Monday, September 16, 2019


Here are some delightful recordings from Nava Tehila:

~ Sham'ah Va-tismach (Psalm 97: 8)  As befits the lyrics (which are all in the feminine in Hebrew), all of the singers of this particular song are women.  (Audio only.)

~  Oseh Shalom (live-performance video).  My husband and I first heard this at a recent Kabbalat Shabbat/Maariv service at my old "kaddish minyan."

~ Halleluyah (audio only)

Want to jazz things up a bit?  Here's a good song from Noah AronsonEileh Chamdah Libi

I like Elana Arian's L'cha Dodi so much that I've borrowed the tune for use as Adon Olam at our shul.

And here's Chava Mirel's Achat Sha'alti, from the special psalm recited at the end of every Shacharit (Morning) and Maariv/Arvit (Evening) Service during the month of Elul.  In this version, she sings in three-part harmony all by herself.  (Would that I had the tech skills to create a split-screen video.)  And here, for people like me who get so distracted by lovely harmonies that we have trouble learning the melody :), is the melody-only version, so we can learn it.  :)

Sunday, September 15, 2019

Links to two important posts on Halachah and the LGBTQI community

For lighter reading, see my Friday, September 13, 2019 post (complete with photos), Last hurrah of summer 2019.

Note:  I first saw the links below on Facebook.

On Halakha and LGBT (By: Aaron J Koller, YU Professor of Near Eastern Studies),  | September 10, 2019

 "This is the most disturbing part of the “akedah theology” (as Ronit Irshai calls it): it invariably is framed as self-sacrifice, but actually involves the sacrifice of another. I may be called upon to put aside my liberal values, but the person who actually pays the price is the LGBT friend who is not allowed to get married, not wished a mazel tov in the weekly community announcements, not welcomed with their partner into myriad communal frameworks.

. . . 

So, in short: In a clash between humanity and halakha, opt for humanity, and have enough faith in halakha that the problem will be solved. And if somehow the conflict remains intractable, I would rather suffer for being a good person than sacrifice someone else’s life on the altar of my religiosity."

Sep 12 · 9 min read
"While I don’t read many self-help books, there is one that I swear by, “Who Moved My Cheese?” by Spencer Johnson. Long story short, the book is a fable about four mice and how they are able or unable to adapt to new circumstances of the cheese in their maze being moved. The lesson — when circumstances in life change the best way forward is to move with the change (the cheese) instead of pretending that nothing has changed.

. . .

Orthodox Shuls, still stuck in 2009, have now fallen behind general society in the United States. Feeling ever more empowered, queer Orthodox Jews now expect to live full lives — coming out young, even in high school (something unimaginable a decade ago), getting married, having children, and living religious lives. And we have done so without the Chesed of Orthodox rabbis. We have been able to find our own spaces, albeit not always Orthodox.

Consequently, an Orthodox rabbi no longer holds the same power when meeting with a queer congregant. The queer millennial/gen-z’er knows that they will not be stuck in this community their whole life. They’re not asking for the rabbi’s approval for their coming out or their wedding, they’re asking for his/her blessing. If they don’t get it they can [happily] go elsewhere. There is already a list of Orthodox rabbis performing gay weddings, and an Orthodox-ordained rabbi (yours truly), and many halakhically conversant queer people. The power dynamic has dramatically shifted.

So now Orthodox rabbis are stuck in their behavioral inhibition as the power slips away. Sympathizing with the gay person no longer cuts it. People want action that speaks to where they are in life now — marriage, recognition, opportunities for leadership as rabbis and community leaders. So rabbis avoid the situation altogether and put the blame on queer people for being too pushy, shocked that we are not happy with the fact we are able to just be gay. i.e., shocked that we are not satisfied with 2009. It was amazing for me to see the contortions some rabbis made in order to blame me for my being denied ordination last Spring, with made up stories about contracts that I had signed and absurd, unconfirmed and frankly inappropriate speculation about my intimate life and living situations. Why couldn’t people just say we don’t believe in an openly gay rabbis? Why couldn't they debate that question? Because they are still in 2009, a different stage of the cheese. And in 2009, that was not a question up for debate.

. . .

