November 28, 2013

Hanukah 2013

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HANNUKAH -2013

Tonight we are here together to celebrate a minor Jewish festival that commemorates the restoration and re-dedication of the Temple in Jerusalem in 166 BCE.  It is sometimes called the Jewish Festival of light.  Its central theme and symbol is the great gold seven branched lamp that stood in front of the Holy of Holies in keeping with the Law of Moses. Too often in our enthusiasm in lighting the wicks night after night for eight days until the entire surrounding is illuminated we forget some of the incidents that led to either the revolt of the peasantry of Judaea under the leadership of Judas Macchabaeus against the ‘Greek’ rulers of the land…or the involvement of even the Temple and its priesthood in perhaps creating the conditions that led to it.

On the death of Alexander the Great in 331 BCE his conquest was divided amongst his Macedonian generals after much contention.  After the absorption of the Greek city states, Egypt and the trans Mesopotamian Empire of the Persians that  had  conquered the Assyrian, Babylonian and Sumerian kingdoms of what we all today southern Iraq, the world had changed considerably. Under the Macedonians were their attempts to unify at least some aspects of it according to what were called by some, the dream of Alexander.  One world, one ruler, one God, a single language and even a model for the intermarriage of peoples who had hitherto lived quite separated cultural and religious lives. How many of these aspirations (ideals?)are attributable to him are perhaps questionable as his later biographers tended to magnify his exploits and the magic of his person.. Nonetheless this new world was certainly, though diminutive in many respects, had become globalized, Apparently no people escaped the temptation of repudiate their old traditions in order to participate: socially, intellectually and even religiously, in it…the Jews were no exception.

Most likely in emulation of Alexander who had named his model city Alexandria and given it a constitution modeled on that of Athens. A distant relative of Alexander, Antiochus named his new capitol Antioch that included within it administratively not only Syria but also the Jewish Commonwealth that had emerged after rebuilding of Jerusalem and the Temple. By 168 especially the urban Temple priesthood, and circles associated with it, had to a degree become ‘Hellenized’, spoke and dressed like and took Greek names. In 168 BCE through edict of King Antiochus and in collusion with the priesthood Judaism as such was proscribed, and the Temple re-dedicated to Zeus, pigs offered on its altar and the Law of Moses: the guardians of Jewish identity was profaned. Jerusalem became part of the new globalism. The great ever burning Seven branched candlestick was extinguished.

By 166 a revolt was intricately organized and programmed that was initiated by the family of Judah the Hashmonean and on a night suddenly bonfires were ignited that seemed to catch each other’s fire until the hill tops were ablaze and the revolt succeeded in seizing Jerusalem.  The re-establishment of the Jewish state was a given a miracle to mark its success as well…It is said that when the Temple had been cleansed and it was the hour to light the great Menorah that no ritually pure olive oil could be found save in a single ewer that refilled itself nightly as eight days passed until suitable oil could be brought.

Thus, in our synagogue since at least 1996 when we began the work of renovation annually we light our menorot – one placed prominently before one of the iron gates for all to see to attest to our adherence to Jewish values.  This year it is done with some anxiety which is not part of the spirit of the festival as we have little oil for it.

The profanation of the Temple in collusion with some of its priests and certainly of the

Jewish establishment of the time, has been forgotten in the course of re-telling of the event.

It is customary to lay full blame on the ‘Greeks’ which, in this context actually means

Jews who had already made their own kind of compromise with Greek culture and civilization. Seeking meaning and definition in the secular globalized world that opened un-explored means of economic and social advancement…or to Macedonian and Syrian mercenaries in the army of King Antiochus.

The Temple was, at this time, the central focus of Jewish life.  Its rituals, priesthood and sacrifices carried out three times a day were by many understood as the stable pivot on which the world is balanced and was the source of Jewish identity as adherents to the Torah.

I can say truthfully that Etz Hayyim, as our Temple, has been an important means in my re-defining myself, if only weekly, as a Jew when we gather for Kabbalat Shabbat -  I thank you all for this and I especially pray that our Menorah remains a beacon. G-d bless you all.

