Your Anti-BDS Crusade Hurts Jews, Forward – Jeremy Ben-Ami

This is an important perspective for American Jews vis a vis BDS.

Jeremy Ben-Ami is the founder and President of J Street, the largest Jewish PAC in the United States.

“Like the vast majority of American Jews, I oppose the BDS movement, as does J Street, the organization I lead. And I believe that our overwrought communal response to BDS is doing far more damage to American Jews and to Israel’s reputation than the movement itself could ever hope to do. This obsession is harming Jewish institutions and eroding important relationships with other communities, particularly communities of color. It is undermining our core values and distracting from far more important challenges — both in Israel and at home. It is creating an atmosphere of paranoia and censorship….While the Jewish community continues to pour staggering resources into the BDS fight, we have neglected far more urgent challenges. It is the current Israeli government’s continued creeping annexation of the occupied West Bank, not BDS, which seriously threatens Israel’s future as a democratic homeland for the Jewish people. It is the rise of white supremacism and authoritarian nationalism, not BDS, which seriously threatens the future of American democracy and American Jews. We can’t let the bogeyman of BDS undermine our community’s true ideals and interests. We have to end this obsession — and turn our attention and resources to the fights that truly matter for our country, Israel and the Jewish people.”

See entire article here –
Headlines like these reveal the disturbing consequences of the American…

The Waters of Meribah Before and After Sinai – Parashat B’shalach

“Pass before the people … take the rod with which you struck the Nile…Strike the rock and water will issue from it and the people will drink? And Moses did as he was told. The name of the place was called Meribah because it was a place where the Israelites quarreled.” (Exodus 17:5-7)

This event, at the close of this week’s parashat B’shalach, occurred in the first year of the 40 years of wandering.

At the end of the 40 years the people returned to the waters of Meribah and cried again for sweet water. God spoke to Moses, saying: “Take the staff and assemble the community, you and Aaron your brother, and you shall speak to the rock before their eyes, and it will yield its water, and you shall bring forth water for them from the rock and give drink to the community and to its beasts.” (Numbers 20:7-8)

Moses, however, didn’t do as Gold had told him. Enraged by the people’s complaints, Moses struck the rock twice with his rod. Water indeed came out but God wasn’t pleased: “Inasmuch as you did not trust Me to sanctify Me before the eyes of the Israelites, so you shall not bring this assembly to the land that I have given to them.” (Numbers 10:12)

Two incidents at the same place, Meribah, 40 years apart – the first Moses was told to hit the rock and was praised; the second time, Moses was told to speak to the rock, hit it instead, and was punished.

Rabbi Marc Gellman explains that between these two events was the revelation at Sinai and the giving of the Torah. Sinai was intended to change the people through the covenant and transform raw emotions to reason, physical strength to law, violence to dialogue, and brutality to compassion and justice.

Moses’ defiance the 2nd time was his greatest sin because in hitting the rock Moses showed the people that Sinai had changed nothing at all. God intended that a new age would commence then, but Moses prevented history from moving forward. Sinai wasn’t large enough to matter.

We have to ask – did Moses really not understand God’s command to speak to the rock and its meaning?  Rabbi Gellman believes that he did and developed this midrash to explain:

“Moses understood clearly that God wanted him to speak to the rock and usher in the Messianic age of peace and tranquility; however, Moses knew that though the desert land was behind, the land of Canaan was ahead… Moses knew that even though the land was given by God, it would still have to be taken by the people. And [he] knew that the people could not take the land without force….that the strong hand that smote the Egyptians would still be needed to smite the Canaanites. Moses knew that it was too soon for the power of the fist to yield to the power of the word and… by hitting the rock [God would not allow him to] enter the land … [but] at least the people would be able to enter the land.

Moses said to God: ‘It’s too soon for the power of the fist to yield to the power of the word….’

God asked Moses: ‘When do you think it will be time?’

Moses answered: ‘I don’t know. All I do know is that…You were the One Who [first] sanctified the power of the fist…  the people learned that the land and the fist go together. If You wanted the fist You should never have given me the signs and wonders. Now it’s too late.”