So how can we adjust as a community? I would like to offer some suggestions as to how we can move with the cheese.
  1. I do not think rabbis have reckoned with the fact that the cheese has moved and that they no longer hold that power. Rabbis — and rabbinical schools in particular — need to realize that it is 2019, not 2009. Which means not just that the conversation needs to change, but the dynamics need to change. Rabbis need to realize (and I’m saying this as a rabbi as much as a member of gay community) that a conversation with a gay congregant is now a conversation of equals (in some sense). The rabbis do not hold all of the cards anymore. As rabbis have rested on their laurels over the past decade, queer people have been learning and gearing up for battle. Rabbis cannot get insulted or offended that queer people are not satisfied with sympathy alone. If there is something a rabbi cannot do either for Halakhic or political reasons they need to be upfront and realize that they may not be able to have their cake and eat it too. The decision to keep your membership in a rabbinical organization may come at the cost of some queer members of your Shul. But that is a decision you are making.
  2. For a while rabbis were able to sidestep any Halakhic conversation; that is no longer the case. Rabbis can no longer get away with statements that hold no water in Halakhic discourse, such as saying that the Torah prohibits same-sex marriage based on an Aggadic passage that is not codified in the Shulchan Aruch. Many rabbis may not feel trained for this conversation, as rabbinical schools have not prepared them for this. They still do not — when I was in YCT just last year “LGBT issues” were relegated to pastoral counseling class, with no discussion during morning seder, the portion of the day in which we learn Halakha (despite my requests to do so). Rabbis need to study up. If they have not spent time learning Halakhot related to queer people (and for the most part, they haven’t), this is a great time to start. I am happy to connect rabbis with resources in doing this learning.
  3. Conversely, queer people need to use our newfound power to educate our rabbis. Ask rabbis the halakhic questions. When a Halakhic answer is given, ask for sources. When a political answer is given (“this will set back the cause”), ask what the specific political strategy is being employed to accomplish these goals. Ask for a specific date when this issue will be discussed at the next rabbinic convention.
  4. Queer people need to stand up for ourselves, but also be generous. No we do not need to accept discrimination. We do not need to accept marginalization or second-class status — I certainly do not. But the cheese has moved for us too, and we need to recognize the power that we do hold. Because there are a lot of good rabbis out there who have a lot to offer but they are going to need our help.
  5. And most critically, we need to establish healthier power dynamics. No one man or woman should hold the keys to who can come to shul, who can get married, or who can become a rabbi. If we as rabbis find ourselves dictating the terms of the conversation (i.e. find ourselves being behaviorally activated) that is a sign that we are holding too much power and we are begging for another crisis. If we are taking no risks as rabbis, we are just holding on to power that is slipping away.
Because the cheese will move again at some point. And the next time it moves I hope we can all move with it in a way that avoids the hurt and pain that has come with the current change in circumstances."

Friday, September 13, 2019

Last hurrah of summer 2019

Montauk Lighthouse
Shira's Shot, Labor Day 2019

Montauk Lighthouse from the path to the beach

  View from the top
I climbed 136 steps on a circular staircase to see this!

Celebrating Giorgina Reid, Savior of the Montauk Lighthouse

"She came uninvited. She was 60 years old at that time. She was about 4 foot 11. And she said she believed she could save the Montauk Lighthouse from falling into the sea."

Tuesday, September 03, 2019

My public apology to Rabbi Angela Buchdahl

I was thoroughly rebuked by a reader of this blog, and rightly so:  "You can't call out someone without checking first!"

My rebuker was referring to my assumption, seen in this post of mine, that Rabbi Angela Buchdahl had never converted to Judaism.

I told my rebuker the truth, which isn't much of an excuse:  Since the Reform Movement accepts patrilineal descent, it never occurred to me that it would matter to Hebrew Union College (the Reform seminary for rabbis, cantors, and Jewish educators) whether or not a person with a Jewish father and a non-Jewish mother actually converted to Judaism before becoming a member of the Reform clergy.  I have since checked, and found that, while HUC will not admit persons to the rabbinical or cantorial programs if they are involved in a serious relationship with a non-Jew, their stipulation regarding Jewish status is a rather vague statement that the person must "identify as Jewish."  (Click here and scroll down to "Do you have an intermarriage policy?" and  "Do I have to be Jewish to be admitted to HUC-JIR?")

That said, had I looked, I could easily have seen for myself that Rabbi Buchdahl chose to convert to Judaism.

I apologize to Rabbi Buchdahl for any embarrassment and/or or upset that I may have caused.

This is the month of Elul, when we pay particular attention to trying to improve our behavior.  I commit myself to doing a better job of guarding my tongue--and my keyboard--in the future.

