Newspaper Archive of
Heritage Florida Jewish News
Fern Park , Florida
July 31, 2009     Heritage Florida Jewish News
PAGE 17     (17 of 24 available)        PREVIOUS     NEXT      Full Size Image
PAGE 17     (17 of 24 available)        PREVIOUS     NEXT      Full Size Image
July 31, 2009

Newspaper Archive of Heritage Florida Jewish News produced by SmallTownPapers, Inc.
Website © 2019. All content copyrighted. Copyright Information.     Terms Of Use.     Request Content Removal.

,  ili911[JliiJilliHiUi HHBi ]lW|llJilB,,liiiilJl[Hiil im]iliJHil . HERITAGE FLORIDA JEWISH NEWS, JULY 31, 2009 / " PAGE 17A Seattle rabbi offers a prescription for spirituality ByDanPine places rather than giving opting of@iritualauthority Weiner graduated from noted. When Im playing j. the Jewish news weekly another look to faith tra- for temporal power." UCLAin 1986with a degree the Sh'ma with this group of Northern California ditions that they perhaps Growin I up in a toler, in communications and of people, when I'mhitting Excoriating religious fundamentalists on one hand and "wacky militant atheists" on the other, he urges the majority in the middle to seek a home for their spiritual longings. For Jews, that usually means their friendly neighborhood synagogue. Said Weiner, "People are searching in all the wrong SAN FRANCISCO-- Prayer is fine. Torah study is fine. But to really pack the pews at his Seattle synagogue, Rabbi Daniel Weiner strap on his guitar and leads the shul band in a raucous, twice-monthly Rock Shabbat. He knows injecting a little MTV-style pizzazz into Jew- ish worship may seem a bow to pop culture, admitting, "You need to find attractive modes to connect people to transcendent values." The intersection of faith, Culture and society fasci- nates Weiner. So much so, he wrote a book about it, "Good God: Faith for the Rest of Us." It's part au- tobiography, part diatribe and part prescription for anyone seeking an outlet for spiritual impulses. rejected when they were 13 years old. It's arrested spiritual development. Much of what they rejected would really serve their purposes." Though he also knocks ersatz New Age spirituality (including Madonna-style Kabbalah-lite), Weiner reserves special ire for Christian fundamental- ism, which he feels uses its sizeable political power to chip away at.pluralism and tolerance. But he holds the power- ful ultra-Orthodox minor- ity in Israel in equally low regard. "It's just as pernicious in its own way as Christian fun- damentalism in this country, " he said. "This is a concern as old as Scripture. That's what the Prophets were prophesying against: the co- ant San F influence views. We Rabbi Ma longtime retired,, Sherith I. Thougt his fathc footsteps he was a] teen, chai of being t "It was said. t'Bul up in San was a wo] progressi ence in justice i creativity, Camp Swi generatiox still on th the beher still posse smaller c( rancisco perhaps his pluralistic iner is the son of rtin Weiner, the enior rabbi, now )f Congregation rael. he followed in n r'-s professional Weiner admits fit of a rebellious ing at the notion e "rabbi's son." my hangup." he I loved growing Francisco. There lderful model for e Jewish experi- terms of social sues, spiritual my experiences at ,. I was of that last i when the city was cusp of becoming ruth it is now. It ssed some of that mmunity feel." then pursued the rabbin- ate. In 2001 he became senior rabbi at Temple De Hirsch Sinai, a 1,400-fam- ily Reform synagogue in Seattle. Weiner said with only 20 percent of Seattle's 40,000 Jews affiliating, the Pacific Northwest is a challeng- ing place to "ply the shul trade." But. he added, "It's the 'New York, New York' of religion. If you can make it here. you can make it anywhere." For him. "making it" often comes on the bimah at those Rock Shabbats. a blend of communal worship and personal spiritual devo- tion. Not to mention some killer licks. "These days my most impactful spiritual experi- ences are when I lead a Rock Shabbat service," Weiner the groove, that for me is the ultimate moment of transcendence." And for Jewish spiritual seekers who-don't play a Fender Stratocaster, Weiner sums up the advice he gives in his book. "No one is asking you to become 'Fiddler on the Roof' and start eating cholent tomorrow." he said. "Make a little effort to step in a few synagogues, to connect to a Jewish class, see a Jewish lecture. It's air out there. in front of you already. You just need to be a bit more open to it." "Good God: Faith for the Rest of Us" by DanielWeiner ($24, Classic Day Publish- ing, 156 pages) Reprinted with permis- sion from j. the Jewish news weekly of Northern Califor- nia, Ex-U.S., Soviet envoys recall human rights saga By Aaron Leibel Washington Jewish Week When Soviet leader- Mikhail Gorbachev came to Washington in December 1987 for an arms control summit with President Ronald Reagan, it was only a few days after a massive 250.000-strong rally for Soviet Jewry on the Mall. That confluence of events gave Reagan the opportu- nity to put the issue of the emigration of Soviet Jewry at the top of the agenda, as the former president often did. according to "Human Rights, Perestroika and the End of the Cold War" (United States Institute of Peace. July 2009). The book was co-written by Richard Schifter. for- mer assistant "secretary of state for human rights and humanitarian affairs, and Anatoly Adamishin, former  deputy foreign minister of the Soviet Union. who together negotiated a reso- lution of Jewish emigration and other human rights issues some 20 years ago. (Each wrote a separate chap- ter on every issue covered in the book.) After the meeting's opening formalities, writes Schifter, "Reagan turned to Gorbachev and said: 'Have you heard about that rally on the Mall last Sunday?' " Gorbachev said he knew about the huge demonstra- tion. but wanted to get on with talking about arms WASHINGTON (JTA)--Di- aspora Jews should join Arabs in investing in the Palestinian economy, Benjamin Netan- yahu told U.S. Jewish leaders. The Israeli prime min- ister listed prosperity for the Palestinians among six conditions for lasting Israeli-Palestinian peace in a call July 21 with members of the Conference of Presi- dents of Major American Jewish Orgailizations. control, the Bethesda. Md., resident learned from Rea- gan's interpreter, who had been present at the meeting. "But Reagan did not let him," Schifter writes. "He. started to talk about the size of the turnout, h.ow much the Soviet emigration issue meant to many Americans, and how important it _was that the Soviet Union re- sponded positively. As Rea- gan talked, Gorbachev grew increasingly impatient, but Reagan insisted on complet- ing his observations." Schifter believes that Rea- gan's concern for Jews can be traced to his early days in Hollywood in the 1930s. The persecution of Jews in Germany was increasing at that time, and many Jews in the film industry were worried, says the author in an interview. "He became part of that culture." he says, "and then came the Holo- caust. Reagan was affected by being part of Hollywood. "Years later, it [the issue of Jews being persecuted], came to the fore again. He was well aware of the Holo- caust, and he wanted to get the Jews out of the Soviet Union." The then-president's con- cern about Soviet Jewry-- and other human rights issues shared by Secretary of State George Shultz. animated American foreign policy in the 1980s. But the two were not able to make much headway until Gorbachev became the Soviet leader in 1985 and Eduard Shevardnadze his foreign minister. They both understood the need for po- litical reform in the USSR. And because the country's military leaders realized they were losing the arms race to the U.S., the Soviet military-industrial complex discuss ht with Schi Their t; several iss use of psy for imprh religious onment fc the Sovie man rights issues Fter. Jks encompassed ues, including the chiatric hospitals oning dissidents. freedom, impris- r "defamation" of Union and emi- gration of various groups, "..Soviet progress in the field of human rights would make it that much easier for a feeling of mutual trust to develop, a feeling that would enable us to effect significant cutbacks in our military expenditure..." didn't oppose basic political changes, including reforms in the area of human rights, if they would lead to arms control. "The point that Secretary Shultz frequently empha- sized was that Soviet prog- ress in the field of human rights would make it that much easier for a feeling of to develop, a feeling that would enable us to effect significant cutbacks in our military ex- penditure," Schifter writes. The negotiations between Adamishin and Schifter began in 1987 in Moscow. when Shultz asked Shevard- nadze to appoint someone to most notably of Soviet Jewry. "While it was indeed increasingly clear that a decision had been made at the very top to move away from totalitarianism, the devil was in the details." Schifter writes. "And the task of working on the de- tails had been left to Anatoly and me." The assistant