Dec 26, 2015

An Intention for Hope in the New Year

An Intention for Hope in the New Year
© Rabbi Menachem Creditor

Hope. In the darkest moments it is still there. We've faced more than enough hardship to understand if it had evaporated. But it hasn't. Hope is a sustainable and renewable source of energy. The real question is each of us remembering to access hope, to nurture it, to channel gratitude for existence itself to fuel the internal and personal commitment to life, which is itself a resurgence of hope for life beyond the self.

'It is not good for a person to be alone,' after all. We are wired to connect. Therefore, hope within one holds the potential hope for at least two.

A note about the furious pace of history:

Time has always been on the march; we just learn more about each second more immediately than before. (Imagine how unsettling a live-tweet of the events of the 20th century might have felt.) 'The world is too much with us' is not a new sentiment, and the 'anatomy of hope' is similarly established.

The urgency of every screaming headline shared on social media might actually be testimony to the intense, primal yearning for interconnectivity we humans contain. This erupting humanity, amplified by technology, is a staggering experience, to be sure. We are calling to each other across every great expanse, and the good news is: we are here for each other. And, if all this is true, the hope each of us renews might truly transform the world.

May the works of our hands and the meditations of our hearts extend light to the darkest corners of each other's hearts.

May hope increase in the year to come, because we recognized our own inner lights and shared them.

May the year to come be better than the last.

Amen.

#Prayer #newyear #2016 #light #life #inspiration #radicalamazement #love #gratitude #Hope #humanity

Dec 25, 2015

As we close the book of Genesis and prepare for Exodus...

As we close the book of Genesis and prepare for Exodus, may we acknowledge our mortality, feel our own historic Jewish vulnerability, and the promise of liberation. And, as we re-experience our traumatic and inspiring sacred stories, the narratives that define us as Jews, may we remember that all people are worthy of being saved, and that freedom brings with it the responsibility to stand in solidarity with every vulnerable other. May there be no more plagues. May we all sing our freedom songs, sunlight touching our closed, relaxed eyes, feeling safe, side by side.

Dec 24, 2015

Something for Everyone - Coming Up at CNS in January!

NSLogo 
Quick Links
Shabbat, January 8-9
How American Jews Can Help Bend the Arc Toward Justice!
A Bend the Arc Scholar in Residence Shabbat at CNS
with Rabbi Jason Kimelman-Block, Deputy Director of Bend the Arc Jewish Action

A Note from Rabbi Creditor:
Something for Everyone - 
Coming Up at CNS in January!
13 Tevet, 5776
Dec. 24, 2015
Dear Chevreh,
The incredible array of upcoming programs in January at Netivot Shalom demonstrates how the passions of our members broaden and deepen our life as a community.  CNS is surging forward into the new year with more opportunities for Jewish growth and learning than ever before, driven by incredible members and supported by a devoted staff. 

I invite you to find one activity of the many listed below. See each program, each class, film, conversation, Shabbat, as a new entry point to deepen your connection with new friends and old, and to be a part of Netivot Shalom's amazing life.
Rabbi Creditor
How blessed we are to share all of these programs, to do our work in the world together as a sacred, participatory community!

Love,
Rabbi Creditor

----
Shabbat, January 8-9
How American Jews Can Help 
Bend the Arc Toward Justice!
A Bend the Arc Scholar in Residence Shabbat!
with Rabbi Jason Kimelman-Block, Deputy Director of Bend the Arc Jewish Action
 
Join Rabbi Jason Kimelman-Block as our Scholar-in-Residence for a unique Shabbat focused on domestic social justice. Jason is the Rabbi-in-Residence for Bend the Arc: A Jewish Partnership for Justice, and Deputy Director of Bend the Arc Jewish Action in Washington, DC. For a schedule of the Shabbat activities, topics Rabbi Kimelman-Block will discuss, and to RSVP for Shabbat dinner, click here: bendthearc.us/events/rabbi-jason-kimelman-block-congregation-netivot-shalom.

