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Monday, September 10, 2007

High, high, high holidays, Berkeley style

Maybe Zombie should go take pictures of this. Anonymously of course (and before the holiday starts if she is Jewish).

Bookworm reports that Mikey Lerner's Tikkun synagogue in Berkeley is going to have a very special guest speaker for Rosh Hashana, the Jewish New Year, which begins on Wednesday night: Mama Sheehan herself! In case anyone has forgotten, here is Mother Sheehan on Israel:
"And I'm going to say, 'And tell me what noble cause my son died for.' And if he even starts to say 'freedom and democracy,' I'm going to say, 'Bull----. You tell me the truth. You tell me that my son died for oil. You tell me that my son died to make your friends rich. You tell me that my son died to spread the cancer of Pax Americana, imperialism in the Middle East. You tell me that. Don't tell me my son died for freedom and democracy. Because we're not freer. You're taking away our freedoms. The Iraqi people aren't freer; they're much worse off than before you meddled in their country. You get America out of Iraq. And you get Israel out of Palestine."
This is not Sheehan's first trip to the Tikkun synagogue. She was there for Yom Kippur in 2005.

But let's step back a minute. For those of you who are not familiar with Mikey Lerner, he calls himself a 'rabbi,' which is a highly questionable title for him:

A former 1960s Berkeley radical, Michael Lerner (b. 1943) is the founder of Tikkun magazine, a publication whose philosophy is an admixture of Old Testament teachings, medieval cabala mysticism, and 1960s-style campus Marxism. Though Lerner identifies himself as a duly ordained rabbi, many of his critics dispute that claim - on grounds that he was given a controversial private rabbinic ordination by "Jewish Renewal" rabbis, whose ordinations are recognized only by those within the Jewish Renewal community and Reconstructionist Judaism. Orthodox Judaism, the Reform movement's Central Conference of American Rabbis, and the Conservative movement's Rabbinical Assembly all consider such ordinations invalid.
But that wouldn't stop most of Berkeley from praying getting high in his temple on the high, high, high holidays.

Lerner burst into prominence in the 1990's as a friend of Hillary Clinton's, which according to Bookworm also made him a friend of Bill Clinton (somehow I don't think the reverse would be true - I doubt Hillary likes Monica Lewinsky very much). Most important, here's Mikey Lerner on Israel. As you read this, please keep in mind that if - God forbid - Hillary Clinton is elected President, Mikey Lerner and Cindy "Mama" Sheehan are likely to be big influences around the White House:

With regard to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict of recent decades, Lerner has consistently aligned himself with the Palestinian side. He characterizes Israel as a nation whose “repressive” and “fascistic” leadership uses “disproportionate force to repress an essentially unarmed population.” He exhorts Jews everywhere to “allow themselves to hear the cries of pain of the Palestinian people” - as a first step toward atonement for their own transgressions. When asked about a barbaric October 2000 lynching of two Israeli reservists by Palestinian police in Ramallah, he replied that he understood “how Israel’s occupation can lead to such violence.” [Emphasis added by me. CiJ]

“I believe,” says Lerner, “that the Israeli people will never be safe until the Occupation ends and a new spirit of repentance and generosity spreads through the Jewish people” He urges Jews “to atone for the pain we have inflicted on the Palestinian people in [many] years of brutal occupation, and in forcing so many Palestinians out of their home and not allowing them to return in 1948-49.” “Israel needs an atonement for what it has done,” he adds, “for the way it has failed to recognize the humanity, the sanctity of life, of Palestinians.” He lists, among Israeli transgressions, their responsibility “for expelling hundreds of thousands of Palestinian civilians during the War of Independence in 1948″; “for not having fulfilled the terms of the Oslo Accord, which envisioned granting Palestinians an independent state several years ago”; “for not being able to recognize themselves as the superior force with the greater responsibility to compromise and respect the needs of the less powerful”; and for “the deep racism in their society.”

Bookworm also quotes from the invitation to the services rally.
At Free Republic, someone who is on a mailing list received this invitation to Beyt Tikkun’s services:

You may not live in the SF Bay Area, but there is a very good chance you know someone who does and who would love the High Holiday services conducted by Rabbi Michael Lerner. Cindy Sheehan will speak on Yom Kippur.

