19 octubre 2011

I Ciclo de Cine Israelí y Diálogo Intercultural en Jerez de la Frontera

'Tarbut Jerez de la Frontera y la Embajada de Israel organizan el I Ciclo de Cine Israelí y Diálogo Intercultural que se desarrollará en Jerez los días 19, 20 y 21 de octubre. El programa cultural combina cine, literatura, historia y música. Entre las actividades programadas destaca la presentación del libro de Rozita Iles, Mi cocina ashkefard, y la participación del director de cine israelí Shem Shemy, que ofrecerá una charla tras la proyección de su documental Por el flamenco. El grupo Rania ofrecerá un concierto de música sefardí. Todas las actividades se desarrollarán en la Sala Compañía (Plaza Compañía, s/n) de Jerez. Y todas, excepto el concierto, son gratuitas.'
Tarbut Sefarad

Curso de Introducción al Judaísmo

Como miembro de la Asociación Cultural Tarbut Sefarad, me honro en presentarles el curso de Introducción al Judaísmo que tendrá lugar en la Ciudad Condal a partir del 11 de noviembre.
'La Juventud de Tarbut Sefarad lanza un curso de Introducción al Judaísmo, impartido por el Dr. Mario Saban. Las clases, que se impartirán en Barcelona, tendrán el siguiente horario: cada viernes de 16.30 a 17.30h. El curso constará de 8 clases, en las que se abordarán temas como los valores fundamentales del judaísmo, las festividades judías y las diferentes corrientes en el judaísmo actual. Próxima clase: viernes 11 de noviembre.'

18 octubre 2011

Gilad Shalit in first interview since release: I haven't seen people in a long time

Shalit tells Egyptian TV that he's glad Palestinian prisoners have been released, hopes they don't return to violence.

By Haaretz

Israel Defense Forces soldier Gilad Shalit said Tuesday that he had been treated well by his Hamas captors during the five years he was held hostage, telling Egyptian television in the first interview following his release that he was relieved to finally be surrounded by people. "I'm very emotional. I haven't seen people in a long time," said Shalit, adding that he was looking forward "to meeting people, to talking topeople" and "not doing the same things all day long."
Shalit, 25, looked tired and dazed, hesitating as he replied to questions from an Egyptian TV reporter. Speaking through a translator, Shalit said he was in good health and that he hoped his release in exchange for hundreds of Palestinians held in Israeli prisons would lead to peace between the two peoples. "Of course I miss my family very much. I also miss my friends," he said. "I hope this deal will lead to peace between Palestinians and Israelis and that it will support cooperation between both sides." Shalit also said he would be very happy if remaining Palestinians held in Israeli prisons were freed to return to their own families, but that he hoped "they won't go back to fighting against Israel."
Asked when he was told he would be set free in exchange for Palestinian prisoners, he said: "I received the news about a week ago. I can't describe my feelings then, but I felt I had hard moments ahead of me." He said he had feared he would remain in captivity for "many more years" and remained afraid that "things may go wrong." "I think that the Egyptians succeeded, because they have good relations both with Hamas and with Israel," he replied, when the interviewer made a point of stressing that it had been the Egyptian National Security which mediated his release.
Israel and Hamas agreed through Egyptian mediation late last Monday on a deal that secured Shalit's release in exchange for 1,027 Palestinian prisoners. Shalit officially passed into Israeli custody on Tuesday morning. Shalit was abducted in June 2006 by militants who tunnelled into Israel from the Gaza Strip and surprised his tank crew, killing two of his comrades. He was whisked back into Gaza and held virtually incommunicado until his release.
Hamas Frees Israeli Soldier as Prisoner Swap Begins
The New York Times - International Herald Tribune
JERUSALEM — The Islamist Palestinian group Hamas on Tuesday released an Israeli soldier it captured more than five years ago as hundreds of Palestinian prisoners in Israel waited on buses to start their journey to freedom in the West Bank, Gaza and exile through Egypt in an elaborate exchange.
The Israeli soldier, Sergeant First Class Gilad Shalit, was taken from Gaza into Egyptian territory in the early morning in the company of Egyptian and Red Cross officials. He was to be transferred into Israel and taken by helicopter to an air base south of Tel Aviv where top officials — Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, Defense Minister Ehud Barak and Lt. Gen. Benny Gantz, the military chief of staff — and his family awaited his arrival. Hamas officials in Gaza said that they had handed Sergeant Shalit over to the Egyptians. Mosque loudspeakers awakened the Gaza populace at dawn with cries of “God is great” and “Victory to God.” Fawzi Barhoum, a Hamas spokesman, told Al-Jazeera television that the first step of the agreement was complete. Speaking from the Rafah crossing point between Gaza and Egypt, Mr. Barhoum warned Israel against “maneuvering or playing with any article of the agreement.” He added that Egyptian mediators assured Hamas that they would not allow Israel to violate the agreement. Throngs of excited Palestinians awaited the prisoners, 477 on Tuesday who are expected to be joined by another 550 in two months. Two women prisoners due to be sent to Gaza were demanding instead to be sent to Egypt, possibly delaying the procedure. At Rafah, the mother of one of the men who captured Sergeant Shalit in June 2006 arrived with his photograph. Her son, Mohammad Azmi Firwana, 23, from Khan Younis, was killed in the operation. “I have come to greet the prisoners because they are all like my sons and daughters,” said the woman, Ahlam Firwana. “We have not got Mohammad’s body back yet. We have heard nothing.” The plan was for Sergeant Shalit — who had recently been promoted from staff sergeant to sergeant first class — to be given a fresh Israeli uniform and a quick medical check before being brought to the base where an out-of-use F-15 warplane stood sentry at the entrance and signs with his image lined the road, proclaiming, “How good that you have come home.” The mechanics of the deal were complex but apparently moved smoothly just after dawn. Israeli officials began to gather at an air force base south of Tel Aviv where Sergeant Shalit, 25, was expected to be brought after being transferred from Gaza into Egyptian territory. Israeli television showed the Shalit family leaving their home in northern Israel to be taken by helicopter to the base, Tel Nof. In Gaza, the Hamas-run government took busloads of journalists in a tightly controlled media operation to the Rafah Crossing with Egypt shortly after dawn on Tuesday. Armed members of Hamas’s militant wing, the Qassam Brigades, lined the main highway to the crossing where the prisoners were to be released. They were wearing black and green bandanas and balaclavas. Some carried Kalashnikov assault rifles while others bore rocket-propelled grenade launchers. Many hundreds, perhaps thousands, of the guards — at some points posted every 15 feet — had apparently been deployed to forestall disruptions. At the crossing, a tent had been set up for Hamas dignitaries and family members to greet the returning prisoners before the hour-long journey to Gaza City. A celebratory rally was planned at Brigades Park in one of Gaza’s largest open spaces where a stage has been erected for the Hamas prime minister, Ismail Haniya, to address the crowd and publicly welcome the returnees. One of the returning prisoners, Yehya Sinwar, a co-founder of an early security wing of Hamas, is also scheduled to speak. Along the length of Salahuddin Street, the main north-south road that runs the length of the Gaza Strip, Hamas activists attached Islamist banners to streetlights on Monday, welcoming home the 131 Gaza returnees from among 477 Palestinian prisoners being released by Israel. Another 550 are to be released in two months’ time. Both Israel and the divided Palestinian leadership — Fatah runs the West Bank while Hamas controls the Gaza Strip — were making elaborate preparations for the handover, which will end five years in captivity for Sergeant Shalit; hundreds of the Palestinians have been held much longer. Rafah is the Gaza of Gaza — isolated, poor and, for years, all but cut off from the rest of the coastal strip during the era of Israeli settlements here, which ended in 2005.
The community is not just where the Shalit saga was to end, barring a last-minute change, but it was also where it began. In June 2006, Hamas and two other militant factions mounted a surprise raid on an Israeli military post at Kerem Shalom, after having dug a long tunnel beneath the Rafah sands under the border, capturing Sergeant Shalit. He has not been seen in public since.
If all goes as planned, he will be the first captured Israeli soldier to be returned home alive in 26 years.

