Judaism

A Great Sifting of Religions

by mgopin on December 11, 2015 · 1 comment

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Has anyone else sensed that global crisis is becoming like a massive sifter of the major religions? It is separating out hate ideology from piety, so that as the sifting increases we are starting to see who in each religion is a charlatan hater cloaked in religious garb, and who is penetrating deeper every day into spiritual authenticity and sacred courage.

See this article. Here is an excerpt:

As Rabbi Rick Jacobs defined it in his December 2013 address at the URJ Biennial in San Diego, “audacious hospitality isn’t just a temporary act of kindness so that people don’t feel left out; it’s an ongoing invitation to be part of a community where we can become all that God wants us to be—and a way to transform ourselves in the process.”  At this moment more than ever, the world needs people like Rivka—those who are willing to uphold the

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Below is an excerpt from my book, Between Eden and Armageddon: The Future of World Religions, Violence, and Peacemaking, pp. 177-179 . The reason I am reproducing this now is given the Jewish season of New Year, repentance,  and the never ending assault this summer on the decency of the Abrahamic religions, their constant use and abuse by states and extremists alike, it strikes me as the right time to remember the thousands of years and thousands of texts that are humanitarian and decent in just one tradition, let alone all the great sacred traditions of humanity. We must not forget, we must not let states and their extremists bury the wisdom of any great tradition.

Conflict Prevention Values In Judaism

A. Self

benevolent care of the self (al tehi rasha bifne, ahavah kamokha, im ayn ani li)[1]

self-scrutiny and change (heshbon ha-nefesh, teshuva)[2]…

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Jonah to the Prophets

by mgopin on October 10, 2014 · 4 comments

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Jonah-Waiting-for-the-Destruction

Run away
In order to run toward,
Rebel
In order to serve,
Complain selfishly
In order to sacrifice generously,
Wish to die
In order to live,
Sacrifice yourself
To prevent sacrifices,
Be a fool
in order to teach wisdom,
Stop wrapping yourself in God
So that people may listen,
The lesson of your foolishness
Stops habits in their tracks,
Much more than
fundamentalist prattle.

 

(Photo: Reading the Bible)…

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Democratic experiments are capable of evolution, as long as adherents to a religion or citizens of shared societies never stop evolving, growing, recognizing the responsibility they have to use their minds constantly to interpret, to exercise their conscience, and to negotiate the best path forward to sacred and social peace.

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Christian extremism in the U.S. Military, Muslim extremism in the new Egyptian Parliament, the worst kind of racism and fantasies of ethnic cleansing reaching the most official governmental positions of the Israeli Chief Rabbinate. That is just the news from one week, and it all points to the same thing: religion is poison for the State and the State is poison for religion. Want to kill a religion? Give it power in the State. Want to save a religion from those men who would abuse it for their own violent fantasies? Deprive religion of all state power, and the maniacs lose interest in it. 

The State is all about power, and we  have learned from a long and painful human history that no one should be trusted with too much power. That is why religion should remain powerless, so that it can function as a place

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By Rabbi Daniel Roth
Event – Jewish Day of Constructive Conflict (JDCC) FEBRUARY 19, 2013  
Join Us in Commemorating the 9th of Adar – Jewish Day of Constructive Conflict

Please join us in commemorating this pilot year of the Jewish Day of Constructive Conflict by reading and studying more about it and by attempting to truly approach conflicts in a more cooperative and constructive spirit.

The Jewish Council for Public Affairs (JCPA) has joined in an international effort to mark the 9th of Adar as the annual Jewish Day of Constructive Conflict, dedicated to the study and practice of Jewish models of conflict resolution, particularly the model of “mahloket leshem shamayim/controversy for the sake of heaven.”  This year the 9th of Adar falls on February 19th. 
 
At this link, please find a page with a section from the Mishnah (Avot 5:17) with contemporary commentaries, arranged …

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Gopin, who has been a primary adviser and occasional co-instructor, calls the center “revolutionary” in that it may be “the only place in the world [where] a Jewish center of higher learning [combines] advanced academic conflict resolution theory and practice with the principles of rabbinic approaches to mediation and conflict resolution, examining narratives as well as law, and merging that with training for practice.”

Roth’s ancient inspirations are what he calls the “forgotten” Jewish role models of pursuing peace, including Aaron in the Torah, first-century rabbi Yohanan Ben Zakai, and individuals throughout history who were called in Jewish literature “pursuers of peace.”

“Ben Zakai was known as a ‘rodeph shalom’ [pursuer of peace] – the third-century text said a person who makes peace does so not only between [neighbors], husband and wife, family and family, but also between city and city, government and government, and nation and nation,” said Roth. …

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I remember sitting very peacefully in the synagogue on Sukkot, the Feast of Tabernacles, just five days after my disastrous Yom Kippur fast day, which fortunately I completed despite serious exhaustion. Fasts, as anyone who does them knows, are deeply personal affairs, struggles that pull you right into yourself and away from global concerns. But following the rhythms of life, Sukkot takes you right back from the exalted and highly personal inner reality of Yom Kippur. Sukkot pulls you into reality, into identity, human identity and Jewish identity, and the tension between them.

 

In the ancient world, Jerusalem was apparently a place where people of many nationalities gathered around the holiday of Sukkot, and it seems for that reason that the question of ‘Israel and the nations’, for lack of a better phrase, seems to come up quite a bit in the ancient rabbinic liturgy, the choices especially …

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Swept by Vision

by mgopin on October 1, 2011 · 1 comment

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This is a poem that I wrote in honor of my daughter Lexi’s Bat Mitsvah. Many who heard me recite it at the Bat Mitsvah wanted me to make it available. Here it is. 

SWEPT BY VISION

August 31, 2011

 

Wrapped in blankets,

And swept by vision,

Her eyes on fire with dramas unseen,

She told a tale,

Like ancient bards and mystics.

She breathed in her words,

And her eyes spoke of places

Far away and never conjured before,

Her massive shock of little curls

Dramatizing the contours of her serious face.

She was four.

She was in the middle of telling a story

To me in her bunk bed,

At darkened bed-time.

Without warning she jumped to the end of the bed,

Curled up in a ball.

There was a rainbow,

And it was in the room.

 

Years later I saw a thick rainbow,

In Arlington,…

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Why the US Needs Global Citizens

by mgopin on September 3, 2010 · 4 comments

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By Cheryl Duckworth

Perhaps one of the barriers to global citizenship education has been a fear that one must necessarily choose between two identities—being either a citizen of one’ s country or a citizen of the world.  In light of the increasingly nationalist and xenophobic dynamic observable in many countries over the past decade, challenging this false choice is urgent. Peace educators and global citizenship educators must make the argument that one can be both a citizen of one’s country and a citizen of the world.
I would even go further to argue that in today’s increasingly interconnected and increasingly armed world, the U.S. needs global citizens more than ever.  What is a global citizen and why does her country need her?
A global citizen has a secure and multifaceted identity.  What this means is that no one particular aspect of his identity (race, class, religion, gender) dominates the others.  …

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