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#GivingTuesday is tomorrow!

Nov27

by: on November 27th, 2017 | No Comments »

Giving Tuesday logo superimposed over image of people gathered for Tikkun Conference 2016

Thank you for your support! Without you, we cannot continue to spread a vision of a world based on love and justice.

Tomorrow is#GivingTuesday–would you be willing to take a few minutes to help us? If you haven’t done so already, it’s not too late to set up a fundraiser on your personal Facebook page. Clickherefor more information about how to do that. Or, if you’d rather just donate, you can do that directly through theTikkun Facebook pageor theNSP Facebook pageby clicking on the donate button below the cover photo.Remember:starting at 8:00 a.m. EST, Facebook will be matching any donation you make–and we’ll give a free subscription toTikkunto anyone who donates $50 or more!

It’s also not too late to sign up for our next Spiritual Activism Training: Beyond Resistance – Strategies in the Age of Trump, which beginstomorrow! Clickhereto learn more. Want to know what people have to say about the training? Here are just two testimonials:

  • “I am pretty much blown away, in a very, very good way. I am grateful beyond words for the work you have done to create this most amazing (and so very necessary) course. Thank you for your vision, your work, your courage and your ongoing commitment.”~ Heidi Van Ert
  • “The Spiritual Activism training is a vital step for building the world we value and reversing the world-wide slide into anti-democractic and even fascistic ways of thinking. This training and the movement behind it deserve generous financial support and far greater visibility and participation.”~ Rabbi Michael Zimmerman

We hope you’ll consider setting up a fundraiser or donating tomorrow–and please think about registering for our upcoming training! We couldn’t do this work without you, and we greatly appreciate your support.

With warmth & in solidarity,

Rabbi Lerner, Cat, Rev. Carolyn, Simon, Rebekah, and Chris

An Interview with Frankenstein

Oct31

by: on October 31st, 2017 | No Comments »

All Hallows Eve is the time when the thin silver thread that divides life and death, divides fact from fantasy from flesh, disappears. It is a time when imaginary beings come to life. As I write this, that time is almost over in the Central Time Zone. I worried for a moment that I would not be able to finish my interview with Frankenstein before the dividing line returned. However, Frankenstein, contrary to his persona, is a gentleman in every sense of the word, and he made sure to speak to me before the dividing line re-emerged, and we would not be able to communicate again until next year.

I must confess that these last two days have been difficult for me. I have been depressed. Just sad. I cannot quite put my finger on the reasons for my melancholy state. The weather where I live has finally turned to fall, and the past two days have been a gloomy gray. I am sad for my country, heartbroken for the United States of America. The perp-walks have begun. Indictments of people close to the Trump campaign for president are facing charges. One has pleaded guilty. I thought that this would make me happy, but it does not. I am happy that our system of checks and balances on corruption and power is working, or at least, it has the possibility of working if justice is served.

At the same time, it is a sad commentary on the state of our nation. Some of us resist daily the various ways that the United States of America allows injustice. We defend the right to protest, the right of NFL players to take a knee. We question the sanity of John Kelly, Trump’s chief-of-staff when he lies on a member of Congress or “misremembers” in a pathetic attempt to shield Trump. Now he says that the Civil War happened because the two sides could not compromise. What kind of compromise does he imagine? We resist the laws that are being passed under the radar, laws that allow Internet providers to sell our browsing history without our knowledge or consent and without compensation to us. We resist the law just passed that takes away the right of bank customers to join in class action suits. Trump is taking away the requirement that employers provide funding for contraceptives, and we will not begin to think about the various ways that this administration is weakening the EPA and other agencies intended to protect people. Immigration authorities want to hold a sick child in custody, preparing to deport her.

I say and say again that we get the government we deserve.

That was yesterday. Today, another human being decided that it was his duty to commit a mass killing. He thought it was his responsibility to some ideology, to some way of thinking that makes the murder of other human beings not only thinkable, but justifiable. All of this was on my mind when I finally was able to connect with Frankenstein. Here is a portion of our conversation.

VED: Mr. Frankenstein, I want to thank you for taking the time to speak to me today. I know that Halloween must be a busy time for you.

FRANKENSTEIN: Please, you do not have to call me mister. Frankenstein is enough. I am happy to be with you.

VED: Let me begin with today’s terrible news about another mass killing in New York City. This time, it was a young man driving a truck in a space for bicyclists and pedestrians. What is your opinion of this type of violence?

FRANKENSTEIN: First let me explain that I have lived many lives. Since I am a character of the human imagination, I come into existence at different moments in history in different forms. I exist to bring certain archetypes into focus so that humanity can see outside its own mind its deepest fears, dreams, desires, and capabilities.

