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środa, 31 grudnia 2008
Rabbi Arthur Waskow: Arnold Jacob Wolf; His memory a blessing
DECLARATION OF PEACE - Rabbi Arthur Waskow
DECLARATION OF PEACE - Rabbi Arthur Waskow
03:36

----- Original Message -----
From: Rabbi Arthur Waskow
To: sowa-frankfurt@t-online.de
Sent: Thursday, December 25, 2008 1:15 AM
Subject: Arnold Jacob Wolf; His memory a blessing

Rabbi Arnold Jacob Wolf:  

His memory a blessing

I am deeply sorry to hear that Rabbi Arnold Jacob Wolf, one of the bravest and wisest rabbis of the 20th century, died on Tuesday. He was 83 years old.  
I got to know Arnie seriously (I had one previous encounter that I'll describe in a minute) when in the mid-70s he was chair of Breira, the first American Jewish organization to support the notion of a two-state Israeli-Palestinian peace (and I was a member of its steering committee).  Breira came under bitter attack by the right-wing and the center of American Jewish institutional structures.  Arnie stood steadfast and never wavered.  But the attacks, along with  internal tensions over whether  Breira should be a single-issue Israel-Palestine organization or a multidimensional one concerned (for example) with the absence of democracy in American Jewish life, killed Breira.
Arnie had founded Congregation Solel in Chcago, but decided he wanted to work with students and during the Breira time he was the Jewish chaplain at Yale University, alongside Rev. William Sloane Coffin   -- when religious courage meant a great deal to young (and older) Jews and Christians who were facing Vietnam, plus the newish but increasingly worrisome Israeli occupation of the West Bank, East Jerusalem, and Gaza.
In 1980, Arnie decided to return to congregational life and applied to be the rabbi of KAM Isaiah Israel on the South Side of Chicago. The chair of its board came to interview him and said, "I hear you're outrageous. Say something outrageous!"
Arnie said -- remember, this was 1980, NOBODY in "regular"  Jewish life was saying such things -- said, "I think there should be a PLO state alongside Israel."
"Wow,  that's pretty outrageous!" said the chair.   And hired him.  
Just two more stories:
Early in the '70s, before Breira,  I had been asked by the NY Times Book Review to review a new book by a leading liberal rabbi.  (I had reviewed for the NYTBR a book by the Jewish fascist Meir Kahane -- sliced it to shreds -- and I think the idea was I would praise this liberal Jewish book. ) But I wrote that the book was boring and male chauvinist.  
A couple of weeks later, there;'s a knock on my front door in Washington DC. In comes Arnie, who had been visiting a rabbi friend in DC. "You did something terrible," he glared at me. "What?"I blinked.  You attacked my friend Reb Whosis!"   "No," I said "I just said his book was boring,"   "Nonsense, you attacked him, he's a friend of mine and very smart."  Diatribe against me for the next 20 minutes.  
Gevalt!!!  (And the Times has never once in the decades since invited me to review a book.)
This past spring, when the conventional "wisdom" in the "official" Jewish community was that Barack Obama was a patsy for Pastor Wright and a danger to Israel, Arnie published a letter -- "My neighbor Barack." (They were literally neighbors on the South Side.) Some of its key paragraphs:
"Barack Obama's Chicago home is across the street from KAM Isaiah Israel, the Hyde Park synagogue at which I've served for 27 years. He spoke to our congregation as an Illinois state senator; more recently, his Secret Service agents have made use of our, shall we say, facilities.
"But it's not neighborly instinct that's led me to support the Obama candidacy: I support Barack Obama because he stands for what I believe, what our tradition demands.
"We sometimes forget, but an integral part of that tradition is dialogue and a willingness to disagree. Certainly many who call me their rabbi have taken political positions far from mine - just as Barack Obama's opinions have differed from those of his former pastor, the Rev. Jeremiah Wright."
So just three weeks ago, I called Arnie to ask whether he could help us deliver a Jewish letter to Mr. Obama -a letter signed by hundreds of Jews from our "Jews Uniting to End the War and Heal America" gathering.    "Sorry, Arthur," he said. It's a good letter but we've decided to let Obama have his privacy here, at least so far as our shul is concerned."     
I'm glad Arnie lived to see his neighbor elected president. I'm sorry he won't be around to speak out if Obama doesn't do right by Israel - or by Palestine. (For Arnie, each would have required the other.)  I think he would have said so with all his courage, his wisdom, his intelligence.
We all would have gained. What a hole he has left in the universe !
Shalom, salaam, peace - Arthur    
         

piątek, 19 grudnia 2008
Rabbi Arthur Waskow: The Best Hanukkah Gift: Healing our Planet -- Green Menorah Covenant
The Shalom Center
 
----- Original Message -----
Sent: Thursday, December 18, 2008 12:01 PM
Subject: The Best Hanukkah Gift: Healing our Planet -- Green Menorah Covenant


A Prophetic Voice in Jewish, Multireligious, and American Life

Hanukkah, Oil, & 8 Days of Action:

The Green Menorah Covenant 
 
Hanukkah this year begins with the lighting of one candle on the evening of December 21. At the dark time of the moon and sun, we kindle a growing blaze of lights. And light is the central symbol of the holy season.