Nikos Stavroulakis

October 10, 2013

High Holy Days at the Synagogue

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ROSH HASHANAH and YOM KIPPOUR:

Despite a somewhat anticipated bleak outlook on tourism in Crete and Greece in general as a consequence of the economic ‘crisis’ that has affected us all, for the High Holidays we had blessings… This year we were doubly blessed by the appearance of Lior Asher along with Gabriel Negrin who lead services for the 70+ congregants who came to our Synagogue. Lior came from Tel Aviv as he has done for several years now to blow the shofar. And Gabriel came from Athens to lead the service. Immediately after the service we all gathered for the traditional fish dinner, at a local restaurant.

The following day Lior left for Tel Aviv and then, on the eve of Yom Kippour he unexpectedly  returned in order to lead the Kol NIdre and remained until after the Fast had ended when he left by car to Heraklion to catch the midnight flight back to Tel Aviv. Whether through fate or accident his presence and unobtrusive leadership for the services marked by significant and relevant silent pauses in the services fit well into our spirit.   Especially so this year, as on the eve of Neilah Mr Stavroulakis had a fall in the street that left several (initially ignored) ribs broken.  Lior is the person who once said to me that what he loved about our synagogue is the fact that his prayers soured up to heaven out of it.  All of the High Holidays were well attended with the Synagogue filled to almost capacity for both.

SUKKOT – The supports for the Sukkah were brought into the courtyard as usual after Yom Kippour, and  Alex and Besnik put it up. The blessings over the Sukkah were by read by Roger Yayom and with the help of Ahouvah Amar and some members of the Havurah, lavish quantities of food were prepared for a buffet dinner after.  This year, for the first in several the thatched roof of palm branches had to be re-placed by some acquired from neighbor’s palms as ours sadly died this year. Lulav and Etrogim were provided by the Athens Jewish Community.  By this time Mr Stavroulakis was in the clinic from which he emerged on Simhat Torah.

We wish all our friends every blessing for this coming year – which at this juncture appears to anticipate no relief. YOUR HELP will be most deeply appreciated during it.

N Stavroulakis

June 6, 2013

Haskabah 2013

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Since the rededication of the Synagogue in 2000 we have annually had a commemoration of the destruction of our Jewish community in 1944.

We either highlight the actual arrest of the community on May 28th 1944 or 10th June when the freight boat Tannais that was carrying them to Athens was torpedoed and sank within minutes.  Our service is quite simple and perhaps lacks some of the dramatic speeches that are excited by such events.

This year the service began after Arvith prayers for which we had prepared prayer books when over 80 gathered in the Synagogue that had been prepared in advance with votive candles, a gardenia in its pot, and tapers for lighting the candles.

At the end of Arvith prayers the prayer for Martyrs was read in unison after which the poem ‘Each of Us Has a Name by Zelda Mishkowsky was recited and then together we read out the names of the Community of 1944.  The only dramatic moments were when participants took 267 candles, lit them and then placed them around the synagogue or distributed them on parapets, the fountain, stairs and walkways of the north or south courtyards.

Rusks, wine and raki were served at the end of the service.

May 20, 2013

Lecture at Munich Univeristy

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Through invitation by the Chair of Judaic Studies at the University of Munich, Prof. Michael Brenner, our director Nikos Stavroulakis was invited to speak on the Renovation of an Abandoned Synagogue.  Funds for this were provided by the Kiessling Foundation of Munich and the lecture was held in the University on the 16th May of this year.

The evening was relaxed and informal and accompanied by a CD that had been put together by our Administrative Secretary Alex Phountoulakis and Stavroulakis.  Anja Zuckmantel, our librarian and archivist, was an important adjunct and assisted the director.

In attendance were students from the University as well as a Turkologist who is interested in working with us and a number of scholars – notably Ilona Steinman who is I working on Romaniot siddurim and has done published research on a quite unique illustrated Pirke Avot done in Crete in the 16th century that is now in the Library of the Jewish Museum in Jerusalem.

