Archive for October 2016

Dear Bishop Crosby…

October 31, 2016


The Canadian Catholic bishops deep sixed the ecumenical advocacy group KAIROS on such flimsy pretexts. Of course, they never consulted the 99% —lay people.The JP/Ratzinger bishops have proven themselves way behind lay people in this regard. John and Rosemary williams were not impressed
Dear Bishop Crosby,

As members of a parish social justice committee and long-time participants in Catholic social justice activities, we were shocked and saddened at the announcement that the CCCB is withdrawing from Kairos. The Catholic Church leadership in Canada has already disgraced itself by not coming anywhere near to fulfilling its commitment of $25 million for indigenous reconciliation and healing and by its absence from the March 31, 2016 press conference at which other church leaders announced their acceptance of the TRC Call to Action #48. With this latest decision the Church is seen as repudiating the work of Kairos towards these same goals. We are embarrassed to identify ourselves as Catholics when associating with indigenous people and members of other Christian churches working towards reconciliation.

Our parish reconciliation program has greatly benefited  from Kairos resources such as the blanket exercise. Some of us took part in the very successful Kairos-organized conference immediately preceding the final session of the TRC here in Ottawa as well as the march that took place during that session. As the successor to numerous social justice organizations in which the Catholic Church played a leading role, Kairos fulfills a unique and essential role that the Catholic Church by itself cannot and evidently will not assume.



According to the announcement on the CCCB website, the decision to withdraw from Kairos was made with no other input than from the CCCB and its committees. Is this not a perfect example of the clericalism that Pope Francis has so strongly condemned? Although the Bishops are seen as the leaders of the Church, they are not the Church tout court. Surely on an issue such as this you should have consulted all those who would be affected by the decision, including concerned laity, other churches who are members of Kairos and Kairos itself.


Not only was the decision-making process deeply flawed but the reason for the decision is entirely unconvincing. To say that “the way Kairos is structured … does not foster the kind of ecumenical engagement [you] need and require” is meaningless. Surely you owe to concerned Catholics, not to mention Kairos and the other churches, an explanation why the Kairos structure is so deeply flawed that it cannot be revised to take account of your legitimate concerns, whatever they are. And if you can provide convincing reasons for your decision, then you need to say how you are going to promote reconciliation and healing either apart from or in cooperation with Kairos.


Bishop Crosby, it was disconcerting to see your smiling face on the website next to the announcement about withdrawing from Kairos. We had been aware of your support for reconciliation with indigenous peoples and had hoped that as President of the CCCB you would use this office to help restore the Catholic Church’s very bad reputation on this issue. Despite the positive statement on “The Doctrine of Discovery”, the Kairos decision has made the situation worse. Unless you take immediate steps to reverse this decision, parishes such as ours will have to work for reconciliation while repudiating the decisions of our church leaders.


Yours truly,

John and Rosemary Williams

Propaganda and idolatry

October 26, 2016


Culturally, It is hard to analyze the impact that Leon Uris’s 1958 novel Exodus had on North American perceptions. On the best seller list for nineteen weeks, this sanitized history of the founding of Israel went on to sell over 20 million copies. ”Not worth much as literature,”David Ben- Gurion commented,”but but as a piece of propaganda, it’s the best thing ever written about Israel.”


North American Jews always had an idealized portrait of Israel . Steven Rosenthal wrote that “the vast majority of American Jews have remained astonishingly ignorant of the object of their devotion, Israel. Popular culture and fiction like Uris’s Exodus sufficed to give many jews a deeper attachment to Israel particularly after the i967 war.


The late Palestinian exile and public intellectual Edward Said spoke for many when he stated that the novel “still dominates American thinking.” While this is less true today, there is no doubt that Uris’s novel had a powerful validating effect on American Jewry thirteen years after the smoke dissipated over the death camps of Europe and Jews were still barred from country clubs.

Two years later the movie followed starring Paul Newman as Ari Ben Canaan, the new “tough” Jew. What chance had swarthy Palestinians next to Newman’s blue eyes?


The scale began dropping from these same eyes after the 1982 invasion of Lebanon when they watched the cruel handiwork of the anti-Arab Ariel Sharon who preside over the massacre at Sabra and Shatila camps.

