28 enero 2009

What God Can Learn from Us

Rabbi Jack H Bloom, a practicing psychologist in Connecticut, is director of Professional Career Review for the Central Conference of American Rabbis and editor of Jewish Relational Care A–Z: We Are Our Other’s Keeper (The Haworth Press). He was interviewed by the Reform Judaism magazine editors.

You have said that many Jews are “in serious denial about the nature of the Deity with whom we are in relationship.”

That’s true. Modern commentators do cartwheels to make “difficult” Torah texts consonant with the idea of a benign, perfect Creator of the world who maintains a special, loving, covenantal relationship with the people Israel. One prominent rabbi wrote that “the Torah speaks of God as a parent, a lover, a teacher and an intimate sharer of our hearts.”

To the astute reader this is not even close to the whole truth. For many Jews, throughout the ages, God has been and remains a great source of strength and comfort; however, judging from the Torah, our foundation text, all too often God is anything but all-loving.

I could cite any number of Torah passages to prove my point. Here is a less known one: “Now when the Children of Israel were in the wilderness, they found a man picking wood on the Sabbath day. They brought him near…to Moses and to Aaron, and to the entire community; they put him under guard, for it had not been clarified what should be done to him. YHWH said to Moses: ‘The man is to be put to death, yes, death, pelt him with stones, the entire community, outside the camp!’ So they brought him…outside the camp; they pelted him with stones, so that he died, as YHWH had commanded Moses” (Numbers 15:32).

Not a very loving portrait of God. Even after the passing of time to cool the Divine anger, to perhaps consider compassion, to acknowledge that no law covered this situation, God summarily invokes a law promulgated after the fact and petulantly orders that the entire community stone the unfortunate gatherer. Perplexed by the “apparent severity of the narrative,” modern commentators have speculated on God’s rationale: “The wood gatherer, therefore, was not just violating one law but was destroying the dream that Israel would be a people obedient to God’s ways.” But what happened was not apparently severe; it was, in no uncertain terms, a cruel and unforgiving judgment.

Perhaps more familiar to many of us is God’s decree pertaining to Yom Kippur observance: “Indeed, any person who does not practice self-denial throughout that day shall be cut off (nichratah) from his kin, and whoever does any work on that day—I will cause that person to perish from among his people” (Lev 23:29-30).

Who would not question a God who treats as capital crimes what we would consider relatively minor infractions—not fasting on Yom Kippur or doing what might be considered “work” according to traditional rabbinic law?

Given that the Torah teaches us that we are created b’tzelem, modeled after God, what are the implications of acknowledging the dark side of God?

We have long assumed that being so modeled refers to that which is good and noble in us. However, the character traits which cause us discomfort and prompt us to seek out therapy to correct are common to God as well. Just like God, we humans can be intolerant of imperfection (our own and others), judgmental, quick to anger when things don’t go our way, and prone to act abusively and destructively. In short, being modeled after God reflects both what is positive and negative about us. To truly grasp this idea, we need to set aside the simplistic concept of a perfect God we’ve inherited from our parents and religious school teachers and come to see and accept the notion of a flawed or wounded God.

Why do you think this simplistic God concept is so prevalent?

We have what Rabbi Richard Address, director of the Union’s Department of Jewish Family Concerns, calls a “pediatric view of divinity”—a view characteristic of young children who see “mom” and “dad” in their roles as parents rather than as complex human beings. As each of us matures, we begin to see our parents for who they are, imperfections and all, and we come to accept that even when they were less than ideal mothers and fathers, they did the best they knew how to do. Our child-parent relationship changes, with our parents learning from us, even as we continue to learn from our parents.

Unfortunately, this kind of transition from an infantile to a mature relationship rarely occurs in our relationship with God. Rather, we stay mired in a less mature, dysfunctional, and ultimately disappointing relationship with the Divine. If instead we recognized that God has imperfections as do our parents, then we could begin to redefine the God-human relationship: just as it is possible for parents to learn from their children, so can God learn from us.

God learn from us? Isn’t that an audacious assumption?

Though it may seem audacious to presume that we mere humans can help heal God, this is an essential part of our covenantal relationship. Being in a cov­e­nantal relationship offers the possibility of healing in both directions. For both God and humankind, healing occurs in relationship.

But if God is all-knowing and all-sufficient, why would God need to be taught anything by humans?

If God was all-knowing and all-sufficient, why did God feel the need to create humankind? It seems that God was lacking something.

What might that be?

I believe that being the “one and only” made God very lonely. Desirous of companionship, God, with the best of intentions, created a “perfect” world and judged it as “very good.” But when faced with issues of competition, rivalry, rejection, and perceived betrayal, God demanded total obedience. When humankind failed to meet God’s exacting standards, God became enraged and reacted by cruelly flooding the entire world, almost wiping out all of creation.

The Torah is full of stories about God’s fierce anger, rush to judgment, and cruel punishment. God needs to be taught many things, including the difference between obedience and love.

Do you believe that God is teachable?

According to a number of post-biblical Jewish texts, God is indeed teachable. Sometimes God alters behavior and outlook in response to human intervention. For example, Bamidbar Rabbah notes three occasions in which Moses intervenes and God responds: “By your life! You have spoken well! You have taught me. From now on, I will....” After God threatens to punish the Israelites for worshiping the Golden Calf in the wilderness, Moses pleads: “Let not your anger, O YHWH, blaze forth against your people whom You delivered from the land of Egypt with great power and with a mighty hand. Let not the Egyptians say, ‘It was with evil intent that He delivered them only to kill them off in the mountains and annihilate them from the face of the earth.’ Turn from your flaming anger and renounce the plan to punish Your people! Remember Your servants, Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, how You swore to them by Your self and said to them: ‘I will make your offspring as numerous as the stars of the heavens, and I will give to them all this land of which I spoke, to possess forever.’ And YHWH renounced the punishment He had planned to bring upon His people” (Exodus 32:14).

But we are not Moses. What can we humans possibly teach God?

