Reb Arthur's Latest Thoughts

The Dark Side of Purim, Kahane, & the Soul of Israel

There is a dark side to Purim,  that upside-down, downside-up festival of masks and laughter.

To inoculate us in advance against the break-through of that dark side, the rabbis long ago prescribed that the day before Purim would be the Fast of Esther, drawing us from dawn to dusk into a world of inner contemplation. In a moment, below, you will see an invocation I propose for the Fast of Esther, to strengthen its healing in our day.

Yet the dark side broke out 25 years ago and again in the last ten days. 

On Purim twenty-five years ago, a follower of the racist and murderous “Rabbi” Meir Kahane murdered 29 Muslims prostrate in prayer in the Tomb of Avraham/ Ibrahim/ Abraham, our shared Father and Founder. The Kahanist murderer chose Purim quite deliberately, for reasons we will explore below.  

Just this past week, the Prime Minister of the State of Israel honored the followers of Kahane by greatly easing their path for election to the Knesset.

I intend to join in the Fast of Esther this year on March 20, the day before Purim, and I invite you to join in fasting in sorrow for the way in which our own tradition is streaked with blood:  And I suggest that we begin the Fast by chanting this Vision, this Hazon, that I share with you.  After it are the explanations of how this Vision appeared to me. --  Shalom, Arthur  

The Presence of an Absence

And then appeared Darkness,
Her Head wrapped in mourning,
Her tallit all black,
Her Place only Absence,
Her Voice but a Silence,
Nistar b'Nistar:
 
”When Esther came hidden
In the name of one hiding,
She cried out to Me
To emerge from My Mystery.
 
“So I came to defend you,
My people beloved;
I strengthened your hand
to beat back your foes;
But then you betrayed Me.
For your hand became frenzied,
You struck down the harmless,
You struck down My children
While they reached out to Me.
 
“On the day of rejoicing
You hollowed My Name.
In My Own Tree of Life,
You hollowed out life,
left only a mocking
 Pretense of My Self.
 
“And I see -- yes, I watch--
That in days still to come
Your deeds will give warrant
To a child of your children,
To murder your cousins,
The children of Ishmael,
The children of Abraham,
In the Place of his grave,
On this day of rejoicing.
 
“So My Name I withdraw --
Yes, My Name will be hidden,
Nistar b'Nistar;
 
“For I will not permit you
to call out from this Scroll
My Name on this day.
 
“Yet I teach you that Purim,
Alone of the seasons,
Will continue beyond
the time of Messiah.
 
“On the day that both families
of Abraham's offspring
turn away from their murders,
their killing each other,
on that day will my Name
take its Place in the Scroll.
 
“On that day Purim
and Yom Ha’K'Purim
at last will be one.
 
“On that day, at last,
A Purim will lead you
And light up your way
to the Days of Messiah.
 
“On that day all the nations
will laugh and will dance,
will turn robes of power
into masquerade mirth;
will turn every gun
to a clackety grogger.
 
“On that day will My Name
Take Its Place in the Scroll
In letters of Light.”
 

Ten notes of Background and Suggestions, for Purim and the Fast of Estherr this year: 

1. Spiritually, perhaps the most important “background” is this: The Name of God does not appear anywhere in the Scroll of Esther. It is hidden, and the Hebrew of “hidden” is nistar.  Esther’s own “name,” so close to nistar, echoes that her true name, Hadassah, is hidden in the story.

2. The next most important spiritual lesson is that (as many modern scholars teach) the Scroll of Esther is not history but satire –- an over-the-top tale of an evil prime minister and a pompous, stupid king. In this view, every element in it is a satirical exaggeration for a serious purpose  to laugh at the vileness and stupidity of those who get drunk on their own power. (No accident that the story begins with a royal drinking-party that goes on for months.)

3. The story weaves together two jokes of the same genre: The anti-hero keeps slipping on the banana peel he himself has tossed on the ground. The pompous, stupid king gets the tale going by insisting that no woman is going to tell him what to do. His insistence creates precisely the result that he does exactly what his Queen Esther tells him what to do. And his evil prime minister sets out to bring about the genocide of the Jews in his realm, including the impalement on a gallows of their leader, Mordechai. By thus over-reaching, he brings about his own impalement on that same gallows and the destruction of his political party.

4.    Chapter 9, verse 16 of the Scroll of Esther says that after a day of successful self-defense from those Persian terrorists who had prepared a genocide of the Jewish people, the Jews killed an additional 75,000 Persians. The greatest moral and ethical danger in the story is that some will read it as history, not satire, and will read its excesses as instructions  -- especially the tale of this massacre.

5. Inspired by this passage of massacre,  on Purim 25 years ago, an American-born Israeli Jew grotesquely named “Baruch” (“Blessed”) Goldstein, committed mass murder.

6.  Rabbinic tradition teaches that on Purim we should get drunk or “mellow” enough to the point of not deeply knowing (“ad lo yada,” not grokking) the difference between “Baruch [Blessed be] Mordechai” and “Aror  [Cursed be] Haman.”  (Haman was the genocidal arch-villain of the story, and Mordechai its co-hero.)  The rabbinic teaching was intended to move us to lift ourselves  -- to get high – to ascend -- beyond collision into a world of ultimate Unity. But Goldstein, who thought he was “Baruch, “Blessed,”  actually got drunk on blood, not alcohol, and dragged himself down into the abyss where he became not Baruch, Blessed,  but “Aror,” Accursed.

7. There is an old rabbinic pun:  Occasionally, in Hebrew, the Day of Atonement is called Yom HaKippurim. Someday, the Rabbis said, Yom HaKippurim would become a Yom Ha K’Purim, a day like Purim. When Mashiach comes, they said, the day when we need to atone for our sins would dissolve into a day like Purim, a day of joy and laughter beyond sin because all sin would be transcended. Of all the holy days, they said, only Purim would become so transcendent that it will still be celebrated after Messiah comes.

But the equation is also true in reverse. There must be an element of Yom Kippur in Purim, and that element is the Fast of Esther. 

8.The Rabbis instituted Taanit Esther, the Fast of Esther,  on the 13th of Adar. That was the very day, according to the Scroll of Esther, that the revenge massacre had taken place. And that very day had been “Yom Nicanor,” a festival that commemorated a Jewish military victory by the Maccabees over Nicanor, one of Antiochus’ generals. The Rabbis shattered a celebration of victory in war to bring people to quiet inward meditation. Perhaps they feared that Chapter 9: 16 of Megillat Esther would one day bring about an Aror Goldstein.

