Jul 13, 2020

Proud to partner with the U.S. Census Bureau and encourage us all to stand and be counted! #Census2020

​Announcing the publication of: A Journey of the Heart and Soul -- poetry & illustrations by Ariel Creditor


Announcing the publication of: 

A Journey of the Heart and Soul

poetry & illustrations by Ariel Creditor

available at amazon.com/Journey-Heart-Soul-Reflections-veNefesh/dp/B08CMGM6Y7/


Ariel Creditor has published - AND ILLUSTRATED! - her first book, a reflective poetry book of the experience she shared on her senior trip to Poland and Israel with The Leffell School! She writes with clear, open, raw eyes of traveling as a Jewish teenager through Nazi camps in Poland and then landing in Israel, with hand-drawn art depicting what prompted each poem. All proceeds from the sale of the book support the Student Scholarship Fund at The Leffell School! Purchase your copy here!


Boker Tov all! Good Morning! Happy to share a little Torah to start the day off right!

Jun 26, 2020

Buy a T-Shirt and Build this World from Love!

Friends, I composed "Olam Chesed Yibaneh" 18 years ago with the hopes that our children would be part of a world reborn, a world built on love and respect and kindness. Let's wear that love on our sleeve and rededicate ourselves to that sacred vision, more necessary than ever! All proceeds from the sale of these T-Shirts will support the work of Keshet and UJA-Federation of New York's #PRIDE campaigns!

Reflecting on God as the Source of Breath. Have a beautiful Shabbat, everyone!

Jun 11, 2020

Thrilled to share Neshama​'s and my concert event with CJP - Combined Jewish Philanthropies​ Boston & The Ruderman Family Foundation!

Announcing the publication of When We Turned Within: Reflections on COVID-19


Announcing the publication of 
When We Turned Within: Reflections on COVID-19

Edited by Rabbi Menachem Creditor and Sarah Tuttle-Singer
Foreword: Rabbi Bradley Shavit Artson
Cover art: Rabbi Karen Byer Silberman

with Essays, Prayers, and Poems by 165 contributors from around the world

paperback: amazon.com/dp/B089TS37YP
Kindle version here: amazon.com/dp/B089WGB8ZZ

For the full table of contents, click here: tinyurl.com/WhenWeTurnedWithinTOC

Special landing page designed by Reverend Ngozi T. Robinson: www.whenweturnedwithin.com

During the past months, our world has truly turned upside-down. We’ve lost so very much. What was casual just yesterday has become priceless today: smiles are covered beneath masks, generations divided by invisible boundaries, and physical togetherness deemed a danger.

And yet. Harmonies have been sung from balcony and bedrooms spanning the globe. Applause regularly erupts for cashiers and sanitation workers and nurses and those everyday heroes who keep the world balanced.

And yet. Synagogue buildings are empty and the comfort of a minyan has become digital. Funerals are hug-less, as are intergenerational family moments. And the number of souls we’ve buried… There simply aren’t words.

And yet. The skies are clearer and birdsong has returned. More people have convened for many a Zoom meal or online class than ever could have in person. We have come to know our neighbors just a bit more.

And yet. Amidst all this, protests erupted in reaction to the horrific killings of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, Ahmaud Arbery, unarmed black people whose deaths have sparked an international response, shining light on the systemic racism and injustice that have cast a long, harsh shadow on the United States since its earliest days. The pandemic exacerbated already-present inequalities, and the murders in 2020 America of three human beings for the colors of their skin gave this injustice a face.

And yet. The responses to racism and isolation are growing in volume, and the voices of common citizens of all colors and orientations and faiths are calling out for justice, for an honest reckoning with the way things have been, for the end of all that keeps us apart, for a world in which no virus nor societal illness can deny a person their breath.

Friends, this book is much more than a record of loss. It is a collection of reflections, prayers, and poems of many, many individual souls who collectively tell the story of right now with depth and heart and startling brilliance. On these pages you will find honest testimony of a very difficult time on our planet.

It has been truly humbling work to assemble these voices and see patterns emerge, to feel the pain and longing and hope and faith and frustration and loneliness and transcendence of each contribution. I am more convinced than ever that all people share a common humanity, that our souls bind us together, that a better day is possible.

The arc of history will only bend toward justice under enough pressure, and the glorious weight of us all will be enough.

A few acknowledgements:

To the 165 serious, reflective, luminous, and lyrical authors who shared their hearts on these pages, thank you. You represent a true diversity of voices from within the Jewish community, grounded in reality and intentionally vulnerable, and allowed us to include you here to amplify each other’s vision of good in the world. Thank you.

