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Archive for the ‘General News’ Category



Live in NYC or Rockland County? You’re invited!

Oct13

by: on October 13th, 2017 | No Comments »

You are invited a series of events when Rabbi Lerner speaks in NYC and Rockland County!  The President of Brooklyn College has invited him to make a major address Thursday Oct 19 in the series she set up in response to the growth of hate in U.S. politics.  That morning he will speak on a panel at Medgar Evers College. And then on Friday night and Saturday he will be the scholar-in-residence at a synagogue in north Nyack in Rockland County where on Friday night he will address “Developing Empathy for BOTH Israel and Palestine” and on Saturday morning he will address  the Torah reading (about Noah) and the theme of “Environment and How it is Impacted by Ethics and America’s Spiritual Crisis.”

 

All of these events are free.  Details are below.

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I Surrender

Oct2

by: on October 2nd, 2017 | No Comments »

This morning when I opened my tablet to the newspapers, I was greeted with the reports of another mass shooting in the United States. This time, it is the deadliest mass shooting in history. I had no words. No tears. No feeling. I watched with a kind of numb sense of surrender. I told myself it was time to face the awful tragic fact that I live in a country that does not mind mass murder. They happen nearly every day in the United States and only make the news, only make us stop in our tracks, when the numbers are high. We value guns more than human life.

I have written about gun violence in the country over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over again at the Tikkun Daily Blog alone.

This June, in my Juneteenth essay, I wrote about our nation’s enslavement to gun violence.

http://www.tikkun.org/tikkundaily/2017/06/19/juneteenth-2017/

In April, I tried to take a more humorous view of gun safety laws as a homage to April Fool’s Day and called for a rule that no white man under the age of 65 be permitted to buy a gun

http://www.tikkun.org/tikkundaily/2017/04/01/a-modest-proposal/

In June 2016, after the mass shooting in an Orlando night club I wrote about how this happens over and over.

http://www.tikkun.org/tikkundaily/2016/06/13/here-we-go-again/

I have written about the gun culture in the United States as idolatry.

http://www.tikkun.org/tikkundaily/2016/01/11/human-sacrifice-and-the-idolatry-of-the-gun/#more-58931

After the mass shooting in Charleston, South Carolina, where a young white racist gunman killed black people at a prayer meeting, I wrote a two-part essay about the Cost of Cowardice, the cowardice to face issues of race, and the cowardice of our elected official to defy the National Rifle Association and give us gun safety laws.

http://www.tikkun.org/tikkundaily/2015/06/24/the-cost-of-cowardice-part-one/#more-56596

http://www.tikkun.org/tikkundaily/2015/07/22/the-cost-of-cowardice-part-two/#more-57034

In 2013, I wrote about the Power of Mothers to bring about change, comparing the relatively new organization Moms Demand Action for Gun Sense in America to Mothers Against Drunk Driving. My hope was that as women organized around the issue of gun safety laws, it would make a real change in our nation’s politics.

http://www.tikkun.org/tikkundaily/2013/05/16/the-power-of-moms/#more-38552

After the killing of elementary school children in Newton, Connecticut, all I could do was lament and keep saying that we have to elect representatives who will not fear the NRA.

http://www.tikkun.org/tikkundaily/2012/12/24/a-lamentation/#more-35141

In December of 2012, grieving over the deaths of children in Newton, I quoted a portion of my book where I propose the unicorn as a symbol for the world of justice and peace that we want to establish.

http://www.tikkun.org/tikkundaily/2012/12/21/unicorns-exist/#more-35139

After the mass shooting that nearly killed Rep. Gabby Giffords, I wrote about the Second Amendment within the context of 21st century technology. This amendment was not intended for a moment where guns can kill tens and wound hundreds in a matter of minutes.

http://www.tikkun.org/tikkundaily/2011/01/10/21st-century-weapons-technology-and-the-second-amendment/#more-18559

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Protest is Patriotism

Sep26

by: on September 26th, 2017 | No Comments »

The 45th president of the United States, in a profane rally rant intended to play to a crowd of voters in Alabama, invited owners of National Football League teams to fire players who took a knee during the national anthem. The ensuring firestorm has revealed that he does not understand what the central idea of the United States is. It has often been said that the United States is a country that is not built on ethnicity, rather, it is built on an idea and an ideal.

