Coping with my anger and contempt

I can’t agree as a Jew with Arthur Brooks’ statement at the National Prayer Breakfast on Thursday in The Washington Post that we should now turn our contempt for the “other” into love. I don’t think this way as a Jew, especially as I ruminate about the cowardice of the Republicans to hold the President to account for his proven abuse of power and obstruction of Congress and about the President’s hubris, lack of empathy, and contempt for the constitutional constraints placed on the Executive branch.

For my complete statement, see my blog at the Times of Israel – https://blogs.timesofisrael.com/coping-with-my-anger-and-contempt/

Naomi Shemer’s Al Kol Eleh sung by 12,000 Israelis

The well-known popular song Al Kol Eleh, written by Israeli poet and songwriter Naomi Shemer in 1980, was sung in a Tel Aviv stadium celebrating the 70th Anniversary of Israeli statehood in 2018.

As we approach an unprecedented third Israeli election in one year this March (2020) and in the wake of a dead-on-arrival Trump “Deal of the Century” that did not include Palestinians in the negotiations, that denies Palestinians a contiguous, independent, and viable state and a Jerusalem capital, this chorus of 12,000 Israeli Jews singing their hearts out expresses Israeli hope for the future and joy in the Land!

Despite the complexity of Israeli politics and the cessation of Israeli-Palestinian negotiations for a two-state solution that preserve Israel’s democracy and Jewish character and bring justice to Palestinian national aspirations, watch and sing along in this 5-minute video and allow your heart to open with love and joy – Davke!

Note Israeli President Reuven Rivlin singing in the crowd.

Netanyahu’s embrace of Trump is driving U.S. Jews away from Israel, survey shows – Haaretz – February 4, 2020

Less observant Jews were more likely to feel that their connection to Israel had weakened in recent years, poll commissioned by U.S.-based Ruderman Family Foundation says (note: see the end of the article)

Judy Maltz | Feb. 4, 2020 | 2:53 PM | 5

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s support for U.S. President Donald Trump and his policies is the main reason for growing disenchantment with Israel among American Jews, a survey published on Tuesday shows.

The other top reasons are the growing power of right-wing and ultra-Orthodox forces in Israeli politics, Israel’s treatment of the Palestinians, its settlement policy in the West Bank, and its disenfranchisement of non-Orthodox Jews.

The survey, commissioned by the U.S.-based Ruderman Family Foundation, included 2,500 respondents with a statistical deviation of 1.96 percent.

The respondents were asked what they thought were “one of the most important reasons” American Jews were feeling less connected to Israel. Thirty-nine percent listed Netanyahu’s support for Trump, while 33 percent listed the growing power of right-wing and religious forces in Israel.

One out of four respondents cited the treatment of Palestinians and Israeli settlement policies as their top gripes, while one out of five listed policies that disenfranchise non-Orthodox Jews.

Only 24 percent of American Jews voted for Donald Trump in 2016. American Jews have traditionally supported a two-state solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict that would include at least a partial dismantling of the West Bank settlements.

Among the respondents, a greater share (39 percent) believed the relationship between American Jews and Israel had weakened in the past five years than strengthened (32 percent).

The survey found that less observant Jews were more likely to feel that their connection to Israel had weakened in recent years. Among Orthodox Jews, 50 percent said that their connection to Israel had strengthened in the past five years, while only 5 percent said it had weakened.

Among Reform Jews, however, 21 percent said that their connection had strengthened, while 28 percent said it had weakened.

Although a large majority – 80 percent of respondents – defined themselves as “pro-Israel,” many had reservations about the government’s actions: 28 percent reported being critical of “some” Israeli policies and 29 percent of “many” Israeli policies.

Finally, nearly one third of the respondents said they were “not very” or “not at all” attached to Israel.

Personal Note: The reason I wrote my most recent book Why Israel [and its Future] Matters – Letters of a Liberal Rabbi to his Children and the Millennial Generation (New Jersey: Ben Yehuda Press, 2019) was to address the growing schism and disaffection of the non-orthodox American liberal Jewish community from the people and State of Israel. In 11 letters that I write to my millennial sons (and, by extension, to all our millennial children), I tackle all the tough issues and offer ways to think about Israel that justify our continued support and advocacy of the Jewish democratic state.

The book is available on Amazon.