secretary of state didn't demand that the Soviet Union become a democracy overnight. In- stead, he focused on specific problems that the Soviet government was willing to deal with and whose reso- lution "would be viewed as appropriate and meaningful by Congress and the gen- eral American public, and second, could in the long run lead to a change in the system," he writes. Schifter says he tried to prepare the American list of concerns so Adamishin could sell the ideas to other agencies in the Soviet government. For example, he points to the issue of political prisoners. Some Soviet citizens had been convicted of treason under trumped-up charges. To be able to examine their case files. Schifter agreed to "reciprocity" providing Soviet authorities the re- cords of American "political prisoners," Puerto Rican na- tionalists convicted of acts of terrorism. That permitted the Soviets to accede to the American request without losing face. Although not a career dip- lomal his first diplomatic posting was as a member of the U.S. delegation to the U.N. Commission on Human Rights in 1981--Schifter was in some ways very qualified to be an advocate for Soviet Jewry and others deprived of their human rights. Born in Vienna in 1923. he came to the U.S. in 1938 when Germany annexed Austria to become part of Adolf Hitler's Third Reich. After studying at City Col- lege of New'l(ork and serving in the U.S. Army, Schifter graduated from Yale Law Netanyahu calls for Jewish investment in Palestinian economy Netanyahu outlined he was taking to facilitate commerce in the West Bank and spur forward the Palestinian economy, which he said could flourish with the cooperation Of the Pal- estinian Authority and with the help of Jews and Arabs overseas. Netanyahu's cther con- ditions for pece were: Palestinian recognition of Israel as a JeWish state; .resolving the Palestin- ian refugee issue outside Israel's borders: a peace treaty that unequixocally ends the conflict; effec- tive demilitarization of the Palestinian state, and arrangements for the in- ternational community, led by the United States, to guarantee the peace. Netanyahu said demili- tarization would include Israeli control of air space, Palestinian forces lim- ited to light arms, and no military pacts with other countries. The Israeli prime minis- ter said he was skeptical of Syria's intentions to make peace, given its continued relationship with Iran and with terrorist groups; how- ever, the prime minister added, he is ready for an un- conditional return to peace talks and would not make an end to Syrian support for groups such as Hamas and Hezbollah a precondition. Netanyahu also em- phasize.d that the Obama administration is not linking the containment of Iran to progress on Israeli-Palestinian peace. President Obama "never" conditioned cooperation with Israel on strategies to keep Iran from obtaining a nuclear device to U.S. ef- School and spent his career as a private-practice at- torney representing Indian tribes. In 1985, he was ap- pointed assistant secretary for human rights and hu- manitarian affairs. (Later, he served as counsel in the National Security Council. 1993-1997, and special ad- viser to the U.S. secretary of state, 1997-2001. He also is chair of the board of the American Jewish Interna- tional Relations Institute, a group that educates about the U.N.'s anti-Israel propa- ganda apparatus and on the steps that need to be taken to end its operations.) His parents were mur- dered in the Holocaust. and their deaths have affected his outlook toward human rights. "This personal experience has influenced my basic approach to human rights work." he writes. "I am less interested in broad decla- rations of human rights principles than I am in how specific decisions affec.t the lives of individual victims of -human rights deprivation." With Soviet Jews. it got much more personal. When the first refuseniks Were allowed to emigrate in the late 1980s, some of those left behind lost heart, fearing that they had lost their one chance to get ouL "I sat down with them and said that 48 years earlier. I had tried to get my parents out of Europe and failed. I told them. 'I won't fail you.'" forts to advance the peace process, he said. But Netanyahu did say that he perceived causal links between the two issues that go both ways: A nuclear Iran would greatly enhance its spoiler status when it comes to peace-making; and achieving peace with the Palestinians would score a success for moderates in the region who hope to tamp down Iranian influence.