In this letter we will share some of the deepest symbols that make Hanukkah a festival for sharing light by saving energy, and will also share some specific earth-healing actions for each of the eight Days. 

On the Shabbat that comes in the midst of Hanukkah, Jews traditionally read the passage from the Prophet Zechariah that celebrates the Great Menorah (literally, a Light-bearer)  in a rebuilt Holy Temple after the Babylonian Captivity.
 
Zechariah, in visionary, prophetic style, goes beyond the Torah's description of the original Menorah . That Menorah was planned as part of the portable Shrine, the Mishkan, in the Wilderness.
 
First Zechariah describes the Menorah of the future that he sees: "All of gold, with a bowl on its top, seven lamps, and seven pipes leading to the seven lamps." It sounds like the original bearer of the sacred Light. But then he adds a new detail: "By it are two olive trees, one on the right of the bowl and one on the left." (4: 2-3)
 
And then ---  in a passage the Rabbis did not include in the Haftarah - Zechariah explains that the two olive trees are feeding their oil directly into the Menorah (4: 11-13). No human being needs to press the olives, collect the oil, clarify and sanctify it. The trees alone can do it all.
 
Now wait!  This is extraordinary. What is this Light-Bearer that is so intimately interwoven with two trees? Is the Menorah the work of human hands, or itself the fruit of a tree?
 
Both, and beyond.  In our generation it might be called a "cyborg," a cybernetic organism that is woven from the fruitfulness both of "adamah" (the Hebrew for earth)  and of "adam" (a human earthling). Just as earth and earthling were deeply intermingled in the biblical Creation story, so the Divine Light must interweave them once again, and again and again, every time the Light is lit in the Holy Temple.
 
What stirs Zechariah to this uncanny vision? Once we listen closely to the Torah's original description  of the Menorah for the wandering desert Shrine, we may not be quite so surprised. For the Torah describes a Menorah that has branches, cups shaped like almond-blossoms, petals, and calyxes (the tight bundles of green leaves that hold a blossom). (Exodus 25:31-40 and 37:17-24)
 
In short, a Tree of Light, a Green Menorah. Small wonder that Zechariah envisioned its receiving oil directly from the olive-trees!
 
And in the legend told by the Talmud as the origin of Hanukkah, the Light itself is a miracle. One day's oil becomes sufficient for eight days' needs.
 
 At the physical level, this is about conserving energy, the triumph of sustainable sources of energy over the Seleucid Empire that guzzles oil and other forms of material wealth. Seen this way, the Green Menorah can become the symbol of a covenant among Jewish communities and congregations to renew the miracle of Hanukkah in our own generation: Using one day's oil to meet eight days' needs. By 2020, cutting oil consumption by seven-eighths.
 
We can start right away, this Hanukkah, by joining in The Shalom Center's Green Menorah Covenant for taking action -- personal, communal and political -- to heal the Earth from the global climate crisis.

After lighting your Hanukkah menorah each evening, dedicate yourself to making the changes in your life that will minimize our use of oil (and coal). (And this pattern can be used for the Twelve Days of Christmas, the Seven Days of Kwanzaa, and so on.)


Day 1: Personal/Household: Call your electric-power utility to switch to wind-powered electricity. (For each home, 100 percent wind-power reduces carbon dioxide emissions the same as not driving 20,000 miles in one year.)

Day 2: Synagogue, Hillel, or JCC: Call your congregational board chair to urge that your building switch to wind-powered electricity.

Day 3. Your network of friends, IM buddies and members of civic or professional groups to which you belong: Connect with people like newspaper editors, real estate developers, architects, bankers, etc. to urge them to strengthen the green factor in all their decisions, speeches and actions.

Day 4: Town/City: Urge town/city officials to require greening of buildings through ordinances and executive orders. Creating change is often easier on the local level.

Day 5: Workplace or college: Urge the top officials to arrange an energy audit. Check with utility company about getting one free or at low cost.

Day 6 , which this year is Shabbat. Automobile: If possible, choose this Shabbat and through the year,  one day a week to not use your car. Walk. Bike. Other days, lessen driving. Shop on-line. Cluster errands. Car pool. Don't idle engine beyond 20 seconds.

