Feb 28, 2013

After Birkat HaMazon this Shabbat @cnsberkeley: "Sacred Fragments: Where Do We Put Our Broken Pieces?"


After Birkat HaMazon Learning this Shabbat @CNS:
"Sacred Fragments: Where Do We Put Our Broken Pieces?"
with Rabbi Menachem Creditor
after davening and kiddush (approx 1:15) this Shabbat at Congregation Netivot Shalom!

The story of this week's Torah Portion, Ki Tissa, includes the shattering by Moses of the first "copy" of the Ten Commandments in reaction to the episode of the Golden Calf. But what happened to those sacred fragments? Every response to this question points to a possibility within the Human Heart, and offers its own blessings and challenges. Anger, despair, and pain are hard to contain. And yet, when we are whole, we include them all. Can we learn how from Jewish tradition and this week's parsha? Join the conversation, and we'll see! 

A Note: This conversation will be based on the contributions of Vicky Kelman and Michella Ore to "Paths of Torah," the award-winning book of Torah commentary written by members of Congregation Netivot Shalom. (Copies of "Paths of Torah" are available in the shul office and at Afikomen Judaica during regular hours.)

Rabbi Gary Creditor: "The Pope and the Jews"

The Pope and the Jews: Was it good for the Jews? Was it good for the Church?
From the Heart
Rabbi Gary S. Creditor
 
In comparison to issues, local, national and global, facing the Jewish people and the State of Israel, and in comparison to issues facing the Catholic Church, it might seem trivial to ask if Pope Benedict XVI was "good for the Jews?" and if his relationship to us was good for the Church? I am not sure how to answer the latter, but the former is certainly clear.
 
First of all, why is this question so pressing? The answer is, it seems to me, that since the global issues confronting the Jewish people and the State of Israel will not go away until the Messiah comes, we need advocates to constantly raise their voices, use their influence on our behalf on the world's stage.
            Even if and when anti-Semitism decreases, it will never disappear and must be confronted, fought and defeated. Vigilance is a prerequisite for survival.
            No matter how many court battles are won against deniers of the Holocaust and malicious claims against us, they never disappear. It is a virus for which there is no immunization.
            In comparison to the nearly two millennia of Christian opposition to Judaism, it is barely fifty years since Vatican II began the change of its core theology about us. This can never be taken for granted. The relationship needs constant tending, deepening and widening.
            For us, we take for granted the right of the existence of the State of Israel. Not so the rest of the world. We need voices that are not our own, to articulate the historical justice and the political correctness to the existence of the State. We need these voices when the bombs fly and to make sure the nuclear one does not.
 
In all of these matters, Pope Benedict XVI has been a good and steady friend, a chaver, to the Jewish people and Medinat Israel. This change began with Pope John XXIII and then was furthered by Pope John Paul II. In these years Pope Benedict XVI continued and deepened the connection and support of the Vatican towards the Jewish people and Medinat Yisrael. Despite a few bumps in the road, this Pope has been a blessing to us.
 
It is difficult to know if this has been "good for the Church." They are beset by very serious issues that are not ours. They have a vast population that is not in Europe, were born after the Holocaust, hardly know Jews and Judaism, and that reside in areas that are at risk. The next Pope will face serious and severe challenges.
 

Yet the Pope and his immediate predecessors have created a historical vision about themselves and about us. They looked deeply inside themselves, their theology, and their holy texts and radically rewrote their "story." It is now critical that this direction be fortified, strengthened and maintained. I pray for Pope Benedict XVI, that without the burden of leading the Catholic Church, he will find peace and restoration of health. I pray that the new Pope will walk in his footsteps and be a chaver to us. As Pope John Paul called us their "elder brother," as family-in-faith, I pray for their choice to lead them to a successful and blessed future.


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Feb 26, 2013

Special CNS Youth Community Announcement! (& Launch of a Job Search)


A Note from Michael Tarle & Rabbi Creditor:
A Special CNS Youth Community Announcement!
CNS Pics: Purim 5773!
 