Wednesday, August 28, 2019

Trying to navigate a changed Jewish landscape (part 2)

You can read part one here.

Once upon a time, when a person entered a synagogue, they could confidently assume that, unless there were a Bar or Bat Mitzvah celebration, or some other simchah (happy occasion), 95-100% of the people in attendance at any religious service were Jews.

That's no longer necessarily the case, especially in a non-Orthodox synagogue or other prayer space.

First, there's the "Who is a Jew" question, non-Orthodox version:  Do you or don't you accept the not-converted child of a non-Jewish mother as a Jew?  (See patrilineal descent.)

Conservative Judaism, like Orthodox Judaism, doesn't accept patrilineal descent, which is not in accordance with halachah (Jewish religious law).  So what's a Conservative Jew like me supposed to think of a person such as Rabbi Angela Buchdahl?  On one hand, she's ordained as both a cantor and a rabbi.  How Jewish can you get?  On the other hand, her mother's a non-Jew.  It's certainly interesting for someone of my background to try to wrap her head around the idea of a rabbi/cantor who's not halachically Jewish.

On a more practical note, what's an appropriate way for a Conservative synagogue to welcome folks who are halachically non-Jewish?  And what do we do about Hebrew School and Bar or Bat Mitzvah for their kids?

There's also the possibility that some of those present aren't Jewish by anyone's definition, meaning that neither of their parents is Jewish and they haven't converted to Judaism.  But though they're not "Members of the Tribe," they may be boyfriends, girlfriends, partners, or spouses of Jews, and/or parents of "half-Jewish" children.

It seems as if every non-Conservative prayer gathering we attend is a mixed gathering.  I'm beginning to have some sympathy for that poor rabbi whom I criticized a while back.  Given the demographics of our neighborhood, what makes us think that our own synagogue won't be forced to make a decision, soon or later, regarding whether to stick to our halachic approach or give it up as a lost cause?

Please read my September 3, 2019 post, My public apology to Rabbi Angela Buchdahl.

Tuesday, August 27, 2019

Trying to navigate a changed Jewish landscape (part 1)

In the small Jewish community of my childhood, it was simply taken for granted that Jews were Zionists. 

That's no longer necessarily the case.  If my personal experience of recent years is any indication, it's becoming more and more difficult to find Zionist Jews under the age of 45.

Naturally, our 36-year-old son had an explanation. (Be careful what you complain about, and/or to whom you complain).   It's one of many explanations, no doubt, so if you have another one, feel free to post it in the comments.

According to our son, the status of the West Bank would have been settled decades ago if Israel had simply declared the entire West Bank to be part of Israel when they first conquered it, because that approach would have forced the former "owners" to negotiate.  But because Israel itself has always considered the West Bank "disputed territory," the creation or enlargement of "settlements" is viewed as an invasion. 

So here we are, working with anti-Zionist Jews (and plenty of other folks, obviously) to try to close the immigrant internment camps.  What are we supposed to do, not try to close the immigrant internment camps?

Thursday, August 22, 2019

Parshat Ekev, 5779/2019 thoughts

One of the first lessons that we learn from Parshat Ekev is the importance of hakarat ha-tov, expressing gratitude.  (We also learn the traditional list of the crops of the Holy Land.)

ז  כִּי יְהוָה אֱלֹהֶיךָ, מְבִיאֲךָ אֶל-אֶרֶץ טוֹבָה:  אֶרֶץ, נַחֲלֵי מָיִם--עֲיָנֹת וּתְהֹמֹת, יֹצְאִים בַּבִּקְעָה וּבָהָר.
7 For the LORD thy God bringeth thee into a good land, a land of brooks of water, of fountains and depths, springing forth in valleys and hills;
ח  אֶרֶץ חִטָּה וּשְׂעֹרָה, וְגֶפֶן וּתְאֵנָה וְרִמּוֹן; אֶרֶץ-זֵית שֶׁמֶן, וּדְבָשׁ.
8 a land of wheat and barley, and vines and fig-trees and pomegranates; a land of olive-trees and honey;
ט  אֶרֶץ, אֲשֶׁר לֹא בְמִסְכֵּנֻת תֹּאכַל-בָּהּ לֶחֶם--לֹא-תֶחְסַר כֹּל, בָּהּ; אֶרֶץ אֲשֶׁר אֲבָנֶיהָ בַרְזֶל, וּמֵהֲרָרֶיהָ תַּחְצֹב נְחֹשֶׁת.
9 a land wherein thou shalt eat bread without scarceness, thou shalt not lack any thing in it; a land whose stones are iron, and out of whose hills thou mayest dig brass.
י  וְאָכַלְתָּ, וְשָׂבָעְתָּ--וּבֵרַכְתָּ אֶת-יְהוָה אֱלֹהֶיךָ, עַל-הָאָרֶץ הַטֹּבָה אֲשֶׁר נָתַן-לָךְ.
10 And thou shalt eat and be satisfied, and bless the LORD thy God for the good land which He hath given thee.

