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Gays and “Unique Gifts”: Is the Catholic Church Ready for Change?

Oct23

by: Michael Orion Powell-Deschamps on October 23rd, 2014 | No Comments »

Catholic Church

The Vatican released a preliminary document calling out churches to welcome gays into their communities. Credit: Creative Commons/The National Churches Trust

Some big news happened earlier this month. The Vatican released a preliminary document calling for the church to welcome and accept homosexuals. It was the culmination of an expected change during Francis’ tenure. Since becoming pope, Pope Francis has made verbal overtures towards gay Catholics, famously saying, “If a person is gay and seeks the Lord and is of good will, who am I to judge him?”

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Quis Custodiet Ipsos Custodes? (Who Shall Guard the Guardians?)

Oct23

by: Michael N. Nagler on October 23rd, 2014 | 1 Comment »

Iguala Massacre

Family members demand justice in Iguala, Guerrero. Credit: Creative Commons/The Yucatan Times

I’ve just come from a three-hour conversation with Pietro Ameglio Patella, prominent Mexican professor and nonviolent activist, and an old friend. He was in the country with his friend Carlos Moreno who has been searching for his son for three years without any cooperation from the official parties – indeed not only that, it has made him a target of death threats himself.

The situation in México is, without exaggeration, catastrophic. Anyone can be taken off at any time, and both drug lords and the government operate with complete impunity. Gangs come and measure your house or your business and charge you for “protection” by the yard, and recently a radio journalist was killed right in the middle of a broadcast by someone who entered the studio, fired four shots point blank and calmly walked out. As Patella told me, “our wives are in a constant panic; we don’t know from which direction the bullets could come.” No government agency offers help to the anguished parents seeking information about their lost children or other loved ones, not to mention doing anything to control the violence, because indeed they are part of it. Patella and Moreno reject the definition of “failed state” for Mexico today. Rather, they told me, it’s a criminal state.

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The Ambassador and the Uzi

Oct21

by: Deborah Kaufman on October 21st, 2014 | 5 Comments »

Michael Oren Israeli ambassador

Credit: Creative Commons/Wikipedia

The Israeli Ambassador would be arriving soon. He was back in the Holy Land, on leave from Washington, and wanted to pay his respects to our family in the days after my stepfather Bill suddenly died of a heart attack. We were sitting Shiva at the family apartment in Jerusalem, observing the traditional seven days of mourning. Masses of people had been coming and going, bringing honey cakes and fruit plates to the apartment where they piled up in a sugary mass on the dining room table.

My mom, whose dementia had been accelerating, was hardly aware of the guests and their gifts, of the tales they told about Bill as a Haganah freedom fighter in pre-state Israel and later as an academic star and head of the English Department at the Hebrew University. Mom’s eyes were cloudy as she sat on the couch in a pink cashmere sweater, sipping tea, and smiling vaguely at the close friends and relatives whose names she could no longer remember.

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The Power of Testimony: One Woman’s Voice

Oct21

by: Janet Goldblatt Holmes on October 21st, 2014 | No Comments »

domestic violence

Credit: Creative Commons/Wikipedia

During the winter of 2013, I read the compelling article, “Hidden Children of the Holocaust” about children who were sexually and physically abused by the “foster” families who claimed to have “saved them from the Nazi’s.”  For many, forty or fifty years passed before they could tell their stories.

I read of a woman who was unable to share her secret with her spouse, children, family, or friends. I was shaken by how isolating that must have been, with my own experience of date rape seeming small and insignificant.  These threads of shame and self-dismissal are common in survivors of assault and molestation.  As I became a witness to the accounts of violent betrayals of trust, the familiar conflicts of shame and blame surfaced. 

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From the New Right to Neoliberalism: the Threat to Democracy Has Grown

Oct20

by: Jean Hardisty on October 20th, 2014 | 1 Comment »

Public Eye Fall 2014

This article appeared in the special neoliberal edition of The Public Eye magazine

The U.S. is in the grip of an unprecedented dominance of right-wing ideologies and policies. Many progressive commentators see that the same band of New Right actors that have long pushed a conservative agenda are up to their old tricks, trying to block any reformist progress under a Democratic president. But what we are experiencing now is not simply “more of the same.” There has been a political shift in the Right’s reigning ideology. The shift is from the Right’s fixation on capturing and consolidating power to establishing rule by the laws of unfettered capitalism.