God enters into relationship with humanity knowing next to nothing about how to relate. We humans, on the other hand, have a great deal of experience living in relationships. We struggle day-by-day to live with and love others despite their imperfections and our own. We’ve learned how to build respectful relationships—and we can teach God about what it takes to live peaceably in a relationship with loved ones who do not bend to our will or always live up to our expectations.

We can teach God about self-esteem. God needs constant reassurance. We too often lack faith in ourselves and fall off the balance beam of our equilibrium. Still, after repeated failures, most of us recognize that falling off is inevitable and not a comment on our worth. What counts is getting back on track. We can teach God self-esteem by demonstrating how we move forward despite our reservations and fears. And—when we have learned this lesson ourselves—we can teach God that one doesn’t have to trample on others to demonstrate one’s self-worth.

We can teach God about forgiveness. God demands repentance (in Hebrew, teshuvah) from humans, but sometimes remains unforgiving of our transgressions unto the third and fourth generation and beyond. We humans, who have spent endless effort and energy practicing repentance, know that the willingness to do teshuvah is a vital aspect of a healthy relationship. We know about searching for what the mystics call nitzotzot kedushah, the “holy sparks” present in and redemptive of all creation.

In addition, we can teach God about the preciousness of human life through the ways we act to preserve and sanctify our lives.

In short, how we as God’s partners model ourselves divinely can teach God how to be in the very world that God created.

How do we begin to change our relationship with God?

We start by changing ourselves. In any healthy relationship, when we change, our partner changes. So when we humans become exemplars of what it means to be fully human—often in areas God knows little about—God will have to grow and change, too. In short, by becoming fully human, we help God to become a better exemplar. And that’s no small thing. What more could any exemplar—Divine or human—want?

25 enero 2009

Must I pray in Hebrew?

Tomado de Chabad.org

Must I pray in Hebrew?


All of the prayers in my synagogue are in Hebrew, and I don't understand a word of what we're saying. Why do we pray in Hebrew in the first place? Should I better read the Hebrew which I don't understand, or the English which I do understand?

The Simple Answer:

Hebrew is the language of choice for prayers. But prayer requires understanding. So if you understand the meaning of the words you are saying, pray in Hebrew. If you don’t, pray in the language you understand--until you learn Hebrew.

The Longer Answer:

Yes, the Shema, the Amidah, and virtually all of the prayers are recited in Hebrew—even in synagogues where most of the congregants are much more fluent in other languages. Why is this?

  1. When the Talmud1 discusses praying in Aramaic rather than Hebrew, it asserts that the angels do not understand Aramaic. Since we need the angels to carry our prayers on high, we should pray in a language that they understand. (Why we need angels to carry our prayers in the first place deserves an entire letter for itself!)
  2. Hebrew is called the "Holy Tongue." According to Nachmanides2 its specialness is expressed in the fact that it is G‑d's language of choice for revealing Himself to the prophets.3
  3. The prayers were written in Hebrew. As the saying goes, "there is no such thing as an accurate translation." Even the best translation cannot convey the entire intent of the original. When one prays in Hebrew, he is assured that he is praying exactly as our prophets and sages intended it.

So praying in Hebrew has many advantages over praying in English. But what if you don't know Hebrew? Are you allowed to pray in other languages?

Concerning the Shema, there is a dispute in the Talmud.4 Rabbi Yehudah opines that one must recite it in the original Hebrew as it is written in the Torah. The majority of the sages, however, rule that one may read it in whichever language he understands. The Halachah follows the majority, and one may recite Shema in his own language—provided that he enunciates the words clearly and articulately.5

All agree, however, that the Amidah may be recited in any language.6 How does this square with the above-mentioned rule that the angels do not understand other languages? The Talmud7 qualifies this, saying that the angels' assistance is only necessary for one who prays alone. However, the prayer of a congregation is so potent that does not need the assistance of the angels to be heard by G‑d.

So how about one does not understand Hebrew and is praying alone? Why is he or she allowed to pray in the vernacular?

The Code of Jewish Law8 brings two further qualifications:

  1. The Talmud may have only referred to a situation where one is asking G‑d to fill his specific needs. When praying the standard prayers that all Jews pray, all languages are acceptable.
  2. The Talmud specifically mentions Aramaic. However, all other languages may be acceptable.

In short, it's preferable to learn Hebrew and pray in that language. But if you don't understand what you are saying, say it in the language you do understand.

So now we know that you are allowed to read the prayers in your own language, if you do not understand the Hebrew. But can you pray in Hebrew if you don't understand?

Understanding what you are saying is essential for the act of prayer. Maimonides9 writes that prayer without concentration is not considered prayer. Prayer, after all, is not a matter of simply uttering words. Prayer is called "service of the heart.10" You can say all the words in Hebrew, but you haven't performed the mitzvah of prayer—because how can your heart express itself with words you don't understand?

The best solution, obviously, is to start learning Hebrew. If you never start reading Hebrew, you will never learn. So I suggest that you work your way into it. Begin with just a few lines which you have learned to understand, and slowly expand your repertoire. Add on one blessing at a time. Before you know it, you will have mastered the entire Amidah and much more besides.

Let me also point out that while one must understand and pay attention to the entire prayer, mental focus is most vital during the first line of the Shema,11 the opening blessing of the Amidah,12 and the line in Ashrei13 where we say, "You open Your hand and satisfy the desire of every living thing." If you said any of the other parts of the prayer while distracted, you do not have to go back and repeat them. With these parts, however, you do have to return and say them over again. 14 Hence it may make sense to learn the meaning of those parts of the prayer first, and start other areas with Hebrew before you fully know what they mean.

When working the Hebrew into your prayers, you may want to start with those paragraphs that the congregation sings together. Singing along is usually easier than grappling with the words alone!

Please let me know how it goes.

Yours truly,

Rabbi Menachem Posner


Sotah 33a.


Exodus 30:13.


Maimonides writes (Moreh Nevuchim 3:8) that this appellation reflects the fact that Hebrew contains no words for certain bodily functions, preferring instead to refer to them euphemistically.


Talmud, Brachot 13a.


