Archive for the ‘Church & Culture’ Category

Resistance and the prophetic

April 26, 2017

Ben Ehrenreich is proof-positive that the prophetic never dies. More on this later.

Ehrenreich

Ehrenreich is an American writer with a Jewish past who for 3 three years has been travelling in the West Bank staying with Palestinian families in both urban centres and small villages. his book The Way to the Spring will give you a taste of his work.

Here he tells stories which never make it into our papers but are grassroots snapshots of the ugly apartheid lives of ordinary Palestinians. These are the stories that Christian Zionists will never hear nor tribal Jews of the disapora who out of misguided loyalty defend everything that Israel does. Many of the latter have no truck with the majestic religion of Judaism but are cultural Jews seeking some kind of transcendent meaning so they reflexively support, many with huge bucks, the “Jewish” state. This type of support (of brutal occupation and pervasive cruelty) mocks the Covenant and betrays authentic universal values of Judaism.

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Ehrenreich like many Jews of conscience actually does something about the situation.He lives with the oppressed and tells their stories to people for whatever reason, (largely ideological) who refuse to believe him.

Recently on his blog (http://benehrenreich.net) this was part of a longer tale:
The Persian historian Atâ-Malek Juvaini’s History of a World Conqueror.

Eight years after the sacking of Bukhara, writes Juvaini, “a sieve maker of Tārāb in the district of Bukhara rose up in rebellion in the dress of the people of rags, and the common people rallied to his standard.” Juvaini, who had ingratiated himself in the Mongol court, describes the rebel leader with undisguised contempt.

Still, we learn from him that the poor came to Mahmud the sieve maker of Tārāb as they once did to Jesus of Galilee: to heal the sick and the paralyzed, to restore sight to the blind. He was said to converse with jinns, or spirits, who, “informed him of what was hidden.” When Mahmud the sieve maker of Tārāb entered the city of Bukhara, the alleys of the market were so crowded with people eager for his blessing that “there was not even room for a cat to pass.”

He had in mind a more holistic sort of healing, and instructed the poor to arm themselves with whatever weapons they could find. “My army is partly visible, consisting of men,” he announced, “and partly invisible, consisting of the heavenly hosts, which fly in the air, and of the tribe of the jinns, which walk on the earth.” And so the poor of Bukhara soon took the town and plundered the houses of the wealthy.

I would imagine that his point was imply to say that people inherently will rise up and challenge oppression. They simply will not accept dehumanization. Jews did in so many ways and more actively in the Warsaw uprising. So Palestinians refuse to accept their simply awful , perduring humiliation. Their resistance is perfectly understandable and legal.

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United Nations General Assembly Resolution A/RES/33/24 of 29 November 1978:

Reaffirms the legitimacy of the struggle of peoples for independence, territorial integrity, national unity and liberation from colonial and foreign domination and foreign occupation by all available means, particularly armed struggle;” (3)

This justification for legitimate armed resistance has been specifically applied to the Palestinian struggle repeatedly. To quote General Assembly Resolution A/RES/3246 (XXIX) of 29 November 1974:

Reaffirms the legitimacy of the peoples’ struggle for liberation form colonial and foreign domination and alien subjugation by all available means, including armed struggle; …

7. Strongly condemns all Governments which do not recognize the right to self-determination and independence of peoples under colonial and foreign domination and alien subjugation, notably the peoples of Africa and the Palestinian people; (4)

Whereas I do not accept some of the implied violence of Mahmoud I am fascinated by his  statement:

My army is partly visible, consisting of men,” he announced, “and partly invisible, consisting of the heavenly hosts, which fly in the air, and of the tribe of the jinns, which walk on the earth.

This hints of the prophetic, of unseen powers which I will address tomorrow,

Bill O’Reilly and Cardinal Dolan

April 23, 2017

What a bracing combo, Rupert Murdoch and Bill O’Reilly.

