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Showing posts from March, 2010

Thoughts from a Simple Son

Thoughts from a Simple Son
Rabbi Menachem CreditorWhat was it that held back a feeling of impending liberation this year?Was it the real events occurring on the global political arena? The
insistent existential question of the necessity of particular form,
given the urgency of a universe-in-need? The impossibility of
balancing these demands alongside 'normal', everyday concerns?These questions might fit (with some hermeneutical fidgeting) into
the categories of 'wise child', 'wicked child', and
'unable-to-ask-child.'. But what if it's much simpler than that?Perhaps the less obvious explanation is the most obvious possibility.
That instead of 'figuring it out' via intellectual exploration,
activist rebellion, or even profound silence, the best thing to do,
once in a while, is to be honest. Simple. Something like 'there's
something happening, and I'm not sure about my trajectory at the
moment. Hmm...'. ('Cottleston Pie' was …

bostonglobe: "Conservative temples struggle with changing demographics"

THIS STORY HAS BEEN FORMATTED FOR EASY PRINTING MATTERS OF FAITH In search of a new generation Conservative temples struggle with changing demographics By Erica Noonan, Globe Staff  |  March 28, 2010CHESTNUT HILL — During Passover and the High Holy Days as many as 2,000 people crowd into the cavernous sanctuary at Congregation Mishkan Tefila. But on a normal Shabbat the smaller, more intimate downstairs worship space is used for the synagogue's 200 or so regulars.Just 2 miles away at another Conservative congregation, Temple Emeth, Rabbi Allan Turetz has 800 to 1,000 worshippers for formal holidays, and closer to 150 for Saturday morning services. It can be a stretch to assemble the temple's twice-daily "minyans,'' or prayer groups, that require 10 members to be present, especially on a Saturday night.Greater Boston boasts one of most thriving centers of Conservative Judaism in the country, but it has not escaped a national trend of diminishing membership. From i…

Baltimore Jewish Times - Cover Story: Talking with Rabbi Ronald Shulman and Alex Weinberg

Baltimore Jewish Times - Cover Story: Freedom's Guidebook So many haggadahs offer unique opportunities for our sacred seder journey.
Talking with Rabbi Ronald Shulman and Alex Weinberg
Alan Feiler & Phil Jacobs, Managing Editor & Executive Editor
March 26, 2010
"The Jewish people's festival of freedom is best enjoyed by talking, asking, answering, debating, discussing, wondering about and exploring the Haggadah's many themes, traditions, texts and ritual symbols. In this way participants may discover personal meaning in the celebration and the beauty of the Passover seder."Using Haggadah Shelanu you can prepare your seder celebration in advance of your family and friends' arrival. Preparing a meaningful seder is one of the most important needs we have as Passover approaches."It is ostensibly a self described "scrapbook" of the Jewish memories and history of the participants of one's seder.By going to

Mythic Compassion

Mythic Compassion
© Rabbi Menachem Creditor

with overflowing gratitude for my wife

"A religious [person] is a person who holds God and man[kind] in one thought at one time, at all times,  who suffers harm done to others, whose greatest passion is compassion,  whose greatest strength is love and defiance of despair." – Rabbi Abraham Joshua Heschel, z"l

How could it be otherwise?  What kind of God would wish for passion to be limited to the Divine-Human relationship?  If all people, every person, is created in the Image of God, then isn't interpersonal compassion an act of worship?  Isn't earthly justice a validation of God's creation?  Otherwise, Yehudah Amichai z"l made the correct accusation:
I, required to solve riddles against my will, know That were it not for the God Who is Full of Compassion There would be compassion in the world And not only in [God]. ("ilmalei ha-El malei rachamim")
How can one image of God suffer (l… "Conservative Judaism set to open first shul in Australia" "Conservative Judaism set to open first shul in Australia" By Dan Goldberg · March 25, 2010

Maxine Silbert celebrates her bat mitzvah last year at a Havdalah ceremony at Kehilat Nitzan, Australia's only independent Conservative synagogue, with Rabbi Ehud Bandel on guitar. (Capture Now) SYDNEY, Australia (JTA) -- It began with a small ad placed in the Melbourne edition of the Australian Jewish News by John Rosenberg, a Jewish professor who liked neither the constraints of Orthodoxy nor the lack of tradition in Reform Judaism.A decade later, Rosenberg's solution, Kehilat Nitzan (Hebrew for "bud"), has bloomed into Australia's first and only independent Conservative congregation, with some 600 members.Now the congregation is on the cusp of opening its own synagogue building…

Shabbat HaGadol 5770: “Commanded to Hope”

Shabbat HaGadol 5770: "Commanded to Hope"
Rabbi Menachem Creditor

commemorating the Shloshim of Jon Galinson, z"l

The Haftarah for Shabbat HaGadol speaks of a day when Elijah will come and "return the hearts of parents to their children and children's with their parents (Malachi 3:24),"  a day that can seem far, far away sometimes.   

The whole of the Haftarah is an emotional outpouring of God through the prophet Malachi, whose name means, significantly, "My Angel".  An "angel" is, according to Jewish Mysticism, an impulse borne of spiritual emotion.  Another way of saying this is that an angel is one way God is revealed in the world.  Malachi the 'Angel-Prophet' might be best understood as a manifestation of God's desire to not be Alone, and of God's Burning Need to remind us that we aren't alone either.

