Monthly Archives: April 2008

Praying for Israel, Part III

This entry was posted in Practices on by .

Over the last few days, I’ve written much (I, II, III) about the Prayer for the State of Israel and Altshul’s decision to offer different versions of this liturgical component. But I’ve yet to compare the actual versions.

As mentioned, Version I was published after the founding of the State by the Chief Rabbinate; Version II was adapted from the Reconstructionist movement’s prayerbook Kol Haneshamah.

Version II begins:

Please God, bless the State of Israel. Protect it in the abundance of your love. Spread over it the shelter of your peace. Send forth your light and truth to those who lead and judge it, and to those who hold elective office. Establish in them, through your presence, wise counsel, that they might walk in the way of justice, freedom and integrity.

Noteworthy, is the fact that this alternative text is still, fundamentally, a Zionist prayer. It asks God to not only bless “Israel” but “the State of Israel.”

How does this differ from Version I?

Version I begins:

Our Father who is in heaven, Protector and Redeemer of Israel, bless the State of Israel, the dawn of our deliverance. Shield it beneath the wings of Your love; spread over it Your canopy of peace; send Your light and Your truth to its leaders, officers, and counselors, and direct them with Your good counsel.

Here we have the traditional male God-language and the assertion that the emergence of the state is part of a messianic process; it is “the dawn of our deliverance.”

Continue reading

Posted on April 17, 2008

Note: The opinions expressed here are the personal views of the author. All comments on MyJewishLearning are moderated. Any comment that is offensive or inappropriate will be removed. Privacy Policy

The Inspired Kitchen

This entry was posted in Holidays on by .

Lasagna for Passover? You bet. After days of preparing two (probably meat-based) seders, this dairy dish will be a welcome change–especially on a holiday where pasta is strictly forbidden. Matzah makes a suitable replacement for lasagna noodles, and the moisture released by the marinara sauce and the cheese softens the stiff, unleavened boards, resulting in a tender lasagna with layers just as delicious as one made with conventional, wheat-based noodles. More…

Posted on April 17, 2008

Note: The opinions expressed here are the personal views of the author. All comments on MyJewishLearning are moderated. Any comment that is offensive or inappropriate will be removed. Privacy Policy

Matzah Song

This entry was posted in Holidays on by .

Mixed Multitudes loves Michelle Citrin and Will Levin. And we’re digging their latest collaboration on the Matzah Song–20 things to do with matzah:

Posted on April 17, 2008

Note: The opinions expressed here are the personal views of the author. All comments on MyJewishLearning are moderated. Any comment that is offensive or inappropriate will be removed. Privacy Policy

Shut Up, I’m Talking

This entry was posted in Culture, History on by .

Today’s edition of the Very Short List features Gregory Levey’s memoir Shut Up, I’m Talking: And Other Diplomacy Lessons I Learned in the Israeli Government.

Levey is a former speechwriter for the Israeli Mission to the United Nations. Writes VSL:

Levey got his speechwriting gig while applying for an internship. He was soon caught up in increasingly improbable scenarios: from firearms training with Radiohead’s tour manager to working Seinfeld references into Prime Minister Ariel Sharon’s speeches.

Secretly run the world? If only. Once you read about the time Levey voted on a U.N. resolution without really knowing what it was, you’ll wonder how the Israelis manage to get anything done.

Posted on April 16, 2008

Note: The opinions expressed here are the personal views of the author. All comments on MyJewishLearning are moderated. Any comment that is offensive or inappropriate will be removed. Privacy Policy

Instead of Cleaning…

This entry was posted in General on by .

As we near the final few days before Pesach, every Jew I know is doing one thing and one thing only.

Cleaning.

Except for those who go away for all of Pesach. Whether its enjoying time at a resort or staying with family for all eight days, it’s really not a bad idea. That is if you can make it work.

And that’s just the half of it. Add to the mix changes in family structure and dynamic — more and more working women; more and more families living at great distances from one another; more and more children of divorce — and going away for Passover looks more and more appealing by degrees.  (MORE)

Posted on April 16, 2008

Note: The opinions expressed here are the personal views of the author. All comments on MyJewishLearning are moderated. Any comment that is offensive or inappropriate will be removed. Privacy Policy

Pesach, the Pope, and More

This entry was posted in General on by .

-This year, Erev Pesach falls on Shabbat; it won’t happen again until 2021. (The Jewish Press)

-Pope Benedict XVI visit to Manhattan’s Park East Synagogue April 18 is the first visit by any pope to an American synagogue. How did Rabbi Arthur Schneier, of all people, pull this off? (Forward)

-In his new book “Culture and Conflict in the Middle East� Philip Carl Salzman argues that more attention needs to be paid to tribalism and less to “Islam.� (The Weekly Standard)

-A well known Jewish author writes a book about birding. So: Is it “about the Jews?� (NJ Jewish News)

Posted on April 16, 2008

Note: The opinions expressed here are the personal views of the author. All comments on MyJewishLearning are moderated. Any comment that is offensive or inappropriate will be removed. Privacy Policy

Praying Differently & Together

This entry was posted in Practices on by .

As promised, here is the complete text of Sarah Margles’ speech about the Prayer for the State of Israel (mentioned in my earlier blog post), delivered at Altshul last Shabbat.

Altshul – Shabbat Metzora – Saturday, April 12, 2008
A talk about our process regarding the Prayer for the State of Israel, By Sarah Margles

Two of our community’s most cherished values are that we are deeply rooted in Jewish tradition as handed down to us from our ancestors, and that we are deeply committed to practicing our Jewish values in ways that resonate with the realities of contemporary life. As individuals, we navigate this road in our daily lives. When we come together as a community, sometimes this navigation is more complicated.