17 octubre 2011

Israel officials: High Court likely to reject petitions against Shalit deal
On Sunday, Shalit's parents urged the court to reject the petitions quickly, warning that any hitch at this time could easily upset the deal. By Jonathan Lis, Oz Rosenberg and Amos Harel
On Monday, The High Court of Justice will hear four petitions against the deal that would free 1,027 Palestinian prisoners in exchange for kidnapped soldier Gilad Shalit. On Sunday, Shalit's parents urged the court to reject the petitions quickly, warning that any hitch at this time could easily upset the deal. "Nobody knows what the impact of any delay, or any change, even the smallest, in the terms would be," they wrote in a request to be added to the cases as parties defending the deal.
Gilad's mother, Aviva, also issued a media appeal to the bereaved families behind some of the petitions, saying that while she understands their pain at seeing their loved ones' killers freed, "any change or delay in the deal could endanger Gilad's life." But sources in both the defense establishment and the state prosecution said they were confident that the court would reject all the petitions by this evening, enabling the deal to go ahead tomorrow as planned. And the petitioners largely concurred. The first petition was filed last week by Almagor, an association representing victims of terror. It is seeking a 48-hour delay in the prisoners' release, saying there hasn't been enough time to thoroughly review all the names on the list, which is necessary to allow people to decide whether to petition against the deal. On Sunday, the group submitted an affidavit by three senior reserve officers warning of the security risks the deal posed. Three other petitions were also filed on Sunday. One was by Meir Schijveschuurder, who lost his parents and three of his seven siblings in the 2001 bombing of a Sbarro pizzeria in Jerusalem. It asks the court to set "clear criteria for freeing security prisoners" and objects particularly to the release of Ahlam Tamimi, who was sentenced to 15 life terms for her role in the attack. Schijveschuurder said he had little hope of the petition being accepted but felt obligated to exhaust every possibility of stopping the deal. The second was by attorney Zeev Dasberg, whose sister and brother-in-law, Efrat and Yaron Ungar, were killed in a 1996 shooting attack. Dasberg also wrote directly to President Shimon Peres, on Sunday, to urge him not to sign the prisoners' pardons, saying he didn't understand how Peres could pardon the murderers after having told the media that he didn't forgive them. The third was by Jerusalem resident Ronit Tamari, who is not herself a bereaved relative but said she feared that the deal would lead to a new wave of terror. Aside from the High Court petitions, several bereaved families sought orders from lower courts barring their loved ones' killers from leaving the country. Such applications, filed as part of civil suits, were submitted to the Haifa, Jerusalem and Petah Tikva district courts on Sunday, and Dasberg said he expected other families to file similar applications on Monday. "I've been encouraging people to file civil suits against the terrorists, including a demand for punitive damages," he said. "The minute the state walked away from punishing the terrorists, everyone must do it on his own." Though the Haifa court refused to issue the requested orders Sunday, Dasberg said the ruling did have one positive aspect: It allowed the plaintiffs to serve the terrorists with their damages suit, a necessary step toward obtaining a judgment against them. But even when courts have ordered terrorists to pay compensation, no plaintiff has yet been able to collect. In 2003, for instance, the Ungar family sued both Hamas and the Palestinian Authority in an American court (since Efrat Ungar was a U.S. citizen ) and was awarded $116 million. But it has never gotten a penny from either defendant.

13 octubre 2011

El pilpul o cómo "condimentar" el estudio del Talmud
El siguiente fragmento de vídeo, extraído del documental Historia del Talmud de Pierre Henri Salfati, nos ilustra grosso modo en qué consiste este sutil método de análisis.

Description of Method

The essential characteristic of pilpul is that it leads to a clear comprehension of the subject under discussion by penetrating into its essence and by adopting clear distinctions and a strict differentiation of the concepts. By this method a sentence or maxim is carefully studied, the various concepts which it includes are exactly determined, and all the possible consequences to be deduced from it are carefully investigated. The sentence is then examined in its relation to some other sentence harmonizing with it, the investigation being directed toward determining whether the agreement appearing on a superficial contemplation of them continues to be manifest when all the possible consequences and deductions are drawn from each one of them; for if contradictory deductions follow from the two apparently agreeing sentences, then this apparent agreement is not an agreement in fact. Again, if two sentences apparently contradict each other, the pilpulistic method seeks to ascertain whether this seeming contradiction may not be removed by a more careful definition and a more exact limitation of the concepts connected with the respective sentences. If two contiguous sentences or maxims apparently imply the same thing, this method endeavors to decide whether the second sentence is really a repetition of the first and could have been omitted, or whether by a more subtle differentiation of the concepts a different shade of meaning may be discovered between them. Similarly if a regulation is mentioned in connection with two parallel cases, this methoddetermines whether it might not have been concluded from the similarity of the cases itself that the regulation applying to the one applied to the other also, and why it was necessary to repeat explicitly the same regulation.
The pilpulistic method, however, is not satisfied with merely attaining the object of its investigation. After having reached the desired result in one way, it inquires whether the same result might not have been attained in another, so that, if the first method of procedure should be eventually refuted, another method and another proof for the result attained may be forthcoming.
La lección de los sapos

