Trending Topics:

Rabbi Brant Rosen steps down from Jewish Reconstructionist Synagogue saying his activism on Israel/Palestine has been ‘lightning rod for division’

FeaturesUS Politics
on 211 Comments

This is part of Marc H. Ellis’s “Exile and the Prophetic” feature for Mondoweiss. To read the entire series visit the archive page.

The Jewish Reconstructionist Synagogue in Evanston, Illinois is looking for a new rabbi. Rabbi Brant Rosen is moving on. No one who is really going to look Israel in the eye need apply.

Here is Rosen’s letter to the congregation:

It is with sadness that I write to let you know that I am resigning as rabbi of JRC. I have informed the Board of my decision, which will be made effective at a mutually determined date in the upcoming months.

As many of you know, I have long considered social justice activism – particularly regarding the issue of Israel/Palestine – to be a central aspect of my rabbinate. Recently, however, it has become clear that my activism has become a lightning rod for division at JRC. This crisis has taken an increasingly emotional toll on our community – and it has taken a considerable toll on my own well being as well. Given the current environment in our congregation, I believe my decision to resign is the healthiest one for all concerned.

I want to make it clear that this decision is mine alone. The Board has not asked me for my resignation, nor have I experienced any pressure from our congregational leadership to curtail my activism as a result of this controversy. On the contrary, I have been deeply inspired by the efforts of our leaders in responding to this crisis. Our Board has consistently responded with immense thoughtfulness and care for all concerned. For this I will be forever grateful.

My decision to leave JRC is a difficult and painful one. For the past seventeen years, JRC has been a profoundly important spiritual community for my family. Hallie and I have raised our children here, we have created deep and lasting friendships, and we have keenly experienced celebrations, joys and sorrows together with so many of you. JRC will always occupy a cherished place in our hearts.

I know I will have the opportunity to say a proper goodbye to our members during the months ahead. In the meantime, I’d like to express my sincerest gratitude to the JRC staff and leadership – particularly President David Tabak – for their support, their guidance and their faith in me. I pledge to do my utmost to work with them to ensure that the upcoming rabbinic transition goes as smoothly as possible.

However painful this decision, I am looking forward to the future with optimism and hope. While I do not yet know what my professional future will be, I know all too well that our losses invariably lead to new possibilities and opportunities that we might never have dared to imagine. I have no doubt that the same will be true of JRC’s future as well.

In this season of renewal and new beginnings, I know in my heart we will find our way to a future of healing and hope.

Here is the President of the congregation:

These have been challenging years for JRC since Rabbi Rosen began his personal yet public exploration of his relationship to Israel. His activism has deeply hurt some JRC members and greatly inspired others. Rabbi Rosen’s decision to step down as JRC’s rabbi is courageous, admirable and reflects his genuine love of our community. I wish him nothing but success and peace on the next leg of his journey.

There will be a myriad of emotions as a result of Rabbi Rosen’s resignation. It would be unfair of me to ask people to put aside their feelings. That being said, I hope we can all acknowledge that no one has a monopoly on hurt or love for JRC and our mutual goal is a place of healing and community. The work of the recently formed Israel Programming Committee will be integral to that process. We are all the authors of JRC’s future and we have much work to do together.

So what comes next? First and foremost, the functions of JRC will continue. Rabbi Rosen and Cantor Friedland will officiate our High Holiday services. Religious school will be held. B’nei Mitzvah will be celebrated. According to Rabbi Rosen’s contract, he must provide us with six months’ notice and I am grateful for his assistance in ensuring a smooth transition. There will be opportunities, both public and private for proper goodbyes. I will soon convene a search committee. I am sure they will seek input into the qualities our next spiritual leader should possess. I ask for patience and understanding as we navigate these uncharted waters. Please know we are trying our best and only have the good of the community in mind.

JRC is fortunate to have a committed Board, talented staff and dedicated members and I look forward to working together to write the next chapter in JRC’s history.

Please do not hesitate to contact me with any questions, concerns or suggestions.

The whole thing is sad beyond words – who we have become. Rosen is one of the few rabbis in America with an ethical spine. He’s an outspoken advocate for Palestinian rights and co-chair of the Jewish Voice for Peace Rabbinical Council. I’m not sure what more needs to be said to analyze the situation.

Jewish congregational life, no matter how divided, can’t support Jewish leadership that has the prophetic at its core. All of us know this. Not that Rabbi Rosen rubbed Jewish ethics in the congregation’s faces. By all accounts, Rabbi Rosen is as all around good guy who paid attention to his congregants as persons with personal needs. Perhaps it was just his presence that challenged Jews who feel they’re on the cutting edge of the Reconstructionist sense of Jewish civilization.

Maybe the war in Gaza was the final straw. Rabbi Rosen and his congregation came face to face with the end-times of Jewish history. Rosen stood fast. It seems that Rabbi Rosen’s synagogue leadership blinked. What happened behind the scenes will probably remain secret – except for the voluminous leaks that are part of the vibrancy of congregational life.

Voluntary or forced and probably a combination of the two, Rabbi Rosen has his ticket to ride.

The Jewish rails?

Exile it is Rabbi Rosen! Welcome to the New Diaspora!

About Marc H. Ellis

Marc H. Ellis is Professor of History and Jewish Studies and Director of the Center for the Study of the Global Prophetic. His new book, Finding Our Voice: Embodying the Prophetic and Other Misadventures, is forthcoming.

Other posts by .

Posted In:

211 Responses

  1. just
    September 3, 2014, 2:42 pm

    What a shame, but not surprising really.

    There is a bright side, though. He’s certainly still “an outspoken advocate for Palestinian rights and co-chair of the Jewish Voice for Peace Rabbinical Council” isn’t he?

    One doesn’t need a synagogue in order to spread the word.

    • Mooser
      September 3, 2014, 5:18 pm

      “One doesn’t need a synagogue in order to spread the word.”

      Look, a guy’s a Rabbi, that get’s in your blood. He’s used to Rabbi-ing at least once a week. I think Rabbi Rosen should rent a building, hold services, stay in mid-season form. He doesn’t want to lose those resonant chest-tones which make the ancient invocations so effective. I don’t think he will preach to an empty building. I bet he could take a lot of people with him.

      • just
        September 3, 2014, 5:33 pm

        Yes!!! Lots and lots of sane people will join his flock.

        I know that many of us wish you could lead the flock out of the Ziocentric morass, but here we have a bonafide Rabbi who appears committed to the tenets of Judaism and justice.

      • Mooser
        September 3, 2014, 6:05 pm

        “But here we have a bonafide Rabbi who appears committed to the tenets of Judaism and justice.”

        And he won’t be the only one. (So he needs to get started, a jump on the competition never hurts! Somebody needs to catch on fire!

      • Annie Robbins
        September 3, 2014, 6:18 pm

        i was thinking along the same lines mooser. i’m sure something big is ahead for him.

        and as an aside, anyone know what the Israel Programming Committee mentioned by the President of the congregation is?

      • Mooser
        September 3, 2014, 6:49 pm

        Yes, and when Rabbi Rosen is established in his new Temple, we should hold a banquet, to unite all the branches of Judaism, like they did in 1883 when the first Reform Rabbis got ordained!

      • just
        September 3, 2014, 7:34 pm

        Good question Annie.

        All I can find is this:

        “Hakafa’s Israel Programming Committee develops and promotes programs that provide our congregation with a better understanding of and connection to Israel, the land, and its people. All Hakafa members are invited to join this committee. ”

        I can’t find anything on the congregation’s website, but what do I know? You’re on to something, I think. ;))

      • Mooser
        September 3, 2014, 7:49 pm

        Click Here! to see the “top 65 way Israel is saving the world” from the Israel Programming Committee!

        Pretty clear what they are all about, and whooppe! they will be “integral to the process” at the Temple.

      • just
        September 3, 2014, 8:08 pm

        Scanned that and kinda, sorta figured out why Rabbi Rosen has other priorities.

        Stuff about loggerhead turtles, bees, potatoes,Africans (not a word about the ones in prison camps in Israel, though), water, etc.

        Nary a word about Occupied Palestine nor Occupied and terrorized Palestinians.

      • W.Jones
        September 3, 2014, 8:15 pm


        21. Norway is sending teachers to Israel to learn how to revitalize the Lapp language of Sámi
        . Of about 10 Sámi dialects once spoken in the country, only four are still known among the estimated 100,000 Sámi-speakers of Lapland and current teaching methods are not successful. Israel is considered an expert in reviving old languages because of its experience recreating Hebrew. Israeli language experts have worked with experts in Scotland and Wales, where long-suppressed minority languages are now making a comeback

        35. A new Israeli-developed tooth varnish is saving the lives of kangaroos in captivity who often fall victim to a contagious, and sometimes fatal, gum condition called lumpy jaw disease.

        36. An Israeli research team has found a way to mate male prawns and increase yields and profitability for farmers.

        41. Israel is the world-recognized leader in raising therapeutic clowning to the level of a standardized, research – backed healthcare discipline. Its internationally renowned Dream Doctors Project has trained and placed nearly 100 practitioners at 22 hospitals in Israel. Dream Doctors worked with the University of Haifa to establish the world’s only academic degree program in clown therapy as a paramedical profession. Much of the groundbreaking research on the measurable effects of medical clowning is being
        done in Israel and shared in international forums.

        43. Earlier this month, Israel set up a field hospital along its border with Syria to treat Syrians wounded in the country’s bloody civil war. Though Syria is an enemy nation, Israeli army medics have been treating dozens of wounded Syrian civilians at the makeshift hospital

        Is this true:

        8. Israeli doctors are flying to Africa to help train local medical personnel in male medical circumcision with the organization Operation Abraham , in an effort to halt the AIDS epidemic there. Studies suggest that more than half of all HIV infections could be stopped if men were circumcised.

      • W.Jones
        September 3, 2014, 8:24 pm

        With a Committee publication promoting the state’s achievements as saving the world, I am not surprised that Rosen, who is not a religious nationalist, had contention, unfortunately:

        56. In October 2011, despite a severe diplomatic crisis in the wake of the deadly Gaza flotilla raid over a year earlier, Israel sent a package of aid to Turkey

        60. The United Nations turned to an Israeli company to help purify water for Syrians suffering water contamination during the country’s current violent conflict. The Israeli government blessed the deal despite a law nixing trade with an enemy state

        64. Strawberries, sweet peppers, cucumbers and eggplants are just some of the crops that are much healthier today because of some tiny little insects and mites bred in Israel. Kibbutz
        -based Bio – Bee breeds beneficial insects for biological pest control , which enable farmers to reduce the use of chemical pesticides by 75 percent. The company exports eight different species of biological control agents, plus pollinating bumblebees, to 32 nations from Japan and the US to Chile.

      • W.Jones
        September 4, 2014, 2:08 am


        Do you know of openly non-nationalist Reform synagogues?

        I don’t know if this one still is:

        Congregation Beth Elohim, also known as the Garfield Temple and the Eighth Avenue Temple, is a Reform Jewish congregation located at 274 Garfield Place and Eighth Avenue, in the Park Slope neighborhood of Brooklyn…

        They planned “for a meeting of non-Zionist Reform Rabbis to discuss the problems that confront Judaism and Jews in the world emergency”, to be held in Atlantic City. 36 rabbis eventually attended the two-day conference on June 1, 1942, including Beth Israel’s Landman. The conference led to the formation of the anti-Zionist American Council for Judaism

      • Betsy
        September 4, 2014, 10:40 am

        @Mooser — may it be so. And, I hope that he sets in place *democratic* structures for self-governance… with transparency & accountability…

      • Mooser
        September 4, 2014, 3:36 pm

        “Do you know of openly non-nationalist Reform synagogues?”

        As soon as I read about it in Mondoweiss, I’ll tell you. What am I saying, you read Mondo, too! So you’ll know about the same time I do.
        Of course, who knows if they will also call it “Reform”? I don’t think they will, but who knows.

      • Mooser
        September 4, 2014, 3:40 pm

        W. Jones, you should Google and see if “Congregation Beth Elohim” has any web presence. But there’s been a lot of water under the bridge since 1942, the date mentioned for that meeting. Good find!

      • Mooser
        September 4, 2014, 3:46 pm

        “And, I hope that he sets in place *democratic* structures for self-governance… with transparency & accountability…”

        Especially concerning the catering for the big banquet!

      • Mooser
        September 5, 2014, 3:35 pm

        Is this true:

        8. Israeli doctors are flying to Africa to help train local medical personnel in male medical circumcision with the organization Operation Abraham , in an effort to halt the AIDS epidemic there. Studies suggest that more than half of all HIV infections could be stopped if men were circumcised.

        Well, WJones, all I can say is, there’s two ways to find out if that’s true, the easy way, or the hard way. It’s up to you which one you choose.

      • Mooser
        September 7, 2014, 11:25 am

        “36. An Israeli research team has found a way to mate male prawns and increase yields and profitability for farmers.”

        As a Jew, all I can do is pretend I didn’t see that. My God, prawns. And both male? And Israel calls itself “Jewish”?

  2. GJB
    September 3, 2014, 3:13 pm

    This is discouraging on so many levels. As a progressive Jew, I have come to see Brant Rosen as one of my spiritual as well as political heroes. That he has been able to lead a major congregation for all this time had been a source of optimism that holding progressive views on Israel/Palestine might not necessarily be a career killer for a pulpit rabbi. So much for that. On the other hand, as Brant said, change leads to new possibilities. I am sure that he will continue to provide his inspiring brand of spiritual and political leadership through JVP and perhaps other new vehicles that he will play a role in developing. And I look forward to continuing to read his marvelous blog, Shalom Rav.

    • amigo
      September 4, 2014, 1:01 pm

      Reply to Mooser upthread.