As things grew worse and as the 1988 Intifada deepened the well known Reform Jew Albert Vorspan in the New York Time Magazine (May 8,1988) wrote:


Beyond any issue in recent years, American Jews are traumatized by events in Israel. This is the downside of the euphoric mood after the Six Day War, when we felt 10 feet tall. Now, suffering under the shame and stress of pictures of Israeli brutality televised nightly, we want to crawl into a hole. This is the price we pay for having made of Israel an icon – a surrogate faith, surrogate synagogue, surrogate God. Israel could not withstand our romantic idealization.

The end of football

October 21, 2016


In 1979 I  wrote a long article in The Reporter a Catholic teacher’s magazine. It was entitled Catholic schools in Football: Time to Get Out. It caused quite a stir at the time as football was still popular as the autumn sport. I argued on philosophical and ethical grounds that the game was based on violence and to support it in schools sworn to promote the nonviolent ethic of Jesus, the time to quit was now. Almost 40 years later, I am happy to say that football for many other reasons has gone the way of the dodo in Catholic schools. As the modern cliche says, it’s all good. Less than handful are still suiting up. Why?


Today we simply know more about the devastating effects of ,”that detested sport which owes its pleasure to another’s pain” as William Cowper called it in the late 18th century.


The New york Times wrote an editorial on October 15th on this issue—one that should be read in those reactionary parts of the US where football is still king Texas, Alabama etc.


The National Football League began its season last month with a pledge of another $100 million for more research and safer equipment to deal with the traumatic head injuries that have caused premature deaths among retired players and raised threats to the long-term viability of one of America’s favorite, and riskiest, sports.


Not coincidentally, the Pop Warner youth league banned kickoffs for its 5- to 10-year-olds this season to reduce head-snapping collisions among youngsters racing down the field in emulation of professional players.


Fans are now familiar with sad stories of retired pro players suffering from dementia, memory loss and suicidal depression as the aftereffects of hits absorbed on the gridiron. At the other end of the spectrum, parental concern has led to a sharp decline in the number of players in youth leagues for 6- to 14-year olds, from three million in 2010 to about 2.2 million last year. The largest of the youth programs, the Pop Warner league, is facing a class-action suit by parents whose sons were found to have brain degeneration after their playing days.

Amazingly parents are still allowing their most precious charges to play this violent game.

The NFL after paying out millions in a class action suit in 2013 are still ponying up more than $100 million for scientific and equipment research.

No amount of research or equipment change can gainsay the obvious: the game is legalized savagery and for teenage boys still developing with huge weight differentials on the field the game is more like Russian roulette. When the irresistible force meets the unmovable object something’s gotta give…arms, legs, brittle bones and most dangerous of all brains rattling around in skulls.

Listen to the wisdom of NFL commissioner Roger Goodell “There’s risks to sitting on the couch,” How inane.


President Obama was much more cautious “It is up to parents to “think long and hard,” about letting their youngsters play the game.”


Why given what we know today would parents take such chances on the most precious and vulnerable people in their families?

Be not afraid—join a movement

October 19, 2016

“But Jesus immediately said to them: “Take courage! It is I. Don’t be afraid.” Matt.14:27

The contemporary Catholic church says,”Be not involved.” Do not sully yourself by diving into history. There may be a cross for you. You may lose friends. Instead be part of the clean up crew, the charity givers, the cheque writers, the historically disengaged. Stay out of coalitions which fight injustice—like Kairos. Go to church and use prayer as a substitute for action.

There is seldom a response to Come follow me. After all it might lead to a cross. Very uncool.
Jim Wallis the great American evangelist many years ago gave the clue to Catholic churches.
Ask yourself if this parish meeting is linked to an outside movement. if not you are wasting your time. More navel gazing, more evading a historical commitment.Take the exit ramp on the way to Jerusalem.
Show me a Catholic parish which openly joins the Sierra Club, Friends of the Earth, the Suzuki Foundation, all organizations addressing the greatest moral issue of our time climate justice. There are none. Too risky. Besides we would not be in control.Instead we have some cheap grace, prayers from the pulpit which evade our historical responsibility.


Was the Catholic Church there?


