Reb Arthur's 2d Bar Mitzvah?! What's that?

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.

   Warmly,
    Elliot Dorff


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!

Rabbi

 

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



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1 Comment

On AW's 2nd Bar Mitzvah

For Arthur Waskow, on the occasion of his second Bar Mitzvah – So few human beings, today, are able to navigate the tangled thickets of a fraying social order and a planet teetering on its axis. Each of us improvises as best as we can, confused and confounded by so much digital hype and glitz, while refugee families are fenced into internment camps and mean-spirited ignoramuses bully their way to the presidency, while our fellow species tumble helter-skelter into the abyss of extinction, and the atmosphere – the sacred commonwealth of breath – is treated as an open sewer for the toxic byproducts of our ruinous industries. The human, this earthling species so rich with promise, has lost its way – inadvertantly destroying so much that is holy, disrupting and choking the very body of the Divine. No wonder so many of us avoid engaging the palpable earth, spending more and more time in fabricated and virtual spaces rather than engage in the difficult ambiguity of the Real – rather than dance in full-bodied relation with one another, and with the aching land still breathing all around us. At such a moment, when so many so-called spiritual teachers hawk their cheesy certainties on every streetcorner and website, there are hardly any genuine seers to be found. They don't proclaim themselves: we stumble upon them without knowing, and find ourselves struck by a fresh breeze blowing through our awareness, cleansing it of toxins: we wonder where it comes from, and then notice this man or woman, sitting or laughing or dancing gracefully in the midst of apparent chaos, radiating a quiet joy. And our heart swells with sweetness at find itself in proximity to another heart so rich with exuberant love for this earthly world in all its beautiful confusion and mystery. I think we can recognize a prophet only with our own heart, by the way our heart begins to swell and pulse with a fresh fire. Such luminous humans are utterly unique and inimitable, although every one of them walks, or dances, with a simple and unforced humility. In the course of a life's meanderings, we stumble across only a very few such tzaddiks, maybe encountering them face-to-face, or else bumping into something they've said, or written – and by following it up we discover a reliable upwelling of awakened goodness bubbling up into the present like a fresh spring in the hidden depth of the forest. For some of us, the Vietnamese monk Thich Naht Hanh has been such a voice. For others, Pope Francis. For those of us of an earthly bent, the Kentucky farmer and writer Wendell Berry carries such a prophetic voice, resonant with clarity and humor and inexhaustible wisdom. For me, Arthur Waskow, bless his radiant soul, stands in their company – a gentle and genuine prophet, and a tzaddik of immense and unforced wisdom living among us in this crazed and terrifying and gorgeous moment in the world's unfolding. More than any living scholar or rabbi that I know of, Reb Arthur has taken up our tradition, our wild and cantankerous tradition, and made it new, shaking it free of ossified understandings and discovering for us the most outrageously profound yet simple meanings that the sacred texts have been hiding until now, teachings that the Torah was hiding within itself, biding its time and waiting to bring forth only when the time was ripe, in this Holy moment now upon us – this time of flooding seas and spreading forest fires and never-before-seen hurricanes, this era of flaring internecine wars and deepening ethnic animosities, of facile scapegoating and nuclear bluffing. In this historical moment, with all its biblical intensity, there is no thinker, Jewish or otherwise, whose engaged insights and reflections carry more medicine than Arthur Waskow. I don't really know him personally, although I feel like I do from his writings. I'm a hopelessly slow reader, and there's plenty of his work that I haven't read. Yet I could not get by in the world, today, without his work – I could not think half as clearly as I do without his heart and his humor and the boundless wisdom of his writings circulating in my home and circulating in the world – being passed from person to person, from passionate protestors to prisoners to poets, from ecologists to conservationists to other rabbis, from Buddhists to atheists, from elders to youths – and in the process deepening our hearts and vivifying our bodies, transforming all of us into more exuberant, ecstatic lovers of one another and the breathing Earth. So on the occasion of his second Bar Mitzvah, I wish to thank Arthur Waskow with all my heart for simply being who he is, and for nourishing us with so much goodness, for freeing our tears so they could moisten the parched soils underfoot, for releasing so much solidarity, for so much compassion and so much Joy. Mazeltov! with Love and Gratitude, David Abram Author of The Spell of the Sensuous and Becoming Animal: An Earthly Cosmology Director, Alliance for Wild Ethics (AWE)

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