Aug 30, 2012

Fall Adult Education Opportunities at Netivot Shalom! @cnsberkeley #torahrocks

New Adult Programs & Classes at Netivot Shalom!

Wednesday Torah Study 

(Wednesday's at 1 pm in the Library)

Study the weekly Torah portion with insights from ancient midrashim and contemporary thinkers. The discussion will be facilitated by either Rabbi Bochner or Rabbi Creditor. 


Intermediate Talmud Class 

with Rabbi Shalom Bochner, Thursdays at 5:40 in the Library

Come and learn the origins of the Sidur through our weekly journey through the first volume of the Talmud, Masechet Berachot. Comfort with reading Hebrew is preferred.  Learn the teachings and humor of our sages. It's got everything - including the kitchen sink!  And we generally debate with each other in the spirit of the sages! 


Shabbat Torah Study 

(9:00 am, Shabbat Mornings in the Library)

Read, discuss, and debate the week's Parasha.  We use Etz Chayim as our text.  We often have professional teachers lead the discussion, but just as often skilled volunteers from our congregation are our leaders. See you next Shabbat at Torah Study!


After Kiddush Classes and Discussions 


after Kiddush each Shabbat)

Each Shabbat, after Kiddush (at approximately 1:15 pm) a speaker presents a topic for discussion.  Often this venue is the place to hear visiting scholars, book reviews, developments in a field of inquiry like Biblical Archeology, or listen to poetry. Here is the September schedule:

  • SEPTEMBER 1: Zvi Bellin on Teshuvah Bein Adam L'Atzmo: Forgiveness of Self. Learn and practice the most basic form of forgiveness that is often overlooked.

  • SEPTEMBER 8:  Brenda Goldstein leads us in the melodies of the holidays.

  • SEPTEMBER 15: Zvi Bellin on Teshuvah Bein Adam L'Chaveiro: Forgiveness of Community. How do you reconnect with the Jewish community that might marginalize you at times? Learn to appreciate the blessing in your uniqueness.

  • SEPTEMBER 22:  Casey Yurow,  Education and Community Outreach from Urban Adamaon Urban Adama's First Two Years 

  • SEPTEMBER 29:  Zvi Bellin discusses "Teshuvah Bein Adam L'Makom: Forgiveness of God" Now that you have been forgiven, can you allow God closer to you? We will explore what this closeness means.




Sunday Morning, Nov 11

"Religion and the state in a Jewish State" with Barak Medina, Law Professor at Hebrew University, Jerusalem and Boalt Law School.

Israel Book Group:

(Second Tuesday of every other month: 7:30-9:00 PM at CNS)

  • Tuesday, September 11: Suddenly, a Knock on the Door by Edgar Keret, one of the newer generation of Israeli writers, this is his latest book.  [Publication Date: March 2012]

  • Tuesday, November 13:  A Tale of Love and Darkness by Amos Oz, a memoir by one of Israel's "classic" authors.

Upcoming Classes - October



Four Tuesdays: 7:30 PM-9:00 PM: October 16, 23, 30, November 6.

$10 per session donation to Adult Ed requested (no one turned away for lack of funds.)

A Note from Rabbi Omer-Man: I have always felt that a good poem is unsurpassed in its ability to explore the yearnings of the human heart, and this is especially the case when it comes to the life of the spirit. In this series we will look at some fine religious verse written in a variety of languages, and from disparate, mostly mystical traditions.


Four Wednesdays: 7:30-9:00 PM: October 24, 31, November 14, 21.  

Tuition: $50. (no one turned away for lack of funds.)

Join an engaging and entertaining Jewish conversation about liberation, paradox, tradition, and power! Creditor and Kornbluth's first public class "My Big Fat Jewish Learning" traced Josh's Bar Mitzvah Journey, culminating with a celebration on a magic water tower in Southern Israel. This new class will help navigate and inform Kornbluth's next performance piece which combines his passion for oboe and Torah!



One hour class 7:30-8:30 PM: Six Thursdays: October 25, November 1, 8, 29, December 6, 13. Tuition: $100 (no one turned away for lack of funds.)