Code of Jewish Law, Orech Chaim 62:2.


Talmud, Sotah 32a.


Talmud, Sotah 33a.


Orech Chaim, 101:4.


Hilchot Nesiyat Kapayim 4:15.


Sifri Eikev 5.


Code of Jewish Law, Orech Chaim 60:5.


Code of Jewish Law, Orech Chaim 101:1.


Psalms 145.


With regard to the Amidah, Rabbi Moshe Isserles (gloss to Orech Chaim 101:1) points out that this is not done today since most of us are not so good at concentrating, and there is no guarantee that we will concentrate any better when repeating the prayer. We do, however, repeat the Shema and the verse in Ashrei since it is easy to concentrate for the one requisite verse (Shulchan Aruch Harav ad loc).

24 enero 2009


I hope that the following comments will be helpful in the discussion about minyanim.

The word “minyan” refers to the quorum of ten Jews over the age of 13 who constitute the minimal number of people needed to have a complete service. Certain prayers can only be recited with such a quorum because they require communal affirmation. According to halakha (Jewish law), a minyan is required for many parts (D'varim SheB'Kedusha "holy utterances") of the communal prayer service, including Barechu, various forms of the Kaddish (including the Kaddish Yatom, the mourner’s Kaddish Kaddish), the Kedusha in the Amidah, repetition of the Amidah, the Priestly Blessing, and the Torah and Haftarah readings, prayers that affirm divine sanctity. Judaism cannot exist in isolation – community is everything - and a minyan represents the whole community.


What is so magical about the number ten? Its origin is in the story in the book of Numbers where ten spies come back with a negative report about the Promised Land, causing a commotion that leads to the Israelites having to wander in the Wilderness for 40 years. In the story, only two spies, Joshua and Caleb, are optimistic about their chances. According to traditional Jewish law, the smallest congregation which is permitted to hold public worship is one made up of ten men over the age of majority (13 years). The rule comes from the Mishnah (Megillah 4:3): "They do not recite over the Shema Yisrael (Hear, O Israel), nor pass before the Ark, nor lift their hands, nor read from the Law, nor conclude with the Prophets, nor arrange the standing and sitting, nor say the benedictions of the mourners or the consolation of the mourners, nor the benedictions of the bridegrooms, nor use God's name in preparing for grace after meals, with less than ten." The Babylonian Talmud, in commenting on this section of the Mishnah, finds the Biblical authority for ten men constituting a congregation in the words (from Numbers 14:27): "How long shall I bear with this evil congregation which murmur against me?" which refers to the twelve scouts who were sent to spy out the land of Canaan, two of whom were considered faithful, and ten "this [evil] congregation." The ten pessimists then testify before the Israelite community or “edah.” (The Hebrew word for “community” is “edah” from which comes from the word in Hebrew for “witness.”

The Rabbis later deduced that the minimal definition of what it takes to have a community, a group that bears witness to God, is this number ten. It is ironic that it was a frightened, pessimistic, somewhat faithless group of ten spies that led to this definition! As a Jewish folk saying puts it, nine revered rabbis do not make up a minyan, but ten cobblers do!


…Jewish law and custom required Jews over the age of majority (both women and men) to pray three times a day. Although prayer alone has always been considered acceptable, prayer with a quorum of ten adults (a minyan) is considered prayer with the community, and this is the most highly recommended form of prayer. Originally, all male Jews over 13, unless they had openly severed their connection with their community by converting to another religion, were counted in the minyan. (Shulkhan Arukh, Orah Hayyim, 55, 12). Traditional codes of Jewish law do not forbid women from counting in a minyan, and a small number of classical rabbinic responsa mention this as a theoretical possibility. However, until recently it does not appear that this was ever a normative practice of the Jewish community.
(adapted from Rabbi Joshua Hammerman)


Women being counted in the minyan on a regular basis is a relatively new development in Jewish law and praxis. The Reform Movement is egalitarian in all its practices; therefore, both women and men are counted toward the minyan in our worship as well as in all other forms of communal observance.


Contrary to popular belief, strategies and accommodations for times when fewer than 10 are present to pray did not originate with the Reform Movement! In fact, there is considerable Rabbinic discussion and debate about how to handle this situation – discussion going back well over a thousand years. Some commentators permitted one minor to count toward a minyan, others up to four minors. In some cases, a minor was acceptable as long as he grasped a chumash or Torah scroll during worship. Still others believed that it was never acceptable to count a minor. Jewish communities have always been autonomous with local ritual practice determined by local leaders and local custom. There is no universally accepted “law” regarding counting a Torah scroll, the Divine Presence or “the people Israel” toward a minyan of ten. Thus, the statement, "We're Reform. We don't need a minyan," is historically and theologically inaccurate.

21 enero 2009

Union Prayer Book, Sinai Edition

Recientemente se ha editado la revisión del clásico de los clásicos dentro del movimiento reformista: el Union Prayer Book, Sinai Edition.

Las primeras impresiones que tengo del UPB son excelentes. Es cierto que la estructura tradicional del rezo queda semi-oculta - cuando no ausente - y los textos son reinterpretaciones de los originales, pero me parece muy poético, puesto al día y muy hermoso. Me recuerda mucho en su frescura a Netivot Emunah, con características muy parecidas y que además conserva algo más la forma. El hebreo es testimonial. Por lo que aquellos que no lo entiendan no tendrán problema alguno para completar el rezo.

El tema central del Siddur es doble: la necesidad y búsqueda de la paz por una parte, y, por otra, la lucha por una sociedad más justa. En definitiva el mensaje queda centrado en el Tikun Olam.

Quien esté acostumbrado a los siddurim tradicionales y no haya utilizado nunca un Siddur Reformista, tendrá sensaciones ciertamente desconcertantes. No aparecen las bendiciones matutinas, ni los salmos de alabanza, ni la Amidá en su forma tradicional. Sin embargo, después de un par de lecturas detenidas, uno empieza aver casi cada una de esas ausencias presentes en los texto de libro... sólo que de otra forma, menos estructurados y menos ordenados.