The idea is that citizens have both a right and a duty to craft a government that insures their human rights among those rights being life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. The ideal is that the nation is perfectible. The work of every generation is to work for a more perfect union.

The United States was founded in protest and in revolution. A decent respect for the opinions of humanity caused the founders to declare a political philosophy that would be a guide to those who came after them. Now is the time to remind ourselves of our foundational philosophy. The Declaration of Independence says:

“We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness. – That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed, – That whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new Government, laying its foundation on such principles and organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their Safety and Happiness.”

The Declaration speaks of the duty of human beings to throw off despotic governments. “But when a long train of abuses and usurpations, pursuing invariably the same Object evinces a design to reduce them under absolute Despotism, it is their right, it is their duty, to throw off such Government, and to provide new Guards for their future security.”

The power of life and death that police as agents of the states hold over citizens may be considered despotic when the officers who kill citizens are not brought to justice. Twelve-year-old Tamir Rice ought to have been free to play with his toy gun alone on a playground in safety. Rather, he was shot by police within two seconds of them arriving on the scene. No one paid a legal price for this crime. And, there is a long list of black and brown men and women who have been killed by the police for no good reason and those police officers have paid no legal price.

This is the reason why Colin Kaepernick took a knee during the national anthem before games last year and why many of his colleagues in various sports in various level of sports joined his protest. He was doing his duty as a human being and as a citizen of the United States.

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Moving from Fault to Cause: Looking for Systemic Solutions to White Supremacy

Sep14

by: on September 14th, 2017 | 2 Comments »

Downtown Charlottesville, by Bob Mical

The recent events in Charlottesville have brought even more attention and public conversation to the growing phenomenon of visible, explicit calls for white supremacy. Much of what I have since read and heard is horror and disgust at what has happened, and an intense inquiry about what can be done to make a dramatic shift, and quickly.

Although I experience myself as entirely separate and different from the torch-marchers, from their slogans, actions, and hatred, I consciously choose to maintain the discipline of remembering that they were not born this way; they are not in any special category. There are reasons why more and more people are drawn into such groups, and I want to know the causes, not what’s wrong with the people. Like many who’ve been writing recently, I am confident that fighting back, name calling, shaming, denouncing, and other similar tactics I’ve seen used recently are feeding rather than quelling this upsurge.

Clearly, we are facing a huge problem here; one of many that are challenging our overall ability to sustain ourselves as a species. One of the benefits that our very large brains give us is that we are, as a species, amazingly capable of responding to major challenges by solving complex problems. We know, without having to learn it very much, that to solve a problem we need to understand its cause and then look for solutions based on understanding the cause.

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Games of Thrones and #NoConfederate

Aug6

by: on August 6th, 2017 | 4 Comments »

First, I must confess that I am a Game of Thrones fan. To be more precise, I am a Tyrion Lannister fan as interpreted by Peter Dinklage. I continued to watch Game of Thrones after the first episode primarily because I was fascinated by Tyrion. I love his wit and his joy of life. As the series progressed, I started to love his cunning, his morality, and his willingness to walk away from everything and to return again when he thought he could serve a leader who would be good for the people of the Seven Kingdoms.

I was and remain at once enthralled and deeply dismayed by the imagination of George R.R. Martin in the books and by David Benioff and D.B. Weiss in the television series. They have conjured an entire world complete with history and religion and food. They have imaged flying dragons and a human queen who can withstand fire. They have given us a human being, the Three-eyed Raven, who can see everything past, present, and future. I enjoy the library at the Citadel, the warrior women and the dangerous queens. Games of Thrones earned an everlasting place in my heart for bringing back the great Diana Rigg as Lady Olenna Tyrell. The Game of Thrones imagination imagines an army of the dead that is the ultimate enemy of the living, and the saying of the House Stark is correct: “Winter is coming.”