Lejos de sus familias, se encontraba un grupo de jóvenes provenientes de la tierra de Israel. Entre ellos se encontraban Jananiá, Mishael y Azariá, tres muy apuestos y sabios muchachos de Israel, a quienes el rey caldeo Nevujadnetzar había exiliado para educarlos de acuerdo a su cosmovisión, la cual sin duda, difería mucho de lo que habían aprendido en casa. Desde el primer momento, los tres habían determinado que no iban a consumir ningún alimento que estuviese prohibido por la Torá. En aquella época aún no se publicaba el ahora famoso "HaMadrij LeCashrut", y por lo tanto, se les haría un tanto difícil comer casher sin despertar sospechas. Gracias a la colaboración de un supervisor que les acercaba legumbres frescas diariamente, pudieron evitar transgredir las leyes de la Torá - y el enojo del rey.
Pasaron unos años, y el rey Nevujadnetzar, nada perezoso ni modesto, decidió construir un monumento en honor... a si mismo. Mano de obra no le faltaba , ni tampoco presupuesto. Un monumento de estas características, no se coloca sin una adecuada inauguración con hermosos himnos, interminables discursos y mucha pompa, y... que todos los presentes le rindan homenaje posternándose. Del mismo modo en que Jananiá, Mishael y Azariá representaban a los habitantes de Israel, habían jóvenes de todos los otros países que Nevujadnetzar había conquistado. Nevujadnetzar fue uno de aquellos emperadores que dominaron todo el mundo.
Corría cerca del año 3338 (aprox. -342). Los tres estaban ahora en un dilema. ¿Qué hacer? Posternarse a la imagen?. Los judíos no nos posternamos ante nada ni nadie, salvo a D"s! Sin embargo, esta estructura no representaba realmente un ídolo ni una deidad pagana (ver Tosafot Talmud Pesajim 53:, primera opinión). Su homenaje no sería una afrenta a la Torá. A su vez, podrían ausentarse disimuladamente (segunda opinión - ibid), y sin que nadie percibiera su falta entre la multitud de personas presentes (malestar en la panza, se pinchó la rueda, se cayó el sistema, etc.). Fueron en busca de asesoramiento, pero ni el profeta Iejezquel ni Daniel quisieron opinar. Otra vez: ¿Qué hacer?
Jananiá, Mishael y Azariá no eludieron el desafío. Fueron, no más, a la inauguración y, cuando llegó el momento de homenajear al rey, los tres se quedaron parados en sus lugares. No hubo manera de intimidarlos, y el rey, encolerizado los mandó arrojar a las llamas. Tampoco se asustaron de eso. Pero, inesperadamente ocurrió un milagro. El fuego no los consumió.
El Talmud se pregunta: ¿De dónde sacaron la fuerza y la convicción para semejante acto de bravura? Y el Talmud contesta: "De los sapos (de Egipto)". Antes de continuar, debemos ubicarnos en el tema. Después que el Faraón se negó a dejar ir a los judíos a pesar de la destrucción que hubo porque el Nilo se tornó en sangre, D"s avisó que vendría una plaga de sapos en todo Egipto: "en tu palacio, en tu dormitorio, en tu cama, en las casas de tus sirvientes, en la población, en los hornos y en los recipientes de amasado". El Faraón se mostró terco y no liberó al pueblo. Comenzó la plaga y los sapos invadieron Egipto. "Bueno"- pensaron los sapos (obviamente en idioma "sapezco") - "adónde vamos?" Algunos optaron por la cama monárquica del Faraón. Allí estarían cómodos, se sentirían "como en su propia casa" (aparte de poder presenciar la cara del Faraón con un enojo "real"). Otros fueron a comer los restos de masa cruda en las ollas de la cocina, otros a conocer los tesoros escondidos en las pirámides y otros, buenos turistas, a sacarse fotos al lado de la Geopsis (la represa de Assuán aún no existía). Otros, sin embargo, fueron... al horno caliente. ¿Por qué? Bien. Si D"s dijo que los sapos entrarían al horno caliente, pues, alguno tiene que ir. Por qué yo? Esa es la pregunta eterna. Todos pueden preguntarse lo mismo. En última instancia va... el que asume la responsabilidad.
Alguna vez leí un escrito que decía que, ante un problema determinado del cual estaban todos (everybody) enterados, alguien (somebody) se tendría que hacer cargo. Nadie (nobody) lo hizo, a pesar que cualquiera (anybody) lo podía haber hecho... y así quedaron las cosas...
Jananiá, Mishael y Azariá razonaron: "Si los sapos, que no tienen obligación de ceder sus vidas para santificar el nombre de D"s se arrojaron a los hornos, tanto más nosotros" (Talmud, ibid). En fin, si bien podían haber evitado su presencia, con lo cual técnicamente no hubiesen rendido homenaje a Nevujadnetzar y nadie se hubiera percatado, de todos modos, habría quedado la impresión que todos se posternaron y que nadie objetó.
Moshé recibió la orden de reunir a los ancianos de Israel para ir a solicitarle al Faraón la libertad del pueblo de Israel. Los 70 ancianos de Israel efectívamente los acompañaron - al comienzo. Pero en el camino al palacio, a cada uno se le ocurrió que tenía otro compromiso (llevar a la nena al dentista, comprar verdura para la cena, pagar la tarjeta de crédito...), de modo que Moshé y Aharón fueron solos al rey. La pregunta obvia: "¿Por qué justo yo?" Más tarde, sin embargo, frente al Monte Sinaí, D"s le dijo a Moshé que sólo él subiera - pero los ancianos quedarían en su lugar.
"¿Por qué justo yo?" - es la pregunta que se puede formular todo aquel que se molesta por una causa de bien, aun cuando no hay ni reconocimiento, ni honor, ni paga (por lo contrario, suele suceder que uno termina recibiendo "palos" por parte de otros que no hacen o que, al menos, no saben reconocer todo el esfuerzo que uno puso en la tarea).
¿La recomendación? No deje de ocuparse de todas las causas nobles en las que Ud. sabe que puede colaborar. Nunca se arrepienta de las cosas buenas que hizo o que sigue haciendo. Aunquesea el único que las hace. Aunque no se lo reconozca nadie (terrenal). Recuerde a Jananiá, Mishael y Azariá. Recuerde a los sapos.
Daniel Oppenheimer

Etz HaJaim

Conferencia sobre "El Árbol de la Vida"

'La Escuela Huber de Barcelona ha publicado, en su canal de YouTube, la grabación de la conferencia que el Dr. Mario Sabán impartió en este centro el 10 de junio de 2011. En esta conferencia, publicada íntegramente en 8 capítulos, el Dr. Mario Sabán analiza el Árbol de la Vida y sus diez dimensiones, conceptos clave de la mística judía o Cábala.'

09 octubre 2011

Wisdom at The Kotel with Reb Gutman Locks - Answers to a pastor

Sabias y edificantes palabras del Rabino Gutman Locks. Les aseguro que el vídeo no tiene desperdicio.

