Nov 21, 2022

TOLDOT: Torah in memory of those lost at #ClubQ


TOLDOT: Torah in memory of those lost at #ClubQ #LoveIsLove #LGBTQ #ColoradoSprings #GunViolence

Nov 14, 2022

Panel Discussion: Rabbi Menachem Creditor (UJA), Sheila Katz (NCJW), and Deborah Rosenbloom (JWI)

Rabbi Menachem Creditor, Pearl and Ira Meyer Scholar in Residence of UJA-Federation NY, moderates a conversation between Sheila Katz of the National Council of Jewish Women and Deborah Rosenbloom of Jewish Women International — a timely discussion on Women's Reproductive Freedom and the intersection of Gun Violence and Domestic Violence.

CHAYEI SARAH: A Love That Will Knock You Off Your Camel #ChayeiSarah

Nov 8, 2022

as the ballots are counted #prayer

As the ballots are counted,
we ask You, Dear Lord,
hold us all.

Reach those who receive more votes
with Your Graceful Spirit.
Teach them humility.

Reach those who receive fewer votes
with Your Wisdom.
Teach them patience.

Remind us, Holy One,
that power is meant to be temporary 
and that, in the end,
loving our neighbors
is the only Policy that matters.

Amen.

- Rabbi Menachem Creditor, 11.8.2022

VAYERA: The Opposite of Voting is Sodom and Gemorah #ElectionDay

Nov 7, 2022

VaYera 2022

go where I show you
be a blessing, if you can
life is full of tests

look to the heavens
stars shine forever, after
you will too. trust Me.

beloved boy, my child
thank you, Holy One
I feel Your promise

laughter born anew
my second son. oh wife(s),
I can love them both

but God, You promised
like the sands, You said, like sand
slipping through my hands

but not Isaac too...
how could You... no words come...
just be a blessing...

he just walks with me
silent in the morning air
for three aching days 

until: father, fire
and devouring knife are there 
but where is the sheep

the knife in his hand
raised above his beating heart
never came to rest

- VaYera 2022, Rabbi Menachem Creditor 

VAYERA: Sodom & Gomorra vs The Binding of Isaac

Gun Violence Prevention Shabbat is this Shabbat! #VaYera

Nov 3, 2022

Prayer for Gentle Peace

Prayer for Gentle Peace
Rabbi Menachem Creditor

I lift my eyes and glimpse a sliver of the expanse. 

What do You see, Holy One? Was Bildad correct?* Is force the only way to achieve peace? Is there a way forward other than dread?

I look to the rabbis, whose inspired Blessing for Peace* was also a textual revolution against Bildad. They saw Heavenly peace and invited it earthward. What might otherwise feel unfathomable except through brute force was reframed by those rabbis into a prayer for something gentler.
 
So, achy for peace, I follow my ancestors' example and gaze at the sky. It seems peaceful up there, especially when compared with the earth below. Especially today.

I look to Heaven and pray for peace to grace this fragile planet we share.

Amen.
 
________
Source texts (via Sefaria)
 
*עֹשֶׂה שָׁלוֹם בִּמְרוֹמָיו הוּא יַעֲשֶׂה שָׁלוֹם עָלֵֽינוּ וְעַל כָּל־יִשְׂרָאֵל וְאִמְרוּ אָמֵן:
May the One Who makes peace in the Heavens make peace upon us and upon all Israel and let us say: Amen. (Siddur)
 
*הַמְשֵׁ֣ל וָפַ֣חַד עִמּ֑וֹ עֹשֶׂ֥ה שָׁ֝ל֗וֹם בִּמְרוֹמָֽיו׃
Dominion and dread are God's; God imposes peace in God's heights. (Job 25.2)

Oct 12, 2022

Vezot haBracha

I'm so sad Moses had to die
all of us not just him
that's what I mean

what comfort though
to be sad with God
whose Holy Kiss
drew out our Master's soul 
like a thread gliding through milk

that was Love 
and so sad 

it is sad 
but it is also the way it is 
not just for masters 
and not just for God 
but for all of us 

none will arise like you again. 
that is sad. 
you are so very beautiful. 
that is glorious.





