Dec 26, 2015

An Intention for Hope in the New Year

An Intention for Hope in the New Year
© Rabbi Menachem Creditor

Hope. In the darkest moments it is still there. We've faced more than enough hardship to understand if it had evaporated. But it hasn't. Hope is a sustainable and renewable source of energy. The real question is each of us remembering to access hope, to nurture it, to channel gratitude for existence itself to fuel the internal and personal commitment to life, which is itself a resurgence of hope for life beyond the self.

'It is not good for a person to be alone,' after all. We are wired to connect. Therefore, hope within one holds the potential hope for at least two.

A note about the furious pace of history:

Time has always been on the march; we just learn more about each second more immediately than before. (Imagine how unsettling a live-tweet of the events of the 20th century might have felt.) 'The world is too much with us' is not a new sentiment, and the 'anatomy of hope' is similarly established.

The urgency of every screaming headline shared on social media might actually be testimony to the intense, primal yearning for interconnectivity we humans contain. This erupting humanity, amplified by technology, is a staggering experience, to be sure. We are calling to each other across every great expanse, and the good news is: we are here for each other. And, if all this is true, the hope each of us renews might truly transform the world.

May the works of our hands and the meditations of our hearts extend light to the darkest corners of each other's hearts.

May hope increase in the year to come, because we recognized our own inner lights and shared them.

May the year to come be better than the last.


#Prayer #newyear #2016 #light #life #inspiration #radicalamazement #love #gratitude #Hope #humanity

Dec 25, 2015

As we close the book of Genesis and prepare for Exodus...

As we close the book of Genesis and prepare for Exodus, may we acknowledge our mortality, feel our own historic Jewish vulnerability, and the promise of liberation. And, as we re-experience our traumatic and inspiring sacred stories, the narratives that define us as Jews, may we remember that all people are worthy of being saved, and that freedom brings with it the responsibility to stand in solidarity with every vulnerable other. May there be no more plagues. May we all sing our freedom songs, sunlight touching our closed, relaxed eyes, feeling safe, side by side.

Dec 24, 2015

Something for Everyone - Coming Up at CNS in January!

Quick Links
Shabbat, January 8-9
How American Jews Can Help Bend the Arc Toward Justice!
A Bend the Arc Scholar in Residence Shabbat at CNS
with Rabbi Jason Kimelman-Block, Deputy Director of Bend the Arc Jewish Action

A Note from Rabbi Creditor:
Something for Everyone - 
Coming Up at CNS in January!
13 Tevet, 5776
Dec. 24, 2015
Dear Chevreh,
The incredible array of upcoming programs in January at Netivot Shalom demonstrates how the passions of our members broaden and deepen our life as a community.  CNS is surging forward into the new year with more opportunities for Jewish growth and learning than ever before, driven by incredible members and supported by a devoted staff. 

I invite you to find one activity of the many listed below. See each program, each class, film, conversation, Shabbat, as a new entry point to deepen your connection with new friends and old, and to be a part of Netivot Shalom's amazing life.
Rabbi Creditor
How blessed we are to share all of these programs, to do our work in the world together as a sacred, participatory community!

Rabbi Creditor

Shabbat, January 8-9
How American Jews Can Help 
Bend the Arc Toward Justice!
A Bend the Arc Scholar in Residence Shabbat!
with Rabbi Jason Kimelman-Block, Deputy Director of Bend the Arc Jewish Action
Join Rabbi Jason Kimelman-Block as our Scholar-in-Residence for a unique Shabbat focused on domestic social justice. Jason is the Rabbi-in-Residence for Bend the Arc: A Jewish Partnership for Justice, and Deputy Director of Bend the Arc Jewish Action in Washington, DC. For a schedule of the Shabbat activities, topics Rabbi Kimelman-Block will discuss, and to RSVP for Shabbat dinner, click here: bendthearc.us/events/rabbi-jason-kimelman-block-congregation-netivot-shalom.

