For Reb Arthur's 2d Bar Mitzvah
The Gates Are Close to Closing!
Below: Read Praise of Reb Arthur
By Bill McKibben, Ruth Messinger, & Other Notables
The Shalom Center Board invites you to celebrate Reb Arthur’s 2nd Bar Mitzvah on October 29, shortly after his 83rd birthday.
The gates are (almost) closing, the limited space is close to full (no kidding!), and the registration cost is going up on October 2nd.
So -- now's the day and now's the hour! -- REGISTER HERE to be with us in Philadelphia at The Shalom Center's extraordinary fund-raiser in honor of Reb Arthur's 2nd Bar Mitzvah on Saturday afternoon, October 29th. .......... SORRY, NO WALK INS WITHOUT PRIOR REGISTRATION!
Reb Arthur's work benefits us all: seeking justice, pursuing peace, healing our wounded Mother Earth, and sounding the Shofar of new life for our spiritual and religious traditions and communities.
So if you can't be with us physically, but you want to support Reb Arthur in continuing to do that work through The Shalom Center, make a contribution by clicking this link .
Remember: You can also use either the "Registration" form or the "Contribution" form to sign up for sending a 200-word-maximum letter for the Tribute Book about your encounter with Reb Arthur, or about your own Bat/ Bar Mitzvah. After you've signed up for that, all Tributes must be sent to Office@theshalomcenter.org by September 30.
Join us in song, in story-telling, and in celebration!
As we announced this joyful celebration, we started receiving Mazeltovs from various leaders of movements for peace, justice, and healing of our wounded world. Below you will see notes from several of them -- Bill McKibben, Ruth Messinger, Rabbis Michael Lerner, Elliot Dorff, and Jay Michaelson, among others. You'll also see two wonderful photos of Arthur -- then (at 13) and now.
But first, details for you, on how to take part either in Philadelphia or by long-distance connection:
The event will be a fundraiser for The Shalom Center, supporting its work and inspiring Arthur to keep going — as we always hope, biz hundert und tzvantzig, gezunt und shtark — till 120 in good health and strong spirit!
You can take part by attending the Bar Mitzvah and the celebratory supper party to follow; OR by contributing in Reb Arthur’s honor even if you cannot attend; AND (either physically present or not) by underwriting a page in the Bar Mitzvah Bukher's Booklet featuring your story about Reb Arthur or your own Bat/Bar Mitzvah.
Join us –- and Rabbis Shawn Zevit, Deborah Waxman, Marcia Prager, Gerry Serotta, Shefa Gold, Cantor Jack Kessler, and other notables, friends, and family -- at this twice-in-a-lifetime celebration on October 29.
You need not attend to honor Reb Arthur and contribute to The Shalom Center. To make a contribution, click here and complete the form.
To reserve your seat for supper and support the Bar Mitzvah event and The Shalom Center, click REGISTER NOW and sign up for Reb Arthur’s 2nd Bar Mitzvah Celebration during this early-bird period before the contribution level riss on October 2 or the space fills up. Sorry – no walk-ins!
Here are the responses from just a few of our most renowned social0activist herooes:
From Bill McKibben:
Time and again, at some important moment in the key environmental fights, I've looked up from a podium to see Art Waskow in the front row, or tuned into a key webinar to hear him making a cogent point. The point is, he's always there. There's no one who's showed up more often, added his voice more unselfishly, made his time on this earth count. So, mazel tov!
-- Bill McKibben, 350.org
From Ruth Messinger:
What an honor it is to celebrate the second bar mitzvah of the amazing Arthur Waskow. No one is more deserving of this honor. With the energy of a passel of 13 year olds, Arthur continues—on behalf of all of us—to speak truth to power, to focus our energies on building peace, creating a world with reduced strife and the possibility of building community across lines of difference, and to insist that we work together to save our planet from the environmental degradation that is destroying homes, livelihoods and lives of some of the world’s most marginalized people.
I know Arthur would want us to use this occasion—as we did not, most likely, fully use our own coming of age experiences—to dedicate and rededicate ourselves to the work he has mapped out as essential to the future of Jews and the future of the world.
-- Ruth W. Messinger, President, American Jewish World Service
From Rabbi Michael Lerner:
Arthur Waskow has long been one of the most inspiring Jewish thinkers I know. What a joy to have discovered a Jewish spiritual progressive in the early 1970s when he and I were allies in the movement against the war in Vietnam.
Though we were living 3000 miles apart, we continued to share ideas as we moved through an array of social change movements and found ourselves in the Jewish Renewal movement. Not just in it -- also pushing it to address not only inner liberation but also fundamental structural transformation both in the U.S. and in Israel!
Arthur became my spiritual brother -- and like many brothers, we wrestle with each other, and learn from each other in ways that are beautiful and soul nourishing for me. I was blessed to have Arthur and Phyllis join me as co-leaders of High Holiday services at Beyt Tikkun, and to have him speak at numerous national conferences of the Tikkun and NSP community--he was always deep and wise.
Arthur has shared his powerful wisdom with Tikkun readers, demonstrating the spiritual depth that our Jewish Renewal movement has to offer. And at 83 Arthur is just as creative as he was at 40, so I'm looking forward to many years of camaraderie as we attempt to shape and build a Transformative Judaism together.
