The Jewish-Palestinian book of life

on 44 Comments

An American Jew in India. On Yom Kippur, the Jewish Day of Atonement. The day Jews confess sins. The day God judges sins. The day God decides our fate.

Tradition tells us that on Yom Kippur, God writes our name in the Book of Life. Or not. No one knows in advance. Shall we be alive tomorrow?

Not to worry. We don’t really confess our sins. Not the real ones anyway. And we still seem to live. Is God fooling us? Biding his time?

Today, I sit in my hotel room in silence rather than in my synagogue at home or in New Delhi. I can’t go near the ritual of confession without confessing. Can’t do it. Can you?

Why India? I’m not here to cash in on India’s new global prominence. Nor will I see the suffering entailed in that “development.”

My time here is advertised as a lecture tour. If you want to know the truth, I’m in India confessing.

Development is necessary. The suffering it causes is catalogued by historians. After.

But, then, as an American, what have I to say to India about the costs of development? America rides the crest of development’s wave. For now.

Every Yom Kippur, I confess the sins of my people. Wherever I am. Wherever I can.

I have spoken and written this confession for 25 years – without any success.

Here is my confession:

What we, as Jews, have done to the Palestinian people is wrong.

What we, as Jews, are doing to the Palestinian people is wrong.
Past. Present. No equivocation. No end in sight.

Some Jews view my confession as out of place. How dare I confess the suffering of the Palestinian people at our hands? But there are many Jews who hold the same point of view. Most won’t be in synagogue on Yom Kippur either.

You see, as with any people or nation, there are Jews who think empire will save us. And, as with any people or nation, there are Jews who think we are bound to others for the greater good.

Empire Jews seek power over others. Jews of Conscience seek life with others.

Empire Jews versus Jews of Conscience. A Jewish civil war.

This civil war is hardly confined to Jews. Is there a civil war in India between those who want empire and those who exercise conscience?

Some say that Kashmir is another Palestine. I lack the knowledge to make a comparison.

South Africans I know say what is happening in Palestine is worse than the apartheid they suffered. They should know.

President Jimmy Carter believes that the Jewish colonization of Jerusalem and the West Bank is apartheid. When I visited him at his library in Atlanta, he spoke about Palestinian suffering. During his remarks, he wept.

So much suffering in the world. So much violence in the world. So many forms of violence.

I read about the next generation of American Drone aircraft. “Development” continues. Our brave new world. If India doesn’t have this latest military “advance,” you will. If India wants empire.

So much to confess historically. Today. For the future.

But on Yom Kippur, as a Jew, I think of the Palestinian people.

I write of Palestinian sufferings and their desire to be free. I write of Jews oppressing the Palestinian people.

Yes, we Jews. In Jerusalem, the West Bank and Gaza I see it with my own eyes. More and more Jews of Conscience see it. We are powerless. Will America help? Will India?

Without justice, Jewish history loses its foundation. Without conscience, there is only empire. Without a religious “no” to empire, why religion?

On Yom Kippur, Jews all over the world, take a deep breath. Confess.

Now exhale. Reach our hands out toward our neighbors, the Palestinians.

Don’t Palestinians have a right to be free in their own homeland?

If Palestinians are free, perhaps we could become free. Of our own oppression.

Yes, today, on Yom Kippur, let us confess our oppression. Of another people.

God, if on this Yom Kippur you find me worthy of being written into the Book of Life, I ask you to place my name on the same page as the Palestinian people.

Right there. With other Jews and Palestinians who want a future of justice and equality.

Book of Life. Same page.

Marc H. Ellis is University Professor of Jewish Studies, Professor of History and Director of the Center for Jewish Studies at Baylor University. He is the author of many books, most recently Encountering the Jewish Future: with Wiesel, Buber, Heschel, Arendt, Levinas. 

About Marc H. Ellis

Marc H. Ellis is retired Director and Professor of Jewish Studies at Baylor University and author of The Heartbeat of the Prophetic which can be found at Amazon and

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44 Responses

  1. pabelmont
    October 7, 2011, 10:29 am

    Beautifully said. Also expresses the need for atonement of all Americans for the USA’s military empire which thinks nothing of killing, poisoning, maiming, destroying, etc., in the “name” of whatever is a popular bogeyman — anti-communism, anti-terrorism, whatever. Civil liberties? Who, here, needs them? We’ve got more important irons in the fire. Human rights? Never mind the people over there who need them.

