“The day is short, the task is great, the master is insistent. It is not your duty to complete the task, but neither are you free to desist from it….”
—Pirkei Avot, 2:21
I’ve been writing Tikun Olam, one of the earliest progressive Jewish blogs, since February, 2003. It focuses on exposing the excesses of the Israeli national security state.
I wrote chapters for the essay collections, A Time to Speak Out (Verso, 2009) and Israel and Palestine: Alternate Perspectives on Statehood (Rowman & Littlefield, 2016). I currently contribute regularly to Middle East Eye. Recent pieces have been published at The Nation and Jacobin Magazine. In the past, I’ve contributed to Truthout, Alternet, Haaretz, Jewish Forward, Los Angeles Times, Comment Is Free and Al Jazeera English, the Seattle Times, and Tikkun Magazine. The NY Times featured my reporting about the Shamai Leibowitz FBI tapes on its front page.
I earned a BA and BHL from Jewish Theological Seminary and Columbia University, an MA in Comparative Literature from UCLA, and studied for a PhD at UC Berkeley. I spent an undergraduate and graduate year studying Hebrew literature at the Hebrew University where my teachers were Dan Pagis, Gershon Shaked and Dan Miron. I co-founded the Bay Area Jewish Music Festival.
Born and raised in the Hudson River Valley, my father’s family’s roots go back to Peekskill, NY in the 1920s. I’ve always had an abiding affection for the River and the Hudson Highlands. In 1969, I crewed for a week on Pete Seeger’s sloop, Clearwater.
I have been interested in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict since 1967 and have worked all my adult life to promote justice and tolerance. While at one time I supported a two-state solution, that option is no longer viable due to Israeli rejectionism. I also support a Right of Return for Palestinians and a Law of Return that applies equally to Jews and Palestinian refugees seeking to return, and an internationally-guaranteed peace agreement with the Palestinians.
I have an online photo gallery.
I hike the Cascades and have always loved folk and traditional music including world music. My wife, three children and dog live in a Craftsman home (1906) near the western shores of Lake Washington.
Favorite Yiddishisms: “Sleep faster, we need the pillows!” “We Jews are so happy…our enemies should only be so happy!”
Origins of Judaic Phrase, Tikun Olam
Tikun Olam is a Mishnaic term meaning “repair [or mend] the world.” Unlike some religious traditions, Judaism comprehends evil as something inherently human. In the Zohar, it is this evil or impurity which causes the sacred keylim (“vessels”) to break. Performance of mitzvot (“commandments”) are the means to repair the vessels and so transmute evil into good.
A Kabbalist would have no problem understanding that hatred and violence between Israelis and Palestinians are evils that pollute the world. Likewise, a Kabbalist might look favorably on efforts like this blog to repair this battered region with acts of gemilut chesed (“lovingkindness”).
Speaking engagements: I am available to give public talks.
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Disclaimer: This blog is not affiliated with Rabbi Michael Lerner’s Tikkun Magazine.
Contact Address: c/o Independent Arts & Media, PO Box 420442 San Francisco, California, 94142