Sep 21, 2022

Cherishing the Gift of Today #Nitzavim #RoshHashanah #Hayom #Broadcast638

A Mini-Selichot


A Mini-Selichot
© Rabbi Menachem Creditor

God, forgive us, but please help us surpass the pre-written stuff. Remind us to believe in our own living hearts and mouths and souls.

Hear us when we speak.
Comfort us when we cry.
Guide us when we stray. 

God, please forgive us for the things we did wrong and were brave enough to name, strong enough to own, and hopeful enough to see past.

May the coming year find us ready to be our full size, strong and brave and hopeful, alive and healthy and safe.

May the coming year be a good one.

For everyone, Dear God, for everyone.

Amen.

Sep 16, 2022

Just for a Moment

Just for a Moment
© Rabbi Menachem Creditor 

A good story gives us a hint
of the happy ending
but then whisks it away
with a giant or a curse
or a virus or a fire.

After all,
ever after isn't forever.
Not in a real story.
It just means time.

But, Dear God,
our story has had too much
of fiery sky and flooded ground,
and the hint of the happy
is washed and burned, 
feels so very faded,
and we need more
rainbow skies and dewy ground,
to remind us of the happy. 

So, Holy One, 
just for a moment,
please:

let lovers find each other, 
let friends forgive,
let our souls heal, 
let love be the loudest sound our hearts make.
Just for a moment. 

Remind us of the promise
of a world reborn.

Or, perhaps,
You're the One who's waiting
to be reminded.

Remember to Play and Be in the Story #kitavo #ModehAni #VivianPaley #Play #TheBoyOnTheBeach #Torah

Aug 15, 2022

Eikev: Healthy Love

Eikev: Healthy Love
Rabbi Menachem Creditor


With Parashat Eikev, we reach a challenging moment in the exploration of Love. We hear the urgency of Moses’ ongoing final speech, imploring his people to not make the same mistakes as the generation before them. Yes, each generation must make their own mistakes, but each should also do their part to help make sure the overall journey of human experience moves in a forward direction, better than what came before. That is our generation’s job as well, to face today’s challenge and chart a course that best supports those who will follow us.

The Torah text tells us that God challenged our ancestors on purpose:

Remember the long way that Adonai your God has made you travel in the wilderness these past forty years, to test you by hardships to learn what was in your hearts: whether you would keep God’s commandments or not. God subjected you to the hardship of hunger and then gave you manna to eat, which neither you nor your ancestors had ever known, in order to teach you that a person does not live on bread alone, but only upon that which God decrees. The clothes upon you did not wear out, nor did your feet swell these forty years. Bear in mind that Adonai your God disciplines you just as a parent disciplines their child. Therefore keep the commandments of Adonai your God: walk in God’s ways and revere God. (Deut. 8:2-6).

[Note: this adapted translation is complicated. The linguistic issue of using gendered language when referring to God is a profound theological one with severe social impact. The theological issue is also a very human one, with gender implications beyond counting. The harshness of as a father disciplines his son in the original Hebrew text portrays God as male, something often found in biblical language, though elsewhere the Torah also describes God as inclusive of all genders. (See Gen. 1:27.) Scholarly explorations of this important conversation can be found in Standing Again at Sinai: Judaism from a Feminist Perspective by Judith Plaskow and The Obligated Self: Maternal Subjectivity and Jewish Thought by Mara Benjamin.]