In this text study course we will examine some of the most challenging laws in the biblical code such as slavery, sacrifices, Sotah, the rebellious son etc. Two main questions will be posed as we analyze those cases: what was the rational for such laws in biblical times and how are they read and interpreted in rabbinical as well as modern times. Text for the class- the Bible. 

Jewish Wisdom for Spiritual Parenting
with Rabbi Menachem Creditor
5 Thursday Mornings at 9:15 - 10:45
Oct 18, Nov 1, Nov 15, Nov 29, Dec 13
Cost: $72-$118 (sliding scale, no one turned away for lack of funds)

Every decision we make as parents touches psychological, ethical, and spiritual dimensions of our children's lives. Judaism's perspective on parenting can provide a wide-angle view to see beyond specific "issues" into the larger context of a child's life (and a parent's!). Jewish Wisdom for Spiritual Parenting, taught by Rabbi Menachem Creditor of Congregation Netivot Shalom in Berkeley, will be an experience of text and context, conversation and sharing with fellow parents, touching on questions of Play, Speech, Love, Rest, Purpose, and Habit. Out of this learning, we will gain insight and clarity of purpose as parents and as people. For information or to sign up, please contact Serena Heaslip at serenaheaslip@yahoo.com or 510-290-8095.

Upcoming Classes - November


Torah of Reconciliation

with Rabbi Shelly Lewis

Sunday, November 4 -- 

minyan at 9:30am, light refreshments at 10:15am, presentation at 10:30

Rabbi Shelly Lewis will discuss his newly published book, Torah of Reconciliation, which has just been published in Jerusalem by Gefen. It is a work that has been germinating in him for 11 years, and which he states is the passion of his life. Join Rabbi Lewis as he presents his book.  There will be copies for sale.


Upcoming Classes - December



Two Tuesdays: 7:30 - 9:00 PM: December 12 and 19

Free of charge. Register with Rachel at office@netivotshalom.org

Previews of Coming Attractions 


Monday Evenings, once monthly

Presentations and discussion on aspects of Jewish Practice in Dying, Death, Burial and the Chevra Kadisha. Presenters will be from all areas concerned with practice.  Sponsored by the CNS Chevra Kadisha

Chug Ivrit

Sundays: 12:00-1:30 PM - October 14, 28, Nov. 11, Dec. 9, 23.

The goal of Chug Ivrit is to strengthen the ability of attendees to converse in Hebrew.   If you are able to read Hebrew somewhat fluently, have some exposure to Hebrew conversation, and want to become more fluent, this is THE place to be.  We are using as a study tool, the monthly publication "The Jerusalem Post Ivrit".  Their articles are categorized based on difficulty with one, two or three stars.  Attendees are encouraged to subscribe to this publication via the Jerusalem Post.  Copies of articles we will be studying will be available at the session, but that limits the ability of participants to study at home and get the full benefit of the publication.  Attendees will be split into two levels:  The "One Star" level is for people who can read Hebrew and who have had some conversational experience.  The "Two  Star" level will be for people who have a basic Hebrew vocabulary and are able to carry on a basic multi-sentence conversation.  If you are not already fluent in Hebrew conversation, this program will be too advanced for you; but you are welcome to participate if you wish.  There is no charge for Chug Ivrit.


Please Support Us

The Adult Education Fund

Netivot Shalom, from its founding in 1989, has had a policy of providing most of its Adult programming at no-charge.  Providing adult educational programming was a prime motivation for establishing our synagogue. Because some of our teachers are professionals and need to be paid for their services, we charge tuition.  However, people unable to pay the tuition are never turned away.  We make up the difference needed by accessing our Adult Education Fund.

In addition, we use the fund to help develop programs and pay honoraria to visiting scholars.


Please consider a tax deductible contribution to the Adult Ed Fund the next time to come to a no-charge event as an expression of thanks to the synagogue. Donation envelopes are available outside the office door, or you can make a donation at netivotshalom.org.  Please indicate that your donation is for the "Adult Education Fund." Thank you!