    And what of Jews (or Americans) who say, they don’t know about the oppression of Palestinians by Israel? Let them atone for failing to learn. And what of Jews (or Americans) who say they do know, but it is not their fault, there was nothing they could do to stop the oppression, the destruction. Let them atone for not at least speaking up clearly in their various communities, small and large. “Not in my name” has a nice sound to it, especially if you identify WHAT is being done but not with your permission.

  2. Dan Crowther
    October 7, 2011, 10:30 am

    Dont be so hard on yourself Marc. You are a good man and a brother to all humanity.

  3. seafoid
    October 7, 2011, 10:51 am

    “On Yom Kippur, Jews all over the world, take a deep breath. Confess”

    Bradley Burston is very depressed this year. The tone is very different to last year

  4. seafoid
    October 7, 2011, 11:06 am

    Burston last year

    On this day when we boycott that which medicates and blunts, cleanse us of the disappointments and the failures of this year.
    By Bradley Burston Tags: Yom Kippur
    Lord, prepare me to fast.

    Help me turn this life around.

    Help me look anew at people whom You made perfect, and whom life has made like me: wounded, nasty, guarded, bile-driven, vengeful, resigned, cynical, uncertain that what is broken, rust-bound, wrong-headed, can be turned around.
    Pound on my heart. Find the list I have lost in there. Read it back to me, so I can’t claim not to have heard.
    This is the list: This is the year the war ends. This is the year I change the vocabulary of my blood. This is the year of pride in peace. This is the year when the world begins to turn around. This is the year when people, whoever their parents, are one color. The way You made them. Perfect.
    Lord who created the brothers Ishmael and Isaac, Lord who makes victims to teach lessons, Who sustained them in expulsion and exile and binding and the shadow of murder, prepare me to detox from the war inside. Lord who created my ancestors, who left them as children with poison in the blood from fates they did not deserve, save me as you saved them.
    On this day when we boycott the pleasures and distractions and feuds and art which medicate and blunt and crutch, cleanse us of the disappointments and the failures of this year, which we have come together this day, this fast, to bury.
    This is the list:
    Asham’nu – This is our confession. It is written that we will seek You out only when we admit that we have done wrong.
    Bagadnu – We have betrayed You. We have made gods of stone and tile and asphalt.
    Gazalnu – We have stolen, and called it reclaiming.
    Dibarnu Dofi – We have learned to say one thing to the world, and something different to one other.
    He’evinu V’hirshanu – We have caused others to sin. We have warped our tradition to suit the politics of the moment.
    Zadnu – We have allowed our anger to overrule our judgment, our values, our compassion.
    Hamasnu – We have been violent, and blamed the wrongdoing of others for our wrongdoing.
    Tafalnu Sheker, Ya’atznu Ra, Kizavnu – We have lied to ourselves and others in order to justify our actions. We have given poor advice in order to serve our own ends. We have altered the truth to serve our aims, and spread the lie as if absolutely true.
    Latznu – We have made light of the suffering and the humanity and the dreams of those who are unlike us.
    Maradnu, Ni’atznu, Sarar’nu, Avinu – In the name of land, we have sanctified rebellion against leaders, our own and those of our allies. In our anger, we have taken vengeance against innocents, and sinned against nature.
    Pashanu, Tzarar’nu, Kishinu Oref – We have committed crimes, we have persecuted others. We have been stubborn to an extreme, unbending and insensitive.
    Rashanu, Shichatnu, Ti’avnu – We have engaged in wickedness, corruption, abhorrent acts.
    Ta’inu, Ti’tanu, Sarnu M’mitzvo’techa – We have gone astray, we have been led astray, we have lost our way.
    Lord of Ishmael and Isaac, for their sake if not for ours, heal our children and our childrens’ children. For their sake if not for ours, grant them life, inscribe them for health, seal them

  5. Richard Witty
    October 7, 2011, 11:20 am

    The confession of one’s sins is holistic, not political.

    The political is a component of one’s life, but to fixate on only the political, is to indulge and to deflect.

    There is a great word in Hebrew that appears in the akedah three times. Hineni, literally “here I am”.

    God calls to Abraham, Abraham responds “Here I am”, naked, seen, trusting, unpretentious, present.

    Abraham calls to Isaac, Isaac responds “Here I am”, trusting, unpretentious, present.

