From Rabbi Lieberman

  • October is Domestic Violence Awareness Month

    Posted ‍‍ד תשרי ה תשעו - September 17, 2015 By in Rabbi's Thoughts With | Comments Off

    Learned Helplessness Domestic Violence

    They say
    These clever scientist folks,
    That there is such a thing
    As learned helplessness;
    Cage a rat
    Subject it
    To repeated trauma
    Until it is so tired of fighting
    It will lie in the corner
    And take the pain

    Not leaving
    Even when the door is opened

    I know this to be true
    This has been me
    Cowering
    In the corner
    Begging
    With imploring eyes
    For you to shut the door
    And stop confronting me

    With impossible choices

    This poem, by an unnamed victim of domestic abuse speaks powerfully of what is the day-to-day reality for so many victims of domestic abuse and violence.

    October is Domestic Violence Awareness Month (DVAM), an observance that evolved from the “Day of Unity” held in October 1981 and which was conceived by the National Coalition Against Domestic Violence. The intent was to connect advocates across the nation who were working to end violence against women and their children. The Day of Unity soon became an entire week devoted to a range of activities conducted at the local, state, and national level. The activities conducted were as varied and diverse as the program sponsors but had common themes:

    • Mourning those who have died because of domestic violence
    • Celebrating those who have survived
    • Connecting those who work to end violence

    These three themes remain a key focus of DVAM events today. In October 1987, the first Domestic Violence Awareness Month was observed. That same year marks the initiation of the first national domestic violence toll-free hotline. In 1989, the U.S. Congress passed Public Law 101-112 designating October of that year as National Domestic Violence Awareness Month.

    While women and children are, statistically, the primary targets of domestic abuse and violence, it is manifest in every socio-economic and cultural stratum of society. Perpetrators and victims may be of any gender or sexual orientation. Studies reveal that the incidence of domestic abuse and violence in the Jewish community mirrors that of society at large. We are, by no means, immune to this scourge.

    On Cape Cod resources exist for those who need help extricating themselves from abusive and dangerous situations.

    Cape Cod Center For Women, providing services for battered women and their children, is the only 24-hour, 7-day-a-week confidential domestic violence emergency shelter serving Cape Cod, Martha’s Vineyard and Nantucket. The Center is dedicated to providing quality programs and services to individuals and families escaping violence or abuse. Our compassionate community of staff, volunteers and supporters assist primarily battered women and their children in leaving violent environments and transitioning to independent living, fully connected to a network of community support and with a lifelong safety plan. 508-564- (SAFE) 7233

    Independence House, Inc. is the only comprehensive community-based organization on Cape Cod providing free and confidential specialized services and widespread programs for adults, teens and children (ages 6 and up) who are survivors of, or affected by domestic and sexual violence. For over 35 years, Independence House, Inc. has been sharing knowledge and skills with survivors in order for them to regain self-confidence, make informed decisions and initiate changes in their lives n order to live empowered, independently, and free from violence.

    Independence House has been a consistent and continuous leader in increasing safety options for adult and children survivors of domestic and sexual violence; increasing knowledge and awareness about domestic and sexual violence prevention; elevating and improving Cape Cod’s response to domestic and sexual violence; and actively engaging with the community to end domestic and sexual violence. 24 HOUR HOTLINE: 800-439-6507

    I urge you to find some time this month to educate yourself about domestic abuse and violence and what resources exist to address this problem. Chances are great that you know someone–a relative, a neighbor, a friend–who is a suffering from domestic abuse and is awaiting your outreach and advocacy.

  • Resources on racism and white privilege

    Posted ‍‍כב אלול ה תשעה - September 6, 2015 By in Rabbi's Thoughts With | Comments Off

    5501912-racism-and-discrimination-as-a-grunge-background1In preparation for my Rosh Hashanah (5776) morning sermon, I read a number of books and essays on the themes or racism and white privilege.

    Here are some of  the sources I consulted that I deem worthy of your consideration:

    BOOKS

    Between The World and Me, Ta-Nehisi Coates (Spiegel & Grau, 2015)

    A searing memoir, in the form of a message to his teenage son, in which Coates writes of the ways in which America has built an empire on the idea of “race”. Coates is a national correspondent for The Atlantic.

    Fire Shut Up In My Bones: A Memoir, Charles M. Blow (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 2015)

    Poverty, the South, racism, sex, fear, rage and love. These are the themes that Coates explores in his powerful memoir. Coates is a columnist for the New York Times.

    Racism Without Racists: Color-Blind Racism and the Persistence of Racial Inequality in America, Eduardo Bonilla-Silva (Rowan & Littlefield, 2014)

    A scholarly book that explodes the belief that America is now a color-blind society.

    ARTICLES

    I, Racist (by John Metta) Click here.

    12 Things White People Can Do Now Because of Ferguson (Janee Woods) Click here.

    Why It’s So Hard to Talk to White People About Racism (Dr. Robin DiAngelo) Click here.