Hay un par de cosas: que no tenga ni servicio de Minjá ni plegaria antes de ir a dormir, y que su estructura no está pensada para el rezo privado o cuando no hay minián, ya que está pensado fundamentalmente para uso comunitario. Aunque es fácil adaptarla y seguro que se ajustará a las neceisades de cada uno o de pequeños grupos.

En la actualidad es el libro de rezos que utilizan varias de la sinagogas norteamericanas que están adscritas a la sociedad del judaísmo reformista clásico

El libro puede adquirirse en Chicago Sinai Congregation


Tomado de Chicago Sinai Congregation

"Mindful of our commitment to a liberal interpretation of Judaism and sensitive to the needs of our diverse community, which includes many interfaith families and people who are not conversant in Hebrew, Chicago Sinai Congregation undertook the creation of an updated version of the Union Prayer Book. Under the editorship of Rabbi Michael Sternfield, a committee was formed which spent four years in study and effort to produce a unique, elegant, spiritual and substantial new prayer book. While preserving and strengthening the liberal and classical reform ideas of the Union Prayer Book, we took into account the two great epochal events of modern Jewish history, namely the Holocaust and the state of Israel. In addition, we acknowledged the great social changes of the twentieth century which affected Jews, and all people, and which could not have been anticipated by the Union Prayer Book. The heightened awareness brought about the by the women’s movement, the concern for the inclusion of gays and lesbians, the welcoming of interfaith families, and the civil rights movement all of had an impact on Reform Judaism. In addition, the Union Prayer Book’s Elizabethan English, which seemed arcane to many young Jews, was replaced by contemporary English grammar and usage. "

17 enero 2009

alto el fuego unilateral

Tomado de Aurora-Israel. Periódico israelí que se edita en castellano


El Primer Ministro afirmó que se cumplieron todos los objetivos
Olmert anunció el alto el fuego unilateral

El Gabinete de Seguridad Nacional aprobó el fin de la ofensiva militar contra Hamás en la Franja de Gaza.

Siete ministros votaron a favor de la decisión, dos en contra, y una abstención.

El Primer Ministro, Ehud Olmert, anunció que se han cumplido plenamente todos los objetivos, agregando que Tzáhal pone fin a sus operaciones militares a partir de las 2:00 AM del domingo.
El Primer Ministro precisó que Hamás recibió un duro golpe, agregando que el grupo es un puesto de avanzada de Irán.

"Irán, con su contrabando de armas, intentó de hacer con Hamás lo que hizo con Hezbollah en el Líbano", detalló.

"Esto no es un cese del fuego con Hamás. Estos son elementos de entendimiento con la comunidad internacional en la que Hamás, como entidad ilegítima, no tiene ninguna participación".

"Nuestra lucha no es con el pueblo de Gaza", puntualizó Olmert. "Hemos dejado Gaza en 2005 con la intención de no regresar nunca", refiriéndose a la retirada llevada a cabo por el anterior Primer Ministro Ariel Sharón.

Olmert señaló que Hamás subestimó la determinación de Israel y fue tomada por sorpresa por el lanzamiento de la ofensiva y aún no es totalmente consciente de cuan duramente ha sido dañada.
"Si Hamás detiene completamente el lanzamiento de cohetes contra Israel, Israel considerará la retirada de Tzáhal de la Franja de Gaza". Si esto no ocurre advirtió que "Tzáhal continuará actuando para proteger a sus ciudadanos".

"Estos acuerdos no garantizan que Hamás cese los ataques con cohetes contra los civiles israelíes. Si se detienen, nosotros también pararemos. Si no, los soldados de Tzáhal los atacarán de nuevo", indicó el jefe del Gobierno.

En cuanto al soldado secuestrado, Guilad Shalit, Olmert afirmó que: "El gobierno israelí está trabajando de muchas formas para que Guilad Shalit regrese a casa y, durante los días de la operación, hicimos muchas cosas que nos han puesto más cerca de este objetivo, sobre las que no elaboraré".

"Guilad figura en la parte más alta de nuestra lista de prioridades", aseguró Olmert.

De pacifista israelí a pacifista israelí

A.B. Yehoshua es uno de los más reconocidos escritores israelíes. Y también uno de los ponentes más comprometidos del movimiento pacifista israelí, tan crítico siempre con el gobierno.

En esta guerra contra Hamas, sin embargo, él ha tomado una posición clara a favor de la intervención. Lo que sigue es una carta en respuesta a los artículos que Gideon Levy ha escrito en las últimas semanas.

Y le pide, lo que tantos reclamamos, que no use dos criterios de moralidad diferente para juzgar a unos y otros. Levy es un durísmo crítico del gobierno israelí que, sin embargo, como le recuerda Yehoshua, no aplica el mismo rigor moral en su análisis de los terroristas de Hamas.

Lamentablemente no es sólo un problema de una parte de la izquierda israelí, sino que ese deficiente juicio se ha extendido de forma mecánica a la mayor parte de los medios, de los políticos y de la opinión pública europea.

Como ejemplo de ello baste el hecho de que se habla de 'palestinos', cuando la ANP ha dejado bien claro desde el principio que el principal responsable de lo que está sucediendo es Hamas.

¿Qué harías si te regalaran 3.200 invernaderos?"
A Hamas no le importan los muertos"

Son muchas las informaciones sobre qué es Hamas, cómo oprime a su población, cómo dio un golpe de Estado, cómo en estas semanas de guerra está asesinando a la gente de Fatah que aún quedaba en Gaza, cómo su obejtivo al que no renuncia es la destrucción de Israel...y todo ello, qué curioso, desde un territorio, Gaza donde no había israelíes, donde de no haber sido por sus constantes ataques podrían estar viviendo mejor de lo que lo que lo hacen en Cisjordania. ¿Por qué siguen allí su día a día sin defender a sus 'hermanos' palestinos de Hamas? ¿Quizá por la guerra civil que éstos provocaron? ¿Quizá porque los asesinaron - más de 700 muertos -?
w w w . h a a r e t z . c o m
An open letter to Gideon Levy
By A.B. Yehoshua

Dear Gideon,

You remember that in recent years I called you occasionally to praise you for your articles and your writing about the wrongs done to the Palestinians in the administered territories, whether by the army or by the settlers. Physical wrongs, land expropriations, acts of abuse, perversions of justice and so on. I told you that it is very difficult to readwhat you write, because it weighs on our conscience, but that the work you are doing and the voice you are sounding are extremely important. I was also concerned about your physical safety, knowing that you risked your life by visiting such hostile places.

