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About Dov Gartenberg

Rabbi Dov Gartenberg is the Convener and Director of Panim Hadashot-New Faces.

I No Longer Believe in the Jewish State by Peter Beinart

Posted in the NY Times, July 9, 2020

This article is worth reading because Peter Beinart is a very influential liberal American Jewish critic of Israel's policies. While I am still a retro believer in the Two State Solution, Beinart joins a growing list of folks on the left and the right who despair or celebrate the demise of the Oslo accords and the Two State Solution it promotes. If the two state solution is really dead, then Israel will become an apartheid state. Or alternatively, Israel will eventually give full rights to the Palestinians in the territories and Gaza making it a single democratic state.

I think this article is a must read because of Beinart's argument that early Zionists did not envision a state, but hoped for a thriving Jewish homeland. 'I believe Beinart is correct in identifying the trauma of the Holocaust as a source for later Zionist's insistence for a Jewish state out of fear of a possibility of another genocide perpetrated by the many enemies of Israel in the region at the time. I recall a story about Isaiah Liebowitz , the great Israeli philosopher, told by Rabbi David Hartman, about his comments to a group of sympathetic Christian clergy. Liebowitz suggested that the only reason for the creation of Israel was to protect the Jews from the goyim.

I believe hardliners on both sides would scuttle with great violence a move toward a single state solution with equal rights for Palestinians. But I do not see or support the emergence of apartheid state of Israel with millions of Palestinians deprived of their rights. Beinart is saying that his single state solution with full Palestinian and Israeli political rights is the inevitable outcome now that the two state solution is dead.

The article in the Times is based on a longer article that appeared in Jewish Currents on Tuesday. It is more detailed and fully argued. LINK

I recommend this piece for discussion and debate. Share with me your thoughts about the piece.

Rabbi Dov Gartenberg

July 9, 2020.

I have studied with Rabbi Shai Held at Hadar and have the utmost respect for him and his Torah erudition. Rabbi Held is president and dean of the Hadar Institute, a center for traditional, egalitarian Jewish learning in New York City. As a follow-up to my recent post, I share his essay that appeared in CNN.com on Tuesday. I strongly endorse his observations and his charge to us.

Updated 3:20 PM ET, Tue June 2, 2020

Another black man lies dead, a consequence of an officer of the law's excessive use of force.

As his life ebbed away, George Floyd uttered the same desperate words as Eric Garner had almost six years ago: "I can't breathe." Neither Garner's plea nor Floyd's appeared to have any effect on the actions of officers involved. And so we return to an all-too-familiar scene: a black man accused of committing a petty crime rendered powerless and dying in the street

Questions of racial justice are often complex. Good people can struggle with how to redress past injustices without perpetuating new ones. They can have doubts about whether a given policy will alleviate a social problem or exacerbate it.

But questions of racial justice often begin, or ought to, with something basic and elemental: Do we believe -- I mean truly believe -- that all human beings are equal? Do we know -- in our minds, in our hearts and in our guts -- that a black child is as infinitely valuable as a white child; that a black adolescent has the right to the same opportunities as a white adolescent; that a black man under arrest deserves exactly the same treatment as a white man?

As a rabbi, I experience these questions in theological terms. In the ancient world, the king of a civilization was understood as an "image" of the god that civilization worshipped. Put simply, it was the king, and the king alone, who was seen as an image of God.

As a rabbi, I experience these questions in theological terms. In the ancient world, the king of a civilization was understood as an "image" of the god that civilization worshipped. Put simply, it was the king, and the king alone, who was seen as an image of God.

The Hebrew Bible turns that idea on its head. It is not merely the king who is created in God's image. Genesis 1:27 teaches that it is every human being, without exception. In other words, we are all royalty. Every last one of us is a king or queen.

According to a rabbinic teaching from the Midrash on Psalms, when a person makes their way in the world, a retinue of angels walks before them and proclaims: "Make way for an icon of the Blessed Holy One."

Imagine really taking this to heart: Every human being everywhere, regardless of race, gender or sexual orientation, is a king, a visual representation of God. George Floyd, who died with a police officer's knee on his neck after close to nine minutes, was a king. Angels walked before him to affirm and protect his honor. And now he lies dead for no remotely justifiable reason.

Faced with such a scene, we can well imagine what the God of Genesis might say. Addressing Cain, human history's first murderer, God thunders in Genesis 4:10: "What have you done? Listen! Your brother's blood cries out to me from the ground."

There are people who spend their lives lamenting what they perceive as the moral decay of Western civilization. They seek a renewal of virtue and a deepened sense of personal responsibility. But far too many of them are silent where racism and bigotry are concerned.

In the name of Eric Garner, and George Floyd, and countless others, let's embrace moral responsibility and ask: Confronted with racism and bigotry, will we, each of us, remain silent or stand up for goodness and justice?

Rabbi Abraham Ibn Ezra, a medieval rabbinic sage, teaches that, from a religious perspective, one who witnesses an act of oppression and remains silent is morally equivalent to the one who commits the act in the first place; there are no innocent bystanders.

Will we live our lives in ways that reflect an unshakeable commitment to the dignity and worth of all human beings without exception? Will we work to build a society that reflects universal dignity and worth?

There are concrete steps we could take right away. We could insist that all police departments be trained in how to deescalate conflict and help officers learn to confront their own biases, whether explicit and implicit. We could acknowledge that voter suppression is a form of dehumanization and refuse to tolerate it. We could insist that underfunded, under-resourced public schools are an abomination -- and a stain upon what ought to be our national ideals. And we could proclaim that bigots and racists have no place in public life, let alone public office.