The Right’s current success owes much to its persistent pursuit of a well-established social agenda and its increased emphasis on existing economic goals. To maintain that we are in the “old” struggle alone is to miss the rise of what we might call the Right’s “Chamber of Commerce” wing. This sector has a storied history that many people, aside from economists, often gloss over. Its current manifestation embraces a far-reaching, effective, and increasingly entrenched ideology: “neoliberalism.”

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Catering to Men’s Rights Is Not the Point of Feminism

Oct15

by: Jessica Renae Buxbaum on October 15th, 2014 | 1 Comment »

national day of actionto defend women's rights

Protestors rally for National Day of Action to Defend Women's Rights in Dallas. Credit: Creative Commons/ Steve Rainwater

Faced with increasing opposition from “men’s rights activists,” some feminists are responding by inviting men’s rights proponents into the feminist sphere, arguing that feminism can help men. For example, feminists such as actor Emma Watson to bloggers on Feminspire, Huffington Post, Mic, and Bustle are replying back to men’s rights activists with something along the lines of: We do care about the high rate of homelessness with men, male survivors, and all those men’s issues, and we want you to join us in the fight to address it all. But this response to the backlash misses an entirely crucial point: that the men’s rights movement has an opposing worldview to feminism and that to become part of a feminist movement, these men’s rights activists would need to change their perspective.

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Following the Path to the Jerusalem Inside of Us

Oct14

by: Yanna [YoHana] Bat Adam -- Heartist on October 14th, 2014 | 6 Comments »

Way to Jerusalem

Credit: Yanna Bat Adam -- Heartist

It seems to me that more and more people are realizing that we need to aspire to something higher than what life presents us on its surface. Pleasures such as good food, sex, family life, money… even honor and knowledge, simply do not feed our deepest need, which is spiritual.

Are you one of these people? Lucky you.

Lucky us.

This means that we are looking for “something else.” Something that will give us what might be called pleasure, but is in reality something far more enduring, yet hard to define. Something of deeply felt meaning that will finally bring an end to the endless boredom, compensatory diversion, and repetitive frustration that commonly comprises our lives. Something that will make us simply happy without a cause.

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Jews Recommit to Standing Against Islamophobia

Oct13

by: Donna Nevel and Elly Bulkin on October 13th, 2014 | 6 Comments »


While many of us have been concerned about, and appalled by the recent Islamophobic ads on NYC subways and buses and have responded to them in a number of different ways, we also recognize that Islamophobia extends far beyond those ads.

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Sukkot and the Transience of Life: A Meditation on Three Films

Oct9

by: Howard Cooper on October 9th, 2014 | No Comments »

sukkah

Inside of a sukkah, a temporary hut constructed during the festival of Sukkot. Credit: Creative Commons/Carly Lesser & Art Drauglis

Just as the lulav that we shake on Sukkot, the festival of rest amidst the desert wanderings, is made up of three different trees — palm, myrtle and willow — I want to share with you another group of three that I’m going to bind together and wave in your direction. And we’ll see if we can add in that exotic etrog element along the way.

Over the last few months I happen to have seen three films, each as different from the other as are the species that make up the lulav. Taken together, they add up to more than the sum of their parts.

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Finding Strength Through Spiritual Art

Oct8

by: Roni Finkelstein on October 8th, 2014 | No Comments »

Ruth Golmant believes in the process of creating art as a powerful tool for healing. The art therapist located in Stafford, Virginia lives with one husband, two children, two invisible disabilities, and her ever-evolving Jewish spirituality.

After studying art as an undergraduate at Mills College in Oakland, California, Golmant moved to Virginia to complete a degree in art therapy at George Washington University. Upon graduation she began working with patients in St. Elizabeth’s hospital’s acute trauma unit, where she realized the power of art amidst pain. She recalled:

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