Journey in Strength.

The Journey continues.  The Exodus from Egypt, celebrated by Passover now concluded is the first steps on the journey to the Promised Land.  For the next few weeks we will count off the daily omer with a blessing as we march toward Mt. Sinai and the revelation of Torah.  We have completed the first week dedicated by the mystics to Hesed- the Divine trait of lovingkindness.  And we will start a new week dedicated to Gevurah- Strength, strictness.  This stand in opposition to all we have experienced this past week, the loving, kind experience of God’s love and embrace.

 

Journeys like these into the unknown are hard.  One needs both gentleness and inner fortitude, strength to make such a journey.  Finding the balance between these two isn’t easy but part of the journey toward the revelation is experiencing it all.  So this coming week our journey will be to see the world and ourselves through this lens of strength, might, and the strict interpretation of the law.  This isn’t harshness or cruelty.  All of it is now tempered because we experienced a week of Hesed which always will remain with us in the journey toward wholeness at Sinai.

The Blood Libel

Below is my sermon for  Friday night, April 14, 2017.  It was the Shabbat of Passover and also happened to fall on the day the Christian world observed Good Friday.

 

Shabbat Shalom

Today Christians around the world observed “Good Friday”.  They read from their Bible the account of Jesus’ arrest and crucifixion, and re-enact it by walking the 14 Stations of the Cross. After being sentenced to be tortured by Romans by crucifixion, Jesus had to carry a wooden cross through the streets of Jerusalem from the court at the Fortress Antonio adjacent to the Temple Mount to Cavalry the spot where he would be hung on the cross and die.  This spot today is inside the Church of the Holy Sepulcher which was built over the last several Stations of the Cross, the traditional site of his death and burial.  Today in Jerusalem in the old city, thousands of Christian pilgrims walked the Via Dolorosa—the street of suffering as they do every year tracing the final footsteps of their messiah and some even carrying large wooden crosses as they imagine Jesus to have done.

The Christian bible’s account of the story of the death of Jesus has been the source of tremendous anti-Semitism.  Today’s reading in particular blames the Jews for Jesus conviction rather than the Romans.  In fact, our local Lutheran Bishop Guy Erwin sent a pastoral letter to his ministers in this region to remind them that this year in light of all the Anti-Semitic acts that have occurred that they must be careful in reading this passage so as not to fuel further Anti-Semitism like we have seen arise in recent months.   He said:

I want to encourage, even urge you to consider carefully the impact of the                             words you use in worship this week. Starting with Palm Sunday, we use scripture              readings this week and next that often refer to the opponents of Jesus and the                      disciples simply as “the Jews.” In the context of the earliest Christianity, when it went        without saying that Jesus and his closest followers were themselves Jews, the listener        would know that what was meant were “those who opposed Jesus” or, more                        narrowly, the religious leaders. I want to tell you that I believe it appropriate and               proper for you to alter the readings if you need to, to make this point more clearly             and avoid misunderstanding.

Bishop Erwin understands the nature of both overt and covert Anti-Semitism.

This Shabbat in Jewish history in Europe was always a dreaded Shabbat because this was a night of fear.  Of overt Anti-Semitism, fueled by the anti-Jewish hatred fomented in Church services against the Jews who killed their Christ, and often fueled by alcohol in their celebration of this Easter weekend, Christians often violently went after their local Jewish community.  Pogroms, riots, torture, rape, and murder were the traditional pay back for this greatest of sins the murder of Jesus by the Jews in his day in Christian eyes.

That is why when the Catholic Church as part of the Vatican II Council in the early 1960’s disavowed their own teaching that the Jews killed Jesus it was such an historic moment in Jewish –Christian relations.

This Shabbat was always a Shabbat of great danger.  And when it fell like it does this year during the Shabbat of Passover it was doubly dangerous because along with the blame for Jesus’ death, the ancient horrors of the blood libel made this an especially difficult Shabbat.  The blood libel was the charge that Jews used the blood of infant or young Christian babies in the making of matzah.   The blood libel is still around in many forms and not limited to only right wing extremist Christians who predict the end of the world and the coming once again of Jesus, these days, but ISIS and other radical Islamic warriors have picked up on traditional blood libel against the Jews and have used it for their own propaganda to justify their attacks on Israel and the Jewish people worldwide.

