Skip to main content


Showing posts from February, 2014

The ShefaNetwork Moves On

Dear Chevreh,

Over the last 9+ years, the ShefaNetwork has morphed many times, from an online conversation, to 3 conferences and a Learning Mission to the Conservative Yeshiva, to 9 journals, and, most recently to a book, archiving all of the journals for posterity. Shefa's website migrated from a yahoogroup to a formal website, and finally to the most recent incarnation as a blog: There remains much work to be done before the mission of the ShefaNetwork, "to bring together dreamers from within the Conservative/Masorti Movement and to give their dreams an audible voice" is accomplished.
(The ongoing need for movemental healing is well-attested to by these two recent publications: today's NY Jewish Week OpEd by Jerome A. Chanes, "What Went Wrong With Conservative Judaism?" & last week's ejewishphilanthropy piece by Rabbi Eric M. Lankin, entitled "The Missing Piece.")
The important news is that that the tw…

Letter to the NY Jewish Week re: 'Your Semicha Or Your Wife' (Feb. 26)"

Letter to the Editor

The accusation that Feminist Orthodoxy is Conservative Judaism in disguise might lead some to see my defense of Partnership Minyanim as proof. But I take seriously the notion that leaders from every Jewish stream can speak to and regarding each other without being marginalized nor conflated. The very framing of this issue by The Jewish Week ('Your Semicha Or Your Wife', Feb. 26) is troubling. Partnership Minyanim are not in existence because rabbis' wives have "asked for them," but rather because Jewish Orthodox leaders see them as both possible within Orthodox halacha and necessary on moral grounds. It is also problematic to advocate, as the article closes, for partnership minyanim by virtue of the fact that "the people who came like it." People like many things. That doesn't make them normative or advisable. Yeshiva University has made a serious mistake in threatening this rabbinical student, and the understanding of the issue …

My Place in the World

My Place in the World
© Rabbi Menachem CreditorWhere am i?
The floor just moved,
jumped, shook, fell out...
I'm still standing,
alive and well,
but everything is changing
and my feet don't feel so steady.

Letter To the Editor NYTimes: In Search of Concern

Letter To the Editor NYTimes: In Search of Concern Rabbi Menachem Creditor
It was painful to read Marc Tracy's review ofShaiHeld's "Abraham Joshua Heschel: The Call of Transcendence" (The Prophet's Prophet, Feb, 16), not only because Heschel's profound emphasis on 'transitive concern', one spiritually mature human being's response to the needs of another, seems to have gone unlearned, but also because Held's deft treatment of Heschel's passion for truth and meaning is so quickly dismissed by Tracy (a co-editor of 'Jewish Jocks') as "opaque." Most clear in Tracy's screed is a conservative worldview that precludes the wonder of expansive theological writing and, more to the point,  ignores the lessons of prophets, as if distracted by their "big glasses." A clearer lens would have seen that Held's writing offers newcomers to Heschel a much-needed transfusion of interpersonal concern and a reminder that the pr…

Fwd: Berkeley Men's Shelter Report - February 2014

Congregation Netivot Shalom Men's Shelter Report for  February 2014
Berkeley Men's Shelter It was Super Bowl Sunday and Sochi Winter Olympics warm-up for much of the U.S.A. but for a special group of folks it was a haimish and lovely evening in the basement of the Berkeley Veteran's Building.Of course, it started before Sunday.Susi was going to be out of town so Dani stepped forward to develop the menu and coordinate the cooking with lots of prepatory input and guidance from Susi.Art shopped for the fresh groceries.Daniel ordered the staples from Costco.Agnieszka and Ednah baked six lemon-cake loafs based upon Agnieszka's recipe lovingly translated from the Polish.The main entrĂ©e was a delicious eggplant ragout served with brown rice, garlic bread, fresh fruit, green salad, lemon cake, iced tea.Darek, Agnieszka, Billi, Yonit, Dani, Ezra peeled and chopped and chopped and chopped.Shari and Steven and Joan arrived to help with the initial clean-up, then the serving and con…

Fwd: Correction to previous email: Correct Date is Sun, Mar. 2 for Ramah Info Session

Rabbi Menachem Creditor ▶

CAMP RAMAH Information Session Who: All Netivot parents and children are welcome!  Hosted by the Ramah Service Corps Fellow for the Bay Area, Stephen "Stevo" Feinberg What:An information and Q&A session about Camp Ramah, the camping arm of the United Synagogue of Conservative Judaism
When:Sunday, March 2nd, 11am until noon
Where:The library at Congregation Netivot Shalom, 1316 University Avenue in Berkeley
Why:To find out everything you've ever wanted to know about Camp Ramah!
Bonus:Stevo will be passing out Ramah swag! A light brunch will also be served.Check out! E-mail Stevo at with any questions.

Fwd: Camp Ramah Info Session! 3/22 @ 11 am!

CAMP RAMAH  Information Session Who: All Netivot parents and children are welcome!  Hosted by the Ramah Service Corps Fellow for the Bay Area, Stephen "Stevo" Feinberg
What: An information and Q&A session about  Camp Ramah, the camping arm of the United Synagogue of Conservative Judaism
When: Sunday, March 2nd, 11am until noon
Where: The library at Congregation Netivot Shalom,  1316 University Avenue in Berkeley
Why: To find out everything you've ever wanted to know about Camp Ramah!
Bonus: Stevo will be passing out Ramah swag! A light brunch will also be served.

Check out! E-mail Stevo at with any questions.

