Jan 8, 2018

Diving for Hidden Treasure: Exodus, Liberation, and Light


Diving for Hidden Treasure: Exodus, Liberation, and Light
Menachem Creditor, HuffPost Contributor
01/08/2018

A powerful story, a favorite of my father’s, tells of a grandfather and a grandson. The grandfather, a traditional Jew, is on his deathbed and makes a final request of his grandson. The grandson is prepared to create a Yeshiva, give charity - anything his grandfather asks. So when the grandfather asks him to become a scuba diver, the grandson is shocked. He stammers his confusion to his grandfather, who explains,
“When I was on the boat coming over from the Old Country, I remember one picture very clearly: When we all saw the Statue of Liberty come into view, many of those on the decks of the boat threw their tefillin (prayer phylacteries) overboard. I want you to become a scuba diver so that you can rescue those pairs of tefillin.“
As it turns out, this story has made the rounds of oral traditions from early Jewish American immigrants to Shoah survivors. It is immortalized within the poetry of early 20th century American Yiddish Poet Jacob Glatstein, and later in the modern novel In the Image, by Dara Horn. They story’s historicity is simply overwhelmed by its meanings. What could those who threw their tefillin overboard have been thinking? They had suffered and survived the constriction of their religious freedoms, only to abandon the symbols of their tradition into the waters of America! [to continue reading, click here!]

Jan 5, 2018

Impatient Love (Beloved Community Writing Project, #1)


Impatient Love

Beloved Community Writing Project, #1
© Rabbi Menachem Creditor

Intro: For each day leading up to Martin Luther King Junior Day, I’ll choose one text by the American Prophet Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr, and offer a rabbinic comment. These sacred texts are more than historic statements of a champion of Human Rights: they are a roadmap to a better society, what King called a ‘Beloved Community.’

May we be strengthened by his enduring spirit to bring our communities one step closer to his vision.
________________

“There comes a time when people get tired of being trampled by oppression. There comes a time when people get tired of being plunged into the abyss of exploitation and nagging injustice. The story of Montgomery is the story of fifty thousand such Negroes who were willing to substitute tired feet for tired souls, and walk the streets of Montgomery until the walls of segregation were finally battered by the forces of justice.” (from “Justice and Freedom” in The words of Martin Luther King Jr, ed. Coretta Scott King)
“Then Moses stretched out his hand over the sea; and God swept the sea back by a strong east wind all night and turned the sea into dry land, so the waters were divided. The children of Israel went through the midst of the sea on the dry land, and the waters were like a wall to them on their right hand and on their left.” (Ex. 14:21-22)

Splitting of the Sea of Reeds, the climax of the biblical Exodus, is typically depicted in cinema as an explosion of waters after a dramatic gesture by Moses. Truer to the text, truer to human experience, liberation is a grinding process of marching tired feet.

A classic Jewish teaching, chanted during moments in which justice and redemption feel dreadfully far in the future, affirms faith in the coming of the Messiah. “Though he may tarry, I will wait.” In contrast to this, modern religious movements, discontent abrogating joy to the World to Come and committed to changing the World That Is, require language like that of Dr. King’s.

Examples of nagging injustice abound. Will you wait for that better day to arrive? Or instead, might you find the moral courage to fan the strong eastern winds of freedom with your own tired hands, crumbling every alienating wall with a determined impatient love?

#BelovedCommunity #WritingProject #MLK #2018 #1

Dec 26, 2017

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.

Amen.

#Prayer #newyear #2018 #light #life #inspiration #radicalamazement #love #gratitude #Hope #humanity

Dec 21, 2017

On Being a Man in a #MeToo World

On Being a Man in a #MeToo World
(c) Rabbi Menachem Creditor
Huffington Post, Dec. 21, 2017
https://www.huffingtonpost.com/entry/on-being-a-man-in-a-metoo-world_us_5a3c03cce4b0d86c803c7001

In an underground parking garage in downtown San Francisco recently, it became blindingly clear that I will never understand what it means to say #metoo.

I was calmly walking to my car, and saw a woman walking in the other direction, apparently looking to leave. I had a feeling that she was looking for the exit where I had just come from, so I said “this is where you go,” and pointed in the correct direction.

Then I saw her hesitate... [TO READ MORE, CLICK HERE]