These verses are the very ones which turn some toward a relationship with the Divine and others running in the opposite direction. The rabbis of the Talmud explore this concept, deducing that if one experiences hardship, they should examine their behavior. If their behavior seems to be acceptable, they should examine their devotion to Torah study. If their Torah study proves sufficient, then perhaps they are in truth experiencing what the rabbis call “chastisements of love. (Berachot 5a)”

While it is important to point out that there are also voices in the Talmud that reject the idea that suffering is an intentional message from God, it is up to us to move the conversation forward. We must add our voices and, just as our spiritual ancestors did, challenge ourselves – and God – to grow out of this archaic and problematic metaphor. There is no place within Love – nor the Holy – for justifying premeditated hurt. Judaism affirms that we are each loved by an unending Divine Love, and this is no less true when we experience pain. We can turn to God as a source of healing from our pain, without depicting God as the source of it.
 
Many struggle with theodicy, the practice of defending of God's goodness in view of the existence of evil. While it would be cruel to question those for whom a theology of chastisements of love provides meaning and order, it is also important to reject any notion of God choosing to cause suffering in order to test people. There is meaning to be excavated from within all experiences, even the painful ones. There is Love to be discovered and amplified through each and every moment.
 
The question isn’t about God. The question is whether we are prepared to be human channels of Love and meaning – through any and all circumstances. Our task is to love and to be loved, even and especially when there is pain.

Aug 12, 2022

Aug 4, 2022

Tisha Be'Av: Seeing/Hearing Each Other and Restoring Our Home

***SPECIAL BOOK ANNOUNCEMENT!*** ENDING GUN VIOLENCE: ESSAYS, PRAYERS, AND POEMS

 ***SPECIAL BOOK ANNOUNCEMENT!***

ENDING GUN VIOLENCE: ESSAYS, PRAYERS, AND POEMS
BY RABBI MENACHEM CREDITOR
FOREWORD BY FRED GUTTENBERG

Truly humbled to share that for the first time, all of my essays, poems, and prayers, writings on Gun Violence have been published in one place. A very special thank you to my teacher, my friend, Fred Guttenberg, for his powerful foreword.
I'm also grateful for the chance, in the book's dedication section, to quote wisdom from my beloved friend, Rachel Brodie z"l, who once wrote: "For Jonah’s experience to be valuable, it has to be more than just a reminder that he’ll be able to experience joy again, that while it’s true that nothing lasts, and that his cynicism is well-founded, it also demonstrates God’s point that Jonah cannot use his truth to justify inaction. If you have responsibilities—and you know what they are—then you must do them."
May we be blessed to do our parts in saving lives.
May America begin the process of healing after decades of inaction on Gun Violence.
May the thousands upon thousands of souls we’ve lost finally rest in peace.
Amen.



Jul 25, 2022

a quiet, powerful rabbinic experience.

Just had a quiet, powerful rabbinic experience.

Often, clergy shares with others life's most tender and vulnerable moments. And then, once the intensity ebbs, usually after many years, the intimacy and frequency of the relationship ebbs as well. Sometimes the rabbi changes locations. Sometimes the other person does.
But then, every once in a while, re-encounter happens. This one was on Facebook.
Many years ago, I became part of someone's life when their spouse was dying. I fell in love with them both and with their family. I learned with them, sang with them, and eventually did bury my new friend, crying with their family hot, grieving tears. It was ravaging, and I've whispered my friend's name every Yizkor since.
Today, "by chance", I scrolled through FB (confession: I rarely do) and came across photos of my friend who had lost their spouse. I saw life in their eyes, glimpses into their next chapters since the grief we experienced together, clear happiness and health. All this brought new tears to my eyes, tears of comfort, tears of gratitude.
Years have passed since we've been near each other, and yet in this moment, time collapsed and I see hope.
Blessed is the One whose flow is Life itself.

Amen. 

We must (and can) learn to be curious again. #MattotMassei #MotiveAsymmetry

Jul 19, 2022

Looking back at Thomas

Looking back at Thomas
whose words did and didn't declare freedom
whose coat once did fit and now does not fit
our society which is and is not yet free,
I wonder:

As he gazes across the water
toward his neighbor Martin, 
whose folded arms and fierce gaze
say so much,

what would he say today?
would anything seem so self-evident anymore? 
and would he seem so tall?

