Oct 28, 2015

VaYeira 5776/2015: "Sermon of the Mount"

VaYeira 5776/2015: "Sermon of the Mount"

© Rabbi Menachem Creditor
originally published by Sh'ma: A Journal of Jewish Responsibility

At first I was frightened, but then I calmed down. (TB Shabbat 88a)

When the blood touched me, I trembled, shaken by the unwelcome contact. Even when they first climbed my most tortuous path (TB Shabbat 88b) with their ritual instruments, I knew something was wrong. I had felt pounding like this before. Every footstep was too heavy, pressing downnew pain into the memories just inches below my surface.

Since that very day I have witnessed many burdened lives, but they all remind me of the steps that Abraham and Isaac, along with their servants, took all those years ago. Those footsteps and that blood call out to be heard. (Genesis 4:10) But no one remembers that part.

All I am is accumulated memory, layer after layer of experience — from earth’s core to surface gravel. Only through stories do people today even think to explore my depths. But even if they do consider my hidden parts, they’ll never feel the roots of the shrub violently torn from my hold, first by the ram and then by the man’s hand. They’ll never feel the altar shatter from trauma, scattering shards and pebbles into the mix of my form. They’ll never know of the silence after the boy died at his father’s hand. No one will hear the boy gasp for his second first breath,or feel the father’s body convulse when his reborn son stared into his eyes.

People don’t know me. You don’t know me. You probably think you can buy, sell, claim, and name me. I have no need for a name. I have been here, and I will always be here. This boy’s was not the last blood spilled upon me, or for me. I have no need for that blood.

If you would only rest your head on me, listen to the quiet I’ve always held: There would be no more spilled blood.

Rabbi Menachem Creditor
▶menachemcreditor.org ▶netivotshalom.org
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Oct 21, 2015

A Real Response to Israel-Hatred: Love

A Real Response to Israel-Hatred: Love

(c) Rabbi Menachem Creditor
with gratitude to the JCRC and the dozens of Netivot Shalom members 

who showed up to the City of Berkeley HWAC meeting

Hatred against Israel triggers a defensive Jewish posture. But we're better than this. There are so many reasons to be proud of Israel, to celebrate all our Start-Up nation has accomplished. It is unworthy of us to forget the hope, to forget our pride, to hear malicious attacks and only react with apologies.

Tonight, yet again, the City of Berkeley was hijacked by extreme anti-Israel activists whose biggest accomplishment will have been to exacerbate more tension between citizens of our city than anything else. The city's Human Welfare & Community Action Commission (HWCAC) was inappropriately made into a platform for those recommending that the city of Berkeley divest from Israel. That's not big news. Berkeley's history has been peppered by Israel-hostility like this for a very long time, and few look to Berkeley as an example of reasonable civic engagement. Rather, experiences like this amplify the caricature of Berkeley held by many, diminish the greatness of a truly diverse population, and mar over our part in the Free Speech movement that riveted our nation in the 1960s.

And so, instead of amplifying the horribly managed meeting, the seething applause, catcalls, and finger-snaps; instead of bemoaning the lack of any collaborative attempt by the Pro-Palestinian "side" to support a two-state solution by engaging constructively with the Pro-Israel community; instead of pointing to the tragic irony of screaming at others that they deny the humanity of others; instead of correcting the gross inaccuracies of those who forget that "the Occupation" is the result of Israel's defensive war in 1967 against Egypt, Jordan, and Syria; instead of all this, I suggest we do what we're supposed to do: build the Israel we love. After all, as a modern public figure succinctly put it: haters gonna hate.

Toward that, here is a reminder of the promise of Israel's Declaration of Independence and a call to action:
THE STATE OF ISRAEL will be open for Jewish immigration and for the Ingathering of the Exiles; it will foster the development of the country for the benefit of all its inhabitants; it will be based on freedom, justice and peace as envisaged by the prophets of Israel; it will ensure complete equality of social and political rights to all its inhabitants irrespective of religion, race or sex; it will guarantee freedom of religion, conscience, language, education and culture; it will safeguard the Holy Places of all religions; and it will be faithful to the principles of the Charter of the United Nations.
Congregation Netivot Shalom has partnered with the Hand in Hand Center for Jewish-Arab Education in Israel, which brings together thousands of Jews and Arabs in six schools and communities in Jerusalem, the Galilee, Wadi Ara, Tel Aviv-Jaffa, Haifa, Tira & Kfar Saba. Hand in Hand is proving on a daily basis the viability of inclusion and equality for all citizens of Israel. That coexistence is, sadly, more present in Israel than it was in Berkeley tonight.