Verse 10 is the basis for Birkat HaMazon, Grace After Meals (and is included therein).  We are commanded to express gratitude for our food.

But what happens when we take the gift of food for granted?

Let me quote from a d'var Torah by Rabbi Norman Lamm on Parshat Behar (which I first quoted here):

"in modern times, Judaism became fragmentized. Judaism became a matter of where you prayed, not how you lived; what siddur you used, not how regularly you paid employees or bills; how long was your Shemone Esrei, not how faithfully you worked for your salary; how good a tenor you got as a cantor, not how sincere your davening was; how ferociously you destroyed a competitor or “took in” a customer, not how much of your profits you gave to charity. Our whole sidra of this morning was forgotten, and business life became Godless – or better, became itself an object of worship and blind obedience.
And so Jews rejected the Lord, God of Israel, and accepted Mercury, god of commerce."

What happens when money becomes our god, and we sacrifice everything to make a profit?

יג  וְהָיָה, אִם-שָׁמֹעַ תִּשְׁמְעוּ אֶל-מִצְוֺתַי, אֲשֶׁר אָנֹכִי מְצַוֶּה אֶתְכֶם, הַיּוֹם--לְאַהֲבָה אֶת-יְהוָה אֱלֹהֵיכֶם, וּלְעָבְדוֹ, בְּכָל-לְבַבְכֶם, וּבְכָל-נַפְשְׁכֶם.
13 And it shall come to pass, if ye shall hearken diligently unto My commandments which I command you this day, to love the LORD your God, and to serve Him with all your heart and with all your soul,
יד  וְנָתַתִּי מְטַר-אַרְצְכֶם בְּעִתּוֹ, יוֹרֶה וּמַלְקוֹשׁ; וְאָסַפְתָּ דְגָנֶךָ, וְתִירֹשְׁךָ וְיִצְהָרֶךָ.
14 that I will give the rain of your land in its season, the former rain and the latter rain, that thou mayest gather in thy corn, and thy wine, and thine oil.
טו  וְנָתַתִּי עֵשֶׂב בְּשָׂדְךָ, לִבְהֶמְתֶּךָ; וְאָכַלְתָּ, וְשָׂבָעְתָּ.
15 And I will give grass in thy fields for thy cattle, and thou shalt eat and be satisfied.
טז  הִשָּׁמְרוּ לָכֶם, פֶּן יִפְתֶּה לְבַבְכֶם; וְסַרְתֶּם, וַעֲבַדְתֶּם אֱלֹהִים אֲחֵרִים, וְהִשְׁתַּחֲוִיתֶם, לָהֶם.
16 Take heed to yourselves, lest your heart be deceived, and ye turn aside, and serve other gods, and worship them;
יז  וְחָרָה אַף-יְהוָה בָּכֶם, וְעָצַר אֶת-הַשָּׁמַיִם וְלֹא-יִהְיֶה מָטָר, וְהָאֲדָמָה, לֹא תִתֵּן אֶת-יְבוּלָהּ; וַאֲבַדְתֶּם מְהֵרָה, מֵעַל הָאָרֶץ הַטֹּבָה, אֲשֶׁר יְהוָה, נֹתֵן לָכֶם.
17 and the anger of the LORD be kindled against you, and He shut up the heaven, so that there shall be no rain, and the ground shall not yield her fruit; and ye perish quickly from off the good land which the LORD giveth you.

If we put greed above gratitude, we'll soon have nothing left--avarice will destroy our planet.

Wednesday, August 21, 2019

An oldie but goodie: Gershon Veroba & Takana, Live! - "Tzur Misgabeinu" (by E. Gerstner)

Somebody posted this on a blog years ago.  Unfortunately, that blog no longer exists, but I remembered this song, and hunted for it on Youtube.  Enjoy!