As Munich has a quite large Cretan Community we were especially honoured by the presence of the Honourable Sophia Grammata, the Consul General of Greece, and Fr. Apostolos Malamousis who represented the Greek Community of Munich as well as Mr. Manolis Kouioumdouzis, the President of the Cretan Association of Munich that also provided an excellent buffet and Cretan wine.

As an overview of the years from 1995 until today the presentation stressed the condition of Etz Hayyim Synagogue as it lay abandoned and in a state of near collapse from 1944/1995 until today when it has a vibrant and lively community of Jews, Christians and Muslims who have found shelter within its walls and a sharing of common values.

November 14, 2012

Happy Chanukah

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We would like to wish everyone a Happy Chanukah

chanukah-2012-web

“What gain is there in my blood?”

Psalm 30

Artwork: Nikos Stavroulakis

November 6, 2012

Wedding of Joseph and Ariana Tepperman

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The multiple ethnic influences on Jewish identity have been evident here at Etz Hayyim in the character of various weddings that have been celebrated here.  We have had Orthodox, Reform, Liberal and Conservative weddings to date…and in most cases dancing and singing seem to be the expression of community joy over what is essentially for Jews, a family and social event rather than defined precisely by Torah.  How the bride is conducted to the Synagogue is a main event and we have had serpentine parades through the convoluted streets of the Old City with banners and singing as well as Cretan, Russian, Moroccan and Israeli dancing in the street in front of the Synagogue and even the arrival of the bride on a horse drawn carriage!

This year we had the quite festive wedding of Joseph and Ariana Tepperman from Los Angeles along with some 40 family and friends who were brought in tow.  Things began quite sedately with the hangings for the Chuppah support. The mother of the bride, Donicé Kaufman had written well beforehand for its measurements and so had brought with her a quite elaborate silk hand painted hanging for the backing. Plans were then drawn up for champagne and hors d’oeuvres party in the courtyard of the Synagogue.  We also chose seven members of the wedding party to read out the Seven Blessings as well as the choice of a restaurant to hold the banquet in.

Mention had not been made of the presence of the two brothers of the bride who had with them a further three members of their jazz combo. Nor did we know that they were professionals and toured the States and Europe.  Thus it was quite a surprise when our part of the Old City was snapped to awareness during the still quiet sleepy afternoon hours with trumpets, tuba, bass and other wind instruments with quite wild music that accompanied the bride and groom along the harbour front, down the narrow streets eventually arriving at the Synagogue by which time many Haniotes had joined the wedding party.  The breaking of the glass by the groom was a signal for the orchestra to break out into quite wonderful music in the Synagogue and dancing began which even involved chairs in which bride and groom as well as their parents were lifted into the air and danced about.  By this time music and the sounds of general merriment had attracted a good number of Haniotes from the neighbourhood and elsewhere as well as the local TV news crew, which showed up to filmed much of it.  The Tepperman wedding is going to be well remembered by all of us here.

NS

Photos courtesy of Aggeliki Psaraki

October 18, 2012

Talk by Proffessor Michael Brenner

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Lecture by Prof. Dr. Michael Brenner

“Martin Buber, Franz Rosenzweig and the German-Jewish Renaissance”

On October first we were fortunate enough to host an evening with Prof. Michael Brenner who spoke to us about the German-Jewish Renaissance, a revival of Jewish life at the beginning of the 20th century, when a young generation of German Jews approached Jewish tradition and culture with new interest. The institution most commonly associated with this movement is the Lehrhaus (house of learning) in Frankfurt, where renowned scholars like Martin Buber, Franz Rosenzweig, Siegfried Kracauer, Erich Fromm, Gershom Scholem, Shmuel J. Agnon, Leo Strauss and many others taught. Prof. Brenner focused on the role of Martin Buber and Franz Rosenzweig, whose work at the Lehrhaus and collaboration in an innovative translation of the Hebrew Bible into German is considered a hallmark of the German-Jewish Renaissance.

