|April 17, 2014||The In-Box||no comments|
|April 13, 2014||The Count Begins||no comments|
|April 10, 2014||Special Edition Seder||no comments|
|April 08, 2014||Miles To Go Before We Sleep||no comments|
|April 03, 2014||Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) aka Food Stamps||no comments|
|April 01, 2014||Clearly, We Are The Fools||no comments|
|March 27, 2014||A Call To Action||no comments|
|March 25, 2014||This is the New Eighty||no comments|
|March 20, 2014||Heart and Soul||no comments|
|March 18, 2014||Remember Anita Hill||no comments|
I love simple form and function. One of my pet peeves is clutter. Applied to my computer, I work at maintaining a very un-cluttered functional in-box. This is quite the challenge because everyone, everywhere wants to send their emails for marking purposes. It’s the same to me as junk snail mail or mass marketing calls. By the way, I recently got caller ID (which includes caller- blocking) and that it a heaven-sent solution to ignoring marketing calls.
What do I allow into my in-box with regularity? Once a week I get The best of Macworld and a yarn shopping web site. I get one email a day from Livestrong and one from Pinterest and that’s it. I get more emails from the library than my husband and my kids prefer texts.
If I am interested in some person or some topic I follow them on twitter where it is my choice rather than theirs to explore the information offering. My in-box is like my work table- always neatly arranged and ready for the next project.
Counting of the Omer began as an ancient Jewish agricultural ritual of marking each of the 49 days as the Israelites' journeyed from bondage in Egypt to revelation at Mount Sinai.
For the Jewish mystics of the 16th and 17th centuries, the Counting of the Omer became a time of spiritual cleansing preparing their souls to receive divine guidance on Shavuot.
These days it is possible to use the counting as a 49-day mindfulness practice to renew our nefesh, ruach and neshamah- the layers of body, mind and soul- to live more compassionate lives. Using the mystical tradition, we divide the 49 days into seven one-week periods, each containing a specific spiritual quality according to the 10 sefirot or Divine Emanations. On each of the 49 days, two of the qualities intersect with each other so that each day is unique.
- Chesed of Chesed: generosity vs. lack of boundaries
- Gevruah of Chesed: strength that enables generosity
- Tiferet of Chesed: compassion of generosity
- Netzach of Chesed: perseverance in generous
- Hod of Chesed: sincerity of generosity
- Yesod of Chesed: connecting to the task of being generous
- Malchut of Chesed: accepting and including generosity
- Chesed of Gevurah: kindness in strength
- Gevurah of Gevurah: strength vs. rigidity
- Tiferet of Gevurah: balance and mercy with strength
- Netzach of Gevurah: persistence with strength
- Hod of Gevurah: surrender as an expression of strength
- Yesod of Gevurah: focused intention applied with strength
- Malchut of Gevurah: receptivity as an expression of strength
15-21. Each sephirah, Chesed, Gevorah, Tiferet, Netzah, Hod, Yesod, Malchut applied to Tiferet: compassion
22-28. Each sephirah, Chesed, Gevorah, Tiferet, Netzah, Hod, Yesod, Malchut applied Netzah: perseverance
29-35. Each sephirah, Chesed, Gevorah, Tiferet, Netzah, Hod, Yesod, Malchut applied to Hod: surrender
36-42. Each sephirah, Chesed, Gevorah, Tiferet, Netzah, Hod, Yesod, Malchut applied to Yesod: intention and connection
43-49. Each sephirah, Chesed, Gevorah, Tiferet, Netzah, Hod, Yesod, Malchut applied to Malchut: receptivity and nurturance
This year Seder night will include a total Lunar Eclipse. It begins at 2 AM when the edge of the moon first enters the amber core of Earth's shadow. This video from 2011 has a nice explanation of the what, how and why and Michael Zeiler’s field guide to the total lunar eclipse of 2014 is a simulation of what the coppery-red moon will look like.
I searched for a special prayer that might be added to the Seder to acknowledge this eclipse and found that Hebrew word for eclipse Likui means defect. The Talmud states that because a lunar Likui is a bad sign for Israel (a solar eclipse is even worse as a bad omen for the entire world), an eclipse does not have a blessing.
But in today’s world, we know that the eclipse is not a defect. It is a beautiful act of nature. Here is the perfect addition for your Seder: the blessing for a nature wonder or phenomena:
Barukh attah Adonai eloheinu melekh ha-olam osei ma'asei vereisheet.
Blessed are You, The Infinite One, Who reenacts the works of creation.
Barukh attah Adonai eloheinu melekh ha-olam shekocho ugevurato malei olam.
Blessed are You, The Infinite One, Whose power and might fill the world.
I’ve had a lot on my mind. It started with my 95-year-old father-in-law moving into the personal care portion of the Jewish Association on Aging. Having lived in a small town outside of Altoona most of his life, he has to pinch himself to believe that finally in the final years of his life, he finds himself in a community of Jews.
I watched the fascinating five part series by the British Historian Simon Schama: The Story of the Jews a PBS series that is informative and thought provoking. Schama proves that given our history of marginalization, demonization and annihilation, it is quite improbable and at best very complicated to find acceptance in this contemporary heterogeneous world.
There is an article by Jonathan Chait in this issue of New York Magazine entitled The Color of His Presidency documenting how much the obsession with race factored insidiously into Obama’s presidency even as he worked time and again to navigate beyond the everywhere-and-nowhere racial fixation that surrounded him.