    God calls to Abraham again, Abraham responds again “Here I am”.

    Hineni as “here I am”, seen. Hineni as “here I am”, ready to act.

    This is what we do on Yom Kippur. “Search my heart”. Heal all that can be healed by one’s words and actions. Ask for existential forgiveness for what cannot be healed by one’s words and actions, accompanied by resolution to not repeat. And, most importantly, refresh the existential unconditional intimate link between God and I.

    Please do all of it, not just the political. The political for many is an easy out, something that one cannot be held accountable for, for the very small impact that we have one way or another.

    Whereas, we do affect our own consciousness by our actions. We do affect our intimates, our colleagues, our friends, our neighbors.

    • Ellen
      October 7, 2011, 11:51 am

      “The confession of one’s sins is holistic..”

      What does that mean?

      And why smear one’s humanistic meditation on a personal confession as “political?”

      • Richard Witty
        October 7, 2011, 12:24 pm

        It means that its in “All my relations”, not just selected political ones.

        In my personal life, the political are a small part of my relations, not nothing.

      • LeaNder
        October 7, 2011, 2:13 pm

        It would be really easy to argue, that “all your relations” are ultimately political, it’s a matter of definition, to the extend you are a part of the larger polis.

        Especially your admonitory speech feels very, very political.

      • Cliff
        October 8, 2011, 12:13 pm

        Witty contorts this Yom Kippur to avoid talking, thinking, reflecting on the Jewish State and what it means for non-Jews.

        Normal human beings do not feast off the misery of others.

        Judaism has no meaning if it is not put to use for good in the real world.

        This is not an issue of politics for the author of the thread AFAIK. It’s a moral dilemma and you simply disagree with his politics. His motivation is rooted in a different ethical code than yours.

        You and eee believe might makes right, i.e. you have no morals. You both do not think non-Jews have rights. Hence, if someone who is a religious Jew does not conform to your twisted worldview then they aren’t ‘Jewish’.

      • Citizen
        October 8, 2011, 7:18 pm

        Yes, LeaNder, Witty thinks by using the label “political” he has no responsibility except to his own family and community, as if that’s not already stating political connections. He has often spoken of his community and we all know who he means. Ditto for eee.

      • Citizen
        October 8, 2011, 7:23 pm

        Mr Ellis’s distinctions (and sincerity) are well taken by me. There are individual Jews, and there are individual Jews. That’s because they are humans before they are Jews. Here’s another individual Jew making a distinction between himself and another Jew apropos of the book of life and atonement:

    • eee
      October 7, 2011, 12:05 pm


      You have captured a very important aspect of tikun olam that most people on this blog miss. Tikun olam is a bottom up process, not a top down process. We make the world better not by complaining about what someone else has done 10000 miles from us but by actually doing something for our own community. You spend more time with your kids. That is tikun olam. You help the less fortunate people in your own community, that is tikun olam. You organize like DBG actual interfaith dialogue, that is tikun olam. These are small things that are in our control and do make the world a little better.

      As you say “we do affect our intimates, our colleagues, our friends, our neighbors” but we are deceiving ourselves if we believe that we can affect some complex political process that is really not in our control. The Gaza flotillas is such top down hubris. Hundreds of thousands of dollars thrown away to no avail. Shouldn’t this money have been used for charities much closer to home? Here is one idea, use the money to start an anti-zionist youth movement in NY as all Jewish youth movements are zionist.

      • Cliff
        October 8, 2011, 12:07 pm

        We make the world better not by complaining about what someone else has done 10000 miles from us but by actually doing something for our own community.

        Who is WE?

        All these rules sociopaths like you and Witty want to inflict on others reveals your intentions. You’re transparent.

        And anyway, no one should need religious symbolism to behave morally or act on basic human decency.

      • Robert
        October 9, 2011, 11:25 pm

        This blog is an act of tikkun olam, yes, over events 1000 miles away, because it confronts and educates readers and guides them away from the moral merry go round which is political zionism. Americans would simply never know and this blog is a unique resource.

      • Richard Witty
        October 9, 2011, 11:40 am

        Thanks EEE.

        Judaism is rich in asking that we establish and accomplish high standards of morality in our relations to self, intimates, colleagues and strangers, all.

        We share much with Islam in that respect, in the sense that our behavior is the basis of our spiritual health.

        Yom Kippur is described as restoring our original relationship with God, cleared of all sin, all distraction, all separation.