Fox news (Faux News) the rightwing drum beat with angry white men contorting the truth on a regular basis, paid O’Reilly $29 mill a year to spew his venom and insult progressives of all stripes, berate them, interrupt them etc. O’Reilly even had the temerity to lecture the Pope on immigration.

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There is something seriously wrong with a system which pays a blowhard like this so much money. Even with all this excessive lucre O’Reilly still wanted  to be seen with Pope Francis. And his wish was granted—the same day he was fired by Fox for his tom-catting.

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Meanwhile back home female writers have had a field day at O’Reilly’s expense, ripping the reactionary bloviator a new one. One female columnist wrote, “I hope the Pope  washed his hands after shaking O’Reilly’s. Not bad.

Now one wonders why the pope would meet with a guy like O’Reilly whose social views mock Catholic social teaching.

Here’s the answer.

The weekly Papal audience is a large event open to the public, with tens of thousands of the faithful filling the square. The special section beside the stage holding the papal throne, where Mr. O’Reilly sat, is exclusive and can be entered only with special tickets.

Cardinal Timothy M. Dolan, the archbishop of New York, wrote to the Vatican several months ago requesting tickets for Mr. O’Reilly and his family, according to Joe Zwilling, a spokesman for Cardinal Dolan.

That’s just the episcopal leadership we’ve been subject to for far too long.

And you wonder why the church in the USA is in free fall

Capitalism and Catholicism, a toxic brew.

Catholicism corrupted

March 10, 2017

All night on March 8, the US House of Representatives organized itself into committees to look at this shocking betrayal of American citizens and their right to decent health care. The richest (and most religious or is that irreligious) country in the world is still a dinosaur of a nation in this regard. The staggering war-making machine which dwarfs the seven next countries in bloated kill power has just been bumped another 10% by Trump…and all the while health care for all citizens is being jettisoned.

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On One of the committees the House Energy and Commerce Committee sits Congressman Joseph Kennedy III, son of Congressman Joe, grandson of Senator Robert F., and grand-nephew of President John F. and Senator Edward M. It seems that young Kennedy has not forgotten his basic catechism lessons

Kennedy verbally took on Wisconsin Republican house leader  Paul Ryan

“I was struck last night by a comment that I heard made by Speaker Ryan, where he called this repeal bill ‘an act of mercy.’ With all due respect to our speaker, he and I must have read different Scripture…The one I read calls on us to feed the hungry, to clothe the naked, to shelter the homeless, and to comfort the sick. It reminds us that we are judged not by how we treat the powerful, but by how we care for the least among us. There is no mercy in a system that makes health care a luxury. There is no mercy in a country that turns their back on those most in need of protection: the elderly, the poor, the sick, and the suffering. There is no mercy in a cold shoulder to the mentally ill. This is not an act of mercy. It is an act of malice.”

I wrote this 4 years ago but it apparently bears repeating:

The blood-dimmed tide is loosed, and everywhere
The ceremony of innocence is drowned;
The best lack all conviction, while the worst
Are full of passionate intensity.

William Butler Yeats : The Second Coming

Nothing bespeaks the devolution of contemporary Catholicism and the abandonment of the Vatican ll vision as the announcement of Paul Ryan as Vice-Presidential Republican candidate.

One hardly knows where to start when analyzing the shocking use of “my Catholic faith” in describing Ryan’s bizarre gospel worldview.

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Of course Ryan begins with his conservative cred—-his pro life stance—-meaning anti-abortion (a fight which will never be won given the polarization in the US), so it’s safe to be “pro life”—and vote for war budgets at every chance.
In April, Ryan was taken to the woodshed when he dared use Catholic Social Teaching, in particularly subsidiarity, as the basis of his budget proposal. 50 Catholic theologians and leaders blasted his proposals out of the water.

“Simply put, this budget is morally indefensible and betrays Catholic principles of solidarity, just taxation and a commitment to the common good. A budget that turns its back on the hungry, the elderly and the sick while giving more tax breaks to the wealthiest few can’t be justified in Christian terms,” argue the signatories.