There is anger here as well, anger from a God who feels abandoned:  "I haven't chang…

Announcing the Release of "The Pesach Collection 5770"

Announcing the Release of "The Pesach Collection 5770"edited by Nina S. Kretzmer and Rabbi Menachem Creditor
While Pesach is a wonderful time of year, full of hope and happiness, we know that it can be a crazy time too. We hope that this guide, completely compiled of sources from the Conservative Movement, will help you to easily prepare for a meaningful Pesach and celebrate with special sedarim. The ShefaNetwork Pesach Collection is organized into sections regarding preparation for the holiday and the order of the seder itself, interspersed with unique songs collected by Rabbi Barry Dov Lerner to enliven your holiday.  Chag Kasher veSameach! LeShanah HaBa'ah BiYerushalayim!
Rabbi Menachem Creditor

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an interfaith Pesach ecard dreamt into reality by Craig Taubman

Dear Shefa Chevreh,
Our teacher (and fellow Shefanik) Craig Taubman created an Interfaith Pesach e-card with teachings from an imam, rabbis, and ministers reflecting on Pesach and sharing the blessing of a liberated world.  
It just takes one click here to hear the wisdom of all the teachers involved, and to share it with friends and family.  It just went out through USCJ and several other lists - please share it widely.  If there's one dream we might dream a lot louder this year, it is of a world where this partnership isn't uncommon.  Today it is - worth celebrating and circulating.
Kol Tuv, Menachem
Rabbi Menachem Creditor

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jpost editorial: "The right message at the Wall"

March 23, 110 Tuesday 16 Nisan 3870 11:44 IST  Photo by: Barry Schlesinger The right message at the WallBy JERUSALEM POST EDITORIAL
19/03/2010As is sadly all too familiar in the holy, contentious city of Jerusalem, this week was replete with ostensibly religiously motivated violence. As is sadly all too familiar in the holy, contentious city of Jerusalem, this week was replete with ostensibly religiously motivated violence. Riots broke out, on and around the Temple Mount, sparked by baseless claims put forward by various Palestinian leaders that Israelis were scheming to undermine the Muslim hold on the Al Aksa Mosque. 

The unrest, which followed the dedication of the Hurva Synagogue and last week's ill-timed announcement of building in Ramat Shlomo, was a blatant attempt to use violence as a way to intimidate Israel.

But there was another, more minor incident in which religiously motivated violence was used to intimidate. On Tuesday, Rosh Hodesh Nisan, the Women of the Wall, a diverse…

from Shloshim - The 30-day Mourning Period

Shloshim - The 30-day Mourning Period
Between Shiva and ShloshimEven though the Shiva (first seven days of mourning) has ended, one is considered a mourner for twelve months for a parent, and until theShloshim (the thirtieth day from burial) for other relatives. During these twenty-three days, the intensity of mourning is reduced. However, some restrictions continue to remain in effect. One should consult a competent rabbi for complete guidance in all of these matters.Notable restrictions that are lifted:Mourners are no longer confined to the Shiva home.One may change out of the clothing worn during Shiva.One may greet others with customary greetings ("Hello," "How are you," etc.), but others should not greet him in this manner. If they do, he may respond in kind. One may sit on regular chairs. One may wear leather shoes. One may return to work and engage in business. One may use cosmetics,… "Minnesota’s Rabbi Morris Allen Inspires at DC Immigration Rally" "Minnesota's Rabbi Allen Inspires at DC Immigration Rally"Leora Maccabee | Mar 21, 2010 | 2 comments I just got back from the March for America in Washington, DC organized by Reform Immigration for AmericaTwo hundred thousand people  of all different colors, ages, backgrounds, languages and nationalities shouting "si se puede, yes we can" to the possibility of bringing comprehensive immigration reform to America. [UPDATED - with Park Board figures]Minnesota's very own Rabbi Morris Allen (of Beth Jacob Congregation in Mendota Heights) was the Jewish speaker at the opening of the event, joining Christian and Muslim leaders from around the world to stand up for immigration reform from their various religious perspectives.Here is the video of Rabbi Allen's invocation: Allen provided me with the text of his original speech (the final was cut sli…

the ASUC bill

Dear Chancellor Birgeneau and President Yudof,

I share with you my distress as a leader in the Berkeley community in response to the UC Berkeley ASUC Student Senate bill calling upon the UC Berkeley administration and the UC Regents to divest from companies due to their business relationship with the Israeli government.
I am the rabbi of a community with many diverse opinions about Israel, and am not unaware of valid critiques of Israeli governmental policy.  Indeed, I have written publicly on this topic, and will continue to do so.  The ASUC bill unfairly singles out Israel and worsens the very hopes for peace that unites every party at the table.  This bill fosters animosity, and presents a terrible picture of the UC Berkeley campus to the community.
It is my hope that the tolerance and diversity which typify UC Berkeley's reputation, and is the shared aspiration of Zionists and their detractors alike, will cry loudest in the near future in response to the ASUC bill.

From Yonina Creditor: "A Woman, a Chair and a Wall"

"A Woman, a Chair and a Wall"Yonina Creditor, JTS Rabbinical School
                Last Tuesday, I went to a holy place, to daven with a holy community at a holy time – Rosh Chodesh Nissan. I had heard of the Women of the Wall and had the desire to experience their Tefilot, just as I had been exploring Tefilah all over Israel this year. When I arrived at the Kotel, I went to the Womens section and took a moment, as I do every time I visit, to appreciate the historic significance of my ability to stand freely at the Kotel. I always hear the radio broadcast from 1967 in my head, "HaKotel BeYadeinu" (The Kotel is in our hands). I silently thank those who I don't know, whose sacrifices made it possible for me to stand there at all. It was in that moment that I looked to my left to see the first chair come flying over the Mechitza (divider) of the men's side. Okay, one chair. They are upset. I understand they are not happy. Then three more chairs followed, …