Netivot Shalom, thanks to our most recent Adult B'not Mitzvah program last May, committed to raising $5,000 for one scholarship for one Arab student and one scholarship for one Jewish student at Hand in Hand. I'm thrilled to share that, in addition to raising that amount last spring, three members of the Netivot Shalom community, Ednah Beth Friedman, Michael Tarle, and April Oldenburg have created a challenge grant until the end of 2015 of $5,500 toward a total of $11,000. This will support two Arab and two Jewish Hand in Hand students. Please do what you can to help this gift further inclusion and equality in Israel in the name of our Jewish community.

I challenge you to see this philanthropic justice-challenge as our true response to Israel hatred. We'll build Israel from love, nurturing coexistence projects and remembering that the miracle-in-process that we call our homeland is an imperfect fulfillment of our 2,000 year old dream. There's plenty of work to do. Miracles don't come easy.

So, instead of shouting over those who can't envision a moral Zionist, let's sing Hatikvah with all our souls and prove the Israel haters wrong by ignoring them and focusing on the real work ahead. We do this for the sake of our global Jewish family, and for the sakes of all of Israel's citizens, for the sakes of Palestinians whose leaders are failing them and for Israelis who deserve better visionary leaders than currently hold elected office. Zionism is an ongoing task, not a piece of the past.

Yes, haters gonna hate. But we're never going to go there. Nor do we have any permission to despair. We are Chovevei Tziyon, Lovers of Israel, who accept the sacred imperative to hope beyond what's imaginable. We are lovers, and lovers gonna love.

May we see our dreams flourish, and an end to hatred, soon and in our days.

Rabbi Creditor


go [a #poem]


© Rabbi Menachem Creditor

knowing not

what is next

nor what is now

nor what really ever was


from your place,

from your familiar,

from your known,

from your very heart


to yourself,


that might be

Oct 19, 2015

Israel Action Alert (coordinated by the JCRC): This Wednesday: Berkeley Considering an Israel-Boycott Resolution

from Rabbi Creditor
Israel Action Alert 
Berkeley Considering an Israel-Boycott Resolution
(coordinated by the JCRC)
Dear Chevreh,

As I wrote last week, now is the time, given unrelenting terror attacks on Israelis by Palestinians, to stand, as Rabbi Bradley Shavit Artson put it: "in simple solidarity with the victims, innocent civilians deliberately murdered just for being Jews, just for being Israeli." (Please stay informed about events as they unfold in Israel. I recommend the following three news outlets: Times of IsraelHa'aretz, and the Jerusalem Post.) (Please also note that Netivot Shalom is hosting a conversation with renowned JPost journalist Herb Keinon on November 1st. Click here for more info.)

Let's also hear the voice of CNS member, Executive Director of UC Berkeley Hillel, Rabbi Adam Naftalin-Kelman, who wrote painfully and passionately last week about the experience of Jewish students on campus confronted by Students for Justice in Palestine (SJP) who organized an 'International Day of Action,'  yelling their support for a new Intifada, explicitly legitimizing the stabbings and hatred taking place multiple times each day in Israel these last weeks.  Read Adam's full statement here.

This Wednesday, friends, the urgency is hyper local and urgent here in the City of Berkeley. Please join me in responding to the call from the JCRC: The City of Berkeley's Human Welfare & Community Action Commission (HWCAC) is considering a resolution that recommends Berkeley divest from Israel. If you live in Berkeley, please plan to attend the Commission hearing on October 21, 2015! The HWCAC resolution is supported by groups that seek the elimination of the State of Israel. To this end they are seeking to co-opt the good and important work of the HWCAC, which advises the Berkeley City Council on the city's social welfare needs. Come to the meeting in support of Israel and help us keep the HWCAC on track! Please RSVP so that we can provide you the location of the event and talking points. RSVP to jsterling@jcrc.orgIf you have questions, please contact JCRC Public Affairs and Civic Engagement Director, East Bay, Ilana Kaufman at ikaufman@jcrc.org.

Friends, it is time to stand tall and proud as Jews, as a Jewish community, and as Chovevei Tziyon, as Lovers of Israel, to do more than reaching out to anyone you know in Israel or with Israeli family and friends. As we offer comfort to our family in distress in israel, let's do our part of to preserve their dignity and lives. I hope you'll join me at this Wednesday night's meeting.

Pray for the peace of Jerusalem. Please God, may it be so: right now.

