B'reshit

5 Offerings for a Deep & Powerful Yom Kippur

1)  The Shalom Center and I have joined with a group of San Francisco rabbis and other spiritual teachers to propose that on Yom Kippur congregations all across the country set aside 18 minutes to walk in vigil into their neighborhoods to renew and reawaken the American conscience of compassion, not cruelty; of justice, not subjugation. 

Each congregation can further define this event as they wish.  

One way of framing it would be to see it as a call for tshuvah --  “turning” in active repentance --  not only by individuals but also by our society as a whole. 

See https://www.ykwalkout.net/?page_id=96

2) In some Yom Kippur services I have led in the past, we have pursued a deeply moving practice for the Avodah that renews the ancient practice at the Temple . We have  invited people outside.  Then they were invited to lie face-down on the grass, so that  they melted into the adamah (Earth) for 18 minutes, then to be reborn as adam (human earthlings). 

Given the broadening areas of North Ameruca that now host ticks carrying dangerous viruses or sllergens, I can ony suggest carrying out this practice with extreme care -- or not at all.

It is sad and ironic for me to say that it may not any longer be possible to undertake this spiritual journey safely.  For its purpose was to help us cnnect more fully with our Mother Earth, and the reason to demur is that we humans have already made the Earth more dangerous to us than it was, or than it needs to be.

The practice was rooted in the creation story of Genesis 2: 5-7. Those verses describe the birth of the human race in a way reminiscent of individual human birthings. In the Torah story, a clump of reddish earth loses the “— -ah” breathing sound of adamah from Mother Earth and then receives the Nishmat chayyim (“breath of life”) from the Holy One Who is YyyyHhhhWwwwHhhh, the Breath of Life. 

This tells the mythic story of the birth of the human race by modeling it on an individual human birth — the fetus breathing thru the placenta till birth, losing that breath in being birthed, then (with help from  an “outside” act like a tap on the tush)  beginning to breathe on her/his own. 

This is a powerful reminder of the close relationship between Mother Earth & Human Earthling, and of the need to heal the Breath that sustains us both — to heal our CO2-saturated atmosphere that is scorching our planet, forcing upon us huge wildfires, unheard-of floods, torrents of constant rain, lethal droughts and famines, waves of desperate refugees, and the spread of what used to be tropical diseases. Can we learn the connecction without endangering our bodies?

Perhaps we can instead breathe quietly indoors while contemplating the Torah's teaching of what  it means to be children of Mother Earth, and how important it is to turn ourselves to breathe again in communion with our Mother. Perhaps we make the Avodah a time to go outdoors to pray with a near-by tree. To stand beside the tree and listen to the tree's prayers and bring them back to the community. 

3. On the two days of Rosh Hashanah, traditionally we read two painful stories: Abraham’s expelling his older son Ishmael and Ishmael’s mother Hagar from his family, and Abraham’s endangering the life of his younger son, Isaac — and according to many commentaries, bringing about the death of Isaac’s mother Sarah, in sorrow that her son Isaac might have died. 

These two stories cry out for turning and for healing. 

There is in fact in Torah a tale of how the two brothers reconcile with each other. They join to bury their father; then Isaac goes to live at the wellspring that is Ishmael’s home. 

We read this story in the regular rhythm of Shabbat Torah readings. But at The Shalom Center we think that the story should also be read on Yom Kippur, instead of leaving us stuck in the pain of the Rosh Hashanah stories. (The passage is
Genesis 25: 7-11.) 

It can remind us as individuals that it is always possible for us to turn away from anger and toward reconciliation. (Indeed, my brother Howard and I wrote a book, Becoming Brothers, about how we had turned from conflict to loving connection.) 

And especially in our generation, it can remind us that the great-great- great-grandchildren of Isaac — the Jewish people — and the great-great-great-grandchildren of Ishmael — the Arab peoples and Islam, with special attention to the Palestinians — need to turn toward compassion for
each other. 

After reading this passage from the Torah Scroll on Yom Kippur, wherever we gather for this holy day we could pause to explore our own fears and angers. 

One way we have drawn on this reading is to have members of the congregation pair off. One member of the pair becomes Isaac at the edge of Machpelah, having just buried Abraham. The other person becomes Ishmael. The two have a conversation. It might be about their descendants, Israeli Jews and Palestinian Muslims. It might be personal, reflecting on the family dynamics of their dangerous father and caring mothers. They do not talk about Ishmael and Isaac; they become them. 