Day 7: State: Urge state representatives to reduce subsidies for highways, increase them for public transit so it becomes convenient, swift, frequent, and inexpensive.

Day 8: National: Urge your senators and congressmembers to support the strongest possible limits on CO2 emissions, and to support development of sustainable energy.  For easy addressing and a model letter to send them, go to http://salsa.democracyinaction.org/o/602/t/4181/campaign.jsp?campaign_KEY=21544.

Give our planet a Happy Hanukkah!

If the necessary changes seem overwhelmingly hard to  accomplish against the entrenched power of our own oil empires, Hanukkah also reminds us: Small groups of seemingly powerless human beings can face huge and powerful institutions - and change the world.
 
But let us not stop at the economic, political, or ecological levels of meaning that hide in the Hanukkah candles.  At the spiritual level, since "eight" is the number of "Beyond," the Infinite, the storied eight-day miracle when  One Becomes Eight  reminds us that the Infinite is always present in the One.

It reminds us that conserving oil, or coal, or our planet, is not just a political or economic or even ecological decision. It comes when we take into our hearts the knowledge that material possessiveness, hyper-ownership, is simply not necessary to well-being.

For the Infinite is always present when we choose to light the Light.
 
Blessings of shalom, salaam, peace --  and LIGHT!

--  Arthur    ^^^^^^^^^

Rabbi Arthur Waskow is the author of Down-to-Earth Judaism.  For more information on the Green Menorah covenant, see -
http://www.shalomctr.org/taxonomy_menu/1/1

To donate to the Shalom Center, click on our logo!

If this email was forwarded by a friend and you'd like to subscribe to the Shalom Center Report, please visit http://www.democracyinaction.org/dia/organizationsORG/tsc/signUp.jsp?key=442.

The Shalom Center | 6711 Lincoln Drive | Philadelphia, PA  19119
www.shalomctr.org | office@shalomctr.org | 215.844.8494

piątek, 05 grudnia 2008
Light & Enlightenment for the Dark of the Year: Hanukkah & Christmas Gifts of Song, Art, Books
The Shalom Center


A Prophetic Voice in Jewish, Multireligious, and American Life

Light & Enlightenment  for the Dark of the Year:

Hanukkah & Christmas Gifts  of Song, Art, Books

When the moon is at its darkest in the winter moonth and the sun is darkest as the solstice comes upon us, we light a growing bank of lights  -- one, two, four, … eight!

And in the long nights we can take the time for enlightenment through books and art and music.

The Shalom Center has available books, posters, and song CD's that will make wonderful gifts for your thoughtful friends
  -- and though our order page is titled Hanukkah, the "Sing Shalom" CD, the Shalom Quilt Poster, and the "Godwrestling" book will speak deeply to Christian spiritual life and Christmastime as well.

Please note -- If you don't see graphics of these five items below, check at the top of your screen for a line that says "click here to see graphics."

Sing Shalom! --  an amazing CD in which Reb Zalman and Paul Horn play a jazz duet for shofar and flute;   Pete Seeger  sings "Rainbow Race," a plea to humanity to renew its life against the threat of planetary disaster; Reggie and Kim Harris sing  "Let My People Go!"  as Arthur Waskow tells the story of the first Freedom Seder; Peter Yarrow sings "Light One Candle," Debbie Friedman, ""Not by Might,"  and Charlie King, "Bring Back the 8-Hour Day!"; and Linda Hirschhorn, Shefa Gold, David Shneyer, Margot Stein, and more, and more, and more!


 

Godwrestling - Round 2 --- by Rabbi Arthur Waskow, bringing new insights from the lives of our own generation into the Hebrew Bible from Genesis to the Song of Songs. Winner of the Benjamin Franklin Award for books on religion



A Time for Every Purpose Under Heaven: The Jewish Life-Cycle as a Spiritual Journey, by Rabbis Arthur Waskow and Phyllis Berman. Says Waskow: "I am happy that people call my book Seasons of Our Joy a classic. But this is a better book, because Phyllis and I wove the experiences and learnings of Jewish feminism into seeing the life-cycle as an integrated whole; wove text, history, personal experience together; showed how people can shape powerful and authentic ceremonies for their/ own transformative moments.

The "Shalom Quilt Poster," giving us all a chance to live with the Quilt that Amy Smith wove from activist T-shirts of the last two generations.



Down-to-Earth Judaism: Food, Money, Sex, & the Rest of Life, by Rabbi Arthur Waskow. Praised by Reb Zalman, Rabbi Eric Yoffie (head of the Reform movement),  Rabbi Nina Beth Cardin, pioneer Jewish feminist and environmentalist, and  - of all people! - "Ice Cream Ben" Cohen. (It is about food and money, after all.)