9. In 1994, when I woke on Purim morning after a joyful evening of laughter to hear the news of Goldstein's massacre, I thought: "I wrote Purim midrash with a costume and a pen; he wrote bloody midrash with a machine gun. Which midrash will come to express the Soul of Yisrael, the Godwrestling folk?"

Step by step, the machine-gun interpretation of Torah has in the State of Israel been winning. Will Netanyahoo's invitation to Kahanism at last be the overreach that sends our own Haman to oblivion on his own banana peel?  Can the Soul of the People Israel bring a Turning to the Soul of the State?

I am relieved to report that almost the entire spectrum of American Jewish institutions, minus the ultra-right-wing so-called "Zionist Organization of America," condemned Netanyahoo's despicable support for Kahanism. Still sad that it took this level of governmental betrayal of Jewish vision and vaues to bring a strong rebuke.

So for the sake of a deeper Turning, I will fast this year on Taanit Esther. And I suggest we go further. Two thoughts:

10. In 1995, one year after the massacre, on the evening before the sunrise Fast of Esther,  we brought together in our creative Jewish and multireligious neighborhood in Philadelphia, a public meeting in which a knowledgeable Jew, Christian, and Muslim each looked into and spoke about the bloody streaks in her/his OWN tradition. 

As we approach the 25h yahrzeit of this murderous Purim, especially at this moment in world history, as we look at the rising level of violence “justified” by claims of godliness  --  when  violence from each of our traditions is besmirching the Truth of our roots in the ONE  --  this unblinking gaze into our mirrors would be valuable. Wherever it is still possible, I suggest that our communities bring together such a conversation.

In this way, each of the three Abrahamic communities could face – not through accusation of the other but through self-assessment --  our own tugs into bloodshed.

And finally, I suggest that Esther 9: 16 be chanted in the wailing, sorrowful un-melody of Eicha, the Book of Lamentations. Just as we break a glass at a wedding, a time of greatest joy, on this day of laughter let us recall that even this day bears within it the danger of making even more broken the cracked and dangerous world that we inherit.  

 Shalom, salaam, sohl, paz, peace --  Arthur

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What We Owe Our 16-Year-Olds: 2 Phone Calls

Dear friends,

First, before you read the rest of my letter to you, please click here and watch a 2-minute video of middle-school and high-school kids talking with Sen. Dianne Feinstein of California.

https://twitter.com/sunrisemvmt/status/1099075460649107458?link_id=3&can_id=ec320de8eee4a92ec3d9eb18c7b84a60&source=email-middle-school-kids-vs-feinstein-3&email_referrer=email_500122&email_subject=middle-school-kids-vs-feinstein

Then please come back here.

Sen. Feinstein is not a bad person. But she is used to step-by-step slow improvement of America. There was no deadline for civil rights, no deadline for women’s rights. One step at a time made things better. But the planet doesn’t work that way. Already the ice is melting faster and the oceans are warming faster than the scientists expected. There IS a deadline.

So the kids are right and Senator Feinstein is wrong.

The Green New Deal proposal sets a TRULY REALISTIC goal because it demands shifting from a carbon economy to a renewable economy by 2030. That will be BARELY in time to prevent utter climate chaos. And the Green  New Deal moves RIGHT AWAY to create and fund the jobs that will make the Green Shift possible.

Here too there is a deadline, because already we are seeing Americans who are feeling forgotten, frightened by a flat future and shortened life-spans, releasing old impulses to racist rage as a way of feeling better. That will grow worse if we do not meet the need.  The crisis in democracy and the crisis in planetary survival join. Feinstein’s “responsible” resolution is irresponsible because it will not save our planet, our democracy, or our lives.  The lives of those kids.

Because of her life-long habit of step-by-step, Sen. Feinstein fell for a trick, a trap, set by Sen. McConnell, the Senate (Republican) majority leader. Senator Markey of Massachusetts and Congresswoman AOC of New York have introduced a resolution to set the will of the Senate and the House to embody the Green New Deal. (I will explain in a moment why I think it is far better in both ethical-moral terms and in sheer practical politics than any other approach to securing either domestic US social justice or planetary survival.)

Congresswoman AOC's resolution can pass the House. But Senator Markey's resolution will not pass the Senate – and neither will Sen. Feinstein’s watered-down substitute, because the Republican majority in the Senate will oppose both of them.

But if neither the Green New Deal resolution nor Watery Feinstein can pass the Senate,  why bother? Because we need to build a movement in the country behind the goal that will actually save us, not the one that won’t. By 2021 we need a President and both houses of Congress ready to pass the Green New Deal. And we can have them – IF we build the movement.

Sen. McConnell set the trap that Sen. Feinstein fell into. McConnell could hear and taste the rising tide of a great Green Wave of public support for the Green New Deal resolution. (So could practically every declared Democratic candidate for President, who have all endorsed the Green New Deal.)  So McConnell brought up the Green New Deal resolution for a vote before the movement all across American could crystallize strong support in the Senate. He hoped that the Democrats in the Senate would split.  And Feinstein fell for it.

Now it’s up to us. Unless you live in the District of Columbia or outside the US, you have two Senators. This week is a crucial time to call them. I urge you to do so. I think we owe it to our kids, our grandkids.

Call 1202-224-3121 and ask for your Senator’s office.(Just tell the operator what State or what zip code you are in; she will know who your Senators are.) Then ask your Senator’s office to speak to her/ his climate policy expert. They may shift you to voice mail. OK. Give your name, your phone number, what town you live in, and say that it is VERY important to you –at every level – for the sake of all the 16-year-olds in your own family and in the world --  that your Senator supports the Markey Resolution for a Green New Deal.

When you are finished, call back to 1202-224-3121 and ask for your other Senator. Do it all over again  

If you do live in DC and don’t have a Senator, or if you have the time to make three calls, please call in and ask for Senator Schumer of New York, the Minority (Democratic) Leader. Urge him to line up all the Democratic Senators behind the Markey resolution for the Green New Deal.  

One more action, right after your phone calls:

Many many young people organized by the Sunrise Movement are converging on Capitol Hill today, meeting Senators and Congressmembers to support the Green New Deal. Please support them by clicking here to sign a petition:

https://actionnetwork.org/petitions/tell-congress-support-sen-markey-rep-ocasio-cortezs-resolution-for-a-green-new-deal

Finally, why do I think the Green New Deal is crucial? Because it connects into one unified goal meeting (a) the needs of the Earth and all human communities to stop the runaway climate crisis by ending the burning of fossil fuels, and (b) the needs of large sectionsof American society for decent jobs at good pay. The Green New Deal insists we can create the Green Community only by putting millions to work on green infrastructure, and it insists we can meet the pent-up desperate hunger for jobs and justice only by creating the Green Community. Each empowers the other.