That is why what happened at the White House by Press Secretary Sean Spicer was particularly alarming.  Although he has apologized I think it is worth examining the insidious nature of his comments and why they were so offensive and why we as a Jewish community must not ever be silent to call out such language wherever it occurs.  I also think that for many of us his apology rang hollow given the numerous times he and many in the current administration have been associated with anti-Semitism such as Trump advisor- Sebastian Gorka who has ties to a Hungarian neo Nazi Jobbik Party. And Steve Bannon of Brietbart News fame who has been associated with right wing anti-Semitic rhetoric. Couple this with the omission of the mention of Jews in the proclamation on International Holocaust Remembrance Day against the backdrop of the rise in anti-Semitic incidents from bomb threats to cemetery defacements.

Spicer in speaking about the Syrian chemical attack against its own people made the analogy that between Hitler and Assad. And said that Hitler never used gas attacks against his own citizens and that Spicer then said Hitler took Jews “into the Holocaust center” but that Hitler “was not using the gas on his own people in the same way that Assad is doing.”

It is a combination of the worst of anti-Jewish statements.  Using Hitler analogies like this diminishes the horrors of our people at the hands of the Nazis. It minimizes the 6 million lives.  And it doesn’t do justice to the half a million Syrians who have died at the hands of a brutal dictator.  Evil is evil.  Comparisons are unnecessary.  Made on the first day of Passover ostensibly the holiest of the week, this isn’t just mere ignorance of history; this is immoral in its content.  Has he heard of Zyklon –B the gas that was used to murder millions of Jews?  Secondly to call concentration camps, death camps by the doublespeak of Holocaust centers? And to imply that the victims of Hitler and the Nazi regime weren’t German citizens?  In only a few short words, the Press Secretary managed to touch on many of the modern day blood libels against the Jewish people. Minimizing the horrors of the Holocaust against our people.

This kind of talk is Dr. Deborah Lipstadt would call ‘Holocaust Denial’.  Formerly a professor at UCLA, now the Dorot Professor of Jewish Studies at Emory University, Dr. Lipstadt is the foremost scholar of anti-Semitism, the Holocaust and those who would deny the Holocaust happened.  You might have seen the recent movie “Denial” that portrayed her story of going after one of the world’s greatest Holocaust deniers, David Irving, and the court case in England that proved that the Holocaust happened.  Holocaust Denial is a unique form of a kind of reverse blood libel that says Jewish blood wasn’t spilled by Hitler, it was all made up, a Jewish lie perpetrated on the world.  Holocaust denial tries to minimize and say that the Jewish people didn’t really suffer, or the numbers were inflated.  Dr. Lipstadt’s work and courage brought out into the open the heinous lie and denial. That is anti-Semitic at its core.

In an article this week in The Atlantic magazine Lipstadt calls for “call for an end to this misuse of history”.  n linking the anti-Semitic words this week of Spicer as well as England’s Labour Party Leader Ken Livingstone and France’s Marine Le Pen, Lipstadt says: “This instrumentalization of Hitler, the Holocaust, and the Third Reich blinds people to another danger. Making someone such as Hitler, an exterminationist anti-Semite, the preeminent model for anti-Semitism, makes it harder to see other kinds of anti-Semites.”

Spicer’s words too could be classified in this same way.  To say that Auschwitz, the death camp, designed for genocide, was a Holocaust Center is to make it sound as if the Welcome Wagon was part of the Nazi regime.

Spicer trivialized the murder of millions of Jews in his comments. And also because of the nature of it trivialized the murder of over 500, 000 Syrians who have died in this horrible Syrian war these last 6 years.  Assad is a brutal dictator, every bit as bad as his father who has destroyed Syria and its people causing 4 million Syrians to leave and who are now living as refugees outside of Syria and murdering his own.

Sean Spicer’s comments also must be taken in context of all that has happened in the last year.  The far right wing anti-Semitic Christians have been given new life, resurrected from dark corners of the American electorate as they were openly courted by President Trump.  They troll the internet no longer in obscurity but their unique venom has unleashed anti-Jewish actions including increasing hate crimes.  Even the President’s Jewish son-in-law Jared Kushner has not escaped their aim.  The cemetery desecrations, the bomb threats, the multiple defacements of Jewish institutions with swastikas and bullet holes create an environment that shows our own country is not immune to anti-Jewish and anti-Semitic rhetoric.  And when the Press Secretary of the White House engages in such language as Sean Spicer did this week of Passover, we all should speak up and demand his resignation.  Apology or not, there are some things that are so offensive that person should not be in the public eye.