        It does not clear us of promises or obligations to our neighbors. It requires us either to fulfill our promises in action or in compensation if impossible in action, and achieve a status of consent in our relations.

        To speak of the political is important, to achieve that change of status from contested to consented (by a reasonable man test, not necessarily actually in all cases). Yom Kippur, nor need, nor historical claims achieves that change in status.

        I try to remember that obligation, that inevitability of requirement of justice, independently of how I am spoken to or about.

        But, it is only one scope of “all my relations”.

      • Citizen
        October 9, 2011, 10:38 pm

        Witty: our behavior is the basis of our spiritual health.
        Mmmmmmm, seems then you & yours need some meds.
        Behavior of course includes both commissions and omissions. And sequence of interaction, and not.

    • Mooser
      October 7, 2011, 12:58 pm

      Oh, for God’s sake, Witty, just put a sock in it, will ya?

      • Mooser
        October 7, 2011, 1:02 pm

        Oh, I’m such a grouch, I don’t know why. I’m sure if Prof. Ellis had put “Empire Jews” and “Jews of Conscience” in quotes, Witty would have been smitten with understanding.

    • American
      October 7, 2011, 1:50 pm

      Please do all of it, not just the political. The political for many is an easy out, something that one cannot be held accountable for,….”

      You have made being a Jew and Judaism ‘political’ Richard so you are held accountable. You have made ‘the Jews’ and Israel your God and you worship yourself and a piece of land. I doubt God looks very kindly on that.

      • john h
        October 7, 2011, 6:00 pm

        That was so spot on, American:

        “You have made ‘the Jews’ and Israel your God and you worship yourself and a piece of land.”

        Not just Richard, but every Zionist. That is what Zionism is, a false god and a golden calf, a modern form of idolatry.

        You put it very gently, “I doubt God looks very kindly on that.”

  6. Saleema
    October 7, 2011, 12:17 pm

    That was beautiful.

    Ignore Witty, he’s a bitter, old man.

    • RoHa
      October 9, 2011, 7:11 pm

      Hey! As far as I can tell, he’s younger than I am. If he’s old, I’m a geezer, and that I strongly deny.*

      Call him “a bitter early-middle-aged man”.

      (*Though I have developed a strong Yorkshire accent and frequently start sentences with “When I were a lad…” and “Young people today …”. )

      • Bumblebye
        October 9, 2011, 8:19 pm

        Teeny weeny maths teacher, Mrs Potts, used to stand in front o’ t’ class and sing “On Ilkley Moor Ba’t ‘at”. Terrible culture shock for a transplanted southern kid! Scary stuff to an 11 year old.

    • Chaos4700
      October 7, 2011, 6:58 pm

      You know, that is fucking disgusting when Israeli Jews blame Palestinians for the politicians that Israelis elected.

      This is atonement? Sheesh.

  7. seafoid
    October 7, 2011, 12:33 pm

    The failure of Zionism

    There is nobody to man the checkpoints so it is lockdown in the penal colony .

    Silence fell over Israel at around 5 P.M. on Friday, as the Yom Kippur fast began. Air traffic to and from Israel halted from 1 P.M. on Friday and is not scheduled to begin again until 9:30 P.M. on Saturday, while the border crossings to Jordan and Gaza have been closed down.

    • Elliot
      October 7, 2011, 1:46 pm

      In Israel, I loved how Arab nurses covered the shifts of Jews on Jewish holidays and vice versa.
      I guess, the occupation is one aspect of Israeli life that cannot be traded. There are not enough Druze Border Policemen to man all the apparatus. And, they too, need to be managed by Jews.

      I think though that there is another part to it. Yom Kippur in Israel is the ultimate escape from reality. The highways shut down and become three lane bicycle routes. The holiest day of the year is the one which they remove everything ugly from their lives. For these Jews, having to deal with Arabs on Yom Kippur is distasteful.
      Of course, when these Jews are in synagogue on Yom Kippur, they will hear the words of the prophet Isaiah (Chapter 58) who warns, in the name of God:

      “2 To be sure, they seek Me daily,
      Eager to learn My ways.
      Like a nation that does what is right,
      That has not abandoned the laws of its God,
      They ask Me for the right way,
      They are eager for the nearness of God:
      3 “Why, when we fasted, did You not see?
      When we starved our bodies, did You pay no heed?”
      Because on your fast day
      You see to your business
      And oppress all your laborers!
      4 Because you fast in strife and contention,
      And you strike with a wicked fist!
      your fasting today is not such
      As to make your voice heard on high.
      5 Is such the fast I desire,
      A day for men to starve their bodies?
      Is it bowing the head like a bulrush
      And lying in sackcloth and ashes?
      Do you call that a fast,
      A day when the Lord is favorable?
      6 No, this is the fast I desire:
      To unlock the fetters of wickedness,
      And untie the cords of the yoke
      To let the oppressed go free;
      To break off every yoke.”