If you think coal miners or oil-refinery workers or people who are building huge pipelines to carry fracked unnatural gas will willingly lose their jobs just because their work is wrecking the planet and creating epidemics of cancer and asthma, think again. They need jobs NOW, just as the Earth needs wind and solar power NOW. The Green New Deal meets both needs, NOW.

When Pharaoh brought slavery upon workers, eco-disaster plagues on the food crops of his country, and death on the first-born, the Breath of Life, the Wind of Change, said “NOW! --  There is no time to let the dough rise when you bake your bread! NOW -- bake matzah, bake unleavened bread, and go NOW.” Dr. Martin Luther King said it more than 50 years ago:  “The fierce urgency of NOW!” Even truer now that it was then.

Please act. And when you have, please click to “Reply” and just drop us a line --  “Done!” if you don’t have time to say more.

Thanks, and blessings of passionate empowerment for healing! --  Arthur

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My "Torah Talk" for Presidents Day Protest -- NOT DIctators Day

On Presidents Day I spoke to a crowd gathered at the City Hall of Philadelphia to protest the “Fake Emergency” proclaimed by Donald Trump to enable him to bypass Congress’ refusal to appropriate money to build a Wall and further militarize our Southern border. The protest was live-streamed, and the recording is at --

https://www.facebook.com/jemjason.corraggio/videos/2388797751344077/?notif_id=1550509702151643&notif_t=feedback_reaction_generic

 My own speech begins exactly one hour into the recording -- !:00:00 --  and lasts till 1:12:00.

 Since various other sounds partially intrude, I have included, below, the text I used. I skipped a few parts of my text and ad-libbed occasionally beyond it. I hope you will take the time to see and listen live.

 With blessings to you and to us all of the strength and perseverance to stand tall for democracy, for justice and compassion, against all their enemies  --  Arthur

 [Photo by Rabbi Mordechai Liebling]

Why am I here today? [I ad-libbed some remarks about the Passover Seder as both a commemoration of ancient struggles against a tyrant, Pharaoh, and at its best an activist teaching and reaching toward future transformation: for example, what it means for The Shalom Center to be sponsoring a pre-Passover Seder in which Rev. William Barber of the Poor Peoples Campaign will be one of the leaders. I moved  from that holy time of challenging tyrants into ---]

And I am here today because this too is a holy day – a holy day in the American calendar. Today is Presidents Day. Not Dictators Day. Not King George III’s Day. This holy day is known as Presidents Day in honor originally of Presidents Washington and Lincoln, and more recently to honor all the honorable Presidents of the United States. And when necessary, as it is today, to challenge a dishonorable President.

What does it mean to be a US President, not a king or a dictator? It means to live in and under the Constitution of the United States.  It means you swear an Oath to “preserve, protect, and defend  the Constitution of the United States.” Not even to defend the physical safety of the United States, but its moral and spiritual and political Truth -- the CONSTITUTION OF THE UNITED STATES. Imperfect, evolving – toward democracy, not away from it.

And that includes --

  “Article. I. Section. 8. ... No money shall be drawn from the Treasury, but in Consequence of Appropriations made by Law  --  by Congress.”

No President can take our tax money to use any way he feels like, for something that Congress refuses. This teaching – We the People have no Dictator, no King – goes deep not just into our Constitution but into the moral fabric that preceded it by about 2500 years.  Even when people chose kings, the Bible taught that even a king, especially a king, must have his powers limited.

Deuteronomy 17:14-19 

“If you say, “I will set over me a king like all the nations round about us,  you may set, yes, set over you a king – one that YHWH [Yahhh – the Breathing Spirit pf the World ] your God chooses.... 

Only: He is not to multiply cavalry [the jet bombers and H-bombs of that day] for himself, or make the people return to the Tight and Narrow Place [of slavery] in order to multiply his cavalry, since YHWH [Yahhh – the Breath of Life]  has said to you, ‘You will never return that way again!’

“And he is not to multiply sexual partners for himself, lest his heart be turned aside. And silver and gold he must not multiply for himself.  

“But it shall be when he sits on the throne of his kingdom, he is to write for himself with his own hand, a copy of this Teaching in a scroll.  [He shall write it sitting] face to face with priests of the tribe of Levi. It is to remain beside him, and he is to read out of it every day of his life, so that he may learn to have awe for YHWH [Yahhh, the Breath of Life]  his God and to be fully caring for all the words of this Teaching and these laws, to observe them, so that his heart not be lifted up above his people.”

I do not want to make the Bible into American law. God forbid!! Truly, God forbid! I do want to learn from that last line --- the moral and spiritual line about the danger that kings will lift their hearts above their community, not turn their hearts toward their community.  That warning is at the heart of all the political rules that aim toward democracy.  For us as well. 

 The only emergency Mr. Trump has proclaimed is his own desperate raw emotional and political need to subjugate everyone who will not bow down to him. He kidnaps children from their families, he brings wildfires and hurricanes and famines on all living beings. He is doing exactly what the Bible forbids: “that his heart not be lifted up above his people.”

[Photo by Bastiaan Slabbers for WHYY]

In our country, We the People – the whole People  --  are the “priests of the tribe of Levi.” We ALL breathe the Breath of Life. We –- along with all the life-forms of our planet, the life-forms that this President is radically endangering. We demand that this President obey our Constitution.

And more!  Mr. Trump, we demand that you stop lifting up your heart in contempt and arrogance and cruelty above and against your people, all peoples, and all life; and turn your heart instead toward justice and compassion.

 Or ==  Mr. Trump, if you will not, cannot, turn your  heart to justice and compassion, if you cannot turn your heart to being worthy of this Presidents Day, leave. Leave the Presidency you are trying to make into a personal dictatorship.

You are not our King.  We have no King!  [Crowd joins in: “We have no King!  We have no King!  We have no King!’] And if Congress will not stop you, We the People must. We here, everywhere in America today, meeting at Noon in every time zone from Philadelphia to Hawaii, must stop you.  

Will stop you.

For we have no king!


 

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TRUMP: Kings and Presidents, the Bible & the Constitution

Tomorrow (February 18) is Presidents Day. Not Dictators Day. Not King George III’s Day. The holy day is known as Presidents Day in honor originally of Presidents Washington and Lincoln, and more recently to honor all the honorable Presidents of the United States. And when necessary, to challenge a dishonorable President.

Throughout the United States, at Noon local time tomorrow, Monday, February 18, there will be solemn rallies of protest against the so-called “National Emergency” just proclaimed by Mr. Trump.