Sunday, January 10, 10:00 - 11:45 a.m.
(10:00 nosh and schmooze <> 10:15 lecture)
Women, Work, and Family 
in Contemporary Israeli Society
with Sociology Professor Shira Offer
Presented as part of CNS' V'zot Yisrael Israeli speaker series
 
Despite demographic, economic, and cultural changes, a substantial gender gap still exists in many areas of Israeli life. Women continue to be channeled into "feminine" occupations and still earn lower wages than men. Women also continue to bear the major responsibility for childcare and housework. Professor Offer will show how the unique Israeli context shapes these patterns and what the effects are on the well-being and functioning of families.
 
Sunday, January 17, 6:30-9:30 p.m.
Reproductive Justice through a Jewish Lens: 
Film and Panel Discussion
Presented by The Reproductive Justice Task Force of Netivot's Social Action Committee

Film Screening, "After Tiller" about doctors who provide abortion services after Dr. Tiller's assassination. Panel discussion regarding abortion stigma and access with Dr. Sella (who appears in the film), representatives of Sea Change and ACCESS, and Rabbi Creditor, on reproductive justice and Judaism.
 
Monday, January 18th, 7:30-9pm
The Role of the Sephardic Woman 
in Preserving the Sephardic Culture
with Rivka Amado

Women have played a central role in Shaping and preserving Sephardic culture since the expulsion of the Jews from Spain in 1492. The Ladino songs they composed and transcribed reflected the values of the culture ,the longing for the Golden Age in Spain, the traditional views of life cycle events, and the universal concerns of women: seduction, loyalty, subordination and humiliation. This talk contains a mix of historical narrative and songs  reflecting the culture and longing for the lost Spain. We will explore the heroic role women played in keeping the culture alive, and hear the beautiful music of Spain as carried through the generation to Turkey, Greece, Yugoslavia and throughout the Balkans. To learn and hear more about Rivka's work, visit rivkamusic.com/bio.html
 
Saturday, January 23, 7:30pm
Craig Taubman in Concert! 
Sponsored by the CNS Youth Ed Fund & the Rabbi's Discretionary Fund
Craig Taubman is a world-renowned American Jewish singer/songwriter and music producer based in Los Angeles, California. Through his independent label/production office, Craig 'N Company, he has produced 11 albums. He is also the executive producer of the Celebrate Series, 12 Jewish-themed compilation albums with titles like Celebrate Hip Hop and Celebrate Passover. To see and hear some of Craig's work, click here: http://craignco.com/v3/wordpress/.
 
January 24 at 5:00pm
Tu B'shevat Seder!
Co-sponsored by the CNS AWE and Ritual committees
 
This engaging and fun event will be led Claire Sherman.  The event is free, BUT RESERVATIONS ARE REQUIRED!   The seder is appropriate for children ages 10 or older.  Free childcare will be provided for younger children, but please include the number of children who will be coming in your RSVP.  RSVP to AWE@netivotshalom.org before January 15th.
 
Sunday, January 24, 7:30-9pm
Where Moses Meets Michael Pollan: The Exploding Story of Jewish Community Farms 
with Adam Berman, CEO of Urban Adamah.
 
Urban Adamah in Berkeley the largest urban Jewish community farm in the country. More than 12,000 visitors pass through its gates annually. Yet, its not alone. In the past ten years dozens of Jewish community farms and gardens have sprouted up in communities across the country. They are attracting Jews (and others) in droves. What's the draw? What happens there? And, what might the rest of the Jewish world have to learn from this growing phenomenon? Come join Urban Adamah CEO Adam Berman for this surprising conversation.
 