My disappointment comes with the rapes of women and the torture porn. It especially comes when I look at the world these wonderful imaginings have given us, and I see a world where African or Asian people hardly exist. We have seen a few minor black characters, but it seems beyond their imagining that there could be high born black people who would have something to say about who will sit on the Iron Throne. Perhaps this would be a good starting point for a sequel as Game of Thrones, the television show, comes to an end.

Rather than thinking with delicious anticipation about what a sequel to the series could be, we are instead faced with an HBO announcement that Benioff and Weiss will produce a show called Confederate. The premise of the show will be what would the world be like if the Confederacy had won the Civil War and slavery existed to this day?

What? Who thought this was a good idea? (See: https://www.theatlantic.com/amp/article/535512/)

Here is where I reach the limits of my own imagination. I cannot image how anyone would think that what the world needs now is a fantasy about the enslavement of African American people continuing to the present day. How can anyone think that such fiction is appropriate when the truth of the aftermath of the Civil War is hardly known?

Let us consider the true history. After the Civil War, federal troops were stationed in the South to oversee Reconstruction. A Freedman’s Bureau was established to help the formerly enslaved to build new lives. We NEVER got our forty acres or our mule. We NEVER got reparations for hundreds of years of stolen work, but that is another essay. African Americans insisted on education, so people, black and white, can thank African Americans for the existence of public education in the South. African Americans served with honor and dignity in state legislatures and in the United States Congress. Do not believe the racist propaganda of the movies that depict freed men and women as pawns in the hands of corrupt carpetbaggers from the North.

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First Dispatch from the Jerusalem Film Festival

Jul17

by: Olga Gershenson on July 17th, 2017 | Comments Off

We at Tikkun have the good fortune to have U Mass Amherst professor of Film Studies and Jewish Studies Olga Gershenson reporting for us on the Jerusalem Film Festival. These are short snippets that give our readers some feel for what is being presented in Israel at the moment. We hope to have a longer analytic piece from her about the Jerusalem Film Festival in the Winter or Spring 2018 issue of the print magazine (which, as you probably know, is quite different from what we print on Tikkun Daily (which is not edited) or on our website wwww.tikkun.org (where the articles tend to be more focused on immediate realities, since the print magazine has a large gap from the time we get the articles edited till the time it is printed by Duke U Press, and hence has more articles about subjects that will still be relevant a half year later). Below is the first such report from Professor Gershenson:​

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Words, Harm, Blame, and Splintering

Jul10

by: Wade Hudson on July 10th, 2017 | 3 Comments »

[Jesus] recognized with authentic realism that anyone who permits another to determine the quality of his inner life gives into the hands of the other the key to his destiny. If a man knows precisely what he can do to you or what epithet he can hurl against you in order to make you lose your temper, your equilibrium, then he can always keep you under subjection.

Jesus and the Disinherited, Howard Thurman

Cruel words can trigger hurt feelings and anger. Individuals who speak those words need to be held accountable and we need to reduce their frequency. But a compassionate response avoids blaming only the speaker. Listeners share responsibility for their reactions, and social conditioning and other factors contribute as well.

The Dalai Lama said:

You have to think: Why did this happen? This person is not your enemy from birth…. You see that this person’s actions are due to their own destructive emotions. You can develop a sense of concern, compassion, even feel sorry for their pain and suffering.

Words do not directly cause harm like a hammer causes pain when it hits my thumb. Cause and effect is a linear dynamic; emotions are immersed in a holistic system. Words contribute to hurt feelings, but how I process what others say is another factor. I am partly responsible for how I respond. I can learn how to react differently.

So I no longer tell people, “You hurt me.” That phrase shifts all responsibility onto the speaker.