You can find a rally near you by clicking here

https://www.crisisresponse.us/event/crisis-response/search/?source=dailykos&link_id=1&can_id=ec320de8eee4a92ec3d9eb18c7b84a60&email_referrer=email_496350&email_subject=there-is-an-event-in-or-near-city-default-your-town-on-monday-february-18

and plugging in your zip code.

The Shalom Center has endorsed the national wave of protests, and I will be speaking at the one in Philadelphia. It will gather at NOON Monday at SOUTH SIDE of City Hall.   

We the People chose to bind our President by a Constitution. Here is what that means:

 CONSTITUTION OF THE UNITED STATES

 Article. I. Section. 1. All legislative Powers herein granted

shall be vested in a Congress of the United States,

which shall consist of a Senate and House of Representatives.

  Article. I. Section. 8. ... No money shall be drawn from the Treasury,

but in Consequence of Appropriations made by Law

 Article II. Section 1:  He [The President] shall ... take the following Oath or Affirmation: --

“I do solemnly swear (or affirm) that I will faithfully execute

the Office of President of the United States,

and will to the best of my Ability, preserve, protect, and defend

the Constitution of the United States.

This teaching – We the People have no Dictator, no King – goes deep not just into our Constitution but into the moral fabric that preceded it by about 2500 years.  Even when people chose kings, the Bible taught that even a king, especially a king, must have his powers limited.

Deuteronomy 17:14-19

When you enter the land that YHWH  [Yahhh, the Interbreathing spirit of all Life]  your God is giving you, and you possess it and settle in it, should you say, “I will set over me a king like all the nations around us,”  you may set, yes, set over you a king that YHWH [Yahhh] your God chooses....

“Only: He is not to multiply cavalry for himself or make the people return to the Tight and Narrow Place [of slavery] in order to multiply his cavalry, since YHWH [Yahhh] has said to you, “You will never return that way again!” And he is not to multiply wives for himself, lest his heart be turned aside. And silver and gold he must not multiply for himself.  

“But it shall be when he sits on the throne of his kingdom, he is to write for himself a copy of this Teaching in a scroll, face to face with priests of the tribe of Levi. It is to remain beside him, and he is to read out of it every day of his life, so that he may learn to have awe for YHWH [Yahhh, the Breath of Life]  his God and to be fully caring for all the words of this Teaching and these laws, to observe them, so that his heart not be lifted up above his people.”

            [Translation by Everett Fox, The Five Books of Moses (Schocken Books, 1995), with a few  modifications by Rabbi Arthur Waskow]

That last line about the danger that kings will lift their hearts above their community, not turn their hearts toward their community, is at the heart of all the political rules.  For us as well.

Back to the "political": No previous invocation of a "national emergency" has purported to usurp the sole power of Congress, by “withdrawing from the Treasury” money that has NOT been drawn “in Consequence of Appropriations made by Law.”

Moreover, in the very proclamation of this “emergency,” Mr. Trump said, “I didn’t need to do this, but I’d rather do it much faster. I just want to get it done faster, that’s all.”

 That's the very definition of a non-emergency –-- except to meet the raw emotional and political needs of the proclaimer to subjugate everyone who will not bow to him. He kidnaps children from their families, he brings wildfires and hurricanes and famines on all living beings. Doing exactly what the Bible forbade: “that his heart not be lifted up above his people.”

In our country, We the People – the whole People  --  are the “priests of the tribe of Levi.” We ALL  breathe the Breath of Life. We –- along with all the life-forms of our planet, the life-forms that this President is radically endangering. We demand that this President obey our Constitution.

We demand that he stop lifting up his heart in contempt and arrogance above and against his people, all peoples, and all life; and turn his heart instead toward justice and compassion. Or leave.

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Trump Mulls: Burn the Constitution, the Planet, or Both?

(This is satire from the well-known Satire News Agency, the Dissociated Press. Satire reports not the immediate facts but the deeper Truth that emerges from understanding the immediate facts.)

Trump Mulls: Burn the Constitution, the Planet, or Both?

Dissociated Press [Washington DC, February 15, 2019]  A member of the Trump family has described to our reporter a private meeting of the Trump Family just before Donald Trump decided today to proclaim a national emergency on the Southern US border so as to build the Wall.

The family member reports that Donald said,  

“I’m considering burning the Constitution by ignoring its provision that only Congress can appropriate money, and grabbing money from various agencies to start building that Wall.  I want your advice: Will we make more money for the Family if I do this “national emergency” thing, or if I just focus on burning the Earth?

 “I’ve already been doing my best to burn all Planet Earth. I’m  encouraging the burning of as much coal, oil, and unnatural gas as possible, ending limits on automobile CO2 emissions, allowing coal-burning power plants from spewing their poison into the air.

“The GREAT thing is, all that carbon-burning also multiplies weird cancers and terrible asthma epidemics in the Black and Brown neighborhoods, who don’t belong in our country anyway and harbor thousands of would-be terrorists. We protect America by keeping them busy with their kids in hospitals.

“Of course there is no national emergency on the border.  The real emergency is that I might lose the 2020 election if I don’t get that Wall built.

“I notice just today, my Trump Organization announced that so many elitist and globalists are angry at me they won’t stay in my Hotels any more. The new hotels we planned will have to wait.

 “So those 'globalists' like Soros and Steyer (you know who I mean, but I can’t say the whole truth about them out loud – yet!) are going to explode if I burn the Constitution too. But my loyal followers will love me even more, so it’s my best chance to win in 2020.

"The Dems will go to court, of course. But so what if they win? Once I’ve burned one part of the Constitution, what’s to stop me for burning more? As my hero Andy Jackson when the Supreme Court tried to stop him from forcing those Pocohontas Cherokees to move their asses out of Georgia, ‘John Mashall has made his decision; now let him enforce it!’

“And besides, it’s such a thrill to see McConnell so scared!  He’s so scared I’ll support somebody to beat him in the primary,  I bet if I got the actual original copy of the Constitution out of the Archives and told him to light the match to burn it on the White House lawn, he’d swallow hard and do it.

“But if it will hurt the Hotels, should I do it?   Win the Presidensity, lose a few hotels  -- is it worth it to our bottom line?”  

 

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Supporting the "Green New Deal"

Dear friends, “Sunrise” is the mostly young-people movement that first put the Green New Deal on the map. I am sharing with you an invitation to an “emergency mass phone call” at 8 pm EST  THIS evening (WEDNESDAY Feb 13) to plan an effort to win as many votes as possible in the Senate for a resolution by Senator Markey of Massachusetts in support of the concept. (See below for why this vote is coming and why to press for support.) 

