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My Souvenir Prophet 

My Souvenir Prophet 
© Rabbi Menachem Creditor How is any of this possible? As I type on a smartphone hooked up to the Tel Aviv/Jerusalem bus Wi-Fi, I reflect on my first almost-24-hours in Israel on this, my 30th pilgrimage home. From that first trip for my post-high school gap year on Nativ Israel, to this one coleading the AIPAC #Progressive #Rabbis Mission to Israel for the fourth time, my eyes and soul keep being overwhelmed by.... well, everything. Perhaps what typifies this trip was a strange, brief encounter that happened on the street just an hour ago. I stood with with my sister and baby niece on the sidewalk next to the site where Yitzhak Rabin z"l was assassinated. The site has become holier to me than the Kotel for many, many reasons. Just over 2 years ago, I brought my children to this place on a Shabbat morning, and watched as they gleefully played with the pigeons, my precious Jewish children laughing with enduring Israeli doves. For me, that made this place holie…

for whom and how Torah is given

for whom and how Torah is given
© rabbi menachem creditor

It is not for those inhabitants of comfortable, air-conditioned halls of study that spiritual practice was devised.

Those luxurious palaces of meaning are furnished with chairs and tables, bookshelves and coffee makers. Those seeking mastery there sit and pore and pour. They arrived at the doors of depth by choice. The depths from which they call are real and can be thorny, but by dint of their very access to the recorded treasures of the spirit, they have already made it.

No, dear ones, Torah was not given for them.

No, Torah was given for the souls waiting in hot, cramped, subway stations, challenged to be kind to each other while sweating in discomfort, making effort to not push each other aside in search of cooler air.

Wait. No, not for them, actually.

Torah was given for those poor souls outside the subway station, clothes melting off them in the sweltering heat. Yes, the messages of the holy Torah were given for those who …

Attacked from Within: A New HuffPost Piece

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Attacked from Within Rabbi Menachem Creditor
Huffington Post - 07/12/2017
http://www.huffingtonpost.com/entry/59669d63e4b0524d8fa7fab1 In just a few days, I leave for Israel, ready to co-lead the AIEF/AIPAC Progressive Rabbinic Mission for the fourth time. These amazing trips have been defined in different and profound ways each summer: the Gaza war, the Iran Nuclear “deal,” and stabbing and ramming terrorist attacks. I have returned after each mission more committed to Israel’s security, more aware of the existential threats Israel faces, more appreciative of the inner dynamics of Israel’s society. I had hoped this summer would be a calmer trip. But, to my great dismay, this year, we rabbis head to Israel assaulted by the Israeli Chief Rabbinate, an arm of Israel’s government. READ MORE HERE...

On Independence: Freedom For

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On Independence: Freedom For
© Rabbi Menachem Creditor 
"We men and women are all in the same boat, upon a stormy sea. We owe to each other a terrible and tragic loyalty." - G.K Chesterton
If I am to emancipate myself, we must emancipate each other. But, if I am to emancipate anyone, I must see each and every other anew, be(come) open to the possibility that someone besides me is in pain. And, if I am to(come) open to the possibility of the pain of another, just acknowledge my own.  Today, what is independence? We should desire no rockets' red glare, no gleaming empire. We should desire no borders that keep out young Afghani students, nor leaders who despise the free press. Are the rights to threaten and discriminate an independence worthy of the sacrifice of the men and women who defend us? 
And what of the flag, colors of America's freedom. For whom does that banner yet wave? For three fifths of some of us? The answer is far from clear, two hundred and forty-one year…

Opening Prayer for One America Movement Board Meeting (6/29/17)

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Opening Prayer for One America Movement Board Meeting (6/29/17)(c) Rabbi Menachem Creditor http://werepair.org/oneamerica/

Dear God, Creator Who Binds us All to One Another,

We ask for Your help this day. We know that there is no rest for the righteous. So we do not ask for rest. But we do ask for Your strength in our spirits as we engage in this sacred work as sisters and brothers.

We, as leaders of the One America Movement, dedicate ourselves to rebuilding our country, to repairing our world, and, perhaps most importantly, to we promise do all of this together.

We stand against the callousness that manifests as a readiness to see “the other” as “less than.” Mindful of Your Image in the faces of every human being, we are acknowledge that every voice on every side of every issue is obligated as one to start the work of reweaving the fabric of America faster than anyone might unravel it.