Sunday Morning, January 31
Enhancing Your Understanding and Leadership of Tefilah 
with Dr. Elie Holzer
Sponsored by the CNS Kelman Liturgy Fund
 
Dr. Elie Holzer is a practice-oriented philosopher of Jewish education. His research integrates text-based Jewish studies, philosophical hermeneutics, pedagogy, and ethical-spiritual traditions. He serves as Assistant Professor at the School of Education of Bar Ilan University, where he also holds the R. Dr. Ochs Chair for Teaching Jewish Religious Studies and is the Director of the Stern Institute for the Study and Advancement of Religious Education. His book, A Philosophy of Havruta: Understanding and Teaching the Art of Text Study in Pairs (Academic Studies Press, 2013) won the USA 2014 National Jewish Book Award. He also authored A Double-Edged Sword: Military Activism in the Thought of Religious Zionism (Bar Ilan Law School & the Hartman Insitute, [Hebrew], 2009); Attuned Learning: Rabbinic Texts on Habits of the Heart in Learning Interactions (Academic Studies Press, 2016) and a large number of research articles in Jewish education and Jewish thought.

 


Congregation Netivot Shalom | 1316 University Avenue | Berkeley | CA | 94702

Dec 22, 2015

light always calls [a #nospoiler #starwars #poem]

light always calls
[a #nospoiler #starwars #poem]
© rabbi menachem creditor

stars, suns, sand, snow
aren't enough
the very cosmos can't fill
that kind of hole
place isn't anything at all

across fiery chasm
binding unbound
descent offering offered
order undone
torn, torn, torn, torn

mother
father
son
daughter
ache for home

light always calls

............................
Rabbi Menachem Creditor
▶menachemcreditor.org ▶netivotshalom.org

To join Rabbi Creditor's email list, send a blank email to thetisch-subscribe@yahoogroups.com!

Dec 18, 2015

A mini-reflection on officiating at ritual moments

A mini-reflection on officiating at ritual moments 
© Rabbi Menachem Creditor
inspired by Tehilah Eisenstadt-Feil

My deepest growth as a ritual officiant  came when I realized I had forgotten to 'be the officiant' and was 'just' being myself under the chupah, at graveside, in the hospital. We are already the people we will be be under the chupah, at graveside, in the hospital, and that's why those moments are so raw and real. Ritual only wields its magic when our honest souls surrender to the moment and allow ourselves, as guides, to be guided.

Dec 16, 2015

CNS Social Action Committee meeting this Sunday, Dec 20

Social Action Committee meeting this Sunday, Dec 20
Hello everybody,

Our next Social Action meeting is fast approaching! Please join us:
 
The 2nd Shul-Wide Social Action Planning Meeting
Sunday, December 20, at 7pm
in the CNS library

We will hear from each of our 4 task forces - reproductive justice, refugees, environment, and hunger/poverty - and create a social action plan for the coming year. Hope to see you there!

Also, a big shout out to the volunteers and contributors of the lovely December 6 kiddush, who co-sponsored kiddush with Jim Mavrikios and Cynthia Whitehead: Kate Burch, Esther Brass, Tree Gelb Stuber, Jacob Richards, Tobie Lurie, Ednah Beth Friedman, Karen Pliskin, Norma Kaufman, Sari Broner, David Callen, and our kiddush mastermind Laura Callen - thank you for putting together a beautiful kiddush for our community!

See you Sunday,

Hilla Abel
Social Action Chair

Copyright © 2015 Social Action Committee at CNS, All rights reserved. 

Dec 3, 2015

A Channukah Note: Glimpses of Light


A Channukah Note:
Glimpses of Light
(c) Rabbi Menachem Creditor

Dear Chevreh,

It is just a few days before Channukah, and yet another intense week has unfolded. I'm sure you've been attuned to things happening in the world, too many to count. This won't be a message pointing to headlines. There are more than enough sources for information in our lives, and the world remains too much with us. Our precious Jewish communities are here for more than headlines - we are here to walk together in meaningful ways in the world.

Yes, we stand witness as individuals and as a sacred Jewish community and are called to respond with what Rabbi Abraham Joshua Heschel z"l called "transitive concern," or sacred love. Yes, the pouring rain on my windowsill right now is surely God's Holy Tears, given this week's hurt in San Bernadino, Houston, Jerusalem, and beyond. May we be strong enough to offer God's Creation the comfort and healing it needs.   