Tuesday, August 20, 2019

"Harimi"--A quote from Haftarat Vaetchanan ("Nachamu"), set to music

Isaiah, chapter 40, verse 9

ט  עַל הַר-גָּבֹהַּ עֲלִי-לָךְ, מְבַשֶּׂרֶת צִיּוֹן, הָרִימִי בַכֹּחַ קוֹלֵךְ, מְבַשֶּׂרֶת יְרוּשָׁלִָם; הָרִימִי, אַל-תִּירָאִי, אִמְרִי לְעָרֵי יְהוּדָה, הִנֵּה אֱלֹהֵיכֶם. 9 O thou that tellest good tidings to Zion, get thee up into the high mountain; O thou that tellest good tidings to Jerusalem, lift up thy voice with strength; lift it up, be not afraid; say unto the cities of Judah: 'Behold your God!'

Music by Gershon Veroba.

Friday, August 16, 2019

"Nachamu/Comfort Us" by Elana Arian

In honor of Shabbat Nachamu.

Thursday, August 15, 2019

15 and counting: Still blogging after all these years

My first post (August 2, 2004) is copied on the right side of my blog, under "About Me."  Here's my second post (one of several that I published on August 3, 2004).  I hope my posts are still at least semi-interesting most of the time.

Interestingly enough, I've found that posting on my blog can help me make good use of Facebook.  Facebook doesn't seem to be designed for long-form writing.  So it's good to have a place to publish longer posts (such as American Akeidah).  I write them here, then link to them there, which keeps all of my readers on both sites happy.

Happy Tu B'Av.

Wednesday, August 14, 2019

"It's All Good," by Cantor Robbi Sherwin (music video)

My husband and I were in the audience at this performance.  What fun!  If you're looking for more of Cantor Sherwin's music, see here and here (which is where you can hear the original version of this song).

Tuesday, August 13, 2019

"P'tach Libi" - Jazz Fest Shabbbat 2015 (music video)

These days, Cantor David Mintz keeps pretty busy as Director of The Center for Prayer and Spirituality at B’nai Jeshurun, but you say see more of his videos here, and you can hear more of his music here.  And yes, that's Deborah Sacks Mintz.

Monday, August 12, 2019

"HaKel," by Mark Skier, with his Moshe Skier Band (a music video, post-Tish'a B'Av)

I first became acquainted with Mark Skier, founder and leader of the Moshe Skier Band, years ago, when we used to post comments on the same blogs, and clicked through to his music site to check out this singer/songwriter, bass player, and acoustic-guitar player.  Here's one of my favorite videos of his.

Saturday, August 10, 2019

My story about a 21st-century tragedy to mourn on Tish'a B'Av

The year is 2039.

The place:  Federal Court, El Paso, Texas.

Class-Action Lawsuit:
Association of Latinx Child Immigrants and Adoptees of the United States vs. United States.

Child Abuse, Child Neglect, Criminal Negligence.

Plaintiff charges that, as children under the age of six, they were deliberately separated from their parents and kept in squalid locations without adequate food, water, living conditions, sanitary facilities, or health care.  Furthermore, since no records or inadequate records were kept by the United States government, some children and/or their parents could not be identified, and, therefore, those children were put up for adoption without any attempt being made to reunite them with their parent(s), other relative(s), or pre-existing guardian(s).

No, the Association of Latinx Child Immigrants and Adoptees of the United States does not exist.

But it will, when these children grow up.

Thursday, August 08, 2019

I'm resetting my alarm clock as a Sleep Apnea treatment

Just when I thought I had enough doctors . . .

Oh, well, what else are seniors for, if not to keep their physicians entertained.  :)

I took the Sleep Apnea test--sleeping with electrodes glued all over me was weird enough, but being under audio and video surveillance all night by the hospital staff was even more weird--and it turns out that I have a mild case. 

So I'm now under doctor's orders to go to bed and wake up at prescribed and predictable hours, which, once my body readjusts, will give me seven hours sleep every night.