One of the dangers of Spicer and his antics is that each time something happens, each outrageous statement and outright lies that gets repeated and repeated, like “Holocaust centers” or Assad is worse than Hitler because Hitler didn’t use chemical weapons, or the implication that the greatest victims of Hitler weren’t citizens reinforces the anti-Semitism so prevalent now. It reinforces the lies.  Because the more you repeat it the less outrageous it seems and human nature is that we become inured to the offensive nature of these kinds of statements. We come to expect the worst, the bungling and the danger is that we stop taking whatever he says or in the name of the President, seriously.

This friends, is the greatest danger of all.

Words matter. Our tradition, Jewish tradition teaches us this. We have whole sections of Jewish law that deals with vows, the words we say, because ultimately the words we use convey ideas and meaning and relationships. The world in our tradition was created with the words! We Jews believe words have power.  And therefore we must be thoughtful and careful in the words we use.

It is up to each of us to use our words carefully and to remain vigilant against any rhetoric that invokes the Holocaust or tries to minimize what happened to our people. It is up to us to demand better of our Administration and all of our elected officials.  It is up to us to thank leaders like Lutheran Bishop Guy Erwin as I did this week when he cautioned his regional leaders in their reading of the Passion of Christ and its traditional anti-Jewish words.  It is up to us to live not in fear as many of our grandparents, great grandparents and ancestors did on this Good Friday, but it is up to us to live proudly and bold Jewish lives.  Asserting our not just our culture and history but our faith in One God who led us out of Egypt on Passover to taste the waters of redemption and freedom in a Promised Land.  In many ways America has been a Promised Land to our people. We have thrived here because of democracy and the separation of Church and State. We as its citizens have a great stake in ensuring that democracy and liberty and the separation of Church and State remain strong.  For then we will continue to thrive as a people and as a nation.

May this always be our prayer and an antidote to any kind of hatred, anti-Semitism, Islamophobia, xenophobia, homophobia, racism or misogyny.

May our words and actions give strength to one another.   Ken Yehi Ratzon.

 

Charoset delights

It’s that time of year when our thoughts turn to Passover preparations.  With the first Seder less than a week away (This year Monday night April 10, 2017) it is soon time to clean the chametz out of the house and begin cooking for the Passover feast! This year I would like to offer you a variety of charoset recipes for you to try and your Seder.

Charoset is the mixture of fruit and nuts used to symbolize the bricks and mortar the Israelite slaves used to build the fortresses and garrisons cities of the Pharaoh.  But what goes into making the Charoset and the flavors of the Charoset vary by locale!

If you are used to eating apples and walnuts, cinnamon and sweet kosher wine–then you trace your Charoset recipe to the European roots, primarily eastern European roots.  But charoset from around the world can taste very different.

For a class at my congregation we had a charoset tasting. Following are the recipes from around the world. Try some at your Seder table and most of all ENJOY!  Happy Passover.

Traditional Apple Charoset

Serves  8 (makes 4 cups)

 

1 cup walnuts

1 cup raisins

1/2 cup fresh orange juice

1/4 cup kosher red wine (such as Manischewitz)

1/4 cup honey

1 teaspoon finely grated lemon zest

1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon

kosher salt

2 crisp apples (such as Gala or McIntosh), peeled and roughly chopped

 

DIRECTIONS

Heat oven to 350° F. Spread the walnuts on a rimmed baking sheet and toast in oven, tossing occasionally, until fragrant, 8 to 10 minutes. Let cool, then roughly chop.

Meanwhile, combine the raisins and orange juice in a small saucepan; simmer over medium-low heat until most of the liquid is absorbed, 5 to 7 minutes. Let cool, then stir in the wine, honey, lemon zest, cinnamon, and ¼ teaspoon salt.

In a large bowl, combine the apples and walnuts with the raisin mixture and toss to combine. Cover and let sit for at least 4 hours.

 

Nut free charoset

Originally from Weight Watcher’s Magazine April 1992:

2 small pears, cored and coarsely chopped

12 dried apricot halves, chopped (I think you could use other dried fruit, prunes for example if you can’t find apricots that are kosher for passover)

1/4 cup raisins

1 1/2 tsp honey (could be omitted in my opinion)

1 tsp lemon juice

1/2 tsp cinnamon

2 tablespoons red wine (or grape juice)

Combine everything except the wine or juice in a medium bowl. Once it’s all mixed together, stir in the wine or juice. (Recipe says this serves 12, so you may want to add accordingly)

 