I did not ask you why you did not visit Israeli hospitals in order to tell the painful stories of Israeli citizens who were hurt in terrorist attacks. I accepted your position that there are plenty of other journalists doing this and that you had taken on the crucial mission of telling the story of the afflictions of the other side, our enemies today and our neighbors tomorrow. Accordingly, it is from this position of respect that I find it necessary to respond to your recent articles on the war in which we are engaged today, so that you will be able to preserve the moral validity of your distinctive voice for the future. A few years ago, when the Hatuel family - a mother and her four children, of blessed memory - were killed on the way to one of the settlements in Gush Katif, I believed that this terrible death pained you as it did all of us but that like many of us you said in your heart: Why should these Israelis endanger their children by living provocatively, hopelessly, dangerously and immorally in Gush Katif? By what right do 8,000 Jews expropriate a sizable area in the densely overcrowded Gaza Strip in order to build blossoming villages before the eyes of hundreds of thousands of refugees living in such abysmal conditions? You were angry, as I was, at the parents and at those who sent them. And even though I believe that like all of us you felt the pain of the children who were killed, you did not brand the leaders of Hamas "war criminals" as you did the Israeli leaders, and you did not demand the establishment of an international tribunal to try them.

When I asked you after the disengagement from Gaza, Gideon, explain to me why they are firing missiles at us, you replied that they want us to open the crossings. I asked you whether you truly believe that if they fire missiles the crossings will be opened, or the opposite. And whether you truly believe that it is right and just to open crossings into Israel for those who declare openly and sincerely that they want to destroy our country. I did not get an answer from you. And even though the crossings were in fact opened many times, and were closed in the wake of the missile attacks, regrettably I still did not see you standing firmly behind a moral position which says: Now, people of Gaza, after you expelled the Israeli occupation from your land, and justly so, you must hold your fire.

The doleful thought sometimes crosses my mind that it is not the children of Gaza or of Israel that you are pining for, but only for your own private conscience. Because if you are truly concerned about the death of our children and theirs, you would understand the present war - not in order to uproot Hamas from Gaza but to induce its followers to understand, and regrettably in the only way they understand in the meantime, that they must stop the firing unilaterally, stop hoarding missiles for a bitter and hopeless war to destroy Israel, and above all for the sake of their children in the future, so they will not die in another pointless adventure.

After all, now, for the first time in Palestinian history, after the Ottoman, British, Egyptian, Jordanian and Israeli conquests, part of the Palestinians has gained a first and I hope not a last piece of land on which they are to maintain a full and independent government. And if they start building, developing and pursuing social endeavors, even according to Islamic religious law, they will prove to the whole world, and especially to us, that the moment we terminate the occupation they will be ready to live in peace with their surroundings, free to do as they wish, but also responsible for their deeds.

There is something absurd in the comparison you draw about the number of those killed. When you ask how it can be that they killed three of our children and we cause the killing of a hundred and fifty, the inference one can draw is that if they were to kill a hundred of our children (for example, by the Qassam rockets that struck schools and kindergartens in Israel that happened to be empty), we would be justified in also killing a hundred of their children.

In other words, it is not the killing itself that troubles you but the number. On the face of it, one could answer you cynically by saying that when there will be two hundred million Jews in the Middle East it will be permissible to think in moral terms about comparing the number of victims on each side. But that is, of course, a debased argument. After all, you, Gideon, who live among the people, know very well that we are not bent on killing Palestinian children to avenge the killing of our children. All we are trying to do is get their leaders to stop this senseless and wicked aggression, and it is only because of the tragic and deliberate mingling between Hamas fighters and the civilian population that children, too, are unfortunately being killed. The fact is that since the disengagement, Hamas has fired only at civilians. Even in this war, to my astonishment, I see that they are not aiming at the army concentrations along the border but time and again at civilian communities.

Please, preserve the moral authority and concern that you possessed, and your distinctive voice. We will need them again in the future, which promises further ordeals on the road to peace. In the meantime, it would be best for us all - we and the Palestinians and the rest of the world - to follow the simple moral imperative of Kantian philosophy: "Act only according to that maxim by which you can at the same time will that it should become a universal law."

In friendship always,

The writer is an Israeli author. His latest novel, "Friendly Fire," was published in recent months.

16 enero 2009

¿Qué harías si te regalaran 3.200 invernaderos?

Toda la historia aquí en inglés

¿Qué harías si un día te regalaran 3.200 invernaderos en pleno funcionamiento, con un total de 3,5 millones de m² cultivados?

- Podrías producir frutas, verduras, plantas y flores...

- Podrías alimentar a tu familia, a tu ciudad y a tu país…

- Podrías vender tu producción en el mercado interno, ahorrar, desarrollarte…

- Podrías exportar al mundo, reinvertir, crecer...

O también… podrías destruirlo todo...

En agosto de 2005, en vísperas de la retirada israelí de Gaza , un consorcio de filántropos enca­bezados por James Wolfensohn, el entonces presidente del Banco Mundial, se movilizó para comprar por 14 millones de dólares los invernaderos pertenecientes a los colonos israelíes. Se trataba de 3.200 invernaderos de última generación y equipados con la más alta tecnología, que producían para el mercado interno e Israel, y exportaban hortalizas, frutas exóticas y flores tem­praneras a Europa con un elevado valor agregado. Muchos miles de palestinos traían a casa su sustento con holgura y honorabilidad.

La idea de los donantes - todos judíos de EEUU - era entregar esos 3,5 millones de m² de inver­naderos a los palestinos, en un gesto de reconciliación y esperanza de cara a un futuro mejor.

