Temple Beth El News

From the Rabbi - Dual Crises in Israel & West Bank

Now in the 8th week, the protest movement against the Netanyahu government’s drastic “reform” of the courts has spread to cities and towns across Israel, with protesters across the full spectrum of Israeli society, from the ultra-left secularists to ultra-right religious nationalists and everyone in between.  It’s moving to read of this passionate defense of democracy, while remembering that millions of Palestinians living under direct or indirect Israeli control do not have the equal rights we expect in a democratic society.  

From the Rabbi - Israel Governance Crisis

I usually refrain from sending out disturbing material before Shabbat, but there is nothing usual about the events taking place in Israel.  Here is a summary in stirring words from Eran Etzion, former deputy head of Israel’s National Security Council, and Ambassador Daniel Shek, former  served as Israel’s ambassador to France and spokesman for the Israeli Foreign Ministry:

“Israel is undergoing a rapid, aggressive attempt at regime change. A seemingly legitimate, elected coalition is determined to use its slim, almost accidental majority to reframe Israel’s democratic foundations into an illiberal and hollowed-out state…This is a transformative point in the history of the Israeli nation and the Jewish people. At this moment, our entire nation-state is on the verge of a homemade catastrophe…Well over 100,000 people have taken to the streets in recent weeks for regular protests against the government’s so-called “judicial reform” and other parts of the right-wing agenda. Supreme Court President Esther Hayut has warned that “if the people who made up this plan have their way, Israel's 75th year will be remembered as the year in which its democracy suffered a fatal blow.” From economists and tech companies to jurists and security leaders, so many corners of our society are more alarmed than ever before – and we are mobilizing…This is the moment for the U.S. government, American Jews and all pro-Israel Americans – for all who have deep concerns about our government’s policies and Israel’s future as a secure, democratic homeland for the Jewish people – to speak out.”
Full article here: American Jews Cannot Stay ‘Neutral’ in the Face of Israel’s Catastrophe - Israel News - Haaretz.com

From the Rabbi - Historic mass demonstrations in Israel

As momentous events unfold in Israel, I'll continue providing you with materials from a range of sources. I hope you'll consider subscribing to some of these excellent news outlets and organizations. It's critical that American Jews stay informed, discuss these issues with one another, and make our views known to leaders of our community institutions and our elected officials. The primary focus of the mass demonstrations is the Netanyahu government efforts to make drastic changes to the Israeli court system that would undermine the authority of their Supreme Court.

From the Rabbi - Mass Protests in Israel

Here in Humboldt we just enjoyed a blissful Shabbat Shira with the choir and soloists and a beautiful outdoor Tu BiShevat Celebration with our wonderful Jews In the Wilderness families and staff. But in Israel, these weeks have been fraught with violence and political strife.

For the past six weeks, Israelis have been rallying in huge numbers on Saturday night to protest the government's efforts to undermine the judiciary:

From Rabbi Naomi - New Government in Israel

Lately I’ve felt like your bad-news rabbi.
For a few months I’ve been gathering links to helpful articles from a range of sources and working on a note to you about Israel. Now tens of thousands of Israelis are demonstrating in the streets, decrying the tactics and goals of the new ruling coalition. Waves of tragic violence have broken out and there is no end in sight. I don’t want to wait any longer, I’ll just send this short message with most current links first. I know that some of you follow Israeli news closely, but others do not have the time nor the interest. I hope this is helpful. Rabbi Naomi

Rabbi Naomi's Chanukah Message

Rabbi Naomi’s Chanukah Message – 2022
The lives of most animals are guided by the cycle of the seasons. Only we humans seem to live with the creative tension between cyclical and linear life experiences. It occurred to me recently that two beloved Chanukah items can represent two modes of experiencing reality. 

The dreidel teaches us about cycles: the ever-changing seasons, the spinning of the planet giving us day and night, the pull of the moon as it waxes and wanes, the ups and downs of our lives, the revolving destinies of nations and empires, the rhythms of our bodies. As we spin and spin and spin, everything appears both to change yet stay the same.  
Outside my window, the remaining leaves on my apple tree are yellow, but I know with certainty that soon the tree will be bare, and then a few months from now there will once again be buds, leaves, blossoms, and eventually fruit. My little granddaughter Rivka loves to help us pick apples. Last year late in the fall, when she was about to turn three, she headed out to the garden with her basket and started to cry when she saw the apples were gone!  I assured her that they will return. Now, as a wise almost four-year-old, she has learned to trust in the cycle of the garden and can look forward to the future blessing of blooms and fruit. She understands that the seasons change, yet the cycle can be trusted to remain constant. (Though just this week she shed tears over having to wait through the winter to be able to swim in the river again! I feel the same!)

From the Rabbi: Difficult Times - Anti-Semitism in America & Authoritarianism in Israel

The midterm elections and recent convictions of January 6th conspirators give us hope that in the United States there is a robust rejection of extremism. We need it!

In the spring I organized a local Anti-Semitism Task Force to work both reactively to address incidents and proactively to prevent them. I’m also working with our Security Committee to update our protocol and offer ongoing safety education and training. As we cautiously begin hybrid events at the Temple, safety is our highest priority. We will have someone trained in our security measures on site for every service, class, meeting or cultural event. Please look for announcements in the coming months and plan to take the training. There will be in-person sessions and also video options. Eureka Police Chief Todd Jarvis is very supportive of our efforts. In July he wrote to me: “I worked closely with the ADL in San Diego and was honored to be included in some great training provided by them in Israel, Washington DC, and locally in San Diego.”

As troubling as it is to hear deranged rants and threats against Jews from insurrectionists, white supremacists, right-wing politicians and Black celebrities, both in public and on social media, it’s important to appreciate that these expressions of anti-Semitism are being soundly condemned by other community leaders. As I write this note, several American mayors are among over fifty mayors and municipal leaders from around the world meeting at the 2022 Mayors Antisemitism Summit in Athens, Greece.

How different world history might have been had mayors across the world rallied against hatred of Jews in the 1930s. It’s encouraging to note that so many leaders and writers are making the connection between anti-Semitism and other forms of violent bigotry. A society that tolerates any form of hatred opens the door to every hatred.

Last year I wrote hopefully about what was briefly called the “change government” in Israel. Tragically, that promising coalition fell apart and now is being replaced with the most right wing, authoritarian government in Israel’s history including the radical Jewish Power party, Otzma Yehudit - Wikipedia.

From Rabbi Naomi - Pakistan Flooding

Three months of relentless rain In Pakistan has brought flooding of biblical dimensions.  Thirty-three million people have been displaced, over 1,000 killed, and ⅓ of the county is underwater.  The world must help.  Here are options for donations to bring immediate relief with food and medical care:
Responding to Monsoon Flooding in Pakistan | International Medical Corps

Experts explain that this torrential rain is in part the result of glacial melting and rising temperatures in the Indian Ocean, both caused by the climate crisis which is driven by heavily industrialized nations burning fossil fuels.

In addition to helping with immediate humanitarian aid, we must speed up our efforts to change our energy consumption. 

Please support and get involved with Dayenu: A Jewish Call to Climate Action and locally 350 Humboldt.


B’shalom ~ In peace,
Rabbi Naomi