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Dear CNS Friends,

  NSLogo

The Board of Netivot Shalom is excited to share that, after a rigorous process led by Youth Education chairs Lara Hornbeck and Serena Heaslip, and with a supporting cast including many shul families, we have announced the new CNS position of "Director of Youth Community and Connection." (See the vision and job  posting here: cnsberkeley.blogspot.com.)

 

We've been blessed to engage in a beautiful, open conversation about the needs of our over 270 children at Netivot Shalom from Preschool through High School. We are proud of the work we have accomplished thus far to support our families and children on their Jewish Journeys, and this step is an amazing new one we're taking together.

 

This has been a deeply meaningful process, during which we've learned from the successes of communal Jewish educational institutions such as Midrasha and JYCA as well as cutting-edge Jewish Educational ventures taking place around the country such as Edah. Our larger community is blessed by the strength of full time Jewish Day Schools like OHDS, Tehiyah, CCJDS, BHDS, and JCHS as well as the nationally recognized work of Edah, whose founders and leaders are largely members of Netivot Shalom.

 

We are committed to offering the finest Jewish educational experiences for our children, and because of that, we are also announcing our partnership with Edah as the afternoon Jewish educational environment we will recommend for those not sending their children to Jewish Day School. Shorashim, our Hebrew School, has served as a nurturing bridge from where we've been to where we're headed, and we remain deeply grateful for the passion Rabbi Bochner and our Youth Education Chairs have brought to every facet of our shul's journey to reach this point!

 

During the coming year, we will strengthen our relationships with Midrasha, JYCA, Lehrhaus Judaica, and the Day Schools in our area, so as to weave an ever-growing network of visionary Jewish learning for every generation of our Jewish family.

 

For more information, please email Lara Hornbeck and Serena Heaslip at youthedcns@gmail.com.

  

Kol Tuv,

 

Michael Tarle,                                   Menachem Creditor

President, Netivot Shalom              Rabbi, Netivot Shalom

 
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Job Announcement: "Director of Youth and Community Connection" @cnsberkeley


Job Announcement – Feb. 26, 2013
Director of Youth and Community Connection
Congregation Netivot Shalom, Berkeley, California


Congregation Netivot Shalom (CNS) is an egalitarian, participatory Sacred Community located in BerkeleyCalifornia with 370 families. CNS encourages and engages in Tefilah, Torah, Tzedeka and Kehillah within our congregation and the broader community.We share a commitment to Masorti (Conservative) Judaism and furthering individual and communal spiritual growth, while recognizing a range of personal philosophies, practices and needs.

Netivot Shalom is seeking a passionate professional who can help us strengthen our Youth Community and enrich the communal life at CNS. This individual will be responsible for creating dynamic programming at CNS that enriches the life of our Youth Community through Shabbat, Holidays, Tikkun Olam, and inter-generational interactions.

The Director of Youth and Community Connection would work full-time in partnership with Rabbi Menachem Creditor and a committed Youth Committee to achieve these goals and build a vibrant, integrated youth community at CNS.  This professional would be part of a broader professional team, including an Executive Director, a Preschool Director, and Shabbat morning facilitators, and would eventually hire youth group coordinators.

Salary commensurate with experience. Resumes and cover letters should be sent to Lara Hornbeck and Serena Heaslip at youthedcns@gmail.com. 

Feb 25, 2013

Even if the gun that killed four-year-old Jaiden Pratt today had been legally owned...

