May 14, 2017

The Way Up [a #poem]

the way up
© rabbi menachem creditor
for sam

you might think these
tears of descent
and yet, as they fall
everything ascends

raw sounds pierce the air
beyond and before words
quiet trembling,
familiar disequilibrium,
a promise made once again...

new moment
new possibilities
new life

finding a new perch
made easier
with each shed hot droplet.

#BuildOnLove #life #chooselife #cry #live #love #returnagain

May 4, 2017

Those Whose Hearts Call

Those Whose Hearts Call
Rabbi Menachem Creditor
To look from the outside at Congregation Netivot Shalom, one would think that an army of employees were behind the scenes, creating and implementing our vibrant programs and ritual life. The glory of our community is the ongoing commitment to participatory leadership. Yes, the tasks involved in leading an institution, supporting our 400+ membership, and maintaining our beautiful building on University Avenue - Berkeley, surpass the capacity of our historic model. The needs are just too much for the infrastructure we currently have in place. But that will always be the case, even when our system catches up with the needs we know about.
But isn’t that glorious? To be a community that “invites you to engage in a cross-generational discovery of Jewish inspiration and purpose,” as our mission statement reminds us, means that we desire to grow and dream and build and love more and more. Which means that, if we’re blessed to succeed in our mission, Netivot Shalom will always need more support than we have in any given moment. That’s what a sacred community should long for: a virtuous circle that brings in more people to love each other and the world than can be managed!
I’ll close this short message with a story, something that just happened yesterday during Ketzev, our shul’s sweet afterschool Jewish learning program:
Every Tuesday and Thursday, it is my delight to lead our children in Mincha, davening with them, learning a bit, cultivating the kind of leadership that could lead to them claiming their roles in leading davening in our sanctuary one day. We each take turns singing the verses of Ashrei to a melody composed by Rabbi Shefa Gold. Some kids jump right in, and some are a bit more resistant, perfectly in-tune with their developmental stage, the hour of the day, and a peer group setting. I enter these moments with intentional optimism for the learning, while also prepared for some children to challenge my hope for spiritual cohesion in the moment ;-). One child who had been particularly resistant during the course of the past year, sat across from me this past Tuesday. We began the Ashrei, and when it came to this particular boy’s turn, suddenly a voice I hadn’t heard emerged, full-throated, and beautiful. He was singing! The Ashrei never sounded so beautiful! I looked at my fellow educators in our davening circle, and we, as one, looked to the Heavens with delight. (Perhaps a little surprise too!)
This moment makes real the very words that child sang: “God is near to those who call from their places of truth.”
What “God” means to you might be very different than what I mean by “God.” But that difference is also reflected in our unique life experiences, the very true “places” from which we call. And so I suggest, from my grateful heart: Let’s look at our shul as a sacred collection of unique life stories, from souls that have found themselves in community, a community committed to building a better world from many places of truth, truths big enough to include all those whose hearts call.

Apr 23, 2017

Images: Reflecting on 13 Reasons Why (1:7)

Images: Reflecting on 13 Reasons Why (1:7)
(c) Menachem Creditor
Why Me? why you?

do we see?
can we see each other
can any one see any other?
what if we would?
What if we did?
Would we then,
finally, know the other's truths?
do we only see what we see?
not you, but my image of you...
is there, in the end,
such a thing
as truly knowing an other?
are we each
at best
each other's image,
images of each other,
glimpses of only the surface,

13 Reasons: A Jewish Mid-Series Reflection

Apr 15, 2017

Upon the Shabbat of Passover

Upon the Shabbat of Passover
© Rabbi Menachem Creditor

How powerful the comparison between Shabbat and Pesach.

Regarding Shabbat, the culmination of Creation: Darkness and chaos ruled, sparking within God the desire for Light, a primal marker for hope and renewal, for the ability to distinguish between one moment and the next, one person and another. Perhaps we might even say that in the beginning there was Darkness, thank God.