Rabbi Creditor
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Recent Israel Related Event at UC Berkeley

Recent Israel Related Event at UC Berkeley

Oct. 15, 2015
Rabbi Adam Naftalin-Kelman
Executive Director – UC Berkeley Hillel

As many of you have heard or have seen on Facebook, yesterday Students for Justice in Palestine (SJP) organized an ‘International Day of Action.’  The protest occurred on the steps of Sproul Plaza.  Being out there for two hours was incredibly difficult to see and hear.  To hear students yell their support for an Intifada was gut wrenching and emotional for me, Berkeley Hillel staff and Jewish students.  For many students, this was their first encounter with others who do not share their strong love for Israel.  What did make me proud was to see so many Jewish students who love Israel out there on Sproul, containing their emotion, holding up Israeli flags and signs, and showing their love and support of Israelis and the Jewish people.  Special thanks go out to Bears For Israel and Tikvah: Students for Israel for their leadership in organizing a thoughtful and important counter message.  In addition to the students’ leadership, the caring nature of Berkeley Hillel’s Jewish Agency Shlichah, Dror Stein’s leadership and love for Israel helped the student leaders along with so many Jewish students deal with the difficult event.  Jewish students that walked by were appreciative of the work they did.  Their leadership was a beautiful example for all of us.  They conducted themselves with restraint and maturity that would make Am Yisrael proud.  When confronted with difficult individuals or conversations, they respectfully engaged with them without escalating the situation.  While I felt such pain and sadness when I read SJP’s signs and when I heard their chants, at the same time, I gained such strength and was full of pride to be a Jew and lover of Israel, thanks to the leadership and commitment of the students. 
While yesterday was so hard to hear and difficult to see, it only inspires me to be here every day and support Jewish life on the Berkeley campus.  To walk from the rally with a pit in my stomach into a Hillel full of students, with the tasty wafts coming from the kosher Kitchen of bbq chicken being prepared for over 100 students for our weekly bbq, reminded me of the holy work before me.  While the campus at times can be difficult and for some students painful, it is a constant reminder of the necessity to provide a safe and thriving Hillel so that Jewish students can express and explore their Jewish identity.  Thanks to so many of you for your concern, for your love of the students and for helping us enrich their lives.  I pray that one day I will be able to write you all an email about the wonderful work of co-existence and about the rallies on Sproul Plaza of students working to pursue peace and speak out against senseless hatred and violence.   

As we welcome Shabbat tomorrow night let us remember our family and friends living in Israel and pray for not only their safety and security but for peace and tranquility in our Jewish homeland.  

Shabbat Shalom,

Rabbi Adam Naftalin-Kelman
Executive Director – UC Berkeley Hillel
2736 Bancroft Way
Berkeley, CA 94704

canopy of peace [a #poem]

canopy of peace [a #poem]
© Rabbi Menachem Creditor

days to assemble
hours to take apart
canopy of peace

boards readjusted each year
they fit differently each time
canopy of peace

some worn through, others like new
all uneven, just like creation
canopy of peace

#poem #poetry #poetcommunity #life #inspiration #peace

Oct 13, 2015

Praying for Israel During Troubled Times

a note from rabbi creditor:
Praying  for Israel During Troubled Times

Dear Chevreh,

It is as simple as Rabbi Bradley Shavit Artson put it just now, in response to the terror campaign being waged by Palestinians against Israelis, with more that 150 stabbings, car-rammings, shootings, and explicit incitement to commit more acts of terror from elected officials:

The political context and solution can be discussed later, but for today: simple solidarity with the victims, innocent civilians deliberately murdered just for being Jews, just for being Israeli.

I share here a few statements made by Jewish groups during these last few days, and ask you to stay tuned in, to pray for peace, for safety, for life for Israelis and Palestinians. I ask you to take action how you see fit to save lives, to speak love, to share your dreams for and take steps to recreate the world as you believe it should be. Ours is not to complete these enormous tasks, but the Divine within each of us can make a profound difference. If and where you believe my perspective is different from yours, please see this email as an invitation to share coffee, to take a walk, to cry together. There's more than enough pain and love - and hope - to go around.

The American Jewish Committee has asked all American citizens to a sk your representatives to support a congressional resolution that urges PA President Abbas and PA officials to discontinue all official incitement. This is not a partisan request that ignores Israel's imperfect record and ongoing internal/international struggles - it is what we would - and do -  call out in response to hatred anywhere. For our homeland, we will do nothing less. Please click here for the AJC links.

