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Showing posts from August, 2007
Fun and Trembling: Playing Rosh Hashanah Blog TagRabbi Menachem Creditor[note: This post is a conversation shared with and initiated by my friend and teacher Rabbi Hayim Herring, executive director of STAR: Synagogue Transformation and Renewal, who asked some friends to play a game of pre-Rosh HaShannah "virtual tag", and to invite every blogger we know to play, and to share our thoughts as we prepare personally and professionally for the Chagim. See the links that will be added to this blog entry as they are created! - rc]1] Life is incredibly precious, and the craziness in any one part can take over the others. The Personal Priority Holiness Code, (in which self must continuously gain as it gives) should be: Family, Community, World.2] Change for change's own sake is a mistake. Feel the need, allow it to express itself in the voices and faces of others before responding.
3] Birth is a process. It takes time, and rarely goes according to plan. Remembering the &quo…
A Reflection on the Conservative Movement © 2007 Rabbi Menachem Creditor
The deepest teacher to call the Conservative Movement home was Abraham Joshua Heschel, who prescribed the medicine required for rediscovering a dynamic Conservative Movement. He wrote: "To understand the meaning of the problem and to appreciate its urgency, we must keep alive in our reflection the situation of stress and strain in which it came to pass… and the necessity of confronting and being preoccupied with it." We, the inheritors of a Conservative Movement which has allowed itself to become more institutionally conservative than personally moving in recent decades, have spent enough time complaining about what is. It is time to confront where we are, armed with a surging hope for what can be.
We must see the birth of healthy movemental communication.The websites and publications of our core institutions represent fragmented visions of the whole at best.Where are the Conservative Jew…
The Shoah Scroll
(submitted to J.)

Irving Zale's letter " One Liturgy, Aug. 10" brought home for me both the power and the virtual impossibility of a unified prayer language. The liturgical practice for Tisha Be'av, as Zale points out, includes the Book of Lamentations, but the insertions into the prayers for the day vary widely. Yom HaShoah, whose very name changes according to venue (in Israel it is intentioned as a day of both victimhood and valiance as "Yom HaShoah vehaGevurah"), and whose date also varies (note the U.N.'s declaration that January 27 be marked as "Holocaust Remembrance Day"), has eluded so many attempts at ritualization.

I propose, however, that one recent attempt is worthy of communal reconsideration: The Shoah Scroll, written by Avigdor Shinan, a professor of Hebrew literature at Hebrew University in Jerusalem, and commissioned by the Schechter Institute in Israel, is an evocative, authentic, and newly traditional text…
Clouds Shifting, Blessings in the Silence
© Rabbi Menachem Creditor

As I sat in my shul sanctuary with a person l barely knew,
someone who had come looking for a rabbi to pray with her,

I found myself strumming my guitar,
sharing melodies,
staring at the clouds forming and reforming
in a clear blue sky.

Infinity was just right there.

And in the pauses between words and music,
I looked over and saw this very sad person smile.
Her face was full of possibility.

And the clouds kept shifting.
Aspaklaria: The Looking Glass -- "Finding Our Voice"
Rabbi Menachem Creditor

In making The Prince of Egypt, a recent DreamWorks movie based on the biblical Exodus narrative, the filmmakers consulted with religious scholars for authentic guidance. They were particularly interested in God's voice – should it be male? Female? Digitized and therefore not-human? In the end, they decided that when God would speak to a character, God would speak in the voice of that very character. Val Kilmer's voice was used both for Moses and for God. Unfortunately, God only speaks to Moses in the movie, and so the theoretical female voice of God never actualizes.

Perhaps the moviemakers had learned the following Talmudic text:

"Rabbi Shimon ben Pazzi said: ‘From where do we learn that one who translates the Torah is not permitted to raise his voice above that of the Torah reader? Because the Torah says, "Moses spoke and God answered him by a voice. (Ex. 19:19)"…
Parashat Eikev 5767/2007: “Where Truth Awaits”
© Rabbi Menachem Creditor

in loving memory of Israel “Swede” and Evelyn Goldstein z"l
________________

It is precisely in the nexus between birth and death that Truth emerges. In what other possible way could the very Source of Life become apparent?

What defense can we manage when mortality fills our imaginations? How can dreams be limited when the first cries of a child fill the air?

We are commanded in this week’s Torah portion to ‘cast the images of their [idols] into the fire. (Deut. 7:25)’ Might we not read this instruction as a teaching that anything that seeks to encapsulate Infinity is a lie, and cannot remain as it is?

A baby is only newborn for a finite amount of time. Growth is the ongoing process. Nurturing and witnessing growth is an enduring and changing path.

Death is an event. The journey of the soul beyond this world continues. Surviving is an unending passage.

Infinity is palpable in the immediate…