Jun 26, 2018

For America, on an Awful Day for Democracy

For America, on an Awful Day for Democracy
©Rabbi Menachem Creditor

Yes, power can be exercised legally, and still be dead wrong, immoral even. We've always known that. Hence: checks, balances, separation of powers. The Framers knew the excesses of overly centralized power. Their judicial descendants just upheld the letter of the law while damaging its spirit.

Remember: Slavery was legal. Protecting runaway slaves was illegal. (Hitler was elected. Protecting Jews was illegal.) Laws answer to more than one historical moment, and we dare not descend placidly into the chaos of broken glass and human degradation. That's how the world ends.

Civility? When the Supreme Court's nomination process is (was) successful held political hostage, the lines separating powers are crossed, threatened, perhaps erased. How to remain civil when fundamental shifts in democracy are taking root and violations of human rights (reproductive justice, immigrant detentions, to name two) are encoded in law, what place does civility claim?

We do not resign ourselves, nor will we be polite. Dissent is something we demonstrate with our bodies. Our democracy is at stake. Nothing less. What can you do? You tell me. Show us your bravery. Get louder. Give. Love. Act. Vote. Do more.

Friends, this moment is not our last, not our last. But, Oh, the healing ahead... Please, let us commit to health and hope beyond this very bad day for America. Onward. The work begins again, for tomorrow's sake.

Jun 21, 2018

Newly Huddled Tender Masses: A Prayer for Children

Newly Huddled Tender Masses: A Prayer for Children
© Rabbi Menachem Creditor

Dear God, Protector of Children,
Guardian of All:

We haven't the words.
We are worse than witnesses.
We are complicit in the abuse of children.
We sin this very moment.

The horror of children torn from parents sends shockwaves through our very souls, so we turn away, remembering when children were taken to "baths," never to see their parents again. Never. Again.

So, Holy One, what could we possibly show You to be worthy of the comfort we seek? Nothing. There is little we can show You today. We show up with tears and signs, protest songs and prayers. While our children sleep in cages. Our children. Our cages.

God, the pain and sadness You must be feeling, as Your image is locked up and abused, as Your children are torn from their children, as cruelty inhabits the seat of American power. What rage You must feel at our wanton sinning. Our country is actively sinning, quickly distracted by callous clothing and damned by a short attention span.

It would be easy, God, to blame one person in one office for this evil. But we know better. We've witnessed entire societies stand idly by the misuse of legal systems to oppress others. We've seen refugees damned to death by quotas and rules.

It would be easy, God, to give up. Scattershot hatred is in the air. Where to turn. How to help. And, O God, we know there is little chance these poor children, newly huddled tender masses, will be reunited with their parents, little chance these terrorized parents will hold their children again.

God, what would You have us do now?

Perhaps there is hope. Perhaps. If we would but cry Your Tears, burn with Your Rage, act with Your Tender Mercy, and vote with an eye toward Eternity.

Please God, protect us from numbness.
Keep our children's pain present in our hearts.
Encode our next deeds with Your Love.

There will come a better day. If.

Amen.

Jun 8, 2018

The Doctor's Torah: A Poem


The Doctor's Torah: A Poem
© Rabbi Menachem Creditor
thank you, Steven Moffat. thank you, Peter Capaldi.

Without hope.
Without witness.
Without reward.

I'm not trying to win.
I'm not doing this because I want to beat someone,
or because I hate someone,
or because I want to blame someone,
not because it's fun.
God knows it's not because it's easy.
It's not even because it works because it hardly ever does.
I do what I do because it's right.
It's decent.
And above all, it's kind.

Just that.
Just.
Kind.

Everything ends.
And it's always sad.
But everything begins again, too.
And that's always happy.

Every story ever told really happened.

Amen.

#drwho #justkind #thankyoudoctor

Jun 2, 2018

Something Must Be Done

Something Must Be Done
(c) Rabbi Menachem Creditor

As she stands before me, speechless, I realize why it's all in place, this tradition. 

You see, in moments of no need (if there truly are such things), the intricate system of rule and custom Judaism calls halacha and minhag can feel like just that: a system. But, in moments of need (if only they were that seldom) these very same rules and customs seem hardly systemic - they serve as personally stabilizing anchors in a wildly careening world. 

In short, rituals are there to hold us safe when we feel wobbly and unsure (and provide language when ecstasy renders us at a loss for words). Sure, we have a hand in our living tradition's adaptive design. But the greatest gift of spiritual tradition - ours, theirs, and ones yet to be - is that it is always larger than the self. It isn't about me, so when something must be done, it doesn't depend on my creative capacity during my time of incapacity. When something must be done, tradition provides a real and grounded way to do it.

Oh, yes. One other thing: This isn't really about a "she." It's actually about me. I know what it is to stand before a Beit Din with shaking hands, uncertain and dependent. I know what it is to dissolve and feel the stirring of new life in the tear-touched waters of the mikvah. I know what it is to be skillfully led in prayer. I've been graced by both halacha and minhag throughout my life. I'm still learning their depths and richness. Thank God.

Tradition can be so very beautiful, and I'm so very grateful. 

"Ashreinu: Mah tov Chelkeinu, Umah ma'im goraleinu, uMah yafah Yerishateinu."
"Our joy: How good is our portion, how pleasant our fate, how beautiful our inheritance."
(morning liturgy)

.......
Rabbi Menachem Creditor

NY Jewish Week: New Scholar At UJA-Fed.: ‘Reunifying Our People’

NY Jewish Week :  New Scholar At UJA-Fed.: ‘Reunifying Our People’ By  SANDEE BRAWARSKY August 7, 2018, 3:56 pm     0 0 shares...