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Archive for the ‘General News’ Category



Anti-Semitism is Back … and Won’t Go Away

Mar10

by: Michael Lerner on March 10th, 2017 | 1 Comment »

Suddenly anti-Semitism is back. Over one hundred headstones in a Jewish cemetery in Philadelphia were overturned in a hate act early Sunday February 26, a week after a similar assault on a Jewish cemetery in Missouri. Since the election of Donald Trump there have been hundreds of incidents of bomb threats to Jewish institutions, 20 more on Monday February 27th, along with college campuses reporting a dramatic rise in anti-Semitic graffiti.

 

President Trump is reported to have followed alt-Right conspiracy theorists in suggesting in an off-the-record briefing that these might be false flag operations coming from Jews who are seeking to build sympathy and reclaim our victim status.

 

Jewish leaders around the country are calling upon President Trump to order a full-scale investigation of this surge in acts designed to frighten Jews. Unfortunately, they have been facing some indifference from a media and public which have been overdosed with cries of anti-Semitism. When progressive Jews and some major Protestant denominations have dared to criticize Israel’s denial of human rights to Palestinians the Jewish establishment and many rabbis in synagogues around the U.S. have said that those people critiquing Israel’s denial of human rights to Palestinians are either anti-Semites or “self-hating Jews.” Just two weekends ago Congressman Keith Ellison lost his bid to be chair of the Democratic National Committee after Jewish organizations and fundraisers spread the rumor that he was an anti-Semite based on his mild criticisms of Israeli policies. After decades of mainstream Jewish organizations crying wolf by reviling young Jews who want the same rights for Palestinians that Jews correctly have sought for ourselves and many other oppressed groups, the Jewish establishment deserves some responsibility for weakening their own credibility and diminishing the American public’s concern when now our community is facing real anti-Semitism.


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Humor From Tikkun

Mar10

by: David Tell, Tikkun Managing Editor and Chief Satirist on March 10th, 2017 | Comments Off

‘Changing the Channel’ on Trump

 

It’s been noted – and amply demonstrated – that Trump garners his awareness of the general national and world situation – its issues, problems, crises (and proposed solutions) and even of “fluff” – from his daily diet of cable “news.”

Reporting and observation have indicated that the president watches several hours of Fox and CNN virtually every morning, and his regular tweets (often expressing alarm, ire, contempt and so on regarding various pieces of information about events and people) frequently come within seconds of the broadcast about an item he is responding to.

It’s believed the recent Trump tweet (known now as “Treets”) accusing former President Obama of having wiretapped Trump Tower during the election campaign is one of many cases in point.


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Humor From Tikkun

Mar9

by: By David Tell, Tikkun Managing Editor and Chief Satirist on March 9th, 2017 | Comments Off

(Pre-)Deconstructing Trump’s Wall – Literally

 

In a phenomenon perversely inversely reminiscent of the collecting of pieces of the breached and demolished Berlin Wall in 1991, residents along both sides of the southern border of the U.S. have been making off with material slated for the construction of Trump’s much-touted barrier against Mexican migrants.

In this case, they’re making off with pieces of the the astronomically costly wall before it’s even built.

The activity has so frustrated construction workers and border agents that they have even used some of the same materials to throw brickbats at the thieves – “some of them good people,” Immigration and Customs Enforcement regional director Budd Tugly said he assumed.


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Perspectives on Purim

Mar6

by: Rabbi Dev Noily, Rabbi Michael Lerner, Michael Kagan, and Aryeh Cohen on March 6th, 2017 | 6 Comments »

A note from Rabbi Lerner:

We at Beyt Tikkun have been struggling internally about how to deal with the Jewish violence and revenge that is part of the Purim story. We will be talking about it at our Shabbat morning service this coming Shabbat of RemembranceMarch 11 at 951 Cragmont Ave, Berkeley Ca. starting at10:30 a.m.and followed by a veggie pot-luck (and then at 7 that night we will be joining the Aquarian Minyan for reading the Book of Esther and their Purim play which undoubtedly will deal with Trump (will he be the evil Haman or the buffoon kind Ahashverus?)

The question we struggle with is: Should we boycott this holiday entirely? Is there a way to challenge its hurtful parts without discrediting the legitimate joy our people feels when it is saved from the intended violence against us?

These are some of the issues raised in the articles below. In the last chapters of the Megillah of Esther the acts of mass killings by Jews against our supposed enemies is recounted with nary a word of regret or sadness. This is so unlike the Passover seder when we dip from the cup of joy when naming the plagues visited on the Egyptians-a symbolic way of saying that we cannot be fully happy when our own liberation comes at the expense of the suffering of others (in that case, including the death of the first born children of Egypt, few of whom had anything to do with the oppression of Israelite slaves). Our community Seder this year will take place 2nd Seder night,Tuesday April 11th. Registration info will be on our Beyt Tikkun websitewww.beyttikkun.org


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Hands Up, Herbie!: Bugsy Siegel and Uncle Shmatik

Mar6

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

 


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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

Mar6

by: Rabbi Lynn Gottlieb on March 6th, 2017 | Comments Off

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.


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If I Were a Rich Man – the Inner Dimension

Mar6

by: on March 6th, 2017 | Comments Off

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.

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Trump is a Symptom of Obama’s Failures

Mar6

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

Mar3

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


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Spiritual Practice in the Time of the Mad King

Feb27

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.


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