In my first incarnation, in Mary Wollstonecraft Shelly’s novel, I was a murderer. I accidentally killed a young boy. An innocent woman was convicted of the crime. Then I killed as a matter of revenge. I killed my creator’s best friend and his bride. These were not mass killings. I did not kill for ideological reasons. I killed because of my own pain. The old saying is true: “Hurt people hurt people.” Human beings do harm out of their own pain.

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Embracing the Stranger, Part I: Connected in Difference

Oct29

by: Lauren Bodenlos & Madeline Cook on October 29th, 2017 | No Comments »

At Tikkun Magazine, of the many posters of quotes and inspirational images on the walls in our office, we also find this passage from Exodus. “Do not oppress the stranger,” it says. This passage serves as a reminder that we must work to know and understand the other as our collective liberation is intertwined with others as well. The mission of this series, Embracing the Stranger, is based on the commitment of activists, changemakers, and visionaries across different causes to create a more inclusive and loving world. Through a series of interviews, we worked to explore the personal and spiritual motivations behind their work. With the many issues present in the world, and much to be done, we wanted to know how people became involved in the activism they dedicate their time to. Would there be any connected ideas? Any connected struggles? Would there be commonalities among people even if they differed in identity and origin story? We at Tikkun feel that it is vital to do all in our power to highlight and support individuals and groups that work to heal the World. We hope to further the Movement of healing, repairing, and transforming the world. Through this project, we aimed to paint a picture of the unified human desire to heal pain and turn our world into one of peace, empathy, and love. By discussing the missions of different groups, we hope to discover possible connections across a variety of causes to show where our struggles can be connected, to further the creation of a world influenced by peace, love, and empathy that creates liberation for the diverse world we live in.

Stay tuned for parts II, III, and IV in this series!

Connected in Difference: Reflections of an Interview with AnaLouise Keating

Inspired by writers and scholars before her, Professor AnaLouise Keating is developing her lifelong work focusing on the possibilities of change in the midst of difference. She is currently a professor of gender studies, however, “If I could rename my field of study, I would name it transformation studies,” she says, “because my work focuses on discovering and inventing innovative ways to effect personal and collective change, in the service of social justice.” AnaLouise is the author of multiple books on women-of-color feminisms, spiritual activism, transformational dialogue, post-oppositional theory, and the work of Gloria Anzaldúa. Knowing the breadth of AnaLouise’s work, she has immense insight into the possibilities of developing commonalities within a world of difference.

Like many scholars, AnaLouise’s research and teaching has been shaped by her experiences and identities; unlike many scholars, AnaLouise is aware of her own evolution and the unique insights that creates. AnaLouise begins discussing her intellectual development by sharing that she has never been someone who fits in well with any specific group. “I’m a person of color but light skinned. I’m not gay, I’m not heterosexual. I wasn’t comfortable with my family’s very conservative Christian Protestant beliefs. So I just read a lot and tried to figure myself out and find myself. [...] Then I started reading women of color, especially lesbians of color, to find myself, and I was especially drawn to [Gloria] Anzaldúa, [Audre] Lorde, and Paula Gunn Allen. I think it’s because in different ways they didn’t fit into any monolithic race, gender, sexuality, or social justice group.” As outsiders, they could see the limitations in numerous group identities; they learned from their experiences and developed innovative approaches to building radically more inclusive communities.

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Questioning Everything

Oct26

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

Questioning Everything

by Madisyn Taylor

Being open-minded means that we are willing to question everything, including those things we take for granted.

A lot of people feel threatened if they feel they are being asked to question their cherished beliefs or their perception of reality. Yet questioning is what keeps our minds supple and strong. Simply settling on one way of seeing things and refusing to be open to other possibilities makes the mind rigid and generally creates a restrictive and uncomfortable atmosphere. We all know someone who refuses to budge on one or more issues, and we may have our own sacred cows that could use a little prodding. Being open-minded means that we are willing to question everything, including those things we take for granted.

A willingness to question everything, even things we are sure we are right about, can shake us out of complacency and reinvigorate our minds, opening us up to understanding people and perspectives that were alien to us before. This alone is good reason to remain inquisitive, no matter how much experience we have or how old we get. In the Zen tradition, this willingness to question is known as beginner’s mind, and it has a way of generating possibilities we couldn’t have seen from the point of view of knowing something with certainty. The willingness to question everything doesn’t necessarily mean we don’t believe in anything at all, and it doesn’t mean we have to question every single thing in the world every minute of the day. It just means that we are humble enough to acknowledge how little we actually know about the mysterious universe we call home.

Nearly every revolutionary change in the history of human progress came about because someone questioned some time-honored belief or tradition and in doing so revealed a new truth, a new way of doing things, or a new standard for ethical and moral behavior. Just so, a commitment to staying open and inquisitive in our own individual lives can lead us to new personal revolutions and truths, truths that we will hopefully, for the sake of our growth, remain open to questioning.

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

Oct13

by: on October 13th, 2017 | Comments Off

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 | Comments Off

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 | Comments Off

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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