Real Time… False Claims…

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AUGUST 6, 2014, 5:20 AM

In recent weeks, comedian Bill Maher has emerged as far more supportive of Israel than I would have expected. Jon Stewart, on the other hand, has revealed himself to be a consistent detractor of the Jewish State.

Last week’s Real Time with Bill Maher however, had some difficult moments for someone like me, who is both a fan of Bill Maher and a proud Zionist. During the show, Maher made clear that while he supports Israel’s right to defend herself, he does not support US aid to Israel; one of his statements was, “Israel can take off its training wheels.”

I found his comments particularly stinging, as they came shortly after Congress had approved additional funding for Iron Dome.

One of Maher’s guests, Reza Aslan the author of the book Zealot, utilized even more extreme anti-Israel rhetoric. His opening comment was, “It’s not like we …

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Remembrance Is Just the First Step

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AUGUST 3, 2014, 5:40 AM


We are a people of memory and remembrance. Our celebratory holidays help make sure we know from whence we came. Our memorial observances insure we understand grief and allow ourselves to touch the pain of loss. That psychological and spiritual excursive is, however, just the first step. For memory and loss by themselves are, at best static and, at worst, internal forms of idolatry. Remembrance that allows us to sit in our anguish serves to simply lock us in the past. It does little to honor the memory of what we, our loved ones and our community endured. Remembrance that calls us to action however opens the door to a future of action.

This is, perhaps, best seen in our communal commemoration of Tisha B’av and its aftermath.

Read more: Remembrance Is Just the First Step | Daniel M. Cohen | The Blogs | The

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An Article Filled With “Yes/But” When the World Needs “Both/And”

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Co-Authored with Rabbi Robyn Fryer Bodzin, MSW

We are writing as Jews, as Zionists and Rabbis from two different movements to reflect upon Jay Michaelson’s thoughtful and provocative response in the Jewish Daily Forward to Rabbi Menachem Creditor’s piece about his shifting perspectives and deep commitments in the Huffington Post. Before we develop our thoughts on Mr. Michaelson’s response, a bit of disclosure is necessary. We spent the week beginning July 8th in Israel together with Rabbi Creditor and 16 other rabbis. While in Israel, we spent countless hours in meetings, staying glued to media reports about the unfolding violence and ran into bomb shelters. Together we were, time and time again, shaken by the perilousness of the situation and the human suffering on both sides of this conflict.

Not only do we know Rabbi Menachem Creditor well, but we are in awe of his deep compassion for all …

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The Day That Facebook Removed the Word “Standards” from Its Dictionary

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JULY 30, 2014, 9:55 PM

I have had a Facebook account for quite some time but only used it sporadically. Over the last six months to a year, my engagement with Facebook has grown; I not only used it to keep up with family and friends, but I have also been working to build a Facebook presence for both my synagogue and for my technology blog. My week in Israel at the beginning of July saw a huge uptick in my use of Facebook, which has continued to grow. While in Israel, I had the opportunity to spend that week with 19 rabbinic colleagues on AIPAC’s first ever Rabbinic Mission. As I’ve written previously, the first day we arrived in Jerusalem we encountered a Red Alert as missiles were fired at Jerusalem for the first time. Two days later, we were in the Foreign Ministry when there was another Red …

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I’m Progressive… Not Suicidal

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JULY 24, 2014, 4:19 AM

The other day my friend and colleague Rabbi Menachem Creditor wrote an op-ed entitled “I’m Done Apologizing for Israel.” It is a powerful piece that, judging from the number of times it has been shared, clearly struck a cord. When his post was republished on the Jewish Daily Forward an additional line was added to it on the front page. That line stated,

“Menachem Creditor is a left-leaning Rabbi. His peers expect him to condemn Israel’s military actions in Gaza. But he won’t – he can’t – not this time.”

That additional line immediately reminded me of an exchange another friend and colleague had a few days ago. He had sent a letter to his community explaining the current situation in all it’s nuance and complexity and his thoughts on it. One member of his community replied privately to him that he found …

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Snapshots From Last Shabbat

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JULY 18, 2014, 10:20 PM

Snapshot: Jerusalem Friday Afternoon Friends and I have a welcome break after three days of non-stop meetings.

Ember 6

We grab some lunch, sit in wonderment at the ability of Israelis to be running into shelters one minute and dancing in the streets the next.

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On the way back to our hotel to prepare for Shabbat we pause to take a “selfie.” Looking back now it is clear that our selfie silliness was, in large part, comic relief from the serious tone of our many meetings and the stress of waiting for the next Red Alert. I am reminded that it is our connection to one another that, more than anything, brings holiness into our lives.

Read more: Snapshots From Last Shabbat | Daniel M. Cohen | The Blogs | The Times of Israel
Follow us: @timesofisrael on Twitter | timesofisrael on Facebook

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It’s All About the Relationship

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July 18, 2014, 12:40 am 
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An Open Letter to Jeremy Ben-Ami

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JULY 2, 2014, 4:35 AM


Mr Ben-Ami-

I am not a member of J Street, but I have many dear, pro-Israel friends who are. As a congregational rabbi I have made a point of encouraging members of my synagogue to become involved in Pro-Israel activism, and I have made it clear that I care less about WHERE their involvement takes place and more about the fact THAT they become involved. So while I welcome them to become involved with me in AIPAC, I also encourage them to support J Street if they so choose. I have also taken strong stands against those who look to demonize J Street as such efforts are counterproductive. Our Pro-Israel energy and resources are finite, and we cannot afford to shift any of them from what should be our primary focus – the health, security and well-being of the State of Israel.

Read more: An

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Reflections on PC/USA’s Friday Decision

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I spent my Friday afternoon watching the deliberations of the Presbyterians (PC/USA) as they prepared to vote on divestment from three companies that do business with Israel and, according to the Church, are “against peace.” I was struck that the vote took place shortly after Shabbat Korach had begun here in the Northeast. Just as Korach made statements that were true but were taken out of context in order to advance his agenda, so too did those pushing for divestment make statements that held elements of truth but, when removed from context, led to misconceptions

Read more: Reflections on PC/USA’s Friday Decision | Daniel M. Cohen | The Blogs | The Times of Israel 
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As sirens sound, NJ visitors share resilient Israel’s anxiety

Visiting Israel on a national Jewish federations mission, Maxine Murnick said she was disappointed when her group was discouraged from visiting Ofakim, in Israel’s beleaguered South.

“Can you imagine if somebody advised you against going to Millburn or Morris Plains?” she asked.

New Jersey residents visiting Israel during its current clash with Hamas got a close look at what it means to be in Israel when Hamas missiles pour in from Gaza, as air raid sirens sound frequently, and dashes to missile shelters interrupt the mundane activities of daily life.

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Murnick, campaign chair for the Jewish Federation of Greater MetroWest NJ, said the overwhelming impression she was left with was “the resiliency of the Israeli people, which is just something to behold.”

Murnick was one of several local leaders — including federation president Leslie Dannin Rosenthal and assistant executive vice president Jeffrey Korbman — visiting Israel on the July 7-13 …

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