4-year-old kills himself
with dad's stolen gun
Even if the gun that killed four-year-old Jaiden Pratt today had been legally owned...
(c) Rabbi Menachem Creditor

When Gun Violence conversations "only" point to massacres, we miss the actual 30,000+ Gun Violence deaths that make every day Newtown in America. 33 Americans die every day from Gun Violence. Four-year-old Jaiden Pratt was only one of today's needless victims of Gun Violence. 
  • Even if the gun that killed four-year-old Jaiden Pratt z"l had been legally owned, there still isn't a national registry to locate all firearms.
  • Even if the gun that killed four-year-old Jaiden Pratt z"l had been legally owned, the assault ban has been dismembered by the NRA. 
  • Even if the gun that killed four-year-old Jaiden Pratt z"l had been legally owned, Senator Feinstein's insurance concept will likely fail. 
  • Even if the gun that killed four-year-old Jaiden Pratt z"l had been legally owned, background checks will likely only be slightly expanded for now. 
  • Even if the gun that killed four-year-old Jaiden Pratt z"l had been legally owned, a boy is dead who needn't be. 
The second amendment guarantees a right that requires safekeeping. For more, please see the resource page on my blog: http://rabbicreditor.blogspot.com/p/gun-violence-resources.html and purchase a copy of "Peace in Our Cities: Rabbis Against Gun Violence."

Jewish Musical Concert in Oakland this Sunday! "Simply Tsfat!!!!"



Jewish Musical Concert in Oakland this Sunday!
Simply Tsfat 
Sunday, March 3rd at 6:30pm
Oakland Hebrew Day School
(5500 Redwood Road, Oakland, CA 94619)
For more details, call 510-531-8600, ext. 26
Sponsored by Reuven Kahane and Michelle Kahane-Taragin in loving memory of their father, Rabbi David B. Kahane z"l 

Join us for a captivating musical concert.  Simply Tsfat offers a joyful blend of Traditional, Folk, Rock and Klezmer music! Three Breslev Chassidim, 2 Americans and one Israeli, 2 guitars and one violin. Our aim is to spread the joy and inspiration of Breslev Chassidim and to bring a breath of fresh air to you, from our home, the mystical city of Tsfat, the home of the Kabbalah.  www.simplytsfat.com


Feb 24, 2013

Megillah Reading with Women of the Wall Nashot HaKotel begins in 30 minutes.

Megillah Reading with Women of the Wall Nashot HaKotel begins in 30 minutes. May their voices be heard, received, and respected on a Jewish day when darkness was once transformed to light. (If you haven't watched this Youtube clip of their jour ney, watch it today.)

YNetnews: "Tzohar leader waging highly visible public campaign to change Chief Rabbinate"



Rabbi seeks Israeli religious revolution

Tzohar leader Rabbi David Stav waging highly visible public campaign to change Chief Rabbinate from the inside. Balance of power following election results may soon tip in his favor 
Associated Press/ YnetNews:
http://www.ynetnews.com/articles/0,7340,L-4345102,00.html

 
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When Rabbi David Stav launched his official campaign last month to wrest control of Israel's top religious institution from its longtime hardline leadership, it was a long shot.

But just two weeks later, Israelis went to the polls and surprisingly shifted the country toward the center of the political spectrum – creating a rare window of opportunity for the modern Orthodox rabbi to capture the title of chief rabbi and fulfill his pledge to revolutionize the contentious role that religion plays in the Jewish state.

Jewish Pluralism
Rabbinate declares 'war' on non-Orthodox rabbis  / Kobi Nahshoni
Israel's chief rabbis call for 'emergency meeting' following state's decision to recognize non-Orthodox rabbis. Head of Reform movement: Rabbi Amar should resign his position
Full story
Stav, a 53-year-old father of nine, heads a private network of modern Orthodox rabbis that is virtually an alternative organization to Israel's state-sanctioned rabbinical bureaucracy. It seeks to put a friendly face on Jewish traditions for secular Israeli Jews alienated by the ultra-Orthodox functionaries that regulate religious services.

The organization, called Tzohar, has gained popularity among secular Israelis with its program that sends rabbis free of charge to officiate at weddings.

Now Stav is waging a highly visible public campaign to change Israel's Rabbinate from the inside. He is being featured frequently in media interviews, is running a Facebook campaign, and appears in large color newspaper ads placed by a group of secular Israelis.

