Monthly Archives: January 2015

Sheldon Silver Sat on a Wall; Sheldon Silver Had a Great Fall—by Peter Eisenstadt

There is apparently only one way of getting New York State’s elected representatives out of office—they have to be indicted or the focus of a scandal. The fall of Sheldon Silver is not quite a Shakespearean tragedy, but it is riveting nonetheless. For twenty years he was probably the most powerful person in the state government, the speaker of the state assembly, remaining in place as a revolving door of five different governors came and went, the most resolute of the legendary “three men in a room” (along with the senate majority Leader and the governor) the three deities who actually determined what happened in New York State. And in 6 days, all of his power was gone. On the good side: he was generally a good liberal, and generally fought for good liberal causes. He will be missed. On the bad side: ideology is relatively unimportant in New York State politics. It’s a matter of who gets what from whom and how. And in this, Silver was the incarnation of how constricted, how sclerotic, how undemocratic New York State government has become.

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Two More Doors Welded Shut on Dubboya Street—by Kathy Kern

Evictied: Zuheira, her daughter Amal and Amal’s son Photo by Kathy Kern
Evictied: Zuheira, her daughter Amal and Amal’s son
Photo by Kathy Kern

Shopkeepers in Hebron now address me respectfully as ‘Amti, or “Auntie”—a title that means I am not elderly, but well, matronly. And it means that I have worked in Hebron for a full generation—twenty years, minus the five that the Israeli government decided to deny me entry into Palestine.

In 1995, my organization, Christian Peacemaker Teams, responded to an invitation from the Hebron Municipality to address  the violence of the Hebron settlers in the Old City for a period of five months beginning in June . At the time, people believed there was a realistic chance Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin would remove the Hebron settlers and an actual plan existed to redeploy the Israeli military from Hebron at the end of the summer.

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Devorah by Devorah: A retelling based on midrash and modernity– By Deborah L.R. Kornfeld

Deborah, Prophet and Judge
Deborah, Prophet and Judge

You know, Chamoodim*, Safta** didn’t always stay home and bake cookies and play Uno with you. Long ago I was a super woman with a cape and a torch and work to be done and wars to win. Eshet Lapidot-(Torch Woman) was my hashtag. God provided the spark. Baby on my hip and one on my lap. I Listened and judged while the babes (your moms) nursed and napped. Under the palm tree day after day, this one told me his tzores and that one complained of his neighbors. The Rabbis thought I sat under that palm tree outside because it was proper and more appropriate, but the truth was it was hard enough keeping the house tidy with my crazy working hours and an active family and I didn’t want everybody traipsing in with their dirty, dusty feet. I got good at the judging gig and the people listened to me and trusted me and my reputation grew.

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Self-Ownership—by Ayala Emmett

Republican leaders came to Washington last week to do the people’s business. They were rightly energized by the elections and animated by the fact that they now have a comfortable majority in both houses of congress.

Freedom and Abortion
Freedom and Abortion

The House of Representatives chose as its first piece of legislation a bill to criminalize most abortions after 20 weeks of pregnancy. They hoped to have the vote to restrict self-ownership on the anniversary of Roe v. Wade on January 22, 2015. The Republican bill failed because women within its own ranks said, “No.”

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Leah and Rachel: Two Midrashic Poems–by Ahavya Deutsch & Ayala Emmett

I. Leah Knows the Secret of Joy—by Ahavya Deutsch

Leah knows the secret of joy.
She names her children, instead of nursing her loneliness.
Even after all these years, she trades her bitterness for one more night with Jacob.
She turns her tender eyes inward. She turns her tender eyes upward.
If Rachel is the flame, Leah is the wood that’s burning.
And she is not consumed.

II. Rachel Loved Leah*—by Ayala Emmett

At sunrise the mother died.
In the tent the women wept,
Leah, soft eyes and seven years
lifted the flailing, helpless baby
“Rachel” she whispered.
She wrapped her in their mothers’ still warm multicolor shawl
letting the slave woman nurse her
when she cried and Laban hated her.
Leah held her tight,
“I will never leave you.”