Give Ryan credit, he is not short of chutzpah. He then marched over to Georgetown, the Jesuit university to defend the indefensible. Here he was met by a petition of 90 faculty members and administrators basically telling him he was totally out to lunch. They asked Ryan to justify  cuts to social programs which benefit the poor and no cuts to the shocking bloated military budget

Former America editor  Jesuit Fr.Tom  Reese, one of the organizers of the letter bluntly stated . “This is nonsense. As scholars, we want to join the Catholic bishops in pointing out that his budget has a devastating impact on programs for the poor.”

You can bet Ryan never heard of America a well-respected Jesuit magazine.

But he sure loves Ayn Rand, the high priestess of capitalism. Here are a few choice bons mots of Ryan on his literary heroine:

•    “I just want to speak to you a little bit about Ayn Rand and what she meant to me in my life and [in] the fight we’re engaged here in Congress. I grew up on Ayn Rand, that’s what I tell people.”

•    “I grew up reading Ayn Rand and it taught me quite a bit about who I am and what my value systems are, and what my beliefs are.”

•    “It’s inspired me so much that it’s required reading in my office for all my interns and my staff. We start with Atlas Shrugged. People tell me I need to start with The Fountainhead then go to Atlas Shrugged [laughter]. There’s a big debate about that. We go to Fountainhead, but then we move on, and we require Mises and Hayek as well.”

•    “But the reason I got involved in public service, by and large, if I had to credit one thinker, one person, it would be Ayn Rand.”•

“It’s so important that we go back to our roots to look at Ayn Rand’s vision, her writings, to see what our girding, under-grounding [sic] principles are.”
•    “Because there is no better place to find the moral case for capitalism and individualism than through Ayn Rand’s writings and works.”

Israel fails in “rebranding”

February 23, 2017

What a bust!

Israel is now tied with North Korea as the pariah nation par excellent. For years now it has been attempting to rebrand itself as a tourist mecca. As a frequent visitor, it is indeed a fabulously interesting place—if you can look beyond a 50 year occupation and the daily humiliation of another people.

A week in the West Bank would cure anybody, even a rabid tribalist of total support. Forget a trip to Gaza the only democracy in the Middle East will not allow you to visit and see what 3 brutal killing rampages has done there in the last decade.

The state has tried desperately to “pinkwash” over the ugly facts by talking about the liberal charms of Tel Aviv (never Jerusalem, too many Muslims with a highly conservative ethos). So they promote the country as a haven for gays. See how liberal we are !

Also a failed attempt to “greenwash” the awful ecological mess Israel has created there. The settlements have been dumping untreated waste directly into a sewage canal that runs through the occupied West Bank, affecting Palestinian villages along its banks.The toxic chemical waste has for years been dumped on agricultural land, with villagers reporting a rash of skin diseases and respiratory problems.

Israel has been dumping waste, including hazardous and toxic waste, into the West Bank for years as a cheaper and easier alternative to processing it properly in Israel at appropriate hazardous waste management sites,” according to Palestinian Environmental Authority (PEA) deputy director Jamil Mtoor. The Israeli government has banned plans by the Palestinian Authority to build pipes and pumps to treat and divert wastewater away from the affected villages.

As part of its greenwashing Israel crows about its “reforestation”—such as Canada Park—built over destroyed Palestinian villages.

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All in all, the rebranding has been a bust and now the latest failed venture. The US Campaign for Palestinian Rights reports the following:

With the Academy Awards fast approaching this Sunday, it’s been a full year since Israel offered all-expenses-paid trips to 2016 Oscars host Chris Rock and 25 top nominees including Mark Ruffalo, Michael Fassbender, Kate Winslet, Matt Damon, Mark Rylance, and Cate Blanchett. The Israeli tourism ministry organized the trip with hopes that the superstars would use their platforms to show Israel in a positive light, countering worldwide outrage over Israel’s oppression of Palestinians.

