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Archive for the ‘General News’ Category



YoHana Bat Adam: The Spiritual Heartist

Jul29

by: Sara Weissman on July 29th, 2014 | 1 Comment »

"Ascending" Mixed Media on canvas 23KT Gold leaf, Swarovski Crystals 43.5″ x 55.5″ Carved 22KT gilded Basswood frame

For years, YoHana Bat Adam didn’t call herself an artist. She jumped from one financially sustainable job to the next, from cleaning houses to working in a hair salon. “I was in survivor mode,” she says. But around eight to ten years ago, she can’t quite recall, Bat Adam decided to turn her love of art into a lifestyle. “One day, after doing so many things, I kind of realized, that’s it, from today I am an artist,” she says.I’m an artist because an artist is a state. It’s a state of being creative, being connected to the higher in you and manifesting yourself as you truly are in the moment.” Her career began with an artistic kite shop along the beach in Hertzliya, Israel and, after experiments with media from aerial design to sculpting, her art blossomed into the variety of work she creates today in her studio near Nevada City, California, including colorful paintings on canvas, silk, and wood.

Bat Adam calls herself the “heartist,” a label that she feels embodies the message behind her art. She hopes her work will inspire viewers to soul-search, to “go to their hearts and be present to what they see.” For Bat Adam, “art is kind of a silent language of the heart” and should inspire personal introspection. She finds this inward focus to be lacking in much of modern art, which, in her opinion, is primarily based on shock value. Citing an example, an installation of four cars hanging from the ceiling at MOMA, Bat Adam says, “I’ll remember it, but what did it add to my emotional ability to be in contact with myself? What did it really create? It’s a sensation of the mind, not the depth of the heart.”

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Bodies on the Line in Solidarity with Palestine

Jul29

by: on July 29th, 2014 | 4 Comments »

Boeing protest

Protesters Block Entrance to Boeing. Photo credit: Alex Garland

Waking up every morning to news that Israel has bombed yet another school, mosque, or hospital in Gaza, has been so infuriating, heart wrenching and demoralizing. It has been hard to feel helpless in the face of such a large scale massacre being carried out in my name as a Jewish person. When I isolate at home watching the horrors unfold, it has been easy to spiral into a vortex of shame and immobilization about Israel’s actions.

Yesterday morning was different: instead of passively watching the news, our group of Jewish, Palestinian and allied activists made some news ourselves. Our Seattle and Tacoma chapters of Jewish Voice for Peace, along with the Seattle chapter of Queers Against Israeli Apartheid, participated in an act of civil disobedience at Boeing in Tukwila, Washington in order to stop the business of war as usual. Boeing has been a major supplier of weapons to the Israeli Defense Force, including missile systems, F15 software, and Apache Helicopters. Our aim was to draw attention to how Boeing is profiting from these horrendous attacks on civilians in Gaza.

At our die-in, nine activists, locked to each other, laid down across the crosswalk to block the entrance to Boeing, while fifty others lay down on the sidewalk, held signs, and chanted. As we blocked the entrance for three hours, we recited the names of over one thousand Palestinians who have been killed since the attacks on Gaza began on July 8th. Reading the names through the bullhorn, I looked down at the bodies lying on the ground and felt both the enormity of my grief at how many lives have been lost and the power in this small gesture of commemoration.

Earlier that morning, we met up at a park to practice before the protest, get connected in our commitment to Palestinian liberation as a group, and carpool to the action. As I watched people streaming into the park at the crack of dawn on a weekday, I felt tears well up in my eyes. It was gratifying to see so many folks willing to put their bodies on the line in solidarity with Gaza. It’s one of the few times since the attacks began that I have felt any glimmer of hope. As we took a moment to re-affirm our commitment to the action, I felt connected to the activists surrounding me, across the country, in Palestine, and around the world who are fighting for Palestinian liberation. I also felt deeply connected to my ancestors who survived pogroms and concentration camps, so that I could be here today to work for justice for all people.

 

Letter to My Community: How I’m Pro-Israel

Jul28

by: on July 28th, 2014 | 11 Comments »

I don’t cry.

It didn’t used to be this way – I was a somewhat sensitive kid growing up, and often wore my emotions openly, crying naturally when the world demanded tears. I’m now 40, and haven’t cried in 12 years. Maybe more. I admit that, during the past month, I’ve written the words “I weep” for the loss of life in Gaza and the loss of life in Israel. But such words have just been a metaphor for what, in reality, can no longer be conjured.

Credit: Creative Commons

Why am I starting out by telling you this? Because in writing this letter, I can feel the faint hint of tears, can feel the sensation of what it feels like to cry. It’s a familiar feeling, but one which will spill out into words. Words of sadness. Words of love. And possibly, words of hope.