God was silent… [Moses] said: “Why did You let me do the miracles? Why did You command me to strike the rock the first time? …If the power of the fist is to disappear it must begin with You, El Shaddai. Together we have made Your people free of Pharaoh’s power only to enslave them again to the power of the fist. O God, help us to become free for Your words.”

God said to Moses: “When my people enters the land you shall not enter with them, and neither shall I. I shall only allow a part of My presence to enter. The abundance of My presence I shall keep outside the land. The exiled part … shall be called My Shekhinah and it shall remind the people that I too am in exile… I shall be whole again on that day when the power of the fist vanishes forever. Only on that day will I be One. Only on that day will My Name be One. Only on that day Moses, shall we enter the land together. Only on that day Moses, shall the waters of Meribah become the waters of justice and righteousness shall gush from My holy mountain.”

Then God lifted Moses to Heaven …and the shepherd’s staff slipped from his hand, fell into the waters of Meribah, and was gone forever. And God kissed Moses on the lips and took his breath away.”

We wait still for the power of the word to vanquish the power of the fist, for the world to yield to reason, law, justice, dialogue, compassion, righteousness, and understanding.








Tamika Mallory on “The View” Refuses to condemn Minister Farrakhan

Yes – Farrakhan has done much for African Americans, but his good works are tarnished by his vicious anti-Semitic, homophobic and bigoted rhetoric over many years. That Tamika Mallory avoids condemning Farrakhan’s hatred is a discredit to her.
That being said, it’s good that the national women’s march has condemned anti-Semitism and homophobia, but as long as Ms. Mallory continues to be a visual leader of the March, the national March is tarnished and tainted by hate and bigotry. One would think that the March’s leadership would either demand that Ms, Mallory publicly disassociate herself from Farrakhan or they would ask for her resignation from the leadership.
The move this week by Republican House leadership to strip Rep. King of all committee assignments accompanied by calls for his resignation from Congress for his bigotry and racism is a credit to the Republican leadership. If only they would do the same vis a vis the occupant of the White House. Why can’t the Women’s March do the same vis a vis Ms. Mallory?
Here is the conversation on the view.

Dr. Martin Luther King – In celebration and Memory

I can’t help but feel how much further we’ve come as a nation since Dr. King’s life ended so suddenly and tragically. Anyone alive then will remember where you were when you heard the news, and we’ll remember Robert F. Kennedy’s poetic, compassionate and eloquent response in the rust belt states that evening of Dr. King’s death.

With the blaring light of this corrupted Trump era, it ought to be clear to anyone with a conscience that we still have much distance to travel to fulfill Dr. King’s aspirations and the aspirations proclaimed in our Declaration of Independence.

Trudge on we must! I’m confident that these next two years will move us forward as a nation in many areas with our new Congress, and as candidates begin to declare their quest for the White House, we’ll be setting the stage for another epic battle at the polls next year which, with effort, a far better outcome will be forthcoming than was the case in 2016.

We at Temple Israel of Hollywood in Los Angeles celebrate Dr. King’s life and vision every year on the weekend commemorating his birth, and we’ll do so again this coming Friday during Kabbalat Shabbat services – January 18 at 6:30 pm. If you live in Los Angeles, please come and join us. The community is welcome.

We will play 13 minutes of a 43-minute sermon Dr. King delivered from our bimah at Temple Israel of Hollywood in April, 1965. The recording is so clear it’s as if he’s in the room with us, though it has been nearly 54 years since he stood before a packed congregation.

You can hear the entire speech here –

For a longer selection of Dr. King’s most memorable quotations – go to my blog at the Times of Israel where I have posted them – .

Note: The final quote is Dr. King’s statement of support for Zionism and the State of Israel as the national home of the Jewish people.

Request – Share the list with your friends from the Times of Israel. They will remind us not only of the greatness of the man, but of our own prophetic tradition and engagement as Jews in the struggle for human rights.


There are hearts that are stones – Reflecting on Trump’s latest outrage

“In contrast to the prophets of the Hebrew Bible who sought to establish goodness in the world, the President’s Oval Office speech this week exposes his malignant world view.”