My own view is that the Green New Deal offers by far the best chance of success in our struggle to prevent climate chaos, because it joins the struggle for social justice with the struggle for eco-sanity. 

This is rooted in our best religious and spiritual traditions – for instance, the biblical Shmita/Sabbatical Year both releases the Earth from overwork and releases debtors from their debts.

 -– AND it flowers with the most effective possible political energy, for it responds to all the pent-up desires in American life for well-paid working-class jobs that will be needed to create the green renewable-energy society. And it addresses the need for a just transition from Carbon to renewable energy by affirming the need for new jobs for those now locked into Carbon industries and for special aid to depressed and isolated communities, rural and urban. 

 So I hope you will join in the call tonight. For the link to register, see here & below.


https://zoom.us/webinar/register/1115500645166/WN_-uff9AwNRJqMiX9opzFQ2g?link_id=0&can_id=de6277e02b2b184c1a1c39f5bf6caf62&source=email-“Sunrisbreaking-senate-vote-on-green-new-deal&email_referrer=email_494332___subject_636448&email_subject=breaking-senate-vote-


 Shalom, Arthur

 

FROM "SUNRISE":

Yesterday, Mitch McConnell announced he’s bringing the Green New Deal resolution to a vote in the Senate. Tonight we'll hold an emergency call to chart out our response. 

 

Rabbi Arthur, 

Yesterday, Mitch McConnell announced he’s bringing the Green New Deal resolution to a vote in the Senate. He’s wagering that he can use this to destroy the momentum for the Green New Deal before we are able to build support in the Senate. 

We intend to make him regret it. Tonight, we’re launching our plans to fight back. Join our Emergency Mass Call tonight at 8pm EST. 

McConnell made this call because he works for the fossil fuel billionaires, not our generation, and they are scared. They see the movement we’re building: the thousands of people visiting offices this week, the bipartisan support for the Green New Deal in the polls, and the wall-to-wall media coverage about a real solution to climate change. 

This vote raises the stakes higher than ever. We don’t expect to win this vote: fossil fuel money still runs Washington -- for now. But, it is a huge opportunity. It forces every member of the Senate to make a choice: will you vote for a plan to guarantee every American clean air and water, a stable climate, and a good job? Or will you stand with Mitch McConnell and the fossil fuel billionaires who are willing to put millions of lives in peril so they can pad their profits? 

Mitch McConnell thinks he can win this fight in 2019 -- but he’s actually just starting the process of losing it in 2020.

Once Senators on the record, we can hold them accountable, and begin the process of turning over our democracy to the people who are willing and able to fight for all of us - not just the billionaires. We’ll build a youth-led electoral army that will help our friends and punish the members of Congress working against us. 

It starts tonight, when we’ll meet to talk about our plan to push as many Senators to side with us before the vote, and our 3 year plan to take back power and pass a Green New Deal - no matter what happens in the coming weeks.

RSVP to join the call here.

Mitch McConnell and his allies have no plan to stop catastrophic climate change. They have nothing like this movement. All they have is fear, division, and distraction. Their time is over. It’s not going to be easy, but I believe that we can do this. 

Sunrise is a movement to stop climate change and create millions of good jobs in the process. If someone forwarded you this email, sign up here to get updates from Sunrise.

 

 

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Howard Schultz and The Challenge of "Class Suicide"

[Arlene Goldbard is the President pf The Shalom Center. She writes a blog of her own, to which you can subscribe or post comments at her Website: arlenegoldbard.com. Till recently she was the Chief Policy Wonk of the US Department of Arts and Culture (not a government agency). She is the author of The Culture of Possibility: Art, Artists & The Future and The Wave.  Much of her work unfolds the spiritual roots of  political action; this essay is a superb example. --  AW, editor]

   

By Arlene Goldbard

When Starbucks founder Howard Schultz announced a few days ago that he was exploring a 2020 run for President as a "centrist independent," progressive social media exploded with reasons to reconsider. Op-eds proliferated, people began leafleting Starbucks and protesting at Schultz's speaking engagements. A chief objection is the reality that Jill Stein, running as the Green Party candidate in 2016, took enough votes from the Democrat to propel the Present Occupant into the White House. Pick a party, many say, and run as hard as you want for the nomination. But don't sabotage this critical opportunity to defeat the incumbent by pulling votes from the Democratic nominee. Michelle Goldberg did a good job of summing it all up in the New York Times. 

Schultz's trial balloon is likely to sink under its burden of self-regard, the billionaire's blithe belief that wealth qualifies him for office. If not, the history and math showing how a Schultz candidacy is likely to re-elect the incumbent are hard to refute. I imagine Schultz will back down, but I also recognize that the surrealism of contemporary American politics can outstrip my imagination. 

So what interests me most is not handicapping Schultz's chances or joining the legions exhorting him not to run, but getting to the root of his absurd ambitions, which is to say the root of our plutocracy and its kudzu-like grip on the body politic.

I can't think of anything that expresses it better than this quote from Paulo Freire's masterpiece, Pedagogy of the Oppressed. It explains the confidence of those like Schultz who believe their personal wealth and wisdom make them uniquely qualified to save the world. It explains why despite so much evidence to the contrary, they are certain they know better.

“...the fact that certain members of the oppressor class join the oppressed in their struggle for liberation, thus moving from one pole of the contradiction to the other... Theirs is a fundamental role, and has been throughout the history of this struggle. 

It happens, however, that as they cease to be exploiters or indifferent spectators or simply the heirs of exploitation and move to the side of the exploited, they almost always bring with them the marks of their origin: their prejudices and their deformations, which include a lack of confidence in the people's ability to think, to want, and to know. 

Accordingly, these adherents to the people's cause constantly run the risk of falling into a type of generosity as malefic as that of the oppressors. The generosity of the oppressors is nourished by an unjust order, which must be maintained in order to justify that generosity. Our converts, on the other hand, truly desire to transform the unjust order; but because of their background they believe that they must be the executors of the transformation. They talk about the people, but they do not trust them; and trusting the people is the indispensable precondition for revolutionary change. A real humanist can be identified more by his trust in the people, which engages him in their struggle, than by a thousand actions in their favor without that trust.”

I have no great love for our current electoral system. It would take all of 30 seconds to come up with something better than our money-ridden, top-down two-party structure, its flaws compounded by the deformations of the Electoral College and bad Supreme Court decisions such as Citizens United. But Schultz and others who imagine now is the time to experiment with sidestepping the Democratic Party are hugely mistaken. Perhaps wealth insulates them so fully from the consequences of such experiments that empathy falls by the wayside. Four more years of the madmen in the White House may not do irreparable damage to Schultz's bottom line; it's impossible to believe he's given full weight to the damage others are likely to sustain. Either that or he turns out to be the worst type of ideologue, the true believer who accepts the suffering of others as allowable collateral damage in pursuit of a grand idea—in this case, himself as President.

