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Hands Up, Herbie!: Bugsy Siegel and Uncle Shmatik


by: Joey Perr on March 6th, 2017 | 1 Comment »

Introductory note: This is an excerpt from the comic book, Hands Up,Herbie!, by Joey Perr. A unique documentary work drawn from an oral history of Herb Perr, art teacher and art activist, it also offers a Jewish family history less outside the norm than younger Tikkun readers might expect. Jewish involvement with organized crime during the first half of the twentieth century coincided with lower middle class status and inaccessibility to many professions. Herb leaves home for Greenwich Village and its excitements, becomes an artist and art teacher, and finally founds the leading arts activist group during the Reagan years. He never quite leaves his family’s past behind, at least not in memory.

~Paul Buhle



Joey Perr is a comic artist and public high school history teacher in New York City. His comic artwork has been published in Jewish Currents, Guernica, and elsewhere. Hands Up, Herbie! is his first graphic novel.

A Response to Jane Eisner’s Op-Ed in Forward on the Sanctuary Movement


by: Rabbi Lynn Gottlieb on March 6th, 2017 | No Comments »

A group of protesters holding up signs supporting the Sanctuary Movement.

A Shomeret Shalom crew joins Interfaith Movement for Human Integrity at the monthly interfaith vigil in front of West County Detention Center in Richmond, California.

As a board member of the Interfaith Movement for Human Integrity, an organization that mobilizes faith-based communities in California in pursuit of immigrant justice, I was sickened by Forward Editor-in-Chief Jane Eisner’s ambivalent stance toward the new Sanctuary Movement. In her opinion piece published on February 28th, Eisner demonstrates her failure to understand that the decades-old Sanctuary Movement is rooted in communities of color, that is, communities most at risk for deportation. Eisner discourages synagogues from participating in the Sanctuary Movement because she believes that congregations that offer sanctuary will cause “further politicization of religious life.” This is terrible advice at a time we desperately need an intersectional, multifaith coalition that confronts racism as well as the root causes of what compels people to leave their homes in the first place.

Eisner believes religion and politics should be separate in American life and, in her view, offering physical sanctuary to human beings about to be deported politicizes religious spaces. However, offering sanctuary is first and foremost, a religious act, according to Jewish teachings. Talmudic sages elaborate and clarify biblical commandments and values by prioritizing them:  “What are the greatest principles of Torah? Save one life, save an entire world; human dignity overrides every negative precept of Torah; love your neighbor as yourself. How? Don’t stand idly by the blood of your neighbor.” These are not suggestions; they are commandments. Piety without instrumental action is condemned by prophets and sages alike. Defying ruling systems that wield unjust power is exactly how our religion got started! The midwives resisting Pharaoh come to mind.


If I Were a Rich Man – the Inner Dimension


by: on March 6th, 2017 | No Comments »

In last week’s piece, I wrote about what I might do in the world if I had a lot of access to resources while having the same values, sensibilities, and beliefs that I have now.

In answering that question, I skipped over the major issue that values, sensibilities, and beliefs are not neatly divorced from access to resources. Had I been born into wealth, or even acquired it individually, I would most likely have become a different person. Conversely, with my existing way of being, it’s very unlikely that I would acquire wealth or hold on to it if it came to me. Still, this is a thought experiment, and such stories do happen. The most likely scenario: I was born into or acquired wealth, and I have gone through some awakening or personal change, maybe through loss or confrontation, that transformed me into the person that I know myself to be in this real life.

Before I would ever be able to do the things I wrote about last week, I would need to be able to face the reality of my situation, and come to a new version of myself where the outside and the inside are aligned.

Personal Alignment

I’ve never been surprised by the fact that alcohol and drug use tend to increase in higher-income individuals. Many reasons are cited in the places where I have looked, starting with easy access to money, and including the challenge of separating a sense of self and relationships from the association with the money that is so integral to the identity of the family.

What I haven’t seen, and seems critical to me, is that alcohol and drugs can be a response to a moral and spiritual challenge, not just material or emotional. Simply put: knowing that my needs are met and prioritized in relation to other people’s needs is an enormous struggle for the human soul. Looking at it directly, without numbing ourselves, without justifying it through the notions of “deserving”, and without any denial, is probably beyond most people’s capacity. It just makes sense to me that there would be a real incentive to medicate that gap, to obliterate that pain. That incentive appears to me as one more powerful reason alongside those usually mentioned.


