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On the Road Again


by: on October 7th, 2016 | No Comments »

Did you ever have one of those moments when you were having a discussion with people you knew, loved, and respected, and one of them said something that made your jaw drop, or, in the case of our friend Julie, something that left you standing there with a clicking noise in your head? Have you ever found yourself wondering “How did this person come to think this particular way, especially when I see things SO differently?”

That clicking sound, or the jaw dropping, also represents a moment in many cases where we STOP really listening to each other. We dismiss the other person as being misguided, wrong, out of touch… different. Back in 2008, Julie, realizing that across the country people were having those jaw-dropping moments way too much, and feeling like too many people were dismissing each other rather than truly stopping, picking up our jaws, and listening even more deeply, decided to travel across the country in the lead up to the presidential election to really listen, and share, what was going on in people’s lives that influenced how they felt and how they might vote.

Remember that at the time, our country was in the biggest financial mess since the Great Depression and we had been at war since 2001.

There was a lot to be upset about, worried about, and the differences between the two major party candidates were very clear. There was certainly a lot to talk about as one traveled across the country asking people to share what was going on in their lives that might influence for whom they would vote. The chronicles of her first journey in 2008 can be found here.

She also traveled the country in 2012 and you can meet the people she connected with here.

Quick note about these trips… Regardless of which candidate or party a person, couple, or groups of people were going to vote for, Julie found one constant everywhere she went: hospitality. She was invited into people’s homes, gifted with lovely meals, helped when her transportation broke down, and found an openness to share the good, the bad, and the ugly parts of people’s lives wherever she went. She also found anger, frustration, abuse of power, fear, and despair. That’s America. A lot is wonderful and a lot is broken. And here we go again, blaming one person or another for what’s broken and pinning our hopes on one person or another to fix some of it.

Now, Julie is about to head off across the country again, and while some might say that they don’t see any difference between the two major party candidates (really?????), I’d have to say that beyond that comment, in 2016 I’m finding myself with my jaw dropping more than ever, and asking myself more than ever “What the heck are these people thinking?” “What’s going on in their lives and in their communities that’s driving them to vote for one candidate or the other, OR, to NOT vote at all?”

So, it is with gratitude and a bit of trepidation that I watch Julie head off across America to deeply listen to, and share the stories of, people she meets in the cafes, parking lots, downtowns, diners, truck stops, and department stores. I’ll share some of her posts here on Tikkun Daily, but also hope you will bookmark her web site and visit there every day as she posts videos and writes about her journey across America. And, once one candidate or the other wins, we can read, watch, and listen to the REAL needs across our country and work TOGETHER to do something about making America better because ONE candidate, one person, one president can’t make the good better or the fix the problems without us, we the people, taking charge.

Click here to visit Julie’s web site and join her on her journey.

Overcoming High Holiday Hypocrisy


by: Gabi Kirk on October 7th, 2016 | 1 Comment »

During the High Holidays, Jews chant Ashamnu, the confession of our sins. We beat our chests and ask God for forgiveness, for we have been hypocritical, we have turned away from the truth, we have stolen, we have lied. We are responsible for our own wrongdoings, but collectively we are also responsible for the ills of our society. Many synagogues add specific contemporary sins to the traditional list – gun violence, global warming, poverty – but few synagogues, at this time of year or any other, admit the American Jewish institutional community’s role in upholding Israel’s military occupation, though we have had nearly 50 years to admit, atone, and change.

We have been hypocritical in supporting equality at home but injustice in Israel/Palestine. Growing up, I learned of Jews marching for civil rights for black communities in the American South, standing with Cesar Chavez and the Filipino and Chicano farm workers’ boycott, and working to end apartheid in South Africa. I was never told that Israel maintains a separate system of military law over millions of Palestinians in the West Bank and East Jerusalem, who are subject to separate courts and prisons with a nearly 100% conviction rate. When I learned how Israel “rescued” Ethiopian and Yemeni Jews, I was never told of the deep racial hierarchies present within Jewish Israeli society.