Freire recognizes the importance of the privileged putting themselves on the side of liberation. There are many examples. I wrote in 2015 about the way great spiritual and political leaders may come from wealth and privilege—Moses, Siddhartha Gautama, Gandhi, Ho Chi Minh, and many more. But no matter how gifted, such individuals cannot advance freedom and justice unless they commit "class suicide," dying to the privileged class of their birth—for instance, by taking a step with no return—and thus sacrificing privilege and power in favor of full identification with the oppressed.

Right now, today, how could someone like Howard Schultz—or Michael Bloomberg, who just said that Medicare for All would "bankrupt us for a very long time"—commit class suicide? We are taught that Moses' moment came when he was moved to kill a brutal overseer abusing a slave and Siddhartha's eyes were opened when he finally left his father's palace and saw human suffering. So yes, these billionaire politicians could simply open their eyes—if seeing led to action. A good first step would be to come out in favor of the wealth tax ideas put forward by Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and Elizabeth Warren, nicely explained in this column by Jamelle Bouie.

The Republican right frames a top tax rate of 70 percent for the wealthiest as highway robbery, but that was actually the rate from the mid-1940s through the 1970s. So rather than advocating unprecedented radical redistribution, present-day economic reformers are simply calling for a return to policies that kept the wealth gap far smaller than today's egregious reality, where the U.S. gap is worse than almost any other nation in the developed world.

Freire was right.The spoilers like Schultz who claim to be for the public good but sacrifice nothing to see it enacted, those whose self-importance swamps their often formidable intelligence, are rooted in economic privilege. Ralph Nader's net worth was close to $4 million in 2000 when he ran against Al Gore; Jill Stein's and her husband's net worth totaled almost exactly the same when she ran in 2016.

The possession of wealth does not cancel empathy or disqualify one from leadership any more than poverty always amplifies empathy or promotes leadership. It's not material conditions that make good leaders, but qualities: the compassion, humility, sense of reality, and commitment to love and justice which every human being has the capacity to cultivate. Tech zillionaireTom Steyer has no dearth of self-confidence, but I was glad to see him separate himself from the likes of Schultz, putting paid to rumors of his presidential candidacy by announcing he was investing the millions he would have spent campaigning on the Present Occupant's impeachment instead.

The part of that quote from Freire I love the most says that "The generosity of the oppressors is nourished by an unjust order, which must be maintained in order to justify that generosity." It's not hard to break down. The Present Occupant's many campaign promises to restore manufacturing jobs and otherwise relieve the suffering of working people were 21st-century reenactments of John D. Rockefeller passing out shiny new dimes to everyone he met. The meta-statement each gesture made is this: I'm rich and you're not. I have the power and you don't.

In the Mishnah Torah, Maimonides defines. eight levels of charity The Hebrew word for charity is tzedakah, which also means justice or righteousness. The highest  level is to help someone via a loan, job, or partnership to avoid remaining dependent on others (expressed for instance in the Green New Deal proposal growing in grassroots popularity); the lowest is to give grudgingly (as whenWilbur Ross and other such Republican spokespersons condemned government employees unpaid due to the government shutdown for applying for public assistance or protested against having to pay taxes).  

The true highest level of tzedakah is class suicide, people with economic and social power turning their backs on the system that upholds their privilege and working for a new order grounded in equity and caring, reducing their own entitlement and specialness as countless others are uplifted.

There's a rabbinic story I learned many years ago, in which a rabbi visits the town’s richest man to ask for alms for the poor, and is repeatedly refused. Finally, before he turns to leave, the rabbi asks the man to look through the window of his house and say what he sees. The man sees other people, of course, going about their business in the town. Then the rabbi directs the man to gaze into a nearby mirror and report what he sees. “Myself,” the man says. “That’s how it goes,” the rabbi tells him. “The human soul is clear, like glass, allowing us to see truly; but when we cover it with silver, all we can see is ourselves.”  

Shalom, Arlene


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Colors of Resistance at the Women’s March

By Cherie Brown

[The Shalom Report during the next days will have several reports from and about Jewish women who took part in the Women’s March in Washington last Shabbat -- some Jewish Women of Color and some white Jewish women. Our first such report is from Cherie Brown, the executive director of the National Coalition-Building Institute, which for years has led workshops on racism, anti-Semitism, and the entanglements of both with each other. She is a member of the board of The Shalom Center. She wrote this memo the day after the Women’s March. Beneath her memo is a link to a video of the Shabbat service she describes, and a brief comment of mine. -- --  AW, editor]

Here is a picture from Jewish Women of Color on the stage at the march.  The two Black African-Heritage Jewish women speaking at the mike are April Baskin and Yavilah  McCoy.  Here is also something brief I wrote about yesterday.

 

I just returned from attending the National Women's March in DC.  It was a powerful, moving gathering, with a strong commitment to unity.  And Jewish Women of Color  were at the front of the march and led a delegation of several hundred of us--Jewish women of Color and Allies. 

First-- a few things about the weeks leading up to the March.  I and many of us put in dozens of hours listening and working with a lot of upset people.  The issues of anti-Semitism were very real and needed to be addressed--and a lot of Jews were hurting. Some Jews  felt that the March leadership wasn't dealing sufficiently with anti-Semitism.  Others, particularly Jewish Women of Color, felt that to not stay in the Women's March was also colluding with racism and sexism.

I worked a lot with  several Jewish leaders who were struggling about whether to stay with the March in light of the issues of anti Semitism.  I continued to hold out  to everyone I talked to that we Jews need to gain the muscle to stay in Coalition ( especially when we agree with most of the unity principles) and learn how to stay AND take on the anti Semitism. 

Hard and painful and honest conversations were had between a number of Jewish women and the March leadership about anti-Semitism.

I believe we are further ahead for having had  to handle this controversy.  The first National Women's March two years ago did not mention anti- Semitism.  In today's march-- the issue of anti Semitism was included as a part of the unity principles.  Two years ago-- no visible Jews spoke from the podium.  Today-- there were three Jewish women added to the steering committee of the National March who also spike in the stage.  ( Rabbi Abby Stein, Yavilah McCoy, April Baskin).

This past week I was asked to lead a webinar for the National Council of Jewish Women on Dealing with anti-Semitism with Coalition Partners.  Over 200 Jewish women from across the U.S. signed up to be on the webinar.  It's clear that there is a growing hunger to understand about anti-Semitism and not have it get in the way of progressive Coalition work-- particularly on women's issues.

