Jun 30, 2014
Fwd: from Josh Buchin, CNS Rabbinic Intern: "On the loss of Naftali Fraenkel, Gil-ad Shaar, and Eyal Yifrach"
Jun 25, 2014
On Seeking God
© Rabbi Menachem Creditor
Egalitarianism must become an “inescapable horizon” in the progressive halachic Jewish world, not because it stands alone within the halacha, but because it embodies an expression of our highest value: ‘Yirat Shamayim.’
Typically translated as ‘Fear of Heaven’ in the context of confronting a situation with seriousness and integrity, Yirat Shamayim should be experienced as a charge to the human community that wishes to stand in awe of God – not to sit down and wait for a Divine voice, but to actively seek the Awe of God.
This is a rejection of the “lo bashamayim hi” approach to halachah that ultimately creates a human legal system which excludes God’s voice. Conservative Judaism and all its close cousins are called to exercise a holy perogative with prudence and integrity.
God’s will might be, as Rabbi Mordecai Kaplan (and Kevin Smith in “Dogma”) suggested, what holy people say it is. But that needs to be reversible as well. WE must make sure we are thinking about God when we put words in Her mouth.
Jun 22, 2014
A Moment of Radical Normalcy
© Rabbi Menachem Creditor
I stood on my porch,
set to embark on
pilgrimage to Israel,
when a family
from my neighborhood walked by.
Their hijabs made me pause.
What if they and I
could be loving neighbors
not only here,
but in our lands of promise?
As I wondered,
one of them called out,
to which I replied:
"a salaam aleikum."
who are my neighbors
peeked over my fence,
asking their mothers,
"who wished us peace?"
My heart broke with
one simple truth:
° netivotshalom. org
Jun 20, 2014
Army of angels needed to right tax, poverty woes
(Photo: Getty Images/iStockphoto )
Here are two related statistics, both of which may surprise you:
• More than 1.2 billion people around the world live in extreme poverty.
• Every year, poor countries lose more money to tax avoidance than they receive in aid.
Here is something that should shock a citizen of the United States just as much: Current U.S. law enables this economic inequality.
I recently returned from Washington, D.C., where I joined the interfaith, bipartisan anti-poverty group Jubilee USA and other faith leaders and small-business owners from across the country to encourage our elected officials to reform the tax system and protect the most vulnerable among us. Perhaps what surprised me most was that even legislative allies in the efforts to repair the fabric of our nation's economic inequality feel immobilized by the enormity of the task. To the paralysis, often experienced when confronted with big problems, I offer this faith response, culled from centuries of Jewish tradition: Ours is not to complete the task, but neither are we exempt from starting the work today.
I expressed to our elected representatives that whatever they think about taxes, we should have a tax system in which everybody pays their fair share. To me, this is one of those issues where Republicans and Democrats can — and must — agree. It makes no sense to have legal loopholes that allow big companies to avoid their share of taxes and then pass the burden on through reduced services and increased taxation for the rest of us.
In the United States, tax haven loopholes cost an estimated $90 billion in lost revenue each year. This is an enormous problem with enormous consequences, experienced in every strata of our nation. In the developing world, the problem is even bigger. During my trip to Washington, for instance, I learned that for every $10 poor countries receive in aid, they lose $15 because of large companies not paying their taxes. We heard the story of a woman in Zambia, who works 15 hours a day for $4, but who regularly pays a higher percentage in taxes than the enormous European-owned sugar company operating in her town. That company uses a web of "shell companies" and tax havens to avoid paying taxes. That means reduced funding for health services for the people of Zambia. These travesties, what my faith would call sin, is that all of this is legal. An even greater sin would be our silence as citizens.
While in D.C., I learned that every month, in that same town, two children die of preventable malnutrition. The prophets of the Hebrew Bible would be standing on street corners, crying out in rage, calling out in the name of God for the most vulnerable in our society to be lifted up. It isn't only a religious obligation to care for our sisters and brothers by legislating societal responsibility into the tax code — it is common decency.
As a person of faith and a concerned citizen, our current situation deeply saddens me, and moves me to action. We need to pass laws that make it harder for companies to use tax havens and harder for both tax avoiders and criminals to hide their activities through the use of anonymous shell companies. Not only will this save U.S. taxpayers money, it will help eradicate poverty in desperately poor communities and give law enforcement the tools it needs to catch criminals — including terrorists and drug dealers.
