The Miracles of Christmukah!

Christmas and Chanukah periodically coincide and do so again beginning on Christmas Eve 2016, the first night of Chanukah 5777. Some are calling it Christmukah. Some are calling it another miracle!

Witnessing Standing Rock: A Short Guide

I traveled to Standing Rock in order to help sustain the camp and be a witness. Here are some humble suggestions of what you might do if you travel to Standing Rock, and if you are in solidarity with indigenous struggles locally.

The Practice

Find it in the most unreasonable of places—from your sweaty mat to dirty street corners, in meditation and in the midst of violent gangs, from the criminally wealthy estates of Beverly Hills to remote villages with no running water. Find it in injustice, find it in unfairness, in the hungry child and the obese fairground-goer, in the deranged and the selfish, the sick and the wanting, the helpless, the hopeless, the homeless and feared. Find it in those who buy their way out of guilt, yell their way out of shame, drug their way out of compassion. For those who condemn you, for those who cherish you, for those who cut you off and those who embrace you—find love.

The Big, Orange Shofar

If Donald Trump’s campaign was hoping for strong support from American Jews, they are surely disappointed. Trump’s support among Jewish voters is at an historically low 19%. There is an active website with contributions from rabbis and Jewish leaders called The Jewish social justice organization Bend the Arc has shared a satirical video of Jewish grandparents threatening to haunt their offspring if they vote for Trump. Rabbis, normally fearful of running afoul of congregants and IRS regulations, are openly considering speaking against the man on the High Holidays.

The Box: Solitary Confinement Takes Center Stage

One of six characters in The Box, a new play that debuted at Z Space theater in San Francisco on July 6, Jake Juchau (played by Clive Worsley) presents one image of life in long-term solitary confinement. The play was written by Sarah Shourd, an American journalist who spent 410 days in solitary in Iran after being accused of espionage, and then returned to the U.S. and began conducting research about the domestic uses of solitary confinement.

Stop the Violence!!!!!

Violence, whether physical or built into the economic and political structures of our society, is usually the product of “othering,” in which we fail to see the humanity of an individual or more frequently of everyone who belongs to a certain group. While the most frequent form of othering in the U.S. is racism toward people of color, sexism, homophobia, classism, Islamophobia and antiSemitism, it also in some liberal and progressive circles manifests in the demeaning of all people who are into religion (I call that religiophobia), all people who are part of the 1% (ignoring the many–though just a small minority–who align themselves with social justice and environmental movements), and the police (many of whom try to do a conscientious job of enforcing the laws of our society without bias, even though the dominant ethos in many police forces does in fact validate violence and many such forces do have a culture of racism, sexism and homophobia–but still that doesn’t justify generalizing to everyone in those police forces much less all police everywhere).

Trump and the Truth About Bullying

Donald Trump is revealing inconvenient truths about bullying and American culture.
Adult bullies shape bullying by kids. Political leaders and major national institutions encourage bullying values. Despite the anti-bullying programs in schools, and the controversy about his own bullying, Trump’s success shows how deeply bullying influences kids and resonates among major sectors of the general adult public.

Meditation on Pedagogies of the Traumatized

There is a mini-poster by the journeyman printer Amos Paul Kennedy Jr. on one of my bookshelves. This black block print on cardboard contains an equals sign with the caption “Equality is a special privilege for Blacks these unitedstatesofamerica.” The USA is spelled out in lowercase (as presented), as a single word, bracketed by the stars and stripes upside down ― a signal of distress. I also keep a copy in my office where I teach to look at everyday as a crude reminder that in the eyes of the law, Whiteness is supreme, we (Blacks) were never equal, and know full well, we still are not. We live in a market economy, where the value ascribed to Black bodies remains high only when we reinforce the state of our original conditions as human chattel.

Monotheism as a Moral Issue, Part Four: Borrowing Reason from Hellenism

There is a romantic story implicit in the way the words s’vara and its related grammatical forms came to be adopted in modern Hebrew. The tale highlights another ray of influence of God’s Image in contemporary thought. It is well known that ‘reason’ is a Hellenistic idea – generally absent from Hebrew thought. This was evident in the drafting of the first criminal code ordinance in Israel/Palestine under the British mandate. The drafts took a code developed by the nineteenth century scholar Fitzjames Stephen for all the British colonies. When it was translated into Hebrew, the drafters had particular difficulty the word omnipresent in English legal discourse – reasonableness.