To my co-editor, Sarah, whose brilliant and intuitive writing style has made her a widely-read and accessible touchstone for our time, thank you for joining me in this project. Your careful eye and sensitive soul are the reason so many authors lent their words to this undertaking. Working with you has been nothing short of sacred sharing. Thank you.

To my colleagues and friends at UJA-Federation of New York, where I am privileged to serve as the Pearl and Ira Meyer Scholar in Residence, my deepest gratitude. For allocating more than $46 million to date to meet needs across the New York region and Israel for the most vulnerable people, for embodying the heart and soul of our community, thank you. Proceeds from the sale of this book will support UJA-Federation NY’s work to make this world a better, safer, more just place.

To my precious family, (especially you, Neshama,) for inspiring me to build this world from Love, for being my holiest, safest, funnest place in the universe, thank you.

And finally, to the Source of Life, for being the invisible string that connects us all, thank You.

May the days ahead be better – for all people – than those we’ve left behind.

Rabbi Menachem Creditor

Sivan 5780
June 2020

Honored to share a blessing and some Torah this Thursday morning!

Jun 1, 2020

This morning's learning is dedicated to the memory of George Floyd z"l.

This morning's learning is dedicated to the memory of George Floyd z"l. Every breath I take renews my commitment to stand with those whose breath is taken away, to stand with those leaders who commit to correcting their ways, to those who march for justice. I will not be distracted by those few who seek to infect civil protest with destruction. I am proud to be part of UJA-Federation of New York's response to this moment, calling for #JusticeForGeorge and recommitting to our ongoing work for racial justice.   What can you do today to lift up the memory of George Floyd and Eric Garner and Michael Brown and Trayvon Martin and  Breonna Taylor and Tamir Rice and countless other Black women and men who should still be alive today?  We have much work ahead. Seeking justice is an ancient mandate and a current, urgent call. We are each other's sisters and brothers. 

May 27, 2020

A Prayer for Today: "In the midst of it all"

A Prayer for Today: 
"In the midst of it all"
Rabbi Menachem Creditor
Hebrew translation by Shemaya Shiloh-Phillips 

in the midst of it all
despite it all
because of it all
because there is an all
Thank You, Holy One.

בקרב כולם
למרות הכל
בגלל הכל
שיש הכל
תודה לך, קדוש
(ריבונו של הכל)

#intention #gratitude #prayer

Poured it all out today.

Poured it all out today. Taught from Abraham Joshua Heschel's "Religion and Race" in response to the murder of George Floyd. We have to earn our right at the base of God's Holy Mountain. As Heschel taught in 1963, "That equality is a good thing, a fine goal, may be generally accepted. What is lacking is a sense of the monstrosity of inequality." We have much work ahead friends, to recognize God's Image is the universal human condition, and that an act of violence is an act of blasphemy.

May 17, 2020

Olam Chesed Yibaneh, covered by Cantor Lisa Peicott​ of Wilshire Boulevard Temple​

What a day... every once in a while, I search YouTube for "Olam Chesed Yibaneh", sort by upload date, and am overwhelmed. This take on my soul's song by Cantor Lisa Peicott​ of Wilshire Boulevard Temple​, interspersed with images of light, color, and heroism is just right for these days of pause. Let's keep going, friends - keep building, keep loving, keep singing!
#OlamChesedYibaneh #BuildOnLove

May 8, 2020

Everywhere


Everywhere
Menachem Creditor

Those faces
on the screen are real:
real people,
real faces.

God's Eyes, everywhere.
God's Heart, everywhere.

#PoemsofPresence

A Poem "For When the World is Masked"

For When the World is Masked
Menachem Creditor

Deep, powerful feelings can be reawakened.
Even when the world is masked.

It can be a song.
Or the wind.
Or pairs of eyes on a screen, all facing out.

And, if tears then flow,
welcome them with a re-opened heart.

#PoemsofPresence

An honor to share blessing and Torah this Friday morning! #WhiteShirt #MustBeFriday #ShabbatShalom

An honor to share blessing and Torah this Friday morning! 
#WhiteShirt #MustBeFriday #ShabbatShalom

May 7, 2020

Boker Tov! Good Morning! What a blessing to share some song and Torah this Thursday morning!

Boker Tov! Good Morning! What a blessing to share some song and Torah this Thursday morning! I can't express how good it feels to connect with so many beautiful people every weekday at 9am on the UJA-Federation Facebook page (facebook.com/ujafedny)!


