Jan 31, 2013

Healing the Soul of America from Gun Violence: Lifelines to Healing Clergy Statement @PICOnetwork #nowisthetime

Healing the Soul of America from Gun Violence
Lifelines to Healing Clergy Statement

We share in the outrage growing from every corner of our nation that we have abandoned our young people to the clutches of violence fueled by greed, fear and our despair. We bear witness to the deep pain of our nation's people, whose loved ones are dying needlessly in our communities across the land, that our God commands we speak out about the sanctity of all life and affirm that all have the right to live in peace and safety. We further assert that people of
faith everywhere are commanded by our God to work tirelessly and in coalition with one another across racial lines, class and place line, age and gender lines to vigorously confront the proliferation and increasing lethality of guns in our neighborhoods and cities, towns and streets, malls and schools.

We affirm that every life is precious in the eyes of our creator and our God has no pleasure in the death of anyone. We are committed to uniting around the common pain and loss of who have suffered in Newtown and New Orleans, Chicago and Columbine and Oak Creek and Oakland. We are committed through our work to heal the soul of a nation. We will be vigilant partners in the struggle to transform our communities from the valley of the shadow of death to the land of the living.

To this end, we seek:
1. Universal Background Checks for all gun sales
2. Ban on Assault Weapons and High Capacity Magazines
3. Investments in Mental Health and Public Health Support
4. Targeted investments and Approaches from Federal Government in Urban Cities most impacted by gun violence.

In Solidarity,
Clergy of the Lifelines to Healing Campaign

#bendthearc: Speak Out on Gun Violence! Interfaith Call-in day is Feb 4th! @piconetwork #nowisthetime

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Gun Violence Call In Day- Feb 4
Since the terrible shooting in Newtown, CT, we have been thinking about how to act as a Jewish voice for a nation safe from gun violence. This is an issue that affects all Americans, and disproportionately affects poor communities. We must take action.

Bend the Arc has joined "Faiths United to Prevent Gun Violence," a coalition of more than 40 groups that formed two years ago to confront our nation's gun violence epidemic.

Next Monday, February 4, we will join in "Faiths Calling," a national call-in day designed to show members of Congress that there is a powerful demand from people of all faiths for federal action to prevent gun violence. Please mark your calendar to join in this effort, and commit to using just a few minutes of your time on Monday to make your voice heard.

Then, please share this request with your friends, family and colleagues so that we can make as strong a showing as possible. Gun violence prevention laws, no matter how reasonable, will be very, very tough to pass through Congress – and will only pass through an overwhelming show of public support.

All of the information you need to participate can be found on the Faiths Calling webpage.

Join us to show the strong support of the Jewish community for gun safety in this important interfaith effort.

With hope,

Alan van CapelleAlan van Capelle
Alan van Capelle,
Chief Executive Officer

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JCPA: End Gun Violence Week of Action

Dear Friend,

This has been an eventful week in our campaign to prevent gun violence.  Yesterday, I attend the Senate Judiciary Committee's first hearing on changes to our gun laws.  The hearing was very moving and included a JCPA friend former Rep. Gabrielle Giffords, her husband Captain Mark Kelly, and NRA Executive Vice President Wayne LaPierre.  Several bills have been introduced and we have joined a broad range of organizations in a national coalition to focus our efforts.

Yesterday we also launched the start of the JCPA's Twitter campaign urging the Senate to #VoteOnGuns. While yesterday's hearing is an encouraging sign, an actual vote on the comprehensive approach we all have called for is uncertain. If you use twitter, join us and a coalition of other national organizations to tweet at Senators Patrick Leahy (@SenatorLeahy) and Chuck Grassley (@ChuckGrassley), Chair and Ranking Member of the Senate Judiciary Committee, urging them to move quickly and ensure a #VoteonGuns.

There are other ways to stay involved as well.  Join Elyssa Koidin, our Deputy Policy Director, Domestic Concerns for a lobby day on the Hill to build support for two bills.  Support us virtually by supporting Senator Dianne Feinstein's effort to end access to military-style assault weapons and high capacity magazines and  Senator Frank Lautenberg's bill to ban high capacity ammunition magazines holding more than ten rounds. It is easy to join us, by clicking here.