Yeminite Style Charoset

30 dates

20 figs 2 tsp ginger powder

matzo meal as desired

dry red wine

1 chili pepper (optional)

4 Tbs sesame seeds

Put everything in a food processor and make into a paste. This is a Yemenite style recipe,

 

Brazilian Charoset

1 Avocado

1 Banana

1 Orange

2 Granny Smith apple

 

Greek Charoset

1 orange, peeled and seeded

½ cup raisins

½ cup pitted dates

Cherry preserves

Dark grape juice

Ground ginger

Cayenne pepper

Sugar

1 tbs dark grape juice

 

Persian/Iranian Charoset

1 chopped pear

1 chopped apple

chopped pitted dates

chopped raisins

cinnamon

grated ginger root

apple cider vinegar

dark grape juice

 

Morrocan Haroset

8-10 dried, pitted prunes

6-9 pitted dates

1/4 cup golden raisins

1 tsp ground cinnamon

1/2 cup almonds

4 Tbsp raw honey

2-3 Tbsp grape juice or kosher wine (reserve for end)

sugar (optional)

finely ground almond flour to roll the haroset balls

Anti-Semitism and the First Commandment

This was my sermon on Friday night Feb. 17.  Parshat Yitro.  Sadly, the incidents of direct threats against Jewish institutions has continued.   I thought I would share this here.

 

Shabbat Shalom

It’s no secret that anti-Semitism is on the rise.  The bomb threats to the JCC’s that have cleared and closed down for days at a time Jewish community centers including Local JCC’s in Long beach, San Diego and Orange County terrorizes little children who go to pre-schools there and their families.  They wonder should they continue to send their kids there….  Just in Ventura this week, the Chabad and several Jewish homes were targeted with swastikas and hate literature. There are increased incidents of vandalism with swastikas making appearances on Subway cars, automobiles in Jewish neighborhoods, even Hebrew Union College in Cincinnati.

 

The emboldening of anti-Jewish sentiment gives me pause.  This week not once but twice the President could have when asked about the increase in anti-Semitism addressed it head on—but instead yesterday shouted down and Orthodox Jewish reporter and told him to sit down—mishearing that the reporter wasn’t accusing him of anti-Semitism but offering him an opportunity to denounce it.  But again the President couldn’t or wouldn’t do so. Instead he went on and on about how he wasn’t Anti-Semitic but that wasn’t the question from the religious reporter.

 

We liberal and Reform Jews haven’t been ones to dwell on Anti-Semitism to swell our ranks.  Oh in the Jewish community there are those who do so. Who fill the coffers of their organizations with daily barrages of messages that proclaim “See how much they hate us”; “See how endangered we are” The Simon Wiesenthal Center has perfected the art of this. Instead we Reform Jews have tried to focus on building an authentically North American Jewish life-filled with our summer camps, and contemporary music and emphasis on social justice and tikkun Olam, interfaith work and inclusion of lgbt Jews, Jews of color, patrilineal Jews, interfaith faith couples. Trying ever to enlarge the Jewish tent!  This was and is our continued response to those who hate us—to succeed beyond ours and their wildest dreams!

 

But even the ADL the Anti- Defamation League whose organization was designed from its founding to point out Anti-Semitism and to address it head on has tried through the years to do so in a manner that built bridges to other groups, and to help them learn why their words mattered and why their perspective was Anti-Semitic.  They called it when they saw it but tried to do more than just raise the alarm.  They coupled it with education and outreach to various groups.

 

But now the ADL is reporting unprecedented rises in hate crimes targeting the Jewish community.  I am not one to be an alarmist. But I will tell you I am more concerned than ever before.

 

And what concerns me about this problem—is not that it exists, it has always existed.  But I believe that we Reform and yes, Conservative Jews are not prepared for how to deal with it.  We are not prepared to deal with it in reality; we are not prepared to deal with it politically, and most important we are not prepared to deal with it spiritually.

 

And that is what I want to spend a few minutes talking about with you tonight.  How we prepare ourselves spiritually to deal with a world that less tolerant, more extreme and more anti-Semitic than in recent years.

 

First dealing with this in the real world:  For many people the ADL is considered an old organization in the Jewish community.  It is more than 100 years old! Founded in 1913 to combat bigotry and hate and Anti-Semitism in all its forms.  But what I mean by old—is not just the age of the organization—but the age of its members and supporters. It is not filled with millennials, not seen as cutting edge or innovative.  And its leader for decades was Abe Foxman who only stepped down only in 2015.  Now the executive director is Jonathan Greenblatt who founded ethos water, has worked for and in both the private and public sectors and non-profit. And he is reshaping the ADL into a more vibrant and even vocal organization especially in the present environment.