Another PBS production by Daniel Goldhagen: Worse Than War: Genocide, Eliminationism, and the Ongoing Assault on Humanity, describes the use of fear and power to get seemingly normal people to commit heinous crimes of massacres, exterminations and forced expulsions in the attempt to eliminate unwanted or threatening groups as a way to destroy opposition and safeguard their power.
Where does it end? What does it take? How are we to find the oneness in our differences? No rest for the weary.
On the first of the month, hundreds of millions of taxpayer dollars (Last year, it was $76 billion) are instantly downloaded onto debit cards so that 47 million poverty-line Americans can received their monthly allotment of food stamp dollars, on average, about $130 per person. Within minutes, 30% of these Americans will head to the nearest 24-hour Wal-Mart, the reaper of great profits from this necessity spending.
The Farm Bill that passed earlier this year promises to cut $8.6 billion out of SNAP over the next decade. In Pennsylvania, 14% of our families will average a very depressing total drop of $183 each.
Nearly one in three working families in the U.S. struggles to pay for the basic necessities every month. How do you think you would do on a low wage salary? Try this tool developed by Public Radio Market Place to see what it takes to make ends meet.
Hunger in America-it’s a shanda.
Denial of the science is malpractice. U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry
The report, Climate Change 2014: Impacts, Adaptation, and Vulnerability released yesterday by the UN, shows that there is a 95 percent the probability that most global warming is man-made.
The report details how the effects of carbon emissions that will linger for centuries are the cause of global warming that threatens the health, economic prospects, and food and water sources in all continents and oceans across the world.
President Jimmy Carter has most certainly risen to the top in his retirement efforts in his new book, A Call To Action: Women, Religion, Violence, and Power.
He makes a brilliant, honest case about how every nation’s discrimination and violence against women and girls remains the most serious, pervasive, and ignored violation of basic human rights. What separates him from others is how he not only references government and business, but also bravely takes on religion.
Rosalynn and Jimmy Carter operate The Carter Center through which they have visited over 145 countries and created active projects in more than half of these. Their experiences and the testimony of courageous women from all regions and all major religions that are denied equal rights fueled the work that supports a call to action.
We are always shocked to hear the stories about religions that are uncontrollably forcing their beliefs on others, leaving evil and destruction all along the path. Some well-known examples are in the Church of the Latter-Day Saints and Scientology.
Recently, Frontline did an eye-opening must-be-seen piece about the Vatican’s illicit sex and money scandals, including the punitive actions against those harmed who have reached out for justice and healing.
We always were taught- these things don’t happen in Judaism, but tragically, they do. There is an organization in NYC, Footsteps, that provides a safe and supportive community for ultra-Orthodox Jewish men and women as they define identities beyond their insular communities.
From that has grown the It Gets Besser initiative proving that people can have happy productive lives beyond their birth communities.
May The Holy One bless them and keep them as they forge the path.
In the words of It Gets Besser:
If you’re interested in leaving your religious community,
we're not saying you should.
we're not saying you would.
we're saying you could.
you could leave,
you could rebuild,
you could be healthy,
you could be happy,
you could be free.
There was an editorial in the LA Times about how Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg should retire from the Supreme Court at the end of this term to give Obama time to name a like-minded successor. It’s a shame because by all accounts at the age of 81, she is physically and mentally able to continue. Still, sometimes that’s what it takes to assure one’s legacy.
There was also an interview with Anita Hill on John Stewart. She has made a documentary on her 1991 testimony against Clarence Thomas. That is one brave woman! I’m so grateful she is willing to step forward again- lest any of us forget the shame of her experience. I will never forgive Arlen Spector.
For you youngsters, Anita Hill, a little-known law professor, riveted the nation with her accusations of Thomas’s sexual harassment, back in the day where no one uttered a syllable about these things in public places. Ms. Hill, a professor at Brandeis University, reiterated that Justice Thomas should never have been confirmed because that kind of behavior on Thomas’s part speaks to his ability to be a fair and impartial judge. She is sooooo right!
Today, Justice Clarence Thomas is the most radical conservative of the Supreme Court falling to the right of even Justice Scalia. His wife has vociferously advocated for both the Tea Party and against the Affordable Care Act causing Democratic members of Congress to ask the House Judiciary Committee to hold hearings on Thomas' conduct.
Thomas is the only justice willing to allow states to establish an official religion; the only justice who believes teenagers have no free speech rights; the only justice who believes that it's unconstitutional to require campaign funders to disclose their identity; and the only justice to say that the court should invalidate a wide range of laws regulating business conduct and working conditions.
Thomas was instrumental in the dismantling of a key provision of the Voting Rights Act and if he has his way, he will bury another pillar of the civil rights movement: affirmative action. He finds affirmative action to be divisive, unconstitutional and harmful to their recipients. Thomas' constitutional philosophy is that all Americans should be treated as individuals and not as members of a racial or ethnic group. Thomas is fighting for a colorblind America. From his mouth to God’s ears, someday it will happen, but we are far from that today.
Thomas as the only justice to consistently return to what he sees as the original intent of the 1789 Constitution to have no partisan policy preferences. How does a black judge justify this with a Constitution that classifies slaves as three-fifths of a human being? He just does.
Thomas believes that Reconstruction after the Civil War when the 13th, 14th and 15th amendments abolished slavery, empowered newly freed slaves and protected their right to vote purified the Constitution and rendered it colorblind.
His entire judicial philosophy is contrary to his own biography where he benefited from affirmative action as a poor boy from the south, making it into Yale Law School. As his grandfather taught him: blacks should be self-reliant, stop complaining about racism, and play the hand fate dealt them.He is the only justice who asks no questions in court and the worst of all, being 63 years old, probably will serve for another 20 years.