Also, you can also take part in the February 4th Faiths Calling call-in day to Congress. Sponsored by the Religious Action Center of Reform Judaism, this project is a way of showing the faith community's unity and commitment to preventing gun violence.  It is pretty easy, just call 1-888-897-0174 on Monday, February 4. More details can be found at www.faithscalling.org.

As always, I encourage you to continue to stay informed through our Facebook page and encourage others to sign the petition at www.endgunviolencenow.org



said simply: gun violence in america is a problem. we all agree about that.

said simply: gun violence in america is a problem. we can all agree about that.
Rabbi Menachem Creditor

The last thing in the world we should want is uniformity: theological, ideological, or other. That kind of fundamentalism is a destructive force, is the worst part of religion, of politics, of philosophy. The world needs safe places for measured conversations, where "one side" truly listens to "the other side." As compromise is the art of the possible, none of the measures we might accomplish as a country responding to gun violence will include everything anyone champions, nor will "purists" feel satisfied by the likely results ahead. But we should not sacrifice the good we can do on the altar of the perfect we can't yet reach. Said simply: Gun Violence in America is a Problem. We can all agree about that. We might not all agree about how to respond, but we must all agree that we must respond.

Jan 30, 2013

Please take a minute to watch Gabby Giffords' powerful speech, and then call on your members of Congress to take action to end gun violence.

Demand a Plan

Gabby Giffords made deeply moving opening remarks at today's Senate hearing on gun violence. This was the first hearing on guns since President Obama stepped forward with his recommendations, and Former Congresswoman Giffords made the most of the opportunity to call on members of Congress to take action now:

“We must do something. It will be hard, but the time is now. You must act. Be bold. Be courageous. Americans are counting on you.”
Please take a minute to watch Gabby Giffords' powerful speech, and then call on your members of Congress to take action to end gun violence.
Watch and Call
Former Congresswoman Giffords and her husband Captain Mark Kelly called on Congress to take immediate action.

Here’s what Congress can do right now to reduce gun violence:

  • Require a criminal background check for every gun sold in this country.

  • Stop the sale of military-style assault weapons and high capacity magazines.

  • Make gun trafficking a federal crime with harsh penalties.
These are simple solutions that will save lives. They don’t interfere with the Second Amendment, and they are popular with the overwhelming majority of Americans -- including gun owners and NRA members.

We need to follow Gabby Giffords’ lead and call on Congress to act RIGHT NOW:


Thank you for supporting Gabby and calling on Congress to act.

Mark Glaze
Mayors Against Illegal Guns

  A campaign of Mayors Against Illegal Guns | About Us

Video of the Interfaith clergy statement on gun violence @PICOnetwork #nowisthetime @whitehouse

Jan 29, 2013

Rabbis: Contribute a Reflection for the forthcoming new collection: "Peace in Our Cities: Rabbis Against Gun Violence"

An Invitation to Rabbis: Contribute a Reflection for the forthcoming new collection: "Peace in Our Cities: Rabbis Against Gun Violence"

The current American conversation about gun violence is overwhelming and we know something has to be done. Newtown might garner national attention, but in our cities, 33 Americans die as a result of Gun Violence EVERY DAY. Religious leaders in urban and suburban areas are connecting and supporting each other, helping and supporting our congregations, and are an important part of the fabric of our country.

A compilation entitled "Peace in Our Cities: Rabbis Against Gun Violence", edited by Rabbi Menachem Creditor, will be released in the coming weeks - it will be available on Amazon.com and as a Kindle e-book. All written contributions are donations, as the goal is to open people's hearts, not make money. "Prophets vs. Profits", perhaps.

Contributions (700-1000 words) in the form of Drashot, Essays, and personal Stories/Reflections should be sent to shalombecheilech@gmail.com by Feb 8th.

