Mar 31, 2013
I'm heading to DC on April 11 for an interfaith Gun Violence Vigil, marking all the GV Deaths since Sandy Hook. I (gladly) broke the Discretionary Fund bank on airfare. You're invited to support the trip by sending a gift to "Netivot Shalom Rabbi's Discretionary Fund // 1316 University Ave // Berkeley, CA // 94702"
Mar 30, 2013
Jewish Genetic Disorders Shabbat is April 12-13 (Tazria/Metzora) -- proud of my colleague and friend Rabbi Aaron Melman for leading this effort. May our children benefit in health and safety with every good decision parents make in advance with support like this.
For more info, watch the video and also visit http://www.jewishgenetics.org/.
Mar 29, 2013
By Ben Sales · March 6, 2013
TEL AVIV (JTA) -- After serving three years of mandatory army service, Guy Eisenberg felt like many Israeli military veterans: He wanted to get away and have some fun.
Thailand or India would have been a natural choice. The countries are something of a rite of passage for Israelis seeking to blow off post-army steam.
But instead of going east, Eisenberg went west and became a swim counselor at Camp Ramah in Wisconsin. He would return for six more summers to his wooded getaway, where he made lasting connections and discovered something even more fascinating than fun and new friends: ConservativeJudaism.
"I had no idea about Conservative Judaism or anything different from Judaism in Israel," Eisenberg said. "I grew up religious. I studied in a religious high school with a religious family. It opened a world I didn't know."
Other Israelis tell a similar story. Summers at American Jewish camps have opened their eyes to a much broader range of Jewish life.
While small Reform and Conservative communities exist in Israel, most Israelis are either secular or Orthodox. Most secular Israelis have never attended daily prayers and don't observe Shabbat, while most Orthodox Israelis have had little if any exposure to egalitarian Judaism.
"It was weird and hard at first, but I got used to it and liked it," said Dror Morag, a secular Israeli who worked with Eisenberg at Ramah Wisconsin. "It was a spiritual and cultural experience."
Every year, approximately 1,500 young Israelis fan out to Jewish camps across the United States as emissaries, or shlichim, sent by the Jewish Agency for Israel. Their main task is to bring a taste of Hebrew and the Jewish state to American Jewish youth, but many come away with a deeper appreciation for different streams of Judaism and for American Jewish pluralism.
"Many of our shlichim talk about the Jewish experience that they have in camp," said Eran Berkovich, the Jewish Agency's director of short-term emissary programs. "It's a Jewish setting that allows them to evaluate their Judaism in a positive way. Many of the shlichim come back more pluralist."
The emissaries say the immersive experience of camp gives them an intense introduction to American Judaism.
"You take your Judaism as a given" in Israel, said Omer Givati, a secular Israeli who worked at North Carolina's Camp Judaea in 2005. "When you see that people choose to be Jewish, you can choose to connect to religion from another place."
Although emissaries who go to Orthodox Jewish summer camps don't get the same exposure to liberal Jewish movements as some of their peers, they still encounter differences between American and Israeli Orthodoxy.
American Orthodox girls "have a lot more knowledge of Torah, the weekly portion," said Adi Hershkovitz, an Israeli Orthodox woman who worked at Camp Nesher in Pennsylvania from 2006 to 2008. "They wore shorts, which we wouldn't wear. There's more emphasis on learning and less on how people look."
The experience at camp doesn't necessarily change anyone's personal practice. Eisenberg didn't return to Israel and seek out the nearest Conservative synagogue.
"I appreciate it, but I'm a lawyer," he said. "I don't spend time reading Jewish legal rulings."
Some emissaries, though, said they came away from camp feeling more comfortable with and connected to their Judaism.
"I respect the religion more and I'm more proud of Judaism because I can connect to it," said Givati. "Now I know the prayers, know what they say. I respect it because I understand it."
Experiencing American Jewish pluralism has influenced the careers of several emissaries. Berkovich, Givati and Hershkovitz all worked for the Jewish Agency for a time in part because of their time at camp. Morag is the secretary-general of Meretz, a left-wing Israeli political party that advocates religious pluralism.
Shai Bracha, who worked at Young Judaea Texas from 2007 to 2009, said the experience helped him find work as a staff member at the Alexander Muss High School in Israel, where Jewish students can spend a semester studying abroad.
"A lot of people that age work being waiters or security guards or [other] easy jobs," Bracha said. "This one helps you advance your career."
Givati said that working at a camp has helped him be a better Israeli.
"Israel needs these shlichim like the U.S. needs them," said Givati, who now works as the Jewish Agency's partnership director. "Shlicihm that return to Israel are better Israeli citizens. It opens up your world to Jewish education."