What does it mean to be a community that lives by its values – particularly when members of the community hold differing views about how to do that? As many of you know, our community has been in a process about the Prayer for the State of Israel. In response to a concern raised in a community meeting in the fall, we have been in community dialogue. This process has surfaced a particular way that these two values are seen by some as being in tension. We are committed both to the importance of Israel in our Jewish lives and to a diversity of religious and political opinion in relation to Israel.

There are many prayers for the State of Israel. The one that we have been using was first published by the Chief Rabbi of Israel in 1948 as a statement of Religious Zionism. As such, different Jewish communities have responded to it differently: Some have included it fully; some have included a modified version; and some have chosen to not incorporate it into their tfillot. In terms of tradition, this prayer holds a place very different to almost every other part of our tfilla service. There are no halachic implications to adoption or adaptation of the tfilla. Because of this, there was particular leniency and therefore flexibility to the community conversation.

This called up a third prominent and strong value of our community – we want to be welcoming, not only to tolerate diversity, but to celebrate it.

Continue reading

Posted on April 15, 2008

Note: The opinions expressed here are the personal views of the author. All comments on MyJewishLearning are moderated. Any comment that is offensive or inappropriate will be removed. Privacy Policy

Praying for Israel, Part II

This entry was posted in Practices on by .

Last week, I wrote about a JTA article discussing communities that are rethinking the Prayer for the State of Israel, as well as Ariel Beery’s harsh critique of these groups.

The discussion hit close to home for me, because the lead group discussed in the JTA article was my own minyan, Altshul.

Some community members had raised concerns about the traditional Prayer for the State, because it emerged from a very specific religious Zionist ideology that, among other things, places the emergence of the State into a greater messianic context and reaffirms the hope for a sort-of universal aliyah.

Well, this past shabbat at services, Altshul member and AJWS educator Sarah Margles spoke about the solution adopted by the community. Sarah spoke with emotion and reverence for the process and issue. The stakes of this conversation extend well beyond liturgy. The real issue: A community trying to be loyal to tradition and open to contemporary concerns, a community trying to be as inclusive as possible, while containing a unified vision and spirit.

Mine were not the only moist eyes in the room, as Sarah announced the resolution:

We will stand together, pray silently and end together in song.

The new handouts have two tefillot [prayers]. One is the text which was first published in 1948 and is the one we’ve been using until now. It espouses a vision of Israel as the seed of our redemption. It prays for the victory of Israel over its enemies and the gathering of the exiles in the Jewish homeland.

The other prayer espouses a vision of Israel as a vital component of Jewish life. It prays for peace for all of Israel’s inhabitants and for the safety of Jews around the world. This prayer was published by the Reconstructionist movement in 1994. Much of the content has been used and adapted in a number of communities.

The song with which we have chosen to conclude is Yehi Shalom be’chay’lech, one for peace within God’s world. We feel that this song encompasses the primary theme of both prayers, and of all our hopes for Israel. For this reason, we will ask that we all join together, after our silent meditations, to sing for peace.

I will post Sarah’s entire speech on this blog independently, and it should be read — if not studied.

While not everyone was satisfied with the resolution, I believe the moment of silence, as we pray differently and together, will become an important communal ritual, a weekly reminder of Altshul’s diversity. The silence may have emerged from a place of contentious debate, but it will be experienced as a holy moment, proof that difference cannot — and should not — negate the possibility of shared purpose and destiny.

Posted on April 15, 2008

Note: The opinions expressed here are the personal views of the author. All comments on MyJewishLearning are moderated. Any comment that is offensive or inappropriate will be removed. Privacy Policy

Matzah, Cardboard, Same Difference.

This entry was posted in Holidays on by .

Growing up, all of my non-Jewish friends looked forward to Passover. At lunch, all of the Jewish kids would happily give away their peanut butter, jelly, and matzah sandwiches. Or matzah and cream cheese. Or the classic matzah and butter. We didn’t want anything in return. And they loved the taste of matzah.

There must be something about not being forced to eat that beloved unleavened bread that makes it taste better. That or all of my non-Jewish friends had no taste buds.

To me, matzah tastes like one thing: Cardboard.

Which is why I enjoyed this video by Jay Firestone, of the LA Jewish Journal. He does a comparison taste test of popular matzah brands, including a most unusual flavor.

Posted on April 15, 2008

Note: The opinions expressed here are the personal views of the author. All comments on MyJewishLearning are moderated. Any comment that is offensive or inappropriate will be removed. Privacy Policy

Muslims and Jews

This entry was posted in Beliefs, History on by .

-As Jewish-Muslim interfaith efforts intensify, critics say that Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR) is selective in which acts of terrorism it condemns. Some wish to forge ahead in Muslim-Jewish ties without CAIR. (The Jewish Week)

-New York’s largest and most prestigious mosque, the Cultural Center of New York, gets a new Imam who has been involved with interfaith dialogues with HUC-JIR and JTS. (The Jewish Week)

-Although cautioning that “We should not kiss every hand extended to us, nor expect every initiative to be successful� Rabbi Alan Brill argues, “American Jews who fail to see an immediate purpose to any interfaith encounter with Islam must remember that dialogue is a long-term process. They should also know that extremists on either side are not part of dialogue; rather, dialogue aims to remove the ground from beneath extremists.� (NJ Jewish News)

-Villagers in the Galilee Arab-Israeli town A-Taibeh have painted the dome of their mosque in Israel’s national colors, blue and white. (Haaretz)

Posted on April 15, 2008

Note: The opinions expressed here are the personal views of the author. All comments on MyJewishLearning are moderated. Any comment that is offensive or inappropriate will be removed. Privacy Policy

Privacy Policy