Monthly Archives: August 2014

A Militarized Assault on Grief—by Ayala Emmett

A Militarized Assault on Grief
Ayala Emmett
August 14, 2014

Last night we saw on our television screens armored vehicles carrying mounted gunners pointing ominously at unarmed grieving people. No, it was not in the Middle East. The pictures we saw were live from Ferguson Missouri.

The local authorities brought to the streets of Ferguson masses of police in full riot gear, not really trained in dealing with demonstrations according to the chief of police, but armed to battle. This militarized presence of police was there to disperse a grieving community protesting the killing of Michael (Mike) Brown. Last night in Ferguson grief replaced earlier anger in a peaceful vigil of citizens of the United States exercising their right of freedom of assembly. read more

On Robin Williams—by Peter Eisenstadt

On Robin Williams
Peter Eisenstadt

For the most part, television comedies and the movies are distractions, from our daily realities and from the sad world around us, but at times, they intrude, directly, into life’s darker places. The death of Robin Williams, by suicide, is such an occasion. One thing that is almost always true of the aftermath of suicides is that most people do not know how to talk about it. It is the most shocking form of death, more uncomfortable than any form of “natural” death or even murder. It seems to question, in the most direct way possible, our efforts to find life meaningful or worthwhile. “There is only one truly philosophical problem,” wrote Albert Camus in the famous opening of his essay, The Myth of Sisyphus, “and that is suicide.” But if suicide is a philosophical problem, it is not the sort of problem which has a single, right, technical answer. read more

Heaven on Earth?—by Michael Aronson

Heaven on Earth?
Michael Aronson

Heaven on Earth
Smiling without Knowing
Seeing without Understanding


How can I
Smile and not Know?
See and not Understand?

Heaven on Earth
Smiling despite Knowing
Seeing despite Understanding


How can I

Smile and Know?
See and Understand?

Ignorance is Bliss!
Knowledge is Power!

What a blasted state we are in!
The blessing is also a curse

Gravitzit – by Michael Aronson

Michael Aronson

Wearing a tallit katan
For the first time, wondering

ah Me?

Looking in the mirror
Tzitzit hanging, pondering
In heaven above and on earth below

Consecrated to holiness
I feel like Me, fascinating
That a sense of … intensifies

Standing between two worlds?
I am not so sure, dangling
Towards the ground

Shouldn’t we be tikkuning
Where the tzitzit are pointing?

to God?
And the Earth below
Where She dwells?

Peace And A Two States Agreement in Bad Times: Two Editorial Views—by Ayala Emmett and Peter Eisenstadt

Peace And A Two States Agreement in Bad Times: Two Editorial Views
Ayala Emmett and Peter Eisenstadt

These are horrific times: the war so far has brought about deaths, sorrow, destruction and daily life of unimagined uncertainty and anxiety in Israel for both its peoples and for Palestinians in the West Bank and in Gaza.

Those who support peace and a two states agreement seem to have been silenced by the fire of the guns and the poison of the pen, by a demand for unity in the United States and an eruption of anti-Semitism in Europe. read more

What’s In A Vow?—by Michael Aronson

What’s In A Vow?
Michael Aronoson
The article was adapted from introductory comments made prior to reading the Torah at Shabbat Morning Services at B’rith Kodesh in Brighton, NY on 21 Tammuz, 5774

Today I will be reading Numbers 30:2-13, which lists laws relating to vows and promises. Before I get started, I would like to address some of Rashi (1040-1105) and Nachmanides’ (1195-1250) disagreements on what makes a vow. Rashi’s demeanor seems to indicate that this section only addresses vows made between human beings and God. In fact, his word choice may equate a vow with a sacrificial offering to God. Nachmanides, on the other hand, admits both vows made to God and promises made between human beings. Rashi holds that one cannot promise something forbidden. For example, I cannot promise to eat a pound of bacon at the Mt. Hope Diner. But Nachmanides disagrees again, stating that someone can promise to violate a prohibition, and without legal annulment, the commitment remains binding on that individual. read more

Arabs and Jews in Israel: A Letter–by Moran Tal

Arabs and Jews in Israel: A Letter
Moran Tal
August 3, 2014
Haifa Israel

Dear Ayala Shalom,

I am sorry that it has taken me a few days to send you this e-mail. I was occupied with trying to fill our home with warmth and love, which are in short supply these days.

As you know I am a Muslim Arab woman, the daughter of two Jewish (non-biological) parents, and married to a Christian Arab. It is very difficult, uncomfortable and kind of a shock to hear and read such racist slogans on the street these days that proclaim death to my parents, or proclaim death to me, my husband and his family from the other side. The current popular sentiment in the country is that all Arabs are murderers, and all Jews are war criminals who kill children. read more