Reuters.com: "German Jewish college shuns skullcaps after attack on Rabbi in Berlin" #altishkach #neverforget

Reuters.com: "German Jewish college shuns skullcaps after attack on rabbi in Berlin"

By Madeline Chambers
File picture shows German-born Jewish rabbi Daniel Alter during an interview with Reuters in Berlin January 15, 2007. A brutal daylight attack on the first rabbi to be ordained in Germany since the Holocaust has enraged the country's Jewish community and prompted a seminary to advise its students not to wear skull caps. Alter, 53, was beaten on a Berlin street in front of his young daughter after collecting her from a piano lesson on August 28, 2012, after a young man asked him ''Are you a Jew?'', Berlin police said. A group of four young men hit him in the face repeatedly, shouted religious insults and threatened to kill his daughter. The rabbi ended up in hospital needing treatment to his face. Picture taken January 15, 2007. REUTERS/Arnd Wiegmann/File

BERLIN | Thu Aug 30, 2012 11:00am EDT

(Reuters) - One of the first rabbis ordained in Germany since the Holocaust has been beaten up on a Berlin street, prompting a seminary to advise its students not to wear skullcaps in public.

Daniel Alter, 53, was attacked in front of his young daughter after collecting her from a piano lesson on Tuesday after a young man asked him "Are you a Jew?", said Berlin police.

A group of four young men hit him in the face repeatedly, shouted religious insults and threatened to kill his daughter. The rabbi needed hospital treatment to his face.

German media reported that the attackers "probably had an Arab background". The country's Central Council of Muslims condemned the attack.

Alter told Bild daily he was shocked at the shameless way his attackers had assaulted him in front of his daughter.

Germany's Central Council of Jews condemned the attack, saying it showed violent anti-Semitism had again become a serious social problem.

Berlin mayor Klaus Wowereit said the incident was "an attack on the peaceful co-existence of all people in the capital".

Germany's official Jewish population has grown more than 10-fold in the last 20 years, largely thanks to an influx of Jews from the former Soviet Union, but anti-Semitic attacks are commonplace and policemen guard synagogues round the clock.


Alter was made a rabbi in Dresden in 2006. He and two others were the first to be ordained in Germany since 1942, when the College of Jewish Studies in Berlin was destroyed by the Nazi Gestapo secret police.

His father survived Auschwitz concentration camp.

In an interview with Reuters in 2007, Alter said he was worried about anti-Semitism and wore a baseball hat over his skullcap because he was worried about being identified as a Jew.

At the time of the attack, however, his skullcap was not concealed.

The Abraham Geiger College in Potsdam, currently training 28 rabbis, said it had boosted security around the building as a result of the attack and was checking mail.

"We have also given guidelines to our students on how to behave so that they do not become victims of such attacks," the college's rector Walter Homolka told the Berliner Morgenpost.

"We have advised them not to wear their skullcaps on the street, but to choose something inconspicuous to cover their head with," he said.

He urged the police and intelligence services to deal with violent Muslims. "It would be fatal if we were to see a proxy Middle East war on German streets," he said.

The Central Council of Muslims said Muslims were shocked by such incidents.

"At this time, Jews and Muslims must stand together and make clear: violence of any color has no place with us," said the Council's chairman Aiman Mazyek in a statement.

The American Jewish Committee called on Germany's parliament to act on a report on anti-Semitism which included recommendations on ways to combat anti-Semitism.

The report also said that anti-Semitism was entrenched in German society, manifesting itself in hate crime as well as in abusive language used by ordinary people.

"German lawmakers should not delay any longer adopting a comprehensive plan to combat anti-Semitism," said Deidre Berger, the AJC's Berlin director.

(Reporting by Madeline Chambers; editing by Andrew Roche)
Rabbi Menachem Creditor
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Rabbi Reuven Hammer in J Post on Hatred of Arabs

Loving the stranger, stopping the hatred

08/30/2012 13:38   By REUVEN HAMMER

Israel has reacted with shock and revulsion to two recent attacks on Arabs by Jewish youth.