Michael Brenner is Professor of Jewish History and Culture at the University of Munich and an internationally renowned scholar of general Jewish History and German-Jewish History in particular. He has also taught at Indiana University and Brandeis University and was visiting professor at the universities of Stanford, Berkeley, Johns Hopkins, Budapest, Haifa, Paris, and Lucerne.

He is the author of numerous books on Jewish History, e.g. A Short History of The Jews (Princeton UP, 2010; also available at the Etz Hayyim Synagogue’s library), and The Renaissance of Jewish Culture in Weimar Germany (1996).

AZ


The High Holy Days at Etz Hayyim

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The now annual presence of Leon Asher from Tel Aviv for at least Rosh HaShannah obviated some of the challenges that accumulate prior to the Festival.  Leon came across us some years ago when he arrived unknown and very quiet.  Stavroulakis had only recovered from a bout of the flu and when it came time to blow the shofar Leon very quietly offered his help and the big Yemeni shofar was gratefully handed over and all but the roof of the synagogue came off.  After the service we took him to dinner that had to be rushed as he had to get back to Herakleion to catch a 12:30 flight back to Eretz… but he offered to return in several days to help for Yom Kippour.  In the course of dinner the mystery of his proficiency with the shofar was solved when he told us that every day he used a shofar to call his dogs back home after their morning run.  On Erev Yom Kippour he returned to Hania and was a great help for the Kol Nidre service and also Neilah on the following day, again, after which he had to rush back to Herakleion to catch his plane. He mentioned a one point that what drew him to our Synagogue was that it had neither ceiling nor roof  – that prayers went straight up to Heaven!

Since that time Leon has returned each year for the High Holidays and this year he returned with his wife Kerin and their two children aged 5 months and 18 months and they gave us a special present by insuring that annually they will come back for the haggiam – and even suggested that next year would be with us for Pesah as well.

Rosh Hashannah evening service was well attended with some 50 people and afterwards as usual we had a community dinner at a nearby restaurant. An enormous sea bass had been prepared but prior to its appearance was the kiddush followed by bowls of sliced apples, and pomegranates, smothered in honey; after which were served a variety of traditional Romaniote and Sephardic foods. A tradition in Greece dictates that the head (rosh in Hebrew) of the fish is parcelled out as honorific.  Happily for the Director this year there were some squeamish responses to being offered the eyes, tongue, cheeks and brain of the fish!

For Kol Nidre the parohet in the Synagogue was changed for one in white.  As we had a quite small attendance we didn’t mount the Siphrei Torah onto the Bema but simply opened the Ehal…and the service was done in Hebrew and English.  The following morning we began at 9:00 and a young Israeli and his wife were with us as well…in the late afternoon we recited the Book of Jonah together and began Neilah at 18:30 with the shofar, alas less proficiently blown than had been done for Rosh Hashannah , blown as required…bringing to an end a somewhat arduous week as we had many, many foreign visitors.

The Sukkah supports had been laid out prior to Yom Kippour as we anticipated that Shabbat would follow.  By the eve of the Festival it was beautifully hung with appropriate fruits and vegetables and paper chains of many colours. Ivo and Blythe Hribek who were married in our Synagogue two years ago (and newborn child) had arrived from Prague as anticipated    and Ivo led the blessing over the Sukkah after which we had a community dinner In the courtyard.  During the following days lulav and etrog were available on the tevah for personal prayers.

Simhat Torah was quiet though we did have a meal in the courtyard after arvit prayers.

We wish to thank all of our many visitors during the haggim and their commitment to our Synagogue…and to wish them many blessings for the New Year.

NS

May 24, 2012

A talk on Holocaust Remembrance by Ovadiah

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A talk given by Lorenzo Ovadiah Garcia, on the occasion of Holocaust Remembrance Day.