Trump is a Symptom of Obama’s Failures


by: Jeff Vogel on March 6th, 2017 | 2 Comments »

Societies, like the people who populate them, can be become quite ill — especially if their condition fails to receive the proper treatment.

In 2003, our nation still reeling from the terror attacks of 9/11, became quite ill. We were attacked by one of the most virulent germs ever known to humanity, the illegal war virus.

This virus caused our nation to embark on the disastrous invasion and occupation of Iraq, an illegal and immoral blunder that left hundreds of thousands killed and wounded and destabilized an entire region. George Bush and Dick Cheney were the primary carriers of this deadly virus, but we soon discovered it was a very contagious strain which quickly infected Barack Obama. So instead of trying to cure our nation of this deadly virus by quarantining Bush and Cheney in prison, Obama proceeded to bomb Libya and double down on drone warfare. President Obama will soon leave the White House with a tragic distinction. He has become the first president in history to be at war for his entire time in office.

In 2008 our nation was attacked by the deadly Wallstreetium Corruptus bacterium that flourishes in greedy, secret environments that get very little sunlight. This bacterium initially attacked only our nation, but the infection quickly spread to many other countries, nearly destroying the world’s economy and costing many millions of people their jobs and homes.

President Obama contracted this disease early on when he took in more Wall Street campaign cash than his opponent John McCain — and then did not take the necessary steps to cure us. Instead of jailing and isolating the Wall Street carriers of this toxic bacterium, the President judged these financial terrorists too big to jail and too big to fail, leaving them able to continue to incubate one deadly germ after another.

And now we are faced with perhaps the most dangerous disease of all, our addiction to fossil fuels. This addiction is causing the Earth to overheat and destabilizing our global life support system. Catastrophe lies ahead.

Out of this fetid, festering, feverish swamp of untreated disease, our body politic is now manifesting the ultimate symptom of a sick society. From this quagmire has a arisen a pathogenic demagogue- Donald Trump, an old-fashioned quack offering phony treatments for chronic ailments, has become the president.

We have had, of course, deadly pathogens in our social system before, and we still suffer from one of the oldest and worst of these: the virulent and highly resistant virus of racism. We once had a leader in Dr. Marin Luther King Jr. who understood how to treat — how to beat back — this vile virus. We needed to practice, Dr. King taught us, nonviolent civil disobedience.

Dr. King was murdered before the cure could be completed. But he knew that the path forward to recovery demanded that we also treat the equally deadly and symbiotic germs of greed and militarism.

Let’s heed his legacy and follow his shining example — before time runs out.

Jeff Vogel- bryan10023@nyc.rr.com


India Civil Watch Calls on Indian-Americans Not to Succumb to Fear After Srinivas Kuchibotla Murder; Urges Solidarity with Other Immigrants and People of Color in Local Communities


by: India Civil Watch on March 3rd, 2017 | 2 Comments »

After the murder of a man from India by a hate-oriented racist in Kansas


Spiritual Practice in the Time of the Mad King


by: Rodger Kamenetz on February 27th, 2017 | 1 Comment »

Rabbi Nachman of Bratzlav, an early 19th century Hasidic master, offered a parable about a king who foretold that the year’s harvest of rye would be contaminated with ergot, a fungus with effects similar to LSD. Whoever ate the rye would become mad. The prime minister said we must put aside enough grain so we won’t have to eat this year’s harvest.

But the king said, “But then we will be the only ones who will be sane. Everyone else will be mad. Therefore they will think that we are the mad ones. Therefore, we too must eat this year’s grain. But we will put a mark on our foreheads so at least we will know we are mad. I will look at your forehead you will look at mine, and when we see this sign, we will know we are both mad.”

The parable touches on our current situation. It seems the country is going mad, that the country as a whole has eaten a substance that is guaranteed to distort reality. When we find ourselves reading everyday in the newspaper that the “president falsely stated”, when almost every word out of his mouth is a distortion of reality, and when this is repeated every day of the week, there is an overall contaminating effect.

One symptom of the madness is a sense of weariness in the land, as if time is slowing down – which is very much the effect of psychoactive substances. A month of this presidency already feels like a year, and a year will feel like a decade.

It is not only the lying, but the constant shifts of attention, the clever diversions and shiny objects, the theatrical episodes that redirect attention when things are going badly. It now requires so much effort to keep pace that merely to play the role of informed citizen has become almost a full time job in which we are challenged every hour to maintain our own sense of reality and normalcy against a widespread infection of madness.

