by: Megan Dowdell on April 17th, 2012 | Comments Off
On Saturday, April 21, Sacred Snapshots, a day-long Sampler for the Spirit, will invite participants to experience the divine, celebrate spiritual practices from a range of religions and traditions at Pacific School of Religion in Berkeley, California (9 a.m. to 6 p.m.) Whether exploring religion in pop culture, engaging 12-step spirituality, or experiencing Hindu ritual, attendees will create a multi-religious, multicultural and international community for one day. Rumi wrote that “there are hundreds of ways to kneel and kiss the ground,” and at Sacred Snapshots, you will have the chance to try at least a dozen.
by: Galit Govezensky on April 3rd, 2012 | 2 Comments »
Photo by Galit Govezensky
Passover is here again in Israel, with its annual holiday preparations. There are long lines of overstuffed carts in the supermarket filled with cleaning supplies, boxes of matzah, wine, and all the traditional ingredients of Pessach meals for dozens of guests. In many households, there are last-minute efforts to get rid of all traces of hametz by cleaning cabinets and scrubbing floors. At the same time, Israeli families on vacation can be seen hiking and enjoying themselves among colorful fields of wildflowers.
For countless generations, we have been told that Pessach is the holiday commemorating our exodus out of Egypt and our freedom from oppression. Sadly, however, some Jews worldwide still continue to suffer and wait to be released. Among them are the controversial Falash Mura, believed to be the descendants of the Jewish population of Ethiopia known as Beta Israel. Currently, 8,700 Falash Mura live in Ethiopia, while many members of their community came to Israel years ago. Although in the past they were silent, in recent months, a number of protest gatherings have erupted in Israeli cities among this normally subdued minority group. They now raise their voices against the discrimination they confront in their daily lives and loudly protest their separation from their lost relatives.
Photo Courtesy of Brendan Cohen
This last weekend, John Yoo was attending a conference at Stanford University sponsored by the Stanford Federalist Society. John Yoo, as you may remember, is the former Bush-era lawyer who wrote the memorandum justifying the use of torture.
As some students with Stanford Says No to War and I were wondering what we might do to speak out against the acceptance of Mr. Yoo into civilized society and academic circles, we were mindful that Stanford has begun to prohibit protests and have signs posted saying, “Protests Prohibited.” So it occurred to us that perhaps we should have a “Support John Yoo” event rather than a protest. Consequently, Darth Vader agreed to make an appearance in support of Mr. Yoo. What he didn’t expect was the enthusiastic welcome he would receive as dozens of people lined up to have their picture taken with him. Mr. Vader delivered the following message on behalf of Mr. Yoo:
Dear Friends and Colleagues,
These are dire times when our nation, The Empire, is under threat from many enemies both foreign and domestic. Our economy has been weakened by social parasites; international terrorists are attempting to attack us and weaken our mastery of land, sea, air and space; the Occupiers are attempting to take over important public and private space and buildings. We must remain ever vigilant and that is why we urge you to support John Yoo. Make no mistake, the critics of John Yoo are nothing less than enemies of The Empire.
Occupy Faith: the Interfaith Tent at Occupy Oakland
Hate crimes? Robbery? Violence against police? If you Google “Occupy Oakland,” you might miss another deeper story, the story of Occupy Faith, the Interfaith Tent, now metaphorical, though no less strong, that has supported and borne witness to Occupy Oakland since October 24, 2011. Nichola Torbett,Director of Seminary of the Street (“At the intersection of radical love and justice”– my favorite neighborhood!) told me about the origins and activities of the Interfaith Tent which are myriad and moving.
Interfaith Tent at night (photo by Alexandra Childs)
Occupy the Present
Meditation, counseling, nonviolence training, singing, dancing, sharing food and clothing with those who needed them, creating posters -”Remember MLK, radical nonviolence…” “Peace creates kindness creates peace.” “Occupy the Present” and “Occupy Your Own Heart with Love and Compassion” – were all Occupy Faith activities. In Ms. Torbett’s words, they came to “provide a critical spiritual presence that honored and welcomed all religious traditions and people who were non-religious.”
But it wasn’t all warmth and joy
The beating of Iraq veteran Scott Olsen was a decision point for Occupy Faith. Following that incident, they formed a Planning Group and “helped to articulate
by: Devadatta Kali (David Nelson) on March 2nd, 2012 | 1 Comment »
Courtesy of Kashi Publishing
Ma Jaya Sati Bhagavati is the spiritual head of Kashi Ashram, an interfaith community she founded in Florida in 1976. Her spiritual teaching derive from universal principles underlying the world’s great religious traditions. Along with the typically Hindu emphasis on meditation, self-knowledge, and seeing beyond appearances into the heart of reality, there is the Buddhist emphasis on putting compassion into action, on doing something to relieve suffering wherever it is found. At the same time, owing to her own heritage, Ma’s outlook is also Jewish to the core with an ardent emphasis on social justice. Ma Jaya is more than a spiritual teacher or guru. She and her service organizations have been active for several decades in calling attention to the plight of various groups and addressing their needs – among them the homeless population, low-income seniors, Ugandan orphans, the LGBT community, and people living with HIV/AIDS.