 
To order any or all of these five items, please click to:
 
https://salsa.democracyinaction.org/o/602/t/4180/shop/shop.jsp?storefront_KEY=595

May your Hanukkah, your Christmas, your New Year be filled with light and joy!

To donate to the Shalom Center, click on our logo!

If this email was forwarded by a friend and you'd like to subscribe to the Shalom Center Report, please visit http://www.democracyinaction.org/dia/organizationsORG/tsc/signUp.jsp?key=442.

The Shalom Center | 6711 Lincoln Drive | Philadelphia, PA  19119
www.shalomctr.org | office@shalomctr.org | 215.844.8494

----- Original Message -----
Sent: Thursday, December 04, 2008 11:49 PM
Subject: Gifts of Light & Joy for Festivals of Light & Joy
poniedziałek, 03 listopada 2008
Voting w/ pleasure, prayer, & perspicacity
DECLARATION OF PEACE - Rabbi Arthur Waskow
DECLARATION OF PEACE - Rabbi Arthur Waskow
03:36
DECLARATION OF PEACE - Rabbi Arthur Waskow 9/26/06
Camera: Nathaniel Paluga

http://www.youtube.com/view_play_list?p=094AD397A1B9D23D

Original Message -----
Sent: Monday, November 03, 2008 2:20 PM
Subject: Voting w/ pleasure, prayer, & perspicacity


A Prophetic Voice in Jewish, Multireligious, and American Life


Blessings of Truth, Calm, and Compassion as we prepare to vote,

and to await the results of the coming election.

First of all, a light-hearted approach to the serious business of -- VOTE! - Yes, You!!  --- VOTE!
 
Clicking here will give you a few minutes of nonpartisan, sweet-tempered pleasure as you choose when - not whether!  -- to vote:
 
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uvLgBTJXZUQ
 
Second:  Late last week, we received from the Righteous Indignation project a nonpartisan guide to seven major issues that might be important for gauging your vote in the election tomorrow - not only for President, but for many other offices as well. Righteous Indignation is a Jewish social-justice project born from a book (in which one of the chapters, on interfaith shared action for peace and justice, was written by Rabbi Phyllis Berman and me).
 
We have posted the guide as the lead article on the home page of our Website  at
http://www.shalomctr.org
 
It will be useful long after the election tomorrow, as a guide to what makes sense to urge upon national, state, and local officials, and also as a guide to where you can get more information on a Jewishly-rooted approach to these issues.
 
Those of any religious and spiritual persuasion - not only Jews - will find its review of the issues useful.
 
Third:  Rabbi David Seidenberg, a "Climate Action Fellow" of The Shalom Center, has written a nonpartisan, multireligious prayer for your focus as you enter the voting booth.  Here is the text:

 
With my vote today I am prepared and intending to seek peace for this country, as it is written:
 
"Seek out the peace of the city where I cause you to roam and pray for her sake to God YHWH, for in her peace you all will have peace." (Jer. 29:7)
 
May it be Your will that votes will be counted faithfully and may You account my vote as if I had fulfilled this verse with all my power.
 
May it be good in Your eyes to give a wise heart
 to whomever we elect today and may You raise for us a government whose rule is for good and blessing
 to bring justice and peace to all the inhabitants of the world and to Jerusalem,  for rulership is Yours!
 
Just as I participated in elections today, so may I merit to do good deeds and repair the world with all my actions, and with the act of...[fill in your pledge] which I pledge to do today on behalf of all living creatures  and in remembrance of the covenant of Noah's waters  to protect and to not destroy the earth and her plenitude.
 
May You give to all the peoples of this country, the strength and will to pursue righteousness and to seek peace as unified force  in order to cause to flourish, throughout the world, good life and peace and may You fulfill for us the verse:
 
"May the pleasure of YHWH ["Adonai" or "Yahh"] our God be upon us, and establish the work of our hands for us; may the work of our hands endure." (Ps. 90:17)
 And finally, with the same blessings at the end that I invoked at the beginning  --
Blessings of truth, calm, and compassion as we prepare to vote, and to await the results of the coming election.
 --  Arthur

To donate to the Shalom Center, click on our logo!

If this email was forwarded by a friend and you'd like to subscribe to the Shalom Center Report, please visit http://www.democracyinaction.org/dia/organizationsORG/tsc/signUp.jsp?key=442.