- Menachem Creditor

Jul 17, 2022

Abortion and Reproductive Justice: Selected Jewish Resources

Abortion and Reproductive Justice:
Selected Jewish Resources

JFNA Dobbs vs. Jackson webinar source sheet (see links below for further study)

From Justification to Justice: Jewish Sources on Abortion
Dr. Michal Raucher, JTS Fellow and Assistant Professor of Jewish Studies, Rutgers University 
Source Sheets on Sefaria re: "Abortion"

JOFA'S S.A.F.E. (SUPPORT, ADVOCACY, FUNDING, EDUCATION) REPRODUCTIVE JUSTICE RESOURCE PAGE 

Statement by the Union of Orthodox Jewish Congregations of America on US Supreme Court’s Ruling in Dobbs v. Jackson, Overturning Roe v. Wade
https://advocacy.ou.org/ou-statement-roe-wade/

Abortion and Reproductive Justice: A Jewish Perspective
Rabbis Joshua R. S. Fixler and Emily Langowitz

Encoded Law and Embodied Spirit: Judaism and Abortion
Rabbi Menachem Creditor




Jul 13, 2022

Parashat Balak: Tents, Privacy, and Justice

in memory of Jamie Guttenberg z"l, whose 19th birthday should have been today with gratitude to Daphne Lazar Price, Executive Director of the Jewish Orthodox Feminist Alliance, for her leadership. Her essay, "Shaming women who have abortions is not a Jewish ethic," is available here: https://blogs.timesofisrael.com/shaming-women-who-have-abortions-is-not-a-jewish-ethic/ also referenced in this reflection is Caitlin Chin's "What Privacy in the United States Could Look Like without Roe v. Wade," available here: https://www.csis.org/analysis/what-privacy-united-states-could-look-without-roe-v-wade

Jul 8, 2022

Perhaps: A Prayer with God for the World

Perhaps: A Prayer with God for the World
Rabbi Menachem Creditor


Dear God, Holy One, Beloved,

This fragile, beautiful world of ours stands at a precipice.
It always has. Perhaps it always will.
Every moment seems to be a crossroad.
Perhaps that was the plan.
Perhaps there was no plan.

But we promise again, Mother of All:
You’ve got us.
And we’ve got a plan.

Perhaps, Divine Mystery, that’s You, in us.
Perhaps our yearning for a more created world
is truly Your Spirit stirring in our minds’ eyes,
inspiring us to be the change we dream to see.

Perhaps, after all,
Yours has never been a plan,
but rather seeds of sacred vision.
Perhaps You, Dear One, and we, your children,
are learning every day and doing our best
to see more clearly and feel more fiercely.

God, that is a true gift:
to see with Your Eyes
and to love with Your Love.

For these blessings,
and the gift of more days in which to be of service with You
as partners in Creation,
may we be ever thankful.

We know we are called to repair
that which remains broken.
And so, we pray:

May we walk humbly but not too humbly
as we channel Your Spirit, coursing through our bodies
to bring more justice, more kindness, more hope,
and more love into the world.

May the coming days find us ever ready
to walk in Your ways by walking with each other
to do with our bodies what we often ask of You:
to see, to discover, to build
a truly beautiful world,
a world of Chesed, of Love.

Amen.



__________
image: "Where Heaven And Earth Meet." Engraving by an unknown artist that first appeared in Camille Flammarion's L'atmosphere meteorologie populaire (1888).

Jul 6, 2022

An Evening Modeh Ani

An Evening Modeh Ani

Modeh Ani, Grateful Am I
Life-force of the Universe
for the soul You have lent me
so that I was able today
to experience the grandeur of Creation.

As the sun sets, 
as the day begins to end,
as we lay our heads to rest,
we ask You, Creator,
for something precious:
tomorrow.

