Oct 31, 2012

Fwd: A Prayer in the Aftermath of a Devastating Storm

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A Prayer in the Aftermath of a Devastating Storm

© Rabbi Menachem Creditor

in recognition of the holy work of the American Red Cross


Elohei haRuchot, God of the Winds,[1]


Fixated as we are by incalculable losses in our families, our neighbors, human beings spanning national borders, we are pummeled into shock, barely even able to call out to You.


We are, as ever, called to share bread with the hungry, to take those who suffer into our homes, to clothe the naked, to not ignore our sisters and brothers.[2] Many more of our brothers and sisters are hungry, homeless, cold, and vulnerable today than were just a few days ago, and we need Your Help.


We pray from the depths of our souls and we pray with the toil of our bodies for healing in the face of devastation. We join our voices in prayer to the prayers of others around the world and cry out for safety. We look to the sacred wells of human resilience and compassion and ask You for even more strength and hope.


God, open our hearts to generously support those determined to undo this chaos.


God, be with us as we utilize every network at our disposal to support each other. Be with First Responders engaged in the work of rescue as they cradle lives new and old, sheltering our souls and bodies from the storm. Be with us and be with them, God.


Be with those awaiting news from loved ones, reeling from fire, water and wind that have crippled cities, decimated villages, and taken lives. Be with all of us, God.


Be with us God, comfort us, and support us as we rebuild that which has been lost.


May all this be Your will.






[1] Numbers 27:16

[2] adapted from Isaiah 58:6-7

Rabbi Menachem Creditor
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Oct 30, 2012

Preschool Social Justice & Youth Community Visioning!

And the Youth Shall See Visions....
....at Netivot Shalom!
For our Fall Tzedakah Project, Netivot Shalom Preschool is partnering 
with the Women's Daytime Drop-in Center (WDDC) on Acton Street here in Berkeley. 

This program empowers women and children to move from the streets to a home by providing ongoing and intensive counseling, case management services, daily support groups, a comprehensive children's program, a variety of referral services, and a transitional housing program for four single parent families.
We have planned this project to coincide with Vayera, the birth of Issac, which we will read on November 3. This week and next we will be collecting diapers, Pullups, pacifiers, bottles, wipes, formula and baby food from our preschool families and the Netivot Shalom Community. Securing these basic necessities for their children is but one step in helping these mothers move forward.


Your donations can be dropped off in the large decorated box in the foyer.   
Lauren Kindorf

Thank you for your support in this very worthwhile project!

Lauren Kindorf
Preschool Director
You're invited!
Tuesday, Nov. 6
The CNS Youth Taskforce invites CNS members to share their visions for the future of the CNS Youth Community! Come and share your hopes and dreams!
RSVP to Rachel at office@netivotshalom.org
and don't miss the
CNS "Almost Channukah" Fair!
Dec. 2, 11am
stay tuned for more info!

Oct 28, 2012

A Broken Window at Afikomen, a Voting Prayer, & The Torah of Reconciliation

by Rabbi David Seidenberg

(all proceeds support American Jewish World Service's "Reverse Hunger" Campaign!)
A Note from Rabbi Creditor:
A Broken Window at Afikomen, a Voting Prayer, & The Torah of Reconciliation
12 Cheshvan, 5773
Oct. 28, 2012


Dear Chevreh, 


A few hours ago Chaim Mahgel, co-owner of Afikomen Judaica, shared this photo of Afikomen's smashed front window.  
Thank God, everyone is fine, and damage was minimal. But this store is our Jewish community's treasure, and an attack on it is an attack on us all, Jewish and not. Please make an effort to pay a special visit to Afikomen this week, spending some extra time and money as a statement of support and solidarity with Chaim, Nell, and the important work they do convening our community and exposing us all to new and exciting Jewish learning, books, music, art, and more.