The March:   Today-- the day began for me with an early morning Shabbat service before the March-- led by Jewish Women of Color.  Hundreds of us showed up to participate and be in solidarity.  Then we marched behind a strong powerful contingent of Jewish Women of Color.

Many of us were moved to tears as two Black African heritage Jewish women ( April Baskin and Yavilah McCoy) alongside other Jewish Women of Color stood on the stage and addressed the whole March. They spoke strongly of unity and fighting together against sexism.  They spoke out against anti-Semitism and insisted that the work against anti-Semitism was a part of the work against sexism.   They were holding a Torah Scroll;  several were wearing Talleisim [prayer shawls] and they wished the Women's March “Shabbat Shalom!”

There is still a lot of work to be done.  The anti-Semitism is by no means gone.  The classic historic pattern of having anti-Semitism be thrown out as a bone to divide progress forces was so apparent in these past few weeks. The press has not always played a good role.  It has spent much of its time focused on the controversy and how the March was so divided--and very little on the important agenda goals of the March to end sexism.

I am learning a lot about how we can stand up fiercely against anti-Semitism while at the same time, not let the anti-Semitism keep Jews and other progressives divided or walking away from the work of eliminating sexism.

^^^^^^^^^

Rafael Shimunov filmed parts of the Jewish Women of Color Shabbat service at the Women’s March in Washington:

 https://www.facebook.com/yavilah.mccoy/videos/10156840960543971/

Rafael’s  video   is very moving, as of course were the Prophetic actions and the words he filmed --    especially Yavilah McCoy’s quotations from “the Prophet” (MLK). 

 I was especially touched by the film’s catching the traditional gesture in which Jews touch the fringes of their talleisim to the Torah Scroll when it is carried into the congregation, and then kiss the fringes.

I was taught by my friend and teacher Rabbi Max Ticktin, tz’z’l, that those who take on the joyful burden of carrying the Torah are themselves, each one of them,  a Torah  -- and he therefore touched the fringes to the carriers as well.

So I found myself wanting to touch the fringes of my tallis not only to the Sefer Torah the women were carrying but to the women themselves, to the band of Jewish Women of Color who created this powerful moment.

Shalom, salaam, paz, peace --  Arthur

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Solar Co-ops: Healing Home, Neighborhood, & Planet

Repairing the World with Solar

By Anya Schoolman*

[This is the second in our series on how congregations can take steps to heal the Earth from the climate crisis.

[Anya Schoolman is now the executive director of Solar United Neighbors, a network that began in Washington DC and has now spread across the country as an inspiration and guide to the creation of many local neighborhood or congregation-based solar co-ops. This is her story of how SUN began and grew.

[Inspired by SUN’s work, The Shalom Center in 2013 sparked the creation of a solar-co-op in our neighborhood in Philadelphia – the Northwest Philadelphia Solar Co-op (NAPSACK for short).   For information on and from SUN, click to  https://www.solarunitedneighbors.org/  -- AW, editor]

I live in Washington, DC. Solar United Neighbors began in 2007 when my son Walter was searching for a Tikkun Olam project for his bar mitzvah. Shortly thereafter, he and his friend Diego saw the Al Gore film “An Inconvenient Truth”  They decided they wanted to install solar panels on their homes. When I looked into going solar, though, I discovered it was complicated and expensive.

But Walter and Diego would not be talked out of it. I wondered if some sort of bulk purchase might make solar affordable. Diego and Walter knocked on doors throughout their neighborhood. In just two weeks, they signed up 50 neighbors who also wanted to go solar.

That group, the Mt. Pleasant Solar Cooperative, helped 45 neighbors go solar. Participants worked together for their rights as energy producers. They persuaded the D.C. Council to pass legislation that created a local market for solar. They also shared their success with friends and neighbors. Soon after, other neighbors from across the region started organizing solar co-ops and fighting for better solar policies together.

Solar United Neighbors grew out of this movement. The organization has expanded across the country, doing on-the-ground projects and helping communities everywhere take control of their energy. Today, through the implementation of a group purchase—known as a solar co-op --  Solar United Neighbors has helped more than 3,500 homes go solar.

A solar co-op is a group of homeowners in a defined geographic area who use their combined purchasing power to ensure they receive the most competitive solar installation. Solar installers face significant costs finding, qualifying, and educating solar customers.

By forming a group of interested buyers, co-op members ensure the most competitive pricing because the co-op has already done some of the work of finding customers for the installer. Furthermore, solar co-ops allow neighbors to work together to eliminate barriers to roof top solar, like cumbersome permitting requirements, shortsighted HOA rules, or unfair compensation from utilities.

The basics of a solar co-op are simple. Get a group together and learn about solar. Run a competitive bidding process to choose one installer to work for your group. Each participant gets a site visit from the installer and makes an individual decision about whether solar is right for them.

By working in a group, people can support each other, get better prices, get better service, and address problems if they come up. Solar United Neighbors provides technical support to groups hoping to start a solar co-op. In states where they have staff, they can provide complete support for the process from beginning to end. Solar United Neighbors provides educational resources, public information sessions, and one-on-one support for all co-op participants.

Solar United Neighbors has also helped a number of congregations go solar. Many congregations will do a combination of going solar themselves and then organizing a group purchase for their congregation. Others use a solar co-op as a way to introduce the idea of solar to a congregation and help people get comfortable with the technology before the more complicated project of solarizing the congregational building itself.

Robyn Miller-Tarnoff first got interested in solar in high school when she attended a parade featuring solar-powered cars. This sparked her interest in the impact various sources of energy have on the environment.

Fast forward several years: Now a member of Temple Sinai in Washington, D.C., Robyn encouraged her synagogue to decide to install solar on its building. Temple Sinai worked with several other area congregations that were also interested in going solar. Temple Sinai had a 124 KW solar system installed on its roof in 2016. Here is how it looks:

But Robyn and others at the synagogue wanted to do more. Using the synagogue’s installation of a new rabbi as a “teachable moment,” they launched a solar co-op to spread solar not just to congregation members, but to friends and family as well. They worked with Solar United Neighbors, as well as with Congregation Beth El in Bethesda and St. Mark’s Church on Capitol Hill to recruit and educate co-op members.

In total, Robyn estimates more than 225 people were educated about solar by the co-op through information sessions and peer-to-peer contact.

“It felt like a reunion,” Robyn said of the info session, noting how many of her friends and neighbors attended.

More than 50 homes went solar with the group, including Robyn’s.

She had a 12 kW system installed on her roof and estimates that it will offset just about all of her electricity needs.

