Syrian activists say these five children were killed by the shelling of pro-Assad forces in Homs, Syria on Jan. 26. / Local Coordination Committees in Syria
I and many other progressive Jews demand an end to Syrian genocide and a boycott of Russian and Chinese products– so as long as those countries refuse to join in active measures to replace the Assad government. I call upon the world community to intervene and stop the genocide being waged by the Assad government against the people of Syria.
The world must not sit idly by on the blood of the democracy- and human rights-seeking people of Syria against their brutal dictatorship. The Syrian regime has already killed more than 5,000 of its own citizens, and tens of thousands have been wounded or arrested and tortured. This is a crime against humanity, and it deserves a powerful intervention from the West.
Can you join us this Saturday for Beyt Tikkun Torah study (the portion that includes “the ten commandments”) and for our Tu B’shvat seder followed by a veggie pot-luck? Please let firstname.lastname@example.org know so that we can buy the right amount of food for the seder and supplement for the pot-luck! The only admission charge is to bring a main course vegetarian dish for the pot-luck– something you’d feel honored if someone else served to you! And if you can’t, come anyway and bring your friends. The event takes place at the Friends Meeting House on the NE corner of Vine and Walnut in Berkeley at 2151 Vine St.
The exciting news is that the extraordinary commentator on Torah, Dr. Mark Kirschbaum, will be visiting and teaching us both in the Torah study and in the Tu B’shvat seder, along with Rabbi Lerner. Kirschbaum’s Torah commentary appear weekly onTikkun Daily; theyare a rare blend of contemporary (mostly European continental) philosophy and wisdom from the Hasidic masters of Torah commentary.
Demonstrators and clergy carrying a golden calf in the shape of a Wall Street bull march from Judson Memorial Church to Zuccotti Park on Sunday, October 9, 2011. / Tom Martinez and Dennis Hearn
The local chapter of NSP in Washington, D.C. has been involved in creating an alternative to the standard conservative prayer breakfast that takes place each year, and we are inviting you to do the same in your community. We’ve been working with Occupy Faith D.C. to create “the People’s Prayer Breakfast.” You can do the same in your area of the country. It doesn’t have to be this week – take your time and make sure you do outreach to Jewish, Christian, Muslim, Hindu, Ba’hai, Sikh, Wicca, Buddhist, Quaker, Unitarian, Religious Science, and all other possible communities of faith to get them involved in the planning.
Challenged by interviewer Michael Krasny on the NPR affiliate KQED’s Forum show Tuesday morning to defend one part of Embracing Israel/Palestine (my claim that the path to peace requires a transformation of consciousness, and that Israel and Palestine not only could live together in peace but that there is no peace and justice for Israel without peace and justice for Palestine, so the best way to be both pro-Israel is to be pro-Palestine, and the best way to be pro-Palestine is to also be pro-Israel), I argued that the majority of both Israelis and Palestinians actually want peace but cannot believe that the other side wants it too.
It is this depressive paranoid certainty that “the other” wants to destroy us that has been a central part of what keeps Israeli and Palestinians from finding the path to their common interests, just as it is a similar paranoid and pathogenic fantasy that keeps the U.S. population willing to finance an inflated military which keeps in an ending state of hyper-alertness and makes it a ready tool for imperial ambitions of the wealthy. I also presented my psychological assessment of both sides and my view that consciousness transformation, though difficult, is both possible and absolutely necessary, both in Israel/Palestine and in the U.S.
The answer from the Jewish Right came tonight in the fourth attack on my house, this time on the first night of Chanukah (Dec. 20th). This one was relatively mild–two black-hooded men pasted signs on the outside of my house and garage saying “Palestine is an Arab fantasy.” They were taking their clue from Republican presidential candidate Newt Gingrich who has tried to out-do his Republican opponents in the primaries by, among other things, showing that he can be even more extreme on Israel than anyone else. Thus the notion that Palestine is an “invented nation.”
Chanukah was the first recorded national liberation struggle against Greek imperialism, and Christmas celebrates the birth of a hoped-for messiah to free the Jewish people from Roman imperialism.
What would a non-consumeristic Christmas look like? Here's one vision: a "Christmas Peace Tree" made from post-consumer recycled plastic installed by artists in Washington, DC, as part of Occupy DC's gathering in Freedom Plaza. Credit: Creative Commons/Elvert Barnes.
The symbolism of a homeless couple giving birth in a manger surrounded by animals because the more comfortable people have not been able to make room for them inside a roofed home is akin to the symbolism of the candles lit on Chanukah to celebrate the victory of the powerless over the powerful: both offer a powerful reminder that both Judaism born of slaves in Egypt and Christianity born of a movement of the poor and powerless were in their times the “Occupy” movement that confronted the powerful and those who served them.
All the more tragic to witness how both religions have been twisted in our own time to serve the powerful. Major forces in the Christian world have sided with the war-makers, ultra-nationalists, and the blame-poverty-on-the-poor cheerleaders for vast inequalities and protection of the rich against the needs of the rest. Jews, while retaining their commitment to domestic liberalism, have become tone-deaf to the cries of the oppressed in Palestine, to the huge inequalities of wealth in Israel, and have allowed their American institutions to be governed not by “one person, one vote” but “one dollar, one vote.”