All these pairs are doing this simultaneously for 18 minutes. Then the congregation reconvenes and some might share what happened in their couple.  

We encourage you to raise in your own congregations the possibility of lifting up this Torah passage and a conversation on its meaning. 

 4) You can hear and see my slightly midrashic translation of the Isaiah Haftarah with music by Will Fudeman and Cantor Abbe Lyons, and with flashes
of extraordinary graphics-in-motion by the renowned artist Michael Bogdanow that carry its message.  See https://theshalomcenter.org/video/video-yom-kippur-beyond-prophet-isaiah-lives-today

You can also draw on the written text of the translation, which you can find at

https://theshalomcenter.org/content/isaiah-breaks-official-liturgy-yom-kippur

5) Traditionally, we remember ten great rabbis murdered by the Roman Empire. For a new Martyrology/ Eleh Ezhereh/ These We Remember,
 in the video at

https://theshalomcenter.org/video/yom-kippur-new-meaning-new-martyrology, you can share some memories not in words alone but in the media of our generation — audio and video — of ten people who were killed during the last 50 years because they were affirming profound Jewish values. This powerful film was made by Larry Bush, editor of Jewish Currents. 

As part of the film, Rabbi Liz Bolton chants some haunting melodies that evoke the ancient and the modern stories. And we see the faces and hear the words of these courageous men and women of our own epoch: Schwerner. Goodman. Krause. Moffitt. Milk. Linder. Krichevsky. Rabin. Chain. Pearl. A minyan of modern martyrs. 

        With blessings for a true tshuvah for us all, each and all of us, as we live through Elul and into the Ten Days that culminate with Yom Kippur.

From Hyper-Hurricanes to Life-Giving Action

In the wake of Hyper-Hurricanes Harvey and Irma, it may be especially appropriate to address the tradition that  Rosh Hashanah is Hayom Harat Olam --  “Today is the Birthday of the World.” Or as some say, the day of the birthing of adam (humanity) from adamah (earth). (Gen 2: 7).

 For those who don’t include Rosh Hashanah in their celebrations, it is still noteworthy that the Biblical tradition teaches that the interwoven relationship between adam and adamah is the central sacred aspect of our relationship with YyyyHhhhWwwHhhhh  -– the Interbreathing Spirit of the world. That relationship is intimately connected with eco-social justice.

The sacred Interbreathing of CO2 and Oxygen between animals and vegetation is now so overheated by our burning fossil fuels that it becomes not only the Wind of Change but Hyper-Hurricanes of destruction.

Leviticus 25 calls on us to create a rhythm of work and restfulness with the earth, and Leviticus 26 warns that if we don’t, the result will be great storms, floods, droughts, famines, plagues of disease, and mass refugee disturbances.

This spiritual wisdom was rooted in the practical experience of farmers and shepherds.

Today we can draw not only on that ancient indigenous practical experience but on modern science and on the new practical experience of dreadful disasters.  Today we see that because we have refused to let the Earth rest from our poisoning the atmosphere with too much CO2 and methane, all the disasters of Leviticus 26 are coming upon us.

What can we do?

  1. Organize a Neighborhood Solar Co-op.  We can act on our own, making a real chemical difference to the earth and our neighborhoods, and a growing political difference in our country. Gather a group of friends, neighbors, congregants to explore what it means to create a Neighborhood Solar Co-op (or Wind Co-op, if that is more practical on your terrain). Begin by looking at two websites:

    <http://communitypowernetwork.com/>
    A nation-wide network of neighborhood-based solar-energy co-ops groups. It can help with advice and support.

    <http://nwphillysolarcoop.com/

    NPSC (Northwest Philly Solar Co-op, pronounced Knapsack) is a group in Northwest Philadelphia inspired and sparked by The Shalom Center. It has grown as an independent body and is now serving several dozen households, with more to come. It could be a useful model for your own congregation or your neighborhood.

    Call a public meeting for all who want to explore the possibility of a solar co-op to hear speakers and ask questions. Begin your co-op  with those who attend and then say “Yes!”

2.  Support the OFF Act -- Off Fossil Fuels for a Better Future Act (HR 3671), which would transition our country to 100% renewable energy by 2035. It has been introduced by seven members of Congress -- Tulsi Gabbard  (HI), Nanette Barragan (CA), Barbara Lee (CA), Ted Lieu (CA), Jamie Raskin (MD), Keith Ellison (MN) and Jan Schakowsky (IL).