“We could invest in a mutual fund where you don’t know where your money is going,” she said. “If you’re buying solar, it’s the ultimate local investment.”

Robyn opted for dark-blue panels so that they stand out on her roof. She wants the panels to be a conversation starter.

The conversation has already started within Robyn’s own family. She said she inspired a cousin who lives in California to look into starting a similar solar co-op group in her neighborhood.

Organizing a solar bulk purchase is one of the easiest things a congregation can do for the environment. Going solar isn’t complicated. Going as a group makes it possible to share the work, fight against barriers in the market, and join together for more impact. It is an important step in helping repair the world.

[To add just one more note: We urge that solar co-ops see themselves not only as energy-saving and money-saving groups, not only as planet-healing work; not only, in neighborhoods with high levels of coal dust or oil refineries, as ways to heal from asthma and cancer epidemics; not only as political groups to press for governmental action to heal the planet;  but ALSO as communal groups that gather perhaps once a month to sing, share home cookery, tell stories of their lives. The co-op should be a place of joy as well as justice.--  AW, ed.]

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"Some are guilty; ALL are responsible"

The 46th yohrzeit  -- death-anniversary – of Rabbi Abraham Joshua Heschel, one of the most fruitful Jewish thinkers of the 20th century, in the Jewish calendar is 18 Tevet. It falls this year on the evening of December 25 through the day of December 26. 

The quotation that entitles this Shalom Report comes from Heschel, repeated over and over during his spiritually rooted activism of the 1960s  -- - often side by side with Dr. Martin Lutherr King, as here, when  they were protesting the US War against Vietnam -- .

That teaching -- "All are responsible" --  has its seed in a much earlier essay (1944) that asked who was responsible for the bloodbath of World War II. He named who was guilty -- and then said all of us were responsible. It is that essay that I suggest we explore to honor Heschel's yohrzeit.

His yohrzeit comes during the week when Jews begin the reading of the Book of Exodus, the Torah portion known in Hebrew as Sh’mot, where the struggle begins for freedom from slavery to Pharaoh.  That timing is especially appropriate because Rabbi Heschel spent much of the last ten years of his life struggling against the Pharaohs of racism and war. He joined his intellectual and spiritual commitment to the ancient Hebrew Prophets with his own prophetic physical activism on the streets -- demanding voting rights for Southern Blacks and opposing the US War against Vietnam.

And this year it is especially appropriate for us to honor him on his yohrzeit, because the present US government embodies Pharaoh -- espousing white nationalism, making racism official policy, and enabling a cruel war against the people of Yemen.  And because we are witnessing the birth and growth of a vigorous Resistance that Heschel would have joined.

Two years ago, facing the victory of a proto-fascist presidential candidate, I chose to offer for study the same essay, which he published in February 1944 on “The Meaning of this War” [World War II]). In it he examined the responsibility of liberal Westerners in Germany, Europe, and perhaps America, in not responding to the pain and despair of the suffering Germans who chose to support Nazism. (The essay appears on pp. 210-212 of a brilliant selection of Rabbi Heschel’s writings edited by his daughter, Susannah Heschel --  Moral Grandeur and Spiritual Audacity [Farrar Straus Giroux, 1996]).

 "Let Fascism not serve as an alibi for our conscience,” he wrote. "Where were we when men learned to hate in the days of starvation?

"When raving madmen were sowing wrath in the hearts of the unemployed?"

Two years ago, I asked the question, what had we liberal Americans failed to see or do while the sense of defeat, demoralization, despair were turning into rage among millions of rural and small-town Americans who had been robbed of their jobs and their sense of personal worth, spiritual and cultural values -- and even their life expectancy?

Were we reexamining our selves, our own willingness to enhance our own comfort while ignoring their pain? Were we rallying to meet their needs, or looking down our noses at them as outdated members of a lost America? –

 Could we have insisted on including them not instead of but in addition to the full inclusion in America of Blacks, Latinx, women, immigrants, LGBTQ folk, Muslims, Jews? Insisting that no one should be left out of America? 

Heschel continued, "Good and evil, which were once as real as day and night, have become a blurred mist. In our everyday life we worshipped force, despised compassion, and obeyed no law but our unappeasable appetite. The vision of the sacred has all but died in the soul of man."

Why do I urge us once again, today, to study this out of all Heschel’s wisdom? Because now we must look to the future, not the past. We have seen our country begin to turn the corner away from fascism. Vigorous nonviolent actions like the Poor People's Campaign and the young climate activists Sunrise have inspired and connected with a newer generation of electoral candidates, many of them women previously outside political activism. They affirm the need not to go back to the one-eyed neo-liberalism of the past, but to open our eyes, our hearts, and our hands to imagine and enact a new society.

[Sit-in at Speaker-elect Pelosi's office by Sunrise activists demanding a Green New Deal, joined by Congresswoman-elect Cortez]

There lies before us still another election. Can this new vision succeed? Can it affirm and respond to the angst felt by many of the “forgotten Americans” who turned their angst into hatred?

Can we like alchemists of heart and soul turn their leaden weight of fear and hatred into the gold of active hope and hopeful change?

Can we do this with a vision that speaks not only to them but also to millions of other “forgotten Americans” –- some among the Black, Latinx, and young communities –- who have given up on politics altogether – whether in the voting booth or marching on the streets  -- and in despair or overwhelm stay home?

I have suggested that we might cut through old barriers of race and class and gender by including in a Green New Deal a Neighborhood Solarization Administration, bringing grant money, job training, and well-paid jobs to co-ops in urban and rural neighborhoods alike, as the old New Deal brought the Rural Electrification Act to co-ops of farmers who had been left out of what was then the new technology.

And I have suggested that these same co-ops become centers of community, of cultural festivals that enrich not only the pockets but the souls of their members, and embody in their community a commitment to the Community of Earth that their solar energy is helping heal.

This is a hunch, a hypothesis. I welcome your thoughts and comments.

I suggest that to honor Heschel this week, we read this essay at https://theshalomcenter.org/node/63> and discuss these questions. And I suggest we take this moment to gather study groups to read together, essay by essay, Susannah Heschel’s collection of them in Moral Grandeur and Spiritual Audacity.

Meanwhile, if our lifting up for you this Heschel-Torah brings you into a new exploration within your self  -- then please right now, as the old year ends, make a tax-deductible gift to The Shalom Center.

It takes unfreezing the frozen energy of money to keep us thinking, researching, writing, --  even to keep getting arrested to test out these ideas -- and to keep mailing these thoughts to you. You can do this by making a contribution through the maroon "Contribute" button on the left-hand margin of this page.

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