Many of you know me as an active member of the community. You are my friends and my colleagues. You are Jewish community leaders and community activists. You are Americans and Israelis. You are people I care about, and during this difficult time, some of our relationships are being strained. Which is why I’m writing and sharing some thoughts, hoping that in doing so, the distance created between myself and some of you might be bridged during this difficult time.


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Intent & Impact of Giants Hiring David Tyree

Jul25

by: on July 25th, 2014 | 1 Comment »

“This will be the beginning of our country sliding toward, it’s a strong word, but anarchy. How can marriage be marriage for thousands of years and now all the sudden because a minority, an influential minority, has a push or agenda … and totally reshapes something that was not founded in our country.”

 - David Tyree, to the National Organization for Marriage, 2011

Credit: Creative Commons

David Tyree, former NFL wide receiver for the New York Giants, is probably most renowned for his amazing “helmet catch” in 2007 to continue the ultimately decisive game-winning surge against the undefeated New England Patriots in Super Bowl XLI by the close score of 17 – 14. In 2011, though, he announced that he would gladly trade his phenomenal catch in exchange for a law outlawing marriage for same-sex couples.

Tyree, who is married, a father of four children, and a devout Christian asserted that homosexuality and marriage for same-sex couples defies God: “I don’t agree with it [gay marriage] because God doesn’t agree with it. As a Christian, I don’t agree. Society may be changing but God is not.”

He also claimed in a series of Tweets in 2011 that homosexuality is not inborn: “…there are many former homosexual men & women in this country & no scientific data to support the claim of being born gay” and that he has met “former homosexuals.”

Well, Mr. Tyree, if you don’t “agree” with marriage for same-sex couples, don’t marry someone of the same sex. Simple! If you think having attractions for others of the same sex and acting on this is a choice, well, don’t choose it yourself. Period, the end! Can we move on now?

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Setting Aside Your Humanity To Cheer “Team Israel”

Jul21

by: on July 21st, 2014 | 10 Comments »

I am not especially bothered by right-wingers who defend Israel’s indefensible onslaught against Gaza. Right-wingers who supported the Vietnam war (if they were around then) or the Iraq war, the people who want to go to war with Russia now. I get that. Right-wingers (think John McCain) like war and view it as sport; their side is always right.

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Immigration Laws as Official “Racial” Policy

Jul14

by: on July 14th, 2014 | 2 Comments »

Credit: Creative Commons

Politicians and most other residents of the United States alike, from every rung along the full political spectrum, generally agree on one issue: our immigration system is severely broken and needs fixing. Seemingly insurmountable gaps in political solutions to repair the system along with Congressional inaction to the point of blockage have brought the country to the point of crisis.

Though Presidents Barack Obama and George W. Bush, and other prior occupants of the White House, in addition to select members and committees of Congress have suggested possible solutions to the current standoff, change seems impossible this year, even as growing numbers of people attempt to enter the country to reunite with family members or to escape violence and poverty abroad.

Though politicians and members of their constituencies argue immigration policy from seemingly infinite perspectives and sides, one point stands clear and definite: decisions as to who can enter this country and who can eventually gain citizenship status generally depends of issues of “race,” for U.S. immigration systems reflect and serve as the country’s official “racial” policies.

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Israeli Vengeance Runs Wild—Violating Torah Law and International Law

Jul7

by: on July 7th, 2014 | 11 Comments »

“Thou Shall NOT Take Vengeance” is a key law of Torah, but it is being ignored in Israel today both by the government and by significant parts of the people of the State of Israel (read Chemi Shalev’s article and Gideon Levi’s article).

We at Tikkun condemned the kidnapping of three Israeli teens several weeks ago, and we rejected the suggestion by some on the Left and some in the Palestinian world that this act had to be contextualized to the Occupation. Instead we insisted that acts of kidnapping and then subsequently of murder are ethically wrong and should not be minimized or morally excused on the grounds that just before those kidnappings Israeli occupying forces had killed several Palestinians in nearby Hebron.

Now we watch in horror as Israelis march through the streets of Jerusalem and many other cities calling for vengeance, as some Israelis kidnap and murder a Palestinian teen in East Jerusalem, as the Israeli Army blows up dozens of homes of “suspected terrorists” without the slightest attempt to give them an opportunity to defend themselves against this charge, and as the IDF bombs Gaza though there is no evidence that the Israeli teens were killed by order of anyone in Hamas.

A right wing protest after the funerals of the three kidnapped Jewish teens. Lerner writes,"Now we watch in horror as Israelis march through the streets of Jerusalem and many other cities calling for vengeance." Credit: Tali Mayer/ActiveStills

This, of course, is not fundamentally different from what the United States did after 9/11, or what China did after the demonstrations in Tiananmen Square or what many other countries do. But it is particularly vexing to ethically conscious Jews for the following reason: Israel claims to be “the Jewish state,” and yet its Occupation policies and the violence that flows from those policies have a devastating impact on the ethical claims of the Jewish people, defame God’s name, and leave a historical memory that for thousands of years will plague our people in the eyes of others and in the relationship that ethical Jews will have to our traditions.