In Loving Memory: The Yizkor Booklet


by: Lisa Braver Moss on October 7th, 2016 | 1 Comment »

Every year with the approach of Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur, a certain anxious reluctance creeps over me. It’s not the introspection that worries me, nor the solemnity, nor the fasting, nor the hours of services. It’s not even the making of peace with anyone to whom I might owe amends.

No – what gives me pause is the yizkor (memorial) booklet that’s compiled for the afternoon service on Yom Kippur. For a small donation to my synagogue, I can include the names of my parents in this booklet. Given that I’m a longtime congregant whose parents are both deceased, this would appear to be a straightforward matter. Yet I struggle each year as if newly faced with a baffling choice.

When I was growing up, domestic violence wasn’t thought to exist in the Jewish community. But my father was a batterer, physically attacking my mother, me, and my three sisters on many occasions. Dad also had trouble tolerating me personally. A college dropout, he was irked by my devotion to school, which he felt showed a lack of imagination. Perhaps more to the point, Dad didn’t appreciate my open disdain for him about his violent outbursts.

Mom, too, was destructive. During my childhood and adolescence, she’d cry bitterly after my father’s explosive attacks, but she didn’t seem to grasp that we girls also needed comfort and protection. She, too, would impulsively hit and condemn us. On a number of occasions she talked of “hating” several of us. Apology was not in her range, nor in Dad’s. Since neither parent was a drinker, there was no sobering up afterwards.


The King is the Field – Chabad Insights on the Divinity of Creation


by: David Seidenberg on September 29th, 2016 | No Comments »

During the High Holidays, we strive to fashion our heart to become a dwelling place for God in the physical, earthly realm – a dirah batachtonim. However, the earliest aggadic (storytelling) midrash, Genesis Rabbah (fourth or fifth century), taught that “the root/essence of God’s presence was in the lower creatures /`iqar Shekhinah batachtonim haytah.” (19:7)

If the Shekhinah, the indwelling presence of God, was essentially in all creatures, how did we arrive at the idea that the primary dwelling place of God was within the human heart? This is the journey I would like to share below.

According to Genesis Rabbah, even though the Shekhinah was interwoven with the physical world from the beginning, human sin drove the presence of God further and further away from the world. This alienation was “put into practice,” so to speak, in later midrashic texts. Midrash Y’lamdeinu, in opposition to Genesis Rabbah, taught in the sixth or seventh century that humanity was supposed to be the locus of God’s presence in this world, and that this is what it means for us to be “rulers batachtonim.” (Batey Midrashot 1, B’reishit 9) If Genesis Rabbah describes how sin generated the flight of Shekhinah from a world that was once full of God’s presence, Y’lamdeinu describes instead a world which was never the home of Shekhinah.


Israel Demolishing Homes


by: Penina Eilberg-Schwartz on September 27th, 2016 | 2 Comments »

A bulldozer during a demolition in the village of Al-Araqib.

A bulldozer during a demolition in the village of Al-Araqib.


“This is Al-Araqib?” I asked Karen when we first arrived in the Bedouin village near the end of June.

I looked to the cemetery on the left, at what looked like a dirt parking lot under our feet, and then back at her. She pointed down at the ground.

“This is where it used to be.”

We walked towards some plastic chairs under a tree and sat down with Sheikh Sayah, Aziz and Salim. Aziz used to be a farmer but now he has nothing to farm so his job is to sit here under this tree, to prove that this place isn’t empty, that this is a place where people live.

We looked as they pointed to all the places that used to make up Al-Araqib — where the trees and houses stood — before the village had been demolished for the first time in 2010 and 98 times since.

A few days after we listened to Sheikh Sayah speak, Al-Araqib was demolished for the 100th time.