All this demands the spirit of Channukah be truly felt, internalized, cherished, and amplified. The most human parts of ourselves are the most full of light. We hurt because we love. And on Channukah, our love illuminates the world, with increasing power each new night. We place the Channukiah near the window so that the joy not remain private. The darkness of winter is a true metaphor for the message of this festival: light, hope, humanity.

Yes, the history of Channukah is more complicated than this. (Isn't everything?) But, just for the moment, hear the pouring rain as a cleansing, as a Heavenly mikveh, as an invitation to be nourished, to be strengthened for the work ahead. An invitation to feel the light.

Friends, we will do more than pray in weeks to come. Please share Shabbat, Channukah music and food, holiday celebrations with adults and children, at home and beyond.

But, most of all, as we sing on Channukah, "באנו חשך לגרש, we've arrived to banish the darkness." Don't give up. Banish despair with the light you have inside. You have more than enough to share. And together, gevalt: we could illuminate the whole world. 


rabbi creditor
Breathe deeply. Cherish every breath. Let that light in. We all need it.

Happy early Channukah!



it's all true [a #poem]

it's all true
(c) rabbi menachem creditor

it's true
all of it
the rain and the sun
and the pain and the comfort
and the unpredictable and the unexpected
the dark, the dark
but O, the light.
It's all true.

Nov 30, 2015

VaYeshev 5776/2015: The Threat of Serenity

CHENNAI RAINS

VaYeshev 5776/2015: "The Threat of Serenity"


The inspiration for this reflection came from a conversation many years ago with a friend about their love of skiing.
I've never skied, and I never intend to ski. In fact, I don't understand why anyone does. It seems to me that the things all skiers have in common are the bruises and broken bones inevitably acquired in the winter months.
Which is what I mentioned to my friend, who explained to me that, for him, skiing is a chance to relax and feel at peace. This was even more strange for me to hear, because when I relax, I like to do nothing. I spend most of my waking hours thinking and working and doing, and so when I can find a free moment I just love settling down into a comfortable chair with a cup of tea and either read a book or fall asleep.
The tension between these two ways of achieving peace are tied to the very first verse in this week's Torah Portion, VaYeshev. We read
Now Jacob was settled in the land where his father had sojourned, the land of Canaan. (Genesis 37:1)
Though the words, even in the Hebrew, don't particularly call attention to themselves, Jewish tradition has seen multiple layers within Jacob's desire to settle down. Rabbi Shlomo Yitzchaki ("Rashi"), adapting older midrashic sources, writes,
Jacob wished to live in serenity, when suddenly the drama of Joseph collided with him. When righteous people try to live lives of serenity, the Holy Blessed One says, "It's not enough for the righteous that which they have in store in the world to come, that they wish also to live serene lives in this world?!"
Rashi suggests that the struggle of a holy life does have a reward, but that a person worthy of reward doesn't slow down to collect. But, just for a moment, think of Jacob, a man who has already done a tremendous amount of living. He has emerged from a childhood trauma with his brother and parents, has worked 14 years to begin his family, has re-encountered his estranged brother, endured the pain of his own children's violence and suffering. He's weathered the journey of a lifetime, and simply wants to settle down. And if we didn't know what was coming next, we might expect his life's story to be near its end. But, thanks in part to Andrew Lloyd Webber, we know that this "inspiring tale" twists and turns quite a few more times before Jacob truly finds rest.
Our opening verse spoke of a land of "sojourning." Every patriarch and matriarch of Genesis had numerous stops during their wanderings. The notion of "home" was painfully elusive, we might imagine.
There is a famous parable that connects the concept of journeying with God's choice of Abraham as the first to carry the message. The Torah's text tells us virtually nothing about Abraham before his first call from God (Gen. 12:1), and so the midrash creates a back story:
This is like a man who was traveling from place to place, when he saw a castle on fire. He thought, "Can you say that this castle is without a master?' Then, the master of the castle looked out at him, and said, "I am the master of the castle!" In the same way, since Abraham our father was constantly wondering, "Can you say this world is without a Master?" God looked at him and said, "I am Master of the world!" (Midrash Genesis Rabbah 39:1)
This story has elicited years of thought, many essays and books, and so full understanding will remain impossible. But I do see one thing clearly illustrated in its words: Abraham would never have merited the call if he had stayed still. Traveling from place to place is the backdrop to Abraham's spiritual growth. Abraham's becoming settled, too comfortable, with his life's journey until that point would have robbed him, and us, of an exquisite relationship with God, of the possibilities he'd open with each next step he would take. So too, for his grandson Jacob. So too, for us.
While still a rabbinical student in New York City, I read a poem by Mark Strand, displayed on the NYC subway system as a part of an add campaign called "Poetry in Motion." I offer Strand's words here with both the wish that the world should truly come closer to peace, and with the knowledge that peace will only come if we continue journeying forward.
In a field
I am the absence of field.
This is always the case.
Wherever I am
I am what is missing.
When I walk
I part the air
and always
the air moves in
to fill the spaces
where my body's been.
We all have reasons
for moving.
I move
to keep things whole.

