Rabbi Waskow on NYC demo, Lerner, and "Ruth Messinger, Jews, & War"

Juan Fajardo fajardos at ix.netcom.com
Mon Feb 17 00:10:21 MST 2003


I just received this message, forwarded from a friend who, I guess, is
on the Shalom Center mailing list.  It is from a Rabbi Arthur Waskow of
thr Shalom Center in NYC.  Rabbi Waskow sends a transcript one of the
speeches given at the NY demo, and then his own appreciation of the
event and his view on the Lerner affair, which shows that even someone
who can seriously speak of a "progressive zionism" has not been taken in
by the smear campaign.

- Juan F.



----- Original Message -----
From: <Awaskow at aol.com>
To: <ShalomCenterJ at yahoogroups.com>
Sent: Sunday, February 16, 2003 1:37 PM
Subject: [ShalomCenterJ] Ruth Messinger, Jews, & War



 > Dear friends,
 >
 > Yesterday we made history, no matter what happens next. For yesterday
 > was Day One of "Globalization from the grass roots up" - a planetary
 > peace demonstration, the first in world history. What makes the Bhopal
 > chemical disaster and the H-Bomb and the Exxon oil spill and global
 > scorching possible also makes possible a planetary community.
 >
 > Which we choose is up to us.
 >
 > Below are the words of Ruth Messinger, in the antiwar rally and a pre-
 > rally multireligious prayer service with Archbishop Tutu in New York
 > City yesterday.
 >
 > Thank God a gutsy, menshlich, Jewishly committed Jew was there on this
 > amazing day to speak with a passion for truth, with a vision rooted in
 > Jewish teachings, and with a Jewish prayer.
 >
 > Ruth is president of American Jewish World Service, former Borough
 > President of Manhattan, and former Democratic Party candidate for
 > mayor of  New York.
 >
 > She was joined by tens of thousands of Jews - we saw them, many of
 > them saw us and cheered our Aserot Dibrot/ Ten Commandments banner --
 > on the streets of  New York yesterday.
 >
 > May the day soon come when the  official "leaders" of those Jews run
 > to catch up with them.
 >
 > After Ruth's words, I'll share my own sense of the New York event, and
 > also the conference in Rome, of Italian Catholic social activists,  at
 > which I spoke the day before.
 >
 > Blessings of shalom, [Rabbi] Arthur [Waskow]
 > *************************
 > RUTH MESSINGER'S WORDS
 >
 > At the prayer service:
 >
 > LET US PRAY.
 >
 > MAY WE HAVE THE STRENGTH TO STAND STRONG AGAINST THIS CULTURE OF
 > VIOLENCE, AGAINST THE FIERCE DRIVE TO WAR AND THE SPREAD OF FEAR THAT
 > ARE SAPPING THE STRENGTH OF OUR PEOPLE.
 >
 > MAY WE WORK IN THE WORLD TO INVEST THE DOLLARS BEING USED TO MAKE WAR
 > TO IMPROVE THE LIVES OF OUR OWN CITIZENS, TO FEED THE 30,000 CHILDREN
 > IN THE WORLD WHO DIE FROM HUNGER EVERY DAY.
 >
 > LET US NEVER RETREAT TO THE CONVENIENCE OF BEING OVERWHELMED.  WE ARE
 > POWERFUL.  WE CAN MAKE A DIFFERENCE.
 >
 > MAY WE STRIVE TO MATCH THE ACTIONS OF OUR NATION WITH THE PASSION AND
 > SPIRIT OF HER PEOPLE, WITH THE COMMITMENT TO COMPASSION AND JUSTICE,
 > AND THE YEARNING FOR PEACE THAT ARE SO VISIBLE TODAY ON THE STREETS OF
 > THE WORLD.
 >
 > YIHI RATZON MILPANEHA ADONAI ELOHEINU VELOHEI AVOTEINU V'IMOTEINU
 > SHTULIHEINU L'SHALOM, V TATZIDEINU L'SHALOM, V TADRIHEINU L' SHALOM.
 >
 > MAY IT BE YOUR WILL, OUR GOD AND GOD OF OUR ANCESTORS, TO LEAD US TO
 > PEACE, TO DIRECT OUR STEPS TO PEACE, TO GUIDE US TO PEACE.
 >
 > AMEN
 >
 > *******************
 >
 > And  at the rally;
 >
 > RABBI ABRAHAM JOSHUA HESCHEL: "IN A FREE SOCIETY, WHERE TERRIBLE
 > WRONGS EXIST, SOME ARE GUILTY, ALL ARE RESPONSIBLE."
 >
 > AS PEOPLE OF CONSCIENCE WE ARE RESPONSIBLE FOR WHAT OUR GOVERNMENT
 > DOES.
 >
 > WE ARE HERE EXERCISING THAT RESPONSIBILITY.  WE WILL CONTINUE TO BE
 > HEARD, TO STAND STRONG, TO SPEAK TRUTH TO POWER, TO SAY NO TO A
 > UNILATERAL PRE-EMPTIVE WAR.
 >
 > BECAUSE SILENCE IN THE FACE OF THIS THREAT IS UNACCEPTABLE.
 >
 > BECAUSE SILENCE IN THIS INSTANCE IS BETRAYAL.
 >
 > BECAUSE THERE ARE SERIOUS INTERNATIONAL EFFORTS UNDERWAY TO STOP IRAQ
 > AND HUSSEIN WITHOUT GOING TO WAR.
 >
 > BECAUSE THERE IS NO PLAN FOR THIS WAR, NO COMMITMENT TO REBUILDING
 > IRAQ.
 >
 > BECAUSE IN A WAR TENS OF THOUSANDS OF LIVES WILL BE LOST.  MOTHERS,
 > FATHERS, SONS, DAUGHTERS.  LIVES OF AMERICANS.  LIVES OF IRAQIS.
 > OTHER LIVES.  PRECIOUS LIVES.
 >
 > BECAUSE A WAR WILL COST US $200 BILLION, MORE THAN WE NOW SPEND ON
 > HEALTH CARE, EDUCATION, JOB TRAINING, HOUSING AND ENVIRONMENTAL
 > PROTECTION FOR OUR OWN CITIZENS-A SURE PRESCRIPTION, AS DR. KING
 > WARNED, FOR SPIRITUAL DEATH.
 >
 > THE MONEY WE WILL SPEND ON THIS WAR COULD PROVIDE HEALTH INSURANCE TO
 > EVERY KID IN THE UNITED STATES, DOUBLE THE FUNDING FOR RENEWABLE
