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Showing posts from November, 2009

Tom Friedman Column

In today's New York Times, Tom Friedman writes about the narrative of hate and blame that permeates throughout the Middle East.  I quote from his conclusion in which he addresses himself to Muslims.  "Whenever something like Fort Hood happens you say, ‘This is not Islam.’ I believe that. But you keep telling us what Islam isn’t. You need to tell us what it is and show us how its positive interpretations are being promoted in your schools and mosques. If this is not Islam, then why is it that a million Muslims will pour into the streets to protest Danish cartoons of the Prophet Muhammad, but not one will take to the streets to protest Muslim suicide bombers who blow up other Muslims, real people, created in the image of God? You need to explain that to us — and to yourselves."  There is of course plenty of blame to go around.  Israel and the United States are certainly not perfect.  (I love them despite their imperfections.)  But the heart of the matter continues to be the

Returning Thanks

As always Thanksgiving brings with it the blessings of family and perhaps too much food. Given our blessings I am very proud that our synagogue is organizing a number of projects to help those who are less fortunate than ourselves. On December 9, JCB volunteers will help to sort the many toys and food donated to the Interfaith Nutrition Network's Mary Brennan Soup Kitchen in Hempstead. In addition JCB members will donate gift cards so that INN patrons can purchase what they need themselves and thereby redeem a measure of their dignity. At our next confirmation class, on December 16, a former homeless person, now working for the Interfaith Assembly on Homelessness and Housing, will share his story and educate our students and their parents about the problems of hunger and homelessness. This is a rare opportunity to hear a personal story. Far too often we separate ourselves from these difficulties in our suburban bubbles. We think this is not a problem in our neighborhood. Th

The Third Intifada | The New Republic

The Third Intifada | The New Republic Here is a rather depressing article from TNR about the simmering tensions among Palestinians and the worries about a potential third intifada.  The sad and tragic fact is that Palestinian leaders continue to believe that the only way to advance their legitimate aspirations for statehood is through violence.  You cannot build a nation on hatred and violence.  Until Palestinians accommodate their thinking and affirm the legitimacy of the Jewish state in the land of Israel we will only see times of sheket--relative quiet and never shalom--peace.  Israel can withdraw from this territory or that.  Israel can halt the expansion of "settlements" or not.  The fundamental issue is that the majority of Israelis have accepted Palestinian aspirations as legitimate whereas the majority of Palestinians (at least as expressed by their leaders) have yet to come to terms not only with Jewish aspirations but Jewish history and present reality.  I continue

A Serious Man

I just saw the Coen brothers' new film.  "A Serious Man."  It is a must see.  It is as the reviewers have noted a modern midrash on the biblical Job.  It is the story of a math professor who believes that life in general and his life in particular should follow certain understandable and definable formulas.  Of course life does not.  As his life unravels he, unlike his brother and like Job, never curses God and tries to uncover life's hidden meaning and seeks out the advice of three rabbis.  The rabbis all fail, some worse than others.  The below clip contains my favorite scene.  "The rabbi is busy...  He is thinking."  The most senior rabbi actually refuses to meet with the serious man.  The other rabbis either give entirely inadequate answers or tell a story rather than answer the question.  The best answer is of course "He is thinking."  That is the only answer we have. Some have suggested that the movie is self hating and portrays an unflatte

Springsteen Concert

After yesterday's post I thought I would lighten up the mood. In the above picture, Susie and I, along with fellow JCB members, Randi and Patty, enjoyed the Bruce Springsteen concert on Sunday. I ran into at least a minyan of congregants there, as well as Bill Bradley, incoming governor Chris Christie and Elvis Costello (ok I really only saw him from afar). They expressed only mild interest in joining the congregation, although Senator Bradley and I had an interesting conversation about basketball (his former passion), biking (my current passion--and ok only I would have the chutzpah to place his basketball playing and my biking in the same sentence), his interesting new radio show about everyday unsung heroes (Sirius channel 102) and the rabbi at the Bruce concert (I am pretty sure that was me). We were both taken and amused that we would meet at a Springsteen concert. Music unites. Music elevates. There are no divisions when you are singing and dancing together.  It is a p

Fort Hood

I have been reading with keen interest the stories about the murder of 12 soldiers and one civilian at Fort Hood. I was appalled to learn that a physician would take life rather than fight to preserve it. I was captivated by the heroism of Officer Kimberly Munley. As with similar tales of Columbine and Virginia Tech, the news media is filled with attempts to understand the murderer's motivations. He was opposed to the US wars in Iraq in Afghanistan. He was distraught about his upcoming deployment. He was unable to bear the pain and scars returning soldiers shared with him. He was harassed, ridiculed and perhaps even persecuted because he was a Muslim. Some of these points are no doubt true. I can only imagine the scars soldiers carry with them. I believe that he was the victim of anti-Muslim hate. But shooting at unarmed men and women is never a way to solve grievances, whether real or imagined. Shouting Allah Akhbar--God is great--when taking lives, only diminishes God i