Sunday, January 10, 10:00 - 11:45 a.m.
(10:00 nosh and schmooze <> 10:15 lecture)
Women, Work, and Family 
in Contemporary Israeli Society
with Sociology Professor Shira Offer
Presented as part of CNS' V'zot Yisrael Israeli speaker series
Despite demographic, economic, and cultural changes, a substantial gender gap still exists in many areas of Israeli life. Women continue to be channeled into "feminine" occupations and still earn lower wages than men. Women also continue to bear the major responsibility for childcare and housework. Professor Offer will show how the unique Israeli context shapes these patterns and what the effects are on the well-being and functioning of families.
Sunday, January 17, 6:30-9:30 p.m.
Reproductive Justice through a Jewish Lens: 
Film and Panel Discussion
Presented by The Reproductive Justice Task Force of Netivot's Social Action Committee

Film Screening, "After Tiller" about doctors who provide abortion services after Dr. Tiller's assassination. Panel discussion regarding abortion stigma and access with Dr. Sella (who appears in the film), representatives of Sea Change and ACCESS, and Rabbi Creditor, on reproductive justice and Judaism.
Monday, January 18th, 7:30-9pm
The Role of the Sephardic Woman 
in Preserving the Sephardic Culture
with Rivka Amado

Women have played a central role in Shaping and preserving Sephardic culture since the expulsion of the Jews from Spain in 1492. The Ladino songs they composed and transcribed reflected the values of the culture ,the longing for the Golden Age in Spain, the traditional views of life cycle events, and the universal concerns of women: seduction, loyalty, subordination and humiliation. This talk contains a mix of historical narrative and songs  reflecting the culture and longing for the lost Spain. We will explore the heroic role women played in keeping the culture alive, and hear the beautiful music of Spain as carried through the generation to Turkey, Greece, Yugoslavia and throughout the Balkans. To learn and hear more about Rivka's work, visit rivkamusic.com/bio.html
Saturday, January 23, 7:30pm
Craig Taubman in Concert! 
Sponsored by the CNS Youth Ed Fund & the Rabbi's Discretionary Fund
Craig Taubman is a world-renowned American Jewish singer/songwriter and music producer based in Los Angeles, California. Through his independent label/production office, Craig 'N Company, he has produced 11 albums. He is also the executive producer of the Celebrate Series, 12 Jewish-themed compilation albums with titles like Celebrate Hip Hop and Celebrate Passover. To see and hear some of Craig's work, click here: http://craignco.com/v3/wordpress/.
January 24 at 5:00pm
Tu B'shevat Seder!
Co-sponsored by the CNS AWE and Ritual committees
This engaging and fun event will be led Claire Sherman.  The event is free, BUT RESERVATIONS ARE REQUIRED!   The seder is appropriate for children ages 10 or older.  Free childcare will be provided for younger children, but please include the number of children who will be coming in your RSVP.  RSVP to AWE@netivotshalom.org before January 15th.
Sunday, January 24, 7:30-9pm
Where Moses Meets Michael Pollan: The Exploding Story of Jewish Community Farms 
with Adam Berman, CEO of Urban Adamah.
Urban Adamah in Berkeley the largest urban Jewish community farm in the country. More than 12,000 visitors pass through its gates annually. Yet, its not alone. In the past ten years dozens of Jewish community farms and gardens have sprouted up in communities across the country. They are attracting Jews (and others) in droves. What's the draw? What happens there? And, what might the rest of the Jewish world have to learn from this growing phenomenon? Come join Urban Adamah CEO Adam Berman for this surprising conversation.
Sunday Morning, January 31
Enhancing Your Understanding and Leadership of Tefilah 
with Dr. Elie Holzer
Sponsored by the CNS Kelman Liturgy Fund
Dr. Elie Holzer is a practice-oriented philosopher of Jewish education. His research integrates text-based Jewish studies, philosophical hermeneutics, pedagogy, and ethical-spiritual traditions. He serves as Assistant Professor at the School of Education of Bar Ilan University, where he also holds the R. Dr. Ochs Chair for Teaching Jewish Religious Studies and is the Director of the Stern Institute for the Study and Advancement of Religious Education. His book, A Philosophy of Havruta: Understanding and Teaching the Art of Text Study in Pairs (Academic Studies Press, 2013) won the USA 2014 National Jewish Book Award. He also authored A Double-Edged Sword: Military Activism in the Thought of Religious Zionism (Bar Ilan Law School & the Hartman Insitute, [Hebrew], 2009); Attuned Learning: Rabbinic Texts on Habits of the Heart in Learning Interactions (Academic Studies Press, 2016) and a large number of research articles in Jewish education and Jewish thought.


