Friday, July 2, 2010

Boycotts, Sanctions and the Pinchas Problem

Be among the disciples of Aaron:
Love peace and pursue peace;
Love all fellow creatures,
And bring them near to the Torah.
How do we reconcile the above statement with the vicious act of murder perpetrated by Pinchas, as recalled in this week's portion? Pinchas, incidentally, was a grandchild of Aaron, Mr. Peace himself, and the Torah appears to praise his act of zealotry. Find out more at services tomorrow morning, which will be in the chapel. Friday night services will be outdoors (and we're looking at another gorgeous evening).

With the very good news that the President signed the Iran sanctions bill into law yesterday, we are left to wonder still whether the path of peace is still the best one in turning the Iranian government from their ominous path. Diplomacy didn't work. Will sanctions? Are boycotts the way to go? We'll look at the ethics of boycotts during tomorrow's service, a question that is hitting home lately every time our tank is nearing empty and we drive past a BP. There is a boycott mania out there that is reflective of the angry, "take no prisoners" mentality of our culture. Is it right?

Meanwhile, check out our 7th grade class photo from their recent aliyah service. It's really lovely (and special thanks to Beth Madison, the photographer). Also this week, see how one can celebrate July Fourth, Jewishly (e.g. # 7 At the beginning of the Torah reading, the Gabbai (sexton) shouts, "Play Ball" and the reader takes the yad (pointer) and tries to knock a knish out of the park). Also, leave it to Israelis to come up with A Birth Control Pill for Men (Israel 21c). And my weekly "Hammerman on Ethics," "Is It Ethical to Read My Husband's Email." Also, some interesting responses have been generated by my recent " Ask the Rabbi: is it OK to Convert for Love?"

Welcome aboard to Ronnie Brockman, the director of our new early childhood center. She began here yesterday and already our senior staff has started coming up with exciting plans for the upcoming year.

This Sunday, I will be leaving for Israel with our TBE group. Look for some dispatches and photos over the coming two weeks. After the group returns, Mara and I will stay on in Israel and then continue on to Greece and Turkey. After visiting Poland this spring, once might think that I only like to travel to distressed countries, but that's what we all try to do on vacation, isn't it? To dis-stress? :) Anyway, all the flights to Kyrgystan were booked.

In my absence, we've got a slew of guest service leaders to inspire and entertain, and Steve Lander and Eileen Rosner will be able to handle any (heaven forbid) emergencies that arise.

When I get back, Cantor Mordecai will also be here - don't forget to join us all to welcome him at our BBQ and Barachu on August 6th.

Shabbat Shalom, a Happy 4th and have a relaxing month!

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