Thursday, January 29, 2004

Terror, again

Terror, horror and pain have struck again in Israel with the al-Aqsa Arafat-sponsored murders of ten Israelis and wounding of many many more. A sad and horrible way to begin the day.

For more see:
Ynet (Hebrew) or Ha'aretz (English).

In prayer for all affected and with prayers for peace.

Wednesday, January 28, 2004

Excellent Resource for Kids, Parents and Teachers

Our Religious School students get BabagaNewz in the classroom. Much of the impressive magazine is available online at BabagaNewz. This month (Shevat), the theme is hope and they have distributed a CD of great Jewish music on the theme of hope. But, don't worry, even if you don't get the magazine, you can still listen at their JPod site. Check it out and listen! (Good for all ages!)

Candidate update

So far, the Kerry campaign has been the only respondent to my emails. Clearly, the candidates have been busy this primary season. I am no closer to my own decision, but as I read things which help me decide, I'll let you know.

Tuesday, January 27, 2004

It's a Mitzvah - - VOTE!

"Al tif'ros min ha'tzi'bur." Do not separate yourself from the community. Rabbi Hillel the Elder teaches us this important value in Pirke Avot.

As the primary and election season heats up, I decided to email each of the democratic candidates for president to give them (and their staff) a chance to let me know why I should consider voting for them in my state's primary. Each candidate received the following short email, "Please tell me about why I should vote for you this primary season. I believe strongly in the importance of voting, and am asking this questions to each democratic candidate for the nomination. I am posting the replies on my blog and I look forward to hearing from you." (One interesting note - I had trouble finding a simple webmaster or info email address on the main websites for Clark and Dean - even on their "contact" pages! (They did have forms to fill in with a question, but that is not what a wanted to do. I had to call the campaigns to get the address - not smart!)

I'll post replies and my thought process as I decide for whom to vote.

My colleague, Rabbi Charles Sherman of Tulsa, OK, worte a powerful a sermon on voting posted on Interfaith Alliance - go take a look.

UPDATE: Kerry was the first to respond - sent a form email with links.

Monday, January 19, 2004

Rabbi Dr. Joachim Prinz & Rev. Dr. King

Rabbi Dr. Joachim Prinz spoke before Dr. King spoke at the August 28, 1963 March on Washington. His powerful words still ring true today. You can read and hear his words at this site about Dr. Prinz.

Another link to remember and honor Dr. King

Take a look at Talk Left's posting and links in memory of Dr. King - more good stuff.


Sunday, January 18, 2004

Honoring the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

Tomorrow our country honors the life, work and memory of the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. In the Jewish community, we too must honor Dr. King and his passion for justice, hope and Godliness. As we are taught in the book of Genesis, we are all created B’Tselem Eloheim, in God's image, and thus all - each child, woman and man - regardless of race, religion, ethnicity, sexuality or gender must be treated with respect, equality and justice.

Here are excerpts from Dr. King's many speeches:

Living with Diversity
"We have inherited a large house, a great world house in which we have to live together — black and white, Easterner and Westerner, Gentile and Jew, Catholic and Protestant, Muslim and Hindu — a family unduly separated in ideas, culture, and interest, who, because we can never again live apart, must learn somehow to live with each other in peace."

- - Martin Luther King, Jr., "Where Do We Go From Here: Chaos or Community," 1967
(source= JCC MLK Personal Expression Essay Contest)

War and Peace
"We still have a choice today: nonviolent coexistence or violent co-annihilation. We must move past indecision to action. We must find new ways to speak for peace in Vietnam and justice throughout the developing world, a world that borders on our doors. If we do not act, we shall surely be dragged down the long, dark, and shameful corridors of time reserved for those who possess power without compassion, might without morality, and strength without sight."

- - Martin Luther King, Jr., "Beyond Vietnam" Speech, Riverside Church, 1967
(source= JCC MLK Personal Expression Essay Contest)

On Violence
Violence as a way of achieving racial justice is both impractical and immoral. It is impractical because it is a descending spiral ending in destruction for all. The old law of an eye for an eye leaves everyone blind. It is immoral because it seeks to humiliate the opponent rather than win his understanding; it seeks to annihilate rather than convert. Violence is immoral because it thrives on hatred rather than love. It destroys community and makes brotherhood impossible. It leaves society in monologue rather than dialogue. Violence ends by defeating itself. It creates bitterness in the survivors and brutality in the destroyers.
--Dr. Martin Luther King, jr.
(source= An eye for an eye leaves everyone blind)

Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., Strength to Love, 1963, p. 51 (Two quotations below are from this book as cited by An eye for an eye leaves everyone blind.)

“At the center of non-violence stands the principle of love."
-- Martin Luther King, Jr.

"Peace is not merely a distant goal that we seek, but a means by which we arrive at that goal."
-- Martin Luther King, Jr.

