Why the Supreme Court’s Decision Is Not a Problem

(reprinted from www.rabbigoldberg.blogspot.org)
Yesterday the U.S. Supreme Court decided in a split decision to keep intact its perceived understanding of permitting sectarian prayer in civic meetings. Most of the American Jewish world is concerned.

For instance, Rabbi David Saperstein of the Religious Action Center of Reform Judaism, issued this statement: “We are deeply disappointed by today’s Supreme Court decision in Town of Greece, New York v. Galloway, upholding sectarian prayer before a legislative session. Writing for the majority, Justice Anthony Kennedy noted that requiring invocations be nonsectarian would call on the legislatures sponsoring these prayers and the courts to intervene and ‘act as supervisors and censors of religious speech.’ Yet, Justice Kennedy did suggest there were limits to such prayers, among them: denigrating non-believers or religious minorities, threatening damnation, or preaching conversion — leaving courts in exactly the same role as line-drawers.The record has shown that the overwhelming majority of prayers offered were Christian. That is why we were pleased to join an amicus brief to the Court, opposing the constitutionality of the town of Greece’s practices, along with a diverse array of faith and religiously-affiliated groups.”

Would I prefer the Court to have ruled differently? Yes. Am I surprised it did not? No. Futhermore, its decision does not bother me for three reasons.

Ghosts of Auschwitz

For more on Danny Cohen’s Journey go to: http://www.dannymcohen.com/

As teenagers around the world prepare for group trips to Auschwitz this summer, I am preparing to break a promise. If ghosts exist, I’m not afraid of them. Not any more.

The Nazi crematoria of Auschwitz and Sobibor consumed most of my grandfather’s family.
At Jewish primary school, we sat on the scratchy carpet looking up at an old man who recited otherworldly stories of crowded railcars and forced tattooing and ovens in which his family burned.
At home, if a reference to the Nazi genocide flashed across the television screen, my parents protectively changed the channel. But, alone, I stumbled upon films I shouldn’t have seen in which a mass of undressed men trudged toward false shower rooms and German dogs mauled Jewish children as their mothers screamed.
A shelf in my parents’ dining room held books on Jewish history and heritage. Flung open, they revealed pages of terrifying black and white and sepia photographs. Naked women at the edges of open pits, desperately covering their genitals and breasts with their arms and hands. Skeletal figures, still alive, reaching through barbed wire fences. Open mass-graves.

What is God – Part 3: God as a Metaphor

What is God – Part 3: God as a Metaphor

For part 1 go to http://www.sholomchicago.org/blog/what-is-god-part-1/
For part 2 go to http://www.sholomchicago.org/blog/what-is-god-part-2-is-god-a-person/
How hard is it for Jews to think of God in metaphorical terms? After all, we don’t even speak a name for this entity, instead using descriptions like Adonai, Elohim, Shehechinah. Yet, does God really demand that we think of Him as Lord? Or, as one book says about our use of Adonai, “It is we humans who ascribe lordship to God, out of our need for submission. Lordship is a projection from human society onto the mysterious, unknowable, divine Being.”

Our liturgies are filled, abundantly, with efforts to express our experiences of the holy through metaphor. Says a meditation from Gates of Prayer (p. 174):

L’Dor V’Dor – how does your past speak?

A couple of weeks ago I went to a luncheon at the Spertus Institute of Jewish Learning and Leadership with my colleague, Lisa Kaplan. As the theme of the event was L’Dor V’Dor, from generation to generation, people were encouraged to attend with their family and bring an heirloom that reminded them of their family history. Participants even had the chance to have their portrait taken with the heirloom they brought. In my photo, I was wearing my Great-Grandmother’s wedding ring. To me, this ring holds a great deal of sentimental value. My grandmother had given this ring to my mother and it was passed down to me. Someday I will likely give to a daughter of my own. It is the birthright of the women in our line – something that binds us all and holds our spirits together. I am so excited to send my mother a copy of that photo, and wish that she could have been there when it was taken.

Sisterhood stands with Women of the Wall

Welcome to the first Temple Sholom Sisterhood Blog post!

Members of our Temple Sholom Sisterhood joined over 100 women and men to pray at a Rosh Chodesh service held at the Daley Center on May 10. The event was sponsored by Chicagoland Women of the Wall.

What a powerful experience it was to pray at a replica of the Western Wall right here in Chicago − particularly knowing that, just ten hours earlier in Jerusalem itself, women assembled to pray and were, for the first time, assisted rather than arrested by police.

Women of the Wall is a tremendous organization which has been holding prayer services and fighting for the right of Jewish women to worship at the Western Wall for decades. The recent court decision permitting women to pray at the Wall wearing tallit and tefillin marks the first step in a long journey to come.