      “6. About 1.6 million children under the age of five die from untreated drinking water in developing nations every year. An Israeli company has developed a water purification system that delivers safe drinking water from almost any source, including contaminated water, seawater and even urine.”

      they must have gotten their research material from Gaza.

      from the list of 65 ways Israel is helping the world.

  3. seafoid
    September 3, 2014, 3:46 pm

    Just the start of a massive crisis for Judaism. Land or morality . You choose.

    I was listening to this today. It reminded me of Yossi Israeli and his grim future and why Rogel alpher is leaving Israel.
    The Palestinians, on the other hand, have clarity. And dignity.

    • just
      September 3, 2014, 4:04 pm

      What a great song and voice.

      You nailed that comment seafoid. There are some like JJ Goldberg that refuse to admit it, though:

      “So You Really Think Liberal Zionism Is Dead?
      Gaza Did Not Spell the End of the Two-State Solution”

      • seafoid
        September 3, 2014, 4:18 pm

        MJ Rosenberg is really fighting for clarity but he’s not there yet.
        It’s very interesting to watch his personal process progress.

    • Susan A
      September 4, 2014, 2:29 am

      Thank you seafoid for again posting something so special. Yes, just, this is a wonderful, wonderful song. It reminds me of a lovely lady I know called Diana, of Jewish South African origin who once said to me that she had always been afraid to speak out; it wasn’t until either 2006 or 2008/9 (I can’t remember which) when she decided that she could no longer remain silent, and now she is one of the best and most effective activists I know, someone who does very important work. It’s very sad, though, that Rabbi Rosen has had to resign a post that he so loved. But I’m sure his beautiful voice will continue to be heard as I can’t imagine him stopping now. Once we know and speak out there’s no stopping us. It seems that every large-scale atrocity that is perpetrated brings out more and more people. We will continue, recognising the courage, fortitude, generosity of spirit and good humour of the Palestinian people and try to be like them, not forgetting people like Brant Rosen who also embodies all those qualities.

      • just
        September 4, 2014, 11:22 am

        Well said Susan A!

  4. Ron Edwards
    September 3, 2014, 4:15 pm

    Wow – I don’t know if this will turn out a victory or a loss. Rabbi Brant is a hero to me and has demonstrated his integrity many times in my presence. Any activist or religious group would benefit immensely from his participation, and I hope that more than one has the sense to offer him a new professional home.

  5. seafoid
    September 3, 2014, 4:28 pm

    “the qualities our next spirtitual leader should possess”

    They are probably looking for a Dick Cheney type decider who also has good knowledge of scripture and is able to zero on certain topics without paying any attention to the big picture.

  6. seafoid
    September 3, 2014, 4:39 pm

    Another sad song for Judaism

    How did we lose this great right?
    Everything burns in our path
    The balance we broke, left us running through smoke
    You’re at the blue light of the flame

    • just
      September 3, 2014, 6:01 pm

      Oh my. Dar is one of my favorites, and that song is as well!

      • Susan A
        September 4, 2014, 2:37 am

        Yes, another sad song. I didn’t know either of these: obviously listening to too much Assaf. He’s coming to London in November…….Yay! Something positive to look forward to :) It’s a benefit concert for MAP (Medical Aid for Palestinians); It’s founder has just been denied entry into Gaza so nothing’s changed on that front. :(

      • seafoid
        September 4, 2014, 8:16 am

        She is such a Mensch. She reminds me a bit of Joni Mitchell, the way she carries emotion into her lyrics.
        I love this one as well

        What is happening to all those babysitters in Israel ? So depressing.

      • just
        September 4, 2014, 8:36 am

        Years ago I was fortunate enough to see her, Lucy Kaplansky and Richard Shindell in their band Cry, Cry, Cry……..

        This is one of my favorites ‘The Ballad of Mary Magdalen’ with Dar singing lead.

  7. Mooser
    September 3, 2014, 5:55 pm

    So the next Rabbi at Reconstruction Synagogue will have to swear, as a condition of employment, that he align with Likud? And let the IDF vet his sermons? They should get some very distinguished candidates!

  8. Pixel
    September 3, 2014, 7:11 pm

    Brant Rosen.

    The man is a legend.

  9. rhipidon
    September 3, 2014, 7:53 pm

    This is a terrible loss. I will always feel honored that Rabbi Rosen was one of the officiants at my wedding. He is an intelligent, caring, ethical man, and I’m sad to see he’s leaving.

  10. talknic
    September 3, 2014, 7:53 pm

    “we have created deep and lasting friendships”

    I fear they’re about to find out just how deep and lasting zioinfected friendships aren’t

  11. Liz18
    September 3, 2014, 8:00 pm

    This is sad to hear. Brant officiated at my wedding at the JRC. He is a class act and I am grateful for his friendship. I have been a member there for many years. What kept me renewing my membership was having Brant as the Rabbi there. I won’t be renewing my membership this year.

  12. crankylibrarian
    September 3, 2014, 9:20 pm

    Okay, I am a proud JRC member and an ardent supporter of Brant, so I feel honor bound to correct some misstatements. That list of ways Israel has saved the world did NOT come from JRC; Hakafa is a completely different synagogue.

    The mood at JRC is one of anger, disbelief and tremendous grief. Rest assured, we will not be looking for a Jewish Dick Cheney, or a Likud supporter. The pendulum has swung too far in the opposite direction and I think those who opposed Brant are quickly going to find that they have antagonized a lot of (formerly) dues paying members, including most of the young people who represent JRC and Judaism’s future.

    • Annie Robbins
      September 3, 2014, 11:09 pm

      it must be very sad for the people in the community who will miss him. it will be very difficult even imagining filling that space.

    • ritzl
      September 3, 2014, 11:28 pm

      Perhaps (probably) a naive qestion, crankylibrarian, but what prevents JRC members who believe in Rabbi Rosen’s message and way from forming your own, new congregation?

      Is the power of the familiar group more powerful than the message? (Not a gotcha, it’s not at all uncommon that it is, in all sorts of settings.)

      Sincere questions, asked as a generic, and prompted by my belief that Rosen’s departure almost certainly means that no one even close to his introspection, forthrightness, and stature will be brought in to replace him. He pretty obviously lost the internal battle of the power of conscience at JRC. His replacement will start from there.

      Good luck. Thanks for your insights.

      • Mooser
        September 5, 2014, 3:45 pm

        “Perhaps (probably) a naive qestion, crankylibrarian, but what prevents JRC members who believe in Rabbi Rosen’s message and way from forming your own, new congregation? “

        Well, they will probably have to sit on hard folding chairs in a drafty room with a bad sound system for a while. Maybe in a not-so-good part of town.
        But only for a little while, I think.

        And there are a few religious requirements, whether honored or honored in the breech, about holding a Jewish religious service. You need a minyan, but that’s only ten people.

        I do not think there is any dispensation, consecration, permission or religious objects from a central religious authority needed. In fact, I think you can order everything you need on the Web.

    • just
      September 4, 2014, 12:23 am

      crankylibrarian– I am sorry that you are sad.

    • Shingo
      September 4, 2014, 6:10 pm

      Thanks for that insight cranky.

  13. just
    September 3, 2014, 10:50 pm

    Hakafa is a different congregation and has affiliations with JRC. The President of JRC said “The work of the recently formed Israel Programming Committee will be integral to that process.”

    Do you have any information on what the IPC is @ JRC?

    • just
      September 3, 2014, 11:02 pm

      Clarification: I can’t find anything on the JRC website about the IPC. When I googled IPC, I found Hakafa. Because they appear to have ties and Hakafa welcomes folks with this statement:

      “Hakafa means “encirclement.”
      We are a congregation of people.
      We choose to have no building,
      no board of directors
      and no fund-raising.
      As our circle grows,
      our intimate, caring and
      welcoming atmosphere

      I wonder if JRC is joining in their IPC.

      • crankylibrarian
        September 5, 2014, 11:49 pm

        Our Israel Programming committee is not affiliated with any other organization with a similar name. It’s just a congregational committee tasked with planning programs on various aspects of Israel. It has no ties, repeat NO TIES with Hakafa or any other group. It was formed in response to complaints that JRC programs related to Israel were too one-sided, (interesting that this complaint came from members on both sides of the spectrum).

        Why don’t we form our own congregation? Because we have been members for decades. Because we love and our proud of our new building (which Brant was instrumental in getting built). Because we believe in fighting for our community, and not abandoning it because of the pettiness of a few.

        No congregation is ever going to be in total agreement about every issue. The question we are facing is how to disagree agreeably and openly, how to repair the anger and hurt that has occurred and keep it from happening again. Israel isn’t really the problem, it’s the underhanded, bullying and mean-spirited techniques that were used that are the problem; that and the apapthy of the many decent ,middle of the road members who weren’t paying attention and didn’t take action until now, when it’s too late to keep Brant.

      • Annie Robbins
        September 6, 2014, 12:01 am

        Because we believe in fighting for our community, and not abandoning it because of the pettiness of a few.

        do you mean rabbi rosen is leaving because of the pettiness of a few?

        it’s the underhanded, bullying and mean-spirited techniques that were used that are the problem; that and the apathy of the many decent, middle of the road members who weren’t paying attention and didn’t take action until now, when it’s too late to keep Brant.

        how do you know that it is too late? if there was “underhanded, bullying and mean-spirited technique” then it is the duty of all people of good will to rectify that and not to allow underhanded, bullying and mean-spiritedness to rein. why don’t those people leave if anyone is going to leave? how is your community going to heal if people and techniques such as these prevail? if i were you i would make a stand now. otherwise routing out this kind of behavior will only become more difficult. how are you going to prevent those same people from using their influence to get their way in choosing a new rabbi?

        Because we love and our proud of our new building

        hmm. there’s value, and then there’s value.

      • Mooser
        September 6, 2014, 5:05 pm

        “Because we love and our proud of our new building”

        It must be beautiful, like a Holy Land in itself.

      • Mooser
        September 7, 2014, 11:28 am
      • Mooser
        September 7, 2014, 11:31 am

        “that and the apathy of the many decent, middle of the road members who weren’t paying attention”

        Hey, if you’re on a Jews-only road, why pay too much attention? It’s not as if there’s a lot of traffic. Just hit the cruise control and the CD player!

      • Danaa
        September 8, 2014, 5:48 am


        I have a question – why does your congregation even need Israel in the picture? isn’t it best all around to divorce israel – and whatever it came to stand for (nothing much that’s good left) – from what you consider Jewish values? is there, in fact, a single “Jewish value” Israel stands for (other than “it’s all about us, so bugger off”)?

        I really can’t understand why jewish congregations, reconstructive, reform or conservative – still want any connection with israel. Just call it a day and join the rest of the enlightened, civilized world – including many Christian denominations – in confronting the true ugliness that Israel has become. If jewish congregations don’t start doing that real soon, none should be surprised if the good name of Judaism itself – in any of its social/congregational /communal manifestations – and all its spiritual accomplishments – will be dragged into the mud, there to become entangled with genocide, blood-letting, hubris and colonialism.

        Divorce and renunciation – that is the only salvation for Judaism (not that you would ever get me back …lost interest, I fear. Too much hypocrisy and hubris has been revealed to salvage much – but perhaps others could use a little comfort now and then).

      • Mooser
        September 8, 2014, 12:17 pm

        Wow, that is some comment, Danaa. The kind of comment only a non-Jewish person who has never lived in Israel could make!

        (Just kidding)

      • Danaa
        September 8, 2014, 3:05 pm

        Mooser, you may surmise I am losing patience a bit (even as you are gaining?). I am becoming more harsh, I know. But also I have this sinking feeling that time is running out for a lot of things. Thanks for not chopping down – off to the dictionary now to find a softer package…..may be there is some new verbiage on sale…

      • Mooser
        September 8, 2014, 5:44 pm

        I agree Danaa, a lot of this stuff is not easy to take.

      • Mooser
        September 8, 2014, 5:51 pm

        Me, gaining patience? No, not at all!!

  14. Annie Robbins
    September 4, 2014, 12:05 am

    this is really beautiful

    Just before the caisson drilling commenced, our congregation’s president, Alan Saposnik, came up with an inspired idea. Since we are constructing pillars to support our congregation, why not create eighteen symbolic “pillars” of our community – spiritual values that we could somehow connect to the physical caissons? And the fact that we would be drilling eighteen underground pillars was just perfect. Eighteen, after all, is a celebrated Jewish number: equalling “life” according to Hebrew numerology.

    I took Alan’s idea to our 4th and 7th grade religious school students. I did my best to explain the concept of caissons to them, then we read a classic Jewish text from Pirke Avot (“The Chapters of the Fathers”): Rabbi Shimon the Righteous said, “the world stands on three things: study, worship and acts of lovingkindness.’ What, I asked our students, would you consider to be the eighteen “pillars” upon which our congregational community stands?

    Then together we brainstormed eighteen spiritual values of our JRC community: God, Judaism, Joy, Prayer, Hope, Respect, Partnership, Song, Tikkun Olam, Community, Study, Freedom, Friendship, Spirit, Learning, Peace, Growth, and Love.

    Afterwards, I wrote out the values on a separate pieces of paper and each one was placed by the construction crew into a separate caisson shaft to be mixed together with the concrete, becoming a permanent part of JRC’s support structure.

    Marc Bonnivier, our construction supervisor, just LOVED the idea. He later mentioned to me his workers were so enthusiastic about it, they each jockeyed for a turn to place a paper slip into the shafts after they were drilled. Needless to say, working with JRC is turning out to be a unexpectedly unique experience for him and his entire crew.

    I love the notion that these unseen but powerful pillars for our building will be a permanent support structure to our community in more ways than one.

    from JRC Construction Diary #2

    those spiritual values ….. powerful unseen pillars…permanent support structure for your community in more ways than one… Rabbi Rosen will always be there, even when it seems as tho he is not.