So what happened? It was an utter failure. One year later, it appears that not a single star visited Israel. Last night, the AFP wire service ran this extraordinary headline appearing in many media outlets, “Israel invited 26 Oscar stars to visit. So far none has.”

Bringing celebrities to Israel has long been part of a “Brand Israel” strategy to improve the country’s image abroad. As Israeli tourism minister Yariv Levin explained last year, “These are the most senior people in the film industry in Hollywood and leading opinion-formers who we are interested in hosting. Their visit will have enormous resonance among millions of fans and followers, including social media.” But as of this week, the Israeli tourism ministry would not confirm any visits by the stars, and there was no evidence of trips on social media.

It seems that the harder Israel tries to improve its image, the worse it fails. Yesterday’s news comes on the heels of former Super Bowl star Michael Bennett and several other NFL stars also choosing to #SkipTheTrip that they were offered by Israel.

Far from achieving their desired effect, these propaganda trips give us an opportunity to create broader awareness about the Israeli government’s brutal policies and attempts to whitewash them. While not every celebrity will turn down such offers, our cultural boycott campaigns are ensuring that every celebrity facing the choice must now consider the Israeli government’s cynical motivations and the impact on Palestinian communities struggling to survive.

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That’s why days after the Oscars trips were announced last February, the US Campaign helped organize a coalition of Palestinian, Israeli, European, and U.S. organizations to launch a #SkipTheTrip campaign including a petition to the stars, individual letters to actors, and a comprehensive social media strategy. The dynamic campaign included creative memes, a comical video, and a satirical invitation from the legendary Brian Eno highlighting the types of “holiday” experiences one could have visiting Palestine like being interrogated, tear-gassed, beaten, and shot at.

One should not ever lose hope about the many Jews of conscience within and without Israel who for years have seen through the blatant propaganda or hasbara.

It was the veteran Israeli diplomat to West Germany Yohanan Meroz (d. 2006) who coined the expression “hasbarable.” Some things you simply can not spin and the shocking brutalization of a civilian population is one of them.

Haaretz columnist Gideon Levy gave voice to this truism in June 2011: “Hasbara will not overcome the unequivocal fact that Israel has been an occupying power for more than four decades. No propaganda can persuade people of good conscience that we’re right as long as millions of Palestinians are living without rights.”

The Pope, Trump and capitalism

February 21, 2017

On Friday Feb 17 Pope Francis spoke to a meeting of popular movements in California.His encouraging words need to be unpacked.

The direction taken beyond this historic turning point, the ways in which the worsening crisis gets resolved, will depend on people’s involvement and participation and largely on yourselves, the popular movements. Sooner or later, the moral blindness of this indifference comes to light, like when a mirage dissipates, the wounds are there, they are a reality. The unemployment is real, the violence is real, the corruption is real, the identity crisis is real, the gutting of democracies is real. I know you have committed yourselves to fight for social justice, to defend our sister Mother Earth, and to stand alongside migrants. I want to reaffirm your choice,” he wrote.
Yes , taking to the streets is a good, a necessary mobilization Francis says.

Is he referring to the fake populism of Trump. Doubtlessly.

Matthew Fox:

We all have to wake up. Young people have to get away from their addictions to the social media, and realize that this is serious business, politics and life itself. And we’ve got to stand up and be counted.

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How can people duped by Trump really believe the billionaire has their interests at heart? Are they too wounded and betrayed by the Democratic Party to fall for the narcissist?Many are.

Capitalism with its power to confuse people, divert their energies, accept the status quo of dramatic inequality is the real enemy here.
Pope Francis:

 
The economic system that has the god of money at its center, that sometimes acts with the brutality of the robbers in the parable, inflicts injuries, that to a criminal degree, have remained neglected. Globalized society frequently looks the other way, with the pretense of innocence, under the guise of what is politically correct, or ideologically fashionable. One looks at those who suffer, without touching them.

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Where are the Catholics in this equation? 52% of US Catholics fell for Trump.