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Narrative of a Trip to Israel and the West Bank: Part IV, Hebron—by Peter Eisenstadt

Narrative of a Trip to Israel and the West Bank: IV Hebron
Peter Eisenstadt

The highlight and lowlight of our time in Israel was definitely the scalding day we spent in Hebron, the most populous city in the West Bank, and the only one with settlers in the middle of the city. If you’re not a settler, the only way to get into downtown Hebron is on a roundabout, twisting and turning road. Our taxi got lost, though Kathy found the way. She has spent much time in Hebron as a member of an NGO that seeks, non-violently, to interpose itself between the IDF and the city’s residents, and document the daily violence exacted on Palestinians in Hebron, and we were staying at the NGO’s apartment. We arrived at their apartment, at the end of a street that has been barricaded and surrounded by barbed wire by settlers, blocking access to Hebron’s main thoroughfare, Shuhada Street. It is near the central poultry market of Hebron. Most of the dealers, save one, have left, but at least one brave rooster remained to wake me up (and I hoped, a few of the settlers on the other side of the wall) around 3 AM.

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ARBEIT MACHT FREI*—by Gertrud J. Lind

Arbeit Macht Frie
Arbeit Macht Frei at Auschwitz

ARBEIT MACHT* FREI
Gertrud J. Lind

Reviled German words: “Work Sets You Free” or “Work”, “Power”, “Free”.
Bringing visions of multitudes who slaved behind that gate,
Each one surely praying for the last, to be “frei”.
In the middle of “Macht”, the mighty Nazi power,
They were caught, “frei” only their “Arbeit”, their labor.

Madness reigned behind these words,
And madness and very
Clever calculation drove that “Macht”.
Hate unleashed, unchecked, unchallenged.
Think what it did.

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Gertrud J. Lind

https://defending

ARBEIT MACHT* FREI—by Gertrud J. Lind
Reviled German words: “Work Sets You Free” or “Work”, “Power”, “Free”.
Bringing visions of multitudes who slaved behind that gate,
Each one surely praying for the last, to be “frei”.
In the middle of “Macht”, the mighty Nazi power,
They were caught, “frei” only their “Arbeit”, their labor.

Madness reigned behind these words,
And madness and very
Clever calculation drove that “Macht”.
Hate unleashed, unchecked, unchallenged.
Think what it did.

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Signs of Hope for Peace and Social Justice in Israel on MLK Day—by Ayala Emmett

Signs of Hope for Peace and Social Justice in Israel on MLK Day

A Million Hands for Peace signs in a garden in Israel Photo by Matia Kam
A Million Hands for Peace signs in a garden in Israel
Photo by Matia Kam

A Million Hands for Peace, an unaffiliated citizens’ organization in Israel for peace and social justice has come up recently with two major campaign goals: to encourage citizens’ participation in the coming elections in Israel and to put pressure on political parties to commit to achieving an agreement with Palestinians for two states for two people and to take immediate measures to reduce the highest ever social disparity in Israel and an out of control soaring cost of living.

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Presence and Absence of Naming & Names in Torah—by Matia Kam

Presence and Absence of Naming & Names in Torah
Matia Kam

dura-ark3--Moses-ascension-(1)
Moses Fresco National Museum of Syria, Damascus Date: 244

On Being a Levite
“These are the names of Lev’s sons according to their lineage” (6:16)
“Amram took for a wife his father’s sister Jochebed and she bore him Aaron and Moses”(6:20)
Torah begins chapter six with a list of names and lineages to place Aaron and Moses in the genealogy as the descendants of Kohath, one of Levi’s sons. The list of names starts with Reuben, the eldest, followed by Simeon, who was followed by Levi. This outlines the lineage and takes up the names Amram and Jochebed who were nameless in the previous Parsha (mentioned there only as a Levite man and a Levite woman, and as “the child’s mother”). In this Parsha, in chapter six we have a detailed four-generation family that includes names of Aaron’s wife, his children’s names and his grandson Phinehas. So who is absent from the list? Miriam, the sister of Moses and Aaron and most significantly Moses’ wife and children are absent. This is curious since the text states twice that the purpose of the list is to describe “Aaron and Moses” (6:26-27) yet it surely strikes us that Moses family is not mentioned.

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