"It's not about public relations and niceness," Stav said in an interview. "There is a critical problem – it's not cosmetic – in the rabbinic system. It needs dramatic changes."

Stav cautiously acknowledges that the stars now seem to be aligned for his hoped-for coup.

Every 10 years, two rabbis – one representing Ashkenazi, or European-descended Jews, the other of Sephardic, or Middle Eastern lineage – are appointed to co-lead the Chief Rabbinate.

It's the country's supreme body overseeing civil services for Jews from cradle to grave – circumcision, marriage, divorce and burial. The current ultra-Orthodox Sephardic chief rabbi will likely be allowed to stay on, but the current Ashkenazi rabbi, Yona Metzger, is vacating his post in the coming months.

For the last two decades, ultra-Orthodox Jewish political parties have wielded outsized influence in governing coalitions, and in turn held sway over the panel of 150 rabbis and politicians that appoints the new chief rabbis.

That balance of power, however, may soon tip in Rabbi Stav's favor.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu of the leading Likud party needs partners to help him build a stable governing coalition, and two contenders he is courting – the centrist Yesh Atid and the pro-settler Habayit Hayehudi – have made it clear that they do not want the Chief Rabbinate to be dominated by ultra-Orthodox rabbis.

"We certainly support a more moderate and openly Zionistic Rabbinate," said Dov Lippman, a rabbi on the Yesh Atid list.

"One of our main goals is for a Zionist, national religious rabbi to be elected to be chief rabbi," Ayelet Shaked, a Habayit Hayehudi lawmaker, told Israel Radio.

Making Rabbinate more welcoming to seculars

The two parties have not publically endorsed a particular candidate, but a leading member of Stav's rabbinic organization is the No. 2 man on Yesh Atid's parliamentary list, and an official in Stav's organization said Yesh Atid and the chairman of the Jewish Home party are pushing for Stav's candidacy.

The official spoke on condition of anonymity because he was citing private discussions.

The Yisrael Beitenu lawmakers, whose party ran with the Likud on a joint list, also support Stav, said Yekutiel Zafari, a party official.

The decision largely rests on what kind of behind-the-scenes agreements are made with coalition partners.

The rise of Yesh Atid and the Jewish Home reflect something of a backlash against Israel's ultra-Orthodox community, which makes up nearly 10% of the country's population of eight million.

Both parties have pledged to abolish a controversial system that allows ultra-Orthodox males to skip compulsory military service and instead attend religious seminaries.

The ultra-Orthodox have also antagonized the general public in recent years by attempts to impose their social mores, such as separation between men and women, in public spaces like buses and sidewalks.

Unlike many ultra-Orthodox rabbis, Stav served in combat as a soldier and reservist, and his eldest son is a paratrooper commander.

At least three other rabbis are contending for the same position, but Stav is the only one leading a public campaign, promising reform in some of the most controversial ultra-Orthodox practices. He has even published a manifesto outlining what he would change.

He would encourage couples to sign prenuptial agreements to ensure wives can request a divorce, a right not granted to them in the traditional Jewish marriage contract. He would privatize the kosher certification industry and make the chief Rabbinate its regulator, lowering the soaring prices of kosher supervision for the food industry. He would make ritual baths more handicapped accessible, and require ritual circumcisers to refresh their skills in training classes every two years.

What matters most to him is to make the Chief Rabbinate more welcoming to secular Israelis, who make up the majority of Israel's Jewish population.

No to female rabbis, gay partnerships

According to government statistics, more than 9,000 Israeli couples last year sidestepped the Rabbinate and married in civil ceremonies abroad. Civil marriages are virtually banned in Israel.

Stav estimates that a third of all secular Israeli couples choose that option, and says those couples distance themselves from Judaism because they lack the religious marriage documents that would certify their future children as Jewish.

One of his biggest goals is to help Israel's million-plus ex-Soviet immigrants. He vows a massive genealogical research campaign to help immigrants prove their Jewish lineage, and to encourage those who are not of Jewish descent to convert.

