Posted by Ryan Torok
Appearing at an interfaith prayer vigil held at L.A. City Hall on Dec. 19, Rabbi Sharon Brous, spiritual leader of progressive congregation IKAR, denounced gun violence. She also expressed the need for the nation to come together to prevent the type of incidents that took place on Dec. 14, when a gunman opened fire in an elementary school in Newtown, Connecticut and took the lives of 20 first-graders. She spoke for nearly three minutes. Read her entire statement below.
This tragedy was not a natural disaster. This was not an inexplicable accident. This was an entirely predictable response to the terrifying and toxic mix, the combination of elements, the reckless and reprehensible proliferation of guns, which today are more easily accessible than Sudafed.
This is about the shameful and inadequate national treatment strategy around treatment of mental illness.
And this is about a culture that celebrates violence and brutality.
This is a toxic mix that erupted on Friday [Dec. 14] and is certain to erupt again—maybe this time in Los Angeles; maybe tomorrow; maybe in a couple of weeks.
But our tradition teaches in the Talmud that when a tragedy occurs, we are not allowed to shut our doors and our windows and eat and drink and say, ‘Well, all is well with me and my family.’
We are scared, we are in anguish, but we are part of a holy network of human beings – Jews and Christians and Muslims; African-Americans and Latinos; Democrats and Republicans – who care deeply about our children, who care deeply about our own safety and security and who are no longer willing to stand by and allow this to go unaddressed.
The President said on Sunday [Dec. 16] that our job is first and foremost caring for our children. ‘If we don’t get that right,’ he said, ‘then we don’t get anything right.’
And if we look honestly at what is going on in this country, we are not getting that right.
First and foremost, our obligation is to our children. The gun that was used in Newtown was a Bushmaster, a weapon whose ad slogan says ‘Consider your man-card reissued.’
We’re here today to fulfill the obligations we have to our children by saying that violence does not make you a man. Compassion does.
We are here to fulfill our obligations to our children by saying that access to magazine clips does not make us free, but working together to build a society that affirms the sanctity of all human life does.
We are here today to fulfill those obligations to our children by saying that we are unwilling to sit and wait for the next tragedy to occur, for the next time when the child-sized coffins need to be special ordered because there simply are not enough in stock.
As we continue to deal with the incredible grief and the profound sense of vulnerability in the aftermath of this tragedy, we also remember that we are not powerless, that we can and we must work together to keep our streets and our schools safe, to keep our malls and playgrounds safe from gun violence.
We do this for our children, we do this for all of us. This is what it means to be God’s partners in bringing about a world redeemed.
Let us say, ‘Amen.’
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December 11, 2012 | 10:34 am
Are Israel's recent publicity problems finally over? Or did they just get worse?
In the wake of the vote granting the Palestinians upgraded status at the United Nations, and just days after "Sesame Street" actress Sonia Manzano called Israelis “bullies,” Honey Boo Boo of TLC reality show fame offered a respite.
Adi Segal, an Israeli fan of the "Here Comes Honey Boo Boo" star, sent her a letter from a bomb shelter during the recent Gaza conflict.
"We watch your show every time we feel terrorized and threatened and you light up our faces," wrote Segal, a college student. "We watch it in our bomb shelters and panic room, and rejoice in the happiness and joy you spread. When you are playing redneck games, eating sketti or dumpster diving, we feel like we are dumpster diving along your side and forget the sad reality that is outside. Your family is a shining beautimous beacon of hope for the Middle East."
In response, the toddler in tiara took a photo of herself with the letter and an inflatable hammer emblazoned with the Israeli flag and posted it on her Facebook page. Is this the next step in Israeli hasbarah? Is it connected to the recent firing of the Israeli Deputy Foreign Minister Danny Ayalon?
Maybe next year we'll be able to watch “Land of Milk and Honey Boo Boo.”
