On this Yom Kippur 5777

On this Yom Kippur 5777:

I regret all the years I’ve been absorbed with who I am, and not enough being focused on what I am. For this, I apologize. I intend to be more consciously aware of this, daily, from now on.

I am a member of the human species upon this planet, a highly intelligent and creative primate species. That, sadly, leans toward emotionally self-centered indifference towards others much of the time. It is our human frailty, which we each must learn in our own way to evolve from.

As a member of the human species, I not only must be attentive to us and what we are doing as humans upon this planet, but to the other living species we share this planet with. All life is nefesh chayah, not one is more significant or better in any way to the other. We are all important and significant members in the planetary tree of life.

I regret not being more of a teacher on this throughout my life, not bringing our world closer to the awareness of this fundamental self-evidence. But, without excuses, I had to struggle with self-awakening first. It was a painful and long process, and I’m probably still not done with this, yet. I intend to be more socially active in healing this world, now and into the future.

Let’s try something today, and we might as well make it every day. Reflect for a moment, and see what pains us. Simply acknowledge it and apologize. Then, actively strive to not be a contributor to this from now on. Let us step outside the fictive ideologies of humankind for just a moment, and see our humanity as we really are. It’s life changing.

#YomKippur #Humans

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Joseph T Farkasdi

I am a writer, a husband, a father, a working servant, a complex individual who very few will probably understand! I am actively involved in raising the awareness of social injustice in this world caused by religious idealism and intolerance and the rise of an economic destroying corporatocracy. Take a moment to explore and learn more about me. Thanks!

16 thoughts on “On this Yom Kippur 5777”

  1. This is what a lot of us need right now. We human primates are too invested in our fictive views of this world, and this creates a lot of unhealthy stress. With unhealthy stress comes suffering and struggle – brought upon ourselves as a primate species upon the land, though we blame anyone and anything else for it. Take a deep breath, humankind!

    Proper breathing goes by many names. You may have heard it called diaphragmatic breathing, abdominal breathing, or belly breathing. When you breathe deeply, the air coming in through your nose fully fills your lungs, and you will notice that your lower belly rises. The ability to breathe so deeply and powerfully is not limited to a select few. This skill is inborn but often lies dormant. Reawakening it allows you to tap one of your body’s strongest self-healing mechanisms.

    Why does breathing deeply seem unnatural to many of us? One reason may be that our culture often rewards us for stifling strong emotions. Girls and women are expected to rein in anger. Boys and men are exhorted not to cry. What happens when you hold back tears, stifle anger during a charged confrontation, tiptoe through a fearful situation, or try to keep pain at bay? Unconsciously, you hold your breath or breathe irregularly.

    Body image affects breathing, too. A “washboard” stomach considered so attractive in our culture encourages men and women to constrict their stomach muscles. This adds to tension and anxiety, and gradually makes shallow “chest breathing” feel normal.

    The act of breathing engages the diaphragm, a strong sheet of muscle that divides the chest from the abdomen. As you breathe in, the diaphragm drops downward, pulling your lungs with it and pressing against abdominal organs to make room for your lungs to expand as they fill with air. As you breathe out, the diaphragm presses back upward against your lungs, helping to expel carbon dioxide (see figure).

    Breathing deeply
    Shallow breathing hobbles the diaphragm’s range of motion. The lowest portion of the lungs — which is where many small blood vessels instrumental in carrying oxygen to cells reside — never gets a full share of oxygenated air. That can make you feel short of breath and anxious.

    Deep abdominal breathing encourages full oxygen exchange — that is, the beneficial trade of incoming oxygen for outgoing carbon dioxide. Not surprisingly, this type of breathing slows the heartbeat and can lower or stabilize blood pressure.

    Here’s how to take a deep, healing, diaphragmatic breath:
    See more …

    Harvard Health Publications – Harvard Medical School
    Trusted Advice for a Healthier Life!
    http://www.health.harvard.edu/staying-healthy/take-a-deep-breath
    Harvard Mental Health Letter – Take a deep breath
    Adapted from Stress Management: Approaches for preventing and reducing stress. Proper breathing goes by many names. You may have heard it called diaphragmatic breathing, abdominal breathing, or belly breathing. When you breathe deeply, the air coming in through your nose fully fills your lungs, and you will notice that your lower belly rises. The ability to breathe so deeply and powerfully is not limited to a select few. This skill is inborn but often lies dormant. Reawakening it allows you to tap one of your body’s strongest self-healing mechanisms. Why does breathing deeply seem unnatural to many of us?

