Historic Agreement of 1000+ Rabbis Against Flawed Iran Deal

Stop Iran Rally July 26, 2015 LA-2Jewish Leadership Across Denominations Call for a “Better Deal”

Over 1000 rabbis across every major denomination are calling on Congress to reject the nuclear deal with Iran. In an open letter to Congress, the rabbis urge members to reject the proposed deal and call on the administration to return to the negotiating table in pursuit of a better agreement.

This show of unity by rabbis is unprecedented in American Jewish history.

The letter was written jointly by Rabbi Kalman Topp, Senior Rabbi at Beth Jacob Congregation, Beverly Hills and Rabbi Yonah Bookstein, Co-Founder of Pico Shul, Los Angeles.

“[W]e are deeply troubled by the proposed deal, and believe this agreement will harm the short-term and long-term interests of both the United States and our allies, particularly Israel,” the letter states. “[W]e agree with the assessments of leaders and experts in the United States, along with virtually all Israeli voices across the political spectrum, that we can, and must, do better,” they added.

Among the letter’s signatories are the President of Rabbinical Council of America (Orthodox), the President of Rabbinical Assembly (Conservative), and the immediate past president of Central Conference of American Rabbis (Reform)— highlighting cross-denominational opposition to the Iran deal.

“This letter represents the sentiment of a broad breadth of the American Jewish community that this is a flawed deal that will not stop Iran from obtaining nuclear weapons,” Rabbis Topp and Bookstein said. “Instead, this deal provides Iran with vast financial resources that it can use to further destabilize the region.”


Want to take action? Call your senator TODAY and tell them to vote against the deal


Jewish Lists: What it Tells About us

Jeffrey Goldberg’s recent column in Bloomberg, is a very powerful argument for canceling the recent proliferation of media-inspired “Jewish Lists”. This article is a must read. It also got me thinking about what the lists that we create today say about our generation, because lists are a valuable insight into our culture.

Whether we are aware of it or not, published Jewish lists have been around at least since the 6th century when of the scholars and leaders of the Jewish community in exile in Babylonia directed the academies of Sura and Pumbedita. These leaders, collectively called the Geonim were charged with making hard decisions and protecting the safety and welfare of Jewish communities. As such they worked hard to help keep continuity by making complex law and philosophy more easily understood. The famous scholar Sa’adya Gaon made a list of commandments in the Torah. He was followed by other rabbis, and the Ramban and Ramban both wrote lists identifying what they felt were the exact listing of Biblical commandments. Later the Sefer Ha Chinuch made a list of mitzvot, this time with a beautiful explanation of each mitzvah and this is still popular today – eight centuries later. (And let’s not forget the most cherished list, The Ten Commandments.)

More recently, it became popular to make lists of Jews in sports, music, film, writing, Nobel Prize winners, and other public Jews who are part of the tapestry of 20th century Jewish life. List making became a new who’s who directory of famous Jews. (Even the “Book of Lists” was written by a Jew.) What these lists have in common is a desire to highlight to the world and the Jewish community itself that we are making a positive contribution to society. We should be proud of our collective contributions to America, for example.

Within the community, it seems another reason for these lists is to inspire our children with Jewish role models — even if some of these Jews were never open or proud of their Jewishness. It seems as if the people making these lists think it will energize a listless Jewish community or perhaps make the community more inviting to any Jew standing on the margins.

Of course there are insidious Jewish lists as Goldberg so eloquently points out- such as the lists put together by Nazis, Communist regimes, other totalitarian regimes, Senator McCarthy’s infamous political enemies list, American White Power movements, Islamic radicals…just to name a few.

Recently popular list making is being scrutinized as doing more harm then good as pointed out eloquently by Goldberg. There is also Danielle Berrin‘s long expose about the 50 Most Influential Rabbi’s list and Dennis Prager’s column in the Jewish Journal.

There are other lists as well: The Forward’s list of top American Jews, the Forward 50 Fifty, and Most Influential Jews list by the Jerusalem Post — which seems to be the final straw for Goldberg. And there are others. (In full disclosure I have been listed on some lists, most recently on a list of ten top Jewish influencers in social media.)

The recent proliferation of media-inspired lists do not achieve the purpose that communal list-making served in the past. Instead of serving to clarify, inspire and teach about who we are as a people, as were the stated goals of our ancestors, today’s lists are of people and not ideas or values and can only serve to divide an already quarrelsome people.

