Thursday, November 2, 2017

Shabbat-O-Gram for November 2

The Shabbat-O-Gram is sponsored by Michelle and Greg Marrinan in honor of their daughter, Julia, 
becoming a Bat Mitzvah.

Cartoon from the The New Yorker
Well, he'll need to wait an extra hour this Sunday!  

Rabbi Tarfon would say: The day is short, the work is much, the workers are lazy, the reward is great, and the Master is pressing. He would also say: It is not incumbent upon you to finish the task, but neither are you free to absolve yourself from it. 

In other words,
Don't forget to turn back your clocks!!!

Shabbat Shalom!

Mazal tov to Julia Marrinan, who becomes bat mitzvah this Shabbat morning, and of course, join us this Friday night as well.  As we move into November, our programming focus turns to Israel, but at the same time, the kickoff of our Campaign for Beth El on November 15 at 7 PM.  Join us that night to hear all about our exciting plans.  There will be no solicitations.

Because we can all use a laugh...
In honor of this week's portion, here are... 

...The Top Ten Songs from the Portion of Vayera 

1) "Fire and Rain" (see under: Sodom and Gomorrah)
2) "You're Having My Baby"
3) "Sara Smile"
4) "When I'm 64 ( 35)"
5) "Angels from Heaven"
6) "Sho-far Away"
7) " Ewe Are So Beautiful"
8) "Light of the World" (..."You are the SALT of the earth")
9) "Laughing Out Loud"
10) "Dance with my Father"
100 Years of Balfour Day
Today, the Israeli Prime Minister, who lives on Balfour St. in Jerusalem, traveled to London to mark the 100th anniversary of the Balfour Declaration, that document consisting of one-hundred-and-twenty-four carefully crafted, and intentionally vague, words that changed the fate of the Jewish people.
The Balfour Declaration is a big deal, so take some time today to find out why.  Some suggestions:
LISTEN to this podcast by "Israel Story," the Israeli version of "This American Life." It includes an interview with the current Lord Balfour and a visit to some places in Israel named for the guy, including that street in Jerusalem.  It's really good.
READ the declaration itself, along with other background sources that you can access here.  This is a sneak preview of the first session of our iEngage series,  "Israel's Milestones and Their Meanings."  This course is described in greater detail below.  Click here to register
READ a quick introduction to the topic here and some additional historical background
ATTEND this evening's talk at 7:30 in our sanctuary, by Dr. Steven Bayme, Director of The Contemporary Jewish Life Department of AJC: "What the British Government's support for a "National Home" for the Jewish people in Palestine meant in 1917 and what it means in 2017"
VISIT That very same Jewish National Home that Lord Balfour was talking about. If you've never been to Israel, now is the time. 
Terrorism's New Math: 9/11 + 11/9
This week's terror incident in lower Manhattan near the Hudson shook us to the core.  Everyone knows someone who works or lives in that area, including my own kids.  When I send out a quick email to the congregation to see if everyone was OK (and thankfully, everyone was), it brought back some very difficult memories for me, of waiting by the phone for several days after 9/11 while praying for it not to ring.
At the same time, we've come to accept a sort of normalcy when it comes to this kind of thing, which is both good and bad. Bad, because terror, like mass shootings, should never be allowed to become normal.  But it's also good, in that the speedy, almost routine return to normalcy immediately after the incident assures that the terrorists will not win. A few years ago, there's no way the Halloween parade would have been allowed to take place just a few blocks and a few hours from an attack.  Israel has perfected the fine art of cleaning up the mess and moving on, and we are now following suit.  Israel, incidentally, is where these low-tech car and truck ramming attacks were first attempted.
I was speaking about our upcoming Israel trip with a congregant this week, and she raised the question, "Is this a safe time to go to there?"  It made me realize that people rarely ask me that question these days.  While there are dangers there, as there always have been, the same dangers exist wherever you travel, even right in our own backyard.  While Israel must deal with malevolent neighbors, Israeli gun laws are much more restrictive than ours, so the risks balance out.
We mourn the eight victims of the Manhattan attack: Argentinians Hernán Diego Mendoza, Diego Enrique Angelini, Alejandro Damián Pagnucco, Ariel Erlij, and Hernán Ferruchi; Darren Drake, 32, of New Milford, New Jersey, Nicholas Cleves, 23, a recent graduate of Skidmore, who would "pet every dog," and Ann-Laure Decadt, 32, a Belgian mother of two, who was traveling with her sisters.
There is something almost comforting about fact that this murderer, while aiming for New Yorkers, only succeeded in shining a light on New York's role as a truly international crossroads. 
Next week, our focus will shift from echoes of 9/11 to a commemoration of 11/9: Kristallnacht.  It bears reminding that the great pogrom that marked the beginning of the end for European Jewry began with an act of violence perpetrated by a Jew on a German: Please take a moment to familiarize yourself with what transpired, as excerpted below, from the Jewish Virtual Library.  It's important to note that the Nazis were waiting for just such a pretext to set in motion a ready-made plan to isolate and attack German Jewry and test how the world would respond.  The world failed that test and the rest, as they say, is history.
We need to keep this in mind should we hear of plans to isolate and intimidate vulnerable groups, using this incident as a pretext for a strategic shift toward nativism, rather than to use this incident to rally all Americans (including Muslims) to come together against the many faces of extremism.
I was exceedingly proud this week to read an op-ed by TBE collegian Andrew Youngfrom the Cornell Sun, responding to some anti-Semtic vandalism that took place last month on campus.  Here's how Andrew concludes his essay:
As we move on from this incident, it is only a matter of time before another minority group on campus is targeted. Only time will tell which one it is. As Jews, we must show unwavering support for all marginalized groups on campus. We must stand beside them, like they stood beside us this week.
So now, take a close look at what happened in Germany, 79 years ago next week, on 11/9.
 In the first half of 1938, numerous laws were passed restricting Jewish economic activity and occupational opportunities. In July, 1938, a law was passed (effective January 1, 1939) requiring all Jews to carry identification cards. On October 28, 17,000 Jews of Polish citizenship, many of whom had been living in Germany for decades, were arrested and relocated across the Polish border. The Polish government refused to admit them so they were interned in "relocation camps" on the Polish frontier.

