Friday, May 16, 2008

Really Resting

"We fight against time: we feel rushed and race against time; we feel bored and 'kill time.' B’har invites us to experience time as neither a master nor an enemy, but as one of God’s creations. Weekly, and later—every seventh year—it is a creation we indeed have dominion over by experiencing time outside of time in the peace and blessedness of the Sabbath."- Dr. Carol Ochs

Thursday, May 15, 2008

Huray to be Gay by the Bay

California Supreme Court overturns gay marriage ban
The California Supreme Court ruled today that same-sex couples should be permitted to marry, rejecting state marriage laws as discriminatory.

The state high court's 4-3 ruling was unlikely to end the debate over gay matrimony in California. A group has circulated petitions for a November ballot initiative that would amend the state Constitution to block same-sex marriage, while the Legislature has twice passed bills to authorize gay marriage. Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger vetoed both. (Read more)

Wednesday, May 14, 2008

Bad News in Israel

I have stayed away from Israel for a while; I felt despondent due to the celebrations and the like. But the latest attack that hit Ashkelon today is bad news. Any hopes of continued negotiations are more than likely dead, the fact that Abbas said he is upset that Israel celebrated Independence Day could have told you that. But this attack is really bad.

AP is reporting that Israel believes Islamic Jihad is getting longer range weapons from Iran. “It's part of the Iranian war against Israel,” Former Deputy Defense Minister Ephraim Sneh told Israel Radio.

While they aren’t good at getting the word out internationally, internally Israel is good at the news game. Just like here at home, we can assume former military folks in Israel are working for the government when it comes to propaganda. Is Iran a major threat? You better believe it. Are they ready to fight this second? Nope. Will they fight? Who knows. We do know that Amamamdnandandandinijad is a bit nuts and doesn’t like Israel so much.

So do we have a localized situation that will give rise to a regional war? Will one enemy be conflated to be another? I don’t know where that has happened before? Iran may be supplying Islamic militants in Gaza; most likely they are. But the US supplied Iran (and Iraq) and others with guns and those states have used our guns for bad things. While it doesn’t take much of a leap of faith to make the connection, is the state that sells the weapons responsible for their use? (I say yes and that makes this even scarier.)

The global war on Islamofacist or whatever the rightwing is calling it today is getting much closer to a much large theater. Israel vs. Iran is nothing I want to see. It should be nothing the regional community wants to see. Sunni Saudi Arabia sure as hell doesn’t want Shi’a Iran to be the force that takes down Israel or have Israel take down Iran. This so-called, and increasingly real, Iranian war against Israel is bad news. It hurts us all.

Damn.

Friday, May 9, 2008

It's all alive as long as we keep it alive

Y-Love is a friend and I do love his sound. I also agree with his universal message of responsibility. The end of this interview is great. Highlight: "I want more Jews to view Judaism as an asset not a liability" and "It's all Chai, It's all alive as long as we keep it alive."

Thursday, May 8, 2008

Liberal Jewish Boys

Back in the news: There are no liberal Jewish men around. Shocking. But what are people going to do about it besides say there is a crisis and holding “men’s only” seders and youth group events? “It’s not cool for boys to be in touch with their emotions or care about the environment or religion when girls are around,” Jason Wachs, BBYO’s 18-year-old international president for the boys’ chapters says. “BBYO allows them to open up.” This is crap. The boy crisis has more to do with lazy parenting than anything else, but the Feminist reaction is killing me.
“Thirty-five years ago -- when women were not ordained as rabbis, when girls in the Conservative movement celebrated a bat mitzvah on Friday night, when Orthodox girls did not receive an education remotely comparable to that of their brothers, when women were not called to the Torah for aliyot or allowed on the bimah at all -- where were the headlines proclaiming a girl crisis?” wrote Rabbi Rona Shapiro, senior associate at Ma’ayan: The Jewish Women’s Project, a program of the JCC in Manhattan, in a Jan. 2007 op-ed.
Rabbi Shapiro, I am pretty sure that the Feminist movement addressed the girl crisis. Stop me if I am wrong but there is a problem. If we do nothing to address the shrinking number of men in Liberal Jewish life, then woman will dominate Liberal Judaism. People are trying to figure out how to create balance in the world, not have one group dominate the other.

