Friday, January 29, 2010

Still feeling political

Many of us were horrified when George Tiller was gunned down in his own church by an anti-abortion activist. Rabbi Dennis Ross put out a response to the killer's conviction here at Concerned Clergy for Choice. I'll paste the statement in full below. While justice was served, it still had its chilling effect; an act of terror that took a person's life in front of his own sacred community, family and friends. Whatever our feelings are about Abortion, I hope we can all agree that this grisly act does nothing to solve the issues we're all grappling with; it just makes that sense of justice even more remote.

Concerned Clergy for Choice issued the following statement on the conviction of Scott Roeder for first-degree murder in the death of Dr. George Tiller in Kansas last May:

"As clergy, we are mindful that Dr. Tiller was slain at his church sanctuary entrance, as a worship service was about to begin," said Rabbi Dennis S. Ross, director of Concerned Clergy for Choice. "Dr. Tiller was a person of faith and we recognize that many medical providers are motivated by their religious beliefs to bring healing and comfort to those in need. We are relieved to learn that Dr. Tiller's murder has been brought to justice."

Concerned Clergy affirms that people of good faith and conscience can disagree, and insists that violence is not the answer, nor is it a suitable replacement for honest conversation, and the recognition that reasonable people can hold differing opinions on complex social issues.

"Let this verdict serve as a warning to those who might consider harming someone like Dr. Tiller, who summoned compassion and faith to provide for women in need: The message is clear: You must not resort to violence. You must not interfere with any woman's access to health care, and, if you do, you will be called to account for it. The safety of patients and their providers must come first."

On a happier note, tonight is Federation Shabbat. There is something really wonderful about the fact that the Jews of Wilmington all daven in one synagogue once a year, regardless of movement, tradition or relationship with the halacha. I don't know of any other community that does this across all the denominational streams(though I'm sure they exist) and it really speaks to this community and our ability to look past both personal and institutional differences and come together as God's own children. We would all be better off if we had more opportunities like this, to engage the Sacred Together.

Wednesday, January 13, 2010


I'm not going to go into details of the situation in Haiti--by now pretty much everyone knows. I am going to link to ways you can be supportive.

Here is a way you can donate and advocate through the URJ (Reform Movement).

This is what American Jewish World Service is doing.

And here's some news about Israel and the Jewish community's response.

Friday, January 8, 2010

A Shabbat Response to Women of the Wall

Hopefully you've been following the situation of the 'Women of the Wall', who are now facing increasing hostility from Israeli authorities. Here's a response from ARZA/World Union, The Reform Movement's Zionist arm (and thanks to Dr. E Dankner for the head's up).

Rabbi Robert Orkand, ARZA President, Response to Interrogation of Anat Hoffman, Executive Director of IRAC

RE: Interrogation of Anat Hoffman, leader of Israel’s Women of the Wall

On behalf of almost a million and a half American Reform Jews, I react with dismay and alarm to the recent report that Anat Hoffman, leader of Israel ’s Women of the Wall, was interrogated and fingerprinted on January 6 by Jerusalem police. She was told that she may be charged with a felony for violating the rules of conduct at what many consider to be Judaism’s most sacred site. The action against Ms. Hoffman who is the Executive Director of the Israel Religious Action Center, follows on the arrest in November of Nofrat Frenkel a member of the Conservative movement and a medical student. The crime: wearing a tallit (prayer shawl) not at the Wall itself, but at an area that had been previously designated a place where Women of the Wall can gather for a once-a-month worship, as they have done for the past 21 years.

These recent actions at the Wall insult all Jewish women for they are being reminded, as they have so many times in the past, that they are second-class Jews at a place that is not a synagogue but rather, an historic site of great importance to all Jews, not just those who are Orthodox. The insults to which Women of the Wall have been subjected cannot be repeated in polite company. The fact that the police have seen fit to arrest women who went to the Wall for peaceful prayer and not those who have screamed that the Nazis should have murdered these women is a stark reminder of the lengths to which the ultra-Orthodox in Israel will go to force their religious practice on an entire nation.

One must wonder why the people of Israel tolerate a religious fanaticism that is no different than what we have witnessed in Iran and elsewhere. There have been riots on Shabbat by ultra-Orthodox Jews protesting the opening of a parking lot near the entrance to the Old City of Jerusalem. There have been riots in Jerusalem protesting the fact that an Intel plant operates on Shabbat. There are now segregated busses in Israel on more than 90 routes, with demands that the number of routes be increased. There is a growing crisis in Israeli education due to the fact that there is not a core curriculum required of every Israeli student, which means that increasingly students are being exposed to a narrow religion-based curriculum and are not learning the subjects that will allow them to function in a modern society. In short, Israel is the rare democracy today that tolerates and even worse endorses religious discrimination against Jews. The promise of Israel’s “Declaration of Independence that Israel will be a homeland for all Jews appears to be nothing more than a dream.

Make no mistake: What appears to be a growing religious crisis in Israel is as much a threat to Israel’s survival as are the external threats, perhaps more so. Israel has shown that she can protect herself from armies and terrorists. Protecting herself from religious extremism may be Israel’s biggest challenge—a challenge that cannot and must not be ignored by those who care about Israel’s soul.

Rabbi Robert Orkand, President
Association of Reform Zionists of America ( ARZA )


Anat Hoffman, IRAC Executive Director—Personal Call to Action

A Call to Action—Make the Wall for all Jews

On January 5th, 2010, I, Anat Hoffman, Executive Director of the Israel Religious Action Center , and leader of Women of the Wall was called in for questioning and fingerprinted by the Israeli police. They warned me that I was being investigated for the felony offense of wearing a tallit, and holding a Torah at the Western Wall.

My interrogation comes less than two months after the November 18th, 2009 arrest of the Women of the Wall member Nofrat Frankel for wearing a tallit and holding a Sefer Torah at the Wall.

We are asking you today to contact your local Israel Ambassadors and Consulates and tell them that you will not tolerate religious discrimination or be forced to practice the religious ideologies of the Ultra-Orthodox community. You can write your own letter or sign the letter we have attached. (see below)

Israel must understand that the will of a small fundamentalist minority cannot take the Wall away from Klal Yisrael.
• Please send your letter to your Ambassador Michael Oren
• Send a letter to your local Israeli consulate
• Please also send this communication to your friends and family so that the message will come from as many people as possible
• Other ways that you can show your support are to purchase a Women of the Wall tallit ( or by making a donation to IRAC's work advancing Jewish pluralism and tolerance in Israel and fighting to end religious coercion and discrimination.
• Lastly, organize a solidarity rally or prayer service for the Women of the Wall on the next Rosh Hodesh, Erev Shabbat January 15th 2010

Wednesday, January 6, 2010

Job Opening at Jewish Federation of Delaware

Nice to see one in this economy, in this case from Jewish Federation of Delaware, posted by Ruth Rosenberg. see below:

The Jewish Federation of Delaware has an immediate opening for a Database Manager/Executive Assistant. The successful candidate will have excellent technical and administrative skills with the ability to manage our fund raising database in support of the Annual Campaign, provide support for our online activities and website, along with a variety of administrative responsibilities. We are looking for a detail oriented self-starter with outstanding interpersonal skills to work full time in our busy downtown office. Qualified candidates should send their resumes to me at