"A state in Israel cannot exist when half of the nation thinks the other half is non-Jewish," Stav said.

Though he is seen as a moderate rabbi, he does not support female rabbis or same-sex partnerships, as do rabbis in the more progressive Reform and Conservative movements which are dominant in the US but have a limited presence in Israel.

Orthodox Judaism expert Menachem Friedman says Stav could stir a revolution in the Rabbinate – but the more stringent Orthodox rabbis in the Rabbinate would likely oppose his reforms.

"He is seen as more liberal," said Friedman, a professor emeritus at Bar-Ilan University. "This will put him under pressure and he won't be able to solve all the problems."

And his very public campaign to change the Rabbinate to its core might irk some on the election committee – those who have spent their careers in the very bureaucracy Stav is criticizing.

"Behind the scenes, there was always a political race" for the position of chief rabbi, said Yair Sheleg, a researcher of religious affairs at the Israel Democracy Institute. "But it was always behind the scenes. In public, it's not respectful."


 

Three Holy of Holies: Jews Jumping for Joy!


Feb 22, 2013

Sami Rahamim: "My dad was killed by gun violence" #demandaplan


Demand a Plan

I've told a lot of people about my dad in the past few months. He was a funny guy -- always ready to make a joke. He came to the US when he was 14 and worked hard to build his own small business. He was warm and kind. People liked him and he was always looking to help others.

On September 27, 2012, my dad was killed in a mass shooting. A former employee came to his office with a gun and murdered my dad and five other people before turning the gun on himself.

I just went to Washington to meet with my members of Congress and talk about gun violence prevention. I was there because Mayors Against Illegal Guns organized a lobbying day for more than 120 family members of victims and survivors of gun violence. I told my members of Congress about my dad, and something amazing happened: they listened. They heard what I had to say, and I think it made a real difference.

Organizing for Action filmed my trip and then came here to Minneapolis to learn more about my dad.

Will you take a few minutes to watch the video and then call your members of Congress to support gun reform?

Sami and his father - your voice can make a difference

Sometimes I think about how good my dad would have been at telling his own story. How he'd break the ice and make everyone smile. How comfortable he was with people.

It can be hard for me to talk about him. But I know it's important to share his story.

I can't bring him -- or the other people who were killed that day -- back to life. But with your help maybe I can help stop shootings like this from happening to others.

Please join me. Take a minute to watch this video and make your voice heard:

http://DemandAPlan.org/Sami

Thank for sharing your story with Congress,

Sami Rahamim
Mayors Against Illegal Guns


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Rabbi Creditor: The Purim Revolution

A Note from Rabbi Creditor:
The Purim Revolution
Purim is this Saturday Night and Sunday!
Davening &
 Megillah Reading 
Schedule
 
As Purim falls on Saturday Night (Feb. 23) we'll be holding an adult-oriented (& child-welcome!)
Erev Purim at Shul at 7:15pm. Sunday Morning minyan, which will also include Megillah Reading will take place at 9:30am.
Come to the PURIM CARNIVAL on Sunday, February 24 at 11:00 am ! 

 (Sunday, Feb. 24, 11-2:00) featuring carnival booths and games; the Shushan Salon featuring goofy hairdos, tattoos, and face painting; the "Morning After" Café  offering great food for lunch/brunch, hamentaschen and strong coffee; fortune telling; make your own sundaes featuring Vashti vanilla ice cream; and Queen Esther's jumpy castle!
 
Kid's Megillah Readings during the Purim Carnvial at 11:30 am for 3rd graders on up and 12:15 pm for kids Preschool to 2nd grader...and their families of course!
A Purim Poem!
 
PURIM BOOK
Authored by Rena Dorph
illustrated  by the Children of Netivot Shalom Preschool

Purim is one of the most fun holidays on the Jewish calendar! Rena Dorph wrote this rhyming book at her daughter's request so that they could share the story of Purim with her Kindergarten class at Rosa Parks Elementary School in Berkeley. 
 