Good morning, my name is Lorenzo Garcia.  My Hebrew name is Ovadiah which means, “Servant or Worshipper of G-d”.  I am Jewish.  I was asked to speak to you for the NSA Souda Bay Base Holocaust remembrance.  I would like to thank you all for the opportunity of allowing me to speak with you all today. This is always a hard subject to talk about.  I am sure you have learned something of the Holocaust and when it happened and its consequences. I thought long and hard today about what I should talk about.  My intent with this discussion is  not to reiterate what you may possibly know but to leave you with something more that will make you look within yourselves where you can learn more than I can teach you.

What does the word Holocaust mean? The word “Holocaust” (from the Greek ὁλόκαυστος holókaustos: hólos, “whole” and kaustós, “burnt”), in Hebrew also known as the Shoah (Hebrew: השואה, HaShoah, “catastrophe”; Yiddish: חורבן, Churben or Hurban, from the Hebrew for “destruction”),

Do we ever think in our day and age, the heavy burden of pain and scars that can last a lifetime from a racial epithet or insult? No matter who it is against?  Even in joking? Remember the Holocaust was not only verbal but physical.  First and foremost, yes, the Holocaust did happen and yes not just to Jewish people.  Many others suffered persecution and murder at the hands of the nazis but Jews were primarily targeted.  The extent of the nazi terror is usually broken down as such:

Jews

6 million

Soviet POWs

3 million

Ethnic Poles

2 million

Romani

1,500,000

Disabled

250,000

Freemasons

80,000

Slovenes

25,000

Homosexuals

15,000

Jehovah’s
Witnesses

5,000

The Columbia Guide to the Holocaust that the term is commonly defined as the mass murder, and attempt to wipe out Jewry, which was around 78 percent of the 7.3 million Jews in occupied Europe at the time.

The Holocaust has commonly been conceived of as a revolt against reason, the ultimate example of the “irrational,” designed and executed by the pathologically insane. But if reason was the object of the revolt, it was also the chief ally, a dialectic so monstrously rational that it could override all the traditional bounds of morality.

The Holocaust was not so much the overthrow of reason as its triumph over morality. It allowed a scientific ultrarationality—what Hitler called “ice cold logic”—to provide murder with rational justification.

—William Tucker, The Science and Politics of Racial Research

What does this word Holocaust make you feel now? Again how often have we used a word without thinking of its effect no matter how racist or anti Semitic is.  How important it is to understand the words we use in our everyday vocabulary and if taken for granted can be valuable, life changing or the opposite extreme and destructive.  There is power in what we say and as it is said can cut deeper than a knife.

What really happened during the holocaust came down to one thing then what I wanted to talk to you about today is genocide. Does anyone know what that means? Genocide is defined as “the deliberate and systematic destruction, in whole or in part, of an ethnic, racial, religious, or national group”, The Holocaust sounds like genocide does it not? Not just to Jews but the other groups of people I mentioned.  The term genocide was coined, in 1944,the word comes from the Greek root γένος génos (birth, race, stock, kind); secondly from Latin -cidium(cutting, killing) via French –cide.

I want to talk to you all about genocide how does a word get overused lose its meaning or how can it change your perception? Yes there was genocide before the Second World War and after but it was not clearly defined until the Holocaust

What does that mean to us sitting here? Most importantly and this is what I am most concerned about is how our modern world has desensitized its true meaning.  You hear this word and it does not scare you like it should.  In this world, this is thru the technology and modernization of our modern world.

Do we feel anything now about what happened then? Ask yourself that.  We cannot really know or feel because it was a distant memory to us.  That is how fast our world has moved forward.  Our grandparents though lived thru this era and knew first hand.  In this day and age our tempers are said to be short but our memory is even shorter.  Desensitization due to many factors most evident is our modern media and the internet.  Anyone remember what they had to eat last night?  See what I mean?  And in researching this 20th and 21st century saw the most atrocious treatment of man against man ever.  Any coincidence you think? We forget too quickly….

