Aug 31, 2021

I'm sure we're still (perhaps even more) shocked by anti-vaxxers in our community. Here's the only response that truly represents THE Jewish position on vaccination.

I'm sure we're still (perhaps even more) shocked by anti-vaxxers in our community. Here's the only response that truly represents THE Jewish position on vaccination. I *never* say such things, cherishing Judaism's multi-vocality. But this is a different framework. Anti-vaxxers are rebelling against many things, including Jewish wisdom. Read this carefully, and if you choose to share it, please copy and paste the text I've excerpted below from the masterful (and fiery) piece by my friend, Rabbi David Glickman, to whom we all owe our thanks.

For the full article, click here: https://blogs.timesofisrael.com/the-moral-lapse-of-bashing-synagogue-crowd-limits-in-a-pandemic


"Getting a vaccine is one of the few things in the Jewish world that every single denomination agrees on. The Conservative movement’s Rabbinical Assembly has unanimously passed a responsum requiring all Jews to get vaccinated. The Reform Movement has written similarly about this obligation. The Orthodox Union and the Rabbinical Council of America have emphasized “the conclusion of our poskim (religious decisors) that, pursuant to the advice of your personal health care provider, the Torah obligation to preserve our lives and the lives of others requires us to vaccinate for COVID-19 as soon as a vaccine becomes available.”

Leading exemplars of Modern Orthodoxy have spoken loudly in favor of universal vaccination. Rabbi Asher Weiss, a world-wide authority on Jewish medical ethics, has been forceful on the subject. Though he stops short of saying vaccination falls into the legal category of “obligation,” he writes that “it is certainly appropriate for each person to be vaccinated” and views it as an embarrassment and shame that segments of the Jewish community remain unvaccinated.

The Lubavitcher Rebbe, over 25 years before COVID, supported vaccines generally. Chabad in fact has sought to dissociate itself from rabbis who opposie COVID vaccination.

When Rabbi Michoel Green, a Chabad rabbi in Massachusetts, promoted anti-vaccine news, he was dismissed by Chabad. After the Chabad rabbi at the University of Massachusetts-Amherst promoted anti-vaccine beliefs, the national organization quickly distanced itself from him and promoted vaccination. At least one Chabad synagogue has opened its doors to become a vaccination site!"

For the full article, click here: https://blogs.timesofisrael.com/the-moral-lapse-of-bashing-synagogue-crowd-limits-in-a-pandemic

If every wood gatherer and every water carrier is needed, so too are you necessary. #MorningTorah #Nitzavim #Broadcast370


Aug 29, 2021

Next year, in each other's arms.

I've been editing a Torah commentary, based on the teachings I've been broadcasting every morning on the UJA-Federation of New York FB page since March 2020.

It's both deeply affirming and emotionally difficult, and I wanted to pour some of it out, as we enter the Chagim, masked once again, hovering on the brink of an uncertain hope. I've been revisiting the darkest moments of the last 18 months, feeling what I felt, and these days leading up to Rosh HaShannah are a good time for life-review. We've been through so much, and our deepest prayer must remain the basic and essential and not-to-be-taken-granted-of gift of life.

Please God, may that be our lot. Please God, may more people make responsible decisions for their own and the common good.

Given my current process, editing sacred testimony of the year gone by, glimpsing back through time into our transcendent moments and our dips into despair, there is one thing I pray for this holiday season, for us all, and yes - for me. May we courageously cross the digital divide and enter mindfully into the sanctuaries of our People, knowing we are near each other, and through that knowledge, may we draw ever closer to the very Source of Life.

Suddenly caught in this moment, I find myself missing us all again as if we haven't taken careful steps into each other's lives once again. And maybe this time-travel is fitting, a part of the final lap of the Teshuvah journey, back to the best we can be, which feels to my aching heart like one word: together.

אַחַ֤ת ׀ שָׁאַ֣לְתִּי מֵֽאֵת־יְהוָה֮ אוֹתָ֪הּ אֲבַ֫קֵּ֥שׁ שִׁבְתִּ֣י בְּבֵית־יְ֭הוָה כָּל־יְמֵ֣י חַיַּ֑י לַחֲז֥וֹת בְּנֹֽעַם־יְ֝הוָ֗ה וּלְבַקֵּ֥ר בְּהֵיכָלֽוֹ׃
One thing I ask of my God, only this do I seek: to dwell in God's Home every day of my life, to gaze upon the beauty of the Eternal, to visit God's Inner Place.

Shannah Tovah, dear ones. Next year, in each other's arms.


Aug 24, 2021

Masha Gessen and Sarah Kendzior: In Defense of Truth

Though a bit dated (it is a comparison between Trump and Putin as different and similar models of anti-establishment, autocratic national leaders), this talk by Masha Gessen​ at the UC Berkeley Othering & Belonging Institute​ 2017 Conference is incredibly important. Here's the description from the clip - Highly recommended.

"The current political landscape has made clear the powerful role that the press can play in upholding democracy. Amid daily attacks on the legitimacy of the press, Trump and his administration have limited the press’s access to government and show overt contempt for the democratic norm and role of a free press. The President uses Twitter to manipulate the public discourse with lies and misinformation. For a country that has taken free press for granted, experiencing authoritarian disregard for journalism and truth itself is unsettling. Two journalists and scholars with deep experience observing and reporting under authoritarian leaders will share insights and perspective to help us interpret and contextualize the erosion of the truth and the responsibility of a free, independent, and democratic press. This talk is from the 2017 Othering & Belonging Conference hosted by the Haas Institute for a Fair and Inclusive Society at UC Berkeley. For more information, visit haasinstitute.berkeley.edu or otheringandbelonging.org."

Aug 15, 2021

theres and thens

theres and thens
menachem creditor
for ben

soft sounds carry sun through time, through space
until they land in me, surprising me
i'm then, i'm there
though i never have been

so play, friends, play
create and pour and dance and share

there are countless theres and thens
and it's so good to be together
smiling in the sunshine

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