- Rabbi Menachem Creditor

#nighttime #gratitude #prayer 

All Four Rabbis Against Gun Violence Anthologies

Rabbis Against Gun Violence (RAGV) published Peace in Our Cities (2013) in response to the Sandy Hook school shooting in Newtown, Connecticut. A subsequent volume, Not by Might (2016) was created in response to the shooting massacre at the Pulse nightclub in Orlando, Florida. Holding Fast (2018) was published in the aftermath of the antisemitic shooting massacre at Tree of Life Synagogue in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. All Who Can Protest (2020) was published after the attacks in Buffalo, NY and Uvalde, TX.




Jul 5, 2022

We Are All Implicated: The Red Heifer & American Gun Violence

There were 6 mass shootings in America on #July4th 2022 & 413 people were shot during the last 72 hours.


#HighlandParkIL #BostonMA #SacramentoCA #KansasCityMO #ChicagoIL #RichmondVA #GunViolence #EndGunViolence #EnoughIsEnough

Jun 23, 2022

** Announcing the Publication of "All Who Can Protest: A Rabbinic Call to End The American Gun Violence Epidemic"!! **

 ** SPECIAL ANNOUNCEMENT **

Dear Friends,

All Who Can Protest: A Rabbinic Call to End The American Gun Violence Epidemic” is now live! My fellow editors Rabbis Rachel Timoner, Michelle Dardashti, and Isaiah Rothstein and I are deeply appreciative of the 37 new contributions from rabbinic colleagues representing a rich tapestry Jewish expression, united in voice to End the American Gun Violence Epidemic. The second section of the book contains excerpts from the first 3 Rabbis Against Gun Violence anthologies: Peace in Our Cities (2013), Not By Might (2016), and Holding Fast (2018)

For the Table of contents and contributor bios, click here: https://tinyurl.com/AllWhoCanProtest01 )

(The Kindle version will likely not be available for a month or so.)

Especially today, when the Senate might sign into law the first (very small) step forward on American Gun Reform and when the US Supreme Court blocked New York's law banning guns in public, we know we have much work to do together.

We're proud to amplify each other's voices in society, and are ready to continue this urgently important work in the world.

Please share news of the book’s publication, tagging fellow authors, so that we can generate good buzz and strong circulation!

For now, dear friends, from our hearts, thank you.

May our world be blessed with health, safety, dignity, and peace.

Kol Tuv,

Menachem

Jun 16, 2022

Jun 14, 2022

Holding onto the Light (recorded June 14, 2017)

It's possible to look at any week's Torah reading, and then news headlines that are happening all around. And to wonder: is there a connection? And then you find a connection. You find yourself grounded in the text and in the world. And then something else happens. So you recalibrate. And then something else happens. And then you wonder: can I keep on doing this? Can I keep on adjusting to the moment? How can I hold onto the light? (originally recorded June 14, 2017)

Jun 8, 2022

Stand Up & Get Loud: The Call of (Women's) Leadership - in honor of Laurie Girsky, upon completing 3 years of leading UJA Women


Stand Up & Get Loud: The Call of (Women's) Leadership
in honor of Laurie Girsky, upon completing 3 years of leading UJA Women.
Wednesday, June 8, 2022

Jun 7, 2022

Morning Torah: Share Blessing! (Broadcast #561)


Rabbi Menachem Creditor has been broadcasting Morning Torah on UJA-Federation of New York's Facebook page every weekday since March 18, 2020. This video was originally shared there (the 561st live broadcast) on June 6, 2022. 

#ParashatNaso #Naso #Torah #Commentary

May 31, 2022

*CALL FOR SUBMISSIONS* All Who Can Protest: A Rabbinic Call to End The American Gun Violence Epidemic

 *CALL FOR SUBMISSIONS*


All Who Can Protest: A Rabbinic Call to End The American Gun Violence Epidemic

edited by Rabbi Menachem Creditor, Rabbi Rachel Timoner, Rabbi Michelle Dardashti, and Rabbi Isaiah Rothstein

How can this be? Over and over and over and over, we are shocked to our cores by mass shooting after mass shooting after mass shooting. Or, even worse, we become less shocked. We must heed the teaching of Rabbi Abraham Joshua Heschel, who wrote,

"When I see an act of evil, I'm not accommodated. I don't accommodate myself to the violence that goes on everywhere; I'm still surprised. That's why I'm against it, why I can hope against it. We must learn how to be surprised. Not to adjust ourselves.”