The hard numbers show that Trump’s economy is nothing to brag about

Listen carefully to the State of the Union tomorrow night. Trump will no doubt brag about the economy, but a quick look at the facts will show not only that he rode the coat-tails of the Obama recovery, and he failed to meet his own benchmarks for success, lowered taxes for the wealthiest while plunging the country into $1 trillion of debt, and gave millions in subsides to soy farmers because of the negative impact of his trade wars with China.

This article in The Raw Story by David Cay Boyle Johnston (an American Pulitzer Prize winning investigative journalist and specialist in economics and tax issues) spells it out clearly and persuasively.

Hopefully, whoever the Democratic challenger to Trump will be, he/she will pull the veil off the Trump economic charade and give the country the truth.

https://www.rawstory.com/2020/02/here-are-the-hard-numbers-that-show-trumps-economy-is-nothing-to-brag-about/

Pearl Berg Celebrates her 110th Birthday

Pearl Berg's 109th birthday

Each year, for more years than I can recall, I have offered a blessing to our oldest congregant at Temple Israel of Hollywood, Pearl Berg. Pearl is the oldest human being I have ever known. I met her 31 years ago when she was a spry 79 years old.

As the LA Times story in Saturday’s edition (February 1, 2020) notes (link below), there are perhaps 1000 people in the world who reach 110 years of age.

Pearl is still sharp, though “slowing down a bit,” according to her son Bob Berg of Washington, D.C.. Either Bob (age 79) or his older brother, Dr. Allan Berg of Philadelphia (age 82), come to visit their mother most every week.

Pearl is a marvel not only because of her age, but because she remains a positive clear-thinking kind woman whose wit and sense of humor is a constant, who welcomes graciously all visitors, who reads every day,  and plays gin rummy remembering the cards her opponent picks up – most of the time. Last June as I prepared to retire and assume Emeritus status at my synagogue, Pearl came to bid me farewell at my final service. Her appearance was one of the highlights of my last year of 40 years as a congregational rabbi.

My connection with Pearl and her family precedes my own birth. Pearl’s husband Mark (z’l) employed my mother in the early 1940s as an office worker in his Los Angeles scrap metal business when she was 25 years old. When Mark died 30 years ago and I prepared my eulogy, my mother told me that Mark was the kindest of bosses. When she departed from his business to volunteer at an army base in San Luis Obispo during World War II, Mark gave her a going-away office party. She never forgot it. My mother died 4 years ago at age of 98, and I thought that she was old – a youngster compared with Pearl.

Happy Birthday Pearl! We looking forward to celebrating your 111th birthday next year.

See – https://www.latimes.com/california/story/2020-02-01/pearl-berg-110-years-old-los-angeles

You can now Vote Reform in the World Zionist Congress Elections – Please vote – It’s simple and important

If you have voted Reform in the World Zionist Congress elections already. Thank you.

If members of your extended household have also voted – GREAT! But if you or they have not voted (every Jew over the age of 18 is eligible to vote), I ask you to vote now for “Reform” in the World Zionist Congress. Here is the link to register and vote www.ZionistElection.org – Simply follow all prompts. It will take you 90 seconds. The $7.50 charge is an administrative charge only. Please forward this to your children and grandchildren over the age of 18.

Here is  vital information about the World Zionist Congress and why it is so important that we as Reform and Reconstructionist American Jews vote en masse for our Reform slate in this election.

What is the World Zionist Congress?

The World Zionist Congress (WZC) is the World Zionist Organization’s (WZO) legislative body (the parliament of the Jewish people) that meets every five years in Jerusalem. The Congress is the only body in which all of World Jewry is represented democratically, and, therefore, is our only American Jewish democratic opportunity to influence Israeli society. The larger our Reform vote in this election in the American Zionist movement the more influence we will have as American Reform Jews in Israeli society and the more funds our Israeli Reform movement will receive from the WZO.

What do the World Zionist Congress (WZC) and World Zionist Organization (WZO) do?

  • The WZC determines policy on a wide range of important issues in Israel, designates its course of action, and chooses the leadership of the World Zionist Organization.
  • The WZC makes decisions that affect the status of Reform and progressive Jews in Israel and across the world.
  • The WZO allocates considerable funding available to Progressive Reform Jews in Israel!!!
  • Our Israeli Reform movement (called “The Israel Movement for Reform and Progressive Judaism – IMPJ”) currently receives $4 million annually from the WZO based on our success in the last WZC election five years ago. The Israeli Reform movement receives no funds from the government of Israel. The government, however, gives hundreds of millions of Israeli shekels to Israeli Orthodox and Ultra-Orthodox synagogues and yeshivot. If we increase our Reform presence in the WZC with a larger vote total this year in the American Zionist Movement delegation we can increase funding substantially to our Israel Reform movement, our Israeli Reform congregations, our Israeli Reform rabbis, and social justice programs that our movement in Israel fights on behalf of religious pluralism, civil marriage, conversion rights, women’s and LGBTQ rights, justice for asylum seekers, poverty, and a shared society with Israeli-Arab citizens.