How do we stay compassionate in the face of constant global tragedy?” Presbyterian writer Chris Hedges replied that he tries to maintain a constant relationship with the oppressed; this, he believes, keeps him accountable, despite his own privilege as a white male American.
Hedges said we are watching the rise of fascism through neoliberalism in America. Trump is “imbecilic, idiotic, self-destructive, morally repugnant,” he said, and it says something about our country that Hillary Clinton “is only four points ahead” in the polls. Clinton, he said, “is basically Mitt Romney in drag.”
So how does the average American combat neoliberalism, if our current political process is such a shambles? For Hedges, it comes down to large-scale movements—such as the boycott, divestment and sanctions movement, the Dakota Access pipeline protestsand social justice movements that originated in Ferguson, Mo. “We can’t underestimate the power of living in truth,” Hedges said, “even though it’s outside of the formal mechanisms of power.”
Add to Hedges’ list Kairos Palestine. Catholic churches have turned a deaf ear to the 2009 request from all the Christian churches to fight Israeli occupation.
These movements have the power to influence the political elite, he continued. “The only things they have to offer you in this election is fear,” Hedges concluded. “The moment you stop being afraid, they become afraid.”


Join a movement. There is both strength and solidarity in numbers. Every parish has great people waiting to be set on fire. Don’t wait for father’s permission to act. A wet match can’t start a fire. History is changed by movements. The Lone Ranger died years ago and in the words of Ben Franklin,”We must, indeed, all hang together or, most assuredly, we shall all hang separately.”

From Gaza to Black Lives Matter

October 17, 2016



American institutional Jewish organizations, long out of step with the millenials are panicking now that Black Lives Matter is making common cause with Palestine.

In the age of the Internet when Israeli oppression has been unmasked for all to see, more and more people are paying attention and rejecting the lies promulgated by Israel’s Ministry of Truth which makes Orwell look like a grade one child.

The following is getting wide exposure in black communities.

Sadly there are many African-Americans who have been co-opted into the status quo Democratic position flogged by Hilary Clinton—subservience to israel. Like any other people they are lining up for their turn at the trough, for roles in the Clinton administration. At one time we called these people Quislings, other times sell outs, today?

Here is a lovely letter from Gaza from Mohammed Alhammammi

Dear African-American brothers and sisters,

I am not black. But like you, I am not white.

I do not have the history of slavery you carry like a weight on your back from the day you are born. My ancestors weren’t shipped in chains from Africa to the Americas through the Atlantic to work under slave owners. But in 1948, Zionist militias did drive them out of their homes to refugee camps in an infamous event called the Nakba, obliterating many of our villages and towns.

My parents didn’t have to protest in the streets to end segregation and institutional discrimination by their own government to win the right to enjoy their most basic civil rights, a remarkable series of events that I teach to my own students here in Gaza. However, they have been labelled “stateless” by the international community, driving them to protest through boycotts, demonstrations and even hunger strikes, introducing the word intifada (shake-off) into our political dictionary.

Police officers from my own government neither pull me over for “driving-while-black,” nor stop and frisk me. They do not shoot at me, kill me while unarmed and get away with it. However, I was born under the boot of an oppressor that has controlled almost every minute of my life: the Israeli occupation forces.

They took our land from us, claimed it as their own, and now they tell us to get over it, just like you are expected to “get over” slavery. Israel did not stop there. They’ve blockaded the tiny strip of land where I live, Gaza—controlling who goes in and out, and keeping it to a bare trickle. And the West Bank? They sliced it into small pieces with their military checkpoints, carved it up like Swiss cheese with their illegal settlements.

When we fight back, they beat us to a pulp and then have the audacity to point the finger at us—calling us barbaric. I’ve read that one in three black males born in America today can expect to spend some time in prison during his lifetime. In Palestine, it’s nearly the same. (Forty percent of Palestinian men can expect to serve time in an Israeli prison.)



Ismail Abu Aitah, a writer with “We Are Not Numbers”, who lost five family members in the 2014 war, including both his parents and his two older brothers.


“How dare you resist? How dare you revolt?” we’re asked. We scream, “Here, look! This is the injustice we are talking about!” But although the United Nations talks about the need for Israel to stop the settlements and its mistreatment of Palestinians, no one moves a muscle. The moment we go into action, the moment we fight back, whether it be by responding to weapons with weapons or by calling for boycotts and sanctions, the world starts screaming at us.


The American outrage over U.S. football quarterback Colin Kaepernick’s refusal to stand during the national anthem as a peaceful protest against his country’s systemic racism is a case in point. It reminds me of Israeli outrage against the boycott, divestment and sanctions (BDS) movement, in which activists around the world from colleges, churches, and political organizations are nonviolently resisting Israeli practices, trying to force it to comply with international law and common principles of humanity. Yet despite its commitment to nonviolence, Israelis and their allies are denouncing the movement, seeking to discredit it.


