Monthly Archives: May 2014

D’var Torah for Sisterhood Shabbat, Parshat T’tzavveh—by Gertrud LInd

D’Var Torah for Sisterhood Shabbat Morning Service
Parshat T’tzavveh
Gertrud Lind
Saturday, February 8, 2014

Shabbat Shalom, and welcome to the service led by Women of Reform Judaism. It was chaired and organized for the fifth year in a row by Liza Robbins Theuman. Thank you so much, Liza, for the countless hours you devoted to the success of this service.

Thank you also to all of the other members who made this morning happen, they are listed in the program. Special thanks to Gene Spiro and Julia Walsh for leading us in music, to Jill Kravetz and Barbara Baron for overseeing the Kiddush to which all of you are invited, and to Athene Goldstein, Rabbi Gutterman, and Keri Berger for their guidance and support. read more

My Bar Mitzvah, the Six-Day War, and Meir Kahane—by Peter Eisenstadt

My Bar Mitzvah, the Six-Day War, and Meir Kahane
Peter Eisenstadt

I have been thinking about my Bar Mitzvah recently. It’s the right time of year. My Torah portion, “B’Midbar” the first portion in the Book of Numbers (or, if you prefer, Bamidbar) was last week’s parasha. Its one of the duller portions, mostly about a census Moses and Aaron conducted in the wilderness, in which the number of men in arms, over the age of 20 (minus the Levites) amounted to 603, 550 (which was the exact same number reached in a census the previous year, which seems a bit unlikely.) read more

Pope Francis in Palestine and Israel—by Kathleen Kern

Pope Francis in Palestine and Israel
Kathleen Kern

“I have a huge crush on the Pope,” I announced to my coworkers in our Hebron apartment* over supper last fall. “I suppose that’s weird,

being Mennonite and all, but…”

“No,” my teammate said, “I’m Muslim and I have a crush on the Pope.”

Even my Jewish husband—who was at first skeptical of Pope Francis because of his silence as Archbishop in Argentina during the 1970s-80s when the U.S.-backed junta was torturing and murdering thousands of Argentineans—has admitted he has been a drastic improvement over recent occupants of the Papal See. read more

The Changing Politics of Pro-Israel: Pluralism In Jewish America–by Ayala Emmett

The Changing Politics of Pro-Israel: Pluralism In Jewish America
Ayala Emmett

The Conference of Presidents denying J Street membership met with a strong response supporting J Street’s rightful place in an organization that claims to represent Jewish America in all its diversity. The Conference decision and the swift response produced a hot and an unusually public debate. The debate uncovered the politics of pro-Israel in which the powerful right wing of the Conference has been holding a monopoly on the right to decide which Jewish position is pro-Israel. This time, however, monopoly met pluralism: there was an official/public pushback by powerful members of the Conference, the Reform and Conservative branches of American Judaism and a threat from the Reform to withdraw altogether. read more

“Love your neighbor as yourself” This is the core requirement for overcoming blindness caused by hate and fear needed for peacemaking- by Daniel Bar-Tal

“Love your neighbor as yourself”
This is the core requirement for overcoming blindness caused by hate and fear needed for peacemaking.
Daniel Bar-Tal
Tel Aviv
May 18, 2014

Dear Friends,

I write this letter with great concern for the future of my society and the State of Israel with the belief that the views presented here reflect the opinions of at least several hundred-thousand Jews living in Israel, who oppose the positions and the policies of the Israeli government and believe that these positions and policies are leading the country to disaster. read more

From the Genesee River to the “Town of Greece v Galloway” – by Peter Eisenstadt

From the Genesee River to the “Town of Greece v Galloway”
Peter Eisenstadt

There are many mysteries about the lamentable US Supreme Court decision earlier this week, “Town of Greece New York v Galloway,” that gave license to local political bodies, such as town councils, to sponsor opening prayers that are overtly denominational and sectarian. It is not hard to guess what happens next. In most communities, as happened in Greece, Christianity will be the only religion that gets prayed to, and in many places there will political pressure for a “rush to Jesus,” and the increasing Christianization of public discourse before the business of government can be addressed. And those who don’t like it, those of minority religious persuasions, or different forms of Christianity, will be told that they are too “sensitive,” and that the will of the majority rules, and that’s that. read more

Why are the COINTELPRO Prisoners Still in Jail? – by Kathleen Kern

My visit with Jalil Muntaqim in Attica
Kathleen Kern

The release of Betty Medsger’s book The Burglary this winter once again drew attention to the conspiracies of COINTELPRO, a program devised by J. Edgar Hoover’s FBI that sought to discredit and destabilize minority empowerment and self-defense groups like the NAACP, Black Panthers

and American Indian Movement—sometimes to the point of assassinating members of their leadership.

The false evidence and prosecutorial misconduct used to convict high profile COINTELPRO prisoners such as Leonard Peltier is a matter of public record. But J. Edgar Hoover’s FBI also framed dozens of lesser known individuals such as Attica inmate Jalil Muntaqim (formerly Anthony Bottom) who, like Peltier, are still in jail decades after the Church Committee held hearings in 1975 exposing this misconduct. read more

Spring in Israel

Spring in Israel–May 2014–Flowers for Yom Ha’atzmaut

The flowers grow in urban Israel, in Kiryat Motzkin by David Langerman and in
Givatayim, by Matia Kam.

The flowers grow on rooftops and

are posted here in honor of Israel Independence day.


How Not to Piss in a Tent: Or the Story of American Jewish Leadership – by Peter Eisenstadt

How Not to Piss in a Tent; Or, the Story of American Jewish Leadership
Peter Eisenstadt

This is one of my favorite political stories, like all good stories probably apocryphal and a bit risqué, and I hope no one is offended. Lyndon Johnson, the story goes, was bothered by a rival giving him fits. He told an operative to make a deal with him, get him within Lyndon’s coalition, beneath his big tent, because, when it came to tents, it was better to have someone inside the tent pissing out, rather than outside the tent pissing in. Lyndon Johnson knew from big tents and broad coalitions. Malcolm Hoenlein and the Conference of Presidents of Major Jewish Organizations does not. And now, Mr. Hoenlein, we know what direction to pee in, thank you very much. read more

The NBA and Racism in America – by Peter Eisenstadt and Ayala Emmett

The NBA and Racism in America
The Jewish Pluralist Op-Ed
Peter Eisenstadt and Ayala Emmett

Racism’s ugly head is exposed yet again. Social media made Donald Sterling’s racism

a public spectacle in a way that his previous and well-known bigotry did not. The reaction was swift. This time action, there was decisive action against a bigoted tycoon, because, among other things, past and present NBA players, a number of them powerful successful and prominent got into action. A practicing bigot and bully was banished for life from a public space that he so clearly relished and shamelessly abused. There is much to praise in the swiftness of Silver’s reaction, in the grassroots support for the players and various forms of public outrage that made action possible. read more