The real "fun," though, is that all napping is strictly forbidden.  There goes my Shabbos nap.  (:

Ah, the "Golden Years."  One never knows what new medical adventure awaits.  :)

Tuesday, August 06, 2019

American Akeidah

Genesis Chapter 22  בְּרֵאשִׁית

א  וַיְהִי, אַחַר הַדְּבָרִים הָאֵלֶּה, וְהָאֱלֹהִים, נִסָּה אֶת-אַבְרָהָם; וַיֹּאמֶר אֵלָיו, אַבְרָהָם וַיֹּאמֶר הִנֵּנִי. 1 And it came to pass after these things, that God did prove Abraham, and said unto him: 'Abraham'; and he said: 'Here am I.'
ב  וַיֹּאמֶר קַח-נָא אֶת-בִּנְךָ אֶת-יְחִידְךָ אֲשֶׁר-אָהַבְתָּ, אֶת-יִצְחָק, וְלֶךְ-לְךָ, אֶל-אֶרֶץ הַמֹּרִיָּה; וְהַעֲלֵהוּ שָׁם, לְעֹלָה, עַל אַחַד הֶהָרִים, אֲשֶׁר אֹמַר אֵלֶיךָ. 2 And He said: 'Take now thy son, thine only son, whom thou lovest, even Isaac, and get thee into the land of Moriah; and offer him there for a burnt-offering upon one of the mountains which I will tell thee of.'

. . .

י  וַיִּשְׁלַח אַבְרָהָם אֶת-יָדוֹ, וַיִּקַּח אֶת-הַמַּאֲכֶלֶת, לִשְׁחֹט, אֶת-בְּנוֹ. 10 And Abraham stretched forth his hand, and took the knife to slay his son.
יא  וַיִּקְרָא אֵלָיו מַלְאַךְ יְהוָה, מִן-הַשָּׁמַיִם, וַיֹּאמֶר, אַבְרָהָם אַבְרָהָם; וַיֹּאמֶר, הִנֵּנִי. 11 And the angel of the LORD called unto him out of heaven, and said: 'Abraham, Abraham.' And he said: 'Here am I.'
יב  וַיֹּאמֶר, אַל-תִּשְׁלַח יָדְךָ אֶל-הַנַּעַר, וְאַל-תַּעַשׂ לוֹ, מְאוּמָה:  כִּי עַתָּה יָדַעְתִּי, כִּי-יְרֵא אֱלֹהִים אַתָּה, וְלֹא חָשַׂכְתָּ אֶת-בִּנְךָ אֶת-יְחִידְךָ, מִמֶּנִּי. 12 And he said: 'Lay not thy hand upon the lad, neither do thou any thing unto him; for now I know that thou art a God-fearing man, seeing thou hast not withheld thy son, thine only son, from Me.'
יג  וַיִּשָּׂא אַבְרָהָם אֶת-עֵינָיו, וַיַּרְא וְהִנֵּה-אַיִל, אַחַר, נֶאֱחַז בַּסְּבַךְ בְּקַרְנָיו; וַיֵּלֶךְ אַבְרָהָם וַיִּקַּח אֶת-הָאַיִל, וַיַּעֲלֵהוּ לְעֹלָה תַּחַת בְּנוֹ. 13 And Abraham lifted up his eyes, and looked, and behold behind him a ram caught in the thicket by his horns. And Abraham went and took the ram, and offered him up for a burnt-offering in the stead of his son.

. . .

The Second Amendment of the Constitution of the United States of America

"A well regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of a free State, the right of the people to keep and bear Arms, shall not be infringed."

And the Second Amendment of the U.S. Constitution said to the land, to all the inhabitants thereof:  "Take your children, your beloved children, all of them, of any age, color or creed, ethnic or national background, gender or sexual orientation, and line them up as a sacrifice to assault weapons.  We will not stay the hand of any murderer, nor accept a ram in anyone's place--there will be no background checks prior to gun purchases or bans on assault weapons or equipment, lest our right to bear arms be tampered with."

El Paso shooting: Mother gives life for her 2-month-old baby as she shields him from shooter

Emergency personnel pulled young baby from Jordan Anchondo's embrace in aftermath of attack

יב  הַצִּילֵנִי נָא מִיַּד אָחִי, מִיַּד עֵשָׂו:  כִּי-יָרֵא אָנֹכִי, אֹתוֹ--פֶּן-יָבוֹא וְהִכַּנִי, אֵם עַל-בָּנִים. 12 Deliver me, I pray Thee, from the hand of my brother, from the hand of Esau; for I fear him, lest he come and smite me, the mother with the children.

 The literal translation is "the mother on the children."  Which is exactly how Jordan Anchondo died.

The United States of America is now under the thumb of those whose true god is Molech.

See also the depressing "Rituals of Childhood."