      But that must be about something or somebody else.

      • seafoid
        October 7, 2011, 2:23 pm

        What a mess. What a tragedy for Judaism.

        Bradley Burston

        For the sin which we have sinned against You b’hilul Hashem, in desecrating your Name, in performing wrongdoing in the name of God, in harming others in the belief that we are acting for Your name’s sake

        For the sin which we have sinned against You b’i’mootz lev, in hard-heartedness, in refusal to acknowledge and address our wrongdoing, in lack of compassion for the victims of our wrongdoing.

        For the sin which we have sinned against you, b’yod’in o’b’lo yod’in, knowingly or unknowingly.

        For the sin which we have sinned against You b’sin’at hinam, in hatred for nothing, hatred whose only outcome is more and more and still
        more hatred.

        For the sin which we have sinned against You, we say on Yom Kippur, for the sin of tzadi’at ra, of hostile intention, of wicked scheming, of taking advantage of a neighbor who has less power, or is more trusting, or has no defense.

    • eee
      October 7, 2011, 1:53 pm

      Don’t worry. The internet is working here.

      By the way, when I was in the IDF I was on duty during Yom Kipur plenty of times.
      Carlebach expresses this nicely :) :

      • Chaos4700
        October 7, 2011, 2:22 pm

        That’s probably alright, eee, your military uniform has the Star of David on it anyway. Right?

      • Mooser
        October 8, 2011, 12:43 pm

        “By the way, when I was in the IDF I was on duty during Yom Kipur plenty of times.”

        Gosh, than all we have to do is look for atrocities or war crimes committed on the high Holy Days, and there you are! Yes, “eee” I know, it’s all right, because you are an atheist.

        And of course, I, who believe in God, can’t be a Jew because I don’t believe in Zionism.
        Sure, makes perfect sense!

  8. Kate
    October 7, 2011, 12:51 pm

    Here is another, written by Hannah Mermelstein (of Birthright Unplugged) in 2004.


    Jewish activists paste Yom Kippur repentance-for-occupation message INSIDE the illegal Israeli settlement of Ariel.

    report below from Hannah

    Dear friends,
    I won’t be going to synagogue this year on Yom Kippur, but this morning I
    participated in what I think is the most powerful thing I could have done
    for the holiday. Please read below and share the prayer with friends,
    colleagues, rabbis, and congregations. (Make sure you read it all – my
    favorite part is the TAPUACH part, which comes at the end).

    24 September, 2004

    International Women’s Peace Service (IWPS) brings message of repentance to settlers

    On Friday morning, September 24, 2004, Jewish IWPS activists offered the
    settlers of Ariel and Tapuach a new penitential prayer for Yom Kippur.

    The women posted copies of an alternative « Vidui » inside Ariel and in
    areas around Tapuach, naming for each letter of the English and Hebrew
    alphabet a sin committed by settlers in the name of the Jewish people. With
    this revision of the traditional prayer, the activists hoped to communicate
    to the settlers that their continued residence in the West Bank is an
    obstacle to peace.

    Please find the text of the new prayer in English below. Visit our website
    at for the complete flyer in English and Hebrew, along with photographs. [no longer available, but see sites listed at the end here]

    Ashamnu for Ariel and Tapuach – Yom Kippur 5765

    We have Appropriated land
    We have Burned olive trees
    We have Constructed Apartheid walls
    We have Dumped our trash on the village of Marda
    We have Erased history of Palestinians
    We have Falsified the teachings of the Torah
    We have Generalized about Arab people
    We have Hated people because of their race
    We have Ignored the suffering of our neighbors
    We have ‘Judaized’ Palestinian areas
    We have Killed children
    We have Lied about our history
    We have Manipulated public opinion
    We have Neglected our responsibility to work for justice
    We have Obstructed the right of refugees to return home
    We have Punished collectively
    We have Quietly transferred Palestinians from their homeland
    We have Restricted free movement of Palestinians
    We have Stolen olives from Palestinian farmers
    We have Thwarted peace initiatives
    We have Unfairly accused people of anti-Semitism
    We have Vandalized
    We have Wrongly educated our children
    We have eXpunged Arabic from road signs
    We have Yelled racist epithets
    We have promoted Zionism