But when it comes to the liberation story of Passover, the place of Darkness is different. The increasing Darkness over Egypt through the Exodus narrative, including but not limited to the locusts so manifold that the very rays of the sun are blocked, culminates in the penultimate plague, a form of Darkness that locked one immobilized in the confines of selfhood, unable to even see another person. In the end, there was only Darkness.

And so we find ourselves on the Shabbat of Pesach ritually immersed in between the Darkness that prompts Creation and the Darkness that threatens to isolate once again. Perhaps that is why we recite the Song of Songs on this day of sacred synergy, evoking an image of beloved partners catching glimpses of each other through light-filled latticework and darkness-infested alleyways.

Perhaps we remind ourselves in this way that the path forward demands that we, each and all, create bridges of light, hand in hand, to banish Darkness once and for all to the ash heaps of history.

Friends, we've had enough Darkness for many lifetimes. Let's do something sacred about that. Let's amplify the light within each other and build a world worthy of God's intentions.

#BuildOnLove #OlamChesed #Passover #Shabbat #darkness #light

Apr 9, 2017

Homegoing: A Mid-journey Mini-Reflection

Homegoing: A Mid-journey Mini-Reflection
© Rabbi Menachem Creditor

I find myself mid-air, weightless, en route to re-enacting my family's freedom journey. My children delighting in each other's silliness, sharing space and time. I'm finally reading a book that's been waiting for months. And I'm reading it because I am in control of my own choices, mostly in charge of my own time.

But most of all, my redemption song is one I must labor to remember through elaborate, rituals, annual and daily. I could forget my own oppression. Not really, but sort of.

And this is where the pain begins. This eloquent novelization by Yaa Gyasi African slavery (set in Ghana, where my soul was torn open by an encounter with modern slavery just a few years ago) is rife with painful detail, one of which hits me hardest in this moment of family pilgrimage:

What if I couldn't be sure I could see my own children, that strangers could legally tear them from me? What if my blessed childhood, an experience of privilege I can barely comprehend, weren't a stable grounding for my future? I certainly would never would have become the me I today recognize. And the profound gift of fatherhood would be a shattering loss I could never, and will never, choose to imagine.


All this is a real story that has defined America, has defined my entire life from a place of invisible and ongoing oppression. The New Jim Crow that finds a new accursed name in every generation, just as Jews will recite in the Hagaddah tomorrow night of the ongoing evil of antisemitism.

I can barely fathom my own story, let alone this one. But that is the work ahead:

We are called to be present, engaged, and active in God's unfinished world until every person is free. If that isn't a call we feel and labor to answer, we have no right to our own freedom songs.

May we be blessed to be part of the great work ahead. And may it be unnecessary one day soon, please God.

#BuildOnLove #OlamChesed #Passover #seder #haggadah #spirit #freedom #homegoing

Apr 5, 2017

Pesach Seder Supplements (2017/5777)

From Rabbi Creditor:
2017 News Stories:
Selected Seder Supplements from Other Jewish Organizations:

Mar 29, 2017

A new essay, a new video, and 2 re-issued Pesach books!


Thrilled to share with you all a new MyJewishLearning piece about how the deepest intimacy can be both binding and freeing, a video reflection after this year's AIPAC Policy Conference, and my re-issued Pesach Children's Books "A Pesach Rhyme" and Passover essay collection (co-edited with Rabbi Aaron Alexander), "Slavery, Freedom, and Everything in Between!" (Links are below.)

May the month to come find us pruposeful, full-hearted, and free!


-- Why is Moses Kept Out of the Tabernacle? (March 9, 2017)

Facebook Live (March 29, 2017)

(co-edited with Rabbi Aaron Alexander)

by Rabbi Menachem Creditor

Rabbi Menachem Creditor
Rabbi, Congregation Netivot Shalom
Chair, Rabbis Against Gun Violence (#RAGV)

Scheduling Inquiries: or (510) 549-9447 x103

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

Inside/Outside: One Rabbi's Post-AIPAC Musings

Mar 9, 2017

Abandon all fear.

Abandon all fear.
(c) Rabbi Menachem Creditor

There is an ugly truth we'd rather not face, a hate that is alive and well and growing in America.