    Sounding the Alarm in America: The Legacy of Ferguson (Rabbi Irwin Kula) Click here.

    The Truth of  ’Black Lives Matter’ (NYT editorial 9/3/15) Click here.

    The Architecture of Segregation (NYT editorial 9/5/15) Click here.

    Black Lives Matter’s Heart-to-Heart With Hillary Clinton (Todd Gitlin) Click here.

    What My Bike Has Taught Me About White Privilege  (J. Dowsett) Click here.

    Sensible Responses to White Nonsense (Mary) Click here.

    Our Racial Moment of Truth (Isabel Wilkerson) Click here.

    Secession, the Confederate Flag, and Slavery (Paul Finkelman) Click here.

    The Black Lives Matter policy agenda is practical, thoughtful–and urgent (Radley Balko) Click here.

    The Subtle Linguistics of Polite White Supremacy (Yawo Brown) Click here.

  • Who knows where the time goes?

    Posted ‍‍ט אלול ה תשעה - August 24, 2015 By in Rabbi's Thoughts With | Comments Off

    25-random-things[Remarks offered by Rabbi Lieberman at the celebration of his 25th anniversary with FJC, Aug. 8, 2015]

    Friends….I am at this moment, as they say in Mamaloshen (Yiddish), farklempt….”unable to speak because of emotion; choked up.” But speak I must, and speak I will, because moments such as these are incredibly precious and rare.

    First, I have words of appreciation for my family, without whose love and support the past 25 years would have been devoid of meaning and purpose. Before we met, Lori had a great deal of experience working with rabbinic students from her work in the library at Hebrew Union College. She married me anyway. Ben and Anna have endured, with grace and aplomb, the challenges of being an “RK”–a “rabbi’s kid”. My beloved brothers, Victor and Marc, are here, respectively, from Ann Arbor and San Francisco, making my personal celebration complete.

    I want to express my heartfelt gratitude to everyone whose efforts made this evening’s celebration such a beautiful success. Dozens of people contributed their time, energy, resources and talents to this and were guided to their goal by the indefatigable Sam Slarskey who headed up a team that included, Barry Balan, Scott Barron, Serena Boronkay, Barbara Brandt-Saret, Ellen Hewett, Ted Jellinek, Tee Marvin, Pamela Rothstein, Lynne Rozsa, Myrna Schultz, Bob Smith, Ellen Yaffe and Donna Zeger, many of whom was assisted by many others.

    Our hard-working and devoted temple staff–Betty Klotz, Steven Pearson, Steve Swain and George Cary–gave above and beyond to help make all of this possible. My friend Bart Weisman and his talented musical friends set the perfect freylich (joyous) tone for this celebration. Carol McLeod’s beautiful design work graced the invitations and this evening’s program.

    I have been deeply moved by all of the contributions made to our Endowment Fund in honor of this milestone. Nothing gives me deeper satisfaction than the knowledge that we will have the financial resources we need to maintain the vibrancy of this congregation long into the future.

    I offer my heartfelt thanks to everyone gathered beneath these tents this evening, as well as those who unable to be present. You helped create an event that reflects the very best of the wonderful community we call Falmouth Jewish Congregation!

    So…..what have the past twenty-five years produced? Friends, as Kai Ryssdal, host of NPR’s Marketplace, says, “Let’s do the numbers!”

    • 211   The number of b’nei mitzvah students with whom I have worked.

    • 119   The number of weddings at which I have officiated.

    • 233   The number of funerals I have performed.

    • 102   The number of babies & children on whom I have bestowed Hebrew names.

    • 52   The number of people I have been privileged to accompany on the path of conversion to Judaism.

    • 16   The number of years I have been privileged to work with Pamela Rothstein, my brilliant and talented friend and colleague.

    • 300   The number of FJC Newsletter columns I have written.

    • 10+   The number of guitars and ukuleles I have acquired. (I can still only play one at a time, however.)

    • 9   The number of FJC Presidents with whom I have collaborated and from whom I have learned much.

    • 9,164   The number of days I have awakened grateful to be serving as rabbi of this community

    • 182,600   A conservative figure for the number of laughs I’ve enjoyed since I began working here on July 1, 1990.

    • Far too many to count……

    -the number of sacred encounters I was privileged to experience as my work afforded me entry into the most joyous and the most challenging moments in the lives of so many people;

    -the times I disappointed you, or myself–or both at the same time;

    -the important lessons I have learned from you and from my work;

    -the moments of satisfaction gained from representing Falmouth Jewish Congregation in the broader community for causes rooted in the finest of Jewish values and those dear to my own heart;

    At Boomer Shabbat last month, Pamela Rothstein sang that beautiful song by the late Sandy Denny, Who Knows Where the Time Goes? It’s a fitting question tonight. Who knows where the past two-and-a-half-decades have gone? I know the answer. These past twenty-five years have entered my heart and my soul. They are an integral part of who I am as a rabbi and as a person.

    I thank you for the sacred privilege you’ve given me and I look forward to the challenges and joys yet to come.

    Reb Elias

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