  15. Clif Brown
    September 4, 2014, 12:06 am

    One of the things that has always impressed me about Judaism is a feeling of freedom to have a house of worship without the kind of physical structure that Christian churches favor if they can at all afford it. You don’t need a steeple, in fact I see storefronts that are synagogues. It’s what goes on inside, not the external appearance, that counts. That said, the JRC building is outstanding, grabbing the eye while at the same time being environmentally state-of-the-art. It seemed appropriate to me that Rabbi Rosen was there, being the stand out that he is. But things change…

    The alderwoman for the ward in which the JRC building sits has complained in the past that there are too many storefront churches on nearby Howard Street. Rabbi Rosen could help the lady out with something different – a storefront synagogue! : ) I would imagine a wall or two might need to be knocked down to provide adequate space for those who would like to join him.

    In nearby Wilmette there is a church building shared by Christians and Jews, each group having their own services. Evanston has under-utilized churches (like gargantuan First Methodist). Surely the rabbi would not have to go far to find a new home. Whatever happens, the area in which he (and I) live is a great place to be for those with thoughts that differ from the usual.

  16. David Green
    September 4, 2014, 10:26 am

    Rabbi Rosen spoke here in Urbana last Spring. I’m astonished by his knowledge, rationality, calmness, and dignity. In fact, in some ways I’m jealous of it. He sets an example that I haven’t always been able to follow. Did I forget to say “courage.”?

  17. shalom
    September 4, 2014, 10:57 am

    Rabbi Rosen has been and remains an outspoken critic of the current policies of the State of Israel and as Rabbinical Co-Chair of Jewish Voice for Peace he is responsible for promoting an activist policy of BDS and their in your face challenges to the mainstream Jewish Community. There are places where that may be acceptable, or tolerated. But in general the left is not that left and the right is not that tolerant. I understand and commiserate with the difficulty of the left to have its fair say across the Jewish community and am glad to witness the efforts of synagogues, Federation’s and even JCRC’s to promote dialogue, education and to have the guts to open a difficult conversation instead of close it.

    • Elliot
      September 4, 2014, 8:09 pm

      “am glad to witness the efforts of synagogues, Federation’s and even JCRC’s to promote dialogue, education and to have the guts to open a difficult conversation instead of close it.”

      You gotta be kidding. The role of Jewish Federations and JCRC around the country is to go after people like Rabbi Rosen and to enforce orthodoxy on the Israel question . Their so-called “big tent” dialog initiatives are designed specifically to draw J Street types into the fold and leave JVP out in the cold.
      They did say “big tent”, not XL.

      • Mooser
        September 4, 2014, 9:27 pm

        Tents are not expensive, and can be purchased or rented. It is not uncommon to hold religious events in tents. You can probably rent tents, complete with dais and seating.

      • shalom
        September 4, 2014, 11:42 pm

        I guess it’s all about what one considers to be legitimate. If the board of a Federation doesn’t have enough liberal representation to let J Street participate it’s one thing. If it doesn’t believe that supporting BDS and shouting down speakers at events is legitimate I think that is another thing. I personally believe that everyone should have a right to speak and no one should be shouted down. But I’m writing a reply on Mondo and the orientation of most of this audience is anti-Zionist at the very least. So I realize what I am suggesting will not fly here.

      • Annie Robbins
        September 5, 2014, 12:13 am

        well shalom, jvp doesn’t have a right to speak at hillel. they are not welcome there and it’s not because they shout people down, it is because hillel, and reut who designed the big tent strategy have red lines. those red lines don’t include discussion of apartheid or talk of bds at events, even tho i read in an report in the hebrew press last week 63% of israelis are not shopping at arab businesses. so they believe in boycott. they believe in sanctioning iran, in principle zionists support boycotts, just not of israel. so let’s not pretend this is about shouting down anyone. this is about not being offered a seat at the table and making your voice heard. maybe if they didn’t make those red lines about who gets into their tent, no one would have to shout.

        talking to us about guts, when many many leaders of the jewish community systematically pulls money from art and cultural events and film festivals based on the criteria they chose vs all jewish voices? that’s not guts and that’s what’s happening all over the US. this is a very common form of resistance, with your money. but don’t call it guts when one side is holding the purse strings based on political ideology while slamming the other for doing the same thing. that’s hypocrisy. that it’s done thru a religion, or thru a religious place, talk to me about guts when they are not setting the red lines about hot topics, like apartheid, like the ethnic cleansing of palestine. that’s guts.

      • just
        September 5, 2014, 12:16 am

        Once I rented a big tent for an important occasion because the weatherperson predicted a big rainstorm even though the weather seemed delightful.

        Turned out that it was big– it rained sideways and lightning tore and burned the tent.

        Not one happy camper nor attendee.

      • Elliot
        September 5, 2014, 8:40 am

        Annie – “in the hebrew press last week 63% of israelis are not shopping at arab businesses. so they believe in boycott. they believe in sanctioning iran, in principle zionists support boycotts, just not of israel.”

        The hypocrisy is blatant. Zionists will boycott people who boycott Israel.

      • Shmuel
        September 5, 2014, 9:18 am

        They did say “big tent”, not XL.

        The problem lies not in the size of the tent, but in that faulty flap on the left side. The resulting lack of proper ventilation also makes the air inside stale and unbreathable.

      • Mooser
        September 5, 2014, 11:28 am

        “But I’m writing a reply on Mondo and …”

        I’ll be waiting, pal. Can’t wait to read it and respond.

      • Mooser
        September 5, 2014, 5:45 pm

        Shalom, if Rabbi Brant get a position somewhere else, and people come to his Temple, and are willing to support its upkeep, do you have any way to stop it?

        Well, that’s all the “legitimacy” he needs, pal.

        Or do you plan on informing Rome of his heresies?

      • Mooser
        September 7, 2014, 11:33 am

        “The role of Jewish Federations and JCRC around the country is to go after people like…”

        Gosh, why shouldn’t this be simple. Why doesn’t somebody direct us to a Reconstructionist Judaism site, and we can see what Reconstruction Judaism says about Zionism. Shouldn’t take more than a few minutes.

  18. EChandler
    September 4, 2014, 11:06 am

    I for one, would love to see Rabbi Brant Rosen come home to Los Angeles (and I bet I could get his parents to support my idea too!) Los Angeles has a growing community who seek justice, security, self-determination and equality for all in the lands we call Israel and Palestine; and we are earthquake prepared!

    When I helped launch Jewish Voice for Peace, Los Angeles in 2010, I thought people would come, and they have. Now in 2014, I know that people in LA would come and thrive in the kind of Jewish congregational community that Rabbi Brant Rosen would build.

    • just
      September 4, 2014, 11:18 am

      Thanks for that comment and all your great work!

      I truly believe that wherever he chooses to be, our lives will continue to be enriched by him.

    • Mooser
      September 4, 2014, 6:19 pm

      “Now in 2014, I know that people in LA would come and thrive in the kind of Jewish congregational community that Rabbi Brant Rosen would build.”

      That is wonderful to hear. I have a strong feeling it would be so, that people are ready for something different in their Jewish organizations. But hearing it from someone who has experience organizing such a community, and has a more objective view, is heartwarming.
      My feeling is that thousands of people who have (for whatever that’s worth) ceased identifying with the Jewish community in any way would return in joyous fellowship, if an alternative, both in content and organization, was offered.

      At any rate, there is no reason for Jews to be passive. There is no authority who’s permission they must beg , there is no-one who can prohibit them. What are they going to do, sue?

      • ritzl
        September 4, 2014, 10:23 pm

        Great comment, Mooser.

      • Mooser
        September 5, 2014, 12:55 pm

        “Great comment, Mooser.”

        Nope, I spoke too soon. Looks like they are going to sue. Trademark infringement, copyright, intellectual property, all that stuff…

      • Mooser
        September 8, 2014, 6:00 pm

        “Looks like they are going to sue.”

        It gets worse. Got word this morning we are being written out of the will, too.
        From what I heard, there was a terrible scene with Judaism screaming :” And not one penny of Judaism’s money will you inherit if you keep this up! You’ll be saying the S’hma in a cold-water flat in a fifth-floor walk-up if you don’t watch out!”

        And then of course, the ultimate threat: “Judaism, if you don’t support Zionism, you’ll have to go to work! Yes, that’s right, get a job! No more sponging off Judaism!”

        Terrible scene, everybody thought the old man was just blowing off steam. But he got up early this morning, and last I heard, was on his way to the lawyer’s office.

    • Annie Robbins
      September 4, 2014, 11:49 pm

      thanks for all the great work you’ve done estee.

  19. Algodon
    September 4, 2014, 11:52 am

    I am as saddened as anyone by Brant’s decision to resign as rabbi at JRC, but I found myself a tad defensive for many of the good people in that congregation by a tone of contempt occasionally present in some comments. I was pleased that the crankylibrarian (above) clarified some misstatements and expressed her belief JRC will not lose prophetic leadership.

    I am a psychologist and Episcopal priest and have attended Brant’s Torah class for a number of years. It is far and away the best biblical study I have ever enjoyed, and I was warmly welcomed by Brant and the participants, some of whom have become good friends. I have attended other events at JRC as well as Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur services. I have great admiration for JRC’s expression of Tikkun Olam in reaching out in Africa, New Orleans and Israel/Palestine.

    Brant and I became friends sometime after operation Cast Lead in 2008-9. I share many, maybe all, of Brant’s convictions about what is happening in Israel/Palestine and the damage it is doing to the moral center of Judaism and, by the way, Christianity. My admiration for Brant and appreciation of his gentle soul has only grown over the years. Dr. Ellis referred to Brant as an “all around good guy”. He is more than that. He is a pastor of remarkable empathy and skill with a spirituality rare in clergy these days. If any readers have not sampled Brant’s Yedid Nefesh blog, they are missing a rich resource for their own spiritual growth.

    But back to JRC. My Evanston Episcopal parish went through a disaster in 2000 certainly equal to what JRC is facing. Walking the path of pastor and prophet is tricky business at best and, at worst, can exact a huge emotional toll from its clerical leadership. And it has done that in Brant and his family. In our implosion there was a nastiness like I’ve never seen, and I have no doubt there has been nastiness at JRC that helped bring about Brant’s resignation. The tragedy is that it is always a relatively small group that causes the damage. Too many do not stand up and even more don’t pay attention. But what happened at St. Luke’s and what is happening at JRC is classic stuff. It’s no surprise. Tribal wars, as Brant has reminded us, can be the meanest of all.

    St. Luke’s has mended. No, it has dug deeper than that. It has risen far above what we used to be, and I am proud of the new church we are becoming. The same will happen at JRC. Good people will lead it and will not forsake the brilliant witness Brant has provided. IF the good ones don’t leave. Hang in there, folks, there is more work to do, and you will honor Brant by doing it.

    Cotton Fite

    • just
      September 4, 2014, 3:23 pm

      Thanks for your insight and comment, Reverend Fite.

    • Mooser
      September 4, 2014, 4:06 pm

      “Hang in there, folks, there is more work to do, and you will honor Brant by doing it.”

      So it’s the congregation’s job to become spiritually complicit (at least) in Zionism in the hope that it might get better someday?

      “Tribal wars, as Brant has reminded us, can be the meanest of all.”

      Exf—king scuse me? Where does Rabbi Rosen say that? Doesn’t sound to me like something he would say. Which “tribes” are you talking about?

    • Danaa
      September 8, 2014, 6:42 am

      Algodon, your church could mend partly because in the end, you just had yourselves and your church and spiritual values to contend with and fall back on. I don’t know the details but reckon the strife was mostly internal. but the pressures that rabbi brant had to contend with were probably not only from within but also from without. And few people understand unfortunately the deeply poisonous stuff that emanates from the unholiest of “holy” lands.

      St. Luke’s probably did not have to deal with an external actor that every few years insists on committing yet another massacre, resulting in hundreds of dead children among other abominations. Yet, that place, Israel, puts itself as the gathering place of “jews” supposedly. And as long as it is there continuing to behave as it does, it’ll hang over like a dark shadow, a Democles Sword pitched to strike at the heart of every jewish adherent anywhere, every synagog, every community and every congregation, whether deeply devout or not.

      other churches may face grave issues and conflicts but not that most difficult of all challenges – excusing the death of innocent children in this day and age, brought straight into our homes, through our television screens where torrid little troopers who see themselves as avengers and masters of the land, clad like Roman centurions or mafia assassins, see fit to destroy everything in sight. Yet, excusing the atrocities and abominations is what every jewish congregation has been engaged in for months – to a greater or lesser extent. That can make for very difficult mending indeed. after all, Rabbi Brant made his own opinions and feelings known and excuses they were not. That is clearly one of the reasons he felt obliged to resign at this time (I don’t know the details so am merely surmising here).

      Perhaps the closest things I can think of is the plight of the catholic churches in the face of all the child abuses or – even closer – the position of muslim mosques that have to deal with the barbaric behavior of ISIS. Surely, few support ISIS among the vast majority of mosques but it is there – a specter that threatens to sully the name of any muslim anywhere. as well as islam itself

      Actually, I take it back – there can be no comparison. Most catholic churches denounced the behavior of bad priests, though not before damage was done. And the great majority of mosques around the country have nothing good to say about Isis. But the great majority of jewish congregations continue to extohl israel, continue to pretend that Israel stands for some kind of positive Jewish values, that the bloody excess of that renegade, barbarous state are “understandable’ because of some holocaust that happened long ago, or some barely believable clause of self-defense.

      No, there is no parallel anywhere. And I am sure that Rabbi Brant did the best he could as long as he could, until the great schism was right there, the elephant in the room, and he felt obliged to leave before the big guns are brought out and the big contributions dry up.