The Sanskrit word karma means “action” or “deed,” so it is not surprising that it should be the subject of Ma Jaya’s book, The Eleven Karmic Spaces: Choosing Freedom From the Patterns That Bind You (Kashi Publishing, 2011).
Image Courtesy of Crip - FLICKR
Ever since I heard the news about a law in Arizona prohibiting the teaching of ethnic studies courses in public schools, and banning one of the books we sell (Rethinking Columbus), I’ve been wondering what it was like to be a teacher there. What did enforcement of this new law look like? How were the students reacting? This morning I received this email from Curtis Acosta, who now teaches English (formerly taught Latino Literature) at Tucson High School. His message is heartbreaking and frightening. I asked Mr. Acosta’s permission to share his message with Tikkun Daily’s readers. He agreed.
The question that I’d like us to answer is this: What do we do about it? At the end of his letter, I’ll provide context about the law that is at the root of this situation and ask that question again. What do we do?
I landed in Delhi on Friday morning, Jan 13th. By noon I was already in love with India. By the time I left 3 weeks later, I was committed to going back to learn more about life, to offer, humbly, what I have learned about human relationships and systems, and to nurture relationships that have become significant in a matter of days.
Except for a small minority of affluent city dwellers, people in India don’t have access to the amenities we have come to take for granted in North America. I was only in one place that had a shower with running hot water. The streets, even in large cities I was at, were only partially paved, and partially covered sewer trenches were a common sight. The hotel I stayed in for the first few days did all its business on big handwritten ledgers. Tap water is unsafe to drink. A bank advertising itself as “international” in a major metropolitan area carries out most of its business manually. Many live in what here would be considered sub-standard housing. Shopping often takes place outdoors, without anything resembling sanitation. The kitchen that supplied food for five days to 135 people who attended the NVC convention for which I traveled to India didn’t have a refrigerator. Our breakout “rooms” were outdoors, on sandy ground. Traffic is unmanageable, and the sound of honking never stops. The trains are crowded and often filthy. One of the main halls in the university that Gandhi founded contains construction debris and is used by female students to change diapers. The absence of resources and infrastructure is painfully obvious.
Demonstrators and clergy carrying a golden calf in the shape of a Wall Street bull march from Judson Memorial Church to Zuccotti Park on Sunday, October 9, 2011. / Tom Martinez and Dennis Hearn
The local chapter of NSP in Washington, D.C. has been involved in creating an alternative to the standard conservative prayer breakfast that takes place each year, and we are inviting you to do the same in your community. We’ve been working with Occupy Faith D.C. to create “the People’s Prayer Breakfast.” You can do the same in your area of the country. It doesn’t have to be this week – take your time and make sure you do outreach to Jewish, Christian, Muslim, Hindu, Ba’hai, Sikh, Wicca, Buddhist, Quaker, Unitarian, Religious Science, and all other possible communities of faith to get them involved in the planning.
Image by Chisda Magid, 1/27/2012
“How would a Republican administration help bring peace to Palestine and Israel when most candidates barely recognize the existence of Palestine or its people? As a Palestinian American Republican, I’m here to tell you we do exist.”
Abraham Hassan, a self identified Palestinian-American Republican, asked a question in Thursday night’s Republican debate, raising an interesting issue of Republican credibility in the Palestinian community domestically and abroad. Mitt Romney and Newt Gingrich in typical fashion characterized the Palestinian population as “Hamas and others who think like Hamas,” as Romney said. Both candidates were emphatic that American and Israeli interests, especially when it comes to the Palestinians, are exactly the same. Gingrich attempted to defend past suggestions that Palestinians are an “invented people” by arguing that “[the term Palestinian was] an invention of the late 1970s…prior to that [Palestinians] were Arabs.”
In his book, Palestinian Identity, Columbia University professor of history Rashid Khalidi extensively chronicles the emergence of a Palestinian national consciousness as early as the late 19th century, like modern Zionism, belies Gingrich’s proposition (ironically, Gingrich fashions himself a professional historian yet seems unaware of Khalidi’s historical work). All national movements are imagined communities, to use Benedict Anderson phrase, but that does not mean they are meaningless, as the word “invented” seems to suggest. By denying the origins of Palestinian peoplehood, and hence much of its history, Gingrich is rejecting precisely what it means to be a Palestinian. Hassan’s statement that Republicans “barely recognize” the Palestinian identity appears to be a gross understatement.
by: Steve Brodsky on January 11th, 2012 | 1 Comment »
Courtesy of SoulAviv
.As Administrative Director for Sounds Write Productions, a major publisher and distributor of contemporary Jewish music, a lot of CDs comes across my desk. Most of them are very nice, a few I really like – but most don’t stand out from the crowd in any way and after a quick listen it’s on to the next, with no significant lasting impressions. When I first popped SoulAviv’s third recording, “Soul Service,” into my player, though, I knew right away that we were in completely different territory.
SoulAviv is staking out new ground in spiritual Jewish music. Their unique blend of folk, Motown, gospel, Memphis soul, and world-music grooves is different, fun, inspirational, and engaging. Singing in Hebrew, English, and Yiddish, SoulAviv blends Jewish heritage, spirituality, and celebration with a little California sunshine for a musical experience that is contemporary, yet timeless. It’s different than anything else I’ve heard – and I’ve heard a lot – and it’s working.