Apr 28, 2020

A Prayer for Tomorrow to Come just a Bit Quicker

A Prayer for Tomorrow to Come just a Bit Quicker 
Rabbi Menachem Creditor

Dearest Source of All,
Through these tears we call to You.
Please, Oh Please, set us free.

No, we do not mean
aimless chaos, unaware selfishness,
people marching blindly,
trampling over one another.

God, we ask for Your Grace,
a flowing current of selflessness
surging between neighbors and strangers,
a reminder that we are Your Image,
each and all.

Please God, purpose.
Please God, health.
Please God, mutual care.
Please God, soon.

Amen.

Honored to share blessing and Torah this Tuesday morning, marking #YomHaZikaron and the one-year Anniversary of the #Poway attack. We stand in memory and unspeakable gratitude for all those who have made the ultimate sacrifice in the name of peace, in the name of life. In their names, may we be blessed with no more fallen daughters and sons. 🇮🇱🌹

Honored to share blessing and Torah this Tuesday morning, marking #YomHaZikaron and the one-year Anniversary of the #Poway attack. We stand in memory and unspeakable gratitude for all those who have made the ultimate sacrifice in the name of peace, in the name of life. In their names, may we be blessed with no more fallen daughters and sons. 🇮🇱🌹

Apr 17, 2020

A Prayer While Standing on an American Food Line

A Prayer While Standing on an American Food Line
Rabbi Menachem Creditor

Source of Sustenance,
help us remember
this line is not like other lines.

Yes, the shock of lining up for food
today, here, now,
is real. And...

there is food
at the end of this line,
enough food for all.

HaZan et haKol, Nourisher of All,
may the fear we feel,
the anxiety reality provokes,
have its moment. And... 

May we be patient with those ahead
and behind us in line.

May we treat with respect
those who tend to us
who pick and package
and restock and bag the food
we need. And... 

May we be grateful
we'll have enough.

May we do what we can
to ensure others will also have enough.

May we remember
this is only a line.

Amen.

Grateful to offer some blessing and Torah this Friday morning! Shabbat Shalom!

Apr 5, 2020

A Nighttime Prayer for Our Healers


A Nighttime Prayer for Our Healers
Rabbi Menachem Creditor

God,
You Bring Day and the light.
You Bring Night and the dark.
And You Divide them,
keeping each in place.

Dear One,
We ask Your protection
upon those who guard us day and night,
placing themselves between life and death,
fighting to keep each in their places.

Holy One,
Your Image is best reflected
in those who wrestle the chaos,
in those whose care defies limitation,
and whose mighty hearts
need a respite that will not come any time soon.

Loving Soul of the Universe,
please, please, please
Heal our healers.
Sustain our sustainers.
Bless those whose work
these days and nights
holds up Your whole universe.

May we, Your children,
wake to a world reborn just a bit,
spirits renewed just a bit,
healers strengthened, just a bit.
Maybe more.

Please.
Amen.








your face this morning: a poem/prayer

your face this morning: a poem/prayer
rabbi menachem creditor
for Isaiah and everyone else

i've never seen so clearly
how truly precious is every other
i mean i've known and i've taught
but now, with a shining sweet friend
on my screen, singing out
to me to you to the One
sitting still
feeling still
breath steadied
letting the light of a new day in
these tears purify my eyes
to see better
to feel to hope again
i feel the fire in me
lit by the warmth of contact
birthed by the light
of your sweet face
dear one
your soul my friend
is luminous
and you share it
with purity

Apr 2, 2020

from an inside place: a poem



from an inside place: a poem  
rabbi menachem creditor

Oh, that moment
when sunlight intensifies
and i rush to open my window
to just let it in

Oh, cover me!
suffuse my being
pervade my cells!
please!

But then,
through the open window,
comes a rush of very cold air
accompanying the blessed light

So, for now
I'll just sit here
and enjoy the light
from my warm
inside place.

Happy to share a blessing and some Torah this Thursday morning!

Mar 31, 2020

Please God, More Light: A Prayer

Please God, More Light: A Prayer
Rabbi Menachem Creditor

To the One whose Heavens
just erupted with Divine Light:

Shine down healing upon Your wearied children.
Give us illumination that we might
see each other well in this dark moment.

Guide with luminous clarity
and renewed spirit
the hands of our healthcare providers.

Please God, more light.
Now. Tomorrow.
Until the darkness
is limited to its right time
once more.

Amen.

