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Jews and Muslims are natural allies against religious discrimination – The Hill (blog)

Posted By on August 24, 2017

On Wednesday, a new month began in the lunar calendars of Jews and Muslims. And it couldnt have come soon enough.

In this past month, white-supremacist, neo-nazis marched in Charlottesville, Va. One of the counter-protesters was killed in an act of terrorism. And rather than hearing a fierce and immediate condemnation from the White House, we instead witnessed a flailing president offering moral equivalencies between the two sides, condoning the neo-nazis, and effectively excusing hate. This is the hate of the immigrant, the hate of the Hispanic, the hate of the African American, and inevitably, the hate of the Muslim and the Jew. Islamophobia and Anti-Semitism are but two sides of the same coin of hatred.

In the Muslim calendar, the new lunar month is the season of Hajj, during which Muslims perform their duty of pilgrimage to Mecca, to the house that father Abraham built with his son Ishmael. Immediately following the Hajj, the Muslim holiday of Eid ul-Adha celebrates Abraham and his sons submission to Allah defining Islam, as an act of surrender to Gods will. Today, Muslims continue to emulate Abraham by serving something greater, a beneficent and loving God.

In the Jewish calendar, the new moon ushers in the month of Elul. It is a month of reflection and penitence, in preparation for Gods judgment on the New Year (Rosh HaShanah) and the Day of Atonement (Yom Kippur). It is a time to ask forgiveness and to make sure that one is right with ones fellow humans, as well as with God. On Rosh HaShanah, in synagogues all over the world, Jews read the story of Abraham and his sons act of submission to God what Jews call the binding of Isaac.

What does this new month that is sacred to Muslims and Jews teach Americans? It teaches us to repent of our misdeeds, to apologize for our failings and admit we were wrong, and to have humility before God. It teaches that Jews and Muslims share a heritage that is precious and we learn that these two minority communities, both children of Abraham, must be responsible to one another.

Now is the time for the Jewish and Muslim communities to have each others backs. To stand shoulder to shoulder in the face of Islamophobia and anti-Semitism.

As minority religions, we have been natural allies. Back in 2008-09, Muslims from the Islamic Cultural Center (96th Street Mosque) joined monthly with students and staff from the Jewish Theological Seminary to prepare food for New Yorks hungry at the local Presbyterian soup kitchen.

In 2014, Jewish and Muslim physicians joined forces to give low-income Texans free health screenings.

Just last year, the NYC Muslim-Jewish Solidarity Committee joined with the Multifaith Alliance for Syrian Refugees to make up relief packages for the displaced and, in recent months, the Muslim-Jewish Advisory Council lobbied Congress for hate crimes legislation.

These are but a few examples of Muslim and Jewish cooperation to repair the world. But we need to do more. We can open our Mosques and Synagogues to each other, as well as to the surrounding, largely Christian, community. As the season of holidays comes upon us, it is time for Jews to visit the Mosque, and for Muslims to join the Jewish community, perhaps for lunch in the Sukkah. Open your homes to one another, open your hearts. That is how we can help America to remember the loving and welcoming nation she was always meant to be.

This is not a season for hate or xenophobia. It is a time to welcome all of Gods children with love. The Holy Quran teaches, we are made different tribes and peoples that you might know one another. The Torah commands us, Know the heart of the stranger for you were once strangers in the land of Egypt. And we are taught, Love the stranger.

We live in a country where we need not be strangers, but fellow citizens. We share common hopes and precious freedoms. We stand together in love to protect those freedoms and speak out against hatred. For hate will pass, but love will always abide. We pray that in this new month, God bless the United States of America.

Daisy Khan is founder and executive director of the Women’s Islamic Initiative for Spirituality & Equality (WISE), a non-profit addressing the challenges that face the global Muslim community, particularly gender-based inequality, and editor of a forthcoming book, WISE UP Knowledge ends extremism.