      Frankly, his resignation, and knowing what a good man he is, tells me all I need to know about what may or may not have transpired. Whatever happened it’s definitely a warning for the future of the jewish faith in any of its apparitions.

      • just
        September 8, 2014, 10:01 am

        Many thanks for your very thoughtful comments on this thread, Danaa.

      • ritzl
        September 8, 2014, 10:49 am

        Seconded, just.

      • W.Jones
        September 8, 2014, 11:19 am


        JRCMember claims that she was not aware that there was any serious problem, and thought that the critics were just 5%.

        What do you think about that?

      • Mooser
        September 8, 2014, 12:20 pm

        Thank You, Danaa!

      • jrcmember
        September 8, 2014, 2:26 pm

        I was aware that there was a serious problem. I just thought (or chose to believe) that it had been taken care of.

      • Danaa
        September 8, 2014, 2:57 pm

        W. Jones – it may very well have been just 5% – but it all depends on who that 5% is, and what they choose to do, doesn’t it? As Rev Fife below has said, in his church it was also a very small minority that caused the strife. Then again, it almost always is that small vocal minority, and not just in churches. Witness the Salaita firing and the discredit it brought upon the university. Or the sum total of all the complainers to the NYT for being too “anti-Israel”.

        An institution – be it a church, temple, a university, a city council, a newspaper, or a non-profit – is often at the mercy of vocal and motivated minorities which, due to some sway relating typically to contributions – can, at times move heaven and earth, threatening to bring the entire organization down if their specific, often narrowly defined wishes are not met.

        This, is the ultimate test of institutions, too – how steadfast they are in their commitment to their mission. Those which can resist will ultimately grow stronger. Those which don’t will keep hemmoraging good people and good will.

      • just
        September 8, 2014, 3:08 pm

        A gem.

      • Mooser
        September 9, 2014, 12:33 pm

        I mean, look, don’t you basically have three choices?
        First, the minister could be involved in a sexual peccadillo, or the money could be funny.
        Wait, Episcopal Church? Was the guy pushing gay marriage or gay ordination too hard?
        Was that the problem?

  20. palijustice
    September 4, 2014, 2:21 pm

    When a religion ties itself to a political entity, and makes them one, the conflict and misery stay forever. What Israel needs is separation of religion and state, and becoming a nation where all citizens have the same rights under the law. It needs a constitution, a flag and a national anthem that is inclusive. Does anyone see that happening?

    • Mooser
      September 4, 2014, 9:32 pm

      That sounds great! Is it proceeded by a general amnesty for all Israeli theft and murder, or is Israel going to make reparations to the Palestinians?
      There is no chance Israel will ever put Palestinians in a position to recover what has been taken from them. Israel can’t afford it.

      Remember, once Palestinians have rights, they can start using the courts. Israel can’t let that happen.

  21. seniorpunk
    September 4, 2014, 3:01 pm

    While not a member of his congregation nor any longer a Jew, I have a great deal of admiration for Rabbi Rosen. While those who forced him out may not recognize it, he is in reality fighting for the future of Judaism as a meaningful part of the civilized world. If the Jewish communal world continues its current support of Israeli cruelty, it will become in the eyes of the world, simply an extension of that cruelty, another one of the many threats to the possibility of a humane world.

    • Mooser
      September 4, 2014, 4:13 pm

      Some people would say, and I don’t know if they are right, that the only conceivable use, the only real use, there is for the term “Jewish” or “Jew” today is to enable Israel, Zionism, to make the distinction, the differentiation, it needs to survive that is, the distinction, the differentiation between Jew and non-Jew. And that by calling ourselves Jews, almost all we do is enable Zionism in making that distinction, and insisting it is real, even if they cannot describe it. But because we continue to make it, it helps Zionism make it real!
      And that’s one hell of a Catch 18.

      • Mooser
        September 4, 2014, 9:37 pm

        I hate to put it this way, but what that adds up to is that when we don’t make the differentiation between ourselves (Jews) and other people, neither will Zionism be able to. At that point, Israel ceases to be a “Jewish State” and becomes a project of like minded (colonialist and racist) people and their dependents.

        Gosh, thanks, Zionism! Thank you so much for making my religious identity a burden to me, when hardly anybody else is trying to.

    • Mooser
      September 5, 2014, 11:37 am

      “While not a member of his congregation nor any longer a Jew, “

      If you are “no longer a Jew” how will you know if you are headed to Pinsk or Minsk?

  22. jrcmember
    September 5, 2014, 1:21 am

    Thank you, crankylibrarian! JRC is NOT affiliated with Hakafa, and I wish that all that nonsense about JRC/Brant’s priorities being loggerhead turtles, bees, potatoes, etc. would be removed. Most of us are still reeling from Brant’s resignation and feeling profound grief. As a congregation, we are grappling with how to move forward and, as individuals, surely more than a few of us are questioning whether to stay or leave. When the time comes to focus on hiring a new rabbi, we (they?) will not be interested in someone who tows the AIPAC line. The thought of following Brant to a new congregation has a certain satisfaction but (a) Brant might decide that a pulpit is no longer the most effective platform for his work, and (b) it would take tremendous energy and resources to found a new congregation, resources that might best be used advancing the very causes that Brant and JRC embody.

    • just
      September 5, 2014, 9:46 am

      No offense meant to all of JRC’s members who are grieving.

      The President of the congregation is quoted in the above article: “The work of the recently formed Israel Programming Committee will be integral to that process. We are all the authors of JRC’s future and we have much work to do together.”

      As congregants of JRC could you please shed light on what this “Israel Programming Committee” is? Thanks.

      And from what I have read JRC and Hakafa do have a relationship/affiliation.

      • Mooser
        September 5, 2014, 11:34 am

        I think “jrcmember” is going to get a sharp lesson in how Temples and Jewish Centers are organized, administered and funded. He’ll learn.

  23. jrcmember
    September 5, 2014, 7:02 pm

    Mooser, could you please clarify the intent of your comment?

    • Mooser
      September 6, 2014, 5:23 pm

      “Mooser, could you please clarify the intent of your comment? “

      Sure, as soon as you link us to some content on jrc’S “Israel Programming Committee”. I understand that even tho it has exactly the same unattractive name as the other one, it’s very different. What’s in it?

      • W.Jones
        September 8, 2014, 12:07 pm

        Israel Programming Committee
        to simply celebrate all that is Israel, JRC established its new Israel
        Programming Committee.

        programming includes: Israeli folk dancing in December accompanied by a potluck dinner featuring Israeli recipes; a celebration of Israel’s Independence Day on April 23, 2015; and a do-it-yourself travel to Israel program.

        it is important to understand Israel on a cultural and economic basis as well and will include events focused on the arts, sciences and customs of the populations living in Israel.

      • W.Jones
        September 8, 2014, 12:10 pm

        If you are studying the society’s sciences, you will find things like research on loggerhead turtles, bees, potatoes, etc., along with other research topics on the list from Hakafa’s IPC.

      • Mooser
        September 8, 2014, 1:27 pm

        How much money is attached to the “Israel Programming Committee”? What does the Temple get for putting it on? Who is paying the cost of the program?

      • Mooser
        September 8, 2014, 1:28 pm

        No answer on that after two days.

      • just
        September 8, 2014, 1:55 pm

        Thanks for that W.Jones– I couldn’t find it!

      • jrcmember
        September 9, 2014, 4:34 am

        Crankylibrarian had already answered the question at least twice, which is admittedly hard to see given the format of threads here:

        “Our Israel Programming committee is not affiliated with any other organization with a similar name. It’s just a congregational committee tasked with planning programs on various aspects of Israel. It has no ties, repeat NO TIES with Hakafa or any other group. It was formed in response to complaints that JRC programs related to Israel were too one-sided, (interesting that this complaint came from members on both sides of the spectrum).”


        “As I keep saying the Israel Programming committee is a JRC -only committee, not part of any larger organization. Its mission is to bring diverse programming about Israel to JRC. Period. No larger, or more subversive mission.”

        And now W.Jones has located and linked to an official description, though with highly selective excerpting, seemingly to fit a preconceived narrative about the committee being strictly “apolitical.”

        More excerpts:

        “[T]he Committee will use the sicha process that was established in 2010 at JRC for any
        programming that includes political topics. ” [BTW, I don’t recall details of the sicha process.]

        “The Committee’s plan is to ensure there is a broad spectrum of programs relating to
        Israel, both culturally AND POLITICALLY” (emphasis added).

        “They are working on getting speakers for a ‘Conversations about Israel’ series.”

        ““The Israel Programming Committee strives to foster an environment of openness, curiosity and respect for all points of view. We want JRC to be a safe place for members to respectfully express their opinions, no matter what their views on Israel may be.”

        “Our goal is to bring a richer understanding of Israel to JRC’s members through a
        comprehensive schedule of speakers, events, trips and focused discussions designed
        to illuminate the broad range of issues, points of views and complexities involving
        the various populations that live in and claim historical heritage to the land of Israel.”

        “Understanding the passionate emotions that are inherent in any political conversation about Israel, we will strive to foster an environment of openness, curiosity, intellectual honesty, and above all respect for all parties and points of view.”

        “Over time, we hope JRC will benefit from being seen as a place where all points of view are examined and discussed with the intent of strengthening our community by promoting understanding.”

      • Mooser
        September 9, 2014, 12:35 pm

        And with any luck, by the time we get done with our respectful discussion, all the Palestinians will be gone!

  24. crankylibrarian
    September 6, 2014, 12:02 am

    Where have you read that JRC and Hakafa have an affiliation? They are both north shore Chicago congregations but there is no official affiliation. As I keep saying the Israel Programming committee is a JRC -only committee, not part of any larger organization. Its mission is to bring diverse programming about Israel to JRC. Period. No larger, or more subversive mission.

    I won’t speak for Brant, but I would be surprised if he continued with congregational work at this point, so following him to a new synagogue is likely not an option. but I admit that a lot of us would likely seek him out if he did. And Mooser, I think we have a pretty good idea of how Temples (doesn’t apply to us since we aren’t Reform) and Jewish Centers are organized and funded, seeing as how we’ve run one for 50 years.

    • just
      September 6, 2014, 6:37 am

      I did not say there was any “official affiliation”.

    • Mooser
      September 6, 2014, 5:13 pm

      “I think we have a pretty good idea of how Temples (doesn’t apply to us since we aren’t Reform) and Jewish Centers are organized and funded, seeing as how we’ve run one for 50 years.”

      Okay, then we’ll see how this turns out. I have no doubt you can achieve “diverse programming about Israel” . It’ll cover everything from A to B.

  25. Mooser
    September 6, 2014, 5:25 pm

    I won’t speak for Brant, but I would be surprised if he continued with congregational work at this point”

    I guess I was wrong. All the traditional steps in the ritual will be observed. The full schmear.

  26. babylouise
    September 7, 2014, 3:29 pm

    I am an Evanston JRC member. I didn’t join for any political reasons, but more because I felt it was a close to home congregation that didn’t take an overly traditional religious view to Judaism. An easy going place for my children to receive a cultural Jewish education and become Bar Mitzvah’d.

    I felt it was a nice fit at first. This was over 17 years ago. The building was old. Old but cozy. Old but comfy. I have no idea about how poor it was in a “green” sense. I’m sure it wasn’t that efficient. But it felt right and it was inviting. It was laid back.

    Then the powers that be decided it was time to build a new building. We needed a platinum LEED certified green building. We needed to lead by example. What did we get? A building that was still too small. A building that couldn’t hold services for high holidays (needing to use a local church instead). A parking lot woefully too small for even 1/3 of the congregation (better to encourage car pooling and use of public transportation!). And ultimately a cold, sterile building of concrete, glass and steel. A LEED platinum husk devoid of heart and soul. A building without a single comfortable place to sit and just “be”. It became an icon of pride for those who felt principle trumps function. A symbol for those who needed to impose their social views on others even at the expense of having a building that fosters community. But it is LEED certified! Aren’t we proud?

    I then realized that the most important thing at JRC was selling Fair Trade coffee from Africa. Every time one entered the building someone was selling it. Not something related to Judaism as I view it. Not something related to something more local, or frankly more important to my perception of what I want to see every time I enter the building. I then came to understand that Rabbi Brant and members of the congregation proudly made annual trips to Africa to support these Fair Trade coffee growers. I began to further understand the priorities of the leadership of our temple. And of course the annual trips to Palestinian areas.

    More and more I saw less and less of anything I associated as Jewish within the organization, and more and more things associated with other religions and political causes. Many, many interfaith and other faith programs, so many social justice agendas not related to what my needs are as a member of a congregation.

    What had I become a member of? What became of my temple? How did my desire for a Jewish home away from home to serve as a place where my children could learn about their heritage get hijacked into a secular Eco-shell of social and political activism? Rabbi Rosen certainly was the heart of this sad state of affairs. Once his resignation became public this week and I had cause to read his blog of “poetry” for the first time I was appalled. Everyone’s entitled to their opinions, but the radical and extreme pro Palestinian and anti Jewish rant is too much for a Rabbi in a temple that I care to be a member of.

    My hope is that the Evanston JRC regains it’s purpose as a Jewish congregation where people can come together and share their mutual interests. Leave out the politics. Find a new Rabbi without a social agenda, just an agenda of serving the people of the congregation. Ditch the fair trade coffee in the lobby. It sucks anyway and is way too greasy. Stop being so proud of the biodegradable plastic forks and spoons we use. There are far more important things to care about.

    And please put some artwork up and some comfy chairs here and there so people want to actually be in their “house” of worship.

