Dear Co-searcher, Co-builder, in our work for peace and healing for the world --
The Shalom Center acts like a tugboat nudging and noodging large ocean liners to move in a new direction. Three ocean liners –- the official American Jewish world, the multireligious world, and the (smaller) world of the Left and the antiwar movement. (Details below, in this message.)
This "Tugboat Shalom" is doing YOUR work. To do it we need YOUR support. PLEASE CLICK ON THE "DONATE NOW" BUTTON ON THE RIGHT-HAND SIDE OF THIS PAGE, NEAR THE TOP OF THE PAGE.
Our tugboat has successfully "noodged" these ocean liners, in three "oceans" we have been navigating:
Facing the global climate crisis we call "global scorching; Building peace-oriented Abrahamic cooperation; Opposing the Iraq War.
We depend on you. PLEASE BE THE DEPENDABLE ARMS AND LEGS WE NEED. PLEASE GIVE THE MONEY SUPPORT WE NEED, TO KEEP ON WITH THIS HOLY WORK.
We ask this help from all of you who have read about The Shalom Center's work, all of you who work in your own communities for a Judaism, a Christianity, an Islam that truly believes God is One, that all human beings bear the Divine Image, that the earth is God's Creation, filled with the Breath of Life, and must not be burned or scorched or flooded ..
To do it we need YOUR support. PLEASE CLICK ON THE "DONATE NOW" BUTTON ON THE RIGHT-HAND SIDE OF THIS PAGE.
(Your gift is tax-deductible. If you can make it a gift of $180 or more, please do. We will gladly make you a gift in return – a personally inscribed copy of one of three books that creatively address our lives and these issues.)
More details about the work we have been doing are below.
THANKS – and may the help you give flow back into your life through blessings of shalom, salaam, peace, and healing!
(Rabbi Arthur Waskow)
The first "ocean" of our work is -- climate crisis. The official Jewish institutions have talked nice but acted little. They could have been mobilizing people to make big changes in our household and congregational life-styles; they could have been mobilizing people to insist on big changes in public policy.
Instead, a weeny batting average on the first and zip on the second.
"Official" leaders have told us frankly that big donors to Jewish organizations were themselves tied in to fossil fuels, and that reducing use of Middle East oil is their chief priority. To do that they are even prepared to drill Alaska for oil, to subsidize coal and high-carbon corn-based ethanol. The health of our planet, our seacoasts, our crops and food chain and our water, our protections from asthma and cancer and killer heat waves and killer droughts – all "minor."
So this past June, The Shalom Center tried a fresh approach. We brought two major independent policy experts on energy and climate together with twenty important leaders and energizers in many branches of "official" Jewish life – the "Big Macher" organizations.
The result: some of the "Big Macher" groups began for the first time to take energy policy for the planet's sake – beyond "energy independence" -- seriously. And we ourselves have begun organizing a Green Menorah Covenant Coalition, with the intention of urging, noodging, encouraging, enticing more of the real Jewish community –- in and beyond the "official" bodies -- to do real work on the climate crisis.
Of course this work takes money. Staff with credibility to travel, speak, organize. Travel expenses. Telephones. Leaflets.
So to do this work, we need your support. Your dependable support.
Second "ocean": Peaceful Abrahamic cooperation of Jews, Christians, and Muslims.
In 2004, The Shalom Center brought together a steadfast and growing group of Jews, Christians, and Muslims who named ourselves The Tent of Abraham, Hagar, and Sarah, meeting in intensive and productive retreats. Out of that came the book The Tent of Abraham, now being used by thousands of readers, teachers, and students as a guide to interfaith understanding and action.
Now that work has crested in our initiating a Call to observe an Interfaith Fast Day on October 8 -- to begin a campaign to achieve peace in Iraq. As a small and versatile tugboat, we sought and achieved the involvement of major ocean liners: the National Council of Churches, the Islamic Society of North America, the American Friends Service Committee, the Unitarian Universalist Association, and many other religious groups and leaders and many local congregations and committees in this effort.
Again, this work takes staff time, travel, website upkeep, etc -- and that means we need your support. Your dependable support.
Third "ocean" of our work: Ending the Iraq war.