The OFF Act requires 100 percent renewable energy by 2035 (and 80 percent by 2027), places a moratorium on new fossil fuel projects, bans the export of oil and gas, and also moves our automobile and rail systems to 100 percent renewable energy.  It provides for a truly just transition for environmental justice communities and those working in the fossil fuel industry.

The bill requires that people in impacted communities have a leading role in the development and implementation of clean energy plans and regulations, and establishes an equitable transition fund and workforce development center, paid for by closing an offshore tax loophole and repealing federal tax breaks for the fossil fuel industry.

Please call 202-224-3121, ask for your Member of the House of Representatives, and ask your Member to co-sponsor the OFF Bill, HR 3671. Say something about your reasons  -- religious, ethical, your grandchildren, your horror at the devastation wrought by Harvey and Irma and the Bangla Desh floods and the terrible droughts and famines in central Africa.

Ask your congregation or its social-action committee to join in this effort and hold public forums to support the OFF Act.

3. Explore “Climate Restoration.”    Some scientists are now proposing to go even beyond OFF Fossil Fuels to “Climate Restoration.” That means withdrawing a trillion tons of carbon dioxide from Earth’s atmosphere, so that our children and grandchildren can take joy and sustenance from a climate as life-giving as that which sustained our parents and grandparents, with a level of eco-social justice that many of our forebears did not experience.

Why undertake this effort? Because even zero emissions by 2035 will leave so much CO2 and methane in the atmosphere that  “unnatural disasters” will strike blow after blow at human civilization.

To begin  discussion of Climate Restoration in your friendship group, neighborhood, or congregation, click to  <http://www.healthyclimateproject.org/> and  <https://www.climate-restoration-foundation.com/>. On this latter website, please learn from what is on there but do NOT write them; they have told me they are focused on working with scientists and are hoping to avoid being overwhelmed by incoming mail.

If you are celebrating the New Year, learning your way into these possibilities can be as deep and full a religious practice as hearing the Shofar.

Indeed, in our day these actions meet the very outcry that the Shofar calls  to us--  that in this great crisis we “Awaken!” and “Transform!” our lives.

Blessings of shalom, salaam, peace, for Mother Earth, her human earthlings,  and all her other life-forms --  Arthur

Turning Time--From Eid Mubarak to Shanah Tovah

Brief Comments on a Long Crisis

Tonight and tomorrow, the Muslim world through Eid al-Adha, the Festival of the Offering, is celebrating an event that will become salient for the Jewish community on Rosh Hashanah, almost a month from now.

That event is the readiness of our shared forebear Abraham to make an offering-up of his son at God's command, and his willingness to change direction on a moment’s notice – – again at God's command – – to refrain from killing his child, and instead to make an offering of a ram with horns that were caught in a nearby thicket.

For Muslims, the Festival is celebrated in part by sharing roasted lamb or mutton in memory of that ram.  The sharing extends to making sure that the poor receive the food.

One could interpret the whole teaching in these words:

"Do not kill your children; feed the poor!"

For Jews, the story comes with all its torment in the traditional Torah reading for the second day of Rosh Hashanah. It follows on the teaching of the first day, when Abraham sends his other son out into the wilderness.

Islam and Judaism traditionally disagree about which son was bound up on the mountaintop – – Ishmael or Isaac. As with many family stories, we can take these different versions of the past as hostile,

or as different threads in a sacred fabric woven of different sacred teachings.

In the one-story, we learn from a family broken. In the other story, we learn from the family never broken, always joyful. Both are part of human experience, and we need to learn from both instead of rejecting either one.

 You could say that for millennia, many human communities have faced the dilemma: Does God demand of us that we kill our children by going to war against some Other with a different story, or does God demand of us that we feed the hungry of all communities?

In the Torah’s teaching of the story, after God has sent Abraham up the mountain, when the Voice says not to harm the child, the Voice must call out twice for Abraham to pay attention and to change the future.

Today we face the dreadful danger of killing our children not only through war, but by slowly choking our Mother Earth herself, and all her life-forms, by global scorching. So perhaps this year we need to draw on another deeply valid teaching about Rosh Hashanah: Yom harat olam, today is the birthing of the world!

At the end of this letter, you will find a brief preface to the candle-lighting on the evenings of Rosh Hashanah --  or on any sacred occasion in which we seek to turn fire into a way to light up the path ahead of us.

Will we turn our ears, our hearts, to hearing that we need to change the future? To hear that pursuing "business as usual" – – and I do mean "business" – – will ruin us all? How many times must the Voice cry out, "Abraham… Abraham! – – ABRAHAM!" for us to hearken?