Rabbi Burton Visotzky is Appleman Professor of Midrash at the Jewish Theological Seminary where he directs the Milstein Center for Interreligious Dialogue, a center focusing particularly on fostering Jewish-Christian and Jewish-Muslim understanding and partnership

The views expressed by contributors are their own and not the views of The Hill.

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Jews and Muslims are natural allies against religious discrimination – The Hill (blog)

After Charlottesville, And With High Holidays Ahead, ADL Reaches Out To Jewish Institutions Over Security – Algemeiner

Posted By on August 24, 2017

Email a copy of “After Charlottesville, And With High Holidays Ahead, ADL Reaches Out To Jewish Institutions Over Security” to a friend

Demonstrators carry Nazi and Confederate flags in Charlottesville, Va., Aug. 12. Photo: Anthony Crider via Wikimedia Commons.

With many American Jews fearing for their safety following the white supremacist-instigated violence in Charlottesville, Virginia earlier this month, and with SeptembersHigh Holidays fast approaching, the Anti-Defamation League provided a security briefingthis week to hundreds of community leaders and security officials at Jewish institutions across the country.

For the Jewish community, security is always a concern, ADL CEO Jonathan Greenblatt said. Theres no reason for alarm in the aftermath of Charlottesville, but we felt it was important for ADL to bring law enforcement and Jewish community institutions together to ensure communities across the country are prepared and safe.

Speakers on the call included representatives from the ADLs Center on Extremism, two FBI executives and the ADLs communal security expert.

Additional briefings will be heldin the lead-up to the Jewish High Holidays, which begin on the evening of September 20, the ADL said. Furthermore, the ADL will be organizing meetings with local law enforcement and community officials throughout the US to assess the post-Charlottesville security situation.

As previouslyreported byThe Algemeiner,questions have been raised over whether police adequately protected Congregation Beth Israel Charlottesvilles only synagogue during the Aug. 12 unrest.

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After Charlottesville, And With High Holidays Ahead, ADL Reaches Out To Jewish Institutions Over Security – Algemeiner

Casting Zionism As ‘White Nationalism’ Is Anti-Semitism …

Posted By on August 24, 2017

[T]he destiny of the modern Jew is tragic beyond expression and comprehensionso tragic that they laugh at you when you speak of it, and this is the greatest tragedy at all. Isaac Deutscher, The Non-Jewish Jew

When neo-Nazis and white nationalists marched through Charlottesville, Virginia, last week, they chanted anti-Semitic slogans like, Jews will not replace us. Even before the march, Nazi websites had posted calls to marchers to burn down a synagogue there. As The Atlantic observed, they are obsessed with Jews. This comes as no surprise to Jews and should not be a surprise to anyone with even a passing familiarity with the history of anti-Semitism, white nationalism, or Nazism. When the Ku Klux Klan was re-founded in 1915, for example, one of its key precepts was anti-Semitism, alongside anti-Black racism and xenophobia. That is why when, last week, white nationalists marched, it was an attack on Jews and Jewish institutions, as well as on people of color: when white nationalists gain power and influence, they use it to terrorize us.

It has therefore come as a shock to me to discover the growing popularity, among some on the left, of the notion that Zionism actually is white nationalism a position as anti-Semitic as it is intellectually disingenuous. The most offensive aspect of this ideas growing popularity is that it has come primarily since the march in Charlottesville, but the significance of the timing goes beyond mere insensitivity. In the aftermath of the march, many Jews on the left insisted upon, at long last, recognition by our allies on the left that white nationalism is a threat to Jews. The growing power of white nationalists represents, as it always has, a direct challenge to the ability of Jews to feel at home or safe.

Yair Rosenberg, for example, suggested that the left set aside the longstanding debate over whether Jews are white or not an important debate because, he explained, implicitly at stake … is whether efforts to combat racism should prioritize prejudice against Jews or whether other groups should take precedence. In practice, however, the question has been settled by the growing power of white nationalists, who uniformly contend that Jews are not white, and have no place in their vision for America. Though with some notable exceptions, the general response to this call was deafening silence.