23 abril 2011


What is the Jewish view of dreams? Dreams have always agitated and fascinated people. Indeed, the study of dreams goes back to ancient times. The question that has always existed is whether dreams have any significance?
According to Sigmund Freud in his book The Interpretation of Dream (Published 1900) he claims that all details of a dream even the most ridiculous of them have significance. In his view, dreams represent the subconscious, which the person usually suppresses due to social prohibitions. During waking hours, logical tendencies predominate, not allowing instinctive desires to be expressed and satisfied. According to Freud, these desires are primarily sexual.
Though Freud’s theories have been rejected, psychiatrists and psychoanalysts do not contradict the fact that dreams are important and have significance. According to psychoanalysts such as Adler and Jung dreams are important and express other contents, such as aggressive tendencies or various personal desires.
However, according to psychiatrists F. Crick and G. Mitchison (Nature 304:111, 1983) the content of dreams do not have any significance. The main purpose of dreams is in order to forget some learned material, thereby producing “cleanliness of the head” and to liberate brain energy to gather other and varied material.
According to all the opinions above, they do not suggest that dreams need to be interpreted. They are rather just reflective of ones hidden desires or the activity of ones memory, which appears in the form of a dream.
In Judaism, however, there is considerable amount of literature on dreams, which seem to reflect a totally different view. In Jewish thought dreams not only have significance but they can be even out-of-body experiences receiving important messages to the person.
The book of Genesis is scattered with dreams of the Patriarchs and others. The first dream is (28:12), Jacob dreamt of a ladder standing on the ground with its head in the heaven and angels ascending and descending. This was a message to Jacob that there will be new angels accompanying him during his journey to Charan replacing the angels who accompanied him in Israel (Rashi). Similarly, the dream of Joseph and the eleven stars (37:5) were a message that Joseph would in the future reign over his brothers in Egypt.
This view of dreams reflects a different approach to that of psychologists and psychoanalysts; dreams need to be sometimes interpreted as they might have meaningful messages relating to the person, someone else or occurrences in the world.
What is the nature of these dreams and how are they interpreted? The Talmud (Berachos 55b) states that the realization of all dreams follows the mouth, i.e. the import of a dream depends upon the interpretation given to it. Indeed, R’ Bana’ah says that there were twenty-four interpreter of dreams residing in Jerusalem. Now, he says, once I dreamt a dream and I went to each of them to ask for its interpretation. And that which this one interpreted to me was not the same as that which the other one interpreted to me; rather, I received twenty-four interpretations for the same dream. Yet, all of these interpretations were realized for me, as indeed, each predicted event in fact materialized.
According to this statement of the Talmud there is no such thing as a negative or positive dream. If a dream is interpreted positively it becomes a positive dream and if interpreted negatively it becomes a negative dream. Theoretically, a dream can be negative and positive at the same time, depending on its interpretation.
However, this view is contradicted by the bulk of Talmudic literature related to dreams. The Talmud (Berachos 55b) states, Rav Chisda said, ‘a positive dream’ is not destined to be fulfilled in its entirety nor is a ‘negative dream’. This is derived from the fact that Joseph saw in his dream, in addition to the eleven stars, the sun and the moon, reflecting his two parents, Jacob and Rachel, who would also become subservient to him. This is despite the fact that Rachel, his mother, passed away before the dream was realized years later in Egypt.
However, this statement, referring to dreams as negative or positive, is in contradiction to the statement of R’ Bana’ah, since it implies that there is indeed such a thing as an absolute positive or negative dream, which cannot be influenced by interpretation.
In the text of Joseph’s dream, it says (Genesis 37:5; 10) that ‘he told the dream to his brothers’. This might be understood to mean that the ‘telling’ of the dream ‘with its interpretation’ was the factor that upset Joseph’s brothers and aroused jealousy. However, this analysis can be refuted since in the case of Joseph’s dream the interpretation of his dream was so apparent, that it was unnecessary to even offer an interpretation. Indeed, the brothers of Joseph understood the obvious meaning and were therefore jealous.
Therefore, from the story of Joseph’s dream one cannot prove that it was the interpretation rather than the dream itself that caused the implementation of the dream, as there existed only one interpretation that the “eleven stars bowing down to me” meant that his brother would be subservient to him. Furthermore, there is no mention of the interpretation in the text.
However, the view of R’ Bana’ah might be supported by an analyses of the story of Pharaoh’s dream (Genesis 41:1). In the narrative Pharaoh requested an interpretation to his dream but was unsatisfied until he heard the interpretation of Joseph.
This might suggest that Pharaoh knew that the implementation of the dream depended ‘on the mouth’, i.e. the interpretation that he accepts as a meaning of the dream. He therefore rejected the unacceptable interpretations of the necromancers until he heard an interpretation that satisfied him.
This might be consistent with the view of R’ Bana’ah.
After further analysis it becomes clear that the story of Pharaoh’s dream does not lend support to this view. On the contrary it reflects the view that there is only a single interpretation to a dream that cannot be altered.
A study of Pharaoh’s dream:
In Genesis (41:1) it relates that Pharaoh had a dream that he was standing by the river when out of the river emerged seven cows of beautiful appearance and robust flesh and they were grazing in the marshland. Then behold seven other cows emerged after them out of the river of ugly appearance and gaunt flesh; and they stood next to the cows on the bank of the river.
The cows of ugly appearance and gaunt flesh ate the seven cows of beautiful appearance and robust, and Pharaoh awoke.
He fell asleep and dreamt a second time and behold seven ears of grain were sprouting on a single stalk healthy and good. And behold seven ears thin and scorched by the east wind were growing after them. Then the seven thin ears swallowed up the seven healthy and full ears. Pharaoh awoke and behold it had been a dream.
In the morning his spirit was agitated so he sent and summoned all the necromancers of Egypt and all its wise men. Pharaoh related his dream to them but none could interpret them for Pharaoh.
The interpretation of the necromancers
The Midrash Rabba (69:6) states Rabbi Joshua of Siknin said in R. Levi’s name: There were indeed interpreters of the dream, but their interpretations were unacceptable to Pharaoh. He explains that the necromancers interpreted the dream that seven good cows mean that Pharaoh will beget seven daughters; the seven ill-favoured cows, that you will bury seven daughters. The seven full ears of corn, that you will conquer seven provinces; the seven thin ears, that seven provinces will revolt against you.
Joseph’s interpretation
Joseph said (41:25) to Pharaoh, the dream of Pharaoh is a single one. The seven good cows are seven years and the seven good ears are seven years. It is a single dream. Similarly, the seven emaciated cows that emerged after them and the seven scorched ears are seven years.
There should be seven years of famine.
Behold, seven years are coming of great abundance throughout the land of Egypt then seven years of famine will arise after them and all the abundance in the land of Egypt will be forgotten.
As for the repetition of the dream to Pharaoh it is because the matter stands ready before G-d and G-d is hastening to accomplish it.
Now let Pharaoh seek out a discerning and wise man and set him over the land of Egypt and let him prepare the land of Egypt during the seven years of abundance. Let them gather all the food of this approaching good years and the food will be a reserve for the land against the seven years of famine, which will befall the Land of Egypt so that the land will not perish in the famine.
The Biblical narrative concludes that the matter appeared good in the eyes of Pharaoh and in the eyes of his servants.
What was the novelty of Joseph’s interpretation over the interpretation of the necromancers? The interpretation of Joseph is of the simplest logic. Emaciated cows and ears represent famine and good cows and healthy ears represent years of abundance. Indeed, the river Nile was the source of water for agriculture in Egypt. Therefore the fat cows and emaciated emerging from the river Nile can not mean anything else than years of plenty and famine respectively.
On the contrary the interpretation of the necromancers are less logical that the interpretation of Joseph.
However, when analysing the introduction of the interpretation of Joseph one can understand the novelty in his interpretation. He opens by emphasising that ‘the dream of Pharaoh is a single one.’
This point eluded the necromancers. They thought that since Pharaoh had the dreams in two parts they reflected two separate interpretations. They therefore gave two interpretations one referring to the conquering of seven provinces and the revolt of seven provinces and the second dream referring to the birth of seven daughters and the burial of another seven daughters.
Furthermore, the interpretation of the necromancers did not explain another enigmatic portion of the dream, ‘and they stood next to the cows on the bank of the river.’
Why did the emaciated cows stand next to the fat cows on the bank of the river? However, Joseph understood that this meant that although the two periods of seven years will follow one another, there had to be a relevant overlap of the final seven years on the first seven years.
This was answered in Joseph’s interpretation that Pharaoh should appoint someone to oversee the gathering of the food during the seven years of plenty to preserve for the seven years of famine.
According to this analysis of the story of Pharaoh’s dream, it is evident that the reason that Pharaoh did not accept the interpretation of the necromancers was not because he knew that whatever interpretation was given would follow the mouth of the interpreter and therefore for whatever reason did not accept their interpretation but rather because there was a single absolute interpretation which only Joseph offered and therefore satisfied Pharaoh.
This enforces the above-mentioned contradiction to the statement of R’ Bana’ah that realization of dreams follows the mouth, implying the possibility of more than one interpretation to a dream and the absence of negative or positive dreams.
The great Talmudic medieval sage Maharsha reconciles this contradiction. He explains that in Biblical and Talmudic literature it refers to three categories of dreams. The first is a type that has more than one interpretation. The Talmud says (Berachot 56a) Abaye and Rava came before Bar Hedya, an interpreter of dreams and said that they both saw in their dreams a pomegranate sprouting from the mouth of a keg. To Abaye Bar Hedye said, your merchandise will be expensive like a pomegranate. But to Rava he said, your merchandise will be tart like a pomegranate, i.e. you wine will be bitter, and everyone will therefore despise it.
In this category if none interprets the dream, although there exists the negative potential as there exists positive, there will be not any negative effect in reality. This is the reference of R’ Bana’ah’s statement that the realization of a dream follows the mouth of the interpreter.
There is second category of dreams that have a particular interpretation and can therefore be considered either a negative or positive dream. But nevertheless its interpretation can change the dream from either positive to negative or from negative to positive. The Talmud (Berachot 56b) states that whoever sees a well in a dream beholds peace for him or herself. However if the dreamer contemplates an ominous passage pertaining to wells it can be transmuted negatively.
A third category of dreams is prophetic. Prophetic dreams have only a single interpretation and cannot be changed. In this category fall the dreams of Jacob, Joseph and Pharaoh.
In all these three categories it recognises the significance of dreams that they can be interpreted, in contrast to the opinion of the psychiatrists and psychoanalysts in the beginning of this essay. However, there is indeed a fourth category in Jewish thought that recognises that many dreams have no relevance whatsoever.
The Abarabnel (Genesis 40:24) writes that dreams are the revelation of disorganized thoughts that are suppressed during waking hours and released during sleep. Such dreams are vain, have no meaning and have no effect one way or the other. This is consistent with the views of the psychiatrists and psychoanalysts mentioned at the beginning of this essay.
Furthermore, according to Maimonides (Mishne Torah Maaser Sheni 6:6) even specific dreams relating that certain money located in a particular place is tithe has no significance one way or another and the money can be used for profane purposes. The reason for this is that these dreams fall in the category of most dreams that have no significance at all.