Everyone has consumed the harvest, everyone is going mad. The concepts of “fake news” and “alternative facts” are not merely propaganda, but a description of a metaphysical infection in which we all, regardless of our politics and whether we wish to or not, are consuming the contaminated “rye” as our daily bread. For we cannot help but consume the news in a way that feels all consuming, in a way that is also consuming us.


Going on the Offensive: A State-Based Strategy for the Democratic Party


by: on February 22nd, 2017 | Comments Off

Although Tikkun does not endorse candidates or political parties, we here send out editor-at-large Peter Gabel’s imaginative article on how the Democratic Party can regain the idealistic ground to begin to set the agenda for a progressive politics, instead of remaining restricted to a defensive posture in response to the agenda being set by Donald Trump.

This article originally appeared on Truth-out.org.

Having lost control of the White House, Congress and probably the Supreme Court, the Democrats appear consigned to a defensive, resistance-based role in the coming years. But this is only true in the federal arena. By thinking imaginatively about how to channel their very substantial support within many of the nation’s largest states into collective political action, the Democrats may actually be able to go on the offensive in presenting and carrying out a socially progressive, idealistic agenda in a way that they have not been able to do for decades in the gridlock of Washington politics.


Broken Hearts Bring Hope


by: Susan Bloch on February 21st, 2017 | 6 Comments »

When a Seattle mosque was burned down, an unlikely alliance of kids gathered outside to support those who had lost their place of worship. Holding signs that said, “We Stand with our Muslim Neighbors,” were kids with yarmulkes, hijabs, and others wearing golden cross earrings. These kids later came together at a Kids4Peace and Muslim Association of the Puget Sound-AMEN Conference, united in their fight against Islamophobia. They were here to learn the power of advocacy in the media.

Making sure her hijab was securely pinned in place, twelve-year-old Sabreen Tuku, a 14-year old American, Muslim-Ethiopian girl, stepped up to the podium, her voice unsteady. “I have a dream,” she began. “I dream that one day every person, no matter their ethnic group, religion, or sexual orientation, will be treated respectfully. One day, I want to walk down the street and not have to fear . . . only feel love and acceptance.”


Loving America and Resisting Trump – The New Patriotism


by: Frida Berrigan on February 16th, 2017 | 4 Comments »

Editor’s Note:  From the start of Tikkun magazine close to 31 years ago, we’ve been trying to convince people on the Left that we should be embracing and celebrating all that is good in the U.S. even as we critique what is not. Lets understand its appeal both in the U.S. and around the world as a compensation for what is so hurtful in the global impact of capitalist consciousness. The center of capitalist ideology is its self-justifactory fantasy that the system is based on a meritocracy, so that those who are making it are successful solely because they deserve that success.

  • The hurtful consequence is that most people who haven’t “made it” are taught that this is their own fault–and that causes great deal of pain for a large swath of people who end up blaming themselves, not understanding that it is the whole class structure that guarantees that only a small section of people will ever move up the class ladder. No wonder that they turn to right wing forms of  religion and nationalism, because in those communities they are accepted as valuable just because they are a creation of God (in the religious world) or as a member of nation x, y or z (in the world of nationalism).
  • That desire to be valued just for who they are and NOT because of what they accomplish in the competitive marketplace is a fully legitimate desire. That’s one very good reason why liberals and progressives need to take up and build a progressive patriotism that simultaneously rejects the “America first” forms of nationalism with their racist and chauvinist elements.
  • Every year we at Tikkun send out a scrpt for a progressive July 4th celebration of America that affirms the good while acknowledging all that deserves to be ruthlessly critiqued–the genocide of Native Americans and the continuing racist legacy of slavery and the suppression of the rights of women, gays and lesbians, and the manipulation of nationalism to undermine the struggle for equality, social and economic justice, and environmental sustainability.
  • But unless we do that and other public embraces of what is good in America even as we critique what is not, Trumpism or other variants of a fascistic nationalism are likely to grow here just as variants of fascistic nationalism are growing all around the world!
  • If you think there is something important in the analysis presented above, please post it on your Facebook or other social media, on your own website. Don’t wallow in despair at the latest horrors of the Trump presidency– how about bringing your friends together for an evening or weekend brunch or afternoon to talk about this article and about our strategy to overcome Trumpism which you can send to them beforehand–read it at www.tikkun.org/strategy.  Please encourage your friends to join our NSP–  Network of Spiritual Progressives and support Tikkun and to sign up for our online training for spiritual activism in the age of, ugh, Trump at www.tikkun.org/strategy. At the very least you could up your level of support for Tikkun or the NSP (how about giving us a dollar a day? Never say “I didn’t know what to do in those dark days” because joining our efforts in the ways we are proposing in our strategy and in our training are precisely the things that everybody could do–and we are putting that right in front of you!!!

