As a rabbi raised in South Africa, I can’t ignore Israel is an Apartheid state

Dear Friends, Truthout just printed an article that I wrote about the extraordinary report that B’Tselem released a few weeks ago. You can read my article here. I believe the B’Tselem report is so very significant. It is the largest Israeli human rights organization with a reputation in the world for honest, and reliable human…More

For Tisha B’Av: A Lamentation for Gaza

Originally posted on Shalom Rav:
This Monday night begins the Jewish fast of Tisha B’Av: a day of mourning for the calamities that have befallen the Jewish people over the centuries. Among other things, the traditional Tisha B’Av liturgy includes the chanting Biblical book of  Lamentations. Given the profoundly tragic events currently unfolding in Gaza,…

Gaza: Rabbinic Statement

As I mentioned in my earlier post, I am a member of Jewish Voice Peace and the Rabbinical Council of JVP.   The Council has just issued the following statement.  Please share with others. JVP Rabbinical Council Statement We are currently amidst “the three weeks” – the annual Jewish period of quasi-mourning that leads to…More

Gaza: A Lament

In two weeks time on Tisha B’Av (9th of the Jewish month of Av), Jews will read the Book of Lamentations, a bitter lament about the fall of Jerusalem and the destruction of the Temple some 2,000 years ago.  Over the past few weeks, I have felt a lament welling up inside my broken heart.  Eicha/How? or…More

Jewish Identity and Zionism: Young Jewish Leaders at Northeastern speak up

The Forward just published a brilliant article by two young Jewish leaders about the suspension of the Students for Justice in Palestine chapter at Northeastern University.   I encourage you to read it and to support the struggle against the censorship of voices that challenge Israeli policy on campus.   I also encourage you to write a…More

Israel and Apartheid: South African Jews Differ

Hirsh Goodman, an Israeli journalist who grew up in South Africa, wrote an op-ed, “Losing the Propaganda War,”   in the Review section of the New York Times on Sunday.  His piece was included to “balance” the groundbreaking inclusion of an article by Omar Barghouti, a leader of the Palestinian Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) movement. There are…More

Scarlett Johansson: Profit over Principle

As a rabbi and a long-time Oxfam supporter, I find Johansson’s decision to support a company exploiting Palestinian workers living under decades of occupation, expropriating Palestinian land at favorable tax rates, and setting back the prospects of a just resolution to the conflict to be.profoundly disturbing.  Johansson’s decision to serve as the brand face for SodaStream,…More

Goldstone on Mandela and some comments

Judge Richard Goldstone has written a moving reflection on Nelson Mandela’s relationship to the Jews of South Africa.  You can read it here. I want to highlight that while Madiba had a close relationship with the activist Jews who were such an important part of the anti-Apartheid struggle, the overwhelming majority of South African Jews…More

In honor of Nelson Mandela

In June this year, when Nelson Mandela was critically ill, my daughter and son-in-law, Chana and Lincoln, named their second child, Micah Mandela Ritter.  I am reminded today of how moved I was my grandson’s covenant ceremony when they announced his name.  On Yom Kippur this year, in honor of Mandela I gave a sermon…More