 
The leadership is nowhere. It has turned inward, placed the church not the kingdom at the center of their lives. The right wing JP ll/Ratzinger bishops have betrayed the gospel and short circuited the renovation movement of Vatican ll. This has left a huge hole in the institution. Many progressives have left disgusted by the right wing turn and the ecclesial coverup of the pedophilia scandal.

Add to this the local church is operating out of a charity not a justice model, presided over by many foreign born priests who do not bring a progressive theology to bear on issues of social justice, ecology and gross inequality. This is the dilemma of many good priests who have to deal with this situation. many of their allies have left the church so they battle on. God bless them! Meanwhile the Pope is left to fend off attacks from within by disgruntled appointees of the last two reactionary papacies.

A shonda and hillul hashem

January 10, 2017

Religions are never pure. All have their outliers. Nixon had his rabbi, Baruch Korff, Catholicism had its Fr.Coughlin and those scandalous popes of the Borgias. There is no end to wacky mullahs without learning and credibility. Israel has ist share of rabbinic posers who sanctify occupation and and anti-Arab hostility. So Trump now has his rabbi to bless what? Who knows.

Now that the Donald has a 16 year old singer to headline his inaugural he has his rabbi. Marvin Hier could not resist his 15 minutes

 

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But wait. all is not kosher in the Jewish community.

Hier’s friend Rabbi Moskovitz publicly upbraids him.

Rabbi Marvin Hier should not give a blessing to this President at the Inauguration next week. I appreciate Rabbi Hier’s work at the Museum of Tolerance in Los Angeles (a community where I too was a rabbi for 13 years). He has done a great deal to advance the cause of racial/religious tolerance and to fight anti-Semitism. Rabbi Hier also previously served in my current community of Vancouver, British Columbia, where he is still spoken of in high regard. But Rabbi Heir is wrong on this issue and his lack of rabbinic judgement reflects poorly on all rabbis.

 

A rabbi is a symbolic exemplar. When we appear or speak publicly we represent more than ourselves, we represent Judaism. Not just “the Jewish people” but also the moral/ethical code of the Jewish tradition. The Talmud instructs us, “It is not the place that honors the person, but the person that honors the place.” (Ta’anit 21b). It is not an honor for Rabbi Hier or the Jewish religion to be associated with Mr. Trump’s campaign rhetoric, it is a shanda, a disgrace.

 

When asked what blessing he will bestow Rabbi Hier stated that he will offer readings, recite an original prayer and give Mr. Trump and incoming Vice President Mike Pence each a personal blessing. Not a blessing for the nation, but upon the man. At present Mr. Trump’s venomous insults continue unabated by his new station, and are inseparable from the high office he is about to occupy. Thus to bless Mr. Trump in this most public of way is to bless all that he has said and stands for. Rabbi Hier’s participation as a Rabbi gives a Jewish hechsher, a kosher certification to the swearing in of a man whose social conduct, rhetoric and fomenting of hate and division are directly at odds with Jewish tradition (and the work of Museum of Tolerance that Rabbi Hier leads). I firmly believe that it would be hillul hashem (a desecration of G-d’s name) to give a rabbinic imprimatur to this man at this time.

Bad religion—once again in israel

December 22, 2016

In a letter faxed to hoteliers in Jerusalem, two of the city’s chief rabbis warned against displaying Christmas trees on their premises.

 

Baah humbug.Start talking about compassion and human dignity.

“As the secular year ends we want to remind you that erecting a Christmas tree in a hotel contravenes halacha [Jewish law] and that therefore it is clear that one should not erect [a tree] in a hotel,” the letter reads, according to the Times of Israel. “It is also appropriate to avoid hosting parties to mark the end of the secular year.”

 

Don’t tell us what to do.This is a democracy.

The Israeli daily said the letter could be interpreted as a “veiled threat” to hoteliers who risk losing their kosher licenses. This flies in the face of recent developments, including a March 2015 ruling by Israel’s Chief Rabbinate that lifted a ban on Christmas trees in hotels and tied the criteria for kosher certification more closely to the preparation of food.