Soon after, and ostensibly out of nowhere, some anti-Zionists began to suggest that Zionism is a form of white nationalism. This represents a direct rebuke of Rosenbergs, and others, pleas. In fact, the exclusive effect of this line of argument there are innumerable other ways to criticize Israel was, and is, to distract from and undermine the insistence of Jewish leftists that the threats to us and our communities be taken seriously. If Zionism is simply one form of white nationalism, and Jews are not threatened by Zionism, then how much could Jews really be threatened by white nationalism? Even without the dangerous underlying logic, the effect would be the same to reorient the conversation about white nationalism to be about Zionism instead of anti-Semitism. And, as with so many discussions pertaining to Israel on the left, leftist Jews again find ourselves having to first disclaim any support for Israel before our concerns about anti-Semitism will be heard, let alone taken seriously.

Unspoken in the position is the erasure of any difference between Jews and non-Jewish whites (for the sake of simplicity, lets ignore the fact that the vast majority of Israeli Jews would not be seen as white in nearly any part of the world). After all, for Zionism to be considered white nationalism, it must involve support for a white nation. This distinction between whites and Jews, is of importance not because of any inherent difference between us but rather because centuries of oppression have created that difference. Regardless of whether Jews are counted as white, we remain a small minority, frequently discriminated against on the basis of being Jews. When the left-Twitterati pretends this not to be the case, it tacitly suggests that there is no history of Jewish oppression or, at least, that such history is irrelevant.

Obscuring the history of and invidiousness of Jewish persecution is both vital to and inherent in this theory. At its core, white nationalism is ideological dishonesty in pursuit of greater power for the already powerful. White nationalists claim they seek the creation of a nation exclusively for them on the basis that white people are an oppressed minority whose coherent culture requires protection. This, obviously, has no basis in reality: white nationalism is not aimed at the vindication of any oppressed group but rather the further empowerment of those who have occupied positions of privilege for most of the worlds history, and continue to do so now. (Also, the notion that there is a single, white culture is laughable.)

By contrast, Jews clearly are a coherent cultural group; we actually have been oppressed, in fact by the majority in every nation we have inhabited; our shared culture, and even our people, has often teetered on the brink of extinction. The existence of Israel does not undo that history or the fact that half the worlds Jews continue to live as precarious minorities. To suggest otherwise is to appeal to the age-old anti-Semitic canard that Jews are a powerful global cabal, under which the power of some of us anywhere enhances the power of all us, everywhere.

The left has too often allowed our critique of Israel to obscure the demands of our better angels. If we embrace the notion that Zionism is a form of or indistinguishable from white nationalism, we will commit that error yet again, endorsing by implication the idea that Jews wield as much as, or more power than, non-Jewish whites a neo-Nazi talking point. Instead, we must directly confront the ugly problem of anti-Semitism which has again reared its head in the form of white nationalism.

We can, and must, do better.

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Casting Zionism As ‘White Nationalism’ Is Anti-Semitism …

Christian Zionism and a positive relationship with Jews and Judaism – The Jerusalem Post mobile website

Posted By on August 24, 2017

Rescue workers assist people who were injured when a car drove through a group of counter protestors at the “Unite the Right” rally Charlottesville, Virginia, US, August 12, 2017.. (photo credit:JOSHUA ROBERTS / REUTERS)

In response to the racist and antisemitic events that took place in Charlottesville, Virginia recently, the media has done a great deal of virtue signaling, sometimes even accompanied by thoughtful reporting and discussion.

One well-known media outlet, however, made a terribly irresponsible choice, and its one we need to talk about.

Possibly in a move to demonstrate their prescience, perhaps to squeeze one more article out of a topic that has received intense scrutiny from all corners, Newsweek decided to pull out a 1981 piece from its archives and explicitly link it with the Charlottesville rally. The article announced, Newsweek published this story under the headline of Again, Anti-Semitism on February 16, 1981. In light of the recent neo-Nazi, white power and alt-right rally in Charlottesville, Virginia, Newsweek is republishing the story.

The original 1981 article documents the rise of antisemitic incidents in 1980 and some of the efforts to address it within and outside of the Jewish community.