I was already planning on writing to my community with a special "plug" for a program we're hosting this Sunday morning at 10:30am, thanks to the work of the Adult Education committee. And now the content of that program is ever more urgent.  We will be hosting a special talk by Rabbi Shelly Lewis, a teacher and friend to many in our community, upon the release of his book "Torah of Reconciliation," in which he teaches the crucial Jewish lesson of making peace with family, friends, community, country and beyond. (Minyan begins at 9:30; the talk begins at 10:30)
How much more relevant can this teaching be? We are in the final weeks of the 2012 election, our Berkeley community will vote on several contested offices and many provocative measures, and we just had our hearts hurt by a violent attack on one of our Jewish communal homes.
The fabric of our lives as Jews and as American voters can be easily torn and is in constant need of strengthening.  Both roles call us to pay close attention to the world around us, to answer our Jewish and civic obligations with awareness and vigilance, advocacy and open-ness. 
May the days ahead find us safe and healthily engaged in building the future of our fragile world.
Kol Tuv,
Rabbi Creditor

Oct 26, 2012

Adult Education #Israel Offerings at Congregation Netivot Shalom! @cnsberkeley

Adult Education #Israel Offerings at Congregation Netivot Shalom! 
Chug Ivrit 
Hebrew conversation group 

Here's a great opportunity to hone conversational skills for those who have some basic Hebrew conversational experience.

We will be meeting in the Shul library twice monthly on the second and fourth Sundays of the month from 12-1:30 PM starting October 14. In 2013, sessions will be on the first and third Sundays.  Sessions are FREE.

Please let us know if you will attend the 10/28 session or want more information by contacting 

Israeli Authors Book Group

Literature is one of Israel's most interesting and successful  "exports."  Join us in reading a variety of Israeli authors -- the discussion is lively in the CNS library on the second Tuesday of every other month, 7:30 - 9:00.

Upcoming dates and books:  

Tuesday, November 13 
Amos Oz,  A Tale of Love and Darkness.  Memoir by a "classic" Israeli author.  

Tuesday,  January 8 
Sayed Kashua, Second Person Singular.  Latest novel by the creator of the Israeli TV series Arab Labor . 

To get on the book group mailing list, contact us at 

Sunday morning Israeli speaker series!

This exciting monthly series is modeled after CNS's Sunday morning programs.  We have solicited Israeli speakers to talk briefly about their life  and studies in Israel and give an informal lecture in their area of expertise.   We are fortunate to have lectures covering a variety of fields:  law,  social and environmental issues, literature, and performing arts.  

The series will meet Sundays 10:15 - 11:45 starting on October 14, meeting the second Sunday of the month in 2012 and the first Sunday of the month in 2013. 

Upcoming talks:

November 11. Judicial review in Israel. Professor Barak Medina, Faculty of Law at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem and Distinguished Visiting Professor of Israeli Law, Economy, and Society at UC Berkeley Law School.

December 9. Green settlement? The politics of environmentalism in Israel past and future. Miri Lavi-Neeman, doctoral candidate, environmental politics, Department of Geography, UC Berkeley

January 6. Our hope is not yet lost: how performance art illuminates Israeli conflicts Stav Palti-Negev, M.A., Performance Studies, New York University

February 3.  A tale of a forest - the Yatir afforestation in the Negev desert - and how  the anthroposphere controls its existence and resilience to climate change. Naama Raz-Yaseef, postdoctoral scholar, Department of Environmental Science, Policy and Management, UC Berkeley.
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Jerusalem Mayor inaugurates new project in Arab neighbourhoods of East Jerusalem

  • Jerusalem Mayor inaugurates new project in Arab neighbourhoods of East Jerusalem
  • 17 Oct 2012, Office of the Mayor of Jerusalem
    The naming of the street after Umm Kultum is part of a comprehensive plan to name all the streets in the Arab neighborhoods of Jerusalem in collaboration with the residents. 
    Last Wednesday (17 October), Jerusalem Mayor Nir Barkat inaugurated a new street in Beit Hanina, in the name of the famous Egyptian singer, Umm Kultum, who died in 1975. Umm Kultum, the greatest female singer of Arabic music, is still revered today. Singer Nasreen Qadri (winner of the Israeli TV show "Eyal Golan Calls You") will sing Umm Kultum's famous song "Enta Omri" ("You are the Love of My Life") at the ceremony.
    The naming of the street after Umm Kultum is part of a comprehensive plan to name all the streets in the Arab neighborhoods of Jerusalem. 145 new street names were approved in 2012, including in Zur Baher, Beit Hanina, Shuafat, Issawiya, Abu-Tour, A-Tur, Silwan and Rass El-Amud.
    For decades, many streets in the Arab neighborhoods of Jerusalem remained unnamed and many buildings unnumbered. In an unprecedented effort to bridge the gaps resulting from this history, Mayor Barkat instructed professional teams and the Municipality's Naming Committee to map and locate unnamed streets and to work in collaboration with residents to locate suitable names. The Naming Committee engaged local Mukhtars (village and neighborhood heads), religious leaders, neighborhood representatives and residents throughout this process. 