WashingtonPost "Diverse clergy group launches effort to curb urban violence" @piconetwork #nowisthetime

WashingtonPost.com: "Diverse clergy group launches effort to curb urban violence" @piconetwork #nowisthetime

Hamil Harris/TWP - Religious leaders from across the country and spectrum of faith gathered on Capitol Hill for a new campaign aimed at guns in the streets. The event was sponsored by Lifelines to Healing, a faith-based network of community organizers that started in 1972.
A diverse national coalition of faith groups on Tuesday launched an initiative aimed at curbing the bloody tide of violence and gun-related deaths that has plagued cities across the country for decades.
“We have a moral imperative to heal our souls from this scourge of gun violence,” said Pastor Michael McBride, head of the Lifelines to Healing campaign, which comes under the umbrella of PICO, a national faith-based network of community organizations in 150 cities and 17 states.
President Obama proposed expansive gun-control policies aimed at curbing gun violence. The Obama administration can implement about half of the proposals, but the others — arguably some of the more critical initiatives — will require congressional approval.
Click Here to View Full Graphic Story
President Obama proposed expansive gun-control policies aimed at curbing gun violence. The Obama administration can implement about half of the proposals, but the others — arguably some of the more critical initiatives — will require congressional approval.
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At a news conference at the United Methodist Building on Capitol Hill attended by about 80 leaders of various faiths and denominations, McBride said that the campaign would focus on lobbying the president and members of Congress in the coming months to go beyond gun-control measures and address the roots of urban violence.
According to the group’s Web site, such solutions could include programs to help those recently released from prison successfully re-enter their communities and find jobs, therapeutic programs to treat trauma caused by gun violence, and efforts to increase civic engagement and reduce violent crime.
In recent weeks, some white faith leaders lobbying Congress for gun-control measures after the Newtown, Conn., school massacre have expressed regret for being largely absent on the issue as gun deaths ravaged primarily black and impoverished urban communities.
Several of the pastors made reference to this lack of leadership in their remarks.
Troy Jackson, director of Ohio Prophetic Voices, said that it is time to move the discussion beyond the Second Amendment.
“Far too many white evangelicals have been indifferent when it comes to the suffering and pain in urban America. We need to repent!” said Jackson, whose clergy network focuses on issues of economic and social justice.
Rabbi Menachem Creditor of Congregation Netivot Shalom in Berkeley, Calif., read a joint statement that he said reflected what was in the hearts of many present.
“We are committed to uniting around the common pain and loss of those who have suffered in Newton and New Orleans, Chicago and Columbine and Oak Creek and Oakland,” Creditor said. “We are committed through our work to heal the soul of the nation.”
McBride added: “We believe in that our urban communities, Newtown happens every day.”
Bishop Edgar L. Vann II, pastor of Second Ebenezer Church in Detroit, said that for more than 20 years his home town has been known as the nation’s murder capital, and the causes go far beyond guns.
Detroit had 411 murders in 2012, Vann said. “To put that in perspective, in the city of New York, which has 8 million residents, they had 414 murders. We had 411 with only 720,000 people — that lets you know how dire it is,” he said.
The pastors said they plan to declare March 8, 9 and 10 “Gun Violence Peace Sabbath Weekend,” during which more than 1,000 congregations across the country will hold events that will include participation from local elected leaders.
Earlier in the day, the group received a briefing from the office of Vice President Biden on the progress of gun-control proposals. They also met with congressional lawmakers.

Jan 28, 2013

Fierce Feelings

Fierce Feelings
(c) Rabbi Menachem Creditor

I. Prophecy is Dead

No one listens.
But then again,
no one ever has.

But the Call 
is somehow changed:
the willingness 
to call and be called 
has faded.

The Prophets 
felt fiercely
couldn't hold it back
couldn't be held back
shouted spoke whispered cried.

Prophets don't want their jobs.
Never did.

But something has changed:
Prophets have forgotten
they're prophets.

II. Who are my elders?

I pour out my heart
and the family of my birth
only sees words,
wondering what I mean,
questioning diction,
deaf to my heart.

I nod my head
along with my tribe.
We don't look much alike,
but I know my brothers and sisters
by the vibrations of their souls.

Who are my elders?