Rabbi Michael Lerner   rabbilerner.tikkun@gmail.com

The article below appeared first in TomDispatch.com, our media ally. 

So reality has inexorably, inescapably penetrated my life.  It didn’t take long. Yes, Donald Trump is actually the president of the United States. In that guise, in just his first weeks in office, he’s already declared war on language, on loving, on people who are different from him — on the kind of world, in short, that I want to live in. He’s promised to erect high walls, keep some people in and others out and lock up those he despises, while threatening to torture and abuse with impunity.


Craven, Contemptible, Political Hackery


by: on February 8th, 2017 | 5 Comments »

craven: having or showing a complete lack of courage

contemptible: not worthy of respect or approval

political: involving, concerned with, or accused of acts against a government

hack: a person who works solely for mercenary reasons

–ery: the practice of

–Merriam-Webster Dictionary


Let us be clear. When Mitch McConnell and the Republican majority in the United States Senate voted to silence Senator Elizabeth Warren as she attempted to read from a document that had been sent to the Senate Judiciary Committee and kept out of the Senate record, they showed their true colors as craven, contemptible, political hacks. Under the cover of Senate Rule 19, using the same tortured, twisted hermeneutical logic that led him to think he and his party were not acting against the US Constitution when they stole a nomination to the Supreme Court under President Obama, McConnell trashed the first amendment to the Bill of Rights on the Senate floor.

Fortunately, this nonsense only had authority on the Senate floor, and Senator Warren was able to continue to read a letter sent to the Senate Judiciary Committee in 1986 by Coretta Scott King in opposition to the nomination of Jeff Sessions for a federal judgeship. If it is true that past is prologue, the concern then, as if is now, was that Sessions would not uphold voting rights for all citizens of the United States.

Coretta Scott King said in her letter:

“Anyone who has used the power of his office as United States Attorney to intimidate and chill the free exercise of the ballot by citizens should not be elevated to our courts. Mr. Sessions has used the awesome powers of his office in a shabby attempt to intimidate and frighten elderly black voters.”
In a written statement to the Judiciary Committee, King testified to “politically motivated voting fraud prosecutions” on the part of Sessions and “. . . indifference toward criminal violations of civil rights laws.”

Unfortunately, her words still resonate in the wake of a Supreme Court decision that gutted the Voting Rights Act with a number of states instituting laws that make it more difficult for citizens to vote, especially minorities, the poor, and the elderly. The current president of the United States has made unfounded claims of voter fraud that only feeds the myth that widespread voter fraud exists and that laws that actually restrict legal voting are necessary.

King wrote of the importance of the Voting Rights Act to our democracy:
“The Voting Rights Act was, and still is, vitally important to the future of democracy in the United States.” She wrote about voter intimidation and Sessions’ participation in it:

“The actions taken by Mr. Sessions in regard to the 1984 voting fraud prosecutions represent just one more technique used to intimidate Black voters and thus deny them this most precious franchise.”

She wrote of the long way we as a nation have to go “before we can say that minorities no longer need be concerned about discrimination at the polls.” She says further:

“Blacks, Hispanics, Native American, and Asian Americans are grossly underrepresented at every level of government in America. If we are going to make our timeless dream of justice through democracy a reality, we must take every possible step to ensure that the spirit and intent of the Voting Rights Act of 1965 and the Fifteenth Amendment of the Constitution is honored.”

More than thirty years ago, then chair of the judiciary committee, Strom Thurmond, wanted to keep Coretta Scott King’s words out of the Senate record. In February, 2017, Mitch McConnell tried and failed to do the same thing. After he silenced Senator Warren, some of her male Democratic colleagues completed the reading. He did not silence them. In the end, Coretta Scott King’s words were heard.

Political pundits are reading this event within the context of presidential politics. Are the Democrats still angry about the outcome of the 2016 election? Is this the first step by Senator Warren on the road to a presidential run in 2020? Neither of these questions gets to the heart of the matter.