Rabbi Menachem Creditor
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Howard Sumka inthe Washington Jewish Week: "Israel must never be made a wedge issue" this #proudamericanjew loves #israel

Howard Sumka inthe Washington Jewish Week: "Israel must never be made a wedge issue"
By Howard Sumka, Ph.D. 
Special to WJW

One of the sadder aspects of this largely dispiriting presidential election campaign has been the effort by Republicans, in close harmony with Prime Minister Netanyahu, to make Israel a wedge issue. A recent plaintive appeal for Jews to vote for Governor Romney (WJW, October 4, 2012) encapsulates the Republican position. The arguments are worth a closer look. Their arguments are based largely on distortions of fact and on a "no daylight" foreign policy principal that most Americans - Jews and Gentiles - should reject. In the end, to coin a phrase, this will not be good for the Jews, not those of us in America nor our kin in Israel.

The charge that President Obama "purposely put daylight" between the U.S. and Israel stems from his meeting with Jewish leaders in 2009. Exactly what words he used is not known, but he did convey that U.S. foreign policy in the Middle East cannot be knee-jerk support (my words) for Israel's policy if we are to have any credibility with Arab states. And Obama reportedly argued that eight years of the Bush Administration's no daylight brought us no closer to peace. The U.S.'s $3 billion a year assistance program, its extensive military support, and its guarantees of Israel's Quantitative Military Edge, all Obama policies, have made U.S.- Israel cooperation stronger than ever; so says Defense Minister Barak. Few Americans object to that. We share values and have common foreign policy and strategic goals. That doesn't suggest the U.S. abrogate its foreign policy decisions.

Many American Jews (I am among them) believe Israel's policy and actions toward the Palestinians are wrong-headed. Apart from the morality of denying human and civil rights, they undermine Israel's long-term interests and seriously threaten its future as a Jewish, democratic state. On this issue, we have seen Romney flapping like a spinnaker in a hurricane. In his recent visit to Jerusalem, he insulted Palestinian culture as not geared toward economic growth and development. Later he was secretly recorded saying that Palestinians don't want peace and that he would just "kick the ball down the field." But in his foreign policy speech on October 8, he stood solidly for a "democratic, prosperous Palestinian state living side by side in peace and security" with Israel - the mantra of the George W. Bush era, which that administration supported only begrudgingly and never at the price of publicly revealing daylight between us and Israel, no matter how much it disagreed over policy. Romney's seesawing should make us wonder what he'd really do if he gets elected. That could depend on which adviser gets to him last.

President Obama was chided by some Republicans for failing to meet with Netanyahu in New York last month. Even if he could have carved the time out of his campaign and presidential schedules, why should he have? As far as I know, Netanyahu is the only head of state, head of a client state, no less, who has had the audacity to conspire with the opposition to embarrass the U.S. President. Then he added insult to injury by lecturing him before the press on U.S. policy. Why would Obama want to do that again? Surely the long one-on-one phone call they had after Netanyahu's UNGA speech was enough to cover their issues, and privately, as they should be. Underlying some of the Republican criticism is angst about Iran. There is strong opinion in the American defense and security establishments that a military attack on Iran would be ineffective and counterproductive. The fact is that the Obama Administration has done more to contain Iran than Bush did in his eight years in office. Sanctions are taking effect; Americans have no taste for another war of choice in the Middle East and it would be awful for the American Jewish community to be blamed for one with Iran, one which we know from experience will not go as we hope at the outset.

In that same appeal in the WJW's October Opinion Section, Jewish Democrats and independents were admonished to support Romney so "the Jewish community will no longer be ignored or taken for granted." I doubt there has been a single instance since 1948 in which an American president took the Jewish community for granted, not even Eisenhower, who forced Israel to back off on Suez in 1956, or Bush 41, who froze loan guarantees over the settlements issue. I doubt there is any risk of that happening today. A worse risk would be to create a public perception that anti-Semites would love to take advantage of: That our foreign policy is dictated from Israel and that the loyalty of American Jews is first to Israel and then to America. In fact, Jews voted overwhelmingly for Obama in 2008 because his values coincide with deeply embedded Jewish values about social equity, human rights, and fairness. That is as it should be.

