Monthly Archives: June 2014

The Single Most Important Event in Human History –by Peter Eisenstadt

The Single Most Important Event in Human History
Peter Eisenstadt

What was the single most important

event in all of human history? There certainly are a number of plausible candidates, but I had to pick a discrete “event” happening at one particular time, it might be the assassination of the Archduke Ferdinand in Sarajevo, the somber centennial of which we are remembering this weekend. (Somber except in Sarajevo itself, where the local Serbs, demonstrating that they have learned nothing and forgotten nothing in the intervening century, decided it was a good occasion for a party.) read more

Primary Day in Mississippi –by Peter Eisenstadt

Primary Day in Mississippi
Peter Eisenstadt

It was primary run-off day in South Carolina on Tuesday. We voted in a storefront church in a strip mall. In South Carolina, there is no party registration, so you can vote in either the Democratic or Republican primary, but if there is a run-off, you are obliged to vote in the same party you voted for in the regular primary. This was not an especially noteworthy primary. South Carolina has a lot of elected officials, which might sound like a good thing, but since most people if they care about politics at all, focus on the top of the ticket, it becomes an exercise in sham democracy. Not many people showed up, no more than 10% of eligible voters, for a run-off between candidates for Superintendent of Education, and Adjutant-General, whatever the hell that is. But we did. read more

Avodah– a poem by Barbara D. Holender

Barbara D. Holender

Delight, O our God, in Your people Israel.
See how our souls mirror Your presence.

Let our yearnings be as words of praise
and our strivings as works of love.

Shower us

with compassion

we reach out

to You.

Ever-returning God
keep watch over Zion.

On The Presbyterian Church Resolution—by Peter Eisenstadt

On The Presbyterian Church Resolution
Peter Eisenstadt

Before it becomes old news, a few words on the decision of the Presbyterian Church, USA last week to divest their holdings from a select group of companies that sell military equipment that Israel uses on the West Bank. This has created an enormous volume of commentary. Jewish groups, from J Street rightward, including the Reform movement, have condemned the action of the Presbyterian Church. BDS has become a new litmus test for the American Jewish community, and there are many who feel that unless they condemn the actions of the Presbyterian Church, they will lose their standing in the American Jewish community. The fear is understandable. read more

Response to Pastor Ludwig—by Richard Rosen

Response to Pastor Ludwig
Richard Rosen

I found the Presbyterian statement and the letter from Drew Ludwig appropriate and I am glad they took this step. Rabbi Jacobs really was responding to other Presbyterians: the unfair label of apartheid and underlying antisemitism. While I deplore accusations that are not well founded and do indeed suggest an anti-Semitic agenda, I support their actual action: divestment of stock in the US corporations that trade with Israel

for the specific purposes of using their products in the execution of West Bank actions against Palestinians, which I believe to be impediments to progress toward a negotiated two-state solution. Although the label of apartheid is unfair, (if we accept South African apartheid as the definition of that word), it cannot be denied that tools such as divestment and boycott were effective in persuading the South African government to peaceably work toward a democratic pluralistic state, however flawed the end product may be. read more

Divestment: A Reply to Jewish Friends—by Drew Ludwig

Divestment: A Reply to Jewish Friends
Drew Ludwig

The General Assembly deliberated for quite some time, and was careful as to what we were doing, and to what we were saying–and not saying. I was there, and can speak to the prayer and thought that went into this action.

We are not divesting from Israel, nor are we labeling Israel an apartheid state. We also acted to clearly state that this action is not an endorsement of, or participation in the BDS movement.

Instead, we have chosen to divest from three particular companies that are not in line with our pre-determined strategy of non-investment in military technology. Our MRTI team (Mission Responsibility Through Investment) team has not only investigated these technologies, but has also engaged each of the companies in an attempt to bring our investments back in line with our values–repeatedly–to no avail. read more

Dhaka Bangladesh: On Low-Income Women, Confinement and Postpartum Depression—by Anaise Williams

Dhaka Bangladesh : On Low-Income Women, Confinement and Postpartum Depression
Anaise Williams
U.S. Fulbright Project

20140306_111533Nothing has changed since before the birth, I just have to take more care and feed another person, she says simply while passing me a cup of cha with ginger. Shopna had her first baby 6 months ago in her family’s Bangladeshi village in Borishal, assisted by her mother and aunt, and returned to Dhaka 3 months after the birth to be with her husband, a furniture maker in the slum. Today I, unintentionally of course, woke her up at 11am while knocking on the locked door to her single room to do a follow-up interview for my project on postpartum depression. read more

Rabbi Rick Jacobs’ Letter to Delegates at the Presbyterian Church ( USA) General Assembly

Rabbi Rick Jacobs’ Letter to Delegates at the Presbyterian
Church ( USA) General Assembly
June 19, 2014

Copies of this letter are being given to delegates at the Presbyterian Church (USA)’s General Assembly in Detroit, MI, who will be voting this week on several Israel-focused resolutions related to Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions (BDS)

Dear Friend,
As the president of America’s largest Jewish denomination, representing 1.5 million North American Jews, it is my honor to join you at your General Assembly. I have come here to Detroit with an important message about strengthening our alliance. I look forward to discussing this matter with you in person, but it is of such heartfelt concern to me, and so many millions of American Jews, that I am taking the extra step to write you a detailed letter. read more

The End of “The Death of Klinghoffer”—by Peter Eisenstadt

The End of “The Death of Klinghoffer”
Peter Eisenstadt

The opera opens, “My father’s house was razed in 1949/when the Israelis passed over our street/the house was built of stone/with a courtyard inside.” This is the “Chorus of the Exiled Palestinians” from John Adams’ opera, “The Death of Klinghoffer.” (It is followed by the “Chorus of Exiled Jews” stateless Holocaust survivors, making their way to Palestine.) The Metropolitan Opera had announced earlier in the year that they would be mounting a new production of “The Death of Klinghoffer” and including the opera in their popular series of “Live in HD” broadcasts streamed live to movie theaters worldwide. In a singular act of cowardice, the general manager of the Met, Peter Gelb, said the other day that because of the fears the production will stir up anti-Semitism in Europe (and not in the US?) the production will still be mounted, but will not broadcast, either in the live in HD series or in the Saturday afternoon radio programs. read more

Oseh Shalom—a poem by Barbara D. Holender

Oseh Shalom
Barbara D. Holender

Giver of peace,
teach us to see ourselves
in the face of the Other,
that we may learn to be
patient with fault
generous with love
sparing with anger.

Help us to understand
that our little lives
are potent with great good,
that we are healers in Your image,
that reaching out in need of You

others more in need,
we find You near.

Give us the grace
simply to be kind.

Then peace must surely come
to dwell among us.