instruments (cello and violin) and began to play.  The emotional temperature of the room settled down.  The men were moved by the beautiful music and the generosity with which it was shared. 
In the meantime, the quotidian tasks called out.  Casey graciously answered and was in the kitchen washing and scrubbing a prodigious quantity of pots and pans.  When you see Casey, Kobi, Adam, CJ, Hilla, Yonit, Dani, Gina, Sofie, and Noa be sure to acknowledge and thank them for their contributions. 
Along with other organizations and individuals, CNS has committed to providing for, preparing, and serving dinners for the sixty resident men at the Berkeley Men's Shelter.  We do this the first Sunday of every month.  The men count on us and we have come to count on participating in this mitzvah.  You can too!  In fact we'd love it if you would join in the effort.  There are so many tasks involved in putting on the dinner:  planning, shopping, shlepping, chopping, slicing, lifting, scrubbing, peeling, serving, laughing, and, yes, playing musical instruments.  Even donating funds to help support the purchase of food for the dinner is welcome.  Just this month, the folks who organized the Kiddush to honor Milt and Marge donated money towards the Shelter Dinner. 

Aug 30, 2015

Grateful Striving: A Prayer for the Next Ten Years of Netivot Shalom

Grateful Striving: A Prayer for the Next Ten Years of Netivot Shalom
(c) Rabbi Menachem Creditor
in honor of everyone who has called - and everyone who will call - Congregation Netivot in Berkeley their home 
May the One who blessed our ancestors Abraham and Sarah, Isaac and Rebecca, Jacob, Rachel and Leah, bless this holy congregation, every one of us: men, women, sons, daughters, mothers, fathers - all of us God's children, committed as a community to build the world around us by building upon the blessings we've been granted by others.
These last 26 years as the sacred Jewish home known as Congregation Netivot Shalom, the last ten of which have been lived at 1316 University Avenue, have been glorious. For this, God, we are so very grateful.
We have overcome much adversity, deepened our health as an enduring community, and opened the doorways of our Jewish tent to include more and more people, Jewish and not, Lesbian, Gay, Transgender, Bisexual, single and married, black and white - every one of us, old and young, a cherished Image of You. For this, God, we are so very grateful.
Today we have taken the time to recount our story, relearned our own history, committed to sharing the Netivot Shalom journey MiDor leDor, from generation to generation. So many of our founders, our builders, our community's matriarchs and patriarchs, are still with us, davening, greeting, teaching, learning, smiling, comforting, lifting us all with their gracious hearts. For this, God, we are so very grateful.
Our job in the years to come is so very clear. And so, today, we celebrate our journey this far and commit to each other and to you, Adonai:
May we follow Your holy model of Tzimtzum, of contraction, of holding back and granting space, so that we might blend our desire for the highest caliber of community with the blessing of celebrating every participant's unique gifts. Toward this, Adonai, we promise to strive.
May we see the blessing of welcoming new people into our community with the same readiness for fellowship we bring to those we've known for many years. This sacred home illuminates life for so many, with Kiddush and Havdalah, learning and praying - may we see the new possibilities in each other as we seek the familiar we already know and love. Toward this, Adonai, we promise to strive.
May we remember to look through the windows of our holy sanctuary, seeing the needs and blessings in our surrounding society as clearly as we notice our own. The Jewish mission of being an Or laGoyim, a light in Your world, means that what we do right in this space is only right in Your Eyes when we share it beyond the walls of this sacred home. Toward this, Adonai, we promise to strive.
God, we ask Your blessings when times get rough. We call out in thanksgiving for this Makom Kadosh, this holy place, especially then.
God, we ask in this month of Elul for the priceless gifts of companionship and friendship. We pledge to manifest with each decision we make in the many years to come we pray to share that we, along with the entire Jewish People and all our sisters and brothers on Earth - that we are family, committed to caring for each other, to building this world from love.
May the future of Netivot Shalom continue to be as bright and beautiful as the blessed path that brought us here and allowed us to reach this amazing milestone.
Dear God, thank You for dwelling among us. We are humbled by the work we get to do as Your children.

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Aug 28, 2015

Guns and Jews

Guns and Jews
© Rabbi Menachem Creditor

Jewish tradition has long viewed weapons as ugly, utilized only as a response to threat. The fetishizing of guns in American culture means that America's battle over the Second Amendment is also a battle to maintain the Second Command: to not create idols out of guns. It is as the Prophet Jeremiah said, long ago: "I say that there are those in our country to whom Jeremiah would say today: “On your shirt is found the life-blood of guiltless poor. Yet in spite of all these things, you say ‘I am innocent.’" 

If we stand idly by the blood of our sisters and brothers, spilled on our streets, campuses, theaters, Navy Yards, and houses of worship, we are all complicit in every death.

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