Face it we must. They are coming for our children. They are coming for our old ones. They are coming for our neighbors. Day Schools, JCC's, religious communities, Jewish Children's Museums, immigrants, Muslims, Jews.

Who is "they," you ask? Look around you. Anyone not actively advocating for and working to ensure the safety of every person is complicit. "Willing executioners" is a frighteningly big category. As Elie Wisel taught, "The opposite of hate is not love. The opposite of hate is indifference."

Friends, we will read the Purim story this Saturday night with recognition. With resilience, with determination. "The whole world is a very narrow bridge," taught Rav Nachman of Bratslav. He closed by showing us all the way forward: "The essential thing is to have no fear. None at all."

Abandon all fear. Enter these new gates, hand in hand, heart in heart. We will fight for our children, for our old ones, for our neighbors.

We shall overcome.


Feb 28, 2017

Joyfully Answering the Call

From Rabbi Creditor: 
Joyfully Answering the Call
February 28, 2017 
Rosh Chodesh Adar, 5777

Dear Friends,  

It is a Jewish tradition, on the first day of the month of Adar (today), to increase joy. (Mishnah Ta'anit)

Importantly, that is not the same as saying one is naturally happier on a specific day on the calendar. Moods seldom follow instructions, and time has a funny way of surprising even the expected. But a mindful dose of recommended joy sounds great to me!

I'd like to share with you a story, a real experience that occurred today at shul. A young man came to sit with me. I didn't know him. He had left a message on the shul's voicemail about feeling despondent about the current situation in America, and wanted to sit with a rabbi. When we sat together just today I learned that he was a punk rock musician, and an anarchist living in Berkeley. More than that, deeper than that, he shared with me that he was deeply afraid, not only about threats to free speech, health care, the LGBTQ community, Muslims, Jews, immigrants, and others (each of which he named). 

What scared him? He was afraid of his own response to a proposed Nazi march in Berkeley. He was afraid of his own rage and fear and hopelessness, not sure where to turn. So he looked for a synagogue, a safe place. He looked for a rabbi, someone to sit with and trust. It's not that there were any "fixes" for the things that worried him. But, when we had spoken for a while, he looked at me and said something we all should hear and take to heart: 

Thank you for being here. I'm so grateful this synagogue is here     
   and open. I haven't been to shul for many years. I feel a little less 
   afraid now."

Friends, I'm sharing this with you because the thought that there is an "out there" and an "in here" when it comes to the work of a shul is a misperception. No, we can't care for everyone everywhere. Yes, we are struggling with a staff shortage and are gearing up for the deeply-needed and much-anticipated upgrade to our Youth Community. Yes, the board is working incredibly hard to strengthen every aspect of our work as a community. Yes, all of this is blessing, pure and profound.

Yes: it is important that we see the work we do "inside" the shul as being in service with the world "out there." How can we be communal healers if we don't visit each other when we are ill? How can we effectively pursue a just society if we don't build the strength of our shul? Where would that young man have turned if we hadn't built a shul on University Ave?

There is much to do. Again, Jewish wisdom helps: Ours is not to complete the work. Our is to start. (Pirkei Avot) 

We should celebrate what we've built here, the holy community known to the world as Netivot Shalom. And we should see the strength we continue to build as a shul in service of this fragile world we share. That kind of purpose is what some might even name "a calling." How blessed we are to answer that call.

rabbi creditor

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CNS Mission Statement

Netivot Shalom invites you to engage in a cross-generational discovery of Jewish inspiration and purpose.

Our community is defined by the values of:
  • Belonging - we believe, as a participatory egalitarian community, that every member has a voice.
  • Learning - we provide introductory and continuing encounters with Jewish wisdom.
  • Ritual - we strive to deepen personal engagement with the sacred.
  • Justice - we embrace Judaism's call to perfect the world.