We can honor the work of our Rabbis, leaders, thinkers and revolutionaries better by supporting their projects and causes, supporting and building upon the good we see them doing instead of putting them on a juried list that more than anything serves as a cultural barometer of the year the list was made.

Additionally celebrity list-making takes the focus and attention away from the real issues that matter in the Jewish community.

When lists are used to enhance our appreciation and the beauty of our heritage, the turbulence of our history, and the innovation of ideas they can have great use. Instead of a list of most influential individual people we could be giving people access to the great Jewish ideas of the past and present. Valorize the Jewish things that are making a more humane, safe and spiritual place for our people and all the people of our shared world. Let’s harness the power of list generation to better serve ourselves and the world around us. And we might even inspire a few Jews standing on the margins who just might want to connect to that which is worthy of their attention.

Tweeting Tarantino

inglourious-basterds-movie-poster_382x558Tweets in reverse chronological order during Q&A after Jewish community screening of Inglourious Bastards, hosted by The LA Jewish Journal, the Consulate General of Israel, and the Board of Rabbis of Southern California. Q&A With: Lawrence Bender, producer of “Basterds,” producer of all Quentin Tarantino’s films as well as the Academy Award-winning documentary “An Inconvenient Truth” and “Good Will Hunting.” Christoph Waltz received the Best Actor Award at the 2009 Cannes Film Festival for his portrayal of Nazi Col. Hans Landa. Rob Eshman, Jewish Journal Editor led the Q&A. Session filmed by Weinstein Company. [Note: I updated the spelling of Inglourious Basterds — which I had spelled Inglorious Bastards in my Tweets.]

Got to see my son killing Hitler — Bear Jew’s Dad at Inglourious Basterds screening

Audience loves Waltz, Tarantino!

Tarantino references tons of classic WWII films. He must have seen then all.

The level of suspense on a 30 minute sequence in German. Not been done before Inglourious Basterds. — Tarantino

Movie is only fantasy when story veers from history. In WWII language was a matter of life or death. — Tarantino

Had my characters existed, it could have happened. — Tarantino

Until they kill Hitler at end, it’s not fantasy. All the WWII films have imagination. — Tarantino

Thought they might not find an actor for lead actor of Lada, the lead Nazi. Without Waltz no Inglourious Basterds. –Bender

Audience loves Tarantino.

Tarantino did a ton of research — powered by his imagination. Would make up stuff, and look it up and find he was right.

Inglourious Basterds has many many parallels to things that happened in real life. — Tarantino

“Once upon a time in occupied France.” It’s a fairy tale. Says Tarantino re Inglourious Basterds

Tarantino attending! Seems the whole cast but Brad Pitt is here.

There is a propaganda movie inside Inglourious Basterds.

Inglourious Basterds will get more people interested in the holocaust. — Bender

What does it say that this is the Holocaust film of our era? And the Blurring of history and fantasy? — Michael Birenbaum

The survivors start taking — Inglourious Basterds would have never happened. Jews didn’t take revenge.

Christof’s son wants to be a Rabbi.

@rabinkos a ton of violence but surreal.

Tarantino and Bender visited Israel, Yad VaShem. Theater went nuts when at end of film we see The Face of Jewish Revenge.

Could a German or Jew have made it? It needed Tarantino — Waltz

Discussing Nazi. How was Inglourious Basterds received in Germany and Israel?

I am having flashbacks to working on the set of The Pianist

How did Inglourious Basterds hit Jews on the gut level?

Is Inglourious Basterds “good for the Jews?” — I guess that is why we are here.

At Q&A w/ Christoph Walz and Lawrence Bender after Inglourious Basterds screening w/ Jewish Journal’s Rob Eshman

Special screening of Inglourious Basterds (@ The Landmark – West LA in LA)

Don’t Mess With The Rabbis – Facebook restored my account

It appears that after my post on Jewlicious, and of course the news from MSNBC, NBC, and JPOST all writing about Facebooknacht.

I received a call from the JPost, asking about the hub bub. This afternoon, around 4:30pm. I received notice that we were being re-ordained.

Hi Rabbi,

Your account has been reactivated and you should be able to access it now. Sorry for the inconvenience. Please let me know if you need further assistance.

Thanks for contacting Facebook,

User Operations