Occasionally our rabbis have things to say.
IKAR on Israel’s Right Wing Government
We are outraged and dismayed by Israel’s right wing government’s action today to advance the judicial coup, another dangerous step toward transforming Israel into a fundamentalist, theocratic nation.
We stand with the hundreds of thousands of Israelis who have been protesting night and day for the past seven months. This regime is signaling that it will not heed the warnings of its intelligence and military leadership, nor the will of its people, let alone the voices of the US President, former Israeli ambassadors, or diaspora Jews.
Nevertheless, in these days leading up to Tisha b’Av—when we grieve the devastation that came when Jews lost sovereignty over the land twice before—we voice our deepest concern. For too long, diaspora Jews have accepted the false premise that loving Israel means silencing our own conscience and undermining our core commitments, bowing to Israel’s increasingly intolerant, extremist and ultra-nationalist policies and aspirations.
May this week’s Knesset action reset our collective moral compass: American Jews must use our voices, our platforms and our resources to fight there, as we do here, for a true democracy, including an end to the occupation and justice for all inhabitants of the land.
“American Jews, You Have to Choose Sides on Israel”
Thomas L. Friedman, Opinion Columnist for The New York Times, featured Rabbi Sharon Brous’s most recent Sermon, The Tears of Zion, https://bit.ly/3YlSj8Y in his op-ed, “American Jews, You Have to Choose Sides on Israel” https://lnkd.in/gAqeDjR3
The JTA News just ran an article that offered a revealing glimpse into this reality. It quoted a Los Angeles rabbi, Rabbi Sharon Brous, as beginning her sermon on Israel last month with a content warning to her congregants: “I have to say some things today that I know will upset some of you.” “Every American rabbi knew what she meant: Israel has become such a hot-button issue that it cannot be discussed without taking sides for or against Netanyahu’s policies.
As Rabbi Sharon Brous told the JTA News, “You have a wonderful community, and you love them and they love you, until the moment you stand up and you give your Israel sermon.” She said the phenomenon has an informal name: “Death-by-Israel sermon.”
Death-by-Israel sermon. Never heard that before.
What makes the situation even more incendiary is that the fault line on Israel — pro- or anti-Netanyahu — often overlaps with the fault line between Democrats and Republicans, and we know how explosive that divide is.”
We Condemn the Violence – Rabbi Sharon Brous
We are heartsick and disgusted by the violence being perpetrated in the West Bank.
Two Israeli brothers, Hallel and Yagel Yaniv, were murdered yesterday by a Palestinian gunman in a brutal act of terror. We grieve with their family, and pray they find consolation after this devastating double loss.
And we strongly and vehemently condemn the violence that followed, as Jewish settlers launched a retaliatory pogrom against the residents of the Palestinian town of Huwara. Settlers torched Palestinian homes and cars and terrorized families, murdering Sameh Al-Aqtash, a Palestinian man who had just returned from offering humanitarian aid to earthquake survivors in Turkey. Many others were wounded or left homeless.
Reflections on Ukraine from Rabbinic Intern, Sammy Kanter
This Pesah, I am thinking of Shirat Hayam, the progressive Jewish community in Odesa, Ukraine. Myself and IKARite Julia Berg had the opportunity in 2019 to help them put together a Pesah weekend retreat, get to know Jews of all ages in Odesa, and explore the rich Jewish history and vibrant Jewish revitalization in the town. The most inspiring part of the trip was seeing the passion and excitement by this community for rediscovering their Judaism. After living for so many years without the ability to practice religion, Ukraine’s Jews are reconnecting to their roots in beautiful ways.
For All These Things, I Weep: On the Violence in Jerusalem
We will continue to amplify the voices of the many Israelis and Palestinians who are working together to end the violence and terror, and to lay the foundation for a just and sustainable resolution to this conflict.
Supporting transgender, non-binary, and gender non-conforming community
We affirm our support for trans and non-binary people, created in God’s own image. And we are committed to ensuring a sense of love, safety and community both inside IKAR and in the broader world.
We greet the news of the guilty verdicts in Derek Chauvin’s trial for the murder of George Floyd with relief. This is a moment of great significance for our country.
IKAR Stands with our AAPI Family
On Tuesday, eight women were murdered by a young white man on a shooting rampage in Atlanta. The brutal and calculated nature of these massacres is particularly painful as it highlights the growing violence targeting Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders (AAPI) in this country, especially over the past year.
Insurrection, & the New Dawn
I pray that we are able to begin a new chapter of accountability, honesty and justice for all. Are we ready for the kind of spiritual transformation that this will require? Are we prepared to examine how our own fear and silence might have contributed to this poisoned reality? Are we willing to do the work to replace narratives and norms of white supremacy and toxic masculinity with a new narrative of redemption?
Condolences: Rabbi Lord Jonathan Sacks
On Shabbat, we learned of the death of Rabbi Lord Jonathan Sacks, the former Chief Rabbi of Britain and an important teacher for all of us. Rabbi Sacks was respected and beloved across the Jewish world. In R’ Mel Gottlieb’s words: R’ Sacks’s blend of Torah scholarship and academic acumen allowed him to speak to broad audiences and interfaith circles relating to the moral issues of our time and the unique charge of the Jewish people…His unique voice, novel and insightful ideas, personal warmth and charm will be sorely missed.
A Message of Hope
Last week, a friend quoted me in a blessing to his daughter on her bat mitzvah. He shared that I once said the following:
Hope is not naïve. It’s not some opiate to dull the pain of an oppressive reality. Hope may be the greatest act of defiance against a politics of pessimism and a culture of despair.
Happy Freedom Day
Today is Juneteenth, a day to celebrate the abolition of slavery and Black people’s fight for liberation in the United States. The day commemorates the date, more than two years after the signing of the Emancipation Proclamation, that enslaved people in Galveston Texas learned that slavery had been abolished.