III. Before or Later

Maybe in a past life
he tells me,

I wear tzitzis,
in this life.

But he tells me
I might have been
"a little darker"

I say
maybe one day,

A Prophetic Response to Gun Violence

A Prophetic Response to Gun Violence
© Rabbi Menachem Creditor
in brotherhood with Pastor Michael McBride
for more Gun Violence Resources, click here.

In this moment, my friends, what does God want of us? What are we called to do, in the face of great devastation, some of which receives our nation’s attention, most of which doesn’t? How can we, in our efforts to extend God’s Healing to our sisters and brothers, address Gun Violence, a terrible tear in the fabric of our nation?

What is a Prophet? How does she hear the Divine Weeping and call God’s children to awareness and action?

Hear the call of Isaiah, who reminded us that God wants, more than anything else, for us to

"…unlock the fetters of wickedness, untie the cords of the yoke, to let the oppressed go free, to break off every yoke. ...to share your bread with the hungry, and to take the wretched poor into our homes; When you see the naked, clothe him, and do not ignore your own brother. (Isaiah 58:6-7)"

The great Rabbi Abraham Joshua Heschel lived this lesson well. He reminded us that human beings, living Images of God, to have faith. But the faith of a prophet, Heschel taught,

…does not mean… to dwell in the shadows of old ideas… [or] to live off an inherited estate of doctrines and dogmas. In the realm of the spirit, only [one] who is a pioneer is able to be an heir. (Heschel, Man is Not Alone, p. 164)

The prophets are the ones who demanded justice in the world, starting with Abraham’s challenge to God “Shall not the judge of all the earth do justice? (Gen. 18:25)”

We must “feel fiercely” (Heschel, Prophets, p. 5) like the Prophets of old. And, like the prophets, as today’s prophetic witnesses, we must see no divide between the political and the spiritual, for a world without fierce feeling is a world without spirit, and a religious tradition with nothing to say to the world is no longer engaged in bringing God’s world to a more blessed day.

It is possible to lose hope. This world gives little encouragement to hope. And that is why we do what we do, why we answer our call with all the ferocity we can muster. We will not “stand idly by while the blood of our neighbors” (Lev. 19:15) continues to be spilled.

Say it with me a tragic litany: Newtown. Aurora. Columbine. Tuscon. Virginia Tech.

But now acknowledge with me also: These massacres received national attention. But the three high school students shot this past Thursday in Albany, CA did not. Nor did Nor did the seven people killed and six wounded in gun violence this past Saturday in Chicago, including a 34-year-old man whose mother had already lost three other children to shootings.

A prophet does not feel for SOME of these. A Prophet feels every death as her own. A Prophet writhes with God’s Pain, their soul contorting in ways that make breathing laborious.

I repeat: It is possible to lose hope. But we are not allowed. Hope is our call. Extending hope, enabling peace, offering prophetic witness to the awful events of our day and communicating, over and over and over and over and over that God’s world deserves better than fear and greed. God’s world depends upon the work our hands, to be friends and partners together, to engage with our elected officials and law enforcement, to notice the violence that doesn’t get reported, to breathe in and breathe out and breathe in and breathe out. Because if we don’t, less of God’s Work gets done.

I say that there are those in our country to whom Jeremiah would say today: “On your shirt is found the life-blood of guiltless poor. Yet inspite of all these things, you say ‘I am innocent.’” (Jer. 2:14, quoted by Heschel)

If we are to avoid complicity in the growing violence of our country, we must remain every vigilant as witness to “the callousness of man” and not allow our heart to do what it wishes, which would be to “obliterate the memories, to calm the nerves, and to silence our conscience.” (Heschel, The Reasons for My Involvement in the Peace Movement)

The Prophets call us: Do Not Be Calm. Do Not Forget. Do Not Be Silent.

Friends, given the pressure on us, on everyone, I invite you right now to take a deep breath. Allow your body to experience a little more air. Breathe it in. Remember your power, God’s Spirit, of which we are each but fragments.

There is great fear on the part of some that any response as a rejection of the Second Amendment of our Constitution. Fear. There are those whose very work is the proliferation of weapons of war on the streets of our cities and across our great nation with one over-riding concern: profit. Greed.