Germans pass broken window of Jewish-owned shop 
Among the deportees was Zindel Grynszpan, who had been born in western Poland and had moved to Hanover, where he established a small store, in 1911. On the night of October 27, Zindel Grynszpan and his family were forced out of their home by German police. His store and the family's possessions were confiscated and they were forced to move over the Polish border.
Zindel Grynszpan's seventeen-year-old son, Herschel, was living with an uncle in Paris. When he received news of his family's expulsion, he went to the German embassy in Paris on November 7, intending to assassinate the German Ambassador to France. Upon discovering that the Ambassador was not in the embassy, he settled for a lesser official, Third Secretary Ernst vom Rath. Rath, was critically wounded and died two days later, on November 9.
The assassination provided Joseph Goebbels, Hitler's Chief of Propaganda, with the excuse he needed to launch a pogrom against German Jews. Grynszpan's attack was interpreted by Goebbels as a conspiratorial attack by "International Jewry" against the Reich and, symbolically, against the Fuehrer himself. This pogrom has come to be called Kristallnacht, "the Night of Broken Glass."
On the nights of November 9 and 10, rampaging mobs throughout Germany and the newly acquired territories of Austria and Sudetenland freely attacked Jews in the street, in their homes and at their places of work and worship. At least 96 Jews were killed and hundreds more injured, more than 1,000 synagogues were burned (and possibly as many as 2,000), almost 7,500 Jewish businesses were destroyed, cemeteries and schools were vandalized, and 30,000 Jews were arrested and sent to concentration camps [added by Mitchell Bard from his book The Complete Idiot's Guide to World War II. NY: MacMillan, 1998, pp. 59-60].
The official German position on these events, which were clearly orchestrated by Goebbels, was that they were spontaneous outbursts. The Fuehrer, Goebbels reported to Party officials in Munich, "has decided that such demonstrations are not to be prepared or organized by the party, but so far as they originate spontaneously, they are not to be discouraged either." (Conot, Robert E. Justice At Nuremberg. NY: Harper & Row, 1983:165)