    We do have two jewels at Evanston JRC. Cantor Howard is a lovely man with a big heart and is well loved. I hope he stays and steps up with his stamp of what a congregation could be when it puts an emphasis on inclusive Judaism rather than radical politics, coffee and building Eco-husks. The other jewel is the library and our librarian. This is the only place in the entire building with “heart”. It is warm and inviting. People actually sit there! I hope it always stays that way. It is an oasis in the concrete/steel/glass but LEED Platinum false god that some are so proud of.

    Good luck Brant. Move on to your true calling. Let’s hope that JRC can rediscover its mission and calling with a new Rabbi.

    • Shmuel
      September 7, 2014, 3:58 pm

      Thanks, babylouise. I appreciate your perspective. In fact it resonates with my own experience in trying to find a Jewish “home”, with the difference that I find the political pro-Israel agenda shoved down my throat wherever I turn not merely a fetishistic distraction from the “important things”, but a betrayal of and antithesis to those things.

      • babylouise
        September 7, 2014, 4:16 pm

        Thanks Shmuel.

        You sound like the kind of person I would love to sit with and have a cup of coffee with (maybe Dunkin Donuts, not African organic Free Trade).

        We can discuss politics as two individuals, but let’s leave the overt proselytizing from the pulpit on either side out of the equation. It is not what I want in my house of worship, and it sounds like you don’t want it either.

      • W.Jones
        September 8, 2014, 12:14 pm

        Dunkin Donuts coffee is good, but what is wrong with African Fair Trade?
        Is Dunkin Donuts Jewish but African coffee isn’t? Or does African Fair Trade not taste very good? I think they are both good.

      • Shmuel
        September 8, 2014, 1:10 pm


        I have a number of problems with the openly pro-Israel positions taken by so many synagogues (just about all of them, where I live), but the only one I can really use on people who disagree with me on such a fundamental level is that such use of religious congregations and cultural institutions is divisive and exclusive. I would therefore prefer that they take no position on Israel at all as a congregation/institution.

        Other than Israel (which according to Rabbi Rosen’s interview with Haaretz was not really an issue at the synagogue itself), most of the things you mention are a matter of personal taste and peeves, rather than something truly divisive. If you don’t like fair trade coffee, don’t buy it. If you don’t want to wear a kippah or a talit (pretty common in all egalitarian denominations today), don’t. As for the building, I presume the entire decision-making process was democratic and transparent. If it wasn’t that’s the problem, not LEED certification or aesthetics (I’ve hated the architecture at just about every modern shul or church I’ve ever been to).

        You seem to know enough about Reconstructionism to have chosen it over other denominations (although a supernatural deity is pretty much out in other denominations as well, although they might not say so as explicitly). I’ve read a fair but of MM Kaplan (founder of Reconstructionism), and even translated one of his books into Hebrew, and what I come away from his writings with more than anything is that Judaism should be about “expressing the best values of the age in Jewish idiom”. The universal orientation of JRC thus comes as no surprise – on the contrary, it is entirely in keeping with the basic principles of Reconstructionist Judaism.

        On the subject of Israel, I have it on good authority that Kaplan, although a supporter of Jewish settlement in Palestine and eventually of the State of Israel, was sympathetic to Brit Shalom and leaned toward the idea of a binational state – with full equality between Jews and Arabs.

    • Annie Robbins
      September 7, 2014, 4:52 pm

      babylouise, the list of things you mentioned, if i understand it correctly “radical politics, coffee and building Eco-husks” etc, and your reference to trips to africa… i’m wondering what you might think of this list from a nearby congregation someone linked to upthread, 65 ways israel is helping the world:

      everything from “carp being was a significant part of the diet of Ugandan villagers….Israeli scientist has developed a surprisingly simple and cheap way for African and Asian farmers to keep their grain market-fresh………..of course the way israel rescues in haiti….. The square serrated trays, made from non-PET recycled and recyclable plastic with UV filters and a limestone additive, surround each plant or tree. …water purification in Taiwan, Myanmar and Haiti,…. building a model agricultural village in South Sudan to teach local farmers about Israeli agricultural methods and technologies to help the fledgling African nation thrive…..” and that’s just the first few on the list.

      just wondering what you think of that and how it might relate to judaism, if at all in your view. not being jewish, would appear these kinds of contributions are what some people think it means to be jewish. would i be correct in assuming you wouldn’t agree with that assessment?

      also, not that it matters, but dunkin donuts claims they use “100-percent Arabica coffee beans”, my understanding is that Arabica coffee beans come from ethiopia…still africa. not really local. it’s sort of doubtful anyone in the US drinks local coffee unless they are in hawaii. do you mean you’d rather your local synagogue was solely focusing on doing good deeds locally? it’s almost impossible to find places anywhere in the US (local) that sustains itself non globally (even drinking dunkin donuts coffee). the comfort of americans relies on slave wages in other parts of the world. maybe the gesture of selling this coffee is just a small way of contributing to one of those far away places whose people have toiled so we can live in comfort.

      • just
        September 7, 2014, 5:03 pm

        thanks Annie.

        thanks for your perspective babylouise.

      • babylouise
        September 7, 2014, 5:25 pm

        Hi Annie,

        I not qualified to say whether that list is “Jewish” or not. All I would say is that I think that list is a funny read and entirely superfluous in regards to what I want my temple to spend its time on.

        To each their own. Some like that stuff. Some don’t. Some don’t care. Some like me think it isn’t what I join a temple for.

      • Annie Robbins
        September 7, 2014, 5:48 pm

        i thought it was an odd list. but my impression/take away/ was that perhaps it may have been traditional for a synagogue. being raised in a secular household we didn’t attend any services, but i have a friend who attended this catholic church in seattle, and they have some school or village in africa they continually raise funds for, and for the village kids to go to school. so i thought it was traditionally part of many houses of worship to have some place across the world to support. i guess there are probably just as many that do not.

        maybe when rabbi rosen leaves your synagogue can turn into a social justice (for foreigners) free zone >keep the good deeds at home!

      • just
        September 7, 2014, 5:50 pm

        thanks again babylouise.

        do you know what JRC’s Israel Programming Committee does?

      • piotr
        September 8, 2014, 12:06 am

        Wiki: “Gourmet coffees are almost exclusively high-quality mild varieties of arabica coffee, and among the finest arabica coffee beans in the world used for making espresso coffee are Jamaican Blue Mountain, Colombian Supremo, Tarrazú, Costa Rica, Guatemalan Antigua and Ethiopian Sidamo.”

        babylouise: “Stop being so proud of the biodegradable plastic forks and spoons we use. There are far more important things to care about.” Comfy chairs? Preferably, lovingly crafted by workers in self-combustible factories with no fire escapes, in some country where labor organizers are shot or kneecapped, with all resulting savings passed to us, consumers.

        I understand that you do not have a Zionist agenda, otherwise you would notice at some point during last 17 years that the temple does not foster any such agenda, but all you say is what you do not care about, and not what are those “far more important things”.

      • babylouise
        September 8, 2014, 12:12 am

        Hey Piotr.

        I imagine that you sit on the floor in your house. And that you craft your own clothes from hemp that you grow.

        Hypocrisy is a beautiful thing.

      • Annie Robbins
        September 8, 2014, 1:06 am

        I imagine that you sit on the floor in your house. And that you craft your own clothes from hemp that you grow.

        Hypocrisy is a beautiful thing.

        as a moderator here sometimes when i see the conversation degenerating to the point of no return i simply trash comments like these. but these (including the ones below this comment that you made earlier) are important comments for the context here and i want to acknowledge you not just for your honesty wrt your “imagination” and also not just for your sharp and not so witty tongue or for what you reveal about yourself. primarily, i’m grateful you revealed an example of the kind of petty vindictive simple minded judgmental curt cruel vapid mentality of at least some of those who may have objected to rabbi rosen. i’m assuming there are other examples, other voices of discontent more nuanced, more thoughtful and certainly less blatant than yours. i’ll be generous and assume there are those at your synagogue who do not cloak their despise in catty crap about the color of cars and coffee, but i want to personally thank you for showing up here on this thread as a representative of the kind of person who fought tooth and nail, and who must be rejoicing at this news of rabbi rosen’s resignation. thank you so much for sharing louise. it’s been..revealing, an honor for us at mondoweiss (albeit i can’t speak for the whole site) to be able to expose.. you.

      • Mooser
        September 8, 2014, 12:23 pm

        Thanks Annie. I don’t know how you keep it together to craft your response. My brain just explodes all over the screen.

      • Mooser
        September 8, 2014, 1:32 pm

        “And that you craft your own clothes from hemp that you grow.”

        I also make furniture out of the larger stalks, sort of like a rattan, you know? That way you don’t have to sit on the floor to smoke it. I’m too old for that.

    • Annie Robbins
      September 7, 2014, 5:23 pm

      it also occurred to me when you mentioned your new synagogue was still too small, that maybe now that rabbi rosen is leaving the parking lot won’t be as crowded anymore.

      • babylouise
        September 7, 2014, 9:07 pm

        Nah, he was already parked in the special spot reserved for the Honda Prius carpool, flex fuel, hybrid, solar reflecting, color green for show, vanity plate, closest to the door, precedence over handicapped parking space in the mini JRC parking lot. Exaggerating? Yes. Kidding? No.

      • Annie Robbins
        September 7, 2014, 10:08 pm

        i’m sure your new rabbi wouldn’t want reserved parking anyway. btw, i wasn’t referencing his one car. i meant the people who might not chose to show up because he’s gone. it does seem as tho you didn’t like him very much louise.

      • babylouise
        September 7, 2014, 10:34 pm

        Coexist bumper sticker is mandatory for the special parking spaces.

        How ironic that those who speak the loudest about world inequities, even “slavery” for our American lifestyles reap those very lifestyles themselves.

        Car? For sure. Gas? Cheap.
        Home? For sure.
        Food? Grocery store.
        Clothes? Not made at your sewing machine.
        School? Best free education in the world.
        Freedom? You know it.
        Walk the talk? No way. Just talk and talk and talk and talk.

      • just
        September 7, 2014, 10:53 pm

        With all due respect to you and our planet, I think that leading by example is important. A Prius is a good example. It would be infinitely more affordable if so many didn’t scoff at science and prefer the flavor and effect of fossil fuel.

        This earth has been very forgiving to us stupid humans for a very long time. The time will come when we will all pay… sooner rather than later if we don’t stop abusing it, and start caring for it and each other.

        No religion, no state, no people can survive what will happen.

        I would prefer to have religion and politics and science separated, but that is impossible. They are inextricably intertwined as long as humans are involved.

        Again, I thank you for your pov.

      • Annie Robbins
        September 7, 2014, 11:10 pm

        How ironic that those who speak the loudest about world inequities, even “slavery” for our American lifestyles reap those very lifestyles themselves.

        i think that was my point when i mentioned “the comfort of americans relies on slave wages in other parts of the world.”

        Walk the talk? No way. Just talk and talk and talk and talk.

        the reality is that you don’t know how i live but you’re ready to pass judgement on it and make assumptions. i’m going to take a leap here and guess the way you’re talking and the things you’re assuming don’t represent the best example of jewish values (let’s hope!). and there’s little value in ‘walk the talk’ if ones talk is petty complaints to begin with. but keep talking, because it sure is revealing.

    • Dan Solomon
      September 7, 2014, 10:25 pm

      Hi BabyLouise. We seem to have had differing experiences at JRC. First off for the past year I have been going to JRC almost every Saturday morning for Torah study and have never encountered anyone selling “Fair Trade” Coffee. Torah study is led by Rabbi Rosen and is normally attended by 10-20 JRC members. As far as I can recall issues concerning the political situation regarding Israel have never come up. Also about once a month or so I attend the member led Minyan service. One again political issues don’t come up. I feel I am getting an authentic and rewarding “Jewish experience” which is putting me in touch with our traditions.

      It is a fact that at the JRC there a number of “do-gooder” activities. I suppose Fair Trade coffee is one of these (although, in all honesty I have never run across this). This reflects the attitudes of the members and the fact that the Jewish religion has a strong ethical content. It may be possible the “higher power” that is speaking to us through our Torah and traditions wants us to have a social conscience and be engaged with the world.

      By the way I like Cantor Howard too. But I also liked Rabbi Brant and thought he did a good job and will miss him.

      – Dan Solomon

    • Elliot
      September 7, 2014, 11:37 pm

      Babylouise –

      Thank you for taking the time to post this.
      Many synagogues in your metropolitan area openly supported the war on Gaza. At least one Chicago-area temple turned every single one of its Shabbat services over the course of the war into a pro-war rally. That’s got to bug lots of people a whole lot more than greasy, fair trade coffee. From what I’ve read, the war was rarely discussed at JRC over this past summer.
      You might say, well, that’s them and this is me but what feels cozy and warm and “responsive to the needs of the congregation” to one Jew is an outrage to another.

      “An easy going place for my children to receive a cultural Jewish education and become Bar Mitzvah’d.”

      You don’t say anything about Rabbi Rosen’s pastoral role in your family’s life, or of attending services or study sessions at the synagogue. Perhaps you are the voice of the silent majority of Jews who join synagogues out of a sense of Jewish cultural affiliation and want a place of comfort and a Jewish education for their kids. Nothing wrong with that, but I am curious to know what you thought of your children’s religious education. Israel is always a part of Jewish education. What were they taught at your synagogue and were you ok with that?

      • just
        September 7, 2014, 11:52 pm

        Thank you Elliot.

      • babylouise
        September 7, 2014, 11:54 pm


        Thank you for your comments.

        Please be assured that I would be even more offended to hear what you describe from the pulpit. I would have left. I save my politics for Sunday morning TV shows and the oped pages of the paper. I don’t want to hear it from my temple regardless of whether it is right or left.

        Yes, I am one if those Jews who seeks a place for cultural identity and education for my children. As far as rabbi brants pastoral care for my family it was nonexistent. My children’s educations for their mitzvahs was handled by the cantor almost entirely.

