by: Cantor Michael Davis and M.J. Rosenberg on June 15th, 2014 | 11 Comments »
Credit: Creative Commons
Editor’s Note from Rabbi Michael Lerner: We invited the Religious Action Center of the Reform Movement and J Street, both of which have opposed the Presbyterian divestment resolution, to respond to those who support the Presbyterian resolution. Neither agreed to do so. Tikkun has sought to be a safe space in which both sides could present their thinking. But it’s hard to get the two sides in the Jewish world to sit together and discuss the issues, since anyone who supports even the very limited form of divestment proposed by the Presbyterians is, as J Street’s Jeremy Ben Ami said recently in explaining his opposition to any form of Boycotts, Divestments or Sanctions, crossing “a red line” and hence, in the view of the Jewish establishment, automatically suspect of being anti-Semitic. We believe a public debate is a more healthy way to conduct this discussion, and so we are disappointed that neither J Street nor the Reform Movement accepted our invitation.
Presbyterian Divestment – A Jewish Perspective
by Cantor Michael Davis, Jewish Voice for Peace Rabbinical Council
The first time I wore a kippa and talit outside of a synagogue setting was four year ago outside a hotel in downtown Chicago overlooking the Chicago river. I was singing with a group of my colleagues, local Reform cantors, to protest the mistreatment of hotel workers. I had the privilege of getting to know worker leaders, edit a national clergy report into worker conditions and organize my fellow clergy in Chicago. This was an exciting time – we took over the lobby of a Hyatt hotel with a flashmob, met with senior executives, collaborated with Christian clergy, traveled to other cities and on and on. Last summer, four years after their last contract expired, the Hyatt workers finally won a fair labor contract from management.
The lessons I learned from this successful worker justice campaign have relevance for me in thinking about how to end Israel’s illegal occupation of the West Bank.
Please take a second to sign the petition for the ESRA–Environmental and Social Responsibility Amendment to the US Constitution! We are working with Moveon.org to get our campaign better known, but they’ll only help us if we can demonstrate real support for this approach. It is by far the most comprehensive strategy to save the life-support-system of Earth, and the only way that can withstand being declared unconstitutional by the current reactionary Supreme Court.
It takes less than a minute! Even if you already signed it on the Tikkun website, the Moveon.org people need to see that there are enough people behind it to give it their attention and support, so we need to ask you to sign it again. And then PLEASE SEND IT OUT TO EVERYONE ON YOUR EMAIL LISTS, FACEBOOK, TWITTER AND EVERY OTHER PLACE, FROM YOU, ASKING THEM TO SIGN THE PETITION AS IT APPEARS ON THE MOVEON PAGE:
Just to remind you, the ESRA:
by: Tikkun Administration on June 12th, 2014 | No Comments »
We are proud that Rabbi Michael Lerner, co-chair of the NSP– Network of Spiritual Progressives, and rabbi of Beyt Tikkun Synagogue-Without-Walls that meets in S.F. and Berkeley, stood with other community leaders in urging the conservative Catholic archbishop of San Francisco to withdraw from an anti-homosexual group’s rally in Washington, D.C.
This is nothing new for Rabbi Lerner or for Tikkun. Tikkun critiqued homophobia in the Jewish world starting in 1988, and the famous Rabbi David Hartman, founder of the Shalom Hartman Institute in Jerusalem and a champion of tolerance in other respects, resigned from the Tikkun Editorial Advisory Board after telling Lerner that Tikkun’s support for gay rights “might endanger the Hartman Institute’s legitimacy in the orthodox world,” given the opposition to homosexuality in the Orthodox Jewish world. Lerner refused to relent in Tikkun’s critique of homophobia both in the orthodox and Conservative Judaism worlds. Rabbi Lerner officiated at gay and lesbian marriages from the time he was ordained in 1995.
I once heard Rev. Billy Graham say that war does not increase death because we are all going to die. I was taken aback, startled. Then I thought about it. He was right. War does not increase death. It does however increase horror and misery and destruction.
Credit: Creative Commons
A few days before the 70th anniversary of D-Day while standing in the grocery line, I saw the special edition of Time magazine in remembrance of D-Day. I was under budget, so I had the extra money to make the impulse buy. I saw the movie Saving Private Ryan, the Ken Burns documentary about World War II, The War, and I have seen many documentaries about various aspects of that particular conflict. Still, I am stunned anew every time I read again, see again, the carnage of war in general and D-Day in particular. The thousands of deaths in that one 24-hour period may not have increased death, but the D-Day assault, as necessary as it was to the defeat of Nazi Germany, increased physical, psychological, and moral injury. It increased nightmarish dreams. It increased broken relationships.
Not only was there an increase in tears and pain, but there was an immeasurable decrease. Young men died too soon, too young. How much laughter and love died too soon? What inventions to add to the sustenance and joy of humanity drowned in the invasion or was shot to death hanging in a tree after jumping into the battle or died on the beaches, too easy targets for German gunfire?