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American Jews Stand Up for Their Own Rights in Israel, but NOT for Palestinian Rights

Jul6

by: on July 6th, 2017 | 6 Comments »

The chair of the Union for Reform Judaism, Daryl Messinger, announced this past week that she will boycott El Al, Israel’s national airline. Like other Reform leaders, Messinger is protesting the Israeli government’s decisions to suspend the creation an egalitarian prayer space at the Western Wall and expand the Orthodox Rabbinate’s monopoly over conversions. (1)

At the same time, the president of the Chicago Jewish Federation, Steven Nasatir, declared that Israeli lawmakers who voted for the Conversion Bill would not be welcome in Chicago. (2) And AIPAC board member Isaac Fisher will suspend his donations to Israel in protest of these recent Israeli government decisions. (3)

Under Hillel International’s Standards of Partnership, all three of these individuals would be barred from Hillel.

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A Declaration of Resistance

Jul4

by: on July 4th, 2017 | 6 Comments »

When in the course of human events, it becomes necessary for citizens to resist the immorality and unjust policies of their elected officials and to assume the responsibility of citizens to insist upon a course in keeping with the spirit and the letter of their founding documents, a decent respect to the opinions of humankind requires that they should declare the causes which impel them to the resistance.

We hold these truths to be self-evident that all human beings are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness. These Rights include those outlined in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and other international declarations of rights that belong to human beings not by virtue of citizenship but rather by virtue of their humanity. That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among human beings, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed,–that whenever elected or appointed officials become obstructive of these ends, it is the Right of the People to resist and to work to elect new people who will provide policies leading to Safety and Happiness.

Prudence, indeed, will dictate that elected officials ought not to face resistance for light or transient causes, and accordingly all experience has shown that human beings are more disposed to suffer, while evils are sufferable than to right themselves by consistent resistance. But when a long train of abuses, pursuing invariably the same object evinces a design to reduce them under Despotism, it is their right, it is their duty to resist and vote into office different leaders who will Guard their future security in the most expansive sense.

The history of Donald Trump is a history of repeated injuries and lies all having in direct object the weakening of our government and his own advancement at any cost. To prove this, let Facts be submitted to a candid world.

He built his political career upon a malignant foundation of a pernicious lie, namely, that President Obama was not born in the United States of America. He lied to the public for years, saying that he had paid investigators to prove that President Obama was not born in the United States. We have neither seen nor heard from any of these investigators.

He ran a fraudulent “university” and conned people out of their hard-earned money.

He is a man who has disrespected women both before, during and after the presidential campaign. He bragged about sexually assaulting women, and when women came forward to say that he had indeed made unwanted physical contact with them, he insulted them personally and threatened law suits. He has called women names, body shaming them, and seems to have an unhealthy obsession with women and blood.

He started his presidential campaign insulting our fellow Mexican American citizens. Throughout the campaign, he has given us a divisive and mendacious discourse. He has debased the public conversation both as a candidate and as president by giving his opponents demeaning names and making fun of them. He called for violence against protestors at his rallies, even at one point offering to pay the legal bills of anyone who was charged with violence against protestors.

He has tried to bully and demean members of the media. Protection of the freedom of the press is enshrined in the first amendment of the United States Constitution. While the Constitution prohibits Congress from making a law that would abridge the freedom of the press, the spirit of the Constitution requires a person who takes an oath to preserve, protect and defend the Constitution to show respect for members of the media. The media are not the enemy of the people as he has suggested, the media are the people.

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A Poem for this Holiday

Jul3

by: Philip Wolfson on July 3rd, 2017 | 5 Comments »

Happy Interdependence Day!

–Phil Wolfson

 

Karma is a useful concept – really:

Causation with indeterminate effects and consequences

That can be linked back

And forward to

the running ball of new causes produced

That explodes like the pellets of a shotgun

Moving into space

Yet always attaching to the

Befallen

And the what is to be

And the to me to be.

There really is not much control.

Take the myriad pieces that lead to Trump

The characters who play and played

Their own agendas and egos

The plow of profit

And the masters of profiting

The failure of true community

To overcome divisiveness and hate -

Still the great minority position:

Love is the answer for all

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