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Showing posts from 2012

Rabbi David Lerner on "A Shot Heard 'Round the Nation" #CLERGYAGAINSTBULLETS @PICOnetwork "A Shot Heard 'Round the Nation"
Rabbi David Lerner December 30, 2012
Last Friday morning, I was sitting in my study writing a sermon as I heard the unfolding nightmarish news about a school shooting in Newtown, CT.  Watching our preschoolers running around the playground, I was overwhelmed by sadness.  As a father, I thought of my own children.  Silent tears fell on my desk.  Why can we not protect the most vulnerable and the most valuable: our youngest children? "Do not murder" calls out from the Ten Commandments.  That is because every life is precious, created in the divine image and therefore, of infinite value. Judaism frames it as: one who saves one life, saves an entire world and one who destroys one life, destroys an entire world.The United States excels in many ways.  More than most Western democracies, it is country that is infused with religion and s…

Rabbi Bradley Shavit Artson on #HuffPost: "Unity Is Not Uniformity: An Open Letter to Natan Sharansky" #liberatethewall

Rabbi Bradley Shavit Artson on HuffPost: "Unity Is Not Uniformity: An Open Letter to Natan Sharansky" Dear Mr. Sharansky, I am writing to ask you to use your new authority to provide real freedom of religion at the Kotel, Jerusalem's Western Wall. Like many others, I have long been in awe of your heroic fight on behalf of Soviet Jews. Your courage in the face of the full force of Soviet power was a beacon of light that inspired countless others and made possible the repatriation of many Jews to the Land of Israel. We are all in your debt. Recently, the Prime Minister of Israel turned to you to provide another act of courage and service. Few can ignore the atrocious reality that the most public religious site of Judaism, the Western Wall in Jerusalem, has been a site of constricted bigotry, under the domination of an Orthodox rabbinate intent …

Megillah 2a “What Makes a Worthy Leader?”

Megillah 2a "What Makes a Worthy Leader?" © Rabbi Menachem Creditor
Note: This post is the first of "Marginal Judaism," a new series of Talmud reflections. For the archive, please visit To receive them via email, send a blank email to

Talmudic Text:
The Mishnah taught: "The Megilla was read on the 11th day of Adar." From where do we deduce this? From where do we deduce this?! …The rabbis decided that the scroll should be read on Mondays and Thursdays, in order to make it easier for the inhabitants of small villages, who usually came to the towns on Mondays and Thursdays for market.  …We meant to say that the reading of the Megilla was decided by the Members of the Great Assembly (who lived earlier than the rabbis). Now, at the first glance, if the Members of the Great Assembly ordained it should be read on the 14th and 15th, how could the sages believe they had the power to aboli…

Philadelphia Inquirer: Speak & Act as Prophets Did (King & Heschel)

Speak and Act as Prophets Did: The Teachings of Dr. King & Rabbi Heschel
By Sister Mary Scullion and Rabbi Arthur Waskow

Forty-four years ago, the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. was killed. Forty years ago, his close friend and prophetic partner, Rabbi Abraham Joshua Heschel, died. In biblical tradition, "40" is a ripe number, suggesting a pregnant pause before a major transformation – Moses and the Israelites wandering 40 years in the desert, Jesus' 40 days of temptation. What do we learn from their teachings, a generation since their deaths?

The two of them were, in their day, an odd couple. King was a product of the black Baptist church, raised in the oppressive confines of the Jim Crow South and the crucible of American racism. Heschel, descended from a long line of Polish Hasidic rabbis, fled Nazi-dominated Europe (where most of his family was killed).

A towering Jewish intellectual, theologian, and mystic, Heschel brought ancient Hasidic spirituality into the tumu…

Rabbi Gary S. Creditor: "The Blood of the Children Cries Out From the Ground"

The Blood of the Children Cries Out From the Ground! Rabbi Gary S. Creditor December 22nd, 2012 Over the many years that I can remember, beginning with the assassination of President John Kennedy with a rifle, the sound of the bullet was echoed by the citation of the second amendment and the "right to bear arms."Whenever a catastrophe occurs, whoever cites past catastrophes always omits the earliest ones, which never lose their terribleness, because it is too hard, too painful, too long a list to remember to recite all the names of all the places. I want to talk about the "Right to Live." This is not the cliché lifted from the Declaration of Independence, "life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness," even as that is a very significant statement. I want to talk about the "Right to Live" of six and seven year olds to grow up, discover the universe, and fulfill their destinies. I want to talk about the "Right to Live" of the people dedicated …

Let Shabbat in. We all need it.

Let Shabbat in. We all need it.  Rabbi Menachem Creditor
Abraham Joshua Heschel z"l was introduced to address a packed auditorium somewhere. He walked to the podium and whispered to the crowd: "I saw a miracle on my way here tonight." Every person leaned forward in their chairs, waiting. Heschel continued, "I saw a flower. Isn't that amazing?"  It's too easy to miss simple miracles. 
There's a lot of work to do - a whole world to recreate - but let Shabbat in. Breathe deep. Let it in. 
We'll continue the work in 25 hours. It will wait. It will still be there. The world needs you to be strong enough to do your work.

Save The DateS: Two Scholars in Residence in Jan and Feb! @cnsberkeley

Save The DateS: Two Scholars in Residence in Jan and Feb! @cnsberkeley
Jan 18 (erev Shabbat) and Jan 19 (shabbat day)
CNS Scholar-in-Residence Rabbi Jason Klein, incoming president of the Reconstructionist Rabbinical Association!Friday Night Dinner/Davening (Jan 18): During Dinner, Rabbi Klein will deliver a talk entitled "The Relationship Between Prophecy & Authenticity" (rsvp required, stay tuned for details!)After Kiddush Learning (Jan 19): Rabbi Klein will lead a teaching entitled: "A Text Study on My Favorite Parsha"
Rabbi Jason Klein is the incoming President of the Reconstructionist Rabbinical Association and executive director of University of Maryland (Baltimore County). Rabbi Klein's particular Jewish interests include text study, liturgy, music, creative rituals, and midrash. He is committed to Israeli-Palestinian peace and justice, inter-movement and interfaith dialogue and collaboration, gender and LBGT concerns, and issues of social justice in ge…

Rabbi Jack Moline: "On the Occasion of the Murders of Schoolchildren" @RabbiAssembly @PICOnetwork

"On the Occasion of the Murders of Schoolchildren" Rabbi Jack Moline December 18, 2012

To my dear friends, my dear congregants.
I send you this column in lieu of a sermon, largely because I know that children will be present on Saturday morning.  We will talk about the tragedy – I have asked Alan Gura, our congregant who argued the landmark Supreme Court decision on the Second Amendment – to have a public conversation with me in the place of Torah study on Shabbat morning.  But I do not expect that conversation to speak to matters of the heart, even if we hope to address the heart of the matter.
Rabbi Shaul Praver of Newtown was correct when he said there was no theological justification to be offered here.  These deaths were unjustifiable.  Everything about them is tragic, including the sad story of the young man who succumbed to the urgings of the evil impulse, for whatever reasons.
You know that I have a particular interest and involvement with public policy.  It should com…