This is a bleak time in America, and it is easy to lose hope. But the great religious traditions forbid us from losing hope -- with so much suffering and injustice all around us, hopelessness is a privilege to which we are not entitled.

But how to have hope? Remember this: Hope involves commitment. If I would rather see a society in which black people were not killed on the street, then I am merely wishing; if I commit to working toward building such a society, then and only then am I truly hoping.

In the name of Eric Garner, George Floyd, and countless others, let's not wish -- let's hope. And, because this is what hope requires, let's get to work.

Message to the Jewish Community and CBI

Acknowledging the Burdens of the Black Community

Rabbi Dov Gartenberg

6/1/2020

I recall when I my children were about to go to college, that I sat down with them to talk about Anti-Semitism they might encounter during their college years. I would share with them what I experienced at UC Berkeley during the Yom Kippur war in Israel in 1963, when demonstrations on campus called for the destruction for the State of Israel. I shared with them the history of anti-Semitism and the legacy of the Holocaust.

Talking to our children about the hatred of Jews is one of the hardest burdens for a Jewish parent.

Black parents have a similar burden.

Stephen Carter, a professor of law at Yale and a novelist spoke this weekend about the burdens of parenting in the black community.

“I remember when our son first got his driver's license, and we warned him about if you're ever pulled over, keep your hands in sight, speak respectfully and so on. If you have to reach into the glove box, tell the officer that's what you're doing - all these things that, really, you would think in a civilized world we shouldn't have to say, but we all know why. We all know why this is true. Because, you know, for centuries now, so much of the West, including America, has been infected, if I can use the word, by a pandemic of hatred, a pandemic of suspicion that rests on the fundamental lie that black people are inferior and white people are superior. That's the lie that permeates our society. And until that lie is undone, we're going to keep seeing incidents like this one.” (referring to the killing of George Floyd while in police custody.)

Carter continues: “But the truth is, sad though it is, that black people are killed by police at an alarming rate. In fact, one recent study tells us that black people have a five times greater chance per capita of being killed by police when unarmed. It's really quite remarkable data. And so this is simply the latest addition of this terrible, terrible tragedy.”

These times call for empathy and support for the Black community which has suffered greatly from the pandemic as well as its economic consequences. But this suffering is compounded by incidents that remind all of us of the racism and brutal treatment blacks experience at the hands of police or vigilante violence. For many the recent events have been a tipping point, bringing thousands into the streets to express anger and deep despair.

It is unfortunate that a minority have turned what have been intended to be peaceful protests into destruction of property and violent confrontation. Local authorities must take firm action to quell the destructive actions.

But I hope the call for justice is not distorted and the pain of the black community be heard. While the law enforcement agencies are served by many fair minded and good officers, unfortunately toxic policing, especially experienced by the black community, rears its ugly head again and again.

Our nation needs strong leadership and healing which can bring good people together and unite the country to recall our cherished ideals of equity under the law and opportunity to live a good life. We must never relax our efforts to remove the stains of racism and to build the foundation for fairness and equal treatment under the law.

Brought to you by

Congregation B’Nai Israel and Rabbi Dov’s Jewish Music Artists’  Fund

Chava Mirel

Wednesday, June 3rd, 7 PM Virtual Jewish “Singing Circle”: Chava uses song and meditative silence to inspire and reduce stress.

Friday, June 12th , 6 - 7 PM, Virtual Kabbalat Shabbat: Welcome shabbat with simcha (joy), and gorgeous Jewish Shabbat melodies. We are happy to have Chava back with us by popular demand.

Chava Mirel is a charismatic performer and Jewish musical educator. Chava is recognized as one of the up and coming leaders in the new wave of singer songwriters writing Jewish music. She has performed at the Plenary Stage at the recent URJ Biennial convention as well as dozens of Conservative, Reform, and Reconstructionist communities all over the United State.  She resides in Seattle, Washington with her husband and son. 

The Heart of Shabbat Ensemble

Friday, June 5th, 6-7 PM Virtual Kabbalat Shabbat

Welcome shabbat with heart and joy! 

The Heart of Shabbat Ensemble is returning by request for our virtual audience.

Hugh Sutton (left), is an accordionist and composer known for his many compositions and musical talent.  Rabbi Dov Gartenberg, (center), is the interim Rabbi at Congregation B’Nai Israel, narrating the origins and meaning of the music Ari Joshua (right), is a nationally renowned jazz guitarist and runs a music school in Seattle.  The Heart of Shabbat Ensemble has brought unique Jewish musical Shabbats to gatherings in the Seattle, Washington area for many years.

Rabbi Josh Warshawsky

Day, June 24th, 7 - 8 PM Virtual Concert: During these restricted times, Congregation B’nai Israel is excited to share with our community Josh’s dynamic Jewish music. 

Rabbi Josh Warshawsky

Josh Warshawsky is the preeminent voice of contemporary, soulful, exciting music within today’s Judaism. A recently ordained rabbi from the Conservative Movement’s Ziegler School Los Angeles, Josh has traveled across the country visiting synagogues, sharing music, prayer, and uplifting rabbinic teaching.

How to attend these events: click on https://www.bnaiisrael-nm.org/live-stream or go to the CBI website and click on the Live Streaming button.  Scroll down the page and click on the magenta button labeled “Join Zoom Session Now”.  You may also livestream at the CBI Facebook page.

Want to donate to the Rabbi’s Jewish Music Artists’ Fund? Email rdg@bnaiisrael-nm.org