This year, all of America needs repentance and atonement, not just Jews. The failure of Americans to give an unequivocal message to their elected representatives that they must immediately cut off fund for the war, prevent a US attack on Iran, reverse the decision to expand the President’s power to tap our phones and invade our privacy, and stop the assault on immigrants provide an immediate focus for repentance, but the larger context of materialism, self-centeredness and environmental irresponsibility add dimensionality.

You don’t have to be Jewish to use the repentance and atonement traditions of the Jewish High Holy Days this year. So even if you can’t come to Rabbi Lerner’s High Holiday services, you can still use some fo the resources below, and you can tell people you know in the Bay Area about the services and expose them to a spiritual progressive version of religion. This is a Judaism of love, generosity, kindness, social justice, environmental sanity and peace. Rosh Hashanah is the evening of Sept. 12th and then Sept 13 & 14th. Yom Kippur is eve of Sept. 21 and all day Sept 22nd. Also note the course on A Judaism of Love being offered by Rabbi Lerner the weekend of Nov.9-11 (see below).

To get a better sense of what Jewish High Holidays are about, and how they can provide a spiritual practice even for people who don’t believe that there is such a thing as “spiritual” (much less God), please go to this website and download the High Holiday Guide (which also appears in Tikkun Magazine between pages 16-17. http://www.beyttikkun.org/article.php?story=HHDmain

Information and registration at www.beyttikkun.org. Take it from us, it’s a life changing experience for those who come to all the services and then use the High Holiday Guide above during the week between Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur (which is why some people have flown to our services from Miami, NY, Boston, Minneapolis, San Diego and Chicago?and were happy they did! So, let your friends in this area know about the services by urging them to go to www.beyttikkun.org. They do NOT have to be Jewish to get a huge amount out of this practice.

That's not even all of it. Read the whole thing. And weep. Because this has become mainstream thinking for much of the American Jewish community. In another generation, they'll all be assimilated.


At 10:34 PM, Blogger Red Tulips said...


While I wanted to bang my head against the wall, reading about Sheehag speaking at the synagogue on Yom Kippur, I have to take issue with you intimating that this has become mainstream thinking for much of the American Jewish community.

I believe that Lerner and his ilk are more leftist than most American Jews. I do not think the state of things is as bad as you fear.

At 12:04 AM, Blogger Carl in Jerusalem said...

Red Tulips,

Much of the reform movement thinks the same way Lerner does. While Lerner may be left of the mainstream, I don't think Eric Yoffie is and look where he appeared last week. It goes without saying that the reconstructionists are equally leftist. And the conservative movement is dying, with its right becoming modern Orthodox and its left reform, with a lot of people falling through the cracks.

At 3:37 AM, Blogger Dave in Pa. said...

Perhaps some will feel it's not my place to say what I'm about to say, as I'm a Christian. However, I'd like to ask my fellow readers, Jewish or Christian, to believe me when I say I hold Judaism in as high a reverence as I do Christianity and intend no impertinence.

That said, I feel the very idea of Cindy Sheehan speaking in a synagogue on any occasion, much less on Yom Kippur or Rosh Hashanah, is an abomination.

Offhand, the comparison first coming to mind is Nasrallah or Ahmadinejad coming to speak at my church.

At 7:06 PM, Blogger Red Tulips said...


I will say that my dad's reform synagogue is very Zionist, and in fact many Reform synagogues are Zionist. When the rabbi at my dad's synagogue said something off (and I forget what it was, but as an arch Zionist, I can say it was mild), the congregation objected and he had to apologize. I had talks with many people in the congregation who are as Zionist as anyone.

With that said, a 'post-Zionist' is set to speak at a Reform synagogue not far from where I used to live. Yossi Beilin was set to speak, but had to cancel due to a prior commitment. Evidently he will speak in the future.


Anyway, my point is that there are many Jews who want to be part of a Jewish community, but also want to eat pork and go to the movies on Shabbos. Reform Judaism prevents Jews like those from totally disappearing from Judaism, and it is not necessarily the leftist garbage that Lerner represents.


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