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What We Think
While our About Us page tells you a bit about our history, how to contact us, where services are held, and other tidbits, this section is meant to give you a good feeling for who we are and what we think about some of the key issues facing Jewish people today.
While the best way to get to know us is to come to one of our services, events, or Torah studies, we've tried to capture the essence of our thinking in the articles linked to below.
We'd love to talk to you about these articles, either in person, or, feel free to use the comments feature!
A Jewish Renewal (Kabbalistic-Mystical-NeoHasidic) Approach to God
by Rabbi Michael Lerner
The Jewish people came to historical consciousness in a world dominated by great imperial powers, first in Mesopotamia where Abraham grew up, then in Egypt where a family became a nation. Imperial powers stayed in power through imposing force and violence on their own population, enslaving some, forcefully taxing others--and exercising a monopoly on violence and cruelty.
A Jewish Renewal Understanding of the State of Israel
Jews did not return to Palestine in order to be oppressors or representatives of Western colonialism or cultural imperialism. Although it is true that some early Zionist leaders sought to portray their movement as a way to serve the interests of various Western states, and although many Jews who came brought with them a Western arrogance that made it possible for them to see Palestine as "a land without a people for a people without a land," and hence to virtually ignore the Palestinian people and its own cultural and historical rights, the vast majority of those who came were seeking refuge from the murderous ravages of Western anti-Semitism or from the oppressive discrimination that they experienced in Arab countries. The Ashkenazi Jews who shaped Israel in its early years were jumping from the burning buildings of Europe--and when they landed on the backs of Palestinians, unintentionally causing a great deal of pain to the people who already lived there, they were so transfixed with their own (much greater and more acute) pain that they couldn't be bothered to notice that they were displacing and hurting others in the process of creating their own state.
If you are someone who has been blessed with financial well-being or wealth, you have a special opportunity to advance the process of spiritual development. You can become a living proof to others that it is possible to live a life in which the pursuit of money is not the bottom line.
Shabbat (the Sabbath) is not simply about going to synagogue. It is a 25 hour spiritual, meditative, psychological, and intellectual process which involves a withdrawal from the normal consciousness of domination and control over time and space. On Shabbat we enter into a consciousness that is focused on awe, wonder, amazement, celebration, pleasure (through food, sex, and intellectual exchange), aloneness and community. As the psalm for Shabbat proclaims, "I rejoice in Your work, O God. I will exalt in the works of Your hands!"
The globalization of Spirit requires that we overcome the false dichotomy
between changing our selves and changing societal structures. At times we may
be inclined to say, "I need to work on my own head first, then later I'll try
to change society." But this strategy can be the beginning of a slippery slope
toward narcissistic self-absorption, just as the "I'll change society first
and then worry about inner life" strategy can be a slippery slope to the
insensitivity and spiritual obtuseness of most contemporary political
movements. Emancipatory Spirituality encourages a living synthesis of
individual and social transformation.
Many of us find the notion of "commandments" oppressive and hierarchical. Yet we know that a community cannot be built on the principle of only doing what feels right at the moment--it requires a sense of responsibility to each other. So, we encourage our community to take on the following ten commitments, based roughly on a rereading of the Torah's ten commandments (and incorporating the framework and many specific ideas articulated by Rami Shapiro in his book Minyan).
Start each day with ten minutes of meditation on these ten principles, followed by the Shema. It will bring a new level of joy in your life.