Nov 25, 2015

A Prayer for the #BlackFriday14

A Prayer for the #BlackFriday14
Offered as part of the Interfaith Service and Rally, Wiley Manuel Alameda County Courthouse in Oakland, CA, Nov. 25, 2015
© Rabbi Menachem Creditor

inspired by Pastor Michael McBride, Yehudah Amichai, Rabbi Rachel Barenblat, Rabbi Michael Rothbaum, Bend the Arc: A Jewish Partnership for Justice, and the #BlackLivesMatter Movement

Dearest God,

We stand before you because we must.

We stand before You because
truths that should be self-evident
are not so evident in our country.

Fourteen Black community activists participated in an act of civil disobedience one year ago at the West Oakland BART station, disrupting economic business as usual in the best tradition of our great society. They did this as part of nationwide protests to demand dignity and respect for all Black lives.

And, for this, the District Attorney's office filed criminal charges. For the crime of demanding dignity through non-violent protest they face more serious consequences than many police officers who have taken innocent Black lives.

Many now know the names Michael Brown, Eric Garner, Tamir Rice and Freddie Gray. Jewish tradition adds zochronam livracha, may their memories be for a blessing. But theirs are only four names of many, many needlessly lost, wrongfully taken, Black lives. Tanisha Anderson, Rekia Boyd, Miriam Carey, Michelle Cusseaux, Shelly Frey and Kayla Moore. We will say their names. We, God, will say all their names, marching and acting and crying and singing and demanding and protesting until every elected official, every Presidential candidate, every law enforcement officer, and yes – every District Attorney – knows we’re watching.

We’ll say their names until everyone remembers You’re watching.

Today, God, we call to mind our prophetic teachings, including that of the  Reverend Dr. King, who taught us in 1967:

…Power at its best is love
implementing the demands of justice,
and justice at its best is power
correcting everything
that stands against love.

Dr. King’s prayers are not to be appropriated as a tool for easy comfort and self-satisfaction by the established, by the well-off. By those who would reinforce instead of acknowledge their privilege.

His words were honed sharp by the depth of his righteous rage at society’s inequalities. And those dreams he dreamed are, and forever will be, dreams worth dreaming. We lost our teacher so many years ago. But we have not lost his challenge to not search for consensus but to mold consensus by the power of our convictions.

We gather today to remind each other how to dream and how to act in Dr. King's spirit. For as he taught, “We must learn to live together as brothers [and sisters] or perish together as fools.” And we’d like to not be fools, Lord, alone in our suffering. We’ve got so much to do, and the good news is there is more than enough power in our unified community with which to see it done. If we can remain focused on our shared vision for Black Lives, we will be able to do all this and more.

And so we turn to you to breathe
ever more of Your Spirit into us
because we find we cannot breathe,
the arms of armed forces wrapped around our throats
when we call out for justice.

We call to you in defiance of
of a national system that betrays our noble ideals,
where tanks and blood fill our streets,
where every Black man, woman, and child is
twenty times likelier to be killed by police.
We shout to the Heavens with one, unified voice:
Black. Lives. Matter.

