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Showing posts from September, 2008

Let’s do 5769 together, not alone

Let's do 5769 together, not alone
by Rabbi Menachem Creditor (courtesy of the J)
The year 5769 is destined to be one of transition. There will be enough change to boggle the mind — if not stifle it. And if the end of 5768 is any harbinger, we will need all our wits to handle the transition, to take the right path forward. Whichever path that is, the best way to do so is communally, not individually. In the past few months, the Bay Area has seen an influx of new leaders (rabbis, teachers, a CEO at the S.F.-based Jewish Community Federation) — while in the background the country experiences economic upheaval and the political turbulence of a presidential election. Swirling around us are differing visions of what might come next. How can we make decisions facing, as marketing theorist Jack Trout calls it, such a "tyranny of choice"? With so much potential in the air, how can w…

Jesuit University Offers Jewish Social Justice Course
By Rebecca Spence
Thu. Sep 18, 2008Los Angeles — A Bay Area university has become the first in America to create an academic program based on a long-standing tradition: the Jewish commitment to social justice.This month, the University of San Francisco, a 153-year-old Jesuit institution, launched the Swig Program in Jewish Studies and Social Justice. Directed by Jewish activist Aaron Hahn Tapper, the program offers students the opportunity to carry a minor in the new track, which examines social justice through a Jewish lens.In 2003, Hahn Tapper founded Abraham's Vision, an educational organization that works toward transforming religious and ethnic conflicts. He will continue his work at Abraham's Vision, where he serves as co-executive director.Since the 1970s, Jewish studies departments have proliferated on American college campuses. More recently, Israel studies departments have carved out a place for themselves in academia. But this lat…

Crossing a line?: Many local names sign on to controversial Rabbis for Obama list

Crossing a line?: Many local names sign on to controversial Rabbis for Obama listFriday September 19, 2008
by dan pine, staff writer for the J.

Can ordained rabbis publicly endorse a partisan political candidate? Apparently, yes they can. More than 400 American rabbis have lent their names to Rabbis for Obama, a Chicago-based organization that has endorsed Democratic presidential candidate Barack Obama. Rabbi Menachem Creditor, of Berkeley’s Congregation Netivot Shalom, is one of the pulpit rabbis signing on for Obama. He’s not the least bit worried that he has crossed a line. “I’m not representing my congregation,” he says. “That would be a violation of the tax code and the church-state divide.”

It’s not like the Rabbis for Obama will hop on the campaign bus or show up arm-in-arm at a rally. Mostly they signed a letter (available on the Web at, which reads in part, “We join together to support Senator Obama for president, and we …

Vote No on Prop. 8

The California Supreme Court’s May 15th marriage ruling caused a historic response on the part of leaders of PJA and three other Jewish Bay Area community organizations. We have joined together to form Kol Tzedek (Voice of Justice), a coalition for justice and LGBT rights. In addition to the PJA, Kol Tzedek members include Congregation Sha’ar Zahav, Jewish Mosaic: the National Center for Sexual and Gender Diversity and the LGBT Alliance of the Jewish Community Federation of San Francisco, Sonoma and the Peninsula.

Kol Tzedek began our work together by creating a vocal supportive presence at San Francisco’s City Hall on the first day that marriage licenses were issued to same sex couples. We came equipped with a chuppah (marriage canopy), a ketubah-like document marking the historic moment and signed by nearly 200 people present, and wedding cake to celebrate with couples.

Our next goal is to mobilize the Jewish community against Proposition 8 which is on this N…

Why I Joined Rabbis for Obama

© Rabbi Menachem CreditorI've received both affirmation and hate-mail in recent weeks for having joined a group called Rabbis for Obama (, a grassroots organization of rabbis from all movements and backgrounds.Here is why I joined.My primary reason for endorsing a political candidate, especially given the dangerous overlap between religion and state involved, is that there is a terrible and effective Lashon Hara/Slander campaign against him within the Jewish community.  (Click here for a story reported by the Associated Press about how the Jewish Community in Florida is being targeted in this way.)  I receive countless anti-Obama emails containing innuendo, rumor, guilt by association, and worse.Efforts to defame him and distort his record are flying in the Jewish internet.If rabbis who affiliate republican had stepped up and said, "we support John McCain for president but decry the smear campaign being waged in our own community," I'd likely not h…

a comment on "the atheon"

a comment on "the atheon"
Religion and science are different pursuits. Science ultimately desires to know “how” and religion is the pursuit of “why”? Superconductors might very well duplicate a mini-big-bang, but are not designed to reflect on the motivation for creation. Denying the existence of God is, in effect, denying that which cannot be measured. Denying the existence of God is denying the mystery of infinity. Science is a part of religion in that, with every scientific advance, we understand the universe just a bit better, and therefore reanalyze inherited traditions, fusing our daily rituals with reflective thinking.Mr. Keats is quoted in the press release for Atheon as saying, “If people are to find spirituality in science, it’s likely to be by immersing themselves in questions.” He has, in effect, missed the point of faith traditions. Every one of…
At Jesuit university, a unique
course in Jewish social justice University of San FranciscoRabbi Menachem Creditor of Berkeley, Calif., is among 17 guest speakers this semester at the University of San Francisco class titled "Jews, Jewish Texts, and Social Justice Activists."By Sue Fishkoff
Published: 09/14/2008

SAN FRANCISCO (JTA) -- Erin-Kate Escobar, a political science major at the University of San Francisco, had never been interested in her school’s Judaic studies program.“It was Judaism as religion,” she says.But when classes resumed last month the old program, with its theological and historical emphasis, had morphed into The Swig Program in Jewish Studies and Social Justice, a reconfigured minor aimed at teaching students what it means to be a Jewish social justice activist.The program offers classes in Judaism, Jewish culture and thought, Jewish-Muslim and Jewish-Christian rel…

The Launch of Rabbis for Obama

I am a proud member of! Here is today's press release, which I endorse completely.

September 10, 2008
Group of over 300 Rabbis Join to Support Obama

WASHINGTON – Today, group of over three hundred American rabbis released a letter in support of Senator Barack Obama's historic candidacy. "Rabbis for Obama," through its website,, aims to spread an awareness of Senator Obama's message of change and repairing the world, which is steeped in the Jewish tradition of Tikkun Olam and the values of the Hebrew prophets.

"Rabbis for Obama" is a grassroots effort founded by Rabbi Sam Gordon of Wilmette, IL, and Rabbi Steven Bob of Glen Ellyn, IL. Its members represent every corner of the American Jewish community, including rabbis from each of the major Jewish Movements in the United States (Reform, Conservative, Orthodox, and Reconst…

Observant Jews and the Halacha of Eating Out

[cross-posting from the conversation referenced below]

Dear Chevreh,

I'm grateful to Rabbi Leff for beginning this conversation, and am thrilled that Shefa has provided a forum for thoughtful dialogue leading up to a conversation at the CJLS. On this topic it is clear that we bring much life-experience and engagement-with-halacha to the table. Here's what I'm hoping, and what has defined (and will continue to define) the ShefaNetwork as a place of positive purposeful dreaming:

We have seen fruit already, with gatherings of Shefaniks at various Conservative Movement conventions, with a surge in subscription to the email list (currently around 450 college students, USY'ers, professors, rabbis, cantors, FJMC/WLCJ leadership, shul leaders, USCJ professionals, JTS/Ziegler/Machon Schechter rabbinical students, early childhood educators, Israeli Masorti members, potential Jews undergoimng conversion in Europe, etc...). There have been over 40,000 hits on Shef…