Tuesday, July 13, 2010

On the Other Hand

Just when I start to rally around Israel, two subsequent events give me pause. Not so much in my support for this beautiful country, but in the growing religious intolerance spawning like weeds that can make it so very difficult to be a liberal Jew and an ohev tzion, lover of Israel.

Conversions bill sets Netanyahu on collision course with U.S. Jews

Police arrest Women of the Wall leader for praying with Torah scroll

Be sure to support the Israel Religious Action Center, which fights for the rights for all Israelis and for Jews abroad as well in the land of Eretz Yisrael from a liberal Jewish perspective.

Israel Religious Action Center

Monday, July 12, 2010

The Flotilla Conversation Continues

Like many, I believe Israel handled the Gaza bound flotilla raid on May 31st quite poorly. A recent report from Israeli authorities also agrees with this assessment. Of course blame often is initially directed towards the soldiers who entered the ship, legally I might add. But as the report indicates, they actually handled the situation fairly well given that they encountered not members of a peace resistance group, but people bent on acts of violence to make their point. A common tactic when it comes to the opposition to Israel.

Flawed Intelligence Gathering to Blame - AP Reports

New York Times Article: Israeli Military Finds Flotilla Killings Justified

I feel Israeli military and political leadership should have seen they were being egged on into a fight. A fight that even if they won, which they did, they would still lose in the public eye, which happened as well.
Israel is in an increasingly untenable situation. She has control over lands and people who will do just about anything to end Israel’s current position. Israel is surrounded by the worst kind of oppressive governments who use her very existence to justify their own oppressive and reprehensible practices. Just look at Sakineh Mohammadi Ashtiani, who may yet be stoned to death in Iran for adultery, even though her confession to this crime was acquired through extreme acts of torture.
I would like to note that there are more U.N. proclamations against Israel than any other nation in the world including the likes of the aforementioned Iran, China, North Korea, and Sudan. How does a modern, democratic, moral society compete in such a world?!
Israel really is fighting a battle with one arm tied behind its back. Would any of these other nations appoint a civilian commission to determine the legality of a military action? Of course not. In those nations, any commission, like in their court cases, the outcome is already predetermined. Clearly these are not societies founded on the notion of tzedek, tzedek tirdof, justice, justice you shall pursue.
I take a lot of pride in being a supporter of Israel. It may not always get it right, but it does keep trying to in the end. It does strive to be a holy nation while existing in the modern world. An impossible task, and a dream perhaps, but a worthy dream nonetheless.
If you wish to learn more, I suggest going to the following website which has a lot more useful tools about Israel from a Reform Jewish perspective.

Association of Reform Zionists of America

But in case you have a few spare moments - here is a fascinating article related to the the general bias against Israel:

Two Sides of a Fence

Passion of the Mel

Confession time: There was a time when I was a big Mel Gibson fan. I really liked Lethal Weapon, and I even paid good money to see the three follow ups with Joe Pesci and even Lethal Weapon 4 with Jet Li. I watched Mel’s version of Hamlet, though I felt he was a bit too old to play the part. I enjoyed the good hearted fun of Maverick and I would, on occasion, listen to the music of Braveheart.
That all being said, I like many Jews, became increasingly uncomfortable with Mr. Gibson, especially following the release of Passion of the Christ. Though now I think I am beginning to understand why the movie was filled with so much pain and anguish. Not to reflect the death of Jesus, but instead to showcase all the pain and anguish burning within Mr. Gibson’s soul. This came even more to the forefront following Mr. Gibson’s arrest for drunk driving and his subsequent anti-Semitic tirade to the arresting officer in 2006.
Mr. Gibson appears to be a deeply disturbed individual. Whether that is a result of his upbringing by his Holocaust denier father Hutton, alcohol abuse, or descent into narcissism, Mr. Gibson has demonstrated what is perhaps one of the most amazing falls from grace in recent years.
Midrash teaches us that we are not supposed to rejoice in the fall of our ‘enemies.’ And in truth, to see Mr. Gibson fall so far, causes me to feel at most, sadness. Sadness for his family. Sadness for his children. Time and again, we learn if all we are filled with is hate and anger, eventually we will become consumed.
I personally don’t know if there is a chance for Mr. Gibson now to resurrect his career given his latest incident of allegedly assaulting his ex-girlfriend Oksana Grigorieva. But I do pray that maybe he can let go of all the hate festering inside of him towards just about everyone, and at least find some peace within his soul.
And if not, he can always find refuge in South Park.

Tuesday, July 6, 2010


My bags are unpacked. The boxes are unloaded. All that is left to do is hang a few pictures and diplomas up in my office. Of course it all got done fairly quickly as I have a major aversion to cardboard boxes. Not the kind used for forts, but the kind waiting to be unpacked. I must admit, I have a hard time focusing surrounded by clutter. Hence the need to get everything unpacked before really getting down to the business, the pleasure, of creating hopefully enduring relationships with my new congregation.
I will admit I am of the belief that it is important to have a warm and welcoming office. Something I tried to have with my previous congregation, an effort which my 8th graders constantly worked to undermine.
So for those of you in the area, feel free to stop by. Don't mind the few random frames waiting their final placement. I have a pretty good idea of where they will be going. I just have to figure out what I am going to do with those M.C. Escher posters whose presence reminds me of the necessity to view the world through unique perspectives.
And for those of you not in the area. If ever you happen to head out this way, please do stop by. Just bring a hammer, nails, and a ladder. So I can finally get those pictures hung up.