Inmediatamente luego de que Israel se retirara de la Franja de Gaza hasta el límite internacio­nal, hordas de palestinos enardecidos azuzados por Hamás, saquearon y destruyeron los inver­naderos, llevándose mangueras de riego, bombas de agua y fundas plásticas de protección, has­ta reducirlos a escombros. La Autoridad Nacional Palestina no pudo evitar el vandalismo y la destrucción de la fuente de vida de miles de personas, en otro duro golpe a los esfuerzos por construir la Franja de Gaza y brindarle un horizonte de desarrollo y prosperidad.

Los invernaderos donados a los palestinos son otra demostración de la bancarrota y la pobreza en que Hamás sumió, con intención y para su propio provecho, a la población civil de la Franja de Gaza.

Es hora de que los palestinos se liberen de Hamás.


@lberto Kotlik
Modiin - Israel

Defender a sus ciudadanos

Critiqué la postura de Amos Oz en esta misma web hace unos meses. Parece que el tiempo, pero sobre todo el terrorismo yihadista de Hamas, me dan tristemente la razón. Al final han conseguido lo que nadie, salvo quizá la ANP, quería: que Israel tenga que atacarlos para evitar que las ciudades israelíes sean bombardeados.

Y como dice el ministros de asuntos exteriores palestino a Hamas "No [le] importa si el precio es la muerte de mil palestinos, de diez mil o el exterminio de toda la franja"

Y advierte el ministro palestino que Hamas es un peligro para todos: "Eso no nos debe asustar solamente a nosotros, porque vamos a perder nuestra identidad nacional, sino también a nuestros vecinos egipcios y jordanos, y al resto del mundo"

¿Y por qué puede interesar a la ANP el ataque de Israel?: porque Hamas les arrebató el poder en un golpe de estado en 2007 ( "Hay que recordar que fue Hamas quien llevó a cabo un golpe de Estado en junio del 2007 para apoderarse de Gaza por la fuerza") y la caída de Hamas será la victoria de la ANP sin tener que volver a la guerra civil que costó más de 700 muertos.

Amos Oz, escritor israelí y miembro del movimiento pacifista, escribe:

Jueves, 15-01-09
El bombardeo sistemático de los ciudadanos de pueblos y ciudades de Israel es un crimen de guerra y un crimen contra la humanidad. El estado de Israel debe defender a sus ciudadanos. Es obvio para todo el mundo que el gobierno de Israel no desea entrar en Gaza; preferiría mantener el alto el fuego que Hamás violó y finalmente quebró. Pero el padecimiento de los ciudadanos israelíes que viven cerca de la franja de Gaza no puede continuar.

El recelo a entrar en Gaza está basado no en una supuesta indecisión, sino en el conocimiento manifiesto de que Hamás tiene un auténtico deseo de provocar que Israel emprenda una acción militar. Si docenas, o incluso cientos, de civiles, mujeres y niños, mueren por causa de la acción israelí, el radicalismo ganaría peso en Gaza, el gobierno de Abu Mazen en Cisjordania podría colapsar y los extremistas de Hamás podrían substituirlo.

El mundo árabe se uniría sin fisuras ante la contemplación de las imágenes atroces que Al Yasira emitiría de la terrible situación en Gaza, y los medios de comunicación del mundo no tardarían en culpar a Israel de crímenes de guerra. Son los mismos medios que ignoran sistemáticamente el bombardeo de las poblaciones israelíes. Se ejercería una presión masiva sobre Israel para que se contenga y retroceda. Pero no habrá tal presión sobre Hamás porque no hay quien los presione y tampoco queda mucho por lo que puedan ser presionados. Israel es un país, Hamás es una banda.

¿Que podemos hacer?
Lo mejor para Israel sería conseguir un alto el fuego a cambio del alivio del bloqueo de la franja de Gaza. Si Hamás insiste en rechazar el alto el fuego y continúa bombardeando a los ciudadanos de Israel, debemos tener cuidado para evitar que la acción militar acabe beneficiando a la misma Hamás. Los cálculos de Hamás son simples, cínicos y diabólicos: si israelíes inocentes son asesinados, eso es bueno. Si palestinos mueren, aún mejor. Israel debe actuar sabiamente contra esta posición y no debe dejarse llevar por la vehemencia del momento.

"A Hamas no le importan los muertos"

"A Hamas no le importan los muertos"

Ministro de Asuntos Exteriores palestino

"Hamas debe formar parte del consenso y del sistema político palestino" | "La guerra se debe a irresponsabilidad de Hamas a la hora de atacar Israel" | "Hamas representa a los Hermanos Musulmanes y aspira a un califato en Gaza"

Ramala. Corresponsal


Riad el Malki, ministro de Asuntos Exteriores de la Autoridad Nacional Palestina, recibe a La Vanguardia en la sede del ministerio en Ramala y afirma, sin ambages, que "la guerra de Gaza, el lanzamiento de los cohetes y la respuesta israelí son consecuencia del intento de Hamas de controlar el paso fronterizo de Rafah".

"Si Egipto reconoce la presencia de Hamas en el puesto fronterizo y los pasaportes son sellados con la firma de Hamas, significa que ellos tienen legitimidad y reconocimiento internacional. Eso es lo que Hamas quiere. No importa si el precio es la muerte de mil palestinos, de diez mil o el exterminio de toda la franja", sostiene.

Malki, que duerme cuatro horas diarias desde que empezó la guerra, sostiene que "Gaza es el punto de lanzamiento para ampliar el control del movimiento internacional de los Hermanos Musulmanes y crear un califato islámico que se extendería a Egipto y a Jordania".

¿Hasta qué punto cree que es posible una tregua en los próximos días?

Lo que está pasando es una agresión, no solamente contra la población civil palestina, sino también contra todo lo que significa una presencia palestina en Gaza. Es una destrucción, una aniquilación completa de la presencia palestina en la franja. Egipto está trabajando para lograr una tregua. Yo creo que se puede lograr una tregua humanitaria durante unos cuantos días, para ver si se llega a un acuerdo de tregua permanente.