I’m proud of the strength and diversity of the Reform and Reconstructionist Slate, and I’m asking you to help me get out the vote and support egalitarianism, pluralism, and peace in Israel.

I am a candidate on the Reform slate and I will have the opportunity to travel to Israel and be a delegate in the World Zionist Congress in October 2020.

You can read the Reform and Reconstructionist Judaism platform here

Polls are open NOW through March 11, 2020. Please vote and ask every Jew in your household over the age of 18 to vote along with you.  Please pass this blog along to anyone, family and friends, who you believe will be moved to vote.

Thank you in advance.

Rabbi John Rosove

#VoteReformWZC – www.ZionistElection.org

 

The “Deal of the Century” is a Cruel Sham Deal

This deal isn’t a peace plan. It’s a cruel sham of a deal because only one side of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, the most extreme right-wing position in Israel, is represented and there was no attempt to engage with Palestinian national aspirations. It isn’t a “pro-Israel” position either because the deal, if implemented, will not bring peace between Israel and the Palestinians, nor justice for the Palestinians, or enhanced security for both Israel and the Palestinians, nor the continuation of Israeli democracy. This deal pushes the two parties inevitably towards more conflict and violence.

See my complete statement on my blog at the Times of Israel https://blogs.timesofisrael.com/the-deal-of-the-century-is-a-cruel-sham-deal/

 

“John Roberts Can Call Witnesses to Trump’s Trial. Will He?” Neal Katyal, NYT

Democratic House managers should ask the chief justice to issue subpoenas for John Bolton and others.

By Neal K. Katyal, Joshua A. Geltzer and Mickey Edwards – NY Times, January 27, 2020

Neal Katyal, former Solicitor General of the United States, explains that the rules governing impeachment proceedings enable the trial managers (led by Adam Schiff) to request of the presiding judge (Chief Justice John Roberts) to call witnesses without a majority vote by the Senate to approve.

If Congressman Schiff asks the Chief Justice for John Bolton to testify as a witness, the Senate can only overrule the Chief Justice’s decision with a two-thirds vote of the Senate according to Impeachment rules drafted in 1868.

From Katyal, Geltzer, and Edward’s op-ed yesterday (January 27) in the NY Times:

“…it turns out they [the Senators] don’t get to make that choice [to call witnesses]— Chief Justice John Roberts does. This isn’t a matter of Democrats needing four “moderate” Republicans to vote for subpoenas and witnesses, as the Trump lawyers have been claiming. Rather, the impeachment rules, like all trial systems, put a large thumb on the scale of issuing subpoenas and place that power within the authority of the judge, in this case the chief justice.

Most critically, it would take a two-thirds vote — not a majority — of the Senate to overrule that. This week, Democrats can and should ask the chief justice to issue subpoenas on his authority so that key witnesses of relevance like John Bolton and Mick Mulvaney appear in the Senate, and the Senate should subpoena all relevant documents as well.”

January 28 Commemorates the 75th Anniversary of the Liberation of Auschwitz

For decent people to contemplate the evil done to the 6 million Jews and 5 million others murdered during the Shoah is to be overwhelmed with grief and stunned by the enormity of the Nazi crime. Yet, the Jewish people has survived and thrived in the State of Israel and Diaspora communities since Auschwitz was liberated 75 years ago on January 28, 1945.

We can only imagine the enormous contribution to the Jewish people and to the betterment of the human condition that these victims would have contributed had they not perished.

The following two statements remind us that goodness, justice,  compassion, and peace require us to fight always against genocide, to challenge cruelty wherever it raises its ugly head, and to work to eliminate the inhumane conditions that diminish God’s image (Tzelem Elohim) anywhere in the world.

“All that is necessary for evil to triumph is for good people to do nothing.” Edmund Burke, Anglo-Irish statesman and philosopher (1729-1797)

“A person may cause evil to others not only by one’s actions but by one’s inaction, and in either case a person is justly accountable to them for the injury.” John Stuart Mill, philosopher and economist (1806-1873)

Zichronam livracha – May the victims of the Shoah be remembered for a blessing.