My thoughts, after meeting with a very special, very scared, young man. This is dedicated to him, and through him, back to us all. #BuildOnLove

Feb 19, 2017

the way (a #poem)

the way
(c) Menachem Creditor

keep working your own heart.
open yourself to the next flower,
the next breeze,
the next person you see.

take a moment.
perhaps ask the flower what it needs,
ask the person what she needs.
(dare you ask yourself what you truly need?)

don't worry so much about the way to God.
if you can open yourself to another,
the way to God will reveal itself
that much more clearly.

A reflection on Revelatory Relationships: Contact, not Content

Feb 16, 2017

To the One: We're Still Here

To the One: We're Still Here
© Rabbi Menachem Creditor
Dear One,
We know. We've given You reason to wonder if we're still here. So this is just to say we get it. We're in pain too, and ready to restart the work. It can feel like there too much to do. But when has ever not been the case?
We understand. We're listening again.
There are good people everywhere, singing and praying and marching and loving each other. We're in. Thanks for giving us each other. That's all we need. You're the best.

Feb 12, 2017

Powerful moment yesterday in shul

Powerful moment yesterday in shul:

"Rabbi, I get why some people have a hard time with hard-hitting sermons. We leave feeling more deeply. And that hurts. We leave with a burden. But we need it. It's what we need."

One take-away among many: We, members in socially engaged faith communities, must love each other well and fully, so that pain (real, important, global, calling) has a #soulcushion strong enough to absorb, a heart resilient enough to smile at the world we're together building (while also collectively crying/raging at the world we're experiencing).

Love is as real as pain, and exponentially stronger - once exposed to the air and shared freely.

Feb 9, 2017

Upon Being Arrested

From Rabbi Creditor: 
Upon Being Arrested
February 8, 2017 
Shevat 13, 5777

Dear Friends,  

As you likely already know,  I was arrested two nights ago in New York City as part of an act of civil disobedience with 18 other rabbis. We joined with hundreds of other rabbis, Jews, and others to protest President Donald Trump's refugee ban. I am still processing the experience, and am profoundly moved by the responses I've received from many of you. (I've pasted at the end of this email a reflection I wrote an hour after being released from jail.)

I'll be sharing my reflections on this experiences as the drasha this Shabbat. (Rabbi Sarah Shulman, Director of Camp Ramah in Northern California, graciously offered to deliver the introduction to the Torah reading in my place, freeing me to offer the drash.) I had the opportunity to share with our Preschool students and with the Wednesday Afternoon Torah Study group some thoughts, and will share some time with our Amitim and Madrichim students this Shabbat afternoon, discussing the role of Tzedek (Social Justice) within a Bat/Bar Mitzvah journey.

I'm writing to keep you all informed, to let you know I'm well, and to thank you for being the kind of community that sees the work of a Jew in the world holistically, both tending to the inner needs of our community and helping perfect the world through Jewish learning, being, and doing (letaken Olam bemalchut shaddai, as we say in the Aleinu: to fix the world by spreading sanctity - this is the root of the phrase Tikkun Olam.) 

Also, just last week, we were thrilled to share the publication of " We Will Not Be Silent," a collection of passionate voices of #JewishResistance, including drashot and essays by our very own Renee Rubin RossYossi FendelRabbi Michael Rothbaum and Rabbi Carol Cain. Also included in the collection are national Jewish leaders Rabbis Sharon Brous, Eve Posen, David WolkenfeldRav Shmuly YanklowitzMichael Adam Latz, and Aaron AlexanderAll tezedakah proceeds will be donated to the holy work of CNS. All purchases will be through this online link.

We are part of raising each other up, and maintaining the sacred values of a Beloved Community. This is one of the ways our gifts as a participatory shul bless the world beyond our building. 

Finally, here are a few news links, and a call to action for this coming Sunday, where I hope you'll join me in SF at 3pm for the National Day of Jewish Action for Refugees.
  • For a few articles about the protest and the arrests of the 19 rabbis, click here.
  • rabbi creditorFor more information about this Sunday's National Day of Jewish Action for Refugees,  click here.
With much love, and deep gratitude for our shul's deep commitment to Justice,
A Reflection Upon Being Released from Jail
Rabbi Menachem Creditor
Tuesday, Feb 7, 2017 (1:30am)

Praise to the Holy One for my freedom.

