[BTvS-SF Bay Area] September 19, 2006 - Newsletter
Dear Brit Tzedek Activists,
Featured in this edition are two events and a message from
Leonard Fein, as reported by one of our members. All are
especially well-suited to our efforts to seek peace and pursue
it with all our hearts and with all our minds because as a whole
they are engaging for a wide spectrum of communities within our
Your Bay Area Chapter
1-ENCOUNTERPOINT: At the Grand Lake Theater in Oakland on
September 25th and 26th at 4:30pm and 7:30pm
A true story about the everyday leaders who refuse to sit back
as the Israeli-Palestinian conflict escalates. Winner of the
2006 San Francisco International Film Festival Audience Award,
Encounter Point follows the lives of a few Israelis and
Palestinians who have suffered great hardship in the conflict
between the two groups. In the face of violence and immense
loss, these individuals step forward to end the circle of hate
and promote reconciliation. After screening in Haifa, Gaza and
Jerusalem, the film is coming back to audiences across the
Filmmakers Ronit Avni and Julia Bacha (writer of Control Room,
winner of the Grand Jury Prize at Full Frame Film Festival and
the Official Selection at the Sundance and Berlin Film Festivals
2-Yael Dayan, Deputy Mayor of Tel Aviv-Jafo: Tuesday, October 3,
8pm at Temple Sinai, 28th and Webster Streets, Oakland.
The Reality of War and the Strive for Peace: Insights From the
Co-sponsors include: The Jewish Community Federation of the
Greater East Bay's Israel Center, Temple Sinai, Midrasha in
Oakland and the Israel Center SF, Brit Tzedek v'Shalom
The following was written by Alice Kisch, one of our members.
Alice Kisch has worked as an editor, teacher, and director of
non-profit organizations. She has lived in France and in Israel,
and moved to the Bay Area in 1999. She teaches and writes in
WHAT'S A JEW TO DO?
LEONARD FEIN IN EL CERRITO
Leonard Fein is a writer and a teacher. In 1975 he founded
Moment Magazine; in 1985 he founded Mazon: A Jewish Response to
Hunger; and in 1996 he founded the National Jewish Coalition for
Literacy. Dr. Fein is a regular columnist in the Forward Forum
section of The Jewish Daily Forward, and the host of "Ongoing
Conversation" on the website of Americans for Peace Now. Leonard
Fein is without question one of world Jewry's most significant
On a chilly evening in late August a gathering of one hundred
people eagerly awaited the arrival of Leonard "Leibel" Fein in
an El Cerrito bookstore. Dr. Fein had been invited by the
Progressive Jewish Alliance to speak about critical issues
facing progressive Jews:
Jews and social justice -- this is not a propitious time to talk
about the good fight. These are difficult times and we don't
have a ready antidote, so it's easy to retreat inward. But there
is an unqualified Jewish commitment to social justice, although
some Jews say that Judaism has nothing to do with social
Social justice has always been in the forefront of the Jewish
experience. God tested Abraham's commitment to social justice
when He asked him to sacrifice Isaac. Although Abraham proved
his piety, he failed God's social-justice test because he was
willing to sacrifice his son in order to comply with God's
When God told Abraham of His plan to destroy Sodom and Gomorrah,
Abraham pleaded: "Will you destroy the righteous along with the
wicked? ... Shall not the Judge of all the earth deal justly?"
Abraham was speaking Truth to Power, an effective practice
employed by those who seek justice.
The concept of Tikkun Olam -- repairing the world -- is derived
from the belief that the world is not working the way it is
supposed to, and it is therefore up to us to repair the damaged
world. Tikkun Olam is the essential imperative, and implies and
requires social action and the pursuit of social justice.
Judaism values empathy. Empathy is not only the capacity to put
yourself in another person's shoes, but also the ability to see
yourself as others see you. Jewish history is beset with
traumas, and traumas can prevent us from attaining empathy
because traumatized people often experience a diminution of
empathic capacity. We Jews are a somewhat damaged people, and we
need to remind ourselves that an empathetic heart is at the core
of our tradition.
In this fractured world it is often tempting to cry out, throw
up one?s hands and give up. But it's important to remember the
many small successes that result from continuing the struggle.
One must not drop out; those who do will lower the odds for the
rest of us.
Leonard Fein concluded the evening with a message of hope, and
urged his listeners to heed the words of Irish Nobel Laureate
Seamus Heaney: "History says, Don't hope On this side of the
grave. But then, once in a lifetime The longed-for tidal wave Of
justice can rise up, And hope and history rhyme."
What's A Jew To Do? Leibel Fein's unequivocal answer: Be
involved, and practice Tikkun Olam.
Justice, Justice, Shalt Thou Pursue.
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