The choice to reprint this article, with the implicit suggestion that nothing much has changed in Christian and particularly Evangelical Christian relations with Jews and Judaism since 1981, is simply ignorant. In fact, Evangelicalisms major developments in engaging productively with Jews and Judaism have taken place since that time, specifically parallel to American Evangelical Christianitys move toward greater participation in the political arena.

Christian Zionism is undoubtedly a controversial topic. But one thing is for certain: Christian Zionism has brought millions of Evangelical Christians into an unprecedented positive relationship with Jews and Judaism. Through their core issue of support for Israel, American Evangelical Christians are now far more interested in and sensitive to the Jewish roots of Christianity, the practices and beliefs of Judaism, and the centrality of Israel to our people. Overwhelmingly, Christian Zionism has grown among the American Evangelical public in the time since the original article was written, and contemporary Christian Zionisms major organizations and ministries date from 1980 and later.

That Evangelical Christian Zionist interest in and love for Jews and Judaism is not uncomplicated. Its by no means a simple issue. But it cannot be denied that the model of engagement with Jews and Judaism that is communicated to Evangelical Christians through these movements is far more positive than we find in earlier articulations of Evangelicalism/ fundamentalism.

Much more disturbing than simple ignorance of content, however, is the shocking new headline. This headline is remarkably different than the 1981 version. Had the original title Again, Anti-Semitism been retained, no one would really have an argument. But Newsweek chose an inflammatory new title Why Do Nazis Hate Jews? How Christian Politics Fuels Anti-Semitism in the United States.

The article has 10 paragraphs. Only one of them even mentions Christianity.

Yet this headline suggesting that something Christian fuels antisemitism in the United States by the editors at Newsweek is now all over the Internet, spreading its own lie and bigotry.

Christianity has a long and sorry history of both anti-Judaism and antisemitism. But since the Holocaust, Western Christian denominations have seriously and carefully examined the role that Christian teaching might have played in normalizing anti-Jewish attitudes and continue to engage deeply in the challenge of representing, preaching and teaching about Jews and Judaism in responsible and truthful ways. Jewish-Christian relations are at a remarkably different stage of development than they were in the past. And Evangelical Christianity is very much a part of this extraordinary progress.

There is still much work to be done. Part of it is for Christians to call out and condemn racism and antisemitism when it rears its ugly head, as it did at Charlottesville. And part of it is for us as Jews to boldly name and condemn anti-Christian bias when it arises. And this week we saw it on full display in Newsweek.

The writer is the director for the Israel Center for Jewish-Christian Relations and an Associate Fellow at the Philos Project. She can be contacted at [emailprotected]

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Christian Zionism and a positive relationship with Jews and Judaism – The Jerusalem Post mobile website

Catholic priest who burned cross on couple’s yard in 1977 comes forward – ABC News

Posted By on August 24, 2017

Philip Butler recalled on Wednesday that he was home watching television on the night 20 years ago when a flaming cross was staked outside his front door.

“This was the last day of the movie Roots,” Butler recounted to the press about the evening he was spending inside his newly purchased house in College Park, Maryland back in January 1977. “I always remember that.”

The finale, based on Alex Haley’s novel, culminated a momentous television miniseries event that piped into American living rooms the tribulations of an African teen forced into bondage as an American slave.

Butler, who said during a press conference today that hes a Vietnam veteran, and his wife Barbara — both African-American — only discovered they were the target of the horrifying statement left kindling on their yard when a concerned neighbor telephoned them.

“I came out,” Butler recounted to reporters during a press conference at his attorney’s office in Washington D.C. on Wednesday. “[The cross] was about 6-7-foot… I knew that, hey, someone is against us.”

Then he became introspective “What did we do to get a cross put in our yard?” he asked.

Now, 40 years later, William Aitcheson, the man guilty of the act, has come forward. He says hes now found Jesus Christ and serves God as a Catholic priest in Arlington, Virginia.

On Sunday, he published a mea culpa, without naming his victims, in the parish’s newspaper.