¿Quién es en su opinión el responsable de esta guerra?

Israel es el principal responsable de lo que ocurre por ser una fuerza ocupante, por no haber respetado las treguas anteriores y por no haberse esforzado lo suficiente para lograr una paz duradera con la Autoridad Nacional Palestina. Israel ha llevado a los palestinos a una situación tan extrema que ha provocado que Hamas lanzara cohetes primitivos contra el sur de Israel. Israel utilizó estos cohetes como excusa para continuar con la ocupación y la destrucción de la vida en Gaza. Hamas, por su parte, también es responsable, porque el presidente Mahmud Abas habló en muchas ocasiones de la importancia de mantener la tregua, de la necesidad de estudiar muy bien el uso de las armas en contra de la ocupación, porque eso podría producir una respuesta por parte de Israel, imposible de combatir o frenar. Por tanto, Hamas, por su acto de irresponsabilidad, también es culpable de la situación actual en Gaza.

¿Qué representa Hamas dentro de la sociedad palestina?

Hamas es una fuerza política palestina, tiene una representación social, ganó las elecciones en el 2006 y, por tanto, tiene una representación política y apoyo popular. Eso tiene que ser reconocido. Ellos deben formar parte del consenso político palestino y del sistema político palestino. Así empezaron, pero luego, mediante el golpe de Estado contra la ANP en Gaza en el 2007, crearon una entidad paralela a la ya existente. Hamas ahora controla por la fuerza parte del territorio palestino y quiere ser vista como una autoridad legítima. Esto no solamente divide al territorio palestino, sino que destruye la capacidad del sistema político palestino y elimina toda posibilidad de establecer un Estado palestino único en los territorios ocupados de Gaza y Cisjordania.

Hamas comenzó como un movimiento de resistencia palestino contra la ocupación israelí, pero luego reconoció que es parte del movimiento internacional de los Hermanos Musulmanes. Tras ganar las elecciones y tomar el control de Gaza parece que, poco a poco, se aleja del movimiento particular palestino y se identifica cada vez más con el islamismo general. Esto nos preocupa mucho, porque Palestina va a ser un laboratorio para el movimiento internacional de los Hermanos Musulmanes y nosotros perderemos nuestra identidad palestina dentro del carácter internacional musulmán. Eso no nos debe asustar solamente a nosotros, porque vamos a perder nuestra identidad nacional, sino también a nuestros vecinos egipcios y jordanos, y al resto del mundo.

Líderes de Hamas acusan a Abas de traidor por dialogar con Israel.

La semana pasada, el líder de Hamas en Damasco, Jaled Mishal, declaró, dirigiéndose a los israelíes, que Israel no debe negociar con Abas porque este es débil y no representa al pueblo palestino, sino con Hamas, porque esta organización está dispuesta a negociar para llegar a un acuerdo. Entonces, acusar al presidente Abas de traidor por negociar con Israel y al mismo tiempo que el líder máximo de Hamas proponga a Israel negociar con su organización me parece una actitud hipócrita e incoherente.

En Gaza corre el rumor de que Al Fatah puede llevar a cabo un golpe de Estado para recuperar el poder en la franja. ¿Qué opina sobre esto?

Hay que recordar que fue Hamas quien llevó a cabo un golpe de Estado en junio del 2007 para apoderarse de Gaza por la fuerza. Si Al Fatah o la ANP quieren recuperar el poder en Gaza, tienen todo el derecho a hacerlo, tanto por la fuerza o mediante negociaciones. Pero la ANP no va a usar la fuerza para recuperar Gaza, sino que queremos entrar en un proceso de diálogo y de reconciliación para hacerlo.

En el marco de la tregua , una de las posibilidades es que la ANP vuelva a controlar la terminal de Rafah, en el sur de Gaza. ¿Ustedes estarían dispuestos a ello?

Todo lo que quiere Hamas, porque no le importa que mueran mil palestinos o más, es mantener su control y su presencia en el punto fronterizo de Rafah, porque eso le vaa dar legitimidad internacional, algo que no ha conseguido hasta el momento. Nuestra posición es muy clara: debemos abrir todos los puntos fronterizos entre Gaza e Israel y entre Gaza y Egipto. El acuerdo de Movimiento y Acceso de noviembre del 2005 establece que la guardia presidencial de la Autoridad Nacional Palestina es quien tiene que controlar dichas fronteras.

¿Cuándo serán las próximas elecciones en la ANP?

Cuando recuperemos Gaza y logremos una unidad nacional interna palestina, se llevarán a cabo tanto las elecciones presidenciales como las parlamentarias. A nosotros no nos asustan las elecciones, creemos que estas deben llevarse a cabo cada cuatro años y que el pueblo tiene derecho a decidir quién lo representará.

11 enero 2009

Antisemitism in Spain. Old or New?

By: Alejandro Baer

Published: January 05, 2009

November 25th and 26th the first International Seminar on Antisemitism took place in Madrid. An initiative encouraged by the Federation of Jewish Communities of Spain, this seminar focused on bringing the problem of antisemitism here and abroad, old and new, to public attention. It is an open call to the Spanish public to take a closer look at the roots and current manifestations of antisemitism, which are not only found in marginal political groups or religious fanatics but also, though veiled in politically correct attire, among mainstream opinion leaders. In order to combat antisemitism, it is important to first understand its distinctive nature.

The recently released survey by the Pew Research Center’s Pew Global Attitudes Project finds 46% of the Spanish rating Jews unfavorably. With these figures, Spain scores, once again, as the western country among those studied by this Institute (Poland, Russia, Germany, France, Britain, US.) with the most negative views of Jews. These results echo a trend shown by previous Pew data, as well as that brought by the Anti-Defamation League study in 2007 and 2005 on Attitudes Toward Jews and the Middle East in Five European Countries (Spain, France, Germany, Poland, Italy). The ADL survey indicates that 47 percent of Spanish respondents answered "probably true" to at least three of the four anti-Semitic stereotypes tested. Noteworthy is as well that in comparison to the other countries, Spain had the highest percentages of tested stereotypes. A recent Spanish study shows similarly distressing results. According to a poll of the Observatorio Estatal de Convivencia Escolar (State Observatory for Coexistence in Schools), commissioned by the Ministry of Education, more than 50% of secondary school students (age 12 to 18) in Spain would not want to sit next to a Jewish classmate.