Your many Names are One, and so shall we be.

Please God, help us keep fierce feeling alive in our souls.

a new essay on HuffPost: "On the Outside Looking In: Reflections of a Jew Wounded by Israel"

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On the Outside Looking In: Reflections of a Jew Wounded by IsraelRabbi Menachem Creditor http://www.huffingtonpost.com/entry/5952cacbe4b0f078efd985a9 Today hurts so very terribly. Love shouldn’t hurt like this. With twin efforts to tyrannize the Western Wall and to weaponize Jewish conversion, the State of Israel is actively hurting the Jewish People, and it is worse than wrong. It is not wrong born of ignorance. It is knowing, willful abuse within our Jewish family. I was having a hard time formulating the thoughts of my aching soul, and so I turned to a colleague and friend, Myra Meskin... continue reading here

a new essay on HuffPost: "A Very Bad, No-Good, Rotten Day For Zionism"

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A Very Bad, No-Good, Rotten Day For ZionismRabbi Menachem Creditor
After decades of political brinkmanship and hand-wringing, countless tears and letters and protests and arrests, after multiple Israeli Supreme Court decisions and governmental committee commitments (not to mention thousands of Israeli leaders’ posturing at American Jewish fundraising events as supporters of Jewish pluralism), Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu today froze plans to dedicate a pluralistic prayer pavilion at the Western Wall. This is a betrayal of trust on every level, and there is no turning back. It is likely that many establishment well-intentioned American Jewish leaders will respond vocally to today’s horrific decision (some already have), but will then sit, once again, at the table with Israel’s leaders, pretending (even to themselves) that they aren’t being skillfully used as a PR shield for Netanyahu’s craven betrayal of Jewish values in our very home, once again. Today is a very bad, no-go…

A new TOI piece from Camp Ramah: "When it All Comes Together"

When it All Comes Together

http://blogs.timesofisrael.com/when-it-all-comes-together/#
I sat with a dozen boys and their counselors, singing to them and telling them stories. Harga'ot are a sweet bedtime ritual at Camp Ramah, and I've been part of this beautiful practice many, many times. But tonight was different in a few staggering ways, and the least I can do is share the gratitude welling up in my heart through these words.
The songs were an eclectic blend of Rabbi Shlomo Carlebach, Garth Brooks, Rabbi David Paskin, and Joey Weisenberg, mixed in with one or two of my own. The story was my favorite, a defining one I learned along my journey towards becoming rabbi. The setting was the children's Mo'adon (lounge) at Camp Ramah in Northern California.
One song was a musical adaptation of the classic Chassidic story of a young boy who whistles during prayers instead of reciting the Hebrew words. People around the boy (including the Rabbi) are annoyed, but the  boy explains…

Grace, Grace... Please, God, Grace...

wind and spirit [a #poem]

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wind and spirit
(c) rabbi menachem creditor
stars of the sky glimmering, shining, sometimes hidden
their light graces, each in its own unique way, long after their time has passed.
clouds and closed eyes obfuscate
but
with enough wind and spirit awaiting light
will shine through it all.

When the Desert Sings: Bamidbar

The Way Up [a #poem]

the way up
© rabbi menachem creditor
for samyou might think these
tears of descent
and yet, as they fall
everything ascends raw sounds pierce the air
beyond and before words
quiet trembling,
familiar disequilibrium,
a promise made once again...new moment
new possibilities
new lifefinding a new perch
made easier
with each shed hot droplet. #BuildOnLove #life #chooselife #cry #live #love #returnagain

Can't stop, won't stop. Making welcome bags for Refugees, as part of the East Bay Tikkun Olam Chesed Day! #RefugeesWelcome #refugeecrisis #chesed #tikkunolam

Those Whose Hearts Call

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Those Whose Hearts Call
Rabbi Menachem Creditor To look from the outside at Congregation Netivot Shalom, one would think that an army of employees were behind the scenes, creating and implementing our vibrant programs and ritual life. The glory of our community is the ongoing commitment to participatory leadership. Yes, the tasks involved in leading an institution, supporting our 400+ membership, and maintaining our beautiful building on University Avenue - Berkeley, surpass the capacity of our historic model. The needs are just too much for the infrastructure we currently have in place. But that will always be the case, even when our system catches up with the needs we know about. But isn’t that glorious? To be a community that “invites you to engage in a cross-generational discovery of Jewish inspiration and purpose,” as our mission statement reminds us, means that we desire to grow and dream and build and love more and more. Which means that, if we’re blessed to succeed in our missi…