In the piece, titled “Moving from hate to love with God’s grace” Aitcheson, 62, essentially outed himself to his parish as a former white knight.

“I was a member of the Ku Klux Klan,” he wrote. “My actions were despicable. When I think back on burning crosses, a threatening letter, and so on, I feel as though I am speaking of somebody else.

“It’s hard to believe that was me,” he adds.

The priest then wrote after four decades, “I must say this: I’m sorry. To anyone who has been subjected to racism or bigotry, I am sorry. I have no excuse, but I hope you will forgive me.”

The incident 40 years ago at the Butlers was one of six burning crosses that then 23-year-old reputed KKK cyclops was convicted for a year later. He was also found guilty of sending Coretta King, widow of Rev. Martin Luther King, Jr., a menacing letter, according to multiple articles from 1977 and 1978.

Aitcheson was sentenced to 60 days in jail and four years probation following a guilty plea, ordered to pay at least $20,000 restitution, and gift two Jewish organizations in Maryland, according to the Washington Post. The organizations were B’nai B’rith Hillel at the University of Maryland and Beth Torah Congregation in Hyattsville.

It was unclear if Aitcheson made good on paying to the two groups. The Butlers say they received a small payment, but not the full amount. Phone calls and emails placed by ABC News in an attempt to reach both Fr. Aitcheson and the Dioscese of Arlington were not immediately returned.

“We’re going to research not only the judgment that has been handed down, but we’re going to also seek and see what, if any interest, would have accrued with that judgment,” Philip and Barbara Butler’s attorney Ted Williams said.

The money is one thing, but for 40 years and counting, the Butlers say they were hurt from the priest’s silence.

Now they aren’t certain whether they would even consider speaking with the man who suggested he’s been “humbled” by God and advocates for “peace and mercy” for any white supremacists who were like him and held “vile beliefs.”

“We would have to think about it,” Philip said.

His wife doesn’t think an apology can heal their wounds.

“What’s he going to say, besides he’s sorry?” Barbara Butler asked.

Their attorney won’t even broach a meeting until Aitcheson reveals who else aided him in the cross burnings.

“For there to be any kind of accord, [Father Aitcheson] needs to give up other Klansmen or Klanswomen who was involved in putting that cross on the Butlers’ property,” Williams said.

Since publishing the repentant article, Aitcheson, according to a footnote, “voluntarily asked to temporarily step away from public ministry, for the well being of the Church and parish community, and the request was approved.”

A subsequent statement by the Diocese of Arlington claimed they are working with Fr. Aitcheson to “seek reconciliation and restitution” and attempting to broker a chance to have a meeting with the Butlers “in a pastoral, private setting” in order “to bring them healing.”

The Butlers’ plight was given new life back in 1982 when President Ronald Reagan, who called the cross burning “reprehensible,” personally showed up at the Butler’s home in a show of solidarity.

Back then, according to the Associated Press, Butler described his terror of living in a mostly white-dominated neighborhood.

“It’s hard to leave every morning and come back and wonder if your home is still there,” he said, and told the president “You give us hope.”

ABC News has reached out to the following for comment: Aitcheson, Butler attorney Ted Williams, the Arlington Archiocese, Bnai Brith Hillel at the University of Maryland and Beth Torah Congregation in Hyattsville.

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Catholic priest who burned cross on couple’s yard in 1977 comes forward – ABC News

Synagogue And Church Unite To Offer Sanctuary To Immigrant Mom – Forward

Posted By on August 24, 2017

Ric Urrutia

Araceli Velasquez and her family

A Denver, Colorado synagogue and church are joining forces to help an immigrant from El Salvador who fears her life will be in danger if deported back to her homeland.

Temple Micah and the Park Hill United Methodist Church are holding a joint interfaith prayer service Wednesday welcoming Araceli Velasquez and her family to take sanctuary in the church. Velasquez came to the United States in 2010 seeking asylum because of the violence she encountered in El Salvador. Her request was eventually denied.