In the aftermath of recent mass shootings, including at the Tops Friendly Market in a predominantly Black neighborhood in Buffalo, New York, at Robb Elementary School in Uvalde, Texas, and at a Taiwanese church in Laguna Woods, California, ALL WHO CAN PROTEST will document the ongoing call of American Jewish rabbinic leadership to END THE AMERICAN GUN VIOLENCE EPIDEMIC.

Has your rabbi delivered a message of protest in response to Gun Violence? Contributions of 500-800 (plus or minus) words are due June 20, and must be sent IN WORD FORMAT to torahwithin@gmail.com.

May 27, 2022

The poetry of Yehuda Amichai, the #Uvalde & #Buffalo #GunViolence Massacres, the rebuke of Parashat Bechukotai, and the prophetic voice of Dr Seuss - one urgent message: "Unless someone like you cares a whole awful lot, nothing is going to get better, it's not."

The poetry of Yehuda Amichai, the #Uvalde & #Buffalo #GunViolence Massacres, the rebuke of Parashat Bechukotai, and the prophetic voice of Dr Seuss - one urgent message:
 
"Unless someone like you cares a whole awful lot, nothing is going to get better, it's not."
 
May we do our part in making this world safer for our children, for our elders, for our schools, for our neighbors. That is the way.


May 26, 2022

From The Atlantic: "Gun culture may be harder to change than gun laws"

 

WEDNESDAY, MAY 25, 2022
The Daily
Katherine J. Wu headshot

Katherine J. Wu

STAFF WRITER

Guns are part of everyday American life. Then: If Donald Trump is attempting to pave a path back to the White House in 2024, the road ahead just got a little rockier.

10 years after Sandy Hook

Two black-and-white images of adults hugging children

(AP / Getty / The Atlantic)

Connecticut is where 20 children and six adults were killed by a gunman at Sandy Hook Elementary School almost a decade ago. Today, it is also a state in which it is still very easy to legally carry a gun. My colleague Graeme Wood, a Connecticut resident and gun enthusiast, proved just how easy last weekend, when he enrolled in a daylong class on guns and gun safety—the primary obstacle standing between him and a bona fide certification to carry a lethal weapon.

Anyone, Graeme observes, “with an IQ higher than a mango’s could pass” the class, which cost about $75. After that, it’s simply a matter of presenting yourself and your fingertips to the police, and paying a small fee. Anyone who’s not registered with the government as a criminal or psychiatric inpatient, and is not an “illegal” resident, is expected to be green-lit for gun ownership.

“I asked the instructor, who had spent decades working in fire and law enforcement, whether the officers at my local police station might refuse to issue me a carry permit, just because they thought I looked squirrelly and mentally unstable,” Graeme writes. “‘If they rejected people on that basis, do you think I’d have a permit?’ he joked. ‘But seriously. You could go in wearing your underpants on the outside and it wouldn’t matter.’”

Certainly this pipeline could be tightened. But, as Graeme explains, such a change might not make much of a difference—in Connecticut, or anywhere else in the United States. Nearly 400 million guns—many more than there were when Sandy Hook was attacked—are in civilian hands in the country already, woven into the fabric of daily life, and embedded deeply into American culture. Yesterday, an 18-year-old man carried one of them, a rifle, into an elementary school in Uvalde, Texas, and killed at least 19 children and two adults. In the aftermath of the tragedy, people across the world are grieving; parents are fearful for their kids’ lives. And yet, little seems likely to change. Whatever will may exist for reform and gun control, my colleague Ronald Brownstein writes, this country’s political infrastructure probably won’t let any meaningful legislative action through.

That doesn’t mean we remain complacent. “These kids and all the people who die every day,” the emergency physician Megan Ranney told me, “deserve better than for us to forget them.”

VAYEITZEI: You're never alone