“Katrina! –--  Sandy! –--  Houston! – – Bangladesh! – – Drought and famine in central Africa! – –  Drought and famine in Syria!…"

What if the Voice had spoken into deaf ears, deaf years?

"Sleepers, awake!" cries out the sound of the ram's horn as we walk toward Rosh Hashanah.

Tradition teaches that at Sinai one horn of that same ram that saved our children blew Truth into the world, and that the other horn of that same ram will signal the world's readiness to bring the messianic days of peace and justice.

Time now, these days of Turning, Transformation, for Homo Sapiens to make the Great Turning that every life-form yearns for.

 

Between the Fires:

A Prayer for lighting Candles of Commitment

 

We are the generation that stands 

between the fires:

Behind us the flame and smoke

that rose from Auschwitz and from Hiroshima;

From the burning forests of the Amazon,

From the hottest years of human history

 that bring upon us

Melted ice fields, Flooded cities, Scorching droughts.

Before us the nightmare of a Flood of Fire,

The heat and smoke that could consume all Earth.

It is our task to make from fire not an all-consuming blaze,

Not fire and fury,

But the light in which we see each other fully.

All of us different, All of us bearing

One Spark.

We light these fires to see more clearly

That the Earth and all who live as part of it

Are not for burning.              

We light these fires to see more clearly

The rainbow in our many-colored faces.

Baruch attah YHWH --  Yahhh --  elohenu ruakh ha’olam, asher kidshanu b’mitzvot vitzivanu l’hadlik ner shel yomtov, Yom Harat Olam.

Blessed are You, Interbreathing Spirit of the world, Source of all creation, Who calls us into holiness through making connections with each other, and Who calls on us to connect by kindling the lights of this festival, the Day of the Birthing of the World.

{Light candles of commitment and joy]

Toward Eden: The Earth gives birth to the Human Race

Can WE turn the barren place to Eden?

In a generation when human intervention is deeply wounding the web of life on Earth and with it the patterns of human community and prosperity, we may see a new facet of the story of Eden, the Garden of Delight.

The story begins by pointing us toward the close relationship between the human race and the Earth:

"And YHWH [the Name of God that can only be pronounced by breathing with no vowels, thus "Yahhh, Breath of Life"] formed the adam [human earthling] from the adamah [humus-earth] and blew into her/his nostrils the breath of life; and the human-earthling became a living being." (Genesis 2: 7)

I have inserted these odd translations of adam and adamah in order to heighten in English the interrelationship that Torah -- indeed, the Hebrew language itself – teaches so simply. Indeed we do have in English the word "earthling" to mean "human being" and the word "humus" to mean a kind of earth, but each of them is a highly specialized word.

What "adam" and "adamah" teach is deeply different from what the word "environment" we use so often nowadays teaches. The "environment" is in the "environs" -- out there, separate from us. The very words "adam" and "adamah" are intertwined, and they should teach us not only about language but about the reality that language tries to word.

And as if the bare words might still not be enough to teach us, the Torah then explicitly says that we were deeply intertwined at the earthy birthing of the human race.

Notice that in moving from earthiness to humanness, the human lost the "ah" -- a breath-sound --- at the end of Adamah, and then received from God a more conscious independent breathing.

This replicates the process of each human birth – indeed, each mammal's birth -- in which at first the fetus has an unconscious gift of breath from Mother through the placenta; loses this breath as s/he is born; and regains a separate, more conscious breath -- for humans, often by a tap from an attending adult.

What we know from our own experience in every individual birth, says Torah, we should understand is true about our species' origins and our continuing relationship with Mother Earth.

And Torah proceeds to the story of Eden, which this year will be read on October 29.

God – the Truth and Reality of life -- says to the human couple who together make up the human race: "Here there is overflowing abundance. Eat of it, of every tree of the Garden, in joy! – But you must also learn self-restraint. Do not gobble up all this abundance. The fruit of one tree you must not eat."

 [For the origins of these portraits of Eve and Adam and for a remarkable invitation from The Shalom Center, see the end of this essay.]























But the Humans abandon self-restraint. They eat of the one tree they have been told to leave uneaten.

And their greed ruins the abundance. So -– says God/ Reality -- they must work with the sweat pouring down their faces just to wring from the earth enough to eat, for it will give forth thorns and thistles.

Did God, or Reality, rejoice at this reminder that actions bear consequences? Hardly! God wails, "Ayekka, Where are you?" -- which rabbinic midrash understands as the first "Eicha," the word that begins the Book of Lamentations about our exile when the Temple was destroyed. The first exile was the exile of adam, humankind, from adamah, the earth.