    #diaphragmaticbreathing #abdominalbreathing #bellybreathing

  2. How about giving thanks this Thanksgiving to all the U.S. minorities who have brought to our attention that white racism is alive and well in the United States of America – and how important it is to start giving national attention to the plight of our African-American, Native American, Latino, LGBTQ, Women, and Muslim citizens. The constitutional promise of “liberty and justice” applies to everyone, not just the dominate white Christian minority in this country. Happy Thanksgiving – everyone (even through our suffering)!

    The real history of Thanksgiving: “The first Thanksgiving Day did occur in the year 1637, but it was nothing like our Thanksgiving today. On that day the Massachusetts Colony Governor, John Winthrop, proclaimed such a “Thanksgiving” to celebrate the safe return of a band of heavily armed hunters, all colonial volunteers. They had just returned from their journey to what is now Mystic, Connecticut where they massacred 700 Pequot Indians. Seven hundred Indians – men, women and children – all murdered. This day is still remembered today, 373 years later. No, it’s been long forgotten by white people, by European Christians. But it is still fresh in the mind of many Indians.”

    #NativeLivesMatter in the United States of America! #Thanksgiving #WhitePrivilege It’s time for #RestorativeJustice and #TruthandReconciliation in the United States of America!

    The True Story Of Thanksgiving
    http://www.huffingtonpost.com/richard-greener/the-true-story-of-thanksg_b_788436.html
    The idea of the American Thanksgiving feast is a fairly recent fiction. The idyllic partnership of 17th Century European Pilgrims and New England Indians sharing a celebratory meal appears to be less than 120 years-old. And it was only after the First World War that a version of such a Puritan-Indian partnership took hold in elementary schools across the American landscape.

    #BlackLivesMatter #EmpoweringWomen #LGBTQ #Equality #TrumpProtests

  3. Wrote this a year ago, but it still applies. #WhiteFragility From an outsider’s perspective of the United States of America!

    Joseph Farkasdi (Tsefan Josef)
    December 2, 2015

    My memories of childhood are ones of being surrounded by people with a skin color much darker than mine, and this social environment was just normal for me. It was an environment unlike as found here in America. That, compared to America, was utterly void of the culturalization of inherent and systemic unaddressed/unacknowledged racism. I grew up ill-equipped to know what I was getting into by settling in White-Black America, and how to address on a social level the cultural extremes that so divide this country. I remember when I first experienced directly being in America, and how I found myself experiencing culture shock. My very first memories of this country is how segregated it appears to be. Specifically, in the groupings of people, segregated based on skin color and the way they speak.

    I noticed this, even though I didn’t yet know this word by which to define it as. I hadn’t yet learned that there are distinctly white people and black people in this world, as revealed here in America. I had heard the terms before. American media is everywhere! But, without a frame of immersed social reference by which to understand it, I was clueless as to what these words actually meant in the living of them. When I first experienced America, I remember how I now looked like most everyone else around me, but was weak in my pronunciation of English and quite empty of the expected-of-me cultural beliefs and views about life. I quickly realized that my outsider status was recognizable by all around me, and I was looked upon with suspicion and confusion by both whites and blacks. The feeling was fully mutual, and this has informed my experience of America to this very day.

    Being void of the cultural upbringing, of being either white or black, of being either dominantly privileged or socially oppressed, I didn’t really know how to relate to people who were of either persuasion. I found myself uncomfortable with both classes of people, not feeling like I fit in with either of them. To this very day, many long years later, I still feel like an outsider to both white and black culture in America. Like I’m still learning my place, and this is well after years of immersion and cultural studies into both. I tend to notice the little things, those little things that make me quite uncomfortable, that show the social divides that are based upon the color of one’s skin and the entitlement of social privilege that one’s tone either gives or doesn’t give here in this country. I can fully attest that American racism is very real and very present. And this is so, even if some or many feel like this just isn’t the reality anymore.

    For a dominant majority in a society such as this, I can see how it’s hard to notice its existence, unless you happen to have a frame of socialized reference that is from outside of typical American upbringing. But, it is real, and the divide between white and black culture in America is as deep as the divide between America’s political parties. The two are speaking different languages, from very different perspectives, the perspective of the class to which they belong. And there is no real addressing of this issue of cultural racism, until both sides have a clear and effective understanding of this.

    Those who fit in with the dominant white culture of America speak from a position of privilege and entitlement to opportunity, and freedom from discrimination based on race. They are free to elevate themselves in mindset to the idea that they are individuals first, before being associated with a racial group. They are not personally encumbered by issues of racial discrimination, stigmatization, oppression, and abuse – all based on the sight of them, of what they look like. And, if they choose to identify racially as white, they are free to limit it to only by association of a similar skin tone, if they so desire. So, of course, they can’t understand it – the racism experienced in this country by minorities, and are quickly sensitive to even the possibility that it could very well still yet be a social reality in today’s times.