When I see this outrage against BDS and Kaepernick, a question arises in my consciousness: If they do not want us to protest nonviolently, if they do not want our fight to be based on international law and basic human rights, then what do they want us to do? If they denounce violence, then condemn our nonviolent protest, how do they want us to resist? The only answer I could find is this: Our oppressors do not really condemn our methods of resistance, but our resistance as a whole. If they criticize nonviolent methods as well as violent ones, then what they deplore isn’t the methods, but the message itself. They hate the fact that the oppressed are forming a collective consciousness, that we are organizing in opposition. Their anger means we are being effective. We must all keep agitating for our rights, knowing that it will be a long haul but we can win in the end.

I do not have to be black to understand the words of Marin Luther King Jr. when he said, “Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere.” I am a Palestinian who is extending his arms in brotherhood to another people who know and live my legacy of oppression.

I do not know if my words will reach you, but I want you to know that I hear you, I see you and I feel your pain. When the night is darkest and you cannot seem to see the light at the end of the tunnel, know that there are people out there, on the other side of the planet, who are raising their fists in solidarity.
Yours in solidarity, with fist held high,

Mohammed Alhammami, WeAreNotNumbers.or


No partner to peace? Ridiculous

October 16, 2016

Better than a nice latte at Tony’s in the morning is reading Gideon Levy in Haaretz

The scribe-prophet of Israel, when most of the religious Israelis save Naturei Karta and Avraham Burg has seen their Judaism turned inside out and trampled on, there is always the secular prophet carrying the holy message of liberation.And when Mr. Levy comes to Toronto, no rabbis appear to hear him.


Levy 30
Maybe the prophetic was always entertained like this.
A minority opinion until it became the received wisdom.

So, I trundle off to mass, whistling a happy tune, the prophetic is still alive.

Here Levy eviscerates “the self-righteous Israelis” and their hoary canard that there is no partner for peace.

Harretz Sunday  pewsummaryOctober 16
They so dearly want two states and are so against the occupation, say many self-righteous Israelis — and then comes the heartrending sigh, carrying all the sorrow of the Jewish fate — but there’s no partner. If only there were. If only. He is desperate for peace, but there’s no one to make it with. And so he must, he is forced against his will, miserable victim that he is, to continue the occupation. In recent years this shtick has become a central trick of the propaganda of Zion.

With the exception of the extreme right, which says openly that it wants apartheid forever because the Jewish nation is superior, everybody uses it. The truth is that there is no partner for continuing the occupation. There is no partner for Israel’s interminable delaying and rejection tactics. There is no partner for Israel’s ridiculous talk about demanding recognition as a Jewish state, just as there is no partner for Israel’s other empty demands. There is no partner for the unbelievable chutzpah of Israel’s demand for negotiations “without preconditions,” while the mother of all preconditions, the settlement enterprise, thrives unabated..


.In fact, it’s not necessary. To establish justice, no partner is needed. Israel is not in a position to demand a partner in order to end the occupation. It must end the occupation. It has no right to make demands before doing so. In the fog of Israeli propaganda, these fundamental truths have been obscured and forgotten. The simple fact that the real victim is the Palestinian people has been forgotten. They are in existential danger and they live in inhuman conditions, which must be changed before anything else. Conditions cannot be set for returning part of a people’s land, its liberty and its dignity

Bishops abandon KAIROS

October 14, 2016


Just arrived from Canadian bishops the  CCCB.

(CCCB – Ottawa)… After careful reflection and discernment, the Catholic Bishops of Canada at theirPlenary Assembly, September 26-30, 2016, decided that the Canadian Conference of Catholic Bishops (CCCB) will end its membership in KAIROS, an ecumenical social justice coalition founded in 2001. This decision followed consultations with the CCCB Permanent Council, the Executive Committee, the Commission for Justice and Peace, and the Commission for Christian Unity, Religious Relations with the Jews, and Interfaith Dialogue.

File it under “If we are not leading the parade, we are not in it.”

This has long been–at least since popes JP ll and Benedict- official institutional practice.If we can not control the agenda we are not part of it. After all we are the Roman Catholic Church.

The JP bishops never had much interest in justice and so they have pulled their funding from KAIROS . All this as they continue their march to irrelevance.
Joe Gunn the Catholic director Citizens for Public Justice, formerly a staffer at the CCCB in a March talk at St Jerome’s University commented:


Today, the capacity and determination of the churches to work for social and ecological justice does seem weak. Service to the world now seems less of a concern than doctrine and maintenance of a shrinking membership base among the largest, historical denominations. Economically, the mainline churches are suffering, with unfortunate cuts to church staff and budgets becoming widespread.