I know this is a difficult time for you and your family, which is partly why I’m reaching out, to let you know that I feel a deep kinship with you, despite the many differences in our circumstances and perspectives. While you lean conservative in your political views, I am an unyielding progressive. While you reside in a small town in Idaho, I am composing this from Pittsburgh, the city in which I live. And while your son was held captive for many years by the Taliban – while you struggled to secure his release with the determined focus only a father’s love could generate – I have struggled in a different way, working to move beyond the terror attack which injured my wife in Israel, an attack which has propelled me to fight for the human rights and dignity of my so-called enemy.
Despite these differences, our struggles have shared several fulcrum points, and these points have made it so difficult for me to watch politicians and the media exploit you and your family’s pain. There are moments this past week in which I have trembled with anger, have felt the need to lash out, to grip someone by the throat and scream, ‘Leave them alone’.
But I’m not a violent person. I’m a writer who acts with the pen, not with fists, and as such I’ve chosen to write to you in public as a way to support you in a country where so many want to reflexively do the opposite.
I hope this letter finds you in peace, and so I’ll begin again by saying שלום עלכם (shalom alechem), which is the Hebrew equivalent for the Arabic السلام عليكم (as-salam aleykum).
Peace be upon you.
Miki (right) and her sister Inbal
So often in my blog I write about what makes relationships challenging, and what we can do to move through conflicts and complexities. Today, however, I want to write some of my thoughts about some key elements that I have learned over the years about what makes relationships work easily.These thoughts are based both on the relationships I have in my life that are entirely flowing, without demanding effort from either party, as well as what I have heard and observed from others’ experiences.
I want to simply name them, because I know that they exist. These are the relationships where things simply line up. I have been blessed to have a few of those, most especially with my sisters and my nephew.
Why do I call them miracles? One of the most foundational premises of the approach I follow, based on the principles and practices of Nonviolent Communication, is that all human beings have the same needs.
On the morning of May 28, 2014, I woke, meditated, decided to postpone yoga, and started to gather myself to listen to President Obama’s remarks to the graduating class at West Point. Political commentators kept saying that this would be a speech that would define an Obama doctrine of foreign policy. Why people do not know what the Obama doctrine is, mystifies me. He articulated it in his Nobel lecture in 2009. Still, I waited to see how he would answer his critics who complain that there is no overall structure to his foreign policy.
Maya Angelou. Credit: Creative Commons.
Then there was an interruption in the morning. Maya Angelou was dead. Angelou a poet, national treasure, wise-woman, mentor to all humanity, a force of nature had made her transition and joined the ancestors. After 86 remarkable years, she had left this earth and gone to her well-earned rest. Her words have been with me all of my adult life. They have been with my children their entire lives. Her words nourished my soul and gave me strength to carry on when times were hard. I was familiar with her voice and with her words. Her well-known words:
I’m a woman
I was familiar with her words that remind me when I am at the bottom of my physical, mental, soul exhaustion, that after I rest, I have to get back to work:
Bringing the gifts that my ancestor’s gave,
I am the dream and the hope of the slave,
Dr. Vincent Harding, great keeper of the Southern Freedom Movement flame, died May 19th, 2014. He was 82 years old.
A graduate student in history during the late 1950s, Harding took an integrated road trip through the deep South with fellow Mennonites. They were welcomed at the Dexter Ave Baptist Church parsonage in Montgomery, Alabama, where Coretta King informed them that her husband Martin was home recovering from a stab wound he had received at a book signing in New York. After conversation about nonviolence and the struggle for human dignity in the Jim Crow South, Dr. King said to Harding, “You’re a Mennonite. You know something about nonviolence. We need you down here.”
Harding and his wife, Rosemarie, moved to Atlanta in 1960, ending up neighbors to the Kings through the turbulent years most often referred to as the “Civil Rights Movement.” But, as Dr. Harding often said, “I never heard anyone sing, ‘I woke up this morning with my mind stayed on civil rights.’” Harding knew well the great tradition of struggle which he chronicled in his monumental work, There Is a River: The Black Struggle for Freedom In America. The resistance that began when the first slave ships set sail from Africa was a river that ebbed and flowed through history. When it surged forward in the 1960s, Harding was there, paying attention. Rarely out front at the rallies, he was neither a lieutenant of King nor a “Freedom Rider” with SNCC. Harding was, instead, a friend and teacher to all in the struggle.
by: Tikkun Administration on May 16th, 2014 | 1 Comment »
“The violent behavior of the soldier videotaped aiming his rifle at a Palestinian teen, setting off a storm in the media, especially the social media – was not exceptional.”
So said veteran Israeli reporter Amira Hass in a recent issue of Israel’s most respected newspaper, Haaretz. You can read her story on the Haaretz website.
From Tikkun‘s standpoint, we need to point out that there’s nothing unusual about this behavior: occupying armies regularly brutalize the populations they are sent to police as part of the way they justify to themselves their presence on the streets of someone else’s cities or villages. The task itself is dehumanizing not just for the occupied but also for the occupier.