The first step I would say would be to teach parents to teach their children to be responsible.

No one teaches kids responsibility to community. We teach them to play sports, read books, understand science, act in the play, read from the Torah and then move one to more sports, books, science and theater. Liberal Jews have a responsibility to their community in the same way Black Hats have a responsibility.

Without liberal Jews, there will be no liberal Judaism. If we don’t teach kids that it is scared work to build community, that it isn’t easy, that it is as important as acing the test, we all fail. The boy crisis has nothing to do with boys and everything to do with values. As a community of liberal Jews, we are not reinforcing the values of communal responsibility.

We are ignoring why Reform Judaism took shape: an awareness and embrace of modernity with a solid foundation in history and tradition. Without a well balanced understanding of our past, present and future, the community falls apart. We must stop pointing fingers and start teaching values. Rabbi Shapiro is in the prefect position to take the lead. But it is easier to protect her own hard-fought and won space in society, than to sacrifice for the benefit of the community.

Loving Israel Like Children

Al Franken, political commentator and funny man, wrote in his book Lies and the Lying Liars Who Tell Them that the rightwing tends to love America like a child love his mommy. They don’t look at the flaws, they don’t accept the problems, they don’t engage on an adult level. They say you love or hate. There is no middle ground.

Not surprisingly, this mentality also holds true with much of the mainstream Jewish community when it comes to supporting Israel. There are those in the community who criticize, there are those who point out her flaws, and there are those who engage on an adult level. But when it comes to other taking a fair look at Israel, many revert to childlike tantrums about anti-Semitism.

We have leaders who are willing to point the finger at the IDF’s track record in the Territories, we have organization dedicated to helping minority groups in the State, we have individuals who spend money and time supporting civil society issues far outside the mainstream Israeli culture. But when we hear the non-Jewish media doing this we go ballistic.

This week the Jewish community remembers and celebrates 60 years of Jewish independence in Israel and people have their guard up high. Francine Klagsbrun writes in the Jewish Week, that she is sick of the “Yes, but” syndrome when she deals with people talking about Israel. This isn’t just a problem with Israel. I would challenge people to have a conversation about France in the same way. “I love French food,” says one traveler. Average Joe responds: “But the French are pompous asses.” Or what about this situation: “Dubai’s economy is truly blossoming,” says one business woman. Average Joe responds: “But they are taking away high paying jobs from this country.”

This isn’t an Israel problem; this is an American problem with superiority. We want to be the best at everything, but are not. It is childish and not worthy of a major concerted effort to combat this mentality. In the case of Israel’s so-called syndrome, perhaps next time we hear the “Yes, but” refrain we simply say, we are working on it, just like you do with a real adult relationship.

Yom Haztma-ut Tov.

Monday, May 5, 2008

Israeli Pluralism, in time for its 60th

The Jerusalem Post reported today that for the first time in 60 years of statehood, the so-called democratic, pluralistic country of Israel provided funding for a non-Orthodox synagogue building. Happy Anniversary and way to grow up!
For the first time in its 60-year history, the State of Israel is funding the building of synagogues that will serve non-Orthodox congregations.

Until now, the Orthodox establishment, under an unofficial status quo arrangement, has enjoyed a total monopoly over state funds earmarked for the building of houses of prayer.

In Israel, where there is no separation of religion and state, all public religious services are provided through a network of neighborhood and city rabbis who are chosen by the Orthodox Chief Rabbinate. Non-Orthodox streams of Judaism in Israel are not officially recognized by the rabbinate.

The soon-to-be built synagogue belongs to Modi'in's Yozma Reform Congregation. A special ground-breaking ceremony will be held on Monday.

Kinneret Shiryon, Yozma's female rabbi, said the announcement, on the eve of Israel's 60th anniversary, was particularly satisfying.

"It feels enormously rewarding to see that our perseverance has finally paid off," said Shiryon, a US immigrant.