 

The ADL works closely with Law enforcement to train officers, sheriffs, and the FBI to learn to recognize hate crimes. The ADL is building strong alliances with many different communities including the Muslim American community, the LGBT Community and others. (and someday I will tell you about how GLAAD started in LA in the late 1980’s in response to something the ADL did and was modeled after the ADL!)  The ADL is working to identify and uncover the rise of white supremacists, and the alarming number of prison gangs for whom white supremacy is part of their culture.  One way to fight the rise in anti-Semitism is to get involved with the ADL and to support them.  In the coming months we will have a speaker from the ADL that will address how you can connect more directly with them.

 

In the political realm.  We must speak up when we see and hear anti-Semitism.  We have to raise our concerns with our representatives, locally and nationally.  But we cannot just speak for ourselves.  We have to raise the issues of racism, islamophobia, anti-gay rhetoric whenever and where ever it leaks out.  Whether it is a celebrity, like Mel Gibson or a politician we have to be able to hold people accountable.  Whatever you think of Elizabeth Warren—calling her a Pocahontas is vile. Our tradition teaches us words matter.  The words we say, make a difference.  And when they are hateful or hurtful words whether directed at Jews or others—our faith teaches us to speak up.   We only need to consult our great Rabbi Hillel—Im ayn ani li mi li, If I am not for myself who will be for me. If I am only for myself what am I and if not now when?

 

This teaching by Rabbi Hillel comes from also understanding our theology.  God spoke the world into being.  The universe according to the Torah—existence itself was created by words.  “Let there be light and there was light “teaches Bereshit.  Our entire notion of reality is defined by the words we say.   And this takes me to the third realm for coping – in these times. And that is the realm of the spirit.  Spiritual sustenance in these times will help us cope with what may come our way.

Our Jewish values and teachings like the words of Rabbi Hillel are our guide posts for how to navigate this more complex, more violent, and more chaotic world.

 

Take for example this week’s Torah portion. Parshat Yitro in the book of Exodus.  One of the most famous parts of the entire Torah, even the entire Tanach, the Bible is presented in this week’s portion—The Ten Commandments. The 10 simple and not so simple rules for living life as a Jew, as a human being in society.   Maimonides counted up 613 mitzvot in the Torah with the Ten Commandments being the first 10.  But let’s face.  Most people have a hard enough time with the first 10 let alone the other 603!

But before God wrote down the 10 commandments and handed the tablets to Moses… our Torah portion this week says that GOD SPOKE THEM In Exodus 20:22, God tells Moses that he should convey to the Israelites, “You have seen for yourselves that I have spoken to you from heaven.”  They heard the thunder and lighting, they hear the Kol-the voice say at least the very first command according to our tradition,  I am Adonai Your God who led you out of Egypt to be your God, I am Adonai Your God. They heard God’s own voice. And our midrashim state that they each heard God’s voice in a different way.  This was not a private revelation to Moses—as depicted by Cecil B DeMille but a revelation in public—to the whole people—unifying the Israelites into a Nation.

 

 

There are lots of midrashim about how this scared the Israelites so—that they retreated 12 miles away from the mountains, literally running for their lives and how they had to be led back to the holy mountain by the heavenly angels. This is one of two versions in the Talmud in Shabbat 88a-89b ascribed to Rabbi Joshua b. Levi.  This experience of the Divine was overwhelming, over powering and in another version of the Midrash found here… literally scared the nation of Israel to death—and that God had to resurrect the entire nation so they could hear the second commandment!

 

I share these with you tonight because to combat the anti-Semitism that we experience, to ground ourselves as a people, it is not enough to be political, it is not enough to be wealthy or culturally Jewish—it doesn’t sustain.
We have to hear the first commandment: I am Adonai your God, who led you out of Egypt, the house of bondage.

 

The assert HaDibrot—as they are called later in Exodus, starts with knowing God. Starts with recognizing at the center of it all, and from which everything else flows-is our belief in God. A God of justice, of compassion, of hope, of life who blesses us through these commandments and through the mitzvoth with all of these things.

 

Through our sacred obligations we will rise, spiritually, morally to combat that which is comes at us from the outside—like Anti-Semitism.  For it is our belief in the One God, that has often stirred up the hatred against us.  And when so many Jews say, I don’t believe in God, or I don’t believe in the God on the Throne on heaven, or I am agnostic, I doubt a belief in God—the very core issue of why we are attacked—because we are different in our beliefs from Christians or Muslims, and we have no Jesus, no Mohammed that intercedes and becomes the God.