        My children’s religious educations were more socially based and I was happy with that. Hebrew was learned and I was happy with that too. Friendships were made. I have no complaints about it at all.

        Did you notice that table by the front door selling the coffee every Sunday? It’s sad that in the absence of much else that the coffee for sale stood out so sorely.

      • Elliot
        September 8, 2014, 9:47 am

        Babylouise –
        I don’t care for the Fair Trade coffee thing either. It costs double what I pay for my coffee so I don’t bother. Others do and have their legitimate reasons. More power to them. Do-gooding is par for the course in liberal religious institutions, Christian and Jewish. Your synagogue did not start the Fair Trade coffee fad. Evanston did not invent the organic/hybrid car/Farmers Market/I-bring-my-own-cloth-shopping-bags-with-me-to-Whole-Foods fashion either.
        Religious institutions necessarily need to stand for more than just the kind of cultural/social club you say you want. For instance, if you are talking about being bugged by the coffee in the lobby, my pet peeve is that even before I’ve even pulled into pretty much any synagogue’s parking lot I’m hit by the standard “We Stand With Israel” sign. Complete with the two national flags.
        My understanding is that JRC doesn’t have that sign. I’ll take bad, overpriced, preachy Fair Trade coffee as an alternate welcome any day.

        Pet peeves aside, what is the content of your Judaism? If Judaism is just a laid back place to make friends and make your kids Jewish, what is it that makes a synagogue a synagogue? What was the content of your kids’ religious education beyond making friends within the clan and learning a few phrases in another language?

      • babylouise
        September 8, 2014, 10:33 am

        Hi Elliot,

        I appreciate your reply. Your posts show that we can dialogue without picking a fight.

        I find the sign/bumpersticker “we stand with Israel” or whatever it says offensive. I find that “coexist” bumper sticker equally foolish and ridiculous. Live what you believe and lead by example. Teach your children. Leave the bumperstickers with the cloth bag posers at whole foods who are saving the world one bag at a time.

        All I wanted at JRC, besides what I’ve already stated (like most I believe, a place that they join when they have children and desire a Jewish education) was a place where I didn’t have to accept the notion of a supernatural god. That really drew me to JRC. Yes, all I wanted was a Jewish cultural home, a place for basic Jewish identity/education for my children, a place to serve when life events dictate, a place to make friends who share my roots, and a place where I didn’t need to pretend in fairy tales and supernatural stories.

        What I could have left behind was ladies with hairy armpits wearing yarmulkes and tallises like a badge of honor, before they got into their hybrid Prius with the “coexist” bumpersticker on their way to whole foods with their cloth bags that were made in china.

      • Elliot
        September 8, 2014, 12:55 pm

        babylouise –
        More smoke and still no substance. I’ve asked you twice what was the Jewish education you were providing your children at JRC, one of your key motivations for being there. You’ve said nothing. except to refine your definition from “Jewish education” to “a basic Jewish education.” Ok, so what was the “advanced Jewish education” that you reject?
        And, please, don’t insult our intelligence by another diversionary rant about coffee or armpits.
        What do you actually care about, babylouise?

      • babylouise
        September 8, 2014, 1:19 pm


        I thought I was being clear but I will spell it out for you.

        Basic Hebrew.
        Jewish history.
        Jewish holidays.
        Jewish customs.
        Being trained and being Bar Mitzvah’d.
        Making friends/sense of community/peers.
        Sense of their tradition.

        I think that’s what most parents if they are being honest hope for in the Hebrew/Sunday school at JRC. I have no problem stating that is what I wanted.

      • Mooser
        September 8, 2014, 1:39 pm

        ” a place where I didn’t have to accept the notion of a supernatural god.”

        But my children could be trained in the things that might help lead to social and business advancement? Dress British, Think Yiddish!

      • Mooser
        September 8, 2014, 1:42 pm

        “What I could have left behind was ladies with hairy armpits wearing yarmulkes and tallises like a badge of honor, before they got into their hybrid Prius with the “coexist” bumpersticker on their way to whole foods with their cloth bags that were made in china.”

        Gosh, I’m gonna have to consult the Talmud on the “hairy armpits” thing. I didn’t know Jewish women had any hair under their arms. What kind of people have they been letting in?

      • Mooser
        September 8, 2014, 1:43 pm

        A religious education, but with no ‘supernatural’ being, like God.

        Sure, okay.

      • Elliot
        September 8, 2014, 1:58 pm

        Babylouise –
        Thank you. That’s just the topics. You still don’t tell us what you wanted your kids to get:

        Jewish history:
        Which”Jewish history”? One that contextualizes Jewish suffering as part of a larger picture or teaches Jewish responsibility for Jewish history or one that plays up “The Holocaust” as a Jewish monopoly?

        Making friends/sense of community/peers:
        Who is their community? Orthodox Jews or their classmates who may practice both Christianity and Judaism? Is Israel part of their community? And if so, does this sense of community extend there too, or just to the 100% Israeli Jews as determined by the Israeli government?

        Sense of their tradition:
        Does it have to be completely vague in order to work?

        “I think that’s what most parents if they are being honest hope for in the Hebrew/Sunday school at JRC.”
        You’re right. In most cases, most people who are comfortable with the status quo will refuse to discuss their true motivations.

      • babylouise
        September 8, 2014, 2:37 pm



        I admit defeat. The detail that you need from me on this item is more than I have time to research and give you.

        Gosh, I’m not the Principal. I’m not creating the syllabus. This isn’t college! I just wanted a mild, assimilated view of Judaism so my children had that background. I was comfortable that a movement that didn’t emphasize the supernatural was a good fit with my general view of Judaism. And a functional and basic knowledge of Hebrew so they could be comfortable for their Bar Mitzvah.

        I trusted JRC for this. They did a good job with it.

      • Annie Robbins
        September 8, 2014, 2:49 pm

        elliot just asked what you wanted for your kids, most people don’t need to do research to find out what is in their own head/heart.

      • Mooser
        September 8, 2014, 3:23 pm

        “I just wanted a mild, assimilated view of Judaism so my children had that background.”

        It’s an asset. Who doesn’t want their children to have the best?

      • Danaa
        September 8, 2014, 7:06 pm

        Babylouise, Danaa here again – the civil version. Seems to me that what Elliot was driving at was to get a sense of the Jewish values that would draw you to a synagogue. I think that this is something that interests a lot of people here, and is a subject that has been much discussed over the years. hence the interest.

        To many here “values” is something that goes with “culture’ and “tradition” and “history” as part of the total package. Surely, especially children are likely to ask – so, what did it all mean? tit is likely their educators anticipate thiese kind of questions and deal with it one way or another, but there’s the rub – how is it dealt with? right wing synagogues have ready-made answers, as do the ultraorthodox. But what of the left-leaniing, more liberal denominations? given the past decades, given the way the reform movement transformed itself into a nearly mindless obsequiousness to all things israel – at the expense of “values’ – these kind of questions are bound to come up.

        That being said, I kind of understand where you were coming from – some system of ‘belonging” for your children in a larger and older system that American school system – which errs on the side of studied “neutrality and “inclusiveness” – cannot provide. At least I think I understand that to you – and no doubt many people who join synagogues for their kids’ sake – it’s a bout a sense of heritage.

        I know many Chinese people who send their kids to Chinese community centers to learn more Chinese history and language for the same reason. Keep a sense of heritage and a unique history.

        But Elliott has also touched upon some other important considerations – like, how do the children learn about their heritage? is it through the “victim” experience of being hounded from place to place forever? is it mostly emphasizing the positive attributes and universal messages contained within Judaism or is there more subliminal message of “exceptionalism” which ties up with the “why do they all hate us” question? and most importantly, how is the concept vs the reality of Israel introduced?

        Those are good questions, I think. And i have no cause to think that RJC did anything but a commendable job on all of those. But my issue – as I said in my other comments – is that the “political” cannot be separated from the “Jewish” any longer. It’s always there, and while it may well be possible that Brabbi Brant Rosen’s departure had all to do with internal politics at RJC, somehow I – along with others – doubt that his standing up for what he felt was right voicing opinions to the outside world – did not play a big part in what transpired.

        You want a “Jewish education” divorced from politics. But while that is understandable, I just don’t think it’s possible. The political is always there, poring from between the cracks. It’s what many here lament and others out there encourage. Either way, it’s a fact of life for jewish life in the US.

      • babylouise
        September 9, 2014, 10:15 am

        Good Morning Danaa,

        I appreciate your post about education. I believe that the Evanston JRC did a great job with my children. They certainly come at it from a left of center perspective. Not a right wing view in the place which I would have found equally unacceptable.

        I never found a victim mentality to be presented to the kids. Israel was certainly present and I believe the children were taught to think of it as a special place where they could belong.

        I was often impressed at the critical thinking that was emphasized and having more than one side presented on issues of the day.

        It was good. I can’t imagine it being more fair.

      • jrcmember
        September 9, 2014, 3:11 pm

        Good food for thought, (Civil) Danna.

      • Mooser
        September 10, 2014, 1:42 pm

        “I never found a victim mentality to be presented to the kids. Israel was certainly present and I believe the children were taught to think of it as a special place where they could belong”

        Right you are babylouise! That is not a victim mentality at all. In fact, I would characterise it as an aristocratic mentality, an elite mentality. Our elite lineage entitles us to a special place we can belong.

        That is so much better than the old “Holocaust-need-a-Jewish-refuge” schtick we used to push. That was depressing.

    • Danaa
      September 8, 2014, 6:52 am

      Babylouise – the causes of the temple sound pretty good to me. maybe you wanted something more Jewish centered, but that’s a choice of for tribal narrowing which some want and hopefully not too many.

      I can say one thing though – to continue to support israel is to support child murders, oppression of others and persecution of those whose lands are coveted. If that’s what Jewish heritage represents, then perhaps there is not much left to celebrate. Rosen reached out for the victims of israel’s colonizing and dispossession. Some would say it’s a good jewish value to do that. Others are comfortable consorting with those afflicted with the spirit of blood lust, revenge and greed. To each their choice.

  27. babylouise
    September 7, 2014, 6:24 pm


    My point had nothing to do with “Africa” per se, but you knew that I’m sure.

    And while Arabica coffee did indeed have its start in Ethiopia, it has been grown for centuries all over the world. All fine coffees are arabica beans.

    It’s a complex world out there. I wonder if that fair trade African coffee being sold in the JRC lobby all the time leaves a small footprint in the scheme of things. We know it comes from Africa. It had to get here somehow. Probably by plane, maybe ship. Likely both. That uses fuel. Lots of it. Africa is pretty far away. Fuel is not a pretty subject. It has a heavy carbon footprint. Also that free range organic certified African JRC lobby stuff comes in those pretty 12 ounce bags with the color labels with a photo. I bet that costs something to produce.

    As long as it tastes great I don’t really care where my coffee comes from. I just don’t want my temple to emphasize the “fact” that we are saving the world by selling the stuff and supporting the cooperative by going to Africa every year. When that becomes a bigger and more obvious symbol of JRC than it being a Jewish temple something is wrong.

    • Annie Robbins
      September 7, 2014, 10:39 pm

      you’re not forced to purchase it tho are you?

      I just don’t want my temple to emphasize the “fact” that we are saving the world by selling the stuff and supporting the cooperative by going to Africa every year

      can you send me some source link for reference? saving the world by selling stuff is not altogether such an awful thing. lots of people, war profiteers and weapons merchants etc, sell stuff that destroys the world and the people in it. certainly whatever profits made by selling coffee to the parishioners must be astounding if, as you proclaim, it is a “more obvious symbol of JRC than it being a Jewish temple“. indeed, i had never even heard of this coffee selling venture until you mentioned it. but there must be some great articles about your coffee selling venture in the local news if it’s that famous. so please link, i would love to read about it.

      i’m curious tho, why you stuck it out these last long 17 years. aren’t there any other synagogues around without the coffee? or why not just dive in and volunteer for the coat drive, the blood drive, the maot chitim, or one of the many soup kitchens? why the obsession over the coffee. could it be that perhaps you can’t see the forest for the trees if you think coffee and contributing to a village in africa is a bigger and more obvious symbol of JRC than it being a Jewish temple? (and why can’t they exist hand in hand?) it’s not as if helping to sustain a village is bad karma. what is it, besides tikkun olam, you’d prefer your synagogue to be known for?

      this reminds me of the stories my dad used to tell me about his upbringing. my grandfather build many churches btw, based out of the midwest. back then, they were sort of roving. they’d set up a parish and stay for a year and move on to set up another. sometimes he’d travel on horseback to give sermons in neighboring towns. but my dad said the parishes sometimes had these nitpickers and there was no privacy. people went bonkers when he, the pastors son, joined a barbershop quartet! the sid vicious of his day! it was an outrage. i suppose being the pastors son had it’s difficulties. anyway, we were not raised in the church. when my dad died i got all of my grandfathers sermons and speeches (and some of my gr grandfathers). he was a tad famous at the time. and they were all about social justice and the homeless and things like that. in fact, they (the church) were fighting over whether black people should even have access to the courts. some big issues. and then my great grandfather, same thing. the church split at one time you know. it was a big deal. but i never did hear or read about anything as petty as whining about selling coffee. sounds kind of obsessive to me. and it really sounds like you don’t like the color of his car either.

      • babylouise
        September 7, 2014, 11:14 pm

        I stayed because my children had established themselves in religious school and I did not want to disrupt that for them. They had their friends and wanted to graduate with their class.

        Anyone who dropped their children off on any Sunday will say that the first ( and often only thing ) you encountered was a table selling that coffee. No citations. Just fact. Nothing famous about it. Just a sad commentary.