Images: Reflecting on 13 Reasons Why (1:7)

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Images: Reflecting on 13 Reasons Why (1:7)
(c) Menachem Creditor Why Me? why you?
do we see?
can we see each other
deeply?
accurately?
truly? can any one see any other?
what if we would?
What if we did?
Would we then,
finally, know the other's truths? Or do we only see what we see?
not you, but my image of you... is there, in the end,
such a thing
as truly knowing an other? Or are we each
at best
each other's image,
images of each other,
glimpses of only the surface,
alone? #13reasonswhy

13 Reasons: A Jewish Mid-Series Reflection

NEW! Join us for an introduction to Mussar

Upon the Shabbat of Passover

Upon the Shabbat of Passover
© Rabbi Menachem Creditor How powerful the comparison between Shabbat and Pesach. Regarding Shabbat, the culmination of Creation: Darkness and chaos ruled, sparking within God the desire for Light, a primal marker for hope and renewal, for the ability to distinguish between one moment and the next, one person and another. Perhaps we might even say that in the beginning there was Darkness, thank God. But when it comes to the liberation story of Passover, the place of Darkness is different. The increasing Darkness over Egypt through the Exodus narrative, including but not limited to the locusts so manifold that the very rays of the sun are blocked, culminates in the penultimate plague, a form of Darkness that locked one immobilized in the confines of selfhood, unable to even see another person. In the end, there was only Darkness. And so we find ourselves on the Shabbat of Pesach ritually immersed in between the Darkness that prompts Creation and the Darknes…

Homegoing: A Mid-journey Mini-Reflection

Homegoing: A Mid-journey Mini-Reflection
© Rabbi Menachem Creditor I find myself mid-air, weightless, en route to re-enacting my family's freedom journey. My children delighting in each other's silliness, sharing space and time. I'm finally reading a book that's been waiting for months. And I'm reading it because I am in control of my own choices, mostly in charge of my own time. But most of all, my redemption song is one I must labor to remember through elaborate, rituals, annual and daily. I could forget my own oppression. Not really, but sort of. And this is where the pain begins. This eloquent novelization by Yaa Gyasi African slavery (set in Ghana, where my soul was torn open by an encounter with modern slavery just a few years ago) is rife with painful detail, one of which hits me hardest in this moment of family pilgrimage:What if I couldn't be sure I could see my own children, that strangers could legally tear them from me? What if my blessed childhood,…

Pesach Seder Supplements (2017/5777)

From Rabbi Creditor:
The Haiku Haggadah (2017): (YouTube Video) (individual graphics)Jewish Wrath and the Haggadah (podcast)2017 News Stories:
A JWeekly story focusing on Passover practices focusing on Global Slavery: jweekly.com/2017/04/05/let-all-people-go-passover-project-tackles-global-slavery/A New York Jewish Week story about Pesach Seder Supplements focused on the Refugee Crisis: jewishweek.timesofisrael.com/trump-at-the-seder/A Times of Israel story about Social Justice Seder Supplements: timesofisrael.com/passover-guides-serve-up-a-side-of-social-justice-for-the-seder-table/Selected Seder Supplements from Other Jewish Organizations:
From Rabbis Against Gun Violence (RAGV)http://ragvtest.weebly.com/uploads/7/5/7/9/75795149/ragv_seder_supplement_2017.5777.final.pdfFrom Truah: The Rabbinic Call for Human Rights: http://www.truah.org/opendoor/From Bend the Arc: http://www.jewishaction.us/sites/default/files/bend_the_arc_-_4_responses_to_unacceptable_times.pdfFrom AJWS: https://ajw…

The Haiku Hagaddah (2017)

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A new essay, a new video, and 2 re-issued Pesach books!