While in Denver, she married and had three children, all are American citizens. If deported, Velasquez will be forced to separate from her children and could face threats to her life in El Salvador.

As Jews we are obligated to create a world that is just, compassionate and peaceful, said Rabbi Adam Morris of Temple Micah in a press release issued by American Friends of Service Committee which helped organize the sanctuary. Our current historical moment in which people like Araceli have their families, safety and well-being devalued or endangered compels us to act.

Contact Nathan Guttman at or on Twitter @nathanguttman

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Synagogue And Church Unite To Offer Sanctuary To Immigrant Mom – Forward

Hate speech stickers found at Piedmont synagogue, police say – East Bay Times

Posted By on August 24, 2017

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PIEDMONT A rash of hate incidents, some directed at the Jewish community in Alameda and now at Kehilla Community Synagogue in Piedmont have police investigating the incidents in both cities.

The stickers said: Marxism is murder; Black lives matter except for the 6,000 blacks killed by other blacks each year and the 1,000 black babies aborted each day. A thick glue on the stickers made them difficult to remove, Bowers said.

When you start damaging peoples property its going beyond political or sociological debates, Bowers said. This is an open place of worship with folks expressing who they are.

Being targeted like that goes beyond a debate, Bowers continued. This is a direct action that can be perceived as intimidation. We will not tolerate it. We treat it very seriously. Affixing hate messages under the guise of free speech damaging peoples property is a crime.

Michael Saxe-Taller, executive director at Kehilla, saidWednesday, I think there are some people who are very confused and hurting themselves who somehow think that lashing out at other people is doing something productive.

It is not a time to be despairing, to not feel vulnerable. We have interfaith coalitions and have great support from our partners. We have a sense of being a part of something way stronger than the confusion and distress of a smaller group, he continued.We have been having important discussions about our reaction to what happened in Charlottesville, and issues of anti-Semitism. We are not treating these stickers as a big deal. We are continuing to organize for racial and social justice, taking action and taking care of ourselves.

Bowers said police are checking with nearby residents who may have surveillance cameras and looking for possible witnesses to the incident. Anyone with information can call Piedmont police at510-420-3000.

Alameda experienced two vandalism incidents directed at the Jewish community this past week as well. On or about Aug. 16, classroom windows at Temple Israel on Bay Farm Island were smashed. On Aug. 20, fliers featuring a swastika and a hate message were discovered on the sidewalk on Sherman Street. A resident on Sherman reported to police after he found a second flier on the sidewalk. An officer dispatched to the scene found a third flier with the same hate messages.

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Hate speech stickers found at Piedmont synagogue, police say – East Bay Times

Why this LGBT synagogue is moving beyond its 40-year mission –

Posted By on August 24, 2017

At Congregation Shaar Zahav in San Francisco, Rabbi Mychal Copeland leads Shabbat services with a rainbow tallit around her shoulders. The synagogue newsletter is called The Jewish Gaily Forward.

But the shul that has been known since its 1977 founding as San Franciscos gay synagogue is now reaching out to a broader community and de-emphasizing its identity as an LGBT-specific congregation.

That reflects the Reform congregations changing demographics as well as the evolution in attitudes toward LGBT people in the greater Jewish community, in which other local shuls now also welcome homosexual, bisexual and transgender congregants and clergy.

This year were marking 40 years, and thats a significant number in Judaism, said Michael Chertok, Shaar Zahavs president and a member since 1993. Its hard to say weve come into the Promised Land, but were really in a new place as far as LGBT rights in this country.

Shaar Zahav while retaining its queer values core is focusing on how to serve a congregation that is increasingly of mixed gender, including residents of the Castro who are not gay.

Arthur Slepian, who joined Shaar Zahav in 1989 and served as its president from 2003 to 2006, said hes proud of the synagogues leading role in the move to greater inclusiveness in the Jewish community and happy it can now broaden its appeal.

I think that there are always going to be people that feel a bit marginalized or not completely at home at other places, and I think Shaar Zahav is striving to always be the home for that part of the community, said Slepian, founder of A Wider Bridge, a S.F.-based nonprofit that supports Israels LGBT community. And I think its a great thing for the Jewish world that people who are not LGBT will walk through the doors of Shaar Zahav and celebrate its history.