I pray my representatives take my words to heart. If they do, they'll soon have a chance to prove it. Congress is considering whether to renew two offshore tax breaks. If Congress simply does nothing, these harmful loopholes will be gone from the tax code and we'll all be better off. Perhaps even the pattern of inaction in the halls of Congress can be redemptive in this way.
Unfortunately, I know our representatives hear from an army of lobbyists working to defend the interests of powerful clients. But it's not too late for our officials to do the right thing. We must be an army of angels calling out for the most vulnerable in our country. There is no other just way forward.
Jun 19, 2014
Overwhelmed by Argument:
The Conversation I Want to Have Now
Convened by Josh Kornbluth
2 evenings: Wednesday Aug. 13 & 20th, 7:30pm-9pm
Congregation Netivot Shalom, Berkeley
Class fee: $20 (no one turned away for lack of funds)
Registration is required – please register
with Daniel at firstname.lastname@example.org.
We care, and because we care, we despair. Will there be any outcome for Israelis and Palestinians, for Israel and Palestine, in which both Peoples are acknowledged and respected? Where one group's national aspirations are not deemed unworthy? This is the conversation Josh wants to have, the conversation we believe we need. We need is as Jews. We need it as people. We need it as one People among many Peoples. Will there ever be a solution? We don't know. We worry. Everyone suffers when some suffer. And so someone who cares is convening a loving, respectful conversation with a very clear mandate: More hope, More dignity, More love.
Here are the rules for the conversation Josh invites us to share:
1) If your position is that Israel should cease to exist as the Jewish Homeland, that is not the conversation we are going to have.
2) If you believe Jews are better than Palestinians, that is not the conversation we are going to have.
3) If you believe that only Jews have the right to a state, that is not the conversation we are going to have.
4) If you believe Israel's concerns about security are imagined, that is not the conversation we are going to have.
The jumping-off-point for our conversations will be these two books:
The Crisis of Zionism, by Peter Beinart
My Promised Land, by Ari Shavit
Please contribute to our Jewcer Campaign to bring their teachers for 4 days of learning the best new ideas at NewCAJE this summer!
Jun 16, 2014
|I fight for my daughter differently than I fight for my neighbor, though I am also called to fight for my neighbor. The injustices that exist within Israel's defensive strategy are wrongs, and Israel must continue to identify and root out abuses of power. But that is radically different than the terrorism based in the Palestinian Authority's territory, publicly celebrated during these last few days by its united governing power. #BringBackOurBoys|
Jun 15, 2014
Jun 14, 2014
Jun 13, 2014
As many of you have likely heard, three students of Makor Chaim Yeshiva went missing Thursday night in Gush Etzion. Their disappearance is being treated by the Shin Bet and the IDF as a kidnapping by terrorists, and a massive manhunt in now underway. Please consider saying a prayer (tehillim) for their welfare and safe return.
Their names are:
Yaakov Naftali ben Rachel Devora - יעקב נפתלי בן רחל
Gilad Michael ben Bat Galim - גילעד מיכאל בן בת גלים
Eyal ben Iris Teshurah - אייל בן איריס תשורה
אַחֵֽינוּ כָּל בֵּית יִשְׂרָאֵל, הַנְּתוּנִים בְּצָרָה וּבַשִּׁבְיָה, הָעוֹמְדִים בֵּין
בַּיָּם וּבֵין בַּיַבָּשָׁה, הַמָּקוֹם יְרַחֵם עֲלֵיהֶם, וְיוֹצִיאֵם מִצָּרָה לִרְוָחָה,
וּמֵאֲפֵלָה לְאוֹרָה, וּמִשִּׁעְבּוּד לִגְאֻלָּה, הַשְׁתָּא בַּעֲגָלָא וּבִזְמַן קָרִיב,
We pray for our brothers of the whole House of Israel, who are placed in distress or captivity, on sea or dry land. May the Omnipresent be merciful to them, and bring them forth from distress to relief, from darkness to light, and from oppression to freedom, now, swiftly and soon.
Jun 11, 2014
Jun 10, 2014
To those who think the Shoah should make Jews feel dependent upon guns for safety, I say this:
The scars of Jewish history have not obscured our Jewish souls and our Jewish commitment to life.
The US is in the midst of a #GunViolence epidemic that makes God and every human being cry. We stand for life and call for an end to the #Gunsanity.
Jun 6, 2014
Next Week at Netivot Shalom: After-Birkat HaMazon conversation with Devota Nuwe Country Director of HIAS Uganda
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I wrote this song for my daughter, born right after 9/11. This world will be built by love: ours and God's. In the best and worst of m...