        I am confident that JRC will thrive without a political rabbi. We need to return to a vision of serving as a home for our congregation. It will be a huge mistake for the next rabbi to think he needs to follow in brants footsteps. He doesn’t. Just be our rabbi. That’s what we need and want. Save the politics for the oped pages.

        And please don’t forget some soft chairs here and there. God forbid some carpeting on those concrete floors. Even platinum LEED certified buildings can be user friendly. The special “flushers ” on the toilets are cute. I always feel good about myself when I use a small flush for liquid waste instead of a regular one for solid waste. And stop looking at me like I cut dims a tree when I use the elevator! I see the sign telling me to use the stairs, and I know I don’t use a wheelchair, but if I feel like I need to use it , heck, want to use it, I will.

      • Annie Robbins
        September 7, 2014, 11:24 pm

        Anyone who dropped their children off on any Sunday will say that the first ( and often only thing ) you encountered was a table selling that coffee.

        ah, no welcoming faces eh? no one happy to see you or your children? no beautiful sunlight coming thru the window. no warmth of spirit? that’s so sad. frankly, had those been my children, their wishes wouldn’t have mattered, i would have found a place for them i felt was more nurturing than your depiction. and all you saw was a table with coffee. others may have felt otherwise.

      • just
        September 7, 2014, 11:35 pm

        “I stayed because my children had established themselves in religious school and I did not want to disrupt that for them. They had their friends and wanted to graduate with their class.”

        I understand the compulsion to stay “for the children”, but it generally causes more harm than good.

      • babylouise
        September 7, 2014, 11:40 pm


        Your assumptions about what it should be like when you drop off your kids on a Sunday just back up my sadness that JRC doesn’t fit that picture. I am a member. I assume you are not. I have entered the building hundreds of times. I assume you have not.

        Let’s hear from someone else who has the experience on Sunday morning of dropping off their children.

        But this is your blog Annie. This is your home. I just wanted to drop by and let a point of view be heard that not all congregants will mourn brants moving on. JRC Evanston will be a better place with a rabbi who is not a political activist.

      • Annie Robbins
        September 8, 2014, 2:08 am

        I just wanted to drop by and let a point of view be heard that not all congregants will mourn brants moving on.

        i think we got that loud and clear.

      • Annie Robbins
        September 8, 2014, 2:48 am

        I am a member….. I have entered the building hundreds of times….Let’s hear from someone else

        sure. i’m completely open to hearing someone else claim “only thing .. you encountered was a table selling that coffee”. it screams of tunnel vision but have at it. non anonymously would help too, but anon-mud-slinging-cowardice is not over ruled. bring it on..your friends are welcome..

      • jrcmember
        September 8, 2014, 4:57 am

        Annie, love the stories about your dad and grandfather!

      • Annie Robbins
        September 8, 2014, 9:53 am

        thanks jrcmember, there are some wild&weird family stories…

      • Mooser
        September 8, 2014, 12:29 pm

        Told ya! Told ya! I knew we would get the whole schmear!

        I even tried to warn them about it, but nope, can’t help themselves.

  28. babylouise
    September 7, 2014, 6:29 pm

    Hi Just,

    I have no clue what the Israel Programming committee is or does.

    I would just as soon have a new rabbi that puts politics pretty low down on the totem poll.

    • Mooser
      September 8, 2014, 12:43 pm

      “I have no clue what the Israel Programming committee is or does.”

      That’s funny, the President of JRC said in his response to Rabbi Rosen’s departure, the “the work of the Israel Programming Committe will be integral” at JRC (my bold) . Yet you don’t know what it is?

      • babylouise
        September 8, 2014, 1:32 pm


        I don’t know what it is and I don’t care either! OMG. TTYL. LOL

      • Mooser
        September 9, 2014, 12:47 pm

        So it’s not “integral”?

  29. jrcmember
    September 7, 2014, 10:19 pm

    First off, thank you Reverend Fite:”I found myself a tad defensive for many of the good people in that congregation by a tone of contempt occasionally present in some comments.” This situation is painful enough without the voyeuristic feeling that people are talking trash about us, especially based on misinformation. Bear in mind that the e-mails from Brant and the board president were addressed to JRC congregants and it was unsettling, if not surprising, that they were published in their entirety literally hours later. So while we’re still processing things en famille, we’re also being asked – not always nicely – to explain ourselves to outsiders.

    • just
      September 7, 2014, 11:04 pm

      Welcome to the internet, but no worries. It hasn’t made it to US MSM!


      ‘en famille’?

      Really interesting.

      • jrcmember
        September 7, 2014, 11:31 pm

        US MSM? En famille = JRC members. Outsiders = people who aren’t JRC members.

      • just
        September 8, 2014, 10:13 am

        jrcmember– I don’t know if you’ve read the letter from the Yale alumnus about Rev. Shipman. It included this bit:

        “What is most troubling about Rev. Shipman’s letter is the absence of a contrite apology to the Jewish community for the pain his words have caused. He may brush off his comments of Aug. 26 as an exercise in free speech on behalf of his personal Middle East agenda, but the fact remains that he used his official position as Episcopal chaplain at Yale to gain an audience for that agenda on the opinion page of The Times and in doing so has publicly damaged the well-being of the Jewish community at Yale and beyond.

        This scar will not quickly fade, because no amount of parsing and explication can change the sad reality that Rev. Shipman’s toxic words have been distributed in over 1,000,000 newspapers and preserved for eternity in the digital world — with Yale’s name affixed.”


        Things become public quickly these days. Sign of the times.

    • Danaa
      September 8, 2014, 7:03 am

      Rabbi Brant Rosen is a well known and highly respected figure among jewish Rabbis, one who chose to express sentiments that many share when it comes to israel for example. As a result, his resignation, him being one of the not-so-many who have actually brought credit to judaism will naturally lead to speculation and perhaps even rash conclusions.

      You cannot be jewish these days and not be political. that’s because there is that reprehensible little country, israel, to which many, if not most jeewish temples/communities/synagogs feel they awe allegiance. often in direct contradiction to values they consider to be part of jewishness and certainly contradictory to the liberal traditions of American jewry.

      Since the religious is political in the case of Judaism because of israel being what it is, it’s natural that we all take great interest in the resignation of rabbi brant Rosen. To me, at least, he seemed like a bright light in a very dark tunnel. If he saw fit to resign, while i can’t claim to know the exact causes, it is natural to suppose that there was a political element in there somewhere.

      This blog is one place where he was greatly admired, because, not despite of the views that he so courageously voiced. One can only hope that there will be a new home for him aftyer JRC, whatevr direction JRC chooses to go.

      • Mooser
        September 8, 2014, 12:37 pm

        “You cannot be jewish these days and not be political.”

        Exactly. Every time I call myself a “Jew” I help Israel, whether I like it or not by affirming that there is such a thing.
        So if I am going to call myself a Jew, it must be in opposition to Zionism, or it will be counted as consent Sorry, but there not much way out of it now.

        Another words: “Jews are Zionism’s human shield” unless they disclaim that role, just as loudly and publicly as the Zionists insists on them taking it.

        Without the “human shield” of Judaism, Zionism just becomes a collaboration of like-minded (and some very down and desperate, certainly) people to steal a country.

    • jrcmember
      September 8, 2014, 10:12 pm

      Should have said “to the outside world” instead of “outsiders.” We’re not Amish — no offense to the Amish.

      • jrcmember
        September 9, 2014, 5:18 am

        Though apparently, we’re very insular!

  30. babylouise
    September 8, 2014, 10:03 am

    Hi Danaa,

    I do appreciate reading your comments but they are quite extreme. I went back in this thread and read some more of them and your word choices leave no room for any discussion.

    It is clear you are passionate. You don’t mince your words. “So called Holocaust” is a phrase that particularly struck me. This blog is a perfect fit for you but you are preaching to the choir here as well.

    I didn’t come here to pick a fight with anyone, but on the other hand it appears that this is a very slanted place where the more vicious you are in your rhetoric regarding Israel the more of a superstar you are. I get it. You hate Israel. You feel they are evil incarnate on the earth. At least that’s what I get when I read your posts.

    I myself don’t believe that being a member of a liberal temple or movement like JRC means that one must embrace a political agenda. When I joined I believed that the central tenet of Reconstructionism that differed from other branches of Judaism was the non-belief in a supernatural God. That appealed to me. I didn’t feel that I needed to either like, hate, divorce, or even concern myself with Israel. My politics is separate from my temple. By the way I don’t tow the pro Israel line, but I don’t tow the extreme anti Israel line either. It’s a complicated world even though we wish it was as simple as your comments would suppose a simple solution.

    But words have meaning and dialogue must be somewhat civil to get opposing sides to agree, unless you just want to throw stones. Around here that seems to be well accepted, and you have a good arm for it.

    • ritzl
      September 8, 2014, 12:27 pm

      @babylouise- Danaa’s exact words were: “…some holocaust that happened long ago…”

      She absolutely DID NOT say “so-called Holocaust.” She was asking if a very bad thing that [actually] happened a long time ago, perpetrated by Europeans, is cause to slaughter 500 Palestinian children, in just this iteration, today. Is it?

      Is your seemingly reflexive, fast-and-loose, and unwarranted accusation of Holocaust Denial an example of a “stone” on your part? Is that the kind of “civil” criticism Rabbi Rosen faced?

      Denying the Holocaust and the Nakba are cause for banning here, so if she had said what you said she said she would be gone. Gone is the opposite of fitting in.

      This l’affaire Rosen is a real eye opener. I believe the JRC members that posted here, however well-meaning (thanks to all), showed, me anyway, just how insular even a loosely-religious and notionally apolitical Jewish community is. Insular, paradoxically, especially when it comes to Israel – the defining political issue of the day (millenia?) within the Jewish community.

      The flip side of that is that I hope the few of you who suffered through your MW experience take back to your congregation just how pronounced that insularity is and how it appears to so many others – particularly when Israel claims to slaughter Palestinian children in your name. If members of your congregation were/are unaware of the moral and popular pressure that’s building up about Israel outside your walls, your experience here should be a shareable education.

      Only two things can happen. More insularity/avoidance or less insularity/avoidance, where more insularity isn’t really an option with Israel doing it all for “the Jews.” It doesn’t matter if you don’t look in that direction, you are involved.

      • babylouise
        September 8, 2014, 12:41 pm

        Hi Ritzl,

        You’re right. Danaa said “some Holocaust”. Very belittling. Very disrespectful. Downright repugnant. Even worse that Danaa is the Moderator here.

        “Some Holocaust” could be taken to be Holocaust denial. It certainly at the very least downplays it as an event of the magnitude that it was. It is an example of the shameless verbosity that masquerades around here as intellectual discourse. Defend that kind of speech Ritzl. It’s a free country.

      • ritzl
        September 8, 2014, 1:00 pm

        @babylouise- It’s belittling ONLY in the sense that the Holocaust is not and never can be a rational justification for killing Palestinian children. She was calling out the fact that it is used for that very reason.

        Yeah, I’ll defend what Danaa said.

        In no way whatsoever did she dismiss the tragedy of Holocaust, nor do I, nor does anyone who posts here.

      • just
        September 8, 2014, 2:02 pm

        Well said ritzl.

      • Annie Robbins
        September 8, 2014, 2:09 pm

        Even worse that Danaa is the Moderator here.

        my my, for someone who just started posting here aren’t you the informed/not.

        and this is especially telling: words have meaning and dialogue must be somewhat civil to get opposing sides to agree

        civility, the new zionist code word in the salaita silencing.

        many more examples, just google mondoweiss and civility or salaita and civility.

        and note the both sides narrative. the idea these are two opposing sides and have to come to agreement. obviously, we don’t deal with iran that way. oppressors do not negotiate with those they oppress to come to an agreement over how or when to take the boot off the neck of the oppressed.

        and who is it that’s deciding whose wording is “extreme” her in this civil conversation? that would be bl.

      • just
        September 8, 2014, 2:27 pm

        Great comments Annie.

      • Danaa
        September 8, 2014, 4:57 pm

        Interjecting – unlike you babylouise (in most likelihood, since you are, I assume, one or more, generations American) , I do have parent who really did survive the holocaust, and we did end up in israel and not the beautiful America (ouch!). However, unlike those who would continue to worship THE Holocaust as the be all defining moment for Jews and people the world over, using it and the many dead and injured left in its wake to justify the worst atrocities committed by Israel, I have become aware of many holocausts perpetrated by humans on other humans throughout our common history as a somewhat sorry species. From the people of Vietnam, who were bombed to smitherins, to the nearly exterminated Hugenots of France. Humans committed genocide against other humans for a long time – so many in fact, that the reasons, when viewed collectively kind of blur together in a pool of common blood. In the jewish bible, Joshua was commanded by “some” god (there is that “some” again) to exterminate everything and anything in Jericho including infants and animals who committed no crime other than living in a city coveted by a conquering tribe. Yet, when I learnt the story of Joshua in israel, as seculars, we studied it in great detail but virtually no finness and no discussion regarding the morality of god’s admonition was encouraged. that memory remains (note: the observiant study the bible WITH commentary – they may get a more nuanced view. I wouldn’t know. Shmuel knows much more in that department).

        naturally, having stepped outside the cult that is israel, I have been extra sensitized to the ways in which the cult teachings and programming were administered. It’s a different experience from yours no doubt (assuming again you are America born and raised) and quite different in general from Jewish Americans who were seeking spiritual life among other Americans and formed the tapestry known as “Jewish values” in the process (which, BTW, israelis completely fail to comprehend. On whatever side of the divide they are. We didn’t do spiritual or universal values very well).

        Just thought I’ll mention. Sorry for the harshness of my words, but I think that in the face of 500 dead children the time for gentleness and gentility is past.