The burning of the synagogue in Ober Ramstadt (USHMM Photo).
Three days later, on November 12, Hermann Goering called a meeting of the top Nazi leadership to assess the damage done during the night and place responsibility for it. Present at the meeting were GoeringGoebbels, Reinhard Heydrich, Walter Funk and other ranking Nazi officials. The intent of this meeting was two-fold: to make the Jews responsible for Kristallnacht and to use the events of the preceding days as a rationale for promulgating a series of antisemitic laws which would, in effect, remove Jews from the German economy. An interpretive transcript of this meeting is provided by Robert Conot, Justice at Nuremberg, New York: Harper and Row, 1983:164-172):
'Gentlemen! Today's meeting is of a decisive nature,' Goering announced. 'I have received a letter written on the Fuehrer's orders requesting that the Jewish question be now, once and for all, coordinated and solved one way or another.'
Israel: A Different Conversation - with Daniel Gordis and Peter Beinart
Peter Beinart and Daniel Gordis have much in common: They are both noted authors, scholars and pundits who love Israel and are concerned about her future. But their views diverge dramatically when it comes to issues facing the Jewish community, most especially Israel.  Recently, they embarked to bridge their ideological divides with "Fault Lines," a podcast series produced by the Forward. The response to these broadcasts has been very enthusiastic, proving that meaningful conversation can take place among Jews who happen to passionately disagree about many subjects.  
Now "Fault Lines" goes live at TBE as we kick off a year of special programming marking Israel's 70th.   Sample their podcast series with a recent episode: What if the Two State Solution is Dead?
iEngage: Israel's Milestones and their Meanings
This iEngage series grapples with the different ideas and values that shape the meaning of modern Israel, Zionism, and Jewish identity today. This innovative course explores the pivotal events of 1947 and 1967 - following the 1917 Balfour Declaration - as key moments when Zionism unleashed new thinking about the meaning of Jewishness for generations to come. The course engages Jews in an open and pluralistic discussion about issues of Jewish identity, peoplehood, ethics, and theology as they relate to nationhood, land, sovereignty, Jerusalem, occupation, and moral red lines.
Unit 1: 1917 - The Balfour Declaration: The Idea of a Homeland for the Jewish People
The series begins by examining the meaning and implications of the idea of a national homeland for the Jewish people, and for Jewish identity and life. This unit explores the conceptual framework underlying the Zionist idea of a homeland and delves into two core principles of Jewish identity: the Judaism of Belonging and the Judaism of Becoming. 1917 marks a turning point in the balance between these two pillars of Jewish Peoplehood, and the implications of this shift continue to play out in modern Israel today.
Unit 2: 1947 - The United Nations Partition Plan: The Jews in the World
The Partition Plan offered the unprecedented seal of legal status and international recognition for the Zionist aspiration. This unit examines the consequences of world acceptance as well as the conceptual and ideological implications of the Jewish people's acceptance of the Partition Plan. Finally, the Arab responses to the Partition Plan raised critical questions for us as a people. Can we hear the other's narrative without having to delegitimize our own?
Unit 3: 1967 - The Six Day War: Power, Land, and God
It is in 1967 that Israel's War of Independence essentially came to an end, and victory dramatically reshaped the meanings and experiences of Jewish and Israeli identity. Post-1967, a profound debate emerged over what Israel and the Jewish people ought to become. In this unit, we explore the deep cultural conflict over Israel's identity, which transformed the way we think about God, power, and land.
Unit 4: Judea and Samaria: Occupation or Liberation
The word "occupation" is loaded with significance for the Jewish people, perhaps more than any other word in contemporary Jewish conversation. In this session, crafted with guidance from international legal experts in the field, we explore a spectrum of legal positions regarding Israel's status in Judea and Samaria. Our goal is not to choose a position on this divisive issue, but to enhance our understanding of one another and to grasp the complexity of the situation before us.
Unit 5: One State, Two States: Moral Red Lines
Over the last few decades, the consensus around "the Two-State Solution" has diminished. Today, it is far less clear that most Israelis or Palestinians support the two-state approach as the only solution to the conflict, and an even smaller plurality believes it can be actualized in the coming years. In this unit, we explore how Israelis can forge a shared vision for the future direction of the State with the deterioration of this consensus and how Israel can retain bipartisan support in North America. As we look back 50 years since 1967, is there a possibility of creating a new shared moral discourse around Israel despite our political disagreements?
Unit 6: Jerusalem of God, Prayer, and Peoplehood
The Six Day War will always be remembered as the moment when we regained sovereignty over Jerusalem. Since the time of King David, Jerusalem has captured the Jewish imagination. Jerusalem today continues to mean different things to different people. In this unit, we explore the multiple faces of this unique city and how the events of 1967 impacted the Jerusalem of God, prayer, and peoplehood.
Unit 7: Jerusalem of Responsibility, Loss, and Hope
In this session, we continue to delve into the diverse ways that our tradition understands Jerusalem. This unitfocuses on the ways that Jerusalem can shape our behavior as both individuals and as a nation by exploring the Jerusalem of Responsibility, the Jerusalem of Loss, and the Jerusalem of Hope.
Unit 8: The Jubilee Year and Beyond: Milestones and their Meanings
This final unit examines the way in which we relate to the passing of time. What are our responsibilities as individuals and as a people who are now capable of shaping our own future? How can we, in the shadow of the debates over the meaning of our shared past, embark on a path that will enable us to maintain a shared future?
Shabbat Shalom
Rabbi Joshua Hammerman

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