Blog: The Politics of Hope

Signs of Hope from the American Jewish Community

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Dear friends and loyal subscribers,

I have not dropped off the earth! In fact, I have been spending a lot of time traveling across it, and that, along with the press of several writing projects, has kept me from posting. I see that I need to find a way to stay current with the blog even when my schedule is overloaded.  I have been resisting the impulse to use the blog to forward items that I think are important, but perhaps I should stop resisting — every blog does not have to represent hours of my own writing.

In any case, I want to bring you up to date and alert you to some news from the Jewish community that has captured my attention recently .  My travels have included presentations at Friends of Sabeel North America conferences in Seattle, Honolulu and Marin County CA,  speaking engagements in the Chicago area, a week in eastern and central Iowa including three days in Dubuque meeting with students and faculty at Wartburg Seminary and meeting with local clergy and community members, and an upcoming trip to North Carolina. There has also been much preaching — you can find the sermons on my website.  I will be traveling to Lebanon late in May to present a paper on Theology of the Land at a World Council of Churches conference, “The People of God in Bible and Tradition: Semantic Implications and Modern Relevance” (this is the current research and writing that has grabbed much of my energy in between travel and speaking).

I will try to stay more current with you!  In the meantime, I want to share four pieces of writing that have warmed me, encouraged me.  There is a growing consciousness, an deepening awareness of our peril, and, increasingly, the willingness to speak. Three come from the American Jewish community and one from the Jews of Jerusalem. The first is a letter from 30 American rabbis addressed to Judge Goldstone.  The second is a public letter from San Francisco academics, writers and artists in response to the San Francisco Jewish Federation’s recent attempt to silence debate about the Israel-Palestine conflict inside the American Jewish community.  The third is a letter from 100 Jewish Jerusalemites, including writers, artists, activists, and rabbis, to Eli Wiesel. The fourth, from Rabbi Brant Rosen’s blog, is an exchange between Brant and a friend who lives in Israel. As usual, Brant does a wonderful job of articulating his struggle with the reality of modern Israel. His wisdom and integrity is a gift that I want to share with you.

Rabbis’ letter to Judge Richard Goldstone

Prominent Bay Area Jews Warn About SF Jewish Federation Guidelines

Jerusalemites’ response to Eli Wiesel

Brant’s blog


  1. James E. Ray said,

    May 12, 2010 @ 4:32 pm

    Dear Mark,

    Thank you for continuing to call us out to get beyond the fear of being called anti-Semitic when we speak critically about the occupation policies of the state of Israel.
    I am wondering if you are going to be present at our Presbyterian Church U.S.A. General Assembly in Minneapolis, July 3-10. i am going as an observer to help out at the Israel Palestine Mission Network booth to try and spread the word for a just peace for Palestinians and Israel. There is much dialogue about the “one state solution” and I greatly appreciate your insights in Fatal Embrace that address it so well. We may think it sounds impossible but with God all things are possible.

    I met you last October at the IPMN annual meeting and with your encouragement tried to dialogue with a rabbi here in Youngstown. It was only a start and he tried to talk me into going on their synagogue’s trip to Israel. One quick look at it andii said, “No thanks”. But later I thought i should suggest that we put together a joint visit to both Israel and the West Bank/Gaza.

    As we have several hundred Palestinians here in Youngstown and an active Arab-American Community Center I wonder if we might possibly invite you here to see if we could have some dialogue with some of the Jewish community.

    Again thanks for all you are doing. You have made an impact on me and I share your insights with many people here, including the study groups in three Presbyterian congregations who have used the IPMN study book Steadfast Hope, that I helped to initiate.

    Hoping to see you soon


    Jim Ray

  2. Mark Braverman said,

    May 12, 2010 @ 5:01 pm

    Dear Jim,

    Thanks for your comment. And kudos to you for initiating the conversation with the rabbi in Youngstown. I do think that we need to reach out to the Jewish community, and to hang on to these positive signs. Critical mass in reaching the mainstream synagogues and denominations may be closer than we think. In the meantime, courageous and prophetic actions like those undertaken by the Presbyterian Israel Palestine Mission Network and the various presbyteries that are bringing overtures to the General Assembly in July need to continue. And yes, I will be at the GA — looking forward to seeing you there!

    I am here linking readers to Steadfast Hope — as you have found, a wonderful study and awareness-building resource for congregations. As you demonstrate in your work, the critical work begins in the communities, at the grassroots.

    Bless you in your work.


  3. Report from the Presbyterian General Assembly – Part 2, The Jewish Response | Mark Braverman said,

    July 20, 2010 @ 11:26 am

    […] to Eli Wiesel when he claimed Jerusalem exclusively for the Jewish people? (For links, go to “Signs of Hope from the Jewish community.”) How about connecting with those Jewish Israelis who are calling on the world to support the […]

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