And this heady cocktail of Fear and Greed and makes our work as religious leaders difficult. But we know that sacred work is not easy work. We do not answer to Fear and Greed. And we are not going to respond with hate to fear and greed – that is the way to make the fear and greed every stronger. We’re going to outlast them.

There are those who have said this week that any response to Gun Violence reduces the U.S. Constitution into a blank slate for anyone's graffiti. Lies. It is our shared belief in the possibility of this country, our commitment to a democracy of free women and men of every orientation and color in the rainbow that gives us the courage to bend the historical arc of this country once again toward justice.

We, faith leaders who call God with an infinite variety of Holy Names, are called in this moment to do sacred work and to weather the intense fear and greed in a moment of national fragility. We will face the deaths our country continues to endure at the hands of unfettered Gun Violence, at the hands of those who follow the profit margins and ignore those marginalized by society.

Heschel taught us, in the name of the Prophets, that “the heart of human dignity is the ability to be responsible.” (Required: A Moral Ombudsman, United Synagogue Review, Fall 1971)

We call upon each other and all who will listen to be strong and resolute. We will walk humbly with God (Micah 6:8) and we will refuse to ignore the suffering of God’s children.

For while, as Heschel said, in a moral world, “some may be guilty, but all are responsible.” (The Prophets)

And so we pray together, women and men of faith, recognizing that which we have in common

May our great nation be safe place, where every person may lie down with no one terrifying them. (Lev. 26:6)

May people of every faith - and of no faith - work together to make the necessary changes to heal our nation from the scourge of Gun Violence.

My fellow clergy, women and men who serve God by serving all People, may the passion of the Prophets infuse our work, our words, our deeds, our thoughts – every fiber of our souls - so that when we do speak, we can cry more freely with God’s Holy Tears and feel strengthened through that fierce feeling.

May the Source of Life whose Spirit awaits realization in every human breath fill us with hope and sustained determination us as we seek an end to all this death in our land.


Rabbi Eric Yoffie on #Haaretz: "Dear Prime Minister Netanyahu: U.S. Jews are fed up with not being valued"

Dear Prime Minister Netanyahu: U.S. Jews are fed up with not being valued

In your post-election Knesset speech, address directly the Reform and Conservative majority of American Jews - the heart of our Jewish family and the core of Jewish support for Israel – and who are finished being understanding and patient while Israel’s official representatives offend them and denigrate their religious practices... (read more here)

Jan 27, 2013

Gun Violence: The Response I Support

Gun Violence: The Response I Support
(c) Rabbi Menachem Creditor
for more Article and Resources on Gun Violence, click here

My response to Gun Violence is not a rejection of the unfortunate need for arms as a matter of self-defense. I reject the willing embrace of violence. 

As Martin Luther King Jr. put it, in the final sermon he would ever deliver, Remaining Awake Through a Great Revolution:
“It is no longer a choice, my friends, between violence and nonviolence. It is either nonviolence or non-existence.”
1) I reject the NRA-backed US legislation precluding a national gun-registry. (see Jon Stewart's satirical analysis here). 

2) I reject the sale of semi-automatic guns provided by businesses like WalmartBig 5 for the absurd claim that they are 'hunting' guns. As Rev. Gary Hall put it:

"I don’t want to take away someone’s hunting rifle but I can no longer justify a society that allows people other than military and police to own weapons like these,” he said, pointing to a display of weapons that would be banned under the proposed bill, “or permits the sale of high-capacity magazines designed with the purpose of simply killing as many people as possible."
3) I reject the revisionist interpretation of the Second Amendment of our Nation's Constitution from its protective collective intent into radical individualism. As Rev. Wil Gafney and Jon Pahl recently put it:
"A pressing issue emerging from our contemporary interpretive context not present in the originating is the nature and kind of "arms" to which the people - again collectively, not individually - have a right. We are no longer talking about muskets. And since the general citizenry does not form the basis of a militia or army charged with the security of the nation they do not have a Constitutionally enshrined right to military-grade arsenals."
These are attainable ethical guidelines, common-sense parameters. Rabbi Aaron Alexander said it well:
"As a rabbi writing for those who live their lives with the Torah as a guidepost, know that I do not advocate Jewish gun owners simply giving up their weapons. I do, however, advocate keeping them in the hands of those expertly trained to a) use them, b) store them safely and c) use them only when there is a clear and necessary purpose."
I ask those ready to disagree with what I have written: please do not see the widespread and growing response to Gun Violence as "anti-gun." I opened this post with a  comment with an observation about self-defense. I formed and will pursue my position because the Torah teaches that the rules that govern our lives are for the purpose of preserving life (Lev. 18:5).