The changes dont mean Shaar Zahav is ready to toss out its rainbow flags or stop participating in Pride week events. Occasions such as the annual Transgender Day of Remembrance will continue to be a congregational focus.

The stained glass on one side of Shaar Zahavs ark has the Hebrew inscription: Hinei mah tov umanayim, shevet achim gam yachad (How good and pleasant it is to sit together as brothers). On the other side of the ark, the inscription is the same except the word achot (sisters) replaces achim (brothers).

So much has changed in 40 years, especially in the Bay Area with regards to inclusion of LGBT people, said Copeland, whose tenure as Shaar Zehavs spiritual leader began July 1. At the same time, I see this as not necessarily a break in any way in what this community has been doing for so many years.

I want to be sitting with and praying with and learning with anyone who wishes to be in a Jewish space exploring life together.

Founded four decades ago as a home for gay and lesbian Jews, the synagogue was a leader in the 1980s in caring for those with AIDS and in recent years has openly welcomed people who are transgender.

Leaders of the 250-family congregation decided in 2012 to begin a strategic planning process to guide it forward in a Bay Area that had become younger, less religious and more diverse using surveys, town halls, discussion groups and brainstorming sessions.

In 2015, the Walter and Elise Haas Fund awarded Shaar Zahav a grant to further explore its evolving identity and the synagogue hired interim Rabbi Ted Riter, who specializes in transforming synagogues, to lead it through the process.

When we look back at our history, we recognize that our synagogue has committed to a multigenerational exploration of what it means to be queer, reads a case study of the changes. The Shaar Zahav that is emerging is nourished by our LGBT-specific roots, while also recognizing that what unifies us runs so much deeper than sexual orientation and gender identity.

Both Chertok and Copeland say queer values emphasize a refusal to conform and a questioning of authority, even while honoring tradition. Those values include support for refugees and reaching out to interfaith families.

Its hard to say weve come into the Promised Land, but were really in a new place as far as LGBT rights in this country.

Queer values overlap with some deep-seated Jewish values such as otherness, always looking out for whos not being treated well, whos being oppressed, Copeland said. Those values were imbedded in the founding of Shaar Zahav as a place where gay and lesbian Jews could come and pray at a time when that was very difficult.

The changes at Shaar Zahav epitomize an evolution taking place around the country.

For example, high-profile Congregation Beit Simchat Torah in New York City now identifies itself as an LGBTQS shul with the S standing for straight that serves Jews of all genders and sexual identifications, according to Rabbi Sharon Kleinbaum. The synagogue was founded in 1973 as a home and haven for LGBTQ Jews, according to its website.

But Kleinbaum, who has served Beit Simchat Torah since 1992, said focusing on self-identification misses the point: Shaar Zahav doesnt have to worry about gay Jews flocking to other San Francisco shuls, she said. The big problem is that most LGBT Jews avoid synagogue altogether. So in struggling to create a spiritual home that is meaningful and appealing, Shaar Zahav is in the same boat as any other synagogue.

Our competition is not other synagogues that are opening to LGBT folks, Kleinbaum said, our real competition is the fact that most LGBT folks dont care about synagogues. So the issue is how were going to make ourselves relevant for the 90 to 95 percent of LGBT Jews who dont go to a synagogue.

Though there have been changes at Shaar Zahav such as the fact that all three new board members installed this July do not identify as LGBT that doesnt diminish the role the synagogue played in helping lead an evolution within the Jewish community.

Shaar Zahav was born out of a sense of necessity that there wasnt any other place LGBT people could go and feel included, Slepian said. But out of that necessity, something holy was created. Shaar Zahav and many other gay shuls really elevated the Jewish world by setting an example of what it meant to be inclusive.