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Dear Chevreh,

You might see me sporting a blue beard this Sunday at the Purim Carnival. (It all depends on some spontaneous festive fundraising, but don't worry - I've already bought the beard-dye!) bluebeard

Purim at shul is going to be amazing. From davening to megillah to kids' megillah readings to the carnival, it's going to be awesome.

And we could use some "serious silliness", as Reba Connell put it recently. Lots of stuff in the air these last weeks that nudge us to remember the value of joy and gladness,
costumes, excess, and silliness. You might hear some fake presidential announcements and papal humor Saturday night. You'll just have to be there to find out!

My colleague Rabbi Nicole Guzik shared a beautiful Purim teaching recently, in which she points to a famous phrase in the Megillah,
 "v'nahafoch hu / and it reversed", a message about the Megillah's plot. But, deeper than that, Rabbi Guzik teaches that Purim is about:
 
turning things about, seeing the opposite, or watching something unravel and turn backwards. ...But while the holiday of Purim is meant to be joyous and cheerful, there is more meaning to the celebration than meets the eye. What does it mean to engage in a day that throws all order, structure, and planned endings out the window? The story of Purim reminds us that no matter how settled we are in our routines or secure we are in our lives, with a blink of an eye, everything can turn upside down. ...[And so,] the question is not whether or not these kinds of days exist; the question is, when we experience v'nahafoch hu, what tools do we have to hang on?
 
Chevreh, the world we live in can be quite topsy turvy. These last weeks have held many heavy moments for many members of Netivot Shalom. I'm so deeply proud of all we do as a community to support each other in moments of need. They certainly do come often sometimes. 
 
So, what I guess I'm saying is:
I'm really looking forward to my blue beard. I hope you'll show up to Megillah and Minyan and Carnival and be really, really silly. 

I wish us all a silly, upside-down Purim, one that will turn our sadness right into gladness. Ease your troubles, that's what it'll do! (I believe that's a quote from the Talmud, but,
rabbi menachem creditor
 then again, it might be Rod Stewart...)
 
Shabbat Shalom, and Chag Purim Sameach!
Rabbi Creditor

----
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Feb 21, 2013

COME TO THE CNS PURIM CARNIVAL AND CHANGE THE FACE OF OUR RABBI!



Purim's Coming!!!
Saturday, February 23 &
Sunday, February 24!
Davening &
 Megillah Reading
PURIM 5773 @CNS!
As Purim falls on Saturday Night (Feb. 23) we'll be holding an adult-oriented (& child-welcome!) Erev Purim at Shul at 7:15pm. Sunday Morning minyan, which will also include Megillah Reading will take place at 9:30am.
A Purim Poem!
 
PURIM BOOK
Authored by Rena Dorph
illustrated  by the Children of Netivot Shalom Preschool

Purim is one of the most fun holidays on the Jewish calendar! Rena Dorph wrote this rhyming book at her daughter's request so that they could share the story of Purim with her Kindergarten class at Rosa Parks Elementary School in Berkeley. 
 
Join Our List
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Come to the PURIM CARNIVAL on Sunday, February 24 at 11:00 am ! 

 Did you ever see a Rabbi with a blue beard?
You may see such a thing at our shul-wide PURIM CARNIVAL (Sunday, Feb. 24, 11-2:00) featuring carnival booths and games; the Shushan Salon featuring goofy hairdos, tattoos, and face painting; the "Morning After" Café  offering great food for lunch/brunch, hamentaschen and strong coffee; fortune telling; make your own sundaes featuring Vashti vanilla ice cream; and Queen Esther's jumpy castle!
 
Kid's Megillah Readings during the Purim Carnvial at 11:30 am for 3rd graders on up and 12:15 pm for kids Preschool to 2nd grader...and their families of course.
   
 Did you see Rabbi Creditor's facebook challenge ?!?
"I will dye my beard blue and send a picture of it to the community if $1,000 is raised to support Netivot Shalom during the Purim carnival." 
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