Bat Ayin youth arrested over firebombing

Israel has reacted with shock and revulsion to two recent attacks on Arabs by Jewish youth, the fire bombing of an Arab taxi near Bat Ayin and the attack on an Arab youth in downtown Jerusalem. Perhaps it took these two extreme events to wake us up and make us take seriously something that should have been obvious to us all for a long time: hatred of Arabs is common among our youth and is not only verbal by violent.

The anti-Arab cries of crowds of young people at sports events in Teddy Stadium and elsewhere have been common for years, as have "death to Arab" graffiti in our city streets. The price-tag attacks in the West Bank have become commonplace, including firebombing of mosques. Little enough has been done to stop them. Perhaps those of us not living in the territories have dismissed these things as the natural consequence of settling the West Bank, but that is nonsense. This hatred has infected the entire country and it is not confined to hot-headed youth. There is bitter irony in the fact that those things that we as Jews have suffered for centuries in other lands are now being done to others by Jews, and often by Jews who consider themselves religious.

Why should we be surprised that young people do these things when they have heard anti-Arab diatribes by official religious leaders such as the rabbi of Tsfat and he is not alone. One of our most respected political leaders, a former Chief Rabbi, Ovadia Yosef, has been known to hurl invectives at Arabs in his popular sermons. Surely this has an effect on his countless followers. And who among our leaders has dared to speak up against him? It is unfortunate that some of the leaders of Habad have contributed to this, teaching mystical doctrines in which the Jewish soul is seen as different and higher than other souls. "Torat HaMelekh" is not the only religious tract that declares the life of non-Jews is less valuable than that of Jews and that this applies specifically to our enemies – the Arabs.

Anytime one group is at war with another – and we have been at war with the Arabs for a century and remain so today – hatred of the foe grows to extremes and tends to generalize all members of that group, even those who are totally innocent. Just look at the way in which America treated its citizens of Japanese origin during the Second World War. But when that fire is fueled by so-called religious teachings, as is happening here, it cannot help but bring about the tragic results we have seen.

How can we combat this evil? One of the first things that must be done is to counter the false religious teachings that create hatred and anti-Arab bias with religious teachings that expound the very opposite. There is no question in my mind but that the basic teaching of the Torah and of classical Judaism is that all human beings are of equal worth in the sight of God and deserve to be treated with dignity and respect. Anything else is a distortion.

When Genesis 1:27 proclaimed "And God created the human being in His image, in the image of God He created him, male and female He created them" it established for all time the worth of human life, all human life. That which is created in God's image, no matter how one interprets that phrase, partakes of the Divine and is therefore sacred. In the second century C.E. Rabbi Akiva explained this well, "Beloved is the human being, for he was created in the image of God. Exceedingly beloved is the human being in that it was made known to him that he was created in the image of God" (Avot 3:18).
The Sages of Israel interpreted the story of the creation of Adam, one human being and only one, as teaching that this was done "in order to create harmony among human beings so that one cannot say to another, "My father is greater than your father"(Sanhedrin 4:4). They went on to declare, "Whoever destroys one human life is considered to have destroyed the entire world, and one who saves one human life is considered to have saved the entire world"(Sanhedrin 4:5,correct manuscript reading).

Long before that the prophets of Israel went out of their way to stress the importance of all nations in the sight of God. Thus Amos proclaimed that "To Me, O Israelites, you are just like the Ethiopians" and contends that just as God brought Israel out of Egypt, so he brought the Philistines from Caphtor and the Arameans from Kir (Amos 9:7). It was Isaiah who, predicting the future, taught, "In that day Israel shall be a third partner with Egypt and Assyria as a blessing on earth; for the Lord of Hosts will bless them, saying, 'Blessed be My people Egypt, My handiwork Assyria and My very own Israel" (Isa.19:24-25). It should be remembered that those nations, Egypt and Assyria, were the enemies of Israel, and yet Isaiah proclaimed them God's people and God's handiwork.