We are called by scripture to pray for the day when we will
beat swords into plowshares and study war no more,
when the surplus of war led by greed and deception
will not spill into our streets,
where swords and tanks and rubber bullets and tear gas
will be beaten thinner and thinner,
the iron of hatred vanishing forever.

We pray to You because,
as our prophets have taught us:
human suffering anywhere
concerns men and women everywhere.

We called to you, O God,
because Your Image
was abandoned on rainy concrete for
4 and a half hours.

We call to you, O God,
because Your Spirit
was choked out of a father who
called out 11 times’ “I can’t breathe.”

We call to you because all of America is Ferguson, all of America is McKinney Texas, all of America is Oakland, and all of us are the fourteen young people currently facing obscene charges for the bravery of civil disobedience.

We raise our hands to you,
knowing that the work is ours to do,
black, white, Jewish, Christian, Muslim,
Hindu, atheist, young, old, gay, straight –
These are your images, battered all too often
by those sworn to protect and serve
and a broken judicial system
in need of radical mending.

We are all responsible for what happens next.

And so we pray to You,
Source of Life,
raise up our eyes
to see You in each other’s eyes,
to take risks for justice,
to bring through our unified prayer today
more Love and Compassion into the world.

Ignite us to combat the hidden prejudice
which causes police to open fire in fear,
which transforms a child in a hoodie
into a hoodlum, a person into a threat.

We pray today not for calm but for righteousness
to flow like a mighty river, until
peace fills the earth as the waters fill the sea.

Comfort the families of all who grieve.
Strengthen us to work for a world redeemed.

And we say together:

Amen.
............................
Rabbi Menachem Creditor
menachemcreditor.org ▶netivotshalom.org
To join Rabbi Creditor's email list, send a blank email to thetisch-subscribe@yahoogroups.com!

Nov 24, 2015

Black Lives Matter and the Beauty of Israel: Working on Both with One Soul

Black Lives Matter and the Beauty of Israel: Working on Both with One Soul
(c) Rabbi Menachem Creditor

I'm participating in the #BlackFriday14 action tomorrow, praying desperately that the focus remains true to the principles of #BlackLivesMatter. Conflation of American systemic racism with the plight of Palestinians:
  1. makes it impossible for Jewish BLM activists who love Israel to share in the work,
  2. ignores the wide historical differences between a) the UN Charter that established two states for two Peoples and b) African slavery,
  3. denies the foundational universalism and democracy of Zionism and the right of Israel to exist,
  4. confuses the difficulty of living under the daily threat of violent terrorism against Israelis with the intent to deny human rights to Palestinians,
  5. ignores the many Israeli/Palestinian peacemakers whose work could be the very model for American healing we need,
  6. makes it infinitely harder for liberal Zionists to do the internal work necessary to end the Occupation of the West Bank and work on Israeli Democracy, Israeli Arab rights, and peace.
The #BlackLivesMatter Principles (powerfully articulated at http://blacklivesmatter.com/) are:

"Black Lives Matter is a unique contribution that goes beyond extrajudicial killings of Black people by police and vigilantes. It goes beyond the narrow nationalism that can be prevalent within some Black communities, which merely call on Black people to love Black, live Black and buy Black, keeping straight cis Black men in the front of the movement while our sisters, queer and trans and disabled folk take up roles in the background or not at all. Black Lives Matter affirms the lives of Black queer and trans folks, disabled folks, Black-undocumented folks, folks with records, women and all Black lives along the gender spectrum. It centers those that have been marginalized within Black liberation movements. It is a tactic to (re)build the Black liberation movement."

May the aspirations of all people, Black, Palestinian, and Israel be answered. We have more than enough land and love for that. 

The day we all pray for will come when we can listen well enough to distinguish, affirm, and support our truest selves. None need be at the expense of the other, and all could use their own dignity back.

............................
Rabbi Menachem Creditor
menachemcreditor.org ▶netivotshalom.org
To join Rabbi Creditor's email list, send a blank email to thetisch-subscribe@yahoogroups.com!

Nov 19, 2015

A Blessing for a Baby Born Prematurely

A Blessing for a Baby Born Prematurely
© Rabbi Menachem Creditor

My God,
this little soul (the child's name)
is pure.