There wasn’t much to demolish, just a few tents made from black tarp. But of course there was still somehow a lot to demolish, just like every time the bulldozers come.


A Family Story: John Singer Sargent’s Mrs. Carl Meyer and Her Children


by: Roslyn Bernstein on September 27th, 2016 | No Comments »


John Singer Sargent’s Mrs. Carl Meyer and Her Children

The Jewish Museum

September 16, 2016-February 5, 2017

New York City, New York


Adele Meyer never crossed the Atlantic. Married to Carl Meyer, a Jewish financier who was named the Baronet of Shortgrove in 1910, she led a life of privilege as a philanthropist in the arts and as a hostess, both in London and at Shortgrove, her 1000-acre country estate in Essex.

How fitting, then, that John Singer Sargent’s masterful portrait of the Meyer family, Mrs. Carl Meyer and Her Children (1896), not seen in the United States for the past 10 years and on loan from the Tate Britain, has now been installed in a gallery at the Jewish Museum that was once the dining room of the Felix Warburg Mansion. Warburg, like Meyer was a distinguished banker of German Jewish origin.

Organized by Norman L. Kleeblatt, the Susan and Elihu Rose Chief Curator with Lucy H. Partman, Curatorial Assistant, the exhibit focuses on the Meyers’ portrait, one that Kleeblatt describes as having “near cinematic status.” The painting was shown at the Royal Academy’s 1897 exhibition and subsequently at the Copley Society of Boston in 1899. In 1900, it was awarded a medal of honor at the Exposition Universelle in Paris.

John Singer Sargent, Elsie Meyer, 1908, charcoal on paper. Private collection

Now, building on the painting’s international reputation and resembling an archeological dig or excavation, the show unearths a cache of other works and documents related to the Meyer family, as well as ancillary material, from the personal and intimate to the banal, that illuminates their life in high and popular culture. “Here is a whole family story,” Kleeblatt said, “with John Singer Sargent and Adele Meyer as co-conspirators in this work.” The exhibit is the first in a series that will showcase one work or a group of masterpieces, by examining the larger context of a work of art.

The excavation began during Kleeblatt’s initial networking session at the Tate Britain, when one of the curators there rather casually mentioned that there was someone working as a curator at another museum who was a relative of the Meyers. So, he discovered Tessa Murdoch, Deputy Keeper at The Victoria and Albert Museum (Department of Sculpture, Metalwork, Ceramics and Glass), and also a great granddaughter of Mrs. Meyer, and a granddaughter of Frank Meyer. Adele Meyer bequeathed the painting to the Tate with life rights for two generations.

With Murdoch’s help, Kleeblatt discovered two drawings by Sargent, who stopped portrait painting in 1908, but whom the family clearly continued to patronize: one, from 1908, of Adele’s daughter Elsie Charlotte – looking very much like a Gibson Girl, and the other, from 1909, of her sister Cecile Von Fleischl. The Carl Meyer portrait in the exhibit is the work of Sir Hubert von Herkomer, a well-known portrait painter from the period.


Oh, Say Can You See … The Point of View of This American Male of African Ancestry, Who Teaches Mindful Empathy?


by: Tony Scruggs on September 23rd, 2016 | 5 Comments »

It seems like Colin Kaepernick’s choice around how to exert his freedom of speech isn’t meeting a lot of people’s need for a certain type of respect shown in a certain type of way. I’m guessing from that angle this whole choosing to silently, and nonviolently, protest the diminished humanity of some of his fellow citizens (by sitting/kneeling down during the playing of the national anthem at a professional football game) is extremely irritating and frustrating for a lot of people?

When my former quarterback’s brother (John Harbaugh, Super Bowl winning coach of the Ravens) quoted Voltaire (‘I may not agree with what you say, but I’ll defend it until death your right to say it’) I thought “Yah, isn’t that what makes America great? Isn’t that what people are fighting for? Isn’t that why it’s okay to criticize the government and the President and not be condemned as treasonous or subversive?” But it seems like the First Amendment is seen very differently by different American members of team-humanity.