Again how can we feel or know it was too long ago.  What does it mean here and now? Let me give you a personal example? In the country you are residing in now you know there was at one time a large and prosperous population of Jews?  Communities that had existed since antiquity? Even before the Christian era?

There is a synagogue in Xania the one I attend and every time I sit in there on Sabbaths or for prayers it feels like there is always an emptiness.  And there is, but at one time this empty building was once bustling with families and people there was a life here at one time.  The Jewish quarter in Xania is in the area of El Mondos, you all know where that is. You know in the country again where you now reside lost 85% of its Jewish population murdered in the Second World War?

What do I think when I sit there and contemplate what we lost? We lost many generations, old people, adults and young people. In old people we lost their wisdom, history and traditions.  In adults we lost their contributions to continuing life and in children lost their hope of a future and new generations.  The 276 Jews of Xania were rounded up and arrested on the morning of the 29th May 1944. They were taken to Irakleo on trucks and put on a boat along with Italian and British prisoners bound for the mainland of Greece and from there were to be taken to the camps.  Being a time of war while their boat was in route it was sunk and all the Jews aboard drowned.

The persecution of the Jews of Greece by the Nazis began in 1943.  This included deportations to the death camps.  The Archbishop of Athens and Greece at the time Archbishop Damaskinos submitted a letter signed by prominent Greek citizens in defense of Jews who were being persecuted.

According to The Raoul Wallenberg Foundation the appeal of Damaskinos and his fellow Greeks is unique as no document similar to the protest against the Nazis during World War II has come to light in any other European country.

Part of the letter reads:

The Greek Orthodox Church and the Academic World of Greek People Protest against the Persecution… The Greek people were… deeply grieved to learn that the German Occupation Authorities have already started to put into effect a program of gradual deportation of the Greek Jewish community… and that the first groups of deportees are already on their way to Poland…

According to the terms of the armistice, all Greek citizens, without distinction of race or religion, were to be treated equally by the Occupation Authorities. The Greek Jews have proven themselves… valuable contributors to the economic growth of the country [and] law-abiding citizens who fully understand their duties as Greeks. They have made sacrifices for the Greek country, and were always on the front lines of the struggle of the Greek nation to defend its inalienable historical rights…

In our national consciousness, all the children of Mother Greece are an inseparable unity: they are equal members of the national body irrespective of religion… Our holy religion does not recognize superior or inferior qualities based on race or religion, as it is stated: ‘There is neither Jew nor Greek’ and thus condemns any attempt to discriminate or create racial or religious differences. Our common fate both in days of glory and in periods of national misfortune forged inseparable bonds between all Greek citizens, without exemption, irrespective of race…

Today we are… deeply concerned with the fate of our fellow citizens who are Jews… we have lived together in both slavery and freedom, and we have come to appreciate their feelings, their brotherly attitude, their economic activity, and most important, their indefectible patriotism…

Damaskinos went on to publish this letter, even though the local SS commander, Jürgen Stroop, responsible for putting down the Warsaw Uprising threatened to execute him by firing squad.  Does anyone know his reply?

Damaskinos’s famous response to him was:

According to the traditions of the Greek Orthodox Church, priests are hung, not shot. Please respect our traditions

Above all we lost what could have been possibly a better world but we will never know.

How was genocide defined before then? Maybe it is something deeper.  I think maybe with prehistoric man this is written in our DNA.  Think about it, our fear and distrust of anything foreign or different.  A long time ago different tribes, with different war paint or scars on their faces could be subject to the this type of treatment.  This is something uniquely human, a natural feeling like love.  For sure animals do not do this seeks out another animal with a different color or fur or horns of a different shape and attempt to destroy them.  One community destroying another, that is human or humanity or lack thereof slipping from reason.