Your sacred Image is manifest
in (the child's name),
forming and developing
unfolding
even as s/he is emerged and entered
into the world.

One day,
may it be far into the future,
this little soul will leave this world
and enter the next one.

May every moment
of this little one's life
be blessed
with love,
with health,
with life.

May s/he gain strength and resilience,
in and out,
body and soul.

I am grateful to you,
my God
God of every generation,
for this little one's life.

Blessed are You,
God who restores our souls
each day.

Amen.

Nov 16, 2015

Congregation Netivot Shalom Kashrut Policy (Adopted: Kislev 5769 / December 2008 )

Congregation Netivot Shalom Kashrut Policy
Adopted: Kislev 5769 / December 2008 
For any question of Kashrut, please contact Rabbi Creditor.    

Kavanah / Our Approach: The term "kosher" is a statement of purposefulness. Torah Scrolls, food, and choices can be "kosher" (or not).  This document deals primarily with our food guidelines but reflects the larger approach of healthy & holy living we teach and live at Netivot Shalom.  In other words, our integrated commitments to ethical, environmental, and ritual elevation are Kashrut standards by which we abide as a community.  While individual members of the congregation have a wide variety of observances in their own homes, we have adopted the following rules as our kashrut policy for events, and expect everyone who purchases or prepares food for shul functions to follow this Kashrut policy.

Note: Netivot Shalom allows only dairy and pareve food at events held on our premises.    

ALL processed food products need to have a recognized hechsher* (Kashrut certification).  A hechsher is a symbol of approval stamped on the packaging of a product, which certifies that the facility manufacturing the product is under supervision of a rabbi who attests to the kashrut of the product. The only exception to this rule is hard cheese.  All wine, juices, and purchased baked goods must have a hechsher.  *Note: If a label has simply the letter "K", that alone does not signify that a product has a recognized hechsher. The hechsher with the symbol "Tablet K" http://docs.google.com/File?id=dcp43hhw_169gz8kb4c6_b is not acceptable.    

Kashrut Standards for the Synagogue Kitchen: Netivot Shalom members are welcome to cook pareve and dairy meals in the synagogue kitchen, provided all ingredients adhere to our kashrut standards. We encourage members to cook together and to use the synagogue kitchen to prepare food for Netivot Shalom functions. This is one way we build community and share fun experiences together!    

Kashrut Standards for Food Cooked in a Member's Home for a Synagogue Event in the Synagogue or Elsewhere:

If you keep a kosher kitchen: You can bring dairy or pareve food cooked in your home that adheres to our kashrut standards using hechshered ingredients where required. If your home is kosher and you keep "ingredient kosher", or if your home is vegan or vegetarian, use only hechshered ingredients when preparing food for community use and prepare and bring them in new recyclable/disposable containers. You are responsible for determining that your kitchen is kosher. Feel free to approach Rabbi Creditor with any questions.     

If you do not yet keep a kosher kitchen: You can still bring food cooked or baked in your kitchen by using hechshered ingredients and by following these guidelines, (which, in effect, describe how easy it truly is to have a kosher kitchen): 
§ Begin by creating a separate space in your kitchen by scrubbing and cleaning your work area.
§ Use only new utensils, pots, pans, and cutlery. 
§ Stovetop Cooking: You may cook on an electric or gas stove, using a new or kosher pot. 
§ Microwave Cooking: You may cook in a microwave after kashering it by cleaning the inside thoroughly and then bringing a glass of water in it to a boil.   
§ Baking: You may bake in the oven, after running the cleaning cycle. If the oven does not have a cleaning cycle, you can clean it thoroughly and run it at its highest temperature setting for 15 minutes prior to cooking. 
§ Cleaning: Use only new sponges when cleaning implements. 
§ Transporting: Foods should be brought to shul in new recyclable/disposable containers.  Food should not be transported on Shabbat or Holidays. 
§ For Kashering one’s home kitchen - MAZAL TOV!! - please contact Rabbi Creditor.