|October 02, 2015||Pittsburgh’s Newest View||no comments|
|September 27, 2015||Don’t Miss This Super Moon||no comments|
|September 21, 2015||A New Bottom Line||no comments|
|September 18, 2015||Great Reading for The Days of Awe||no comments|
|September 16, 2015||Counting Down||no comments|
|September 11, 2015||What We Can Do Today To Honor Our Loss||no comments|
|September 09, 2015||Satan’s Credit Card||1 comments|
|September 03, 2015||Contempt||1 comments|
|September 01, 2015||How Do Families Get By?||1 comments|
|August 27, 2015||The Full Moon of Elul||no comments|
Pittsburghers and visitors, do I have a treat for you? Yes, it’s our newest regional park: Emerald View Park. Located on the cliffs of Mt Washington in the neighborhoods of Duquesne Heights, Mount Washington, and Allentown, the Park combines existing parks and green spaces with what was once heavily mined, and dumped upon land. There are currently about ten miles of fragmented trails in Emerald View Park, but the master plan calls for over 20 miles of trails that include more than nine miles of main trail loop and ten miles of secondary trail. Be sure to get there before winter sets in.
This evening at 8:11 pm the full moon of the autumn equinox will start darkening until around 10:00 when it is completely shaded by the Earth’s shadow. This happens when the Earth is positioned precisely between the sun and the moon. It causes the moon to appear about 14 percent larger and 30 percent brighter than normal. It will also change color because longer red wavelength of sunlight trickle around the edges of the planet making it appear reddish. The last Super Moon eclipse was in 1982. It won’t happen again until 2033. If it’s cloudy or your windows face the wrong direction, don’t fret. You can watch it live stream from NASA TV.
The interfaith advocacy arm of Tikkun magazine called The Network of Spiritual Progressives seeks to transform our materialist and corporate-dominated society into a caring society through consciousness raising, advocacy, and public awareness campaigns that promote a New Bottom Line.
A New Bottom Line is one that judges the success of our social institutions, government, and corporations based not on the old bottom line of whether they maximize money and power, but instead assessing them on the extent that they maximize love and caring, kindness and generosity, empathy and compassion, social and economic justice, peace and nonviolence, and environmental sustainability, as well as encourage us to transcend a narrow utilitarian approach to nature and other human beings.
A poem by Cat Zavis, their Executive Director.
Stop telling me it’s impossible . . .
We’ve put men on the moon,
We’ve counted the stars, planets and galaxies,
We’ve built weapons of mass destruction . . .
If we can compete to get into space,
If we can compete to produce more goods that anyone needs,
If we can compete to create the best weapons,
Then we can feed everyone on this planet healthy food that nourishes people and the planet.
Instead of competing to create the next best phone, car, or weapon, why don’t we compete to wipe out starvation and hunger?
If we can win the race to the moon, why don’t we win the race to stop the production of weapons and create peace?
If we can create a house that can self-adjust its temperature, why can’t we create enough homes so everyone has a safe place to live?
If we can build towers that span the sky, why are people living on the streets?
If we stopped caring so much about winning the “race” and cared more about caring for others and the planet, we would solve our world’s greatest problems.
So stop telling me we can’t and it’s impossible and let’s get down to the business of taking care of each other and the planet. Then we will all win.
Cat Zavis; September 8th, 2015
The Aleppo Codex: In Pursuit of One of the World's Most Coveted, Sacred, and Mysterious Books opens a treasure box of history mystery, and conspiracy. Created around 930, The Aleppo Codex is a the most precise full manuscript of the entire Bible in the world, including vowels, cantillation marks and comments to ensure that we would for all time read the Torah with consistency.
For over a thousand years, the manuscript was preserved in Jewish communities in the Near East but the establishment of Israel in 1947 made it unsafe. It was smuggled out of Syria delivered to the President of the State of Israel, Izhak Ben-Zvi in the 50s. The book is a whole megillah on this transfer.
In 1976, a photographic edition of the Aleppo Codex was published. Two years later it was exhibited to the public for the first time and 1986 it was brought to the Israel Museum for restoration. In 1993, the Aleppo Codex found its permanent home in the Shrine of the Book, along with the Dead Sea Scrolls. If you don’t want to read the book try this web site dedicated to the Aleppo Codex. There is so much to be gleaned from this story that relates to current times and why we are who we are and do what we do. Don't miss it!
We have lit the candles; we have said the blessings; we have read from the Torah; we have heard the shofar; we have dipped round challah and apples in honey; we have had a festive meal; we have thrown our sins into running water; we are counting down with prayer, self-examination and repentance; we dedicate our mind, body, and soul to reconciliation with our fellow beings and ourselves; we ask that the book be sealed in our favor.
Leshanah tovah tikateiv v’teichateim. May you be inscribed and sealed for a good year.
Embrace the day. Live with purpose, determination, optimism and compassion.