The Shalom Center | 6711 Lincoln Drive | Philadelphia, PA  19119
www.shalomctr.org | office@shalomctr.org | 215.844.8494

czwartek, 23 października 2008
Yonit Slater & Rabbi Arthur Waskow: God in the Jigsaw Puzzle
The Shalom Center
----- Original Message -----
Sent: Thursday, October 23, 2008 11:22 AM
Subject: God in the Jigsaw Puzzle


A Prophetic Voice in Jewish, Multireligious, and American Life

God in the Jigsaw Puzzle

One year ago, last Shabbat B'reshit (when we read the Torah story of the Creation of the world), Phyllis & I were visiting my daughter and her family.

I said to Yonit Slater, our seven-year-old granddaughter:

"You know, according to the Torah God created the humans in God's Image. What do you think that means?"

Yonit: "What's an image?

Arthur: "Ummmm,  like a photograph."

Yonit: "That's strange. God is invisible. How could there be a photograph of God?"

Silence.

Y: "Maybe it's more like the other way around, God is in the image of human beings."

Silence.

Y: "Only it couldn't be just one human being, it would have to be lots. And they would all be different from each other. "

Silence.

Y: "Each one would be like a piece in a jigsaw puzzle. Then you would have to fit all the pieces together."

Silence.

Y: "Then they would be a community, and a community is more like God."
************************

If you are finding these Torah teachings helpful to your own heart, soul, and action, please help us continue them and all our work:

To donate to the Shalom Center, click on our logo!

If this email was forwarded by a friend and you'd like to subscribe to the Shalom Center Report, please visit http://www.democracyinaction.org/dia/organizationsORG/tsc/signUp.jsp?key=442.

The Shalom Center | 6711 Lincoln Drive | Philadelphia, PA  19119
www.shalomctr.org | office@shalomctr.org | 215.844.8494

czwartek, 09 października 2008
Beyond Election Day: Rebuilding our World
The Shalom Center
 
----- Original Message -----
Sent: Wednesday, October 08, 2008 5:25 PM
Subject: Beyond Election Day: Rebuilding our World


A Prophetic Voice in Jewish, Multireligious, and American Life

Beyond Election Day: Rebuilding our World

Shalom, salaam, peace! -- 
 
There are some Jewish teachings and practices --  not all -  that represent a universal archetypal truth. One is a tradition that at the end of the 26-hour total fast and profound prayer of Yom Kippur, after we eat we hammer the first nail into the timbers of our sukkah  -- that open, leafy, leaky, vulnerable hut we build to celebrate the harvest, five days after Yom Kippur, at the full of the harvest moon.

We turn from inward self-assessment and reflection, tshuvah ("turning" or repentance)  and reconciliation, to rebuilding the world. For  NOW we can build with the tools of love.
 
So I write today --  just before Yom Kippur, pointing toward its end on Thursday evening -- with two tasks in mind, two timbers to connect: the "sukkah" Americans must build after the Awesome Day of our extraordinary election on November 4. No matter how the election turns out.
 
The Shalom Center is deeply involved in three events that will come during the months after the election.
 
On Sunday November 23, we are co-sponsoring with  the Workmen's Circle/ Arbeterring an action-oriented gathering at Central Synagogue in New York City: "Jews Uniting to End the War and Heal America."


Among the speakers and workshop leaders will be Congressman Jerrold Nadler, former Congresswoman Elizabeth Holtzman, Rabbis David Saperstein,  Nina Beth Cardin, Peter Knobel,  David Shneyer, Rebecca Alpert, Or Rose,  and Ellen Lippmann; Amy Goodman, national journalist of "Democracy Now!" radio and TV; and many others.
 
No matter who wins the Presidency and Congress, grass-roots action will be necessary to move forward to meet the multiple crises we are in. Start here!
 
To sign up and to help out the gathering even if you're too far away to come,  click to
http://www.circle.org/jewsuniting/

2. On January 19, in Washington DC and around America, we are working closely with interfaith networks celebrating Martin Luther King's Birthday the very day before the new president takes office. We will spark national action to commit ourselves once again to make real the vision of Dr. King as a new Administration begins
For information, see --
http://www.shalomctr.org/node/1432


3. And on March 29, The Shalom Center is sponsoring a 40th Anniversary New Interfaith Freedom Seder for the Earth, connected to the Blessing of the Sun that comes nine days later.   A Seder will be held in Washington, and we will share the text and liturgy ahead of time all across the country so that many communities can create their own Interfaith Freedom Seders for the Earth. For information, see -- 
http://www.shalomctr.org/node/1457


If you want to take part in the MLK/ Inauguration planning and doing in your own community, and /or to take part in your own 40th Anniversary Interfaith Freedom Seder for the Earth, please write to let me know. Write at Office@shalomctr.org  Thanks!

If you are fasting for Yom Kippur, blessings for a profound and moving fast, followed by  strong and compassionate action to build the harvest sukkah of our lives.