This ancient archetypal story is the story of today. The story of the BP oil blowout in the Gulf of Mexico. The story of rapacious Big Oil desecrating the graves and poisoning the water of the Sioux Nation in North Dakota, to drive a pipeline though Native land and release more fumes of CO2 to burn our Mother Earth. Our modern Corporate Carbon Pharaohs in their greed bring Plagues upon humanity and the Earth, rejecting self-restraint: super-droughts in California and Australia and Syria and central Africa,  unheard-of floods in Pakistan and North Carolina, superstorms in the Philippines and the Jersey shore. 

Yet there are ways to redress this disaster. It happens, says the story of the Wilderness, just after the Breath of Life frees ancient Israelites from the ancient power-greedy Pharaoh.The first discovery of these runaway slaves is the Shabbat that comes with manna -- a gift from the abundant earth and a taste of rest from endless toil.  Shabbat comes as a new form of self-restraint --  filled with joy, rather than ascetic self-denial. The curse reversed. A taste of Eden once again.

In Jewish theology, Shabbat, a foretaste of the Messianic Age, is the redemptive gift that begins the annullment of the "original sin" of Eden -- the sin of abusing Mother Earth. Begins, but only begins. We still must yearn toward "yom sheh-kulo Shabbat, the day that will be wholly Shabbat" -- toward "Eden for a Grown-up Human Race," depicted in the Song of Songs, when love among human beings and between Humanity and Earth, adam and adamah, is freely flourishing.

Says Isaiah (51:3): "Vayasem midbarah k'eden v'arvatah k'gan Yahh. You turn the barren place to Eden, and the desert to a garden breathing Life."

Who is this "You"? Can it be "We"?

Only if we sow the Garden's seeds among us now, with miniature communities of Eden -- and in the same breath, breathing the Great Breath, act to free adam and adamah from domination by the Pharaohs of our day.

*** *** *** ***

The framed "portraits" of Eve and Adam in the Garden that we have presented above are paintings by  Zvi Livni , a renowned artist in the mystics' town of Safed  (Tzfat) in Northern Israel. He co-founded the famed Artists' Colony there. His paintings hang in the Brooklyn Museum, the Toronto Museum of Art, the Museum of Modern Art at Brandeis University, the Museum of Art at Yale University, and many other museums and galleries.

The originals of these paintings were presented as a wonderful gift to The Shalom Center, with the intention of helping to support our work to bring the Garden closer. We offer these paintings, fully framed, with certified venues, to our readers and members for a minimum gift to The Shalom Center of $3600 (the total for both paintings) or more if a higher offer comes in. If you are interested, please write me directly at <Awaskow@theshalomcenter.org> with "Eve and Adam" in the subject line.

The Pope, the Church, Rabbis, & Women

Should Rabbis Speak Out about Subordination of Catholic Women -–

Or is it entirely an Internal Church Question?

 In the last few weeks I was sharply faced wth that question. I want to share with you both my own first gut reactions and some fuller thoughts about it. And in the next few days I will also share with you how Gloria Steinem and Rabbi Susan Talve respond:

Should rabbis speak out about the subordination of women in the Catholic Church and Catholic theology -–or is it entirely an internal Church question?

Should rabbis who strongly support the Pope’s strong stand on the climate crisis be silent about his failure to address the question of women in a similarly deep and serious way?

This issue arose sharply for me in the last few weeks, mostly because there is right now meeting in the Vatican

Pope Francis & St Francis: "Laudato Si [Praised be the ONE]"

"Concerning Care for Our Common Home" [This is the full and final text of the encyclical by Pope Francis, issued at Noon Rome time (6 a.m.  EDT) on June 18, 2015. The encyclical addresses the climate crisis from a powerfully universal spiritual outlook,  biblically rooted, and sets that crisis in the broader context of several increasingly powerful technologies used in increasingly destructive ways so as to endanger our Mother Earth -- and then in the even broader context of a systemic spiritual crisis afflicting the world culture, economy, and politics. [Laudato Si, beginning with its title, evokes the life-work of St. Francis of Assisi in his love for the poor and of all Creation. [It is notable that this day marks the renewal of what/who  St. Francis called "Sister Moon,"  and thereby is the first day of the Jewish lunar "moonth" of Tammuz and the Muslim lunar "moonth" of Ramadan.  Ramadan very clearly and Tammuz to some extent call forth renewed self-examination by individuals and societies of their relationship to the Spirit; to greed and top-down exploitation by the powerful; and to the Earth. The choice of 1 Ramadan as the day to prclaim Laudato Si may reflect Pope Francis' desire for a world-wide flowering of Earth-loving responses from all religions and possibly his admiration for St Francis' unusual attempts during the Crusades to seek peace and wisdom in dialogue with Islam. Emphases of the first three paragraphs, paragraph 139, and the universal prayer near the end are mine.--  AW, editor]