12 abril 2011

Jewish Spiritual Direction

by Jacob J. Staub
The Jewish Spiritual Direction (JSD) program at the Reconstructionist Rabbinical College is now in its fifth year. After a decade of experiments with “spirituality programs,” RRC implemented the current program with the support of The Nathan Cummings Foundation. The object of JSD is discernment – to cultivate one’s ability to discern God’s presence in one’s life, to maintain an awareness of the interconnectedness of all things, to explore ways to be open to the Blessed Holy One in challenging, difficult, and joyful moments.
The Psalmist was considering this goal with the words, “Shiviti Adonai lenegdi tamid [I place the One before me perpetually].” R. Bahya Ibn Pakuda spoke about it in his Second Gate as noticing the Divine traces in all things. Maimonides wrote about it in the culmination of the Guide as experiencing the Divine kiss. In the depths of darkness, the Piesetzner Rebbe emphasized such discernment to his Hasidim in the Warsaw Ghetto.
Jews have effectively cultivated this awareness in the past by davvening three times a day (Jewish men, anyway) and by reciting berakhot (blessings) at dozens of moments each day. JSD does not replace these practices. Rather, it enhances them, by moving us to a state of awareness in which such practices resonate with our experiences.
One of the great challenges for contemporary liberal Jews is sanctifying the everyday. We are aware of God while singing together in synagogue, or when we witness a sunset, a birth, or a wedding. We have more difficulty, however, on supermarket checkout lines, in traffic jams, or in proceeding through our daily routines.
The JSD program offers students three options: individual or group Jewish Spiritual Direction, and Spiritual Hevruta. Individually, students meet with their directors monthly for one hour. (Our eight directors–six rabbis and two transpersonal psychologists-are trained and supervised by Barbara Breitman.) Each meeting begins in prayerful silence that is broken when the student is ready to speak. The “director” listens attentively for moments in the student’s narrative at which God (however the Divine is named) sparkles through. She or he calls attention to a word, a moment, or pattern and brings the student back to it. In this way, students build up a vocabulary of sacred experiences that we then notice the next time they occur. Through this process, students define their own quests – which may or may not involve God, the Divine Process, the Holy, the Mysterious.
The impact on RRC culture was immediate and striking. With 75 percent of our students participating voluntarily (a percentage we have maintained in subsequent years), discussions in academic seminars and in the halls suddenly were focused on the inspiring and sacred. People had words to describe experiences that are awkward to articulate in the larger secular culture. Moreover, there has been a dramatic rise in student participation in communal spiritual practice – presumably because the idiom of traditional ritual and prayer now resonates more intensely.
Students also have the option of participating in supervised Spiritual Hevruta, where a pair of students commit to meeting weekly for an hour of mutual contemplative listening, or Group Spiritual Direction, where four or five students meet monthly with a director.
The discipline of Spiritual Direction was developed in the medieval Christian monastic tradition and has undergone a dramatic recent revival in liberal Catholic and Protestant circles. Once translated into a Jewish idiom, it is well suited because of its insistence that there are different spiritual “types” – intellectual, devotional, activistic, familial, aesthetic. It does not presume prayer or ritual to be the only, or preferred, mode of discerning God’s presence.
As our rabbis go out to work in pluralistic and diverse communities, it will serve them well that they have developed a practice of discernment that will sustain their spiritual needs and that they have a way of approaching Jewish religious practice that begins wherever a person finds sparkling moments in his or her life.

10 abril 2011

El Rabino Jacques Cukierkorn crea una nueva comunidad en Kansas City

NRT, Rabbi Cukierkorn go separate ways

Plans are currently underway to launch a new reform congregation in Kansas City. Its new spiritual leader will be Rabbi Jacques Cukierkorn, who just severed his relationship with the New Reform Temple. (For more information, see below.) Known by the name Temple Israel for now, it held services for the first time Friday, April 1, at St. Thomas the Apostle Episcopal Church in Overland Park. Rabbi Cukierkorn said services would be held there again tonight, Friday, April 8, at 6 p.m. at 12251 Antioch Road in Overland Park, and for the foreseeable future. For more information, contact Rabbi Cukierkorn at (913) 940-1011.
The 43-year-old native of Brazil came to Kansas City 10 years ago to serve as the rabbi for The New Reform Temple. Following several months of negotiations, that relationship ended last week.
“We reached a mutually agreeable deal. Sadly, it wasn’t the outcome that we wanted, but we are very pleased that we will be able to stay in town,” Rabbi Cukierkorn said this week.
Another key component of the agreement, which remains confidential, allows the Reform rabbi to serve another synagogue here in the city.
“This has been our home for 10 years. Our kids have grown up here, and one of our daughters was born here. I’m glad a group has asked us to stick around,” he said. He and his wife, Denisse, and their two daughters live in Overland Park.
Forming new ties

Congregants have helped shaped new synagogues here in Kansas City several times in recent history. Congregation Beth Torah was established in April 1988 following a leadership struggle at The Temple, Congregation B’nai Jehudah. Another rabbinic shuffle in the community helped create Or Hadash, a Reconstructionist congregation formed in June 2003 (which folded in the spring of 2010), and Kol Ami, which was established in June 2003.
Rabbi Cukierkorn, who serves as vice-president of the Society for Classical Reform Judaism and is a former president of the Rabbinical Association of Greater Kansas City, said about 50 people attended services last week with just one day’s notice. Approximately 50 families to date have expressed interest in helping form the new congregation.
“We want to form a congregation that is truly inclusive and welcoming and diverse. We will welcome people who have different levels of commitment to Judaism,” he said.
He stressed that absolutely nothing about a new congregation has been finalized yet, including the congregation’s name. In the first draft of the congregation’s proposal, it states, “As a congregation-oriented organization, the vision, mission, governance, services and even the name of our temple or synagogue will be determined through discussion and consensus.”
Rabbi Cukierkorn expects that the congregation will look for a more permanent site to meet in the future. Many of the families who attended the first service have been affiliated with The New Reform Temple, which is located at 7100 Main in Kansas City, Mo., but Rabbi Cukierkorn stated that he is not “aiming to take anyone from The New Reform Temple.”
“Some may leave and follow me, some may leave and go elsewhere and some may stay. My aim is not to hurt the congregation,” Rabbi Cukierkorn said.
The rabbi was able to organize the first service last week on such a short notice with a little help from his friends. A colleague, The Rev. Gar Demo at St. Thomas the Apostle Episcopal, offered the meeting space. Rabbi Cukierkorn already owned a Torah, and he learned that Debby Simon still had an ark from her days as an Or Hadash board member.
“I asked her if she would lend it to me, rent it to me or sell it to me,” Rabbi Cukierkorn said. “She said she ran into many obstacles when she was trying to organize Or Hadash and that only one rabbi offered support: me! So, she said she would be honored to give it to us as a gift.”
Rabbi Cukierkorn has many ideas he hopes to incorporate, with input from other organizers, in a new congregation. For instance, instead of running a traditional, standardized religious school, he proposes congregants be given the opportunity to develop their own IJPs, or Individual Jewish Plans to promote life-long Jewish learning.
“In schools children get IEPs (Individual Education Plans). We will work together to set education goals and focus on experiential learning and community building,” he said. “As a rabbi I am certainly capable of running a religious school, but I have come to believe that religious school alone can be detrimental to a Jewish education. With an IJP, we will work together to set educational goals, where congregants can learn on their own, with the rabbi or as part of study groups, according to their schedules. Our shul will focus on experiential learning and community building,” he said.
His vision calls for Sundays to be mostly family days. Instead of gathering together every Sunday morning at religious school, he hopes families will celebrate Shabbat at home and together at services every Friday evening. Then, several times a year, he proposes a day-long activity for congregants, allowing both learning and social components.
The rabbi, who has published several books, is also known for his work with interfaith families and his travels to help people learn about Judaism in Latin America and Europe. He hopes to be able to continue working in those areas at a new congregation and make this international outreach an integral part of the new congregation identity.
“We have lots of ideas. But most importantly we want to engage the whole family and make Judaism meaningful for them.”
A Facebook page for Temple Israel has already been created. It can be viewed by searching Temple Israel in Kansas City.


05 abril 2011

The Reform Movement in Judaism

Excepcional texto de Philipson en su libro ‘The Reform Movement in Judaism”. El libro se publicó en Londres, en 1907. Es una historia del movimiento. Y en las primeras páginas hace una declaración de principios espectacular por medio de un breve repaso a la historia del Judaísmo. ¿Dónde está hoy en día ese espíritu en el Judaísmo Reformista?

Merece la pena una rápida lectura.

Desde la página 3 hasta el final del primer párrafo de la 6, un breve repaso por la historia de un Judaísmo abierto al mundo desde sus inicios, en oposición al ensimismamiento que introdujo la guetoización: de todos los lugares donde el pueblo de Israel residió se incorporaron conocimientos y tradiciones al Judaísmo, salvo el periodo en que los judíos fueron obligados a vivir en el Gueto. Al abandonarlo, algunos optaron por mantenerse al margen de la sociedad, dando lugar a un Judaísmo obsesionado con el legalismo; otros, siguiendo el modo habitual de los antepasados, prefirieron vivir en la sociedad y de cara a los avances culturales, científicos y religiosos que encontraron.