 

 

But also the malaise and indifference which comes from within and is also just as dangerous than the anti-Semitism we see around us.
Judaism has a trinity—not like Catholics.  Our is God Torah and Israel. Some say you only need one, others say you don’t need any—it’s enough to be born that way.  I say we need all three to remain a people, to remain strong and vigilant.

 

An old woman and her granddaughter sat at a crossroads between two villages. A traveler passing by from the western village asked her about the people in the village to the east.

What were the people like in the town you have just left?” asked the grandmother.

“They were mean, deceitful and rude!” said the traveler.

Then the old woman nodded and said, “You will likely find the people in the eastern village just the same.”

A few hours later, a second traveler heading in the same direction asked the same question.  Again the old woman asked about the townsfolk in the village where the traveler had just left.

“They were kindhearted, generous and helpful.”

The old woman nodded knowingly, “You will find the people in the next village just the same.”  The traveler went on his way.

“Grandma,” said the child after the traveler had gone. “How could you give the same answer to both people?”

The Grandma smiled at her grandchild.  “I told them the truth. What we find in the world is but a reflection of what is in our hearts.”

 

I hope that in our hearts—we don’t give in to fear. But take the time to invite God back into our lives. Invite the holy aspect of truth and justice that was revealed to our ancestors at Sinai and to us into our hearts. So that we too can see the goodness, and kindness and generosity in the world and not let the anti-Semitism, or racism that has become too evident rule the day.  To this we must resist.

 

And I pray that in our own lives, we can find ways to reaffirm the God of our People in the many ways we talk about God and perceive God in the world and bring it once again to the place of affirmation that is core to being Jewish.  Hear O Israel Adonai is our God Adonai is One.

 

Women’s Day, Esther and Jewish Community Leadership

Wednesday March 8th is International Women’s Day.  Ironically this weekend Jews around the world will observe Purim–whose main character is the good Queen Esther one of the most famous women in the Bible.  Esther who at first hides her Jewish identity marries the Persian King named  Ahashuerus but comes to the aid of the Jewish people when the king’s evil Prime Minister Haman plots to murder the Jews and in particular kill Esther’s uncle Mordechai who is the leader of the Jewish community in the capital city of Shushan (Susa).  Esther literally pleads for her people’s lives because Haman had gotten the king to sign a royal decree condemning the Jews and permitting their genocide.

The King who clearly loves Esther is portrayed as a buffoon, who doesn’t really know what is happening before his very eyes grants Esther’s request for safety for herself and her people.  Haman is hung on the very gallows he erected for Uncle Mordechai and the Jews are allowed to defend themselves against the forces that Haman had put into place.  The Jews of Persia and Media fight for their very lives and prevail.

The story of Purim in this time of increased Antisemitism in America has special poignancy.  The President and his minions have unleashed forces of hatred in America that has caused now more than 120 bomb threats to Jewish community centers, Jewish organizations, synagogues and day schools.  We see anti-Muslim rhetoric from the White House itself, increased arson at mosques and an anti-immigrant fervor in the US which we have seen since the early 1920’s. When fear is the tool used to whip up dissent among the masses, this is the result.

And oh yes did I mention the backlash against women and women’s health care concerns and reproductive health?

The story of Purim is more relevant that ever.  Who will speak up? Who will come forward even at great risk? Who wil be a patriot for the people as Esther was?

The Jewish community should also take note that with International Women’s Day, until more women are the paid executives of leading Jewish organizations and not just the Jewish Women’s Organizations and more of the mainstream organizational boards are chaired by women the misogyny that is evident even in the Jewish world will continue.

Even though women make up most of the Jewish Federation’s work force in the US the only major city to have a woman as its CEO is Philadelphia.  And even though there is a woman who chairs the board of AIPAC, Lillian Pinkus, and the Union for Reform Judaism, Daryl Messinger there are still entire pockets of the Jewish community where there are still meetings that are only men.  That is shameful.  Just look at the picture below… what’s wrong with it.

jewish men sitting around the table

Just look at this picture from Ha’aretz magazine March 3 in a meeting of Jewish leaders with FBI head Comey discussing the recent bomb threats.  NO WOMEN.  Yes, Queen Esther we still have a long way to go.

Happy Purim