Discard petty rivalries, forgive others, and let go of hatred.
Show respect and demonstrate human decency to every person.
Embrace change without fear or hesitation.
Ignore differences, borders, and boundaries.
Strive to understand other.
Support unity.Cherish life.
Eight months later I received a Macy’s bill with a different number and a past due amount of $137. 67. Hour #1 phone call informed me that when I opened my Macy’s charge I also opened an American Express card which someone unknown to me had used to buy lotion. I denied the charge and asked them to close the account. When I received the same notice the next month and didn’t want to spend another hour on the phone, I went online and downloaded a dispute claim and sent it to the Ohio Dispute center.
Two months later I received another past due bill. I was furious, called again, and during Hour #2 was told there was no record of my dispute; the account was still over due. This time I once again closed the account and had them send a dispute claim in the mail (which I received and immediately returned to the Ohio Dispute Center).
The next month, I received a new unsolicited Macy’s/American Express card in the mail which I purposefully did not activate. It didn’t matter. The next month I received a statement of the new card number with the disputed charge on it plus enough interest to now make me over $500 delinquent. During Hour #3, I spoke to 5 different Macy’s representatives closing the new account that I never opened; discussing the status of the unresolved fraud investigation; and every time in between, someone eager to take my checking account information to clear the ever-increasing past due amount. The final representative, Michelle #9119654 from the Philippines, assured me my account was closed and they would let me know the results of the fraud investigation.
Yesterday, I received a new Macy's credit card with the same number as that of the original. Hour #4 ended with Maria #9119172 also from the Philippines assuring me they were looking into the situation. And would you believe as I write this I was rudely interrupted by a call from Jennifer (I didn’t ask her number-what’s the point??) who would be very happy to take a minimum $25.00 to apply on the account of my past due bill.
The moral of the story? Got me!
I look at the young families today and wonder how they are getting by with all of the additional expenses of raising children today. Looking at the newest results from The Economic Policy Institute’s Family Budget Calculator, it turns out they don’t.
The basic family budget for a two-parent, two-child family ranges from $49,114 in Morristown, Tenn. to $106,493 in Washington, D.C. In the Pittsburgh, this same 4- unit family needs $5,391 per month or $64,691 per year to secure a decent, modest standard of living. Among the same 4-person unit, childcare costs exceed rent in 500 out of 618 family budgets, accounting on average for 20 percent of the budget.
Many parents in low-wage jobs simply will not earn enough. Annual wages for one full-time, full-year worker earning the federal minimum wage total is $15,080 well below the federal poverty line of $16,317 not to mention spending a significant portion of it for associated costs of transportation to and from work and childcare.
Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC); childcare subsidies and tax credits; food stamps (i.e., the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program); and subsidies for housing, transportation, and health care can help but I’m sure our kinder need, want and desire more.
As we approach the full moon of Elul this weekend, it is time to gear up for The New Year peeking just around the bend. Traditionally we read Psalm 27. Here is a modern version as translated by Rabbi Zalman Schachter-Shalomi
Yah! You are my light.
You are my savior.
Whom need I dread?
Yah, with you as my strong protector who can make me panic?
When hateful bullies gang up on me, wanting to harass me, to oppress and terrorize me
They are the ones who stumble and fall.
Even if a gang surrounds me my heart is not weakened.
If a battle is joined around me my trust in You is firm.
Only one thing do I ask of You, Yah:
Just this alone do I seek, I want to be at home with you, Yah,
All the days of my life.
I want to delight in seeing You.
Seeing You when I come to visit You in Your temple.
You hide me in your sukkah on a foul day.
You conceal me unseen in Your tent.
You also raise me beyond anyone's reach
And now, as You have held my head high despite the presence of my powerful foes
I prepare to celebrate and thrill, singing and making music to You, Yah!
Listen, Yah, to the sound of my cry
And, being kind, answer me!
My heart has said, I turn to seek you.
Your presence is what I beg for
Don't hide Your face from me.
Don't just put me down, You who have been my helper.
Don't abandon me, don't forsake me, God my support.
Though my father and my mother have left me
You, Yah, will hold me securely.
Please teach me Your way.
Teach me Your way and guide me on the straight path.
Discourage those who defame me
Because false witnesses stood up against me belching out violence.
Don't let me become the victim of my foes.
I wouldn't have survived
If I hadn't hoped that I would see, yet,
Your goodness, God, fully alive on earth.
So I tell you, my friends: you too hope to Yah! Be sturdy!
And make strong your heart. And most of all, keep hoping to Yah.
And if that is too much for you consider this written by our own home-grown Rabbi Patti Haskell.
Late summer month
Leading into the holiest of days.
Time of reflection
Time of return
Time of repentance.
An invitation to open your heart
And feel into your own depths
Searching for sweetness
Searching for tenderness.
Searching for reunion
With your Glorious Creator
Who loves your very being.
Open and be.