La perspectiva que se maneja da el tono a la declaración de principios que sigue entre las páginas 6 y 8: tradición frente a tradiciones; fe religiosa universalista frente a nacionalismo religioso; Era Mesiánica frente a Mesías personal.

A continuación (entre las páginas 8 y 12) muestra el contexto en que tuvo lugar - y que favoreció - la salida del Gueto para el Judaísmo Reformista. Y lo hace presentado los tres pilares que permitieron la integración: los nuevos movimientos intelectuales judíos alejados de las antiguas tradiciones del Gueto, el aprendizaje de la lengua de la cultura de acogida y la aceptación de la emancipación civil ofrecida por José II. Ejemplos de ello son la publicación de Ha Meassef en 1783, dirigida por amigos y discípulos de Medelssohn, que revitaliza el uso del Hebreo como lengua literaria, al tiempo que pedía que se educase a los hijos en la cultura alemana y se abandonase así el aislamiento intelectual; o la tormenta que se desata en 1796 en Holanda cuando la congregación Adath Jeshurun decidió eliminar del rezo unos pyiutim e introducir en algunas partes del servicio la lengua vernácula.

22 marzo 2011

Israel, a chosen people?


Written by Claude Joseph Goldsmid Montefiore, A British Liberal Jewish teacher, in 1918

     And what of Israel itself? What of its duty and  its destiny ? Here, too, do we not build and rest  upon the highest of the Old Testament utterances ?  " Ye shall be unto me a Kingdom of Priests." " Ye  are my witnesses ; thou art my servant : with his  stripes we have been healed." Our theory of Israel s  mission of the religious charge entrusted to the  Jews for the benefit of the world goes back to the  Babylonian Isaiah. Perhaps it is here that both the  religious and ethical trouble are by some most acutely  felt. I have dealt with the ethical trouble at con  siderable length : here I can be briefer. It cannot  be denied that the peculiar relation of Israel to God  and of God to Israel is of the very kernel of the Old  Testament. And it also cannot be denied that the  relation is often unethically presented : it may even  be said that there are very few Old Testament writers  and passages which are wholly free from a certain  measure of particularism. Moreover, the trouble is  that this particularism is most marked and most  awkward just when the God idea has become most developed and most clearly monotheistic. It was far  less disagreeable in the earliest times than in the  latest times. Hence we cannot say, " This is merely  one of the primitive imperfections of the Old Testa  ment. The later writers are free from it." Nor can  we say, " The Prophets are clear of it. It is only  one of the compromises which had to be taken up in  the Law." Law, prophets and psalter share it alike.  That in primitive times Yahweh should be specially  concerned in the welfare of his people is reasonable  enough. For Yahweh starts as a just, but as a tribal,  God. He cares for Israel, as Chemosh cares for  Moab. But that the God of the spirits of all flesh,  the one and only God, creator of heaven and earth,  that He should have a chosen people, that He should  be more concerned in the prosperity of Israel than  in the prosperity of Edom, that He should have  enemies, simply because Israel has enemies, all this  seems to be a doctrine utterly inconsistent with ethical  monotheism, utterly inconsistent with our modern  ideas whether of morality or of religion. And I fully  agree that it is ! The only limitation but it is an  important and crucial limitation that I would make  is that, while I accept the doctrine of the chosen  people, I interpret it to mean, not favouritism and  presents, but discipline and service. Liberal Judaism  holds, not that God cared more for the Israelites  than for the Edomites, but that he entrusted Israel  with a charge, a task, a mission. This task is  not for ourselves, but for humanity, not for our  benefit, but for the world's. The education for,  and the (very imperfect) fulfilment of, this charge  did not mean, and has not meant, more prosperity,  but less prosperity, not lessing, but more  suffering. 

     That this is not the usual conception of the Old  Testament, that this is not its usual and predominant  interpretation of the "chosen people," is obvious. To  maintain that it was would be hopelessly uncritical and  absurd. But two points must be noticed. The first  is that any other interpretation entirely conflicts with  the ethical monotheism of the Old Testament itself.  We must, therefore (as in other instances), correct  and refute the Old Testament by the Old Testament.  The second point is that though this interpretation  is not the prevailing or the usual interpretation of  the doctrine of Israel s election, a very fair, if incomplete, form of it is found in a few Old Testament  passages which we can legitimately combine and draw  out. Thus we have, to begin with, the famous verse  in Amos, " You only have I known of all the families  of the earth : therefore will I visit upon you your  iniquities." God will deal more strictly with Israel  than with " the nations." This general prophetic  conception characteristic, at least, for the prophets  of the eighth and seventh centuries gave a deadly  blow to the idea that it was God s province and duty  to shower special favours and presents upon Israel,  His people. Next we have the prophetic hope of a  world religion, a universal acknowledgment of the  one true God, arising in the future as the final result  of Israel s life and teaching. " From Zion shall the  Law go forth and the word of the Lord from  Jerusalem." " The earth shall be filled with the  knowledge of the Lord as the waters cover the sea."  " God s house shall be called a house of prayer for  all peoples." "Yet will I gather others unto him  besides his own that are gathered." More definite  even than these passages, and more significant, is the  conception of the Servant in the Second Isaiah. " Ye are my witnesses." Israel has been elected that  God s salvation may spread to the ends of the earth.  This conception culminates in the famous fifty-third  chapter, which the consensus of critics now regards  as the confession of the nations concerning the mis  judged and maltreated Israel. Through his stripes  patiently and voluntarily undergone they have  been healed. Nothing can well be in greater con  tradiction to the old doctrine than this. (It has to  be sorrowfully admitted that it made little headway  or impression.) Lastly, we can quote the conception  in Exodus of " the kingdom of priests," which seems  to point towards the idea of a mission. Priests  hardly discharge their office for themselves : they  discharge it for others. Modern exegesis has  shown that it would not be quite fair to quote  Genesis xii. 3 and its parallels, but that the uni-  versalist interpretation was making itself felt and  becoming known, even within the Old Testament  period, we may gather from the rendering of the  Septuagint. 

     Now the doctrine of Israel's election as interpreted  by Liberal Judaism to-day (and I imagine that  Orthodox Judaism interprets it in the same way) may  be true or false. The immense majority of mankind  would say that it was false, or, at all events, that the  only " mission " Israel had was to produce Christianity,  and that its election terminated, therefore, with the  birth of Christianity s founder. I have not to argue  the question here. My point is simply that, whether  true or false, the doctrine, as we interpret it, is not  unethical. It does not conflict with the moral perfection of God. It need cause us no " trouble."  Further the doctrine, in its main outline, is to be  found in the Old Testament, so that here, too, we stand by, and cling to, the Old Testament at its  highest and its best. 

01 marzo 2011

Outlines of Liberal Judaism, Montefiore

"The dispersion of Israel over the world gives us a great and peculiar vantage-ground. We can adopt and assimi- late aspects and pieces of truth from many quarters, and thus we can make our Judaism still grander and fuller, more adequate in its teachings to the immense complexity and amplitude of truth. We shall maintain Judaism while we develop it, and our descendants will do the same." page 298

16 febrero 2011

Kabalat Shabat en la playa de Tel Aviv

Hermosa celebración del Kabalat Shabat (la recepción de Sábado) en las playas de Tel Aviv. Organizado y dirigido por Beit Tefilah, una comunidad liberal de Israel.

"Beit Tefilah Israeli is a young and fast-growing, liberal, independent, inclusive and participatory community in Tel Aviv, which offers a meaningful context and venue for Shabbat and holiday services, lifecycle events, and Jewish-Israeli Identity exploration."