Joe went on to write the following

A month ago I contacted the social ministry offices of Canada’s nine largest Christian churches and asked if they’d answer a few questions about their social ministries. Eight of the nine were more than pleased to do so: only the Canadian Conference of Catholic Bishops declined to respond. I received helpful replies from the Presbyterian Church in Canada, the Evangelical Lutheran Church in Canada, the Anglican Church of Canada, the United Church in Canada, the Christian Reformed Church, Mennonite Central Committee, the Canadian Religious Conference and the Canadian Council of Churches.

Yep, that’s just about how they operate today—they don’t respond and go on their merry way.Father knows best.

Imagine the largest ecclesial body in Canada—albeit a group with less and less followers, generals without armies, refusing to join a Canadian ecumenical justice coalition.

It looks like an “anti-Pope Francis” move.

Harden not your hearts

October 12, 2016

As has just been said: “Today, if you hear his voice, do not harden your hearts as you did in the rebellion.”
Hebrews 3:15

Dov Waxman a prof at Northeastern University after the mass 2014 slaughter in Gaza asked the question





The well-known American Jewish periodical The Forward published his lamentation. Waxman pointed out that the slaughter, condemned universally and the last straw for many American Jewish millenials, drew yawns from most Israelis.

He wrote:

Their violent deaths do not elicit much anguish or remorse. At most, there is a cursory expression of regret before the blame is quickly placed elsewhere — on Hamas’s shoulders. This ability of some Israeli Jews to so easily dismiss Palestinian suffering is a byproduct of their long conflict with the Palestinians.
More than anything else, it is this constant exposure to violence that explains why so many Israeli Jews seem unmoved by the massive violence their army has unleashed upon Gaza. They are convinced that this violence is a fully justified and necessary response to Hamas’s rocket attacks and tunnel infiltrations.. Palestinians have long since just become the enemy, an object of fear and loathing. As they have been almost completely dehumanized in the minds of many Israeli Jews, their deaths have become all too easily disregarded.

What about American Jews?

I see very little expression of concern for the welfare of Palestinian civilians terrorized by Israeli airstrikes and artillery fire.



Waxman sadly covers himself by bringing in Hamas and their “firecrackers”, those pathetic unmanned rockets that cause little damage in Israel. Nobody defends the fear created in Israel’s border towns but the overwhelming, massive overkill in Gaza is beyond the pale.Israel’s massive propaganda machine providing talking points to American Jews who asked the pathetic question, devoid of any context:”What would you do if rockets were fired at your city?


Waxman to his credit wrote:


Until now, the American Jewish community has rallied to support Israel in word and deed, while almost completely ignoring the suffering of Palestinian civilians. All too often, American Jewish declarations and gestures of support for Israel fail even to acknowledge Palestinian suffering, let alone to provide some concrete relief for it.

What lies behind this apparent callousness? …there is also a belief among many Jews that any expression of anguish or sympathy for the suffering of Palestinian civilians would undermine Israel’s cause and play into the hands of the country’s enemies. This belief is fundamentally misguided.

To sympathize with Palestinian suffering is not to condemn Israel or condone Hamas; it is simply an expression of our humanity, as well as of our Jewish values. The ardent desire to demonstrate solidarity with Israel should not come at the expense of our humanitarian consciences. This not only erodes our moral character as individuals and as a community, but also risks alienating many Jews who rightly agonize over the humanitarian costs of Israeli military actions. As human beings and Jews, we should never let our support for Israel harden our hearts to the suffering of others.

God loves the Blue Jays

October 8, 2016

God loves the Blue Jays.

He must.

Watch the closer Roberto Osuna pray before he pitches.



Another save, another victory.Points upward to the source.

Shut up. Don’t mention Javier Baez of the Cubs.



A Porto Rican, Latino yes.

Schooled in a similar magic. He homered off Johnny Cueto and gave crefit to the Almighty who hovers over ball parks but appears MIA in Haiti.

Who threw the gopher ball…Dominican Johnny Cueto…
Obviously didn’t pray enough.

Der Gott sie mit uns on Nazi belt buckles




I am confused.

Chicago prophet Rabbi Rosen

October 6, 2016

The High holidays of Judaism are upon us.