    Those who fit in, near always by default of skin colors or ethnic backgrounds, with the less-than-majority black or minority culture speak from a very different position, one filled with a history of group identification and oppression. Group stigmatization that is often unrecognized as actually occurring by the white majority. They have no societal freedom of movement outside the identified boundaries of their race. As individuals, they pay a heavy price attempting to elevate themselves with the idea that they are individuals first. For repetitious history intrudes and reminds them that they are identified by their looks and color of their skin first, reminding them they are only an individual within the boundaries of a racial grouping. A grouping that is collectively as a whole viewed as and treated in a less than propitious way by those privileged and entitled to be white in this society. And this is still yet the reality in today’s America.

    So, on this thought, since I’ve only just begun to explore the possible reasons for * why * so many white people get so upset over the issue of racial injustice being brought up, … here’s a fascinating read into it. Helps me to understand white people better!

    White Fragility by Robin DiAngelo
    http://libjournal.uncg.edu/ijcp/article/view/249/116
    The International Journal of Critical Pedagogy

    “Given the ideology of individualism, whites often respond defensively when linked to other whites as a group or “accused” of collectively benefiting from racism, because as individuals, each white person is “different” from any other white person and expects to be seen as such.”

    “Although mainstream definitions of racism are typically some variation of individual “race prejudice”, which anyone of any race can have, Whiteness scholars define racism as encompassing economic, political, social, and cultural structures, actions, and beliefs that systematize and perpetuate an unequal distribution of privileges, resources and power between white people and people of color.”

    “Racism is not fluid in the U.S.; it does not flow back and forth, one day benefiting whites and another day (or even era) benefiting people of color. The direction of power between whites and people of color is historic, traditional, normalized, and deeply embedded in the fabric of U.S. society.”

    “Universalism assumes that whites and people of color have the same realities, the same experiences in the same contexts, the same responses from others, and assumes that the same doors are open to all.”

    “Individualism allows whites to distance themselves from the actions of their racial group and demand to be granted the benefit of the doubt, as individuals, in all cases.”

    “White Fragility is a state in which even a minimum amount of racial stress be- comes intolerable, triggering a range of defensive moves. These moves include the outward display of emotions such as anger, fear, and guilt, and behaviors such as argumentation, silence, and leaving the stress-inducing situation.”

    “Further, on the cultural level, being an individual or being a human outside of a racial group is a privilege only afforded to white people. In other words, people of color are almost always seen as “having a race” and described in racial terms (“the black man”).”

    “White people enjoy a deeply internalized, largely unconscious sense of racial be- longing in U.S. society. … Everywhere we look, we see our own racial image reflected back to us. … Indeed, it is rare for most whites to experience a sense of not belonging, … Racial belonging becomes deeply internalized and taken for granted.”

    Being void of the cultural upbringing, of being either white or black, of being either dominantly privileged or socially oppressed, I didn’t really know how to relate to people who were of either persuasion. I found myself uncomfortable with both classes of people, not feeling like I fit in with either of them. To this very day, many long years later, I still feel like an outsider to both white and black culture in America. Like I’m still learning my place, and this is well after years of immersion and cultural studies into both. I tend to notice the little things, those little things that make me quite uncomfortable, that show the social divides that are based upon the color of one’s skin and the entitlement of social privilege that one’s tone either gives or doesn’t give here in this country. I can fully attest that American racism is very real and very present. And this is so, even if some or many feel like this just isn’t the reality anymore.

    #WhitePrivilege #NativeLivesMatter #BlackLivesMatter #LatinoLivesMatter #UnitedStatesofAmerica

  4. Happy Human Light Celebration, Xmas, Festivus, Chanukah, Winter Solstice, Kwanzaa, and so forth – happy holidays! (Despite the sadness of human hate, indifference, intolerance, and ignorance in seeming every country of the world these days.)

    Human Light Celebration, December 23
    http://secularseasons.org/december/human_light.html
    HumanLight is a celebration of humanist values: tolerance, compassion, empathy, honesty, free inquiry, reason and rationality, and more. The event began in New Jersey by the New Jersey Humanist Network in 2001. The event provides an excellent alternative to Christmas celebrations

    #SecularSeasons #HumanLightCelebration

  5. It’s only 4 years, then we can get back to building a world of freedom for all our children. In fact, let’s not wait and start