I also share here the statement released by the Jewish Federations of North America, the consensus group that includes every local Federation, including our own East Bay Federation:
"We are stunned and deeply troubled by the recent terrorist attacks in Israel which have continued to escalate since an innocent Israeli couple was barbarically shot to death in their car in front of their four children. We remain horrified by these acts of terror and our thoughts and prayers are with these victims and their families," said Michael Siegal, Chair of the Board of The Jewish Federations of North America. "With each of these murders an entire family is shattered and will never be the same. Our hearts ache for their loss as we hope for this violence to end."
"We continue to mourn for those who have been murdered and pray for their families, and we wish for a full and speedy recovery to all of those who have been injured. No family should have to endure such pain and suffering," said Jerry Silverman, President and CEO of The Jewish Federations of North America. "There is no possible justification for these senseless attacks and we continue to stand in solidarity with the State of Israel."
And, for those who hear "Federation" and "American Jewish Committee" and believe their statements to be biased regarding the very complicated ongoing dynamic between Israel and Palestine, I finally share here the statement by Truah: Rabbis for Human Rights:

Our brothers' and sisters' blood cries out to us from the ground. We have watched with pain and sorrow as the recent wave of terror attacks have claimed too many lives and orphaned too many children. We unconditionally condemn these violent attacks on innocent Israeli citizens. No political motive justifies murdering or injuring civilians. We call on the Palestinian and international leadership to condemn these attacks in no uncertain terms.

Friends, our hearts are simply broken, and the shock of attack after attack (4 were reported between when I started typing and right now) can immobilize. 

I beg of you: don't lose hope. Stand tall and proud as Jews, as a Jewish community - and reach out to anyone you know in Israel or with Israeli family and friends. Let's model the love we pray influence our political reality, soon and in our days. 

Pray for the peace of Jerusalem. Please God, may it be so: right now.

Rabbi Creditor

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Oct 12, 2015

This is Not a Million Man March

This is Not a Million Man March
(c) Rabbi Menachem Creditor

Regarding the current campaign of Palestinian Violence against Israelis in every region of the State: This is not a Million Man march. This is a murderous rampage. Leaders who rise up and raise up and liberate do not stab and bomb and shoot and ram and preach hatred.

The dignity of all people demand the recognition that oppression exists and that no two systems of oppression are identical. No one needs to hear, yet again, that Israel isn't always right. That truth is not the crux of our current moment's self-directing Palestinian death march. Palestinian children are desperate for hope. Hope is a choice. Israel can certainly take steps to support this happening, but can't be the inner Palestinian hope.

You want to see how a Palestinian state will be birthed? Don't look to terrorists and murderers. Look at the new Palestinian city of Rawabi (http://www.rawabi.ps/), where the motto is "Live. Work. Grow."

Just imagine if that were the tenor of Palestinian elected leaders.

Oct 1, 2015

We Will Not Be Wearied: A Prayer to End Gun Violence

We Will Not Be Wearied: A #Prayer to End #GunViolence
(c) Rabbi Menachem Creditor

Dear God,

31 and 32,000:

God, we have every reason to become numb,
to become used to this blasphemous trend,
to barely even register
that Your Images are being erased
by a fetishized weapon, our national idol.

31 and 32,000

God, we know we must act,
and we know that, in order to act,
we must feel the urgency - Your Urgency.
We must channel Your pain
at the deaths of Your children
and remind our lawmakers to choose life.

We've been too quiet,
mistaking status updates and reactionary prayers
for true repentance for the worship of a weapon.
Our nation has endured
the epidemic of Gun Violence
for far too long.

31 and 32,000

And so, God,
as we feel the beginnings of our own weariness
after two mass shootings within 4 hours
we remember the wisdom of Your Prophet,
who taught that:

"...those who hope in God will renew their strength. 
They will soar on wings like eagles; 
they will run and not grow weary, 
they will walk and not be faint." (Isaiah 40:31)

We pray to You for renewal
as we spread our protective wings over one another again,
running to justice,
refusing weariness,
and choosing life.

May we sing louder than weaponsand merit to see You in each other's eyes,
sanctifying Your Name
by standing together
by rising up again,
this time rebuilding Your World
by saving each other.

Rabbi Menachem Creditor
menachemcreditor.org ▶netivotshalom.org
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Some Voices [a #poem]

Some Voices
© Rabbi Menachem Creditor

some voices
tear the scabs clear off
pierce the heart
speak the words
bring breath back
by taking it away

Rabbi Menachem Creditor
▶menachemcreditor.org ▶netivotshalom.org

To join Rabbi Creditor's email list, send a blank email to thetisch-subscribe@yahoogroups.com!


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