Friends, 
Thrilled to share with you all a new MyJewishLearning piece about how the deepest intimacy can be both binding and freeing, a video reflection after this year's AIPAC Policy Conference, and my re-issued Pesach Children's Books "A Pesach Rhyme" and Passover essay collection (co-edited with Rabbi Aaron Alexander), "Slavery, Freedom, and Everything in Between!" (Links are below.)
May the month to come find us pruposeful, full-hearted, and free!
Love, Menachem

-- Why is Moses Kept Out of the Tabernacle?myjewishlearning.com (March 9, 2017)http://www.myjewishlearning.com/article/why-is-moses-kept-out-of-the-tabernacle/
-- Inside/Outside: One Rabbi's Post-AIPAC Musings Facebook Live (March 29, 2017) http://rabbicreditor.blogspot.com/2017/03/insideoutside-one-rabbis-post-aipac.html
-- Slavery, Freedom, and Everything in Between! (co-edited with Rabbi Aaron Alexander) https://www.amazon.com/Slavery-Freedom-Everything-Between-Passover/dp/1482652927
-- A Pes…

Inside/Outside: One Rabbi's Post-AIPAC Musings

White Privilege at Shul

Jews and Muslims: One Family (Rabbi Menachem Creditor at the Pacifica Institute)

The Blessings of Broken Tablets

Abandon all fear.

Abandon all fear.
(c) Rabbi Menachem Creditor

There is an ugly truth we'd rather not face, a hate that is alive and well and growing in America.

Face it we must. They are coming for our children. They are coming for our old ones. They are coming for our neighbors. Day Schools, JCC's, religious communities, Jewish Children's Museums, immigrants, Muslims, Jews.

Who is "they," you ask? Look around you. Anyone not actively advocating for and working to ensure the safety of every person is complicit. "Willing executioners" is a frighteningly big category. As Elie Wisel taught, "The opposite of hate is not love. The opposite of hate is indifference."

Friends, we will read the Purim story this Saturday night with recognition. With resilience, with determination. "The whole world is a very narrow bridge," taught Rav Nachman of Bratslav. He closed by showing us all the way forward: "The essential thing is to have no fear. None at all.&qu…

Joyfully Answering the Call

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CNS Homepage  |  Make a Gift!  |  CNS Calendar  |  Rabbi Creditor's Blog From Rabbi Creditor:  Joyfully Answering the Call

My thoughts, after meeting with a very special, very scared, young man. This is dedicated to him, and through him, back to us all. #BuildOnLove

Take Back the Narrative: We Are Better than This

Building a Beloved Society: Rules, Kindness, Resoul-ing

God is in the Details

So moved. Ellen Allard and other loving souls singing #OlamChesedYibaneh in #StLouis, as we answer hate with love. #BuildOnLove

Hours after the attack on a Jewish cemetery in St Louis.was announced, the American Muslim community came together to raise the funds necessary for repair of the stones.

the way (a #poem)

the way
(c) Menachem Creditor

keep working your own heart.
open yourself to the next flower,
the next breeze,
the next person you see.

take a moment.
perhaps ask the flower what it needs,
ask the person what she needs.
(dare you ask yourself what you truly need?)

don't worry so much about the way to God.
if you can open yourself to another,
the way to God will reveal itself
that much more clearly.

A reflection on Revelatory Relationships: Contact, not Content

#Revelation Begins With You

To the One: We're Still Here

To the One: We're Still Here
© Rabbi Menachem Creditor Dear One, We know. We've given You reason to wonder if we're still here. So this is just to say we get it. We're in pain too, and ready to restart the work. It can feel like there too much to do. But when has ever not been the case? We understand. We're listening again. There are good people everywhere, singing and praying and marching and loving each other. We're in. Thanks for giving us each other. That's all we need. You're the best. Love,
Us

Powerful moment yesterday in shul

Powerful moment yesterday in shul: "Rabbi, I get why some people have a hard time with hard-hitting sermons. We leave feeling more deeply. And that hurts. We leave with a burden. But we need it. It's what we need."One take-away among many: We, members in socially engaged faith communities, must love each other well and fully, so that pain (real, important, global, calling) has a #soulcushion strong enough to absorb, a heart resilient enough to smile at the world we're together building (while also collectively crying/raging at the world we're experiencing). Love is as real as pain, and exponentially stronger - once exposed to the air and shared freely.

Upon Being Arrested

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CNS Homepage  |  Make a Gift!  |  CNS Calendar  |  Rabbi Creditor's Blog From Rabbi Creditor:  Upon Being Arrested February 8, 2017  Shevat 13, 5777
Dear Friends,  
As you likely already know, I was arrested two nights ago in New York City as part of an act of civil disobediencewith 18 other rabbis. We joined with hundreds of other rabbis, Jews, and others to protest President Donald Trump's refugee ban. I am still processing the ex