You can still ask yourself then, how did this happen? To give you an idea As I said before several factors contributed to this, the 19th and early 20th century gave rise to the Industrial revolution, which contributed machines to enrich and elongate life but also machines of war and destruction.  Mass communication brought things like telephones, movies to spread propaganda, railways which the nazis used for transport of people.  Efficient ways to live and efficient ways to take lives.  It brought efficiency this was the end result of all this. Anyone ever hear of Treblinka?  It was a concentration camp in the east of Poland.  It was only opened for one year July of 1942 to October of 1943.  Anyone know how many people were murdered there?  850K people, in one year, that is efficiency and technology coming together.  Systematic and final.

We can also say in hand with industrialization Nationalism can also be a contributing factor this was big in Europe and the United States at this time, one people one religion one language one country.  Now that we look at our world it can be said to be against reason even then. But it sounds familiar in many places if you listen today.  And ask yourself again, would I have said something?

So in the end, what have we learnt?  And how have we become desensitized?  Genocide can be tipped off by many factors that can justify it but in our deepest being we know this is unbearable.  Have we learned anything? We can say no, because it happened even in our own history and continues to happen even now.  Yes we have monuments to some that attest to this.  But for some is there any remembrance of their genocide?  If it happened to us would we want someone to remember?  So as to say as us Jewish people say, “Never Again”?

Now I wanted to bring to your attention a few, very few examples of genocide.  Some known and some not.  My apologies to those not named but I ask after today to remember these and all other people who have ever been affected by genocide, and they were acts of genocide:

Darfur, Sudan

Rwanda

Burundi

East Timor

Bosnia

Cambodia

Guatemala

The Partition of India

The Holocaust and all it’s victims

The Soviet famine of 1932-1933 that affected Ukraine, Kazakhstan, and some densely populated regions of Russia

The Dominican Republic, during the Parsley Massacre

The Armenians, Greeks and Assyrians in the Ottoman Empire

The Filipino Moros during the Philippine-American War

The Herero and Namaqua Genocide in German South-West Africa

The Irish during the Great Famine

The Aborigines of Australia and Tasmania

The American Indians

So one more time I will ask, what else have we learnt?

At the day’s end and as long as it has happened, we have learned that Genocide is just another word in our vocabulary.

I want to leave you with a poem and a prayer a poem of sorrow but also of hope

If ever my grief were measured

Or my sorrow put on a scale,

It would outweigh the sands of the ocean.

For G-D has hidden my way

And put hedges across my path.

I sit and gnaw on my grief;

My groans pour out like water.

My worst fears have happened;

My nightmares have come to life.

Silence and peace have abandoned me,

And anguish camps in my heart.

****

I hoped we all learned to think and will learn to choose our words more carefully.

Thank you for listening.

March 7, 2012

Human Reason or Divine Revelation?

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Dear Friends,

We are pleased to invite you to an evening with stimulating talk and discussion by Professor Dr. Jeffrey Macy, which will be held on Wednesday, March 14 at 19:00, at Etz Hayyim Synagogue.

Human Reason or Divine Revelation?

4 Approaches to “True Knowledge” in Medieval Jewish and Islamic Thought

“Seek the Truth wherever you can find it”, or “All the Truth and the guide to proper actions can be found in the Divinely revealed texts and the authentic traditions of our religious community” — which is the right path according to Medieval Jewish and Islamic thinkers?

Perhaps surprisingly, among medieval Jewish and Islamic thinkers there are conflicting views regarding the proper way to attain “True Knowledge”.  This talk will examine the 4 basic approaches that can be found among Medieval Jewish and Islamic Philosophers and Theologians regarding the use of Human Reason or the acceptance of Divine Revelation and Authentic Religious Tradition as the proper approach to ascertain the truth and to find the proper way in which to live.

Dr. Jeffrey Macy is Senior Lecturer and past Chair of the Political Science Department at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem.  He has taught as a Visiting Professor at numerous universities, including three years at Yale University, and he has served as a Research Fellow at Harvard University. During the current academic year he is a visiting Professor in the Political Science Department at the University of Crete.  His academic specialties include Ancient and Medieval Political Thought, Religion and Politics in the Ancient and Medieval world, as well as Jewish and Islamic philosophy.

N.S.

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