On March 21, 2003, The Shalom Center sponsored a full-page ad in the New York Times, signed by hundreds of American Jews, that spoke out from a base of Jewish values and interests against the impending US war against Iraq. We warned the war was likely to be a disaster for everyone. At the time, every large Jewish organization supported the war.
All the years since, we have kept struggling in those organizations and beyond them -- in the broader, "unorganized" community of American Jews -- to turn the large "ocean liners" of American Jewry to oppose the war.
This kind of work has been emotionally hard. I have felt alternately like yelling in fury and weeping in frustration and sorrow. It has meant struggling to convince people who on many grounds I have admired, but who were locked into their pro-war stance, or into silence. Hard, but who could stop? After all, thousands of lives have been and still are at stake.
So we have kept at it. And it does bring results.
Early this year – as a result of all these years of pleading and urging and stirring up grass-roots concern -- I was invited by the Religious Action Center of the Reform movement to speak at its annual Consultation on Conscience on what the Reform movement might/ should do in regard to the Iraq War.
I urged that the RAC call strongly on its constituents to support bills and amendments by Senator Russ Feingold cutting off funds so as to require an end to the war, bringing US troops safely and swiftly home.
This summer, the RAC did so.
When I opened my Email to see the letter, I had a joyful moment. I felt like shouting, singing, the Passover song -- Dayenu! -- Enough! – But of course it isn't enough.
We have to celebrate such moments. Both for the sake of real change and for our own sanity –
And then we must go back to work. Please God, other Jewish organizations will also take firm action and help end this war. Please God, but in this work, all of us are the arms and legs of God.
So to do this work, we still need your support. Your dependable support.
In our antiwar work, The Shalom Center also met on the stormy seas a smaller ocean vessel, the left-wing antiwar movement. Parts of that movement not only criticize specific actions of the Israeli government, but demonize all Israeli society.
Indeed, for many years The Shalom Center has condemned and organized opposition to specific Israeli actions,. Like the invasion of Lebanon a year ago -- a vastly out-of-proportion and self-destructive response to the reprehensible attacks by Hezbollah. Like the refusal for many years of the Israeli government to enter serious negotiations with the Arab League when it put forward proposals that, after negotiations, might lead to a broad peace settlement.
AND – not "but," AND – we have condemned acts of terror no matter who commits them and have worked against those parts of the "antiwar" movement that demonize Israel.
In July 2003, we publicly condemned part of the "antiwar" movement for acting and speaking in anti-Semitic ways. In September 2005, we held a "Shabbat shalom" morning service in Washington rather than succumb to anti-Israeli diatribes from the speakers rostrum at a major antiwar demo, and rather than absent ourselves from the demo itself. This June, we supported a pro-Israel, pro-Palestine, pro-peace commemoration of the 1967 war, rather than one-sided demonstrations attacking Israel. And not just then – every day and week between.
Here too, the tug-boat matters. Much of the antiwar movement – not yet all of it -- is now much clearer about aiming at specific acts of aggression, not at a whole society.
So here too, to keep doing this work, we still need your support. Your dependable support.
One more set of facts. During the last nine months or so, an interesting array of organizations have praised "my" work. These kinds of "awards" are aimed at individuals even though in fact it takes bodies of people to get the work done. So I rarely even mention these awards. But if you will translate them into praise for The Shalom Center's work, it may be useful for you to know that –
The Forward (a national Jewish weekly newspaper) called me one of the "Forward Fifty" (50 creative Jews). Newsweek magazine named me of the 50 most influential American rabbis. The Neighborhood Interfaith Movement of Philadelphia presented me with the Rev. Richard Fernandez Award for Religious Leadership. The Muslim American Society Freedom Foundation presented me with its Peace and Justice Award. Four such different groups!
Those awards do not belong to me alone. -- You share them with me. You share them especially if you will share in supporting The Shalom Center.
Please click on the Donate Now button o the right-hand side of this page, and please if possible make a gift of at least $180. Remember – if ypou do, we will gladly send you a personally inscribed copy of one of threee books: You choose.
May the year ahead be sweet for you, may the holy days of the next month be filled with blessing!
Shalom, salaam, peace –