If you are focusing on the Days of Awe brought us by our daily news even more than Days of Awe in a prayerbook,  may you be blessed with calm as you live through this storm in our vulnerable lives, with help from all your neighbors and from a government that comes to seek our common good, and with deep compassion for all who are suffering in this crisis -

Arthur 
(Rabbi Arthur Waskow)

To donate to the Shalom Center, click on our logo!

If this email was forwarded by a friend and you'd like to subscribe to the Shalom Center Report, please visit http://www.democracyinaction.org/dia/organizationsORG/tsc/signUp.jsp?key=442.

The Shalom Center | 6711 Lincoln Drive | Philadelphia, PA  19119
www.shalomctr.org | office@shalomctr.org | 215.844.8494

wtorek, 07 października 2008
Rabbi Arthur Waskow: THOU SHALT NOT STEAL - ELECTIONS
CBS NEWS ON NATIONWIDE VOTE PURGING
http://de.youtube.com/view_play_list?p=094AD397A1B9D23D
CBS NEWS ON NATIONWIDE VOTE PURGING
02:16
Sept. 30, 2008
 
----- Original Message -----
Sent: Monday, October 06, 2008 11:16 PM
Subject: THOU SHALT NOT STEAL – ELECTIONS

[The simplest and -- we would hope! -- most nonpartisan issue in the coming elections is whether voters who are entitled to vote will be allowed to, and whether votes legitimately cast will be counted. As the title of this report suggests, this is also among the simplest of religious issues. I hope our readers will be vigilant for the sake of honesty in working to prevent or cure any disease of vote-thievery that emerges this fall. I hope this report, from the AFL-CIO, will be of use to you.  - AW]

 In four weeks, millions of  voters will go to the polls to choose our next president, Congress and state and local officials. But even if you are eligible to vote, you could be denied a ballot, illegally purged from the voting rolls or face challenges to your voting status. 

To ensure that every eligible voter can vote and have their vote counted, union members and activists are working through the AFL-CIO My Vote, My Right

http://www.aflcio.org/issues/civilrights/votingrights.cfm

voter protection project to ensure the ballot process is run fairly.  The National Campaign for Fair Elections launched www.866ourvote.org and spotlighted a toll-free voting rights hotline, 1-866-OUR-VOTE, operated by a nonpartisan coalition of groups, including the Lawyers' Committee for Civil Rights and the AFL-CIO. )  

A new report released by the nonpartisan Brennan Center for Justice at New York University School of Law finds that states are secretly purging roles with no supervision or national standards. As a result, the cleaning up of voter rolls is not as precise as it should be and eligible voters are often wrongly removed. 

The report calls the nationwide purging process "chaotic," "shrouded in secrecy," "riddled with inaccuracies," "prone to error" and "vulnerable to manipulation."

The report uncovers widespread errors in voter purges, including the purges of 700 voters in Muscogee County, Ga., 10,000 voters in Mississippi and 7,000 in Louisiana. Read or download the report, Voter Purges, here.

It cites Muscogee County, where a county official removed 700 people from voter rolls allegedly for criminal convictions. But many of the people who received letters informing them of the purge had never even received a parking ticket. In Mississippi, a local election official recently discovered that another official had wrongly purged 10,000 voters "from her home computer."

In another report, the public interest group USPIRG shows 19 states are ignoring federal law, which prohibits voter purges 90 days before a federal election. Those states include the key battleground states of Colorado, Ohio and Nevada. To learn more and to read the report, click here.

Some state officials are using various techniques to try and suppress the vote. A new website, stealbackyourvote.org, recently learned about "caging" plan for parts of  Florida. Caging is a process in which letters are sent to registered voters and when the letter is returned, the voter's name is taken off the rolls.

The plan was to send letters to voters in majority black districts, including soldiers at an army base in the black community in Jacksonville. Of course, many of the soldiers might not be on base anymore, points out Steal Back Your Vote founder Greg Palast. He has teamed up with Robert Kennedy Jr. to put together a comic book guide for voters to take your vote back. Check out their video here

http://www.youtube.comwatch?v=rRfJtnfQDgg        

In Ohio, the AFL-CIO and SEIU District 1199 filed briefs in a successful effort to stop state officials from suppressing student voting. Officials in the Buckeye State challenged Secretary of State Jennifer Brunner's ruling that a state law allows some early voters to register and vote on the same day. A recently enacted state law allows residents, for the first time in a general presidential election, to vote early by absentee ballot without providing a justification. But with a huge voter registration effort to get college students, some officials sought to nullify the law. The state Supreme Court and the federal courts upheld Brunner's interpretation of the law.