Call Mayor Bloomberg of NYC, Mayor Jean Quan of Oakland, or whoever is your mayor and suggest that they support the Occupy movement by providing encouragement to social workers, teachers, clergy and others to go down to the Occupy encampments and volunteer time and energy to help those who badly need this support!!
Cities are cutting back on vitally needed social services, while at the same time, buying expensive military gear for their police departments.
From AlterNet by Joshua Holland, “What If They Sent in Social Services to Help Occupations Instead of Riot Cops to Bust Heads?”:
Occupations across the country have struggled to feed and shelter the least fortunate among us, and then faced often violent police crackdowns at great taxpayer expense. Pause for a moment and imagine what might result if mayors sent in social workers to help people rather than riot police to bust some heads?
Reb Zalman Schachter Shalomi is one of the great Jewish mystics and spiritual teachers alive in the world today. He is the founder and spiritual guide of the Jewish Renewal movement, and was my teacher for thirty years directing my study for the rabbinate, and chairing the Beyt Din (Jewish rabbinic court) that examined my learning and gave me ordination (smicha) and the title of rabbi. If you ever get a chance to hear his teachings, please do so! He has written frequently in Tikkun magazine, and I count him, along with my mentor at the Jewish Theological Seminary Abraham Joshua Heschel, one of the great inspirers of the Tikkun enterprise. Here is a mystical message about Chanukah from Rabbi Zalman Schater Shalomi:
This past weekend, Occupy Wall Street demonstrations were held in over 951 cities in 82 countries as people around the globe joined in an international day of solidarity against the greed and corruption of the 1%.
The media, trying to discredit all the demonstrators, say we don’t know what we are for, only what we are against. So I believe there is much to be gained were we to embrace the following 20 second sound bite for “what we are for.”
We want to replace a society based on selfishness and materialism with a society based on caring for each other and caring for the planet.
We want a new bottom line so that institutions, corporations, government policies, and even personal behavior are judged rational or productive or efficient not only by how much money or power gets generated, but also by how much love and kindness, generosity and caring, environmental and ethical behavior, and how much we are able to respond to the universe with awe, wonder and radical amazement the grandeur and mystery of all Being.
To take the first steps, we want to ban all money from elections except that supplied by government on an equal basis to all major candidates, require free and equal time for the candidates and prohibit buying other time or space, and require corporations to get a new corporate charter once every five years which they can only get if they can prove a satisfactory history of environmental and social responsibility to a jury of ordinary citizens. We call this the Environmental and Social Responsibility Amendment to the US Constitution (ESRA).
We want to replace the mistaken notion that homeland security can be achieve through a strategy of world domination by our corporations suppoted by the US military and intelligence services with a strategy of generosity and caring for others in the world that will start by launching a Global Marshall Plan that dedicates 1-2% of our GMP ever year for the next twenty to once and for all eliminate global poverty homelessnes, hunger, inadequate education and inadequate health care — knowing that this, not an expanded militarr, is what will give us security.
And we want a NEW New Deal that provides a job for everyone who wants to work, jobs that rebuild our environment and our infrastructre, and jobs that allow us to take better care of educating our youth and caring for the aged. That’s what we are for! And you can read more about them at www.spiritualprogressives.org
Ok, it was two minutes instead of 20 seconds, but we deserve that amount of time.
The prophet Isaiah stood outside the ancient Israelite Temple and denounced those fasting on Yom Kippur who nevertheless were participating in an immoral society. Said Isaiah (in a statement that is now read in synagogues around the world on Yom Kippur morning though its message mostly ignored when it applies to some Jews’ participation in some of the most exploitative practices of Western capitalism or in support for the current right-wing government of Israel even as it engages in oppression of Palestinians):
Look! On the very day you fast you keep scrabbling for wealth; On the very day you fast you keep oppressing all your workers. Look! You fast in strife and contention. You strike with a wicked fist. You are not fasting today in such a way As to make your voices heard on high. Is that the kind of fast that I desire? Is that really a day for people to “press down their egos”? Am I commanding you to droop your heads like bulrushes And lie around in sackcloth and ashes? Is that what you call a fast day, The kind of day that the God of the Burning Bush would wish? No! This is the kind of fast that I desire: Unlock the hand-cuffs put on by wicked power! Untie the ropes of the yoke! Let the oppressed go free, And break off every yoke! Share your bread with the hungry. Bring the poor, the outcasts, to your house.When you see them naked, clothe them; They are your flesh and blood; Don’t hide yourself from them! Then your light will burst through like the dawn; Then when you need healing it will spring up quickly; Then your own righteousness will march ahead to guard you. And a radiance from YHWH will reach out behind to guard you. Then, when you cry out, YHWH will answer; Then, when you call, God will say: “Here I am!” If you banish the yoke from your midst, If you rid yourself of scornful finger-pointing And words of contempt; If you open up your life-experience to the hungry