Mar 28, 2013
The Revelation of an Embrace: A Vision of Conservative Judaism - http://rabbicreditor.blogspot.com/2009/03/cj-revelation-of-embrace-vision-of.html
Rabbi Kook and Modernization of Judaism - http://www.machanaim.org/philosof/kook/b2-e.htm
Jewish Denominations on Revelation - http://www.myjewishlearning.com/holidays/Jewish_Holidays/Shavuot/Themes_and_Theology/Denominations_on_Revelation.shtml
Conversation with James Kugel about Revelation - http://kavvanah.wordpress.com/2013/01/31/conversation-with-james-kugel-about-revelation/
Essays and Appreciations of David Hartman (from http://www.hartman.org.il/)
- Rabbi Dr. Rachel Sabath Beit-Halachmi: David Hartman’s Fierce Embrace
- Yossi Klein Halevi: David Hartman, Lonely Man of Truth, Pushed Jews of All Stripes to Adapt
- Avi Sagi: The Living Covenant of David Hartman
- Yitzhak Benbaji: Talking to Maimonides: On David Hartman's Passing
- Noam Zion & Rabbi Mishael Zion: Five Hartman-esque Ideas
- Charlie Buckholtz: The Rabbi Who Hated Lies
- Gil Troy: David Hartman z”l, the Rationalist Rebbe
- Amotz Asa El: Appreciation: King of No-Man’s Land
- Arnold Eisen: A Tribute to David Hartman
- Eugene Korn: Remembering Rabbi David Hartman’s Commitment to Jewish Learning and Intellectual Honesty
- Rabbi Rick Jacobs: Rabbi David Hartman's Torah of Pluralism (adapted from eulogy delivered at the funeral of Rabbi Hartman)
- Elliott Yagod: Eulogy for David Hartman (adapted from eulogy delivered at the funeral of Rabbi Hartman)
- Jerusalem Post Editorial: The Hartman Era
- RabbI Ed Feinstein: The Holiness of Now: A Memory of David Hartman
- Gary Rosenblatt: Rabbi Hartman's Judaism Of Many Rooms
- Rabbi Mishael Zion: The Teacher Who Hated Lies: Remembering David Hartman
- Yoni Zierler: The Power of Dialogue: A Farewell to Rabbi David Hartman
- Rabbi Baruch Frydman-Kohl: A Passionate Philosopher and a Teacher of Torah
- Rabbi David-Seth Kirshner: Hartman: Courage Above All
- Jeffrey Woolf: Hartman: A Passion for Truth
- Rabbi Shmuly Yanklowitz: Rabbi David Hartman: A Transformative Force and a Unique Legacy
- Eliyahu Stern: How Rabbi David Hartman Lives On
- Rabbi David Wolkenfeld: Reflections on Rabbi David Hartman
- Rabbi Denise Eger: And Let Them Make a Sanctuary: Remembering Rabbi David Hartman
- Rabbi Steve Moskowitz: He Loved His Students Like Few Teachers Do
- Los Angeles Jewish Journal: Rabbi David Hartman’s Learned Students Remember their Rebbe
- James Carroll: Rabbi David Hartman Dared to Bridge Faith Divide
- Yehoshua Gertler: Rabbi David Hartman’s unorthodox embrace of Jewish thought
- ADL: ADL Mourns the Loss of RabbI David Hartman
- Rabbi Uri Topolsky: A Taste of Rabbi Hartman’s Legacy for Shabbat
- Rabbi Dr. Ron Kronish: Forgiveness and Interreligious Dialogue
- Rabbi Sharon Cohen Anisfeld: Purim: Living in an Unredeemed World
- David Curwin: Rabbi Hartman and the Unanswered Question
- Dr. David Ellenson: And When His Rabbi Dies, A Student Tears His Clothes
- Rabbi Mari Chernow: Hartman a Powerful Influence
- Rabbi Lawrence S. Zierler: Remembering Rabbi Dr. David Hartman
- Michael Swirsky: David Hartman z"l & Pardes
- Dr. Dov Berkovitz: Remembering David Hartman (video)
- Mordechai Ben-Dat: Israel Has Lost a Teacher
- Tuvia Book: Rabbi David Hartman z"l: Towards an Inclusive Judaism
- Yitz Greenberg: David Hartman’s Legacy To Jewish Life, Religious Thought
- Daniel Lehmann: My Shortest Trip to Israel
Mar 24, 2013
"Lean to the Left" or "Unshackled"
(C) Rabbi Menachem Creditor
Ask all your questions,
but beware of calming answers.
Tomato and parsley,
orange and horseradish,
chocolate and shankbone.
Never just one,
never has been.
Lean to the left,
on an armless chair.
Feel the void
beneath your freedom.
If you resolve to open your door
and be the Messiah this year,
next year there will be less need.
Mar 22, 2013
National Day to Demand Action is March 28th #60votes @piconetwork @rabbiassembly #nowisthetime @whitehouse #VPOTUS
JCCPA: A package of new gun violence laws are making their way to the Senate floor. We're at a critical point!