Rosh Hashanah ended on the feast day of Francis of Assisi OCT 4, the defender of the poor and the name our present pope took to define his papacy.

In Chicago the great rabbi Brant Rosen gave this edifying sermon on Rosh Hashanah in Tzedek Chicago


I believe our core values are part of a larger unified story: a narrative of liberation that runs through the heart of Judaism and Jewish history. It is a narrative rooted in the Exodus story that tells of a God who stands by the oppressed and demands that we do the same. It resonates through the words of Biblical prophets who spoke truth to corrupt power. And it can be found in the courageous example of ancient rabbis who responded to the trauma of exile from the land by creating a global religion with a universal message of healing and hope.

It is particularly relevant to invoke this liberatory narrative on Rosh Hashanah, of all days. Indeed, one of the central themes of this day is the concept of Malchuyot – God’s ultimate sovereignty over our lives and our world…. there is a Force Yet Greater: greater than Pharaoh in Egypt, greater than the mighty Roman empire, greater than the myriad of powerful empires that have oppressed the Jewish people and many so other peoples throughout the world.


I would argue that this sacred conviction has been one of the central driving forces of Jewish tradition throughout the centuries: that it is not by might and not by power – but by God’s spirit that l our world will ultimately be redeemed. I would further argue that this belief in a Power Yet Greater sustained Jewish life in a very real way during some very dark periods of our history. After all, the Jewish people are still here, even after far mightier empires have come and gone. It might well be said that this allegiance to a Power Yet Greater is the force that keeps alive the hopes of all peoples who have lived with the reality of dislocation and oppression.


I will submit to you, however, that we have tragically betrayed this Jewish narrative of liberation in our own day. With the onset of modernity, we have largely surrendered the ideal of “not by might and not by power” through a kind of Faustian bargain with might and power. We now embrace a new narrative – one that responds to trauma not with a message of healing and hope, but by placing our faith in humanly wielded power. Our new narrative teaches that the pain of our Jewish past will inevitably become our future unless we embrace the ways of power and privilege; nationalism and militarism.


Historically speaking, we know what can happen when religion has been used to justify the aims of empire. This phenomenon is sometimes referred to as Constantinian religion, in reference to the Emperor Constantine, who in the fourth century began the process of making Christianity the official religion of the Roman Empire. In that one critically historic moment, what had previously been a small and persecuted religious community in the first century after Jesus, became a religion of state power. We know the rest. The Jewish people in particular know all too well the sorrows that inevitably ensued from Christianity’s bargain with empire.



In our own day, however, the Jewish people have made a similar kind of tragic bargain. Jewish theologian and thinker Marc Ellis has coined a term for it: “Constantinian Judaism.” With the onset of Zionism and the establishment of the state of Israel, Judaism has now itself become wedded to empire. The unavoidable focal point of Jewish life is now a Jewish nation-state that venerates Jewish power, Jewish militarism and Jewish privilege. Although Israel was established through a mythology of Jewish liberation and a “return to the land,” it has done so on the backs of that land’s indigenous inhabitants. The unavoidable truth is that the Jewish nation state has come into existence – and is continuing to justify its existence – through the oppression of the Palestinian people.


It is difficult to underestimate the extent to which Jewish life now centers on the rationalization and perpetuation of this new Jewish narrative, this new deal with empire. As Marc Ellis points out, we American Jews are deeply implicated in this new Constatinian Judaism:


(The) Jewish establishments in America and Israel have made their own empire deal. Jews are blessed in America. America blesses Israel. What is good for one is good for the other. For the protection American foreign policy offers Israel, Jews offer their support to the American government. (“Future of the Prophetic,” p. 36)


This new narrative has also become an indelible part of American synagogue life. There are so many examples I could point to. Here in Chicago, almost every synagogue has a sign in front with American and Israeli flags that proclaim, “We Stand With Israel.” Congregational religious schools and Jewish camps routinely cite “cultivating a connection to Israel” as an essential part of their curriculum. Perhaps most symbolically telling: it has become standard in most American synagogues to place a US and Israeli flag on either side of the Aron Kodesh.

In other words, in our most sacred Jewish spaces, we are literally bowing down to physical symbols of national power. This is a powerful demonstration of how completely this new narrative has taken hold of post-Holocaust Jewish identity. To my mind, it is nothing short of idolatry – and our inability to recognize it as such shows just how deeply we have bought into a religious mindset that radically values physical power over spiritual power.