#sun #Prayer #healing #light

Mar 29, 2020

A Poem and Opportunities to Connect Online - For my friends on the screen

Dearest Friends,

In the midst of a world turned inside-out and upside-down, I'm so very grateful for the many opportunities we are creating to connect. Some feel incredibly intimate, and some feel like shadows of what we need. But, in aggregate, one could make the claim that this is the most creative moment in Jewish history, with leaders and artists of all kinds generating content and contexts for all of us around the world. Given technology's flat-hierarchy, there is no limit to the beauty we might unleash in this troubled moment. The platforms of zoom, facebook, google, becoming universally accessible makes each one of us a leader who can touch the lives of others. Let us be brave and offer our faces to each other, knowing that in our eyes lives the greatest of all mysteries. Screens can be portals to the Divine, and we need that now more than ever. 

I imagine I'm not alone in feeling overwhelmed by all that's being offered online, and so I'm sharing a few resources with you that I hope can support you right where you are:

In addition to these amazing global Jewish resources, here are some online experiences I'm involved in:
We dare not look away from the world around us. We must stay home to save the lives of our neighbors, perhaps the most counter-intuitive Jewish action ever. But friends, we are bound together by invisible strings that defy the distance. I share here a poem that powered out while participating in an online poetry conversation convened by friends from the Bay Area, suddenly "in the same room" with sweet familiar faces I haven't seen in a very long time. 

May we be blessed to truly embrace each other very soon. 
May we not forget the lessons tomorrow we are learning at such costs today. 
May our world soon regain itself.  

Love,
Menachem

A Poem for my Friend on the Screen
Rabbi Menachem Creditor

as I sit here
in my bedroom
which has become my office
and also Sinai
and that coffee shop on Shattuck

distance is an illusion
so is time

these tears are a gift
of coming home.

(I thought I was done, but another one poured out...)

attuned hearts
need not speak
to know

There is no such thing
as alone

____
Rabbi Menachem Creditor
Scholar in Residence, UJA-Federation NY

Mar 24, 2020

Rabbi Creditor's Testimony as Part of the 2020 Census

What an honor to represent UJA-Federation of New York and the American Jewish Community at the U.S. Census Bureau's Interfaith Census Launch last month at Washington National Cathedral! This is my testimony, offered in the name of my ancestors to all Americans. In short, the command to "love your neighbor as yourself" has two parts: love yourself enough to be counted; love your neighbor enough to remember they count too. #BeCounted #WeAreOne #Census2020



Mar 20, 2020

Birkat HaChodesh / Blessing the New Month of Nissan

Oh, this beloved soul, Rabbi Yosef Goldman. Look what power he brings, to hope for the month to come, to bless all of humanity with sustenance and health, safety and comfort, with hope and more hope and more hope. Bless you, brother. Bless you. And amen, amen, amen.

A blessing for you today, to see the holiness we share! Good Shabbos!

Mar 17, 2020

Seeing God's Face

Seeing God's FaceRabbi Menachem Creditor

I said Kaddish this morning in a virtual minyan led by my friend, Rabbi Eytan Hammerman, my first time doing that. I had previously limited digital participation to being an observer of a minyan, saying "amen" from the distance to the "real" gathering that was physically present together. Today I typed it as a comment, a digital response as my friend recited the words on my screen.

Everything has changed. Physical presence is impossible, ritually forbidden (see Rabbi Robbie Harris' powerful piece in The Times of Israel on this), and minyan *MUST* be possible. Not only because of those who need to say kaddish, but because we need each other. Minyan is the basic grouping in Jewish tradition: community. The teachings of Rabbi Lauren Holtzblatt and Rabbi Aaron Alexander come to mind: "veChai Bahem/Live through the commandments" (Lev. 18:5) means that we are called by tradition to truly live. Today. Together.

I recited Kaddish with Eytan and 16 others who appeared on my screen. (Poetically, in that moment, we were 18, the numeric equivalent of the Hebrew word "chai," meaning life.) It has been deeply emotional to see the faces of others. In my soul, it has been like seeing the face of God (Genesis 33:10), nothing less.

Being "with others" is so holy, so necessary, so important. There isn't one way to do it, but in this moment, every way that is possible should be embraced. Some will draw the line at which prayers can be said without physical proximity. But let's agree that we can - and must - come close to each other in these hard times and pray together.

Seeing you all on my screen is like seeing God's face.

Amen.