I beg of you: Let us work together to protect every life.

Jan 25, 2013

This Sunday at 6pm!: "Crime After Crime" Film screening and discussion with Director Yoav Potash

Crime After Crime:
Film Screening & Discussion
with Director Yoav Potash 

Netivot Shalom, Berkeley
Jan 27th, 6pm screening, 7:30pm discussion
$5 requested donation

In 1983, Deborah Peagler, a woman brutally abused by her boyfriend, was sentenced to 25 years-to-life for her connection to his murder. Twenty years later, as she languished in prison, a California law allowing incarcerated domestic-violence survivors to reopen their cases was passed. Enter a pair of rookie land-use attorneys convinced that with the incontrovertible evidence that existed, they could free Deborah in a matter of months. What they didn't know was the depth of corruption and politically driven resistance they'd encounter, sending them down a nightmarish, bureaucratic rabbit hole of injustice. The outrageous twists and turns in this consummately crafted saga are enough to keep us on the edge of our seats. Meanwhile, the spirit, fortitude, and love all three characters marshal in the face of this wrenching marathon is nothing short of miraculous. We fall in love with the remarkable triumvirate as they battle a warped criminal-justice system and test whether it's beyond repair.

Jan 24, 2013

For Their Shoes...

For Their Shoes...
(c) Rabbi Menachem Creditor
in support of the Albany High School community

For their shoes, Adonai.
For their damn shoes.
Shoes, Adonai!

Three children were shot for their shoes.
Their shoes, Adonai!

Is this Your world?
The world you envisioned?
Where people shoot each other 
for shoes?!

It's not that we won't hurt each other with 
hands, sticks, rocks, cars, words...
But guns in the hands 
of those who would 
shoot someone over 

Adonai, it's too late for us to say 
You should have done better.
But You should have.

Now it's our turn.
Now is the time.


Yair Lapid's words tell us it's time to Rally for a Sane, Pluralist Israel!

The (charedi) Jewish Press Covered this story without editorializing. But the comments include "This dude is more dangerous than Iran." and "Bilaam is alive and well in Israel. "Rise up HaShem, confront him and bring him to his knees; rescue my soul from the wicked one who is Your sword." If Lapid passes all these things in the government, war will be on its way to Israel very soon."

Read The Article and The Comments Here: -- http://www.jewishpress.com/news/breaking-news/lapid-let-conservatives-and-reform-in-loosen-rabbinates-control/2013/01/24/

Jan 23, 2013

Forward.com: Yair Lapid, Israel's Rising Star, Is Still Great Unknown in Washington

Forward.com: Yair Lapid, Israel's Rising Star, Is Still Great Unknown in Washington

Newcomer Lived in L.A., But Has Scant Ties to Establishment

Fresh Face: Yair Lapid, the man of the moment in Israel, is still widely unknown in Washington policy circles.
Fresh Face: Yair Lapid, the man of the moment in Israel, is still widely unknown in Washington policy circles.

By Nathan Guttman
Published January 23, 2013 - http://forward.com/articles/169830/yair-lapid-israels-rising-star-is-still-great-unkn/?p=all#ixzz2IqXQ07Tr

Few in America have a close acquaintance with Yair Lapid, Israel's new political kingmaker and a top contender for the post of foreign minister in a new Israeli government soon to be formed.