    We have Acquiesced in things we know are wrong
    We have Refused to compromise
    We have Initiated false beliefs
    We have Encouraged home demolitions
    We have Lost our humanity

    We have Terrorized the Palestinian population in the name of G-d
    We have Aggressively prevented Palestinians from working on their land in
    the name of G-d
    We have Persecuted others in the name of our own persecution and in the name
    of G-d
    We have Used guns and laws to facilitate ethnic cleansing in the name of G-d
    We have Assaulted in the name of G-d
    We have Colonized in the name of G-d
    We have Harmed the Jewish people in the name of G-d

    For all these sins we have committed against G-d and our Palestinian
    neighbors, forgive us, pardon us, grant us atonement.

    • Citizen
      October 8, 2011, 7:33 pm

      I couldn’t get access to the womenspeacepaestine url: “forbidden.”

  9. DICKERSON3870
    October 7, 2011, 3:21 pm

    RE: “On Yom Kippur, the Jewish Day of Atonement. The day Jews confess sins. The day God judges sins.” ~ Marc H. Ellis

    SPEAKING OF YOM KIPPUR: At the Checkpoint on the Day of Atonement: The Devouring Dragon, By Mats Svensson, Counterpunch, 10/09/08

    (excerpts) In a few hours, Israel will celebrate Yom Kippur, the Day of Atonement and repentance. Everything will be closed for 24 hours. Tel Aviv Airport shuts. No planes land or depart. The border crossing to Egypt or Jordan is similarly closed. Everything shuts down. When I sit and speak with Muhammad in Abu Dis, I realize that he sort of celebrates Yom Kippur every day. This is his normal life. Always shut up behind a wall and military checkpoints. He no longer has a car, he is in any case unable to travel outside Abu Dis…
    …Yom Kippur is the day during which we can to some degree understand how all Palestinians are faring behind closed walls. Feel how it is when everything slowly shuts down, ends, becomes nothing…
    …The sun sets early now. I am sitting on Muhammad’s veranda. He tells me that the family used to sit there every evening. You could see how the sun was reflected in the round, golden dome of the Dome of the Rock a few kilometers away. The family had a wonderful view over the holy city, the Mount of Olives, the old wall and the fine stone houses. Every Friday, Mohammed together with his nearest and dearest went to the Al Asqa Mosque to say the important prayers of the week.
    In those days, they used to watch how the sun went down in the distance…
    …Now Muhammad is shut up in a prison. Not in a cell, not in a little room, but in a lost future, a lost history, a lost dream. The view of the gilded dome has changed now. Every morning when Muhammad comes out onto the veranda he is met by a nine meter tall, dead, grey concrete wall. It snakes its way up through the beautiful olive covered hillside like a dead, grey dragon, the dragon is dead, but it still kills. It kills everything on the eastern side where the sun no longer sets in the distance; it kills everything where the twilight comes early…


  10. john h
    October 7, 2011, 6:15 pm

    “President Jimmy Carter believes that the Jewish colonization of Jerusalem and the West Bank is apartheid. When I visited him at his library in Atlanta, he spoke about Palestinian suffering. During his remarks, he wept.”

    One of the greatest presidents, who put justice and truth above his potential for a second term.

    A man of great integrity, a man who lived his faith and was not fooled by Zionist lies or seduced by money and power.

    • Citizen
      October 8, 2011, 7:40 pm

      Evangelicals aren’t made like Carter anymore; instead Hagees are made. And Bachmanns, Palins, etc.

  11. Les
    October 7, 2011, 6:59 pm

    Rabbi Ellis, many years ago, responding to a caller on WBAI, you advised that in your opinion, observing Jewish rituals does not necessarily make a person a good Jew. That is so very much like Reinhold Niebuhr’s concern about the hubris of Christians specifically, but of people generally.