As we know, no one measure will solve our country's gun violence problem. A comprehensive approach must include provisions to stop gun trafficking, require universal background checks, increase access to high-quality mental health services, ensure school safety, and a ban on assault weapons and high capacity magazines. Each of these is important to the comprehensive approach we have called for, but already one of these pieces – the assault weapons ban – is facing serious challenges. Senator Feinstein plans to offer her assault weapons ban as amendment to the larger gun violence legislative package that is scheduled to be considered by the full Senate next month. This is an extra hurdle that will make the ban less likely to pass and weaken our comprehensive approach. Still, there are so many loud voices for an assault weapons ban. Vice President Biden, who joined us by video at the JCPA Plenum, recently explained that the White House has not " given up" on the ban.
Together, we can be heard and make a difference.
Another piece of a comprehensive approach is requiring universal background checks. Recent public opinion polls show broad support (80% and up) for universal background checks on firearms purchases. Currently, if guns are sold at gun shows or through private sales, no background check is required. That is approximately 40% of all guns purchased in the United States. Criminal and mental health reviews are a straight forward way to help prevent guns from getting into the wrong hands.
In speaking to the JCPA Plenum last week, Sen. Richard Blumenthal (CT) warned of the uphill battle comprehensive gun violence legislation will face and encouraged each of us to take the lead in building support for this legislation in our states. Join us and take action by encouraging your Senators to support comprehensive gun prevention legislation!
When we come together and raise our voices, Washington will listen. Share this with your friends and family and encourage your Senators today to show your support for comprehensive legislation!
Mar 20, 2013
MoveOn.org: "congressional Democrats, led by Majority Leader Harry Reid, are on the verge of caving on the three most critical gun violence prevention proposals"
"Reid guts Senate gun control bill."1
"Tuesday's developments are a major win for the powerful National Rifle Association."2
"[Assault weapons] ban's chances of survival now are all but hopeless."3
"[A]nother major element of the president's gun policy proposal could be joining the assault weapons ban in the scrap heap."4
After months of promises that, in the wake of Newtown, this time would be different, congressional Democrats, led by Majority Leader Harry Reid, are on the verge of caving on the three most critical gun violence prevention proposals: universal background checks, a ban on assault weapons, and a ban on high-capacity magazines.
What's looking most likely to end up in the final bill? A provision encouraging guns in schools.
No, no, no. MoveOn members and our allies have done so much to make real reform possible—with tens of thousands of phone calls, events, lobby visits, letters, and pleas from victims' families.
We've come too far to let meaningful gun violence prevention measures be killed by the NRA's backroom lobbying, Republicans' perpetual threats of filibustering, and Democrats who won't stand up and fight.
Can you chip in $5 to our emergency campaign to double down on our work for real gun violence prevention legislation?
We've already organized hundreds of constituent groups putting high-profile pressure on members of Congress in their home districts and states, run ads featuring anti-NRA gun owners, and poured calls into Congress—but it hasn't been enough. If we can raise $175,000 today, here's what we'll be able to do right away:
- Run aggressive TV Ads taking on senators from both parties who take money from the NRA and then vote against sensible gun violence prevention
- Ramp up the pressure in home districts and states—with events, petitions, and letters to the editor demanding an explanation from members of Congress of how they intend to vote on measures that could save the lives of their constituents
- Support powerful state and local anti-gun-violence campaigns, like that of a MoveOn Community Committee Against Gun Violence in Tucson, AZ, which organized and won a ban on gun shows in Tucson that don't guarantee background checks for all sales.5 They're ready to take this demand statewide, and other communities are ready to follow their lead.
We've seen congressional Democrats try to back down from a fight before—only to have the grassroots inject a dose of backbone and show them how it's done on the state and local level.
MoveOn leaders are running campaigns in places where opponents to reform—Republicans and Democrats—think gun laws are untouchable. We're actually winning on the state and local level. In addition to Tucson, Colorado just enacted significant background check reforms.6 We need to push those victories to other states, and use them to push leaders in Washington to turn the tide.
Thanks for all you do.
–Garlin, Nick, Susannah, Jessica, and the rest of the team
1. "Reid guts Senate gun control bill," The Hill, March 19, 2013
3. "AP News in Brief at 10:58 P.M. EST," The Washington Post, March 19, 2013
4. "Obama's Gun Reform Package Loses One Major Provision, Another In Danger," Huffington Post, March 19, 2013
5. "Tucson bans TCC gun shows without background checks," KGUN9, February 5, 2013
6. "Colorado Gov. Hickenlooper signs landmark gun bills," The Denver Post, March 20, 2013
Mar 19, 2013
To learn more about the Jewish Council for Public Affairs, please visit our Annual Report.
Mar 18, 2013
The NRA's list of "National Organizations, Individuals & Celebrities, Corporations, Publications and Media Outlets With Anti-Gun Policies"
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The Revelation of an Embrace: A Vision of Conservative Judaism (c) Rabbi Menachem Creditor in honor and memory of my teacher, Rabbi Nei...