I was arrested tonight in New York, along with 18 other holy brothers and sisters, standing, marching, singing, praying, and raging at the hate and injustice being launched by the President toward immigrants, toward Muslims - toward vulnerable 'others' - being created and encoded in American law, media, and culture. We sat, blocking traffic, in front of Trump Tower. We sat, arm in arm, davening and singing. We walked together, singing songs of Love and Freedom (including my soul's song Olam Chesed, sung by hundreds as I walked the very blocks upon which I carried my newborn daughter as I composed the song for her).

We spent some of the night in jail. I was released 30 minutes ago. The Rabbis with whom I spent tonight in jail are my sisters and brothers. We davened, sang, spoke, joked, and learned. I will need time to process this, but I am humbled to have been part of this holy act of #JewishResistance.

Tonight was the most Rabbis arrested in one action in US history. And, all the while, even as I was handcuffed and processed, even as the NYPD treated us with respect, I know the fight has barely begun for the soul of our nation.

I invite you to join this movement. This is what Judaism looks like: marching for justice. This is what payer looks like: putting your body where your words are. This is what Torah looks like: righteous people doing good.

ברוך מתיר אסורים / Blessed is the one who frees the bound.

My deep thanks to Rabbi Jill Jacobs, Rabbi Rachel Kahn-Troster and the team at T'ruah, for including me, and for leading us all.

More tomorrow perhaps. In this late moment, reeling from a surreal experience of moral courage, a short time in jail, and the real sense of 19 rabbis who sang and danced together outside the police precinct at 1:30am, I'm more aware of the work ahead than ever before. And the need for rest.

Bless you all. Lets go!

Here's video coverage from NBC New York:

Here's video coverage from FOX New York:
click the photo for the Times of Israel News Story
Join Our List
CNS Mission Statement

Netivot Shalom invites you to engage in a cross-generational discovery of Jewish inspiration and purpose.

Our community is defined by the values of:
  • Belonging - we believe, as a participatory egalitarian community, that every member has a voice.
  • Learning - we provide introductory and continuing encounters with Jewish wisdom.
  • Ritual - we strive to deepen personal engagement with the sacred.
  • Justice - we embrace Judaism's call to perfect the world.

Rabbi Menachem Creditor
Rabbi, Congregation Netivot Shalom
Chair, Rabbis Against Gun Violence (#RAGV)

Scheduling Inquiries: or (510) 549-9447 x103

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

Feb 2, 2017


Dear Rabbi Creditor,

Since last week, we have been hearing rumors that President Trump is preparing to issue an Executive Order that would legalize wide-ranging discrimination against LGBTQ people.
A leaked draft shows that an Executive Order of this type could be devastating to the LGBTQ community.

This type of Executive Order violates the core values of equality and inclusion that are at the heart of Keshet’s mission and the very ethos of Jewish tradition.

Already, since the election, we have heard from many queer Jewish teens – and LGBTQ people of all ages – who feel vulnerable and fearful that their rights will come under attack under this administration. We cannot stand by and watch these fears become our new reality.
Please join Bend the Arc Jewish Action, in partnership with Faith in Public Life and Keshet, today, Thursday 2/2, for an Emergency Faith Briefing call at 4pm EST.

Legal experts from Lambda Legal and Americans United for Separation of Church and State will join the call to answer questions. Also, since this Executive Order may come under the guise of “religious liberty,” we’ll hear from messaging experts who can provide guidance on the best ways to respond to this type of attack.

This Executive Order may masquerade as protecting the rights of people of faith. But, as Jews, we know that discrimination does not protect our religious freedom; it defiles it. Our history and tradition teach us that a just society makes us all stronger. 

TODAY, 2/2 at 4pm EST
Dial: 857.232.0159
At the prompt, dial 212788 to join the call.

I hope you can join us during this crucial time for action.
Idit Klein
Executive Director



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