Congregation Netivot Shalom | 1316 University Avenue | Berkeley | CA | 94702

Dec 22, 2015

light always calls [a #nospoiler #starwars #poem]

light always calls
[a #nospoiler #starwars #poem]
© rabbi menachem creditor

stars, suns, sand, snow
aren't enough
the very cosmos can't fill
that kind of hole
place isn't anything at all

across fiery chasm
binding unbound
descent offering offered
order undone
torn, torn, torn, torn

ache for home

light always calls

Rabbi Menachem Creditor
▶menachemcreditor.org ▶netivotshalom.org

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

Dec 18, 2015

A mini-reflection on officiating at ritual moments

A mini-reflection on officiating at ritual moments 
© Rabbi Menachem Creditor
inspired by Tehilah Eisenstadt-Feil

My deepest growth as a ritual officiant  came when I realized I had forgotten to 'be the officiant' and was 'just' being myself under the chupah, at graveside, in the hospital. We are already the people we will be be under the chupah, at graveside, in the hospital, and that's why those moments are so raw and real. Ritual only wields its magic when our honest souls surrender to the moment and allow ourselves, as guides, to be guided.

Dec 16, 2015

CNS Social Action Committee meeting this Sunday, Dec 20

Social Action Committee meeting this Sunday, Dec 20
Hello everybody,

Our next Social Action meeting is fast approaching! Please join us:
The 2nd Shul-Wide Social Action Planning Meeting
Sunday, December 20, at 7pm
in the CNS library

We will hear from each of our 4 task forces - reproductive justice, refugees, environment, and hunger/poverty - and create a social action plan for the coming year. Hope to see you there!

Also, a big shout out to the volunteers and contributors of the lovely December 6 kiddush, who co-sponsored kiddush with Jim Mavrikios and Cynthia Whitehead: Kate Burch, Esther Brass, Tree Gelb Stuber, Jacob Richards, Tobie Lurie, Ednah Beth Friedman, Karen Pliskin, Norma Kaufman, Sari Broner, David Callen, and our kiddush mastermind Laura Callen - thank you for putting together a beautiful kiddush for our community!

See you Sunday,

Hilla Abel
Social Action Chair

Copyright © 2015 Social Action Committee at CNS, All rights reserved. 

Dec 3, 2015

A Channukah Note: Glimpses of Light

A Channukah Note:
Glimpses of Light
(c) Rabbi Menachem Creditor

Dear Chevreh,

It is just a few days before Channukah, and yet another intense week has unfolded. I'm sure you've been attuned to things happening in the world, too many to count. This won't be a message pointing to headlines. There are more than enough sources for information in our lives, and the world remains too much with us. Our precious Jewish communities are here for more than headlines - we are here to walk together in meaningful ways in the world.

Yes, we stand witness as individuals and as a sacred Jewish community and are called to respond with what Rabbi Abraham Joshua Heschel z"l called "transitive concern," or sacred love. Yes, the pouring rain on my windowsill right now is surely God's Holy Tears, given this week's hurt in San Bernadino, Houston, Jerusalem, and beyond. May we be strong enough to offer God's Creation the comfort and healing it needs.   

All this demands the spirit of Channukah be truly felt, internalized, cherished, and amplified. The most human parts of ourselves are the most full of light. We hurt because we love. And on Channukah, our love illuminates the world, with increasing power each new night. We place the Channukiah near the window so that the joy not remain private. The darkness of winter is a true metaphor for the message of this festival: light, hope, humanity.

Yes, the history of Channukah is more complicated than this. (Isn't everything?) But, just for the moment, hear the pouring rain as a cleansing, as a Heavenly mikveh, as an invitation to be nourished, to be strengthened for the work ahead. An invitation to feel the light.

Friends, we will do more than pray in weeks to come. Please share Shabbat, Channukah music and food, holiday celebrations with adults and children, at home and beyond.

But, most of all, as we sing on Channukah, "באנו חשך לגרש, we've arrived to banish the darkness." Don't give up. Banish despair with the light you have inside. You have more than enough to share. And together, gevalt: we could illuminate the whole world. 

rabbi creditor
Breathe deeply. Cherish every breath. Let that light in. We all need it.

Happy early Channukah!

it's all true [a #poem]

it's all true
(c) rabbi menachem creditor

it's true
all of it
the rain and the sun
and the pain and the comfort
and the unpredictable and the unexpected
the dark, the dark
but O, the light.
It's all true.

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