25 enero 2011

Introducing America's First Black, Female Rabbi

Tomado de Times

The path to the pulpit has been as colorful as it has been unusual for Alysa Stanton, 45, America's first-ever female African-American rabbi. Stanton, who was born to a Christian family, was formally ordained on June 6, having completed seven years of rabbinical training at Hebrew Union College–Jewish Institute of Religion in Cincinnati. Stanton will now assume her new role as the first nonwhite rabbi of Congregation Bayt Shalom, a 60-family synagogue in Greenville, N.C.
"This is an exciting next step in my journey," says Stanton, who feels both blessed and burdened by her "first-ever" status. "I'm honored and awed by this achievement," she continues. "But I am foremost a rabbi who happens to be African-American, not The African-American Rabbi." (See pictures of African-American Firsts at LIFE.com.)
Two decades ago, an African-American leader in a synagogue might have been about as likely as an African American in the White House. But Stanton's ascendancy reflects the slowly changing face of America's Jews. According to Diane Tobin, a demographer with the San Francisco-based Institute for Jewish and Community Research (IJCR), some 20% of American Jewry is now non-Caucasian. While there is no data specifically on black Jews, "a large percentage [of nonwhite Jews] are African American," Tobin says. "Most arrive via conversion, adoption or mixed Jewish-black marriages," she adds, "and are far from Judaism's fringes and part of traditional communities."
That would fairly describe Rabbi Stanton's journey. Her childhood in Ohio was a conventional one, but, as a self-described "old soul," Stanton says she was propelled early on by a search for spiritual nourishment, which led her far beyond her Pentecostal roots. She was attracted initially to Eastern religions and Evangelicalism, until her family moved to a predominantly Jewish suburb of Cleveland. Curious about the mezuzahs in the doorways of neighboring homes — along with other unfamiliar Jewish customs — Stanton turned for guidance to a Catholic uncle who occasionally worshipped at a local temple.
By her 20s, Stanton had found a permanent home in Judaism, and formally converted to the religion after a year of study with a rabbi in Denver. Her family and community, however, were skeptical of her defection to the synagogue. There was a sense of betrayal, Stanton concedes, but there was also the reality that Stanton would never quite look like your average American Jew. "I definitely don't blend in," Stanton says. "Worldwide, Jews come in every color and hue, but in America, mainstream Judaism is definitely an Anglo demographic." (See the top 10 religion stories of 2008.)
But Stanton's outsider status did nothing to keep her from becoming the ultimate Jewish insider, an officially ordained rabbi. She beat out some half-dozen candidates for the position of rabbi at Congregation Bayt Shalom in North Carolina. Much of Stanton's appeal, says synagogue president Michael Barondes, lies in her ability to connect and communicate powerfully, both from the pulpit and face-to-face. Those are skills Stanton honed during an earlier career, before entering the seminary — as a psychotherapist specializing in grief and loss. She helped counsel victims of the 1999 shooting at Columbine High School. "She knows intuitively how to listen to people," says Barondes. "And as a one-synagogue town, we need a rabbi who can reach out to all of our members."
Barondes says Stanton's color played no role in her candidacy, but neither he nor Stanton — a divorced single mother to Shana, 14 — is unaccustomed to the impact of race in America, particularly in the South. Indeed, leaders of the Alabama synagogue where Stanton trained for a year as a student rabbi never believed their white congregation would accept an African-American at the pulpit. Complaints were lodged and calls were made. Yet by the end of her training, the synagogue was deeply saddened to see her go. "Everyone has their initial impressions and outmoded stereotypes," Stanton reflects on the experience. "But these people came to embrace me and my child."
Thanks to other high-profile rabbis, such as Capers Funnye, the African-American leader of Chicago's Beth Shalom B'Nei Zaken synagogue — and First Lady Michelle Obama's second cousin — mainstream American Jewry appears ready to embrace leaders like Stanton. And with African Americans becoming increasingly drawn to Judaism, in part because of the shrinking perception that they are not welcomed by white Jews, the IJCR's Tobin say the timing could not be better for American Jewry to finally reconsider who and what makes a Jew. "Due to assimilation and intermarriage, the stability of the American Jewish community has never been more vulnerable," she says. "If we are to survive we must become more welcoming to people and not just send them away."

24 enero 2011

Principios fundamentales del Judaísmo Reformista Clásico hoy

Os presentamos la traducción de parte del documento de los principios fundamentales tal como son entendidos hoy en día por el nuevo movimiento Reformista Clásico. El punto de partida es la Plataforma de Pittsburgh. Y lo que hace el Rabino Berman, uno de los fundadores de esta corriente en el seno del movimiento Reformista actual, es actualizar, poner al día esa declaración seminal de 1885.

Principios fundamentales

El principio fundamental del Judaísmo Reformista Clásico es que el pacto eterno judío con Dios se encuentra en el corazón de nuestra identidad e historia. Al tiempo que nuestra fe genera y da fortaleza a muchas diferentes interpretaciones y acercamientos a lo Divino, lo que se encuentra en el núcleo de nuestra identidad judía es la búsqueda religiosa de la fe y el sentido.

Consideramos que el Judaísmo es primordialmente una creencia religiosa universal más que una identidad étnica, cultural o nacionalista. Como comunidad espiritual, nos alegran los exclusivos lazos de destino e historia que nos unen a nuestros hermanos judíos de todas las épocas y de todo el mundo. Consideramos que el pueblo judío es una comunidad [de Fe] religiosa, unidos por una experiencia compartida, y basada en las enseñanzas caracterísiticas de la Religión Judía. Las ricas y variadas tradiciones  étnicas y culturales de la experiencia Judía a lo largo de las épocas nos ofrecen dimensiones significativas para nuestra identidad religiosa, pero nuestra creencia es intemporal y universal en sus aspiraciones.

Defendemos el concepto reformista histórico, conectado con la visión ética y moral de nuestros profetas hebreos, de ‘la Misión de Israel’. Esta idea sostiene que como Judíos se nos ha llamado a dar testimonio de la unidad de Dios y de toda la humanidad, y que debemos trabajar individualmente y en comunidad para traer la justicia y la paz al mundo. Los líderes del Reformismo Clásico han estado siempre en la primera línea de estas luchas y cambios, afrontando los temas sociales de la historia de América con un coraje y una acción proféticos. Afirmamos pues esta visión espiritual tolerante, universalista y humanista.

Apreciamos las tradiciones distintivas del Reformismo histórico - una liturgia significativa, participativa, que llega al corazón y la mente. Este compromiso ha abrazado siempre un servicio religioso litúrgico en la lengua vernácula [en inglés], enriquecido por los intemporales elementos de los textos en Hebreo y las canciones que simbólicamente nos unen  a nuestro pasado y a nuestros hermanos judíos de todo el mundo. Pero queremos incidir  en que lo que hace la experiencia litúrgica auténticamente ‘judía’ no es el grado de utilización del Hebreo, sino los ideales y valores que se reflejan en ella. El Judaísmo Reformista Clásico también  defiende el papel inspirador de la música coral e instrumental que eleva el espíritu y refleja los más altos estándares de calidad, inspirándose por lo tanto en las grandes tradiciones musicales históricas que han sido la herencia de la Sinagoga Reformista y en las composiciones de la creatividad contemporánea. Otra dimensión del rezo Reformista Clásico es la importancia de una prédica intelectualmente desafiante que ofrezca la sabiduría de nuestra tradición judía al tratar tanto los acuciantes problemas de nuestra época, como el crecimiento personal espiritual y una significación más profunda de nuestra experiencia humana. Creemos que estas cualidades características del Servicio Religioso del Reformismo Clásico, que para muchos de nuestros miembros están presentes en la liturgia del Union Prayer Book mejor que en cualquier otro Sidur, siguen ofreciendo una opción vital y creativa para muchos judíos hoy. Esto no sólo incluye a los muchos miembros de nuestras congregaciones que crecieron en esta tradición y se alegran con ella, sino también a innumerable gente joven – que buscan una forma de identidad y liturgia judía significativas y accesibles, basadas no en la nostalgia o el etnicismo, sino  enraizada en las realidades de nuestras experiencias vitales en nuestra sociedad plural actual.
Afirmamos y celebramos con un énfasis especial la singularidad de la experiencia judía en América y su herencia. Nuestros principios, basados en la Torá, de libertad, justicia y la igualdad de los seres humanos han dado forma a la democracia Americana desde sus más tempranos inicios coloniales. Inspirados por la promesa de los valores americanos de libertad y oportunidades, los judíos han jugado un papel vital en la fundación y la construcción de esta nación. El Judaísmo Reformista Clásico se ha alegrado siempre de esta noble herencia y ha permanecido comprometido con el mantenimiento de esta forma específica americana de liturgia, vida y cultura  judías que reflejan lo mejor de los ideales democráticos de nuestra nación. Estamos orgullos de ser ciudadanos de esta nación, aceptando en su totalidad nuestros derechos y obligaciones para con los EE.UU. Entre éstas se encuentran el disenso profético que se expresa en el proceso democrático, y en la completa implicación cívica en nuestra sociedad. Creemos que la fórmula más apropiada para el desarrollo dinámico continuado del Judaísmo, de su influencia y de su misión en el futuro estará en esto, en una comunidad judía vital y renovada espiritualmente.