I think [de-emphasizing its identity as an LGBT-specific congregation] is just whats needed today, and I think it is a sign of progress that there are many places that LGBT people can go in the Jewish world and feel welcomed and celebrated, he continued. I dont know many LGBT people in their 20s and 30s who feel compelled to be part of an all-LGBT community. We live in a very different world.

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Why this LGBT synagogue is moving beyond its 40-year mission –

Vandal Shatters Windows At Alameda Synagogue – CBS San Francisco Bay Area

Posted By on August 24, 2017

August 18, 2017 12:51 PM

ALAMEDA (CBS SF) Windows at an Alameda synagogue were shattered by a rock-throwing vandal who was recorded on security cameras, authorities said Friday.

Temple Israel officials said the damage to two classroom windows was discovered early Thursday morning. By Friday, work crews had boarded up the shattered windows, but congregation members were still stunned by the attack.

The congregation is wonderful, said Linda Chase-Stoud, Temple Israels administrator. They are very open and loving. I just dont know what type of a person would want to do this.

Congregational president Genevieve Pastor-Cohen has sent an email letter to members of the synagogue warning about the possibility of vandalism as a by-product of the kind of violence seen in Virginia last week.

During our Weds. Aug 16th Board of Directors meeting, we discussed the possibility of our synagogue being a target in our small town of Alameda especially with the ongoing expression of bigotry and anti-Semitism, the email read in part. It breaks my heart and soul to be exposed to this type of mindless and senseless action especially aimed at the community I (we) love.

There was no immediate cost estimate of what it will take to repair the damage.

The Alameda Police said they were not investigating the vandalism as a hate crime because there was no anti-semitic graffiti associated with it.

Investigators have taken into evidence one of the rocks used and have surveillance camera video of the vandal.

The congregation was set to hold a vigil Friday night at 7 p.m. at the synagogue. Several hundred people were expected to attend.

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Vandal Shatters Windows At Alameda Synagogue – CBS San Francisco Bay Area

Rabbi claims he was vilified for welcoming non-white members – New York Post

Posted By on August 24, 2017

A Westchester rabbi who sought to diversify his synagogue was panned by its racist board members for turning the congregation Spanish and Black, according to a federal discrimination complaint.

Rabbi Rigoberto Emmanuel Vias, a Sephardic Jew who trained as an Orthodox rabbi, claims the board at Lincoln Park Jewish Center in Yonkers has a long history of discriminatory practices against non-Whites.

Vias explosive allegations are laid out in a complaint recently filed with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission.

Racist members employed subterfuge and sabotage against not only Rabbi Vias but new Latino and African American members, the complaint said. They have attacked any bi-racial or non-white member as not really Jewish.

Vias, who joined the synagogue in 2003, claims one board member, Helen Schwartz, commented, Wouldnt it be terrible if the darkies took over the synagogue? without realizing the rabbis Cuban background.

In 2011, Schwartz also allegedly complained to a director that Vias wasnt actually Jewish because of his Sephardic/Hispanic background.

Board members allegedly spread rumors that the rabbi was out to turn the congregation Spanish and even accused him in 2008 of stealing from the rabbis discretionary fund to change the congregation to Spanish members.

An investigation revealed that the funds were properly distributed, the complaint said. However, the very same false allegations arose again several months later, again with no finding of wrongdoing.

Vias accuses the board of doing nothing when a White congregation member with a Dominican spouse and biracial kids complained of racist treatment in 2010.

Specifically, board members raised her biracial background, claimed she didnt look Jewish and said the family was creating the wrong impression at the congregation, the complaint said.

The boards retaliation against Vias has included cutting his salary, docking his pay and manufacturing criticisms that he chased out more members than he brought in to the congregation.

He also claims the board forced him to sell his rabbi residence and charged with finding a buyer, promising a three-percent bonus that was never paid out.

Vias is seeking compensatory damages for the boards unlawful discrimination and retaliatory practices, which he claims caused him significant financial ramifications, humiliation, outrage and mental anguish.

A message left at Lincoln Park Jewish Center wasnt immediately returned.

Here is the original post:

Rabbi claims he was vilified for welcoming non-white members – New York Post

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