This is taken from my blog at the Times of Israel. To read it, please go to




Israel’s existential threat

With the announcement this past week by Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu that  elections will be held on April 9 for a new Knesset, I hope that the words by Tamir Pardo, a former head of the Mossad (Israeli’s intelligence services), will be uppermost in the minds of a majority of Israelis when they cast their votes. He said:

“Israel has one existential threat. It is a ticking time bomb … Israel must deal with the demographic reality and [decide] which state we want to be. Life with alternative facts harbors a disaster for the Zionist vision. The key to saving the state requires brave leadership.”

The alternative facts he warns against is a one-state solution as the answer to Israel’s Palestinian conflict. But a one-state solution will compromise Israel as both a Jewish and a democratic state that the founding generation envisioned. The only credible alternative is a negotiated end-of-conflict two-state resolution of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.


Decision Whether to Charge Netanyahu in Multiple Corruption Cases Expected Next Month – Haaretz today

Note: For those following the news in Israel since the Prime Minister called for new elections (scheduled for April 9), the jockeying of position among potential candidates and their parties, the creation of new political parties, the hardball politics that’s even tougher than in the United States, AG Avichai Mandelblit’s long-awaited report of Netanyahu’s alleged corruption charges could have a significant impact on the political fortunes of the PM. Though some observers believe Bibi will be elected Prime Minister regardless of whether the AG indicts him on alleged corruption charges (as has been recommended by the Israeli police after a very long investigation), they also don’t believe that an indicted PM can remain in office over the long term. If he is convicted, Bibi’s fate could be similar to that of former Prime Minister Ehud Olmert who went to prison for corruption while he served as Mayor of Jerusalem. 

See for the article itself. For those who don’t subscribe to Haaretz, here is the piece that appeared in today’s Haaretz by Revital Hovel.


“Avichai Mendelblit to announce whether Netanyahu will be indicted in three cases before April 9 election, source says

Attorney General Avichai Mendelblit is expected to make a decision on whether to charge Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu in the three criminal investigations pending against the prime minister before the April 9 Knesset elections and will announce his decision next month, a source close to Mendelblit has told Haaretz.

The attorney general himself declined to comment on when he would make a decision, saying: “It’s no secret that we’re trying to work as quickly as possible.” But he added that the decision would “in no way [come] at the expense of professionalism.”

Amid speculation as to how the decision might affect the election, and criticism from Netanyahu, who said he would not resign if summoned for a pre-indictment hearing, the attorney general has received backing from senior Justice Ministry officials and from his own predecessors in his efforts to make a decision before the election.

These backers said they believe it is Mendelblit’s obligation to made the decision public before the election. Mendelblit added that there was “nothing to prevent” the prime minister from serving in office prior to a pre-indictment hearing if it is decided to file charges against Netanyahu. For his part, late last month, Netanyahu, said: “It’s inconceivable that a hearing against me will be launched before the election and it will end after it.”

One of the cases against the prime minister, dubbed Case 1000, involves allegations that the prime minister accepted gifts from wealthy business figures in violation of the law.

A second case, Case 2000, centers on discussions between the prime minister and Arnon Mozes, the publisher of the Yedioth Ahronoth daily, allegedly involving favorable news coverage for the prime minister in exchange for government policies benefitting Yedioth.

The third case, Case 4000, involves allegations that Netanyahu provided regulatory concessions to the controlling shareholder at the time of the Bezeq telecommunications firm in exchange for favorable coverage from Bezeq’s news website, Walla. The prime minister denies any wrongdoing in the cases.

Mendelblit began marathon meetings on the cases about two weeks ago. Deliberations on Case 1000 took two weeks and have concluded. On Sunday discussions are expected to begin on Case 2000, to be followed by Case 4000. In Case 1000, Mendelblit is reportedly inclined to indict the prime minister for fraud and breach of trust.




The LA Women’s March

Note: This was sent to our congregants at Temple Israel of Hollywood in support of the LA Women’s March. Please note the strategic activities we have scheduled around this event.

To Our TIOH Family,

It would be impossible to overstate the power and uplift so many of us have felt witnessing and participating in the past two Women’s Marches. These marches, harnessing multigenerational expressions of women’s dignity and power and bringing to light so many issues of critical importance to our country, have been catalysts for much good in our world.