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Happy Birthday America!

Jul4

by: on July 4th, 2014 | Comments Off

July 4, 2014. My dear adopted country, I am so happy to be a part of yet another celebration of independence, another anniversary of your birth! For the last fifteen years I have celebrated with you, and with each passing year I have realized how special you are to me. Many people, especially the talking heads on certain cable news networks, think that the scarf on my head diminishes in me the ability to feel loyalty and pride, but they are wrong. I can wear whatever I want, pray however I wish, and still wave the American flag high on the fourth of July. Despite, or perhaps because of, the fact that I am American Muslim I have a deep appreciation of what those two things mean in that combination.


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On the Death of Zalman Schachter Shalomi, z’l: A Great Jewish Teacher and the Founder of the Jewish Renewal Movement

Jul3

by: on July 3rd, 2014 | 12 Comments »

Rabbi Zalman Schachter Shalomi, founder of the Jewish Renewal movement, and one of the most creative and impactful Jewish theologians of the last forty years, died today. I write with tears in my eyes and love in my heart for this incredible teacher, a source of inspiration for literally hundreds of thousands. I loved this man very very deeply for the past fifty one years that I knew him.

This is not a eulogy, but a personal statement of loss and an invitation to those who did know him to share stories about him with us at Tikkun which we can send out to the tens of thousands of people who read our communications. This is my form of grieving after I stopped crying at hearing this news today.

Zalman was born in Europe and barely escaped the Nazis when he was able to flee from France to the U.S. He became a Lubavitcher Hasid and Rabbi in Brooklyn, and was chosen by the rebbe along with his friend Rabbi Shlomo Carlebach to reach out to the generation of Jews coming of age on college campuses in the 1950 and 1960s. Zalman served as a campus Hillel rabbi, and there tapped into the emerging new consciousness that we subsequently called “the counter-culture.” His experience with LSD and other hallucinogens opened for him a deeper level of experience that fortified rather than undermined the spirituality that had always sung to his heart and which had been the inspiration for much of the Kabbalistic and Hasidic movements. Like his friend Shlomo Carlebach, Zalman’s teachings and his approach to prayer (davvening) excited young Jews whose experiences in the established synagogues of mainstream American Judaism were quickly alienating the whole generation from the spiritual deadness, materialism, and fearfulness (which often translated into a kind of idolatry of Israel as the only savior assimilated American Jews could believe in) that was at the time parading as “Judaism.”

I was first introduced to Zalman by my mentor at the Jewish Theological Seminary, Abraham Joshua Heschel, and am forever grateful for the relationship that we developed after that. As a counselor at Camp Ramah, I invited Zalman to teach my campers some of the ways to pray the “Shma” prayer – and these 13 year olds were mesmerized by Zalman’s ability to translate deep spiritual truths into a language they could understand, and then to embody his teachings in the way he actually led the davvening. So it was no surprise to me that after Heschel died, Zalman became the de facto leader (or perhaps co-leader with Shlomo Carlebach) for all those Jews seeking a spiritually alive Judaism.

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I am being tracked by the NSA

Jul3

by: on July 3rd, 2014 | 1 Comment »

Today, I learned that my IP address is being tracked by the NSA, and that – as a law-abiding citizen – it’s likely both the metadata and the actual content of my internet traffic is being analyzed and stored as well.

I know this because of a stunning investigation just published in Germany, which may have been furthered by a second, secret whistleblower, rather than documents released by Edward Snowden.

In this investigation, Jacob Appelbaum, Lena Kampf and John Goetz reveal some of the actual source code and rules for XKeyscore, one of the NSA’s most powerful and comprehensive deep-packet inspection programs. In short, XKeyscore can analyze and store both the metadata and the full internet content of individuals being targeted.

So who is being targeted? According to the investigation, anyone globally who has done an internet search for any number of popular privacy software tools – including Tor and Talis – as well as anyone who has visited either of those sites or been determined to utilize their programs.

Not only are IP addresses automatically tracked by XKeyscore for anyone who might have done so much as search for a web privacy tool, but XKeyscore’s code reveals that the metadata and the actual content of emails and web traffic may be analyzed and stored as well.

Like millions of Americans, I have searched for and used a number of popular privacy programs, including Tor, which I use daily. (Tor is a volunteer-operated initiative, funded by the US government, which annonymizes the internet traffic of users, and is particularly important for journalists and human rights activists.) And like millions of Americans, it’s now clear that my IP address is being tracked by the NSA, and based on the XKeyscore rules published in the investigation, there is a very good chance that deep-packet analysis and storage of my emails and the content of my web traffic has occurred as well.


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