After-Birkat HaMazon learning at Netivot Shalom this Shabbat: "The Prophet's Wife: Hosea and Theological Monogamy"

After-Birkat HaMazon learning at Netivot Shalom this Shabbat:  "The Prophet's Wife: Hosea and Theological Monogamy" with Rabbi Menachem Creditor

The biblical book of Hosea frames the covenantal relationship between the Jewish People and God as similar to that of spouses. And when Israel strays from God, the prophetic language is one of betrayal. Hosea is led to reenact this dynamic of faithlessness in his own life, leading the reader to wonder: is there hope? can love endure? what does God need? is that a workable theology for a modern Jew? Come join the text-study/conversation this Shabbat in the library of Netivot Shalom following Kiddush!

Rabbi Menachem Creditor ▶

Francine Klagsbrun in the Jewish Week: "What Conservative Judaism Has To Offer"

What Conservative Judaism Has To Offer Tue, 02/11/2014 Francine Klagsbrun Francine Klagsbrun It's hard to be in the middle. Politically, the far right has put mainstream Republicans on the defensive, and the left has sent centrist Democrats scurrying to identify with populism. Religiously, fundamentalism on the right has opposed any form of change, and an aggressive atheism on the left has mounted a war against traditional beliefs. Yet, while the extremes may sometimes foment revolutions, the middle keeps society going. And the middle is the hardest place to be."I'm a Conservative Jew, always in the middle," I've often said jokingly to explain some moderate position I've taken in one area or another. But now the Conservative movement has come under attack, not from extremist groups but from within the movement itself. In recent months, ever since the Pew Research Center…

Did you known that the members of The Lonely Island went to Berkeley High? (Bet they never had this much fun in Hebrew School!)

Learning the Torah of "Ending Domestic Violence in Jewish Homes" with Rabbi Elliot Dorff

Tetzaveh 5774: "Leadership Always For and Sometimes Within"

Tetzaveh 5774: "Leadership Always For and Sometimes Within"
(c) Rabbi Menachem Creditor

Varying modes of leadership are important to identify, especially in moments of emerging need.  

For a community, these transitions can include urgent financial decisions, membership growth/shrinkage, strategic professional transitions, etc.  For a nation, they can include popular revolution, dramatic economic shift, international relations, and more.  But in any and every setting in which a specific leadership-style is healthy and effective, it is perhaps only so in that specific moment and circumstance.  The very same approach might be unhealthy in another time, another place and, in fact, many factors determine whether or not a certain leadership methodology is appropriate.

We read in Parashat Tetzaveh of the clothing for the High Priest, the Kohen Gadol.  Aaron was the very first in this line, his clothing both fabulous and complicated, burdensome and ornate.  The instructions for the pri…

From Ruth Messinger: Your Rabbinic Signature Matters

Dear Friends,

I am writing with an urgent request for you to sign on to a letter from rabbis that asks the President of Uganda to veto Uganda’s Anti-Homosexuality Bill. This bill threatens LGBT people in Uganda and is a grave violation of human rights.

On Monday, February 10th—Day of Global Action Against the Anti-Homosexuality Bill—we will deliver your signature, along with those of other rabbis, to Ugandan embassies and key U.S. decision-makers, so that Ugandan President Museveni receives your message.

First introduced in 2009, the bill seeks to strengthen existing penalties in Ugandan law against homosexuality. It also seeks to criminalize the “promotion of homosexuality,” which includes funding organizations that serve LGBT people—something that AJWS has been doing for years. The bill remains one of the most abhorrent manifestations of discrimination against LGBT people worldwide.

AJWS’s Ugandan partners have asked for our strong support in urging President Mu…

ACCFB: This Farm Bill won't stop us

Our Mission | Donate | Twitter As you may have heard, Congress passed the Farm Bill with $8.6 billion in SNAP cuts.
We are not happy with this outcome, but the Food Bank is proud to have been part of a national movement to preserve and protect SNAP in an incredibly divided Congress. Six months ago, we were looking at $40 billion in cuts to SNAP. The $8.6 billion in cuts to SNAP means families will have less money to buy the food they need, but we stopped many horrendous amendments that attempted to kick whole groups of individuals off the program entirely.What you can be proud of is that Alameda County's Representatives voted against the Farm Bill. Representatives Barbara Lee, Eric Swalwell and Mike Honda all voted "no." They stood up for our community and the 850,000 households who will have less food on their table due to this Farm Bill.We want to let you know that this Farm Bill won't stop us from continuing to advocate for a future where poverty and hun…

Fwd: Remembering Well: the Adar CNS Yahrtzeit Letters

A Note from Rabbi Creditor Remembering Well:  The CNS Adar Yahrtzeit Letters  4 Adar I,  5774 // February 4, 2014 Dear Chevreh,We generate monthly letters to all members whose losses are recorded in our Yizkor booklets. This year is a Jewish leap year (you learn more about that by clicking here), which means that there is one additional month of Adar on the calendar. So, the question arises: when our loved ones have died during (a non-leap year) Adar, in which month of a leap year (in which there is Adar I and Adar II) do we mark their Yahrtzeits?This is incredibly important, as the way we measure time speaks to our groundedness in an ever-shifting universe. It is also fascinating to see how the halachic tradition has responded to the complexity of time. It is also timely, as our Adar II letters went out "by mistake" in our Adar I yahrtzeit mailing.Rabbi David Golinkin, marking his own father's passing during Adar I some years ago, wrote a Teshuvah (a halachic response) to t…

One Virginia Rabbi's Commitments to Equal Marriage

Rabbi Gary S. Creditor's writings on Equal Marriage:

Our Vision of Society Requires  A "No" Vote on the Marriage Amendment  or  "Love Thy Neighbor as Thyself"  November 3rd, 2006
We Are All God's Children June 15, 2012