Lapid, who emerged as the nation's new political star, winning 19 Knesset seats in the January 22 elections, has spent time working in the United States and has taken on the issue of religious pluralism in Israel, a topic dear to many American Jewish activists. But he is still a great unknown, especially to policymakers and analysts trying to assess his views on the Middle East and the Israeli – Palestinian peace process.

Lapid is no stranger to Washington, although he had little contact on issues relating to foreign policy. He attended the 2012 policy conference of the American Israel Public Affairs Committee, but spoke about his book rather than about policy. Lapid also visited Washington several times when his son spent a semester in the city.

Perhaps his most important point of contact for American politics is Mark Mellman, a top Democratic pollster and political strategist. Mellman worked on Lapid campaign in Israel and was praised in the Israeli press for his contribution to the successful campaign.

In 1997, after leaving a lucrative position as host of a popular entertainment show on Israeli TV, Lapid moved to Los Angeles, where he took on a job as head of New Regency Films' TV division. The offer was made to Lapid by Israeli-born Hollywood producer Arnon Milchan, who was a close friend of Lapid's late father, Yosef (Tommy) Lapid. Milchan had taken on the young Lapid as his protégé and Lapid later credited the time he spent with Milchan for his good English, which could now come in handy as a top Israeli cabinet member.Less than a year moving to Los Angeles, Lapid decided to return to Israel. In his book Memories After my Death, a posthumous biography of his father, he recalls making the decision after hearing of the March 1997 terror attack in a Tel Aviv cafe his father used to frequent. "I remembered this was your coffee shop," he told his father on the phone from Los Angeles. "Yes, I just left before it happened," Yosef Lapid replied. After a short pause his son announced: "I'm coming home."

In 2008, Lapid returned to Los Angeles as a keynote speaker at a star-studded event honoring Milchan. In his speech (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ILBc4NTN9GE&feature=player_embedded) he thanked Milchan for "the many things we don't know" about his work for Israel, apparently hinting to the movie producer's rumored ties with Israeli intelligence services.

Yair Lapid's ties with the American Jewish community began to take shape last year, after he announced his intention to enter politics and upon publicly taking on the issue of religious pluralism in Israel. "We saw him as someone who has this issue on his radar and wanted to build a relationship with him early in the game," said Rabbi Julie Schonfeld, executive vice president of the Rabbinical Assembly. The group invited Lapid to speak at their conference last May, and Lapid, though already in full campaign mode, agreed to make a 24 hour visit and attend the Rabbinical Assembly conference in Atlanta. By the time he landed in the U.S., Lapid had learned that Prime Minister Netanyahu, in a last-minute political maneuver, called off the early elections.

In his speech (http://www.rabbinicalassembly.org/story/yair-lapid-rabbinical-assembly-convention) Lapid touched on all the right chords. He told the crowd of Conservative rabbis they are "the last line of defense that believes that Judaism shouldn't be the jailhouse of ideas, but the liberator of ideas," and promised to do all in his power "to make it feasible to women, Conservative or Reform, to pray at the wailing wall, wearing their prayer shawls." Lapid also argued that "the majority of Israelis are actually Conservative, they just don't know it." "We look forward to working with him on these issues," said Rabbi Schonfeld, who described the leader of Yesh Atid party as "a very bright, possibly brilliant charismatic individual."

Ties Lapid forged with members of the American Jewish community throughout the years proved helpful when he embarked on his political career. In just one month in 2012, Lapid raised nearly $30,000 from American Jewish supporters and Israeli expatriates living in the United States. One of the notable donors is leading Jewish philanthropist Michael Steinhardt.

Jan 22, 2013

JCCPA: Next Up in the Campaign to End Gun Violence

 Gun Violence

Inauguration 2013
Elections in Israel
What's next in the campaign to end gun violence?
Last week was a momentous week in the campaign to end gun violence. President Obama announced a package of 23 executive actions and a series of legislative proposals that he is asking Congress to act on. Together these measures, which include universal background checks and bans on certain types of weapons and attachments would limit the quantity and lethality of guns in our country as well as keep them out of the wrong hands.