In New Mexico, the AFL-CIO My Vote My Rights program has teamed with the Lawyers Coordinating Committee to convince the secretary of state to distribute a poster that lists the types of IDs that are acceptable and is placed in polling places. Voters can advocate for themselves if asked for more than the IDs mandated by law. The AFL-CIO also was instrumental in bringing to the attention of state attorneys general that voters cannot be removed from the rolls for being on a foreclosure list. As a result of our efforts, Maryland Attorney General Douglas Gansler sent a letter to local and state election officials to ensure that voters who have lost homes to foreclosure know they have not lost their right to vote. Lots more voter protection news

    Daily Kos's Mcjoan reports that some Montana officials are tchallenging the eligibility of 6,000 registered Montana voters in seven counties historically considered Democratic. More than half of the people challenged statewide live, or previously lived, in Missoula County. Montanans who are registered to vote in the seven counties who filled out a change-of-address card with the U.S. Postal Service in the past 18 months likely will need to verify their correct place of residence before the Nov. 4 election. More than 36,000 new voters have registered in Montana.

    Andrew Appel reports that a New Jersey state judge has stopped the scheduled release of a report on the security and accuracy of the Sequoia AVC Advantage voting machine used in the state. Appel blogs on Freedom to Tinker, which is hosted by the Princeton Center for Information Technology Policy. He is one of a team of experts the court designated to report on the voting machines. The report is part of a lawsuit by  filed by the Rutgers Constitutional Litigation Clinic. The Sequoia model used in the state cannot be audited and do not produce a voter verified paper ballot trail, so there is no way to know whether the machine is actually counting votes as cast,. Appel says.

Markos at Daily Kos notes that three weeks after Florida began enforcing a controversial law to require tougher ID matches for would-be voters, registration applications from more than 5,000 Floridians have been held up, at least temporarily. In many cases, officials said, the errors were as simple as someone writing down the wrong number, using a nickname or misspelling his or her name. As Kos points out it's more likely that the government has misspelled the name in their own databases.

wtorek, 09 września 2008
a personal message from Rabbi Arthur Waskow
----- Original Message -----
Sent: Tuesday, September 09, 2008 8:17 PM
Subject: The Election: Personal thoughts aboiut candidates & character

a personal message from Rabbi Arthur Waskow

Folks --

Till recently, it seemed possible and desirable for me to address the Presidential campaign without regard to individuals or parties, but solely in regard to issues -- especially the life-and-death issues of war and global scorching  -- and what I called the "issue behind the issues," the concentration of political, economic, and cultural power in fewer and fewer hands.

But recent events have convinced me that individual character is now an important part of the meaning of this election. 

Senator John McCain's decision to name Governor Sarah Palin his vice-president and possible successor as President, and the emerging information about her,  have convinced me these issues need to be raised.

So, purely as an individual, I will share some of my views about the election itself.

McCain, from  every report, wanted to nominate Senator Joe Lieberman for vice-president.  Lieberman is no hero to me, mostly because of his support for the Iraq war. But he is reasonably well qualified to be President, which is the only serious qualification to be vice-president. Aside from the war, many of his policies are a mild form of what needs stronger expression --  like his protection of sexual and reproductive rights and his concern about global climate crisis. He has stuck to his principles, even when some became unpopular.

But under pressure from the right wing of his party, McCain broke -- abandoned what was evidently his own value system --  and instead nominated a dishonest,  vindictive, and  unqualified  person for Vice-President, knowing almost nothing of her actual background.

It's not the first time that McCain has broken under this kind of pressure. He broke under pressure on what seemed to be at the heart of his values because it is the hinge of his life -- - his opposition to torture  because he had been tortured and knew both its  vileness and its ineffectiveness in getting the truth.

 (His own memoirs report that at one point he broke under the pressure of Vietnamese torture and signed statements he knew to be untrue:)

"Despairing of any relief from pain and further torture, I tried to take my life. After several unsuccessful attempts, I managed to stand. Up-ending the waste bucket, I stepped on it, bracing myself against the wall with my good arm.

"I looped my shirt through the shutters. As I looped it around my neck, a guard saw the shirt through the window, pulled me off the bucket and beat me.

"Later, I made a second, feebler attempt at suicide. On the fourth day, I gave up. I signed a confession that "I am a black criminal and I have performed the deeds of an air pilot".

"The guards ordered me to record my confession on tape. I refused, and was beaten until I consented.
"

After winning a practically unanimous vote by the Senate to ban torture, McCain broke under the pressure of the Bushies and ended up capitulating, even supporting  enactment of a law permitting the CIA's use of torture.