 > ENERGY, FEED THE 30 THOUSAND CHILDREN AROUND THE WORLD WHO DIE FROM
 > HUNGER EVERY DAY, INVEST TO MAKE A SERIOUS IMPACT ON THE GLOBAL AIDS
 > CRISIS.
 >
 > WE STAND UNITED, TO SPEAK OUT, TO DO ALL WE CAN TO CHANGE THE WORLD.
 >
 > LET US NEVER RETREAT TO THE CONVENIENCE OF BEING OVERWHELMED.  WE ARE
 > POWERFUL.  WE CAN MAKE A DIFFERENCE.
 >
 > NEVER DOUBT THAT A SMALL GROUP OF CITIZENS CAN CHANGE THE WORLD.  IT
 > IS THE ONLY THING THAT EVER HAS.
 >
 > ****************
 > From Arthur:
 >
 > Last week I was invited to speak at a national conference of Italian
 > Catholic social activists-- more than a thousand people filling a
 > church in Rome - about Iraq, America, and peace. Once I had worked out
 > a way to get back to New York in time for the great antiwar rally, I
 > decided to go. (I could have stayed to demonstrate in Rome, where
 > between one million and three million people gathered yesterday, but I
 > deeply wanted to be in America, with Americans and with Jews, to
 > confront the government that speaks in the name of America.)
 >
 > In Rome I drew on the Biblical and Rabbinic teachings of  what it
 > means to seek "justice, justice," and to "seek peace & pursue it."  I
 > said what I thought the world's religious communities, including the
 > Catholic church, might do in this crisis.  And just before Shabbat, I
 > was interviewed for a three-minute tape (with translation) that, they
 > told me, would be played on a giant screen for the great gathering
 > next day. Whether it actually was or not, I do not know.
 >
 > Then I flew back, arriving just a hair too late to reach the 350-
 > person Jewish
 > contingent - organized by The Shalom Center and JFREJ (Jews for Racial
 > & Economic Justice) - where it had gathered at the Workmen's Circle/
 > Arbeter Ring building in New York. (Ruth Messinger, in the midst of
 > the turmoil of her own busy morning, took the time to come there.  I
 > was told that somebody expressed surprise and she said, "I heard this
 > was where the Jews were meeting - so of course I came!)
 >
 > Special thanks - NOT "by the way" -- to Lee Moore of  The Shalom
 > Center staff and Melanie Kaye-Kantrowitz of JFREJ and Marty Schwartz
 > of Arbeter Ring for their organizing work.
 >
 > But I found the contingent anyway, at 33d and Third Avenue. For hours,
 > literally, in the midst of a sea of people whom the police most of the
 > time forced to stay on sidewalks, we walked north, kept again and
 > again from moving onto First Avenue but finally getting there, way up
 > on 66th street. .
 >
 > There were Americans of every imaginable ethnos, and every imaginable
 > clothing (from veterans in uniform to lawyers in suits to housewives
 > in cloth coats to unionists in work clothes to punk-rockers in green
 > hair to children in pink snowsuits, and a few in diapers)  and every
 > imaginable range of signs ---
 >
 > There was an Israeli flag, carried by a Rutgers student who is a
 > member of the Progressive Zionist "Hashomer Hatzair."   There were
 > signs in Hebrew, "Ha'Olam Omer Lo L'Milchamah," "The world says No to
 > war" - the over-all slogan of the March - alongside other signs with
 > the same slogan in Spanish, and still others in Arabic.  Under that
 > famous, gorgeous blue and white photo of the earth from space.
 >
 > It was a wonder-full, hope-filled day. No matter what the Bush
 > Administration does, my hope and joy in the human race got a big lift
 > yesterday -- truly a Shabbat  of Shalom (and some other time I'll
 > share with you a story about that too).
 >
 > Just one last thing: In San Francisco today, three rabbis who are both
 > deeply committed to Israel and critical of the Sharon government - if
 > anything, slightly less intensely critical than Rabbi Michael Lerner -
 > are speaking at the invitation of the antiwar movement.
 >
 > They were invited before the explosion over whether Lerner should
 > speak, so they were not a "make-up" token. (One of them heads the
 > rabbinic association devoted to Jewish renewal; one leads a social-
 > activist congregation in Oakland; the third is rabbi of a major Reform
 > congregation in San Francisco.)
 >
 > So - although I think it was a mistake for the coalition/s there not
 > to invite Lerner --  I do not think it was a simple matter of  his
 > being blackballed because he is committed to Israel.  I think it was
 > much more complicated than that. And I am very sad that his not being
 > invited became much more noticed in the Jewish world than the fact
 > that Ruth Messinger wsas invited.
 >
 > Shalom, Arthur
 > The Shalom Centerr <www.shalomctr.org>


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