The JCPA welcomed this announcement and praised the proposals for reflecting the comprehensive approach called for in the JCPA's petition at, www.endgunviolencenow.org, which has garnered more than 16,000 signatures.

So what comes next?

Last Saturday was Gun Appreciation Day around the country. The JCPA is asking that you help us show appreciation for an end to gun violence instead. Share the petition and encourage your friends, family, and colleagues to "like" our Facebook page. Congress's work has just begun, so it is more important than ever to demonstrate national resolve for action.

To that end, the JCPA also encourages you to take part in the February 4th Faiths Calling call-in day to Congress. Sponsored by the Religious Action Center of Reform Judaism, this project is a way of showing the faith community's unity and commitment to preventing gun violence.

Inauguration Day
Geri Palast with Vice President Biden.
On Monday afternoon, Barack Obama was inaugurated for his second term as our country's 44th president, and the JCPA was there to commemorate the occasion. The public swearing-in was held on the steps of the Capitol before a crowd of hundreds of thousands of people who viewed the ceremony from the National Mall. The President used his address to demonstrate his commitment to priorities like reforming the U.S. immigration system, ensuring that every American has access to high-quality education and other pathways to prosperity, alleviating the scourge of poverty and discrimination, and embracing civility in our public discourse. President Obama placed his vision for his next term and in the context of our founding ideals in Declaration of Independence through the civil war and onto our country's struggle to expand civil rights and equality.  Throughout the weekend, JCPA leaders continued our conversations with key policymakers in our effort to build effective coalitions to pursue justice. JCPA's Washington Director Jared Feldman and Israel Action Network Managing Director Geri Palast met with Vice President Biden, outgoing Labor Secretary Hilda Solis, Homeland Security Secretary Janet Nepolitano and key members of Congress.
Israeli Elections
Just one day after President Obama was sworn into office, Israelis went to the polls today, reportedly in high numbers, to cast votes in a national election. While the U.S. and Israeli political systems are quite different, the two countries are bound together by a firm commitment of both societies to freedom for their citizens. Shared democratic values -- along with common strategic interests -- underpin an unbreakable partnership between these two friends and allies. The JCPA looks forward to working with the next government in advancing the goal of peace and security for Israel's citizens.   
January 22, 2013
in the news
Jewish Support for Gun Proposal: Jewish groups responded positively last week to President Obama's new proposals to curb gun violence. 
Interfaith Alliance on Guns: Last week, Faiths United to Prevent Gun Violence sent a letter to Congress, signed by 47 faith leaders including JCPA President Rabbi Steve Gutow, calling for action to end gun violence. 
Ending the Culture of Violence: In an interview with the Washington Jewish Week, JCPA Washington Director Jared Feldman discussed the JCPA's comprehensive approach, including access to guns and violence in our culture. 
happening now
Plenum 2013 in DC: SAVE THE DATE! JCPA's 2013 Plenum is back in DC this year, March 9-12. Register today for special rates for this unique annual gathering of Jewish community leaders.    
The Kibbutz Experiment: A new movie, "Inventing Our Life: The Kibbutz Experiment" offers an emotional look at Israel's kibbutz movement and their future in a capitalist reality. 
Remember the Fiscal Cliff?: After the recent resolution to the fiscal cliff, another series of fiscal showdowns lay ahead for programs vital to women and their families. Learn more next Monday at 1:30 pm. 
Ammo Bill Introduced in Senate: Sen. Frank Lautenberg (D-N.J.) introduced legislation Tuesday that would make it illegal to manufacture or sell a magazine that contains more than 10 rounds. 
about us

The Jewish Council for Public Affairs (JCPA) is the united voice of the organized Jewish community.

For more than sixty years, the JCPA has identified issues, formulated policy, developed strategies and programs, and given expression to a strongly united Jewish communal voice. JCPA's has an unparalleled capacity to mobilize grassroots activism, through our network of 14 national and 125 local member agencies. The JCPA serves as a catalyst that heightens community awareness, encourages civic and social involvement, and deliberates key issues of importance to the Jewish community.

To learn more about the Jewish Council for Public Affairs, please visit our Annual Report.

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