La cuestión de nuestra relación como judíos americanos con el Estado de Israel es de gran importancia y tiene una compleja historia en el desarrollo de la perspectiva del Judaísmo Reformista Clásico, que abarca una gran diversidad de opiniones. Sin embargo, existen una serie de puntos que compartimos mayoritariamente. La posición histórica Reformista ha sostenido siempre que el periodo nacional de la temprana historia de nuestro pueblo fue un importante capítulo de nuestra formación- al crear el sentido compartido de experiencia comunitaria y favorecer el desarrollo de los valores éticos y espirituales que era nuestro destino proclamar y compartir con la humanidad. Teniendo en cuenta que esta visión dinámica de la historia judía rechaza la idea de que vivimos hoy en el mundo en el ‘exilio’, afirmamos que nuestra conexión con la tierra de Israel es profunda e histórica y que el Estado de Israel tiene una gran significación para la experiencia Judía. Compartimos con todos los judíos - y con otras muchas gentes de buena voluntad - la esperanza de y rezamos por un próspero y seguro Israel que viva en paz y justicia con sus vecinos.

Celebramos la rica diversidad dentro de la cambiante comunidad judía actual. Estamos particularmente comprometidos en ofrecer una acogedora, amorosa e incondicional bienvenida en nuestro seno al número de familias interreligiosas y multiculturales  que no para de crecer. Creemos que debemos apoyar a nuestra gente joven y a sus parejas y esposos con “corazones y puertas abiertas” - celebrando sus bodas y ofreciéndoles una comunidad que respete sus respectivas identidades y su dignidad. Creemos que el mensaje integrador y universal del Judaísmo Reformista Clásico y su liturgia incluyente y accesible tienen un papel privilegiado en el intento de atrae a los jóvenes con relaciones interreligiosas, dándoles la posibilidad de que encuentre un entorno significativo en el que compartir su experiencia de la tradición judía juntos.

Nuestro movimiento Reformista actual incluye una amplia diversidad de interpretaciones y estilos. Nuestra esperanza y nuestro compromiso es el de que la tradición histórica del Reformismo Clásico, que se presenta con una posición propia y ofrece un significado permanente en medio de muchas y muy ricas corrientes de la experiencia judía a lo largo de la historia, sea reconocida y honrada por su continua vitalidad y por su potencial de mostrarse significativa para una nueva generación de judíos hoy.

12 enero 2011

Declaración programática del Movimiento Reformista de 1885

A continuación presentamos la traducción de uno de los documentos fundacionales del Movimiento Reformista de EE.UU. 

Muchos años han pasado desde entonces y parte de ese espíritu ha sido postergado paulatinamente por el movimiento Reformistas en las sucesivas declaraciones oficiales que siguieron a ésta, invadiendo innecesariamente el legítimo e indispensable espacio que ocupa el Judaísmo Conservador. 

Sin embargo, como tendremos oportunidad de comprobar en próximas entradas, y gracias a la reivindicación que hace de ese espíritu del Reformismo Clásico The Society for Classical Reform Judaism, parece revivir el esfuerzo de los Rabinos que firmaron el documento por recrear un Judaísmo universal, racionalista, ilustrado y progresista.


Plataforma de Pittsburgh

Convocados por el llamado de Kaufmann Kohler de Nueva York, rabinos reformistas de todos los Estados Unidos nos hemos dado cita desde el 16 hasta el 19 noviembre 1885, bajo la presidencia de Isaac Maier Wise. El encuentro se consideró la continuación de la conferencia de Filadelfia de 1869, que a su vez era continuación de la conferencia alemana de 1844-1846. Los rabinos adoptamos el siguiente texto seminal:

Uno. Reconocemos en cada religión un intento de aprehender lo infinito, y, en cada modo, fuente o libro de revelación considerado sagrado por cualquier sistema religioso, la toma de conciencia de la presencia de Dios en el interior del ser humano. Entendemos que el Judaísmo presenta la concepción más elevada de la idea de Dios tal como se enseñó en nuestras Sagradas Escrituras y se desarrolló por los maestros judíos, en sintonía con el progreso moral y filosófico de sus respectivas épocas. Sostenemos que el Judaísmo preservó y defendió en medio de desafíos continuos y de continuas pruebas, y en un aislamiento forzado, esta idea de Dios como la verdad religiosa central de la humanidad.

Dos. Entendemos que en la Biblia se encuentra el registro de la consagración del pueblo judío para su misión de sacerdocio del Dios uno, y la valoramos como el instrumento más poderoso de instrucción moral y religiosa. Mantenemos que los modernos descubrimientos  de las investigaciones científicas en el dominio de la naturaleza y de la historia no son contradictorios con las doctrinas del Judaísmo, puesto que la Biblia refleja las ideas primitivas de su propia época, y a veces reviste su concepción de la providencia y la justicia divinas en relación al hombre con los ropajes de narrativas milagrosas.

Tres. Reconocemos en la legislación mosaica un sistema de preparación del pueblo judío para su misión durante su vida nacional en Palestina y, por lo tanto, ahora aceptamos como obligatorias sólo las leyes morales y mantenemos solamente aquellas ceremonias que elevan y santifican nuestras vidas, al tiempo que rechazamos aquellas que no están adaptadas a las circunstancias y los hábitos de la civilización moderna.

Cuatro. Mantenemos que todas aquellas leyes Mosaicas y Rabínicas tales como la regulación de la dieta, la pureza sacerdotal y el vestido, que surgieron en otras épocas y bajo la influencia de ideas totalmente ajenas a nuestra mentalidad actual y al espíritu del presente, no aciertan hoy a crear en el judío moderno un espíritu de santidad sacerdotal; su observancia en nuestros días posiblemente obstruya más que facilite la elevación espiritual.

Cinco. Reconocemos que la moderna era  de cultura universal en sus aspectos morales e intelectuales se aproxima a la realización de la gran esperanza mesiánica 
de Israel del establecimiento del reino de la verdad y la paz para todos los seres humanos. No nos consideramos nunca más ya una nación, sino una comunidad religiosa y, por lo tanto, no esperamos ni regresar a Palestina, ni la vuelta al culto sacrificial de los hijos de Aarón, ni la restauración de ninguna de las leyes relativas al estado judío.

Seis.Reconocemos en el Judaísmo una religión progresista que intenta siempre mantenerse de acuerdo con los postulados de la razón. Estamos convencidos de la necesidad absoluta de preservar nuestra identidad histórica de nuestro gran pasado. Apreciamos la misión providencial del Cristianismo y del Islam, religiones surgidas del Judaísmo, de ayudar a expandir el conocimiento de la verdad y de la moral monoteístas. Entendemos y reconocemos que el humanismo de la época es nuestro aliado en el cumplimiento de nuestra misión y tendemos nuestra mano fraternal a todos aquellos que cooperen con nosotros en el establecimiento del reino de la verdad y la rectitud entre los hombres.

Siete. Reafirmamos la doctrina del Judaísmo de que el espíritu es inmortal, basando la creencia en la naturaleza divina del alma humana, que siempre encuentra felicidad en la rectitud y sufrimiento en la maldad. Rechazamos como ideas que no tiene una raíz judía la creencia en la resurrección del cuerpo y la del infierno y el paraíso como moradas de castigo permanente o de permanente recompensa.

Ocho. De acuerdo con el espíritu de la ley Mosaica que  se esfuerza por regular las relaciones entre ricos y pobres, entendemos que es nuestra obligación participar en la gran tarea de los tiempos modernos de solucionar, en base a la justicia y la rectitud, los problemas surgidos como consecuencia de los contrastes y los males de la organización social actual.