A number of web sites honor Dr. King, including:
The King Center,
Living Dr. King's Dream, Jewishly - this site includes a list of 6 things you and your family can do to honor Dr. King.
The Reverend Martin Luther King, Jr. Resources as collected by the Religious Action Center of Reform Judaism, including the following sub-topics:
Websites and Resources About Martin Luther King, Jr.
Writings and Speeches
Programming Ideas and Resources
Martin Luther King, Jr. Day Congregational Program Bank (RAC)

Two Midwives, Martin Luther King and the Origins of Civil Disobedience (
Learning from Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. (
Review of Shared Dreams: Martin Luther King, Jr. and the Jewish Community(

What would Dr. King say today about the Israel/Palestinian conflict? On the so-called Letter to an Anti-Zionist Friend
NFTY resource page on Dr. King

A posting on Dr. King is incomplete without mention of one of Dr. King's friends, colleagues and partners in the work of repairing the world - Rabbi Abraham Joshuah Heschel, Ph.D. (also of blessed memory). Heschel met, prayed, studied and protested with Dr. King. After the 1965 civil-rights march in Selma, Alabama, Heschel said, "I felt my legs were praying." (As quoted on page vii of the book "Moral Grandeur and Spirtual Audacity : Essays" by Abraham Joshua Heschel and edited by his daughter, Susannah Heschel, Ph.D.). On the expereince of marching that day he also said, "I felt a sense of Holy in what I was doing. Dr. King expressed several times to me his appreciation. He said, 'I cannot tell you how much your presence means to us. You cannot imagine how often Reverend Vivian and I speak aobut you.' Dr. King said to me that this was the greatest day in his life and the most important civil-rights demonstration." (also from Moral Grandeur... pg. xxiii-xxiv.)

Heschel knew personally the cost of prejudice and hatred, and he wrote that "religion cannot coexist with racism: Racism is satanism, unmitigated evil. . . You cannot worship God and at the same time look at man as if he were a horse." (Moral Grandeur, xvii ) Heschel, like Dr. King, was deeply opposed to the war in Vietnam. In 1965, Heschel and John Bennett and Richahrd Neuhaus founded "Clergy and Laymen Concerned about Vietnam." Repeatedly Heschel reminded us all, "In a free society, some are guilty, but all are responsible." (Moral Grandeur, xxiv.)

[Here are just a couple of sites on Heschel: Abraham Joshua Heschel, Our Generation's Teacher and Heschel, a significant theologian.]

Thanks for reading this long post, go forth, learn and do good work!

Saturday, January 17, 2004

Calendar Conversions

Our lunisolar calendar can be converted online from it to the Gregorian and vice-versa. Go to JOS Calendar Conversion.

Thursday, January 15, 2004

Israel Internet Learning Source

Snunit is an excellent resource for online learning and learning resources in English, French and Hebrew. They have been putting educational materials on the internet since 1994.

Here is what their website says about their vision:

OUR VISION: Revolutionizing the Learning Experience

The Internet is a vast, equal opportunity, learning and teaching resource.
With insight, creativity, and sensitivity to the needs of different populations
and age groups, we can create new educational paradigms that transform the
way students learn and instructors teach.

Snunit's Hebrew home page, Snunit's English home page, Snunit's French home page.

Check it out and enjoy!

Non-Jews having bar & bat mitzvah parties

Did you need proof that bar and bat mitzvah parties are getting out of hand? That they often are focusing on throwing a huge, expensive party to out-do the "Shapiros" and have NOTHING to do with the real significance of becoming bar or bat mitzvah? Well, take a look at this Wall Street Journal article You Don't Have to Be Jewish to want a Bar Mitzvah Party which tells the story of non-Jews throwing bar and bat mitzvah parties. This is disgusting! If people need to have a huge, outlandish party for their child's 13'th birthday, then call it what it is, a birthday party.

Becoming bar and bat mitzvah is about is about proclaiming to one's community, family, friends and God the importance of Judaism in their life and their commitment to make Judaism a part of their lives. The day when one becomes a bar or bat mitzvah marks the first day of one's adult Jewish life. Is the young person an adult on that day? No, of course not, but he or she accepts the growing responsibilities of a Jewish adult. This IS NOT about a party. The party is a way to celebrate the above, not vice versa.

What do you think?

Rabbis for Human Rights

Rabbis for Human Rights is a courageous organization with members from a wide swath across the religious specturm (Reform to Orthodox and all between) who support the rights of every human being.

Check them out at Rabbis for Human Rights and Rabbis for Human Rights North America.

We are all created in the image of the Divine.

Wednesday, January 14, 2004

New Links

I've added some new links to the right:

2HaTs - an Israeli ex-pat who now lives in Canada, Jew View, Women in Black & Women of the Wall.

Some blogs on Jewish arts & culture:
Jewish Music Web Center and Klezmer Shack.

In addition, I learned of a new project to support Israel and assist victims of terrorist attacks and their families, Voices for Israel. Thanks to Jew View for the info!

Tuesday, January 13, 2004

Actually, Not such an Excellent Resource

Oops. I didn't thoroughly check out the Index of Jewish Books I posted about last time. They not only post some good Judaica - but they post some of the problematic (to use a gentle word) stuff published by the so-called "Jews for Jesus" who of course are NOT Jewish, but Christian. So, I am removing the link to them from my site.

Thanks to Am ha-Aretz for letting me know. I really appreicate it.

I hope to do better with updating my blog in the days to come, so please keep coming back.

Friday, January 02, 2004

Excellent Resource for Judaica Online

One of the goals of this blog is to ease access to Judaica. Today, through a posting on The AximSite I came across an index of Judaica Books available online. Take a look at this great resource for links to everything from biblical, talmudic, midrahsic texts through biographies, timelines of individual communities and more. Please note, the link I am giving you is the first page of 5 in the index. Go, search, enjoy and read!!!

Shabbat Shalom