While there might be legitimate discrepancies regarding the aptness of the methodological instruments employed to measure such complex and elusive opinions and attitudes, these figures are indicators of a problem –antisemitism– which in Spain is not always taken with the weight it deserves. What is going on in Spain? The answer lies basically in the understanding of three key problems: earlier images of Jews, anti-Americanism and the representation of the Arab-Israeli conflict. In other words, antisemitism in Spain clearly demonstrates the globalized pattern of the so-called new antisemitism: it is neither of religious nor of racial nature, although it draws substantially on previous forms of antisemitism, and it can be visibly related to the news from the Middle East.

Spain is a country with a small Jewish presence (about 20,000 people) and even less public visibility. Therefore it is always an abstract imaginary Jew who is in the minds of the survey respondents and, at the same time, Israel, as the Jewish state, that shapes today most of the opinions and attitudes about Jews in Spain. Israel’s image in Spain is formed by prejudiced irreal projections and, as well, the often very unattractive reality of the conflict. A further significant element is the link in public opinion of Israel to the US, a country generally disliked in Spain, where there are stronger than average anti-American feelings (see W.Chislett’s Anti-Americanism in Spain. The Weight of History). The intersection of anti-Americanism and anti-Zionism is an unquestionable source of antisemitic opinion in Spain.

What role do ancient catholic antisemitic stereotypes play? While they are gradually wearing off in language, popular traditions and institutional religion, they still rear their heads in the media when it comes to the Middle East coverage. Medieval antisemitic tropes rooted in the religious tradition emerge from time to time in the representation of the Israeli-Arab conflict in the mainstream press. Political cartoons are particularly apt to assess this phenomenon, as we see in the example from El Periódico de Cataluña (Barcelona), October 6th 2000.

During the years of the Second Intifada and throughout the Lebanon war in 2006 newspapers and magazines published cartoons in which Israelis, Israel as a whole, or Jewish symbols were linked to the killing of children, themes of vengeance and cruelty, echoing ancient anti-Jewish imagery in the Iberian Peninsula. Likewise, this merges with newer stereotypes such as charges of sowing disorder, subjugation of others, and the recurrent evocations and analogies between Israelis and Nazis.

Sociologists are usually careful to separate opinión pública from opinión publicada (public opinion from published opinion). However, when asking ourselves about the possible causes of such high levels of hostility and of prejudices towards Jews in Spain –as do indicate the mentioned surveys– we can´t overlook the fact that media outlets in Spain have not only provided for decades superficial and one-sided coverage of the events in the Middle East, but also employed unmistakably antisemitic imagery. When confronted with reproaches from associations or the Spanish Jewish Communities, journalists and cartoonists respond mostly by claiming their right to criticize Israel’s policies. The lack of reflection regarding the limits and forms of such critique is a widespread Spanish malady.

Alejandro Baer is an Assistant Professor of Social Anthropology at the Universidad Complutense Madrid.

07 enero 2009

Sidur en español

Importante: acabamos de subir la primera traducción completa del Union Prayer Book al español. Incluye Shabat, Servicios de diario, Servicios para las Festividades, rituales para el hogar.

Toda la información en el siguiente enlace:

Aquí lo tienes:

Sidur en español

Si lo que prefieres es un Sidur Reformista - Conservador, o sea, algo más tradicional, pero en el ámbito del Judaísmo no ortodoxo, prueba con el de este post:
Es muy difícil encontrar materiales del Judaísmo Reformista traducidos al español. Por ello hemos decidido presentar un sidur en español estructurado y basado en la filosofía de este movimiento.

De momento estamos en la primera fase de ese esfuerzo. Hemos decidido elaborarlo a partir de distintos sidurim reformistas, neojasídicos, conservadores y reconstruccionistas.

Traducción del inglés, no del Hebreo: los libros de rezos del Judaísmo reformista además del Hebreo, incluyen el texto en Inglés. Pero en la mayor parte de las ocasiones el inglés NO es una traducción directa del hebreo, sino una recreación del texto, una puesta al día del mismo. Los editores de estos sidurim interpretan el texto en Hebreo o Arameo y ofrecen una versión en inglés que no pierde de vista el original, pero que habla al corazón y la mente del lector del siglo XX-XXI.

Sólo en español: creemos que al rezar es necesario comprender qué se dice. Algunos no dominan el hebreo hasta el punto de que el rezo sea fluido y con sentido. De ahí que nuestros esfuerzos se hayan centrado primero en elaborar un texto que sí puedan entender los que no tienen unos conocimientos mínimos de Hebreo. Para los que sí saben Hebreo no hay problema, ya que la mayor parte de estos sidurim incluyen el rezo en este idioma.

Pero sólo por ahora: ya que esperamos añadir el Hebreo para que quien utilice este sidur pueda irlo incorporando a medida que su estudio de la lengua le permita dar sentido a la oración en ese idioma.

El documento que os presentamos incluye sólo los servicios para días de diario. Y no aparecen aún las variaciones de estos días cuando son días intermedios de las festividades. Así no encontraréis ni Kabalat Shabat, ni Arvit de Shabat, ni Sajarit Shabat ni Mijá Shabat; ni tampoco las variaciones sobre el texto para esos días intermedios. En las próximas semanas añadiremos las traducciones de los rezos de Shabat.

Hemos procurado añadir instrucciones para hacer más fácil su uso: tanto si se reza en casa o sin miniam, como si se hace en comunidad.

La versión que os ofrecemos hoy está aún en proceso de revisión. Por ello, si encontráis errores tipográficos o tenéis alguna sugerencia, os pedimos que escribáis a la dirección de e-mail que aparece al final del archivo en pdf.
Podéis descargarlo desde aquí