 

It’s not kosher!

Christmas trees and other symbols of non-Jewish traditions rankle some Israelis; the country’s ultra-Orthodox rabbis are known to criticize their display. In a separate incident reported by Israeli media, a rabbi at Technion Institute of Technology in the city of Haifa warned students against entering the student union building because of a Christmas tree there, arguing that the tree was “not a Christian religious symbol, but even worse, a pagan one.”

 

Save me from all fundamentalisms!

50 years ago Roger Laporte immolated himself

November 9, 2015

Roger-LaPorte

On November 9, 1965, at the age of 22, Roger LaPorte set himself on fire in front of the United Nations building in New York City to protest the Vietnam War. He was a former seminarian and a member of the Catholic Worker Movement. Despite his burns, he remained conscious and able to speak at the hospital. When asked why he set himself on fire, La Porte replied, “I’m a Catholic Worker. I’m against war, all wars. I did this as a religious action.” La Porte died the next day

It is hard for most people to comprehend such an act of self-destruction putatively for a higher cause.Obviously Laporte like many Americans was appalled at the fire engulfing ordinary Vietnamese at this time—all supported by US tax dollars and a misguided militarist adventure. Laporte obviously was a highly sensitive person who deeply felt the unmerited suffering of those he considered family. Laporte looked around and saw virtually no rejection of the US appalling assault on the Vietnamese which took over 1 million civilian lives. His own catholic church was virtually mute. we will never know what his thinking was even though we shudder at his actions.

Yet Laporte was not alone.
Two years earlier On June 11, 1963, a Vietnamese Buddhist monk, Thich Quang Duc, immolated himself at a Saigon intersection to protest Buddhist persecution by its Catholic president and US proxy Ngo Dinh Diem.

There were others too.

On March 16,1965 an 82 year old Jewish-American pacifist Alice Herz went the same route.

The most shocking was the self-immolation of Norman Morrison a 31 year old Quaker from Washington, D.C. Standing outside the office of Defense Secretary Robert McNamara, Morrison handed his 1 year old daughter Emily to a bystander he torched himself. His wife said that [S]he was a powerful symbol of the children we were killing with our bombs and napalm–who didn’t have parents to hold them in their arms.”

That amazing Catholic pacifist Fr.Charlie McCarthy wonders why Laporte has been forgotten.

Thich Quang Duc, is revered by Vietnamese Buddhists as a bodhisattva (saint), the intersection where he set himself afire has a monument and park dedicated to him and his intact heart is preserved as a relic of the spirit of compassion in a glass chalice. Alice Herz, who was also a refugee from Nazi Germany, has a plaza named after her in Berlin. Shingo Shibata, the Japanese philosopher, established the Alice Herz Peace Fund in her memory. Norman Morrison has a road named after him in the Vietnamese city of Da Nang. In Hanoi a street is named after him and the Government of Vietnam has issued a postage stamp in his honor. An HBO film about him has been made and poems and books have been written about him. Roger LaPorte’s charred dry bones lay in the ground of section 1, row 11 of Saint Alphonsus Cemetery in Tupper Lake, NY. —long dead, long gone and long forgotten.

McCarthy’s rationale:

By political and ecclesial necessity and arrangement the warriors, dead or alive, are fawned over, but the billions of non-warriors they maimed and destroyed must be kept out of sight, out of mind and out of memory, lest they reveal the immensity of the evil the honored warriors and their honorable puppet masters, have done to fellow human beings, who did them no harm and who intended to do nothing harmful to them. In other words the non-warrior victims of the warrior heroes must be expunged from history, must become as if they never existed, or if they existed were of no worth. The victorious warriors and their controllers, who carefully manage the memory of the past, so as to assure that in the future the young will experience being used as violent and lethal warriors as nobly heroic, must drown them in the vastness of time. The non-warrior victims of the honored and obedient warriors and their sting-pullers are, on the other hand, consigned to historical oblivion as unworthy of being remembered, as they were unworthy to continue life. To such a community of the dead has Roger Laporte been consigned—“unwept, unhonored and unsung.”