December 3, 2012 | 9:27 am
Casino magnate Sheldon Adelson vowed to spend as much as $100 million to defeat President Barack Obama and help the GOP take control of Congress. According to two GOP fundraisers with close ties to the Las Vegas billionaire, he made good on that promise -- and then some. Adelson ultimately upped the ante, spending closer to a previously unreported $150 million, the fundraisers said.
Adelson, a fierce critic of Obama’s foreign and domestic policies, has said that his humongous spending was spurred chiefly by his fear that a second Obama term would bring "vilification of people that were against him." As that second term begins, Adelson's international casino empire faces a rough road, with two federal criminal investigations into his business.
Read more at HuffingtonPost.com.
November 28, 2012 | 8:24 pm
Posted by Rob Eshman
The brilliance of Jeffrey Goldberg’s recent Bloomberg News column on Palestinian statehood is only matched by the idiocy of most of the hundreds of comments that follow it. One day a PhD student in Jewish studies will write her thesis on what Internet commenting reveals about the state of the modern Jewish psyche. In the meantime, here’s my hypothesis: We need help.
Goldberg makes the argument that the surest path to Palestinian statehood is for Palestinians in the West Bank and Gaza to demand full citizenship, including voting rights in Israeli elections. If Israel accedes, it soon becomes another Arab state (the 23rd, he notes). If it resists, it ends up as apartheid South Africa. The rest of the world and American Jews—whose support for Israel, I've long believed, is absolutely contingent on it remaining a democracy—would all but abandon a so-called democratic country that denies basic rights to its citizens.
Goldberg is not saying this is a good thing, or that a Palestinian state would live in peace and harmony with Israel, or any of the other things the commentrons attributed to him. Trust me, the guy gets it.
His point is that Israel has to choose between controlling the Palestinians and remaining a Jewish state. In 1967 Ben Gurion and Levi Eshkol foresaw the same dilemma. Read your Oren. Read your Goremberg. Read your Goldberg. The Israeli Left re-pointed out the obvious, then the Center, then, when Sharon detached Israel from inside Gaza and Olmert sought a deal with Abbas, the Right. Netanyahu gets it too, but he hasn’t been able to find a way out that he believes secures Israel and/or his coalition.
All Goldberg is saying is if the Palestinians have time and bodies on their side: Israel doesn’t really want a couple million new Palestinian citizens, and it can’t force them onto Jordan or into Jordan (note to some commentrons: forced population transfers look very bad on CNN). So the Palestinians could just call Israel’s bluff: If you don’t want to grant us statehood, make us Israelis.
Why won’t the Palestinians take Goldberg’s advice? Because they and their Arab so-called allies prefer scoring points against Israel.
What would Israel do with a unilateral declaration of Palestinian Zionism? Shed territory, unilaterally, and fast. Israel would cut off hunks of the West Bank like bad meat. It would shut down settlements like they were Circuit Citys. It wouldn't be pretty-- the Palestinians would get the least Israel could possibly give-- but it would be done.
Or maybe Israel would then negotiate—though I doubt the Palestinians, with world opinion at their back, would be as amenable to compromise.
Who knows what would happen? But the simple act of demanding citizenship would create a firestorm. Asking for an upgrade in UN status? Here today, yawn tomorrow.
When Rob Eshman isn't leaping to the defense of Jeffrey Goldberg, he is tweeting @foodaism. Follow him there. Recipes included.
November 20, 2012 | 12:25 pm
Posted by JewishJournal.com
Matisyahu "Happy Hanukkah" (New Song)
All Proceeds through the End of Hanukkah will be donated to Hurricane Sandy Relief. For more info visit: http://bit.ly/MatisyahuHanukkah
November 20, 2012 | 11:12 am
Posted by Julie Gruenbaum Fax
Rabbi Sharon Brous, leader of Ikar, a spiritual and social activism community in Los Angeles, and her colleague and friend of many years, Rabbi Danny Gordis, locked horns this week in a passionate and personal exchange of articles in the Times of Israel about what it means to support Israel in a time of crisis.