  12. Sherri Munnerlyn
    October 7, 2011, 11:45 pm

    Confessions: I look at Christians, myself included, in the US and I see a group who has largely turned away from the teachings of Jesus. He said love your enemies, for God made the sun rise on and the rain come down on them too, He loves them, too. We accept never ending wars, noone speaks against them, on military holidays in my Church I listen to words that compare the sacrifices of soldiers with the sacrifice of Jesus. I hear this and I want to run away and throw up, but I stay and stand there in the choir and sing and cry. Lebanon, 2006, children are bombed and dying, for 34 days straight, and the US sends cluster bombs and arms shipments, to kill more children with. I cry out to God to stop the killing, protect the children, and I ask why, how long, and the answer I get is this is only the beginning. 9/11 comes and goes and we respond with a war in Iraq, over a million have died. I have this image of blood on my hands, rising higher and higher, it won’t go away. God says write, write, and all I can write is about the blood on my hands. I don’t think about it all the time, now, but it is still there. We are still killing, and it is as if noone sees it, if the government does it, it is not sin, it does not really have anything to do with us. So, in my Church, noone talks about the wars, the innocent who hurt and die in them, except to say we know these things must come, and they talk about prayer being taken out of schools and the danger of homosexuals. How can we have a real Revival when our hearts are hardened to our sins? How can we repent when we do not even see and acknowledge our sins and turn away from our sins? Without repentance, there is no future for our nation

    • annie
      October 8, 2011, 12:03 am

      find a new church

      • Chaos4700
        October 8, 2011, 1:33 am

        I’d recommend Quakers myself, they’re the most genuine Christians I’ve ever interacted with. I considered joining them myself but I’ve determined that organized religion just isn’t my destiny. You may not have noticed this but I’m not exactly a team player.

    • richb
      October 8, 2011, 11:21 am

      As Christians we too often look at the “church” as the individual congregations of which we are members. In reality the church is the ekklesia, the called out ones. Like you I’m in an individual congregation that is similar to what you describe. We oftentimes are called to be a voice of one crying in the Wilderness and are to comforted like Elijah that there is a remnant who haven’t bowed the knee to Ba’al. You are not alone. See this:

  13. yourstruly
    October 8, 2011, 11:40 am

    what is the great divide among jews?

    on whose side, the indigenous people of palestine, the palestinians, or the settlers (jewish israelis) who occupy palestine?

    why should a jew put justice for palestine before jewish occupation of that land?

    the jewish tradition of always siding with the oppressed, never with the oppressor

    even when the oppressor is a co-religionist?

    especially then

    what about ritual, myths & such, shouldn’t these bridge any divide between jews?

    these are of trivial importance, compared to the committment to justice for all

    based on?

    the you are i, i am you, we are one

  14. jimby
    October 8, 2011, 3:45 pm

    great article in al jazeera today. it’s an interview by mark levine with udi aloni.

    >”Even if you show people the truth time and time again, they will still be blind to it. And so, for example, the demonstrators who march for housing in Tel Aviv couldn’t see the link between their struggle and the Palestinian refugees’ longing for home. American Jews can be so liberal in the US and yet use proto-fascist language when it comes to Israel.

    One possible conclusion is that these people are just evil or duplicitous, but I don’t believe that. Rather, there is clearly a social unconscious that blinds people to the truth. This is beyond changing individual consciousness or having a logical conversation. It can be an infuriating experience to invoke logic and see that people don’t understand your arguments, and this is in part why the left often becomes so angry and bitter.”>

    seems like he had poor richard in mind. he is lost in his scotoma. can’t see for all the blind spots.

  15. Justice Please
    October 8, 2011, 4:09 pm

    Sorry if this has been covered/mentioned elsewhere. But speaking of sins, Israeli colonists’ sins, read this piece at Tikkun Olam and weep:

    “what Idan Landau has done is to focus very specifically on the level of sexual violence meted out to the female protesters by the settlers.

    ‘When the wives of the male attackers saw their husbands hitting male and female protestors alike, they [the settler women] applauded and spat at me: ‘Traitor,’ ‘You deserve it.’ And when they heard their husbands threaten us: ‘We’ll fuck you in the ass,’ they suddenly turned into men themselves, applauding their husbands’ sexual conquests as if they were one of the boys.’

    So far, not a peep from the Israeli government about an investigation of this incident or prosecution of the criminal acts that took place. Really, they can’t. 70% of the residents of Anatot are police officers. Can they try ten or fifteen police officers for serious crimes without the entire national police force rising up as one in protest? These criminals are, in effect, the state. Can the state arrest and try itself?”

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