Every child in every school in Israel should be taught these passages and should also be informed of the way in which the Torah commands that we treat the stranger, the non-Jew who lives as a resident within the land of Israel. "You shall not wrong a stranger [ger] or oppress him, for you were strangers in the land of Egypt" (Exodus 22:20). This is repeated again even more explicitly in the very next chapter: "You shall not oppress a stranger, for you know the feelings of the stranger, having yourselves been strangers in the land of Egypt" (Exodus 23:9). In both cases, proper treatment of the stranger is predicated upon the experience of having been strangers is Egypt. We of all people should never mistreat strangers as we were mistreated in Egypt and throughout the Diaspora.

The "holiness code" in Leviticus also clearly connects the treatment of the stranger to the experience of Egyptian suffering but goes beyond it in calling for love of the stranger as well as good treatment. Leviticus, which commands us to love our fellow, makes a special provision for the stranger – who is really not our fellow. He is "the other." Thus:    When a stranger resides with you in your land, you shall not wrong him. The stranger who resides with you shall be to you as one of your citizens; you shall love him as yourself, for you were strangers in the land of Egypt: I the Lord am your God (Leviticus 19:33-34).

When the theme of the stranger is taken up by Deuteronomy it requires the judicial system to protect the rights of the stranger: "…decide justly between any man and a fellow Israelite or a stranger" (1:16). "For the Lord your God….upholds the cause of the fatherless and the widow, and befriends the stranger, providing him with food and clothing. You too must befriend the stranger, for you were strangers in the land of Egypt" (10:17-19).

These ancient teachings should be inculcates in every child as Judaism's attitude toward all human beings and specifically toward the non-Jew who dwells together with us in our land, i.e. the Arab. The midrash summed it up very well," I call heaven and earth to witness that whether one be Gentile or Jew, man or women, slave or handmaid, the Holy Spirit will rest upon them according to their deeds" (Tanna d've Eliyahu 9).

Hatred of Arabs will not go away by itself and will not be eradicated with ease. It requires a concerted effort on the part of all of us and especially on the part of our religious and political leadership, not merely to condemn, and not merely to see to it that violence is punished, but to speak out against those who preach intolerance and to see to it that all our children are taught the ancient truths of Judaism that are the very foundation of culture and of democracy.

Aug 28, 2012

I Apologize

A Note From Rabbi Creditor
I Apologize
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11 Elul 5772 - August 28, 2012
Dear Chevreh,

During this month of Elul, we are each called to do Teshuvah, to do the work of returning to our best selves by turning to each other and to God. But Teshuvah is not one thing; it takes different forms. Specific sins, mistakes we make and opportunities we miss, require specific kinds of repentance. 

For sins between people and God, we ask forgiveness of God, pledging through Tzedakah (righteous giving) and Tefilah (sincere prayer) to reach higher and do better. 

But even God does not have the power to forgive the sins we commit against other people. Only through acknowledgement of wrong by a person to a person can the sins between people be forgiven.

And so I turn to you, my holy community, and I apologize.
I know there are things that have gone right this past year and I know there are mistakes I have made, more numerous than I wish were true. If I have wronged you, I can only do Teshuvah by asking you personally your forgiveness.

It certainly isn't easy to apologize, and I know it isn't easy to say to someone "you've hurt me." But this is the work we are called to do this month leading up to Rosh haShannah. And it is a blessing to have relationships worth fixing. 

My email is rabbicreditor@gmail.com. I do hope that, if there is something that I have done that has hurt you, you'll find a way to 
rabbi creditor
let me know, so that I can apologize to you personally. 