Monday, August 05, 2019

Appropriate after a weekend of mass murders

Seen on a T-shirt:  "Make Racism Wrong Again."

See here.

Sunday, August 04, 2019

Kabbalat Shabbat experiment: Back to my old "kaddish shul"

My husband and I finally decided to take it easy on ourselves and try to attend Kabbalat Shabbat services at the nearest egalitarian Conservative synagogue likely to have a minyan.  It was a pleasure to get to shul in only about half an hour.

My old "kaddish shul" has an a capella service, so I only had to worry about matching my harmonies with those of other people, not with musical instruments.  There was plenty of singing, so I had plenty of opportunities.  We found the service quite nice, not the least because we were already home by about 8:15 PM, rather than just starting our commute of over an hour.  We hope to attend Friday night services at my old "kaddish shul" on a much more regular basis than we expect to attend either Romemu or the Boi-i Kallah service at B'nai Jeshurun.


"Rituals of Childhood," by Kieran Healy

Many thanks to Larry Lennhoff for his Facebook link to this shocking and depressing blog post.  The fact that he thought it was necessary, given what happened in El Paso, Texas and Dayton, Ohio over the course of just two days, is tragic.

"The United States has institutionalized the mass shooting in a way that [sociologist Émile] Durkheim would immediately recognize. As I discovered to my shock when my own children started school in North Carolina some years ago, preparation for a shooting is a part of our children’s lives as soon as they enter kindergarten. The ritual of a Killing Day is known to all adults. It is taught to children first in outline only, and then gradually in more detail as they get older. The lockdown drill is its Mass. The language of “Active shooters”, “Safe corners”, and “Shelter in place” is its liturgy. “Run, Hide, Fight” is its creed. Security consultants and credential-dispensing experts are its clergy. My son and daughter have been institutionally readied to be shot dead as surely as I, at their age, was readied by my school to receive my first communion. They practice their movements. They are taught how to hold themselves; who to defer to; what to say to their parents; how to hold their hands. The only real difference is that there is a lottery for participation. Most will only prepare. But each week, a chosen few will fully consummate the process, and be killed.

. . .

. . . not every society has successfully institutionalized the mass shooting. Only one place has done that, deliberately and effectively. The United States has chosen, and continues to choose, to enact ritual compliance to an ideal of freedom in a way that results in a steady flow of blood sacrifice. This ritual of childhood is not a betrayal of “who we are” as a country. It is what America has made of itself, how it worships itself, and how it makes itself real."

I'm trying to read between the lines

My puzzlement began with this announcement.  All three founders (and U.S.-based presidents) of Hadar have strong ties to the Jewish Theological Seminary, having studied, been ordained as rabbis, and/or taught there.  Why would they want Hadar to go into direct competition with JTS by ordaining its own rabbis?

Then I read this article about a JOFA Conference, which gave me at least a little insight, perhaps, into something else that I've found puzzling, namely, why Dena Weiss is the only member of Hadar's faculty who does not have s'michah (rabbinical ordination), despite being eminently qualified for the title.  Judging by what she said in this article, she's averse to being labeled.

And she's not the only one from Hadar who's averse to being labeled.  Rabbi Ethan Tucker is on the same page (both figuratively and literally--his opinion follows hers in the linked article.)

Then there was this. Apparently, Rabbi Daniel Landes, of Yashrut, is interested in "returning to a pre-denominational Judaism."  And Rabbi Elie Kaunfer agrees with him so strongly that he got a second s'michah from Yashrut.

I'm beginning to see a pattern here.


"Synagogue Shidduch:" Who's rescuing whom?

See here to read about the possible merger of Congregation Shaare Zedek and the independent minyan Kehilat Hadar.  Shaare Zedek owns property, but has only about 70 members.  Kehilat Hadar has never owned property, but has about 130 members.  Fascinating.  I hope that whatever happens works out for the best for all those involved.

Wednesday, July 31, 2019

"Erasing Women Erases Halacha," by Noam Stadlan

Here's an important article by an Orthodox man opposing the growing tendency in the right-wing Orthodox community to refuse to publish photos of women.  (Link found on Facebook.)

Tuesday, July 30, 2019

Nobody hijacked Israel. It’s just not what its pioneers thought they’d created

"It’s not European. And it doesn’t divide into right and left, religious and secular. Matti Friedman, author of a new book about Mizrahi spies, on why Israel baffles and infuriates"

This interview is a must-read.  I first saw it linked on Facebook.
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