It is, at the same time, impossible to ignore published accounts claiming that specific individuals in leadership positions of the National Women’s March have made blatantly anti-Semitic remarks.

We at TIOH have been and remain committed to the Women’s Rights Movement, gender justice, and civil rights. We also refuse to let anti-Semitic statements or actions go without response. Our challenge is to hold both truths in this complicated and fraught time, which at its core, holds so very much potential for change.

We share with you our thoughts on this moment:

  1. If you look to the homepage of the Women’s March Los Angeles (WMLA), you will see a strongly worded statement stating clearly that WMLA “has no affiliation and was never part of the Women’s March Inc. WMLA is its own separate organization with separate leadership, board, and funding.” Part of what has come to light in the face of recent allegations of anti-Semitic comments by a few leaders of the National Women’s March is that the national leadership does not represent, nor is it connected by finances or governance, to many of the hundreds of local marches across the country, including Los Angeles.
  2. Anti-Semitism is a very real problem in our world and lies at the heart of white supremacy. There has been an historic increase, according to surveys published by the ADL, in anti-Semitic hate crimes over the past two years in our country and abroad. Acknowledging, learning about, and fighting anti-Semitism wherever it occurs, including in the National Women’s March leadership group, is of critical importance to everyone concerned about promoting an inclusive and decent America.
  3. That being said, the Women’s March Unity Principles reflect much of the justice work in which TIOH and our partner organizations are engaging. We are pleased that changes have been made to these Unity Principles to explicitly include Jewish women and that representatives of national Jewish leadership organizations were part of the crafting of the 2019 Women’s Agenda. Being involved in the real work of this movement is very much in line with our justice principles.
  4. Despite the anti-Semitic statements by some individuals in the National Women’s March, we believe that it is critical for representatives from the Jewish community to remain in dialogue and actively engaged with them, as well as to continue the important work of eradicating anti-Semitism at every level of our society. Teshuvah, a return to each person’s best self, is always possible. We believe strongly that The Women’s March, as an intersectional movement, must include Jewish women because it is there, in the heart of the movement, that we can both act on our social justice principles and combat anti-Semitism.
  5. We especially encourage TIOHers to participate in our local Women’s March Los Angeles. We also encourage TIOHers to explicitly speak out against all expressions of anti-Semitism whenever we encounter them. Our public engagement in both the women’s movement and our work to combat anti-Semitism is at the core of who we are as American Reform Jews.

Please read these comments from the Union for Reform Judaism and Women of Reform Judaism. You will see that our position at TIOH is cast in the same spirit as our Reform movement’s leadership.

Join us at the LA Women’s March! TIOHers will be joining Jewish Center for Justice (JCJ), as well as folks from synagogues across Los Angeles, at 8:30 a.m. on Saturday, January 19th to pray and march together. Meetup details will be forthcoming.

In addition to marching, come to the following events:

  • At TIOH this Sunday, January 4, at 10:00 a.m., join Rabbi Jocee Hudson for bagels, coffee, and an open informal conversation about what it means for us as members of the Jewish community, who are committed to Women’s Rights and Civil Rights, to participate in the Women’s March.
  • Please join members of the broader community on Sunday, January 13, at 7:00 p.m. at University Synagogue for a Teach-In with Zioness and JCJ.
  • Please join us at TIOH before Shabbat services on Friday, January 18, at 5pm, to show our public resistance to anti-Semitism as we hear from David Lehrer on “How anti-Semitism Lies at the Heart of White Supremacy.”

For questions about our Social Justice work at TIOH, please contact Heidi Segal

If you would like to join TIOH’s Gender Justice Social Justice Working Group, please click here or contact co-chairs, Marilyn Szatmary and Margaret Katch.

B’tzedek –

Rabbi John L. Rosove – Rabbi Michelle Missaghieh – Rabbi Jocee Hudson – Shelly Fox, Cantorial Soloist and Musical Director – Heidi Segal, TIOH Vice President, Social Justice – Aliza Lesser, WoTIOH Chair