Rabbi Creditor


Aug 24, 2012

Rabbis for Obama is Too Important to Become Distracted by a Mistake

Rabbis for Obama is Too Important to Become Distracted by a Mistake
(c) Rabbi Menachem Creditor

In response to the RJC and RNC (and, by extension, JewishPress.com and others aligned with the Romney Campaign) latching onto the inclusion of rabbis connected with Jewish Voice for Peace in the just-launched Rabbis for Obama: Simply stated: by fomenting discord, the Romney base is siphoning energy from and ignoring the actual purpose of Rabbis for Obama

To be clear, I agree that the inclusion of any rabbi affiliated with Jewish Voice for Peace is a mistake. I say this from my own experiences in the Bay Area with what I've experienced as anti-Israel efforts. I say this from personal Jewish commitment and from my political commitment to building consensus within the Jewish community on any topic. 

But I believe an affirming and important realization should also emerge from this constructed kerfuffle: The media paying attention to this indicates that Rabbis matter in American politics. And so the (correct) disapproval surrounding the inclusion of JVP points to two truths for our Jewish community: JVP is not worthy of being part of a rabbinic group, and rabbinic groups matter enough to acknowledge and correct political errors. 

Rabbi Menachem Creditor

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Aug 21, 2012

Press Release: "The Launch of Rabbis for Obama" -- http://www.barackobama.com/news/entry/obama-for-america-launches-rabbis-for-obama #obama2012

Obama for America Launches Rabbis for Obama

By Max Slutsky, Jewish Outreach Coordinator on August 21, 2012
Obama for America today announced the launch of Rabbis for Obama, a campaign initiative to engage and mobilize grassroots supporters. This group of over 613 rabbis - more than double the number of when Rabbis for Obama launched in 2008 – from across the country and across all Jewish denominations recognize that the President has been and will continue to be an advocate and ally on issues important to the American Jewish community. That is why they are committed to re-electing President Obama and actively doing their part to move our country forward.
"This list of rabbis represents a broad group of respected Jewish leader from all parts of the country. These rabbis mirror the diversity of American Jewry. Their ringing endorsement of President Obama speaks volumes about the President's deep commitment to the security of the state of Israel and his dedication to a policy agenda that represents the values of the overwhelming majority of the American Jewish community," said Ira Forman who is the Jewish Outreach Director for the campaign.
They are proud of the President's record and leadership in restoring long term growth of middle class jobs, ensuring that quality education and health care are more accessible and affordable and standing up for a woman's right to choose. The President believes that we are all in it together, and is committed to fighting for policies that give every American, no matter their background, the opportunity to succeed.
Leading these efforts will be Rabbis Sam Gordon and Steven Bob, who were the founding co-chairs of Rabbis for Obama in 2008, and Rabbi Burt Visotzky, a vice chair for the campaign in 2008. Haaretz named Gordon and Bob among 36 Jews who shaped the 2008 U.S. election. Gordon leads the Chicago-area synagogue Sukkat Shalom and was ordained by Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institute of Religion. Bob serves as the Senior Rabbi of Congregation Etz Chaim. Visotzky, a Conservative rabbi for 35 years, was named one of "America's Top 50 Rabbis for 2012" by The Daily Beast, as well as among the Forward 50 Jewish leaders.
For more information and to join the growing list, please visit barackobama.com/rabbis.
Rabbis for Obama Co-Chairs*
Rabbi Steven Bob (Glen Ellyn, Illinois)
Rabbi Sam Gordon (Wilmette, Illinois)
Rabbi Burt Visotzky (New York, NY)
Rabbis for Obama Vice Chairs*
Rabbi Lauren Berkun (Miami, FL)
Rabbi Elliot Dorff (Los Angeles, CA)
Rabbi Dayle Friedman (Philadelphia, PA)
Rabbi Pamela Frydman (San Francisco, CA)
Rabbi David Horowitz (Akron, OH)
Rabbi Ben Kelsen (Teaneck, NJ)
Rabbi Charles Kroloff (Westfield, NJ)
Rabbi Richard Levy (Los Angeles, CA)
Rabbi Rachel Mikva (Chicago, IL)
Rabbi Charles Simon (New York, NY)
Rabbi David Teutsch (Philadelphia, PA)
Rabbi Martin Weiner (San Francisco, CA)
*Rabbis for Obama represent themselves and do not reflect the views of any affiliated organizations.

Rabbi Menachem Creditor

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