        Ritzl – thanks for the able defense and your many good points, delivered in an ever so civilized and erudite a manner. I will try and learn proper discourse when the rage subsides a bit.

      • Danaa
        September 8, 2014, 5:04 pm

        Me, a moderator? my my, have I been elevated! At this rate i may yet find myself on the same lofty level as Annie – what would I have to do then? behave myself? Now, that would be a bit of a shame, wouldn’t it?

        OK, off to with me to the dictionary again – must learn more civilized discourse. No more of those “some”s (actually, I am only partly joking. I really could use some new vocabulary to describe rage… hebrew unfortunately there are only like five words to say ‘anger’, so naturally we tend to go from “peeved’ to red-hot furious in a blink of an eye…..)

      • Shmuel
        September 8, 2014, 5:17 pm

        in hebrew unfortunately there are only like five words to say ‘anger’, so naturally we tend to go from “peeved’ to red-hot furious in a blink of an eye

        Too bad modern Hebrew got rid of all those wonderful biblical expressions for anger (especially those involving pregnancy, heat and or nostrils). See e.g. Psalms 78:49.

      • Mooser
        September 8, 2014, 6:13 pm

        Modern “Hebrew”? Feh! All you fancy-pants balebatisheh yiden can speak this “Hebrew” if you want, but a balegoola like me will stick with good old Yiddish!!
        It was good enough for for generation, and it’s good enough for me.

      • babylouise
        September 8, 2014, 7:18 pm


        Welcome to America.

        As an immigrant I just wanted to let you know that you are living on land that was stolen from the Native Americans. That makes you an occupier.

        Not only was their land, the land you occupy and enjoy the benefits of brutally taken away from them, but we also committed genocide against them. Ruthlessly. Purposefully. They were made to live on the least desirable territories. Small parts of the country away from their traditional people and ways.

        I say “we” because this was done by the US government. I assume that you are a citizen or enjoy some legal status in this country. Now I realize that this happened over 150 years ago, and the Native Americans don’t have the same kind of current spotlight shining on them like the Palestinians do. But I argue that was was perpetrated upon them was an even more grotesque tragedy than the one you are so passionate about.

        But there is hope. You live here. You choose to live here. You pay taxes. Your very life in America is a tacit acceptance of genocide and occupation. And you benefit from it every day. The very land you live on was stolen yet you still live on that land. There’s hope because the Native Americans are still here. Sure they don’t speak up much, given the fact that they live on wastelands called Reservations that are filled with poverty, illiteracy, addiction and alcoholism. Some have casinos though, I guess that’s some consolation.

        Have you ever been on one of those Reservations? Would you give up your home to a Native American and trade places with them and live on the Reservation? Will you protest for their legitimate grievances? I don’t mean changing some sports teams name. I mean fighting for reparations. Fighting for the return of their land. At least would you admit that your acceptance of the status quo and living on stolen land Ill gotten by genocide is wrong? Yes it was 150 years ago, but you admit you are a student of human atrocities.

        The difference is that this atrocity happened right here. Where you live. And the heirs of the victims are still here, suffering greatly while we live on the land stolen from them. You are an occupier Danaa. So am I. But I’m not a hypocrite.

      • Mooser
        September 9, 2014, 12:52 pm

        The difference is that this atrocity happened right here. Where you live. And the heirs of the victims are still here, suffering greatly while we live on the land stolen from them. You are an occupier Danaa. So am I. But I’m not a hypocrite.”

        As went the Native Americans, so go the Palestinians. History’s losers! And we are the Jews! Hisotory’s winners! We4 don’t know nothing about losing, so why should we have any empathy for losers like Native Americans and Palestinians.
        I mean, hey, genocide is the way of the world, huh? Some people are losers at it, and some winners!

        And Gosh, it’s so good to be among the non- hypocritical winners!

      • babylouise
        September 9, 2014, 1:34 pm


        It sure is nice to be able to pick your battles. Why not pick the one that you are complicit in? The one that defines the land you live in? The one done in your name so that you can live your life in comfort and safety at the expense of others who were raped of their cultures, land and now live on Reservations that we so kindly gave them.

        Let’s see why it might not be your battle to fight. Maybe 150 years ago is such a long time that it doesn’t matter? Maybe there aren’t that many Native Americans left and they are kind of out of sight, out of mind? Maybe it would mean that you would have to look in the mirror and at least recognize that you are living the benefits of the occupier, in your own land, by your own choice, and doing little or nothing about it.

        But it’s a lot easier to be righteous about certain causes because they are in vogue. You can find friends to blog with about it! You can be social and moral hero without lifting a finger (except the one behind your keyboard).

        I guess it is less satisfying to identify as an American who is enjoying the occupier lifestyle. More satisfying to adopt a cause far from home because it resonates with your Jewish identity which you equate with your political identity.

        I guess you said it best. Both the Palestinians and the Native Americans are losers. But it must be that some losers are better than others to be supportive of ( as supportive as ROTFL behind a keyboard is at least). The difference is that the Native Americans are your losers. You live on their land, and to live up to your own standards you would need to make some big changes in your daily life that I can’t imagine will happen any time soon. But if it does let me know and we can share some hemp on the peace pipe at your new Reservation.

        Talk is cheap. But it makes us feel good. Its easier than looking in the mirror.

      • Mooser
        September 9, 2014, 9:21 pm

        I gotcha, babylouise. I got you. The Native Americans got shafted, and now it’s the Palestinian’s turn.
        Thank God it will never, ever be our turn again!

      • Mooser
        September 9, 2014, 9:27 pm

        “Its easier than looking in the mirror.”

        Huh? When I look in the mirror, I see the cool, clear
        Eyes of a seeker of wisdom and truth;
        Yet, with the slam-bang tang
        Reminiscent of gin and vermouth.
        Oh, I believe in me!

      • Danaa
        September 10, 2014, 4:35 am

        babylouise, so, I see we are bringing in the Indians to excuse/justify the Israeli occupation (as in: one occupation, two occupations, who’s counting?). You do know this is common-issue/standard hasbara line, right? I will resist the temptation to reply on the merits, but must inquire: did you not just say, somewhere above, that you are opposed to Israeli occupation? that you are, in fact, comfortably ensconced on the “left”?

        Anyways, I find that line of argument somewhat jarring – given your other statements. Those firmly in the 2-state camp for example (cf Lib-zios, “left”, etc) do not usually resort to the “what about the Indians” argument. Just saying.

        Oh, the temptation! if only I had world enough and time!

      • Philemon
        September 10, 2014, 9:54 pm

        “You choose to live here. You pay taxes. Your very life in America is a tacit acceptance of genocide and occupation. And you benefit from it every day. The very land you live on was stolen yet you still live on that land.”

        Well, if Danaa’s in Delaware, maybe not. The Delaware were fairly litigious as I recall, and got a lot of their property rights respected in the courts of the time. And lots of U.S. Americans are part Native American. Lots of intermarriage. You don’t need to go to a reservation to find ’em.

        There’s no tacit acceptance of genocide there. They live on in their children.

        Now, if Native Americans were still half the population in the U.S. today and had been driven into concentration camps sunder siege so that they could not get the most rudimentary supplies, and were additionally subject to collective punishment at the whim of their oppressors, who bombed their homes into rubble, bombed their hospitals, bombed their schools, bombed their refugee sites, bombed their electricity, bombed their water and sewage, and also killed lots of their children, it might be comparable to Israel.

        Babylouise, if Danaa was living on someone else’s legally titled land, she’d probably settle out of court with them so that they could get their land back with minimal fuss and so she didn’t get hit with big legal fees.

        But, yay, babylouise, going with the, “You did it to the American Indians!” Because that makes it all okay, /sarc/

    • Mooser
      September 8, 2014, 12:40 pm

      ” I do appreciate reading your comments but they are quite extreme. “

      Gosh, I wonder why? I mean, it’s not like Danaa has any personal experience or knowledge of the subject! ROTFL.

      • babylouise
        September 8, 2014, 12:49 pm


        You sure do spend a lot of time on the floor. Rolling, laughing, losing your ass.

        And you are pretty good at the quick drive by, one liner quip. You are the stand up comic of MondoWorld!

      • Mooser
        September 8, 2014, 1:49 pm

        “You are the stand up comic of MondoWorld!”

        There is no reason to libel the site because of my comments.
        I am a commenter here. I have no affiliation with the site.

        And yes, I am finding this very funny.
        I predicted last week we would get the whole schmear and here it comes.

      • just
        September 8, 2014, 2:00 pm


      • Annie Robbins
        September 8, 2014, 2:03 pm

        me thinks the baby doesn’t want to talk politics. > silence discussion of israel. doesn’t disclose whether she is a zionist or not. distract, divert, quip quip insult, hair under arms, chairs coffee cars. zzzz

      • Mooser
        September 8, 2014, 6:17 pm

        It’s really something, Annie!! Never before has it occurred to me I would live to see the day a superficial Jewishness was considered a social asset! What a country this, Goldenah Medina!!

      • Mooser
        September 8, 2014, 6:21 pm

        “You sure do spend a lot of time on the floor. Rolling, laughing, losing your ass”

        In my home-made hemp clothes.

      • Philemon
        September 10, 2014, 10:03 pm

        Pix or it didn’t happen!

    • Mooser
      September 9, 2014, 12:56 pm

      “But words have meaning and dialogue must be somewhat civil to get opposing sides to agree, unless you just want to throw stones.”

      “Throw stones”? Like those awful Palestinians?

    • Mooser
      September 9, 2014, 1:01 pm

      Yeah, I think it’s time we stopped all this whining for sympathy and needing our own country cause we Jews are so weak. What nonsense. We the powerful Jews, took it from the losers fair and square, and they might as well learn to suck it and like it.

      Allenby? Who ever heard of Allenby? Where was he when the Zionists defeated the Ottoman Empire, and opened Palestine to Western development!

      I’m with “babylouise”! No hypocrisy for me!

  31. Dan Solomon
    September 8, 2014, 12:46 pm

    I am a JRC member and want to respond to some of the comments by babylouise concerning JRC. She obviously has not had a positive experience. However, as I stated in a previous post my experience at JRC has been positive.

    I typically attend Torah study on Saturday morning and an occasional Minyan (member led) service. I also go to an occasional adult education class. In all these events Israeli politics (or any other politics) rarely comes up. In fact , with a few exceptions, I don’t know the political positions on Israel or most other subjects of most of the fellow JRC members that I come in contact with. In Torah study we study Torah not US or Israeli politics. The Minyan service is a religious service where we mainly pray to the God that may or may not exist and then discuss the Torah portion. I don’t feel that anyone’s political agenda is being imposed on me. Maybe other members have a different experience but that is mine.

    One more point – BabyLouise seems concerned about Fair Trade coffee being sold in the Lobby. In all my years coming to JRC I can not recall anyone trying to sell me Fair Trade coffee. Of course it may have happened from time to time and I missed it. But so what? Why is this an issue? If I do encounter someone trying to sell me Fair Trade coffee I would probably buy it.

    • ritzl
      September 8, 2014, 1:02 pm

      Thanks Dan.

      • Elliot
        September 8, 2014, 1:37 pm

        Dand and Ritzl,


        This is an aspect of l’affaire Rosen is getting buried in the spin. The fact is that the faction that rose against Rosen did not complain that their rabbi was forcing his progressive politics on them. Comparing the reports of Dan Solomon and others against what goes in many, establishment synagogues shows that Israel is discussed a whole lot less at JRC than in rightwing synagogues. The JRC website and Rabbi Rosen went out of their way to give space to those who might disagree. Unlike many mainstream synagogues and establishment rightwing rabbis. Their rightwing agenda is a central feature of their rabbinic leadership and their synagogues. Just start googling synagogues in your zip code. Unlike Chicago, many of these synagogues are the only game in town. And if you don’t like it, you just got to lump it.

        Civility, respect, live and let live were the hallmark of Rabbi Rosen’s leadership – alongside sustained dedicated commitment to a range of progressive issues. Even his detractors from the fashionable center such as Babylouise don’t challenge that. Unlike many of his rightwing colleagues who trumpeted their despicable support of Israel’s war on Gaza. Those rabbis are comfortably sitting in their offices right now, drafting their High Holyday sermons. One of those sermons, no doubt, will cheer Israel on yet again – just in case someone missed it over the summer.

  32. Elliot
    September 8, 2014, 4:35 pm

    Babylouise –

    You made your feelings known when Danaa’s wording about the Holocaust challenged your own – i.e. political – reading of the Shoah. Yet, you insist that you have not given any thought to how your kids were taught about the Holocaust during their years in your synagogue’s Religious School. In case you didn’t know, the Holocaust is an important part of any Jewish kid’s religious education.

    Do you sell bridges for a living?

    • Mooser
      September 8, 2014, 6:29 pm

      “You made your feelings known when Danaa’s wording about the Holocaust challenged your own – i.e. political – reading of the Shoah.”

      Do I have this right? First “Babylouise” tried to inject, out of nowhere, a mis-reading she conjured up (‘so-called Holocaust’) she could get offended about and when that was pointed out, decided the correct reading (“some Holocaust”) was just as offensive?

      Yup, I can see it coming, a trademark infringement suit. We shouldn’t use words that belong to other people.

  33. Elliot
    September 9, 2014, 6:23 pm

    Babylouise –
    I’ve finally figured out what you are doing hanging out with us at Mondoweiss. Your job is to tell us that JRC – sans Rabbi Rosen – is absolutely perfect. Now that he is out, he will take the cold building, the greasy coffee and the hairy armpits with him.

    Your JRC is both “left of center” and warm and cozy and traditional. In Biblical terms “It was good.” (Genesis 1)

    ” I can’t imagine it being more fair.” or, to paraphrase Voltaire, your JRC is the best of all possible worlds.

Leave a Reply