Reuben Slonim: Toronto’s last prophetic rabbi

October 10, 2015

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Reuben Slonim: Toronto’s last prophetic rabbi
Wednesday, October 14, 2015 @ 7:00 pm – 9:00 pm
Beit Zatoun

612 Markham St. at Bloor Toronto 1 minute from Bathurst subway stop
Reuben Slonim (1914-2000) was the first Canadian-born rabbi to head a Canadian congregation. After the Six Day War of 1967 said that Israel might win the war, but it would lose the peace if it did not show magnanimity towards the Arabs. He maintained that the deepest ethical values of Judaism were being jeopardized and betrayed by Israel’s blatant ghettoization and suffering of another Semitic people, the Palestinians. Fired from his congregation and called an “Arab lover” and an “enemy of the Jews” Slonim never flagged in his defence of Jewish universalist values. Reuben Slonim’s brave defense of Palestinian rights has stood the test of time and he deserves to be honoured as one of the great rabbis.

Ted Schmidt former editor of Catholic New Times was a good friend of Rabbi Slonim.

Brant Rosen, a rabbi for our time

September 26, 2015

Rosen

It is rabbis like Brant Rosen of Tzedek Chicago’s synagogue who will lead Judaism back to a more prophetic understand of biblical faith. Over the last many decades as many Jewish critics have written. Judaism has been suborned by Zionism, a historic Abrahamic faith co-opted by a nationalist ideology. Often at the centre of the community’s life was Israel, a modern state not the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob.

Lest Catholics begin to point any fingers, Roman Catholicism in advanced capitalist countries have settled for the Constantinian arrangement where our critical biblical justice faith has been too easily linked with the flag and predatory capitalism. Even last night on Bill Maher’s TV show, this aggressive atheist, raised a Catholic and commenting on Pope Francis, wondered how could Republicans call themselves Catholics. Instead of Israel at the centre of their spiritual life right wing Catholics have raised the free market as their god and abandoned the poor and the environment. But I digress.

Rabbi Rosen on the holiest day of the Jewish liturgical calendar, Yom Kippur (this year on September 22) dared to lead a Confession Communal Complicity. Every year on Yom Kippur that gem of the Hebrew scriptures the Book of Jonah is read as it challenges the whole community to rethink its values.

Rosen wrote a unique confession called the Al Chet which is part part of the Vidui – or Confession – in which the congregation stands up and publicly confesses the sins of their community.

The congregation rises and publicly confesses the sins of the community and since Israel is part of American Jewish landscape, you can see where this is going.

Al chet…we say together

For the wrong we have done before you…
for forgetting that we were all once strangers in a strange land;

for preferring militarized fences to open borders.

for supporting trade policies and murderous regimes that for drawing lines and turning away those who come to our country seeking a better life.

for demonizing migrants as threats to be feared;

for labeling human beings as “illegal.”

For all these, source of forgiveness, forgive us, pardon us, receive our atonement…

for buying into and promoting the ideology of American exceptionalism;

for oppressing other peoples and nations in the name of American power and influence;

for profiting off of weapons of death and destruction;

for contributing to the increased militarization of our nation and our world.

for expanding our military budget while we cut essential services here at home; for believing that militarism and violence will ensure our collective security.

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for a brutal and crushing military occupation

for blockading 1.8 million Gazans inside an open air prison;

for repeatedly unleashing devastating military firepower on a population trapped in a tiny strip of land.

for wedding sacred Jewish spiritual tradition to political nationalism and militarism;

or rationalizing away Israel’s oppression of the Palestinian people.

This direct naming of Israel’s humiliation of the Palestinian occupation indicates to me that the prophetic is alive still, small though it may be, in the Jewish community. Rosen makes no bones about this. He is a virtual Jeremiah for our time.His target is idolatry, empire and arrogance.

May his numbers increase.