The encyclical letter of the Holy Father Francis -- Laudato Si: Concerning Care for Our Common Home

 1. “Laudato si’, mi’ Signore” – “Praise be to you, my Lord”. In the words of this beautiful canticle, Saint Francis of Assisi reminds us that our common home is like a sister with whom we share our life and a beautiful mother who opens her arms to embrace us. “Praise be to you, my Lord, through our Sister, Mother Earth, who sustains and governs us, and who produces various fruit with coloured flowers and herbs”. 2. This sister now cries out to us because of the harm we have inflicted on her by our irresponsible use and abuse of the goods with which God has endowed her. We have come to see ourselves as her lords and masters, entitled to plunder her at will. The violence present in our hearts, wounded by sin, is also reflected in the symptoms of sickness evident in the soil, in the water, in the air and in all forms of life. This is why the earth herself, burdened and laid waste, is among the most abandoned and maltreated of our poor; she “groans in travail” (Rom 8:22). We have forgotten that we ourselves are dust of the earth (cf. Gen 2:7); our very bodies are made upof her elements, we breathe her air and we receive life and refreshment from her waters. Nothing in this world is indifferent to us.  3. More than fifty years ago, with the world teetering on the brink of nuclear crisis, Pope Saint John XXIII wrote an Encyclical which not only rejected war but offered a proposal for peace. He addressed his message Pacem in Terris to the entire “Catholic world” and indeed “to all men and women of good will”. Now, faced as we are with global environmental deterioration, I wish to address every person living on this planet. In my Apostolic Exhortation Evangelii Gaudium, I wrote to all the members of the Church with the aim of encouraging ongoing missionary renewal. In this Encyclical, I would like to enter into dialogue with all people about our common home.

Torah of Truth vs. Torture: Sen. Udall's Sacred Task

Prisoner tortured by US Army under offfical orders, Abu Ghraib 2004
For a brief moment of sacred opportunity RIGHT NOW, the American people has a chance to learn the truth about our government’s deliberate use of torture as an act of policy. Senator Mark Udall holds that moment in his hands. We can all encourage him by calling his Congressional office at 202-224-5941.

What is at stake? Memory itself.  Truth itself.

This iconic photo of a US prisoner being tortured by US troops in Abu Ghraib prison broke open the story of our government’s deliberate use of torture as an act of policy. 

 (Also attached to this essay are a few additional photos, even more graphic and heart-breaking. If you believe that a broken heart becomes a heart more open to the Spirit and to each other and all life, you may want to take the risk of looking at these photos. To do so, click on the title of this article and then on the two attachments.)

 The policy-makers who ordered this done are still being shielded from the legal consequences of their criminal acts –-  and even from full public knowledge of the American people, in whose name and by whose authority they acted.

 But for a brief moment of sacred opportunity RIGHT NOW, the American people has a chance to learn the truth about our government’s deliberate use of torture as an act of policy. Senator Mark Udall holds that moment in his hands.

 What should happen?

Jewish tradition teaches that torture is utterly forbidden  — for it destroys the Image of God in human beings, installing instead Caesar’s image of subjugation and despair.

 Every Yom Kippur we read in tears the story of ten great Rabbis tortured to death by the Roman Empire. Our tradition decided to keep our memories clear, so that we would forever remember to prevent such crimes.

 For the same reasons, the American people must learn the full truth of torture committed in our name, by an Administration that wanted the USA to be an Empire, not  a democracy.

 Senator Mark Udall has a sacred opportunity & task to let us know the truth — for the truth alone can set us free. The Senator has an absolute right under the Constitution to read into the Congressional Record the full Senate Intelligence Committee’s report on CIA use of torture, but must do it NOW in this “lame duck” session of the Senate.  (He will not serve in the next Senate, which convenes in January.)

I urge Senator Udall to turn this session from a “lame duck” to a free-flying bold Bald Eagle! We can all encourage him by calling his Congressional office at 202-224-5941. 

May we receive blessings of truth, of memory, of celebrating God’s Image in ourselves and in all life.

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