Jack Abramoff, the lobbyist who served a jail term for defrauding Native American tribes, is now a radio talk-show host.
A dozen San Francisco Bay Area Jews visited an ongoing protest at a Native American burial site. The Jews, who are affiliated with several congregations and social action groups in Berkeley, Calif., billed Sunday's visit as a cultural exchange timed to Mother's Day.
Lobbyist Jack Abramoff's recent indictment and arrest on charges of wire fraud involve an already notorious individual.
For many years, I used to have long talks with Anselmo Valencia, the Chief of the Yaqui Indian Nation, about the similarities and distinctions between the beliefs and practices of Native American cultures and Judaism. Similar discussions have taken place over the last 10 years between numerous rabbis and Grandfather Wallace Black Elk, a Lakota Elder. But the link between these cultures was all brought home to me a few years ago when my neighbors saw me blessing my Sukkah with the Four Species, and thought I was doing an "Indian" ritual. Suddenly, I realized the amazing similarities between the prayers of a chanupa, or medicine pipe (filled only with tobacco, let's be clear on that issue early on), and the waving of the lulav and etrog. Both practices are so incredibly important to their respective cultures, and both are so beautiful. But what is amazing in some ways is how similar the understandings, intentions and practices are surrounding these ritual objects.
Yvette Melanson is a woman who might say the Sh'ma before going to sleep, and in the morning light whisper the Navajo prayer, "May I walk happily and lightly on the earth." Both are deeply felt, authentic expressions of her soul. As she explains, "I know that I'm Jewish. I feel Jewish. I've been raised Jewish. I'm also Navajo."