Howard J. Sumka, Ph.D. was a member of the USAID Senior Foreign Service, Rank of Minister Counselor (ret.)

Rabbi Menachem Creditor
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Oct 25, 2012

Yizhar Hess, CEO of Masorti Israel, in HuffPost: "Was the Kotel Liberated?"

Yizhar Hess in HuffPost: "Was the Kotel Liberated?"

Yizhar Hess, Executive Director & CEO, The Masorti Movement in Israel

In December 1928, the British Mandate government outlawed the blowing of the shofarnext to the Western Wall (Kotel) following Arab complaints that it was an offense to the sanctity of Islam. Rabbi Kook, then the chief rabbi of Palestine, reacted immediately. He sent an urgent letter to the British High Commissioner, calling the British edict "an affront to religious freedom and conscience."

Jews never accepted the British edict. Every Yom Kippur, they found a volunteer to sound the shofar. In 1930, at the close of Yom Kippur, Beitar member Moshe Segal, who had concealed a shofar under his tallit, sounded a tekiyah g'dola (a long blast of the shofar) as the fast ended. British police arrested him and dragged him to the Kishleh (the Old City of Jerusalem's main police station, then and now).

A few days ago, and 82 years later, on Rosh Hodesh Heshvan, on the renovated grand plaza of the Western Wall -- under Israeli sovereignty since 1967 and freed of the yoke of foreign rule -- police dragged several women into custody for allegedly disturbing the sanctity of the holy site. One of them had led a group of Hadassah women in song and prayer while wrapped in a tallit. Apparently, the authorities thought her chanting of theShema to be too loud. The Shema prayer is the most central in all of Judaism and its words are ones we are all taught to sing with passion and strength.

Two other women were detained by police the next day for violating the "customary practices" of the site by wearing a tallit. They did not pray in the very spacious part of the Western Wall plaza allotted to the men, but in the smaller area designated for women. All three women are members of "Women of the Wall," an Israeli organization of women from all streams of Judaism who have been gathering together every Rosh Hodesh (first of the month) for over 20 years for one purpose only: to exercise their right to pray at the Western Wall.

From the point of view of most Jews in the world, Conservative and Reform Jews, a woman wrapped in a tallit is not unusual; it is Judaism. But of all places, here in the State of Israel, the Jewish state, women are hauled off by police for performing a Jewish ritual. And irony of ironies, the police station was the very same one to which British authorities took Moshe Segal in 1930.

Photographs from the first half of the 20th century show that before the Western Wall was under Israeli sovereignty, men and women prayed there standing together side by side. The area around the Wall was narrow and humble, but it belonged to everyone. My grandmother, Naomi-Zissel, who lived in the Old City as a child, told me of those days.

Following the Six Day War, administration of the Western Wall site was given to the Ministry of Religious Affairs. In the early years, a broader sense of community prevailed. If you look at photos of the plaza from the 1970s and compare them to contemporary ones, you can see that the barrier separating men and women has grown higher. Starting in the 1980s, women began to receive nasty looks if they were dressed "immodestly," and have even been obligated to wrap themselves in ragged scarves before being allowed to approach the stones of the Wall.

We must now admit to ourselves what has befallen us. The Western Wall was liberated, yet free religious access has been obliterated. The Wall has been captured lock, stock and barrel, hijacked by a group of extremists who represent a minority among the Jewish people, a minority in Israel as well as around the world. And there is also a High Commissioner, the "Rabbi" of the Western Wall, who has been free to institute greater stringencies and prohibitions, and raise the barriers separating men from women, all according to his will. Sadly, the government and the Israeli police, yielding to the political pressure of the ultra-Orthodox, enforce his directives.

In the ongoing process of segregation, the Western Wall has been transformed from a treasured national symbol to an ultra-Orthodox synagogue. Hadassah women can build hospitals in Israel, but they cannot pray or sing at this holy site. The arrest carried out by the police symbolizes to Diaspora Jewry how far the State of Israel has distanced itself from them. Projects such as Birthright and Masa attempt to educate Jewish youth from around the world that Israel is also their country, but this latest folly makes this all the more difficult. How sad. The State of Israel is the only democracy in the world where Jews do not enjoy full religious freedoms.

Rabbi Menachem Creditor
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