____


Rabbi Menachem Creditor
Scholar in Residence, UJA-Federation NY
tinyurl.com/MCreditorBooks

Mar 15, 2020

A Meditative Mincha Moment

"Spread Life" - an exploration of Jewish Law for today with Rabbi Aaron Alexander

God, I love Rabbi Aaron Alexander's Torah. (click here)
This online class might be textually dense for those unfamiliar with halachic studies, but the values that animate his teaching on the question of Priestly Blessing ("duchening") in modern worship are clear: he teaches that, in these moments when gathering is only virtual, we must remind each other and ourselves to make sure we follow the Torah's imperative to "live by them." By which he means, and states explicitly, that any desire/need we have to gather in homes when houses of worship are closed, is forbidden (R. Alexander cites the ruling of his Rabbi Lauren Holtzblatt) to do so.
I have an obligation to remove any life-endangering obstacle to the health of others. That means to host a gathering, right now, is to act against the Torah.
Ie, my body is not only my own, as its impact is so much wider than me. Self-isolation is a mitzvah, so that we might save lives. It is that simple. It is that clear.
So spread life. You're not alone. Let us see these new modes of connectivity as real and full of love.

Mar 12, 2020

The learning from Thursday night is now archived!


Friends,

The learning from Thursday night is now archived! You can find it here, under "Nefesh HaChaim" (intro and 1:1,2) - rabbicreditor.blogspot.com/p/text-commentaries.html.

The text is available online at https://www.sefaria.org/Nefesh_HaChaim.1.1?lang=bi

Shabbat Shalom!

Menachem





Mar 10, 2020

A Purim Thought

A Purim Thought
Rabbi Menachem Creditor

As part of the UJA-Federation family, we are involved in each other's lives, as well as the lives of countless others in our wider community. The updates and headlines regarding the spread and impact of coronavirus are thorough and important, and it’s reassuring that we're all doing our part to keep healthy and do what we can to protect others.

The inner experience of all this is also deeply important, and it is for that reason that I share these brief thoughts. It is one thing, a primary command, to be mindful of our health and well-being. But Jewish tradition also reminds us that souls require tending, especially in moments of tension and stress.

Jewish tradition tells us that one who visits the sick removes one sixtieth of the illness. This “sacred math” makes clear that visiting the sick is not a cure but rather a comfort, not the end of disease but a way of being present in the face of human vulnerability. The connections our sacred work at UJA-Federation of New York creates are part of being present with each other, a yearlong commitment to nurture a network of relationships that keep millions of people connected, even and especially in this difficult moment.

And so my friends, let's take a lesson from the light and gladness that eventually defined the holiday of Purim. Our community was beset by threat, and emerged stronger, and then recommitted to ritually mark the day with acts of mutual concern: gifts for the poor and nourishment for neighbors.

Through these lessons, and through the availability of modern technology that transcends distance, may we remember that we can be in community without being next to each other, for now, that the ties that bind remain strong, that health is a sacred priority so that we might come together even stronger than before.

The central story of Purim is summed up by two words from the Scroll of Esther from which we read during the holiday: Nafoch Hu - It is all upside down!

In that spirit, may the interpersonal distance this topsy-turvy world we inhabit currently demands be turned on its head very, very soon, bringing us closer to each other, more caring of our neighbors, more ready to share the joy and light of life with community.

Brachot! Blessings! And a safe, happy, connected Purim to you all!
#purim2020 #purim

A Purim Teaching!

UJA - Purim by Rabbi Menachem Creditor from The Audiovisual Dept on Vimeo.

Mar 4, 2020

historical consciousness and wise leadership


These images are part of a monument just across the Edmond Pettus Bridge, quotes from the Book of Joshua as the Israelites crossed over the Jordan River and committed themselves to historical consciousness and wise leadership.
So much more to say than can fit in this moment, and hard to realize that it was only last week that we trod upon the holy ground of Selma and Montgomery on the UJA-Federation of New York Civil Rights Mission, receiving testimony from witnesses and activists of the 60's and today. I spent this past Shabbat teaching in the #Pittsburgh Jewish community with my colleague Rabbi Aaron Meyer, the holy community of Mother Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church - Official and Squirrel Hill Stands Against #GunViolence. These experiences not only cross-informed my consciousness but also supported some of the ongoing concerns over race that the Jewish community aspires to address. Directly from Pittsburgh, I gathered with thousands of friends in Washington, DC at the AIPAC Policy Conference (where a few UJA Civil Rights participants stole a brief moment trying to begin to process what we’d shared), and there the lessons swirling inside my heart from Selma and Montgomery and Pittsburgh also informed my perspective as I stood within an increasingly diverse snapshot of American society gathered in support of Israel. Friends, there’s beautiful work calling. I couldn’t be prouder than to be part of the response so many are giving of themselves to offer. May the coming days and weeks find you all and your families healthy, safe, thoughtful, and strengthened.