Gordis, who writes frequently about Israel and recently published a book about Israel, is senior vice president and Koret distinguished fellow at the Shalem Center in Jerusalem, and a founding dean of the Ziegler School of Rabbinic Studies at the University of Judaism, now American Jewish University, in Los Angeles.
In an article in The Times of Israel, Gordis attacked Brous for a letter she wrote to her congregants that affirmed Israel's obligation to defend its citizens and called for empathy for both Israelis and Palestinian civilians.
Why can we not simply say that at this moment, Israel’s enemies are evil? That they’re wrong? Why cannot someone as insightful and soulful as Rabbi Brous just say, without obfuscation, that whatever fault one finds with Israel, it is the Jewish State that for seventy years has sued for peace and the Arabs/Palestinians who have always refused…
… my friend left me heartbroken. If people as wise and as deeply Jewishly knowledgeable as Rabbi Brous (whom I told that this response was forthcoming) cannot come out and say that at least at this moment, we care about Israel more than we care about its enemies because we care about the future of the Jews more than almost anything else in the world, then her Jewish world and mine simply no longer inhabit overlapping universes.
In an article posted at the Times of Israel the next day, Brous said Gordis brought the conversation on Israel to a new low:
What is shameful is that Gordis knows what many of his readers do not. For years my teacher and friend, he knows precisely what is the character of my Judaism, he knows just how deeply Jewish traditions and texts run in my blood. But it is far easier to cast aspersions on a straw man than engage in discourse with a real live colleague who shares his concern for Israel, the Jewish people and its future but nevertheless sees things differently than he does. So he follows the disturbing pattern he established years ago – pinpoint one voice, publicly eviscerate, hit send and reap the rewards of the resulting publicity. This may be a fine strategy to keep Gordis’s agenda on the radar of the American Jewish community, but it does not actually serve the interests of the Jewish people, his ostensible concern.
David Myers, chair of the history department at UCLA, came to Brous' defense in another post, characterizing Gordis' attack as stemming from a romanticized version of Zionism:
Rabbi Daniel Gordis’s critique of Rabbi Sharon Brous induces in the reader a certain fatigued response. On more than a few occasions, he has seen fit to anoint himself as the guardian of a fixed moral boundary line, insisting that one either stands with him – or against the Jews. In his latest pronouncement, he issues his own “J’accuse” against one of the most promising leaders to be found in American Judaism (who, in the name of full disclosure, happens to be a friend), Rabbi Sharon Brous. The crime? Nothing less than betrayal of the Jewish people. That the accused has inculcated a love of Judaism, Jews, the Jewish people, and the State of Israel in thousands of young people is of little moment to Rabbi Gordis.
November 16, 2012 | 1:05 am
Posted by JewishJournal.com
On Nov. 15, at approximately 4:30 p.m., more than 100 people took to the streets in West Los Angeles to express their solidarity with Palestinians in the Gaza Strip. The protest was a response to the escalation of recent attacks between the Palestinian militant Hamas group and the Israeli military.
A small group of pro-Israel protestors gathered across the street, on the northwest corner of Wilshire boulevard and Granville avenue, to express support for Israel.
Meanwhile, consul general of Israel in Los Angeles David Siegel denounced Hamas’ attacks on Israel and said Israel must defend itself. “We’re in a situation that is becoming more and more untenable,” he said.
Video by Jay Firestone and Ryan Torok.
November 15, 2012 | 12:13 pm
Posted by JewishJournal.com
Today, U.S. Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz (FL-20) made the following statement condemning the recent Hamas missile attacks on Israel and standing up for Israel’s right to self-defense:
“With our deepest concern and strongest support, the United States stands firm with our ally Israel, currently under fire from an onslaught of Hamas rockets. I reject Hamas’s relentless violence, and commend President Obama’s unwavering commitment to our ally, including his fundamental support for the Iron Dome missile defense system. As the days unfold, we remain united in our support of Israel’s sovereign right to self-defense and ever hopeful for a return to calm and peace. My thoughts and prayers remain with the people of Israel in these uncertain times.”