by: Burton H. Wolfe on December 18th, 2013 | 8 Comments »
(Credit: CC-BY-NC-SA by Anatoli Axelrod)
“Fat cats” is a term that my father and my boss at B’nai B’rith headquarters used to describe the wealthy Jews who finance synagogue and Jewish organizational programs.
They would acknowledge the justification for part of my negative attitude toward most rich Jews, but they followed with the cautionary advice: “You have to respect the fat cats.”
We had a semantics problem. It was not that I was unable to see how beneficence resulted from the money donated by the fat cats. It was their obnoxious behavior in the way they doled out the money, the prejudicial restrictions entailed in who they picked to get the money, and what they demanded for payback, that caused my contempt for most of them. Quickly I add that I cannot and would not apply those characteristics to every last one of them, because then I would be guilty of what is known in reasoning and logic as a “sweeping generalization,” and that kind of dragnet can only be used with acknowledgment of individual differences. In fact, I have a long standing admiration for a few of the fat cats who were my friends in a prior decade; but they are long dead.
My contempt for most of the fat cats began at the shul (synagogue) that my family chose for membership, prayer, my barmitzvah, my sisters’ weddings, and funeral services. [I choose not to single out that shul by name because what I write here applies to all of the biggest and wealthiest synagogues in my experience.] The first time I picked up one of the siddurs (prayer books) used for services, I noticed the name of an individual emblazoned in big, gold letters on the cover: “Marvin Kogod” [I am using an assumed name that is not to be identified with any real person, living or dead].
by: Rabbi Michael Lerner and Cat Zavis on December 17th, 2013 | Comments Off
Become a Transformative Activist!
A transformation of consciousness throughout our society is the absolute prerequisite for making social, economic, and political transformation.
Whether you are a student, raising children, working full-time (and then some), unemployed, retired, or house-bound, YOU can become an activist for social healing and transformation. If you are already engaged in social activism, we will help you become more effective in your efforts.
We invite you to come to our training, Jan. 17-20 (Martin Luther King Jr. holiday weekend), in Berkeley, California.
Though we are offering this training for a super-low cost for a 3.5 day event, nevertheless if it costs more than you can afford, DO NOT LET THAT BE A FACTOR. We understand that you may have costs to get to Berkeley, Ca. and to find a place to stay, so we are fine with reducing the fee to whatever you can afford (including ZERO)–all you have to do is say so by sending an email to RabbiLerner.Tikkun@gmail.com and telling him what you can afford! But check to see the cost first by going to the registration page.
by: Kristin McCandless on December 16th, 2013 | Comments Off
The Tikkun Daily Winter Fundraising Drive is in full swing– and we would like to extend a huge thank you to those who have begun to help us reach our goal! Below we have a testimonial from Miki Kashtan, a dedicated blogger, as to why it is imperative that Tikkun stays afloat:
by: Burton Wolfe on December 9th, 2013 | 2 Comments »
Using factors described below, it is manifest that the 46+ million “poverty class” statistic issued by the U.S. Census Bureau is bogus, and the true figure is 150 million. Clearly, these deadbeats (myself included) are the ones responsible for the U.S. Government deficit of 17 trillion dollars that is wrecking the nation. We 150 million losers have become a pain in the brain and backside of all the productive citizens who do not need government assistance or assistance of any kind. We 150 million lowlifes have become especially aggravating to the most important Americans, the Rich ladies and gentlemen, who are understandably fed up with having to look at increasing numbers of these filthy wretches begging on the streets and with having to pay more taxes to feed these undeserving deadbeats who cannot make enough money on their own to justify their existence. Now, before I present my “Modest Proposal for Preventing the 150 Million Poor from Being a Burden to Their Fellow Americans and for Making Them Beneficial to the Public and Especially the Rich Ladies and Gentlemen,” I have acknowledgments to make.
by: Sigfried Gold on December 4th, 2013 | 2 Comments »
Economic and power relations are the place where any set of lofty religious or humanistic ideals come to ground, where the rubber hits the road. And for those atheists who care about making a better world (rather than just making religious people look dumb) this is a place where atheists and the religious can help each other face a most formidable, perennial, intractable challenge: how to structure institutions for the benefit of their members or the public at large while discouraging exploitation and the use of institutional power for the private gain of trusted leaders.
My current favorite of the atheist religions–which don’t generally consider themselves religions–is Nonviolent Communication or NVC, and I was confirmed in my positive regard for the NVC movement when I came upon this piece by Miki Kashtan on Tikkun’s blog addressing crucial questions of money, higher values and inner peace. Kashtan attacks the problem of money in a mode of full-fledged utopian dreamery, offering ideas and experiments that point toward the reform of our society’s whole economic exchange structure. She summarizes some of her intentions thus:
In how I engage with money and resources, I continually strive to move closer to my vision of how I want to see these operate in the world at large. I aim to move from considering exchange value to valuing people and life; from seeing relationships through the lens of exchange to participating in a flow of generosity; from allocating resources based on output equity to caring for everyone’s needs; from making things happen based on the ever-s-subtle coercion of money incentive to complete and wholehearted willingness; from thinking about our merit to sharing our gifts; and from wondering about what someone “deserves” to contributing to everyone receiving all we need. (Miki Kashtan, personal communication)
But I want to focus on a specific problem she raises: how can she offer her services as a trained NVC teacher and practitioner in a way that is consistent with her values? She is, from what I can gather, in considerable demand in the NVC world, but many of the people and organizations who would like her help have little money to pay for it. Does she sell her services only to those who can afford it? No, that would not fit her values. But how can she meet her own financial needs otherwise?
by: Jack Gabriel on December 3rd, 2013 | Comments Off
You can usually tell if a recording is inspired from the opening twenty seconds. There is a certain energy, a certain élan, that takes you from the ordinary to the special, from genesis to realization, quite quickly, perhaps in two dozen heartbeats.
