Wednesday, August 31, 2005

Sleepless in Sudan

Sleepless in Sudan is a powerful and worthwhile blog on the crisis in Sudan. [Thanks to Velveteen Rabbi for the tip.]

The Radiance of Torah


One of the things which I love about my work is the chance to literally and metaphorically bring people close to Torah. I love teaching and empowering men and women of all ages to chant from Torah, brining to life the words, grammer, nuances, feelings and radiance from the text. As we breathe the texts into our lungs and out through our vocal cords the text comes live. A challenge, a blessing and a guide for our lives.

The ability to express the text is connected to the art of clearly and beautifully scribing the words of Torah onto parchment. It is such a loving, intense, beautiful task that it is only done by soferim/soferot who radiate Torah and study the art.

Today while reading Velveteen Rabbi's blog day post I learned of a female soferet named Aviel Barclay-Rothschild. She blogs about her work, describing it as follows:

As the only living certified Soferet (female Jewish ritual scribe) & the first woman to practice sofrut (creation of sacred Hebrew texts) in over 200 years, I feel an obligation to blog about my experiences of The Work.

You can learn more about her in her blog and her website, Soferet.

May words of Torah, words of world wisdom, and words of your faith dance on your tongue and radiate through your body with every breath.

Salaam, my friends.

BlogDay 2005 Links

Happy Blogday 2005! What is BlogDay you ask? Go to the main Blogday site and read all about it.

Here are my 5 posts:

1. Travel Commons, a blog about business travel. All podcasts recorded in a hotel bathroom. (Not while being used!)
2. Inside Mac Radio, great info about Macs. (I am a Mac user by preference, a PC user at work by necessity.)
3. Waiter Rant, a funny and well written blog about the life of a waiter in New York City. Read it, you'll enjoy and keep wanting to come back for more!
4. Child Abuse Survivor, an inspiring blog on Mike's journey of recovery from child abuse.
5. Ms. Musings, writings, information and more from a feminist point of view.

Link, comment and be well!

Thursday, August 18, 2005

Disengagement - Words of a Colleague

My colleague, Rabbi Ron Kronish, said the following on the BBC:

AUG. 17.05
Good morning.
Today is a difficult day in the history of Israel. We are sacrificing some
land-some parts of the land of Israel, which is holy to the Jewish
People-for the sake of peace, or at least a movement in the direction of

Is this worth the price? My answer is YES.

But the problem is more complex than this. We --the citizens of Israel, the
Jewish majority and the non-Jewish Arab minority-have voted for
disengagement. This is the policy of the democratically elected government
of Israel. Yet, we do this with much anxiety and many questions: will the
Palestinians see this as an act of peace or as an act of surrender, i.e. an
act of war? Will Gaza turn into a "terror state", as some of our politicians
on the right suggest? Will this lead to peace agreements -between the two
peoples-rather than unilateral measures?? Or will this lead to more terror
and more violence on the part of the Palestinians as a way to achieve
political ends???

As a religious Jew, I am committed to the importance of living in the land
of Israel. This is why I chose to "go up" (to make aliyah) to live in this
land, with my family, over 26 years ago.

This land has been special-holy-for our people since the beginning of our
history. It is a sacred land. And the state of Israel is the "beginning of
the flowering of our redemption", i.e. it is a vital political framework for
the achievement of our national aspirations as a Jewish people.

But land is not more important than life. Nor is land more important than
peace. Rather, peace -and the attempts to reach peace with all of our
neighbors-is our most important value.

In our Midrash, our literature of tales and traditions, we find this
statement about the importance of peace:

"If there is no peace, there is nothing at all, for Scripture
goes on to say in the Psalms, 'And I will give Peace in the Land which
indicates that peace equals all else. Indeed, we say (in the morning
prayers), 'When He made peace, He created everything."

The search for peace is not simple. It will not end with this disengagement
from Gaza and a few settlements in Northern Samaria. But this is a good
beginning, an important step along the bumpy road to peace.

Ron Kronish

May the Divine Precious One lead us all to peace, shalom, salaam.

Friday, August 12, 2005

Feed the Starving Before and After Shabbat

Estimates suggest that some 36 million people are in danger of starving in Niger and other wide sections of Africa. Below are some ways to do something about it and help out, even if only a little bit.

What a way to frame shabbat, helping the hungry at home and abroad.

American Jewish World Service (

In response to a food crisis in Niger, AJWS, with whom we work very
closely, is working to identify local grassroots organizations that can
help feed people facing starvation, and to ensure that those most
vulnerable to life-threatening conditions will have access to medical

Save the Children (

With more than 40 tons of essential supplies now on the ground, Save the
Children is working to provide nutritional assistance to children under
5 who are facing severe food shortages following the lethal combination
of poor rainfall in 2005 and a locust infestation in the sub-Saharan
African country. Current activities are focused on assisting children in
the Maradi region of Niger, which is facing acute food shortages.
Critical supplies that Save the Children is providing include tents and
other essentials to set up therapeutic feeding centers for starving
children as well as emergency health kits, supplementary feeding kits,
20 tons of ready-to-eat food such as biscuits or porridge and 16 tons of
a new product called plumpy'nut
, a
read-to-eat food that tastes like peanut butter but is fortified with
all the nutrients a moderately malnourished child needs to avoid severe

Catholic Relief Service (

In collaboration with the World Food Programme, CRS is distributing
emergency food and seeds, and running food-for-work programs. CRS is
focusing its initial efforts in Niger on 150,000 critically food
insecure people, though the organization has planned a longer term
response that targets 320,000 extremely vulnerable individuals in
drought- and locust-affected regions. With its local partner, Caritas
Niger, CRS began responding to signs of a food shortage in late 2004
with seed fairs , which
have proven enormously valuable. Farmers who planted seeds from these
programs have been less affected by the crisis than others now
confronting starvation.