 I have absolutely no criticism at all of McCain for his breaking under the pressure of torture, only sorrow and compassion for him and anger at his torturers . Almost everyone does break under torture, saying anything at all to end the pain, and that is one of the reasons torture is so vile.   During the period in which he drew on this experience to get the Senate to outlaw torture, I urged Rabbis for Human Rights to have him speak at its first convention, even though I disagreed with many of his other policies. (I changed my mind about his speaking after he stopped opposing torture.)

Aside  from his self-reversal on outlawing all US torture, McCain -- under the pressure of big-business fat cats whose support he needed to win the Presidential nomination --  abandoned his principled opposition to the Bush tax cuts for the super-wealthy.

And now, the Palin nomination.

I don't want as President a person who can so easily crack when the right wing attacks his own values.  

As for Go
vernor Palin herself:  Let me refer you to an Associated Press fact-check article on her, at

http://news.yahoo.com/story/ap/20080904/ap_on_el_pr/cvn_fact_check


and quote just one of the items in that story:

"PALIN: "I have protected the taxpayers by vetoing wasteful spending . . .
and championed reform to end the abuses of earmark spending by Congress.  I told the Congress 'thanks but no thanks' for that Bridge to Nowhere."
 
"THE FACTS: As mayor of Wasilla, Palin hired a lobbyist and traveled to
Washington annually to support earmarks for the town totaling $27 million.
 
"In her two years as governor, Alaska has requested nearly $750 million in
special federal spending, by far the largest per-capita request in the
nation. While Palin notes she rejected plans to build a $398 million
bridge from Ketchikan to an island with 50 residents and an airport, that
opposition came only after the plan was ridiculed nationally as a 'bridge
to nowhere.'"

She harassed the public librarian of her small town for refusing to ban books Palin didn't like from the library; she evidently fired the State Trooper chief of Alaska for refusing to fire a trooper she wanted to revenge herself on for family reasons; she poured contempt on the profession of community organizer; she shows every sign of a vindictive and authoritarian personality. In regard to policy: she has called the Iraq war a service to God; she has opposed the right of women to choose abortion even when they have been raped or incested; she has demanded that sex education be limited to "abstinence only" (despite the evidence in the country at large and in her own family that it doesn't work to prevent teen pregnancy); she has called for obeisance to Big Oil's demand to drill everywhere, including the Alaska Nature Reserve; she denies the role of human action in bringing on the global climate crisis. 

Except for Iraq,  these are positions McCain does not share. (Even on abortion, her views are even more hostile to women's right to make choices than are his hostility to choice.) Yet McCain chose her  when the right wing threatened him if he were to follow his own value system and chose Senator Lieberman.  His pattern of succumbing under pressure from the extreme right, even and especially in the crucial task of naming the next possible President, make him in my judgment unsuitable to be President himself.   

Senator Obama is no saint. I have publicly criticized what I thought were either his misjudgments or his ethical compromises about Middle East peacemaking, and about the FISA bill on governmental violations of the Bill of Rights. But he has shown no trace of vindictiveness, he WAS a community organizer and has consistently urged grass-roots involvement and organizing,  and he has policies far more attuned to preserving religious freedom and other Constitutional rights, and to healing the earth and American society.  He picked as Vice-President someone clearly qualified to be President. 
.
I think these differences in character need to be taken into account in choosing how to vote in this election.

Even so, I might not have decided to take the unusual step of writing you as an individual, outside all institutional connections, if the last week had not shown that something dark and dangerous in the American public is responding to Governor Palin's "pit bull with lipstick" persona. 

I am not surprised; one response to the sense that everything we knew and trusted --  all the old certainties about sex, race, safety, prosperity, "the American dream" -- all  of it is is in earthquake, crashing -- - is the desire for someone tough, nasty, to take control of the mess.


Can we transcend that impulse? Might we descend yet to even worse, out of panic?
Are we, or can we become,  a better country than the last eight years would indicate?  Can we respond to the earthquake not with brute force but by dancing in it, hard as that is -- dancing our way to deeper and broader community?

This election poses a great test to us, at the most basic level. If we choose an unnecessary war in response to real problems, choosing leaders who are ruthless and vindictive is simply in the same pattern. If we choose instead to weave new forms of caring community, then our leaders will have to be different in character as well as policy.

So it is imperative for us to choose our future, and work to achieve the one we choose.

Now.

And in any case, no matter who wins the election, these months make still clearer how crucial will be grass-roots commitment and action into the next Administration. The November 23 action-gathering in NYC, "Jews Uniting to End the War and Heal America," is all the more important.  Remember to sign up at
 
https://salsa.democracyinaction.org/o/602/t/7445/shop/custom.jsp?donate_page_KEY=3732

Blessings of Shalom, salaam  -- the peace that rises from community and compassion --
Arthur

Please send your comments or questions to Rabbi Waskow at awaskow@aol.com

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