There are many such songs on the new CD ,”The Human Project”, the first solo release by Gabriel Meyer Halevy. There are striking anthems, which celebrate the diversity and harmony of humanity. There are delicate ballads, and gracefully rhythmic pieces, that mesh South American, Arabic, Mizrachi and Far Eastern nuances. Their fusion sounds organic and natural. Paul Simon’s Afro-Gospel-Doo Wop and Idan Raichel’s Ethiopean-Spanish-Israeli pieces come to mind. The lyrics very much support the music. It is as if the words and melodies are passed from voice to voice, in Spanish, Hebrew and Arabic, effortlessly enriching songs with multiple translations. It draws you into a sweet and exciting space. That’s no easy feat, and that’s what makes this recording so successful and special.
by: Allen L Roland on December 3rd, 2013 | 1 Comment »
(Permafrost in Siberia. Methane emissions from the Arctic permafrost increased by 31% from 2003-07/ Photograph: Francis Latreille/Corbis)
Experts say methane emissions from the Arctic have risen by almost one-third in just five years, and that sharply rising temperatures are to blame.What very few people understand are both the short and long range consequences for the planet in regards to a sudden increase in Methane emissions.
As the Guardian points out:
This recent discovery follows a string of reports from the region in recent years that previously frozen boggy soils are melting and releasing methane in greater quantities. Such Arctic soils currently lock away billions of tons of methane, a far more potent greenhouse gas than carbon dioxide,leading some scientists to describe melting permafrost as a ticking time bomb that could overwhelm efforts to tackle climate change.
by: Michael Hulshof-Schmidt on November 27th, 2013 | 21 Comments »
(Credit: CC-BY-NC-SA by Hutson Hayward)
Last night we inadvertently caught about 5 minutes of the Charlie Brown Thanksgiving episode, just enough to hear Linus declare: “… We thank God for the opportunity to create the New World for freedom and justice.” Irony much? What an extraordinarily white perspective that does not align with reality. Freedom and Justice for whom?
I often wonder: as North Americans, do we collectively and conveniently choose to forget the genocide of the native peoples living in North America, the use of bio-warfare? Yes, multi-generations of white folk have benefitted from the slaughtering of indigenous populations in North America, from stealing land and causing the loss of many languages and cultures. It is ironic that the early survival of the Plymouth colony depended so heavily on the agricultural and fishing advice of the Wampanoag.
The whole idea of a “first Thanksgiving” is historically murky at best, with both religious and civil harvest festivals easily traceable to the Spanish in St. Augustine and British colonies in Jamestown and Plymouth. The native populations also had histories of harvest festivals, thus rendering a colonizer’s claim of “first” another in a series of misappropriations. Regular Thanksgiving celebrations as fixed civil events became common much later, dating to the 1660s.
by: David Weinstein on November 26th, 2013 | 5 Comments »
(Credit: CC-BY-NC-SA by Nove foto da Firenze)
By now most of us have seen photos and heard reports of the heartrending loss of life and destruction from Typhoon Haiyan in the Philippines. The monster storm has affected 11 million people and destroyed 670,000 homes. Blown-out towns have been reduced to grim junkyards of rubble. It seems beyond words. But words and images are all we have from afar, so I will ask a few questions and try to connect a few dots.
The shock of this sheer devastation has aroused the compassion of the American people, perhaps evoking memories of September 11. But at the same time, not enough of us are talking about the connection between extreme weather incidents and climate change. There is a grim irony in the fact that the UN Conference on Climate Change was meeting in Warsaw at the same time as Haiyan. It’s an outrageous reality that this body has reached no agreement about curtailing greenhouse gases and global warming.
This is basically because the United States Congress steadfastly refuses to pass any clean energy legislation commensurate to the clear and present danger of catastrophic global warming, despite Super Storm Sandy, droughts, floods, and wildfires on our own shores. Why is this, especially since the majority of Americans support its government taking action to fight global warming? One can only conclude that our government values profits of the dirty energy sector over the well-being and lives of their own citizens.
by: Beverly Alves on November 22nd, 2013 | 4 Comments »
(Credit: Creative Commons)
Sarah Palin has done a terrible injustice to humane, caring, and coordinated health care. Palliative care is a medical specialty which provides coordinated, comprehensive care to reduce pain and suffering, while trying to heal or cure anyone who is given a life-threatening or life altering diagnosis. Sadly, without any factual or medical knowledge of palliative care, Mrs. Palin called this essential medical care “death panels.” Because of her, and some others, palliative care was removed as a covered benefit from the Affordable Care Act. Dr. Diane Meier, Director of CAPC (The Center to Advance Palliative Care)at Mt Sinai, spent a year in DC trying to get palliative care into the Affordable Care Act; however, at the last minute it was removed as a covered benefit because of the fear created by Palin and others calling it”death panels.”
Sadly, Mrs. Palin is back on the scene and is continuing to make remarks about “death panels,” reinforcing this idea in her latest video. Unfortunately surveys indicate that many Americans believe still believe this. I have written this Open Letter to Mrs. Palin to help educate people and try to undo some of the harm she and others have done. It is my hope that people will learn about this essential care, ask for it if/when it is needed, and contact their elected officials to ensure that palliative care is part of the Affordable Care Act or any bill that provides health care.