What do we mean by "Transformative Judaism"? We insist that our greatest task as a Jewish people and as a human race is to save the life-support system of the planet before the rapacious dynamics of the capitalist system and the rest of us as collaborators in consuming the planet's scarce resources bring on the greatest catastrophe of human history -- geocide.
It is an honor to partner in this way with such a mensch, whom I've deeply loved for the past 44 years!!!
-- Rabbi Michael Lerner, editor, Tikkun
From Rabbi Elliot Dorff
I first met Arthur through his book, Godwrestling, whose very title, as well as its content, bespeaks my own approach to Judaism. We are b'nei yisrael, "the children of Israel," and Jacob does not become Israel until he wrestles with God.
So to be a true "Israelite," one must wrestle with God and with the entire Jewish tradition during one's whole life to make Judaism truly "with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your might."
My second encounter with Arthur's convictions came when I joined his website. Time and time again, he would nudge me to do what I knew I should do anyway -- whether it was on issues of social justice or on the environment. In heart and mind, I am really committed to those issues, but Arthur's postings kept me focused on those commitments. I am sure that he has done that for all of us, and we are all the better for it.
My continuing encounter with Arthur's convictions is through his writing -- superb books that push the boundaries on theology, environmentalism, and social justice. I do not agree with him on everything -- how could two Jews ever do that?! -- but I love being pushed by his keen mind and warm heart to expand my own thinking about issues.
It was no surprise, then, when I asked him to write the chapter on Judaism and the environment in a book I was co-editing, The Oxford Handbook on Jewish Ethics and Morality, and, characteristically, he did that in a very creative way, using midrash rather than halakhah to articulate a Jewish viewpoint.
Thank you, thank you, thank you, Arthur, for prodding us all to be better than we would otherwise be.
From Rabbi Jay Michaelson, columnist for the Forward:
Arthur and I were two of a dozen or so faith leaders lucky enough to ride on a float designed to look like Noah’s Ark, created by Auburn Theological Seminary for the People’s Climate March in New York City. We both dressed the part, in our rainbow taleisim and kippot, and we were both eager to show with our bodies that climate justice is a religious, not only ecological, environmental, and political, issue.
As we looked out over the throngs of marchers stretching to the city horizon, it occurred to me that this was a moment of prophetic fruition for someone who had spoken out on these issues long before it was fashionable to do so.
The real fruition, of course, will not come for many years, until such time as our global carbon output levels off instead of rises asymptotically. But in the interim, here, I thought, was the coming into being of one of Reb Arthur’s many visions: a mass, intersectional movement of caring for the earth.
I snapped a photo, and captioned it “a legend and his legacy” on social media. Arthur contacted me shortly thereafter and protested: “What legacy?! I ain’t dead yet!” I laughed – how quintessentially Arthur!
But I stand by the caption. If we’re lucky, we can see our legacies come to life even as we continue to create them. Mazal Tov, Bar Mitzvah Boy, from the thousands who now walk in your footsteps, even as you continue to make new ones!
Meanwhile, here's Arthur at his first Bar Mitzvah, with his younger brother Howard, of blessed memory.
And here's Arthur now, with his beloved bashert Reb Phyllis, as his second Coming-of-Age appoaches. A lot hairier, funnier, and even more vigorous than he was at 13.
The first time, he says, he learned to chant by rote, but nothing more -- a terrible waste of creative possibility and a turn-off for him from exploring Judaism. This time he intends to speak a true Dvar Torah -- a new way of thinking about what the Torah is teaching.
Among our reasons to honor Arthur is his constant and creative weaving wisdom and activism together. A perfect illustration: This summer, The Shalom Center and Reb Arthur have been involved in a number of conferences, celebrations, teachings, and activist challenges to the Carbon Pharaohs.
He spoke, taught, marched, and/or guided prayer at the Pendle Hill Quaker retreat center near Philadelphia, the Chautauqua Institution near Buffalo, the Community of Living Traditions at the Stony Point retreat center in upstate New York, the Kallah sponsored by ALEPH: Alliance for Jewish Renewal in Colorado, and in the March for a Clean Energy Revolution on the eve of the Democratic National Convention in Philadelphia.
And that comes on top of speaking trips where he was invited to Southern California, South Carolina, and the Pacific Northwest in the last few months, as a prophetic voice on the spiritual and moral imperative to heal the Earth from global scorching. PLUS an arrest at the US Capitol alongside the heads of the NAACP, Sierra Club, Greenpeace, & AFL-CIO in a protest demanding Hyperwealth Out & Voting Rights Restored in our elections.
All for "Eco-social justice," as he says!
And now, back to October 29: To celebrate Reb Arthur’s 2d Bar Mitzvah by joining directly in the service and supper, reserving your seat for supper and supporting the Bar Mitzvah event and The Shalom Center, click REGISTER NOW
and sign up for Reb Arthur’s 2nd Bar Mitzvah. Space is limited –-- first come, first served, first celebrated! Sorry, no walk-ins.
If you won’t be able to come to Philadelphia and want to honor Reb Arthur and support his vigorous voice through a contribution to The Shalom Center, click here and complete the form.
Either way, we welcome your reserving space in the Bar Mitzvah Bukher’s Booklet to tell a story about your own encounter with Reb Arthur or to tell a story about your own Bat/ Bar Mitzvah.
Blessings for a joyful sharing of this twice-in-a-lifetime celebration!
Arlene Goldbard, President and Chair of the Board
The Shalom Center