From my vantage point (growing up in Palo Alto, California) I think about how safe I felt in the homes of most of my Caucasian friends from having my humanity diminished and how grateful I feel to have experienced that more often than not. The painful other side (while honoring those who’ve given their lives and bodies) of being an AMERICAN of African ancestry outside of their homes, was/is:


Rewriting The Star-Spangled Banner — Send Us Yours!


by: Drue BeDo on September 22nd, 2016 | 2 Comments »

[Note from Tikkun and the Network of Spiritual Progressives: We stand in alliance with African Americans and others who are challenging empty rituals like The Star-Spangled Banner written by a racist slave owner. We share this rewrite in that spirit. We welcome others sharing their rewrites of The Star-Spangled Banner with us and if you are ok with us posting yours on this site orTikkun.org, send them to us atari@tikkun.org. This post has been updated with changes by the author.]


O say can you see

Why we’re stuck in this plight

Look close at who’s jailed

Or whose stocks are still gleaning

Whose broad stripes behind bars

Shout to challenge the “right”

Of a system so botched

“Free at last” is just dreaming

Will our sharp racist glares

Ever burst in mid-air

Let’s prove that this night

Will not end in despair

O say can you imagine

A star-spangled revolution

Where we’re ALL truly free

And with Kindness be brave

- Drue BeDo

Drue BeDo is a theatre artist, writer, and educator who makes her home in the PNW. Check out her adaptation of an ancient theatrical attempt at world peace: Aristophanes’ Lysistrata, A Woman’s Translation (playscripts.com). Drue received her MFA from Columbia University. Contact her for teaching and speaking engagements around the globe atDrueBeDo@mac.com.

An Autopsy of the Bernie Sanders Campaign


by: Dan Brook on September 15th, 2016 | 27 Comments »

Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders. Source: Flicke (AFGE).

[Managing Editor's note: Tikkun does not, and can not, endorse any candidate or party for political office.]

I find it heartbreaking how close we came to having Bernie Sanders as the Democratic nominee and eventual president of the United States. What a different convention, summer, election, country, and future we would have had! But, alas, my progressive hopes were sadly dashed – yet again. Somehow the candidate with the highest net favorability ratings – largely due to his honesty, kindness, consistency, integrity, and progressive populism – lost to the candidate with the highest unfavorability ratings.

As a doctor of social science, my job in this case is to examine the patient and diagnose the problems. My autopsy of Bernie’s historic 2016 presidential campaign reveals ten causes of death.


Come Celebrate High Holidays with Tikkun and Rabbi Michael Lerner in Berkeley this October


by: Staci Akselrod on September 15th, 2016 | 1 Comment »

A dictionary open to the definition of love. Source: Flickr (Il Mago di Oz).

Dear Reader,

Would you be interested in experiencing High Holiday services that combine a Judaism of Love and Justice with deep spirituality? Rabbi Michael Lerner, our spiritual leader, leads our community in a serious teshuvah process (which we understand as both inner transformation and societal transformation). He teaches that the prayers are only cheerleading for the process – the real work has to happen in our own lives in the ten days from Rosh HaShanah (which starts Sunday night, October 2) to the conclusion of Yom Kippur (on Wednesday, October 12th). This combination of services plus engagement in teshuvah is such an extraordinary experience that I’m willing to give you your money back if you attend all the services, do all elements of the teshuvah process that Rabbi Lerner lays out, and don’t feel that it was really amazing and transformative! And please tell your non-Jewish friends about this as well – you don’t have to be Jewish to get a huge amount of psychological and spiritual nourishment and even have a transformative experience by going through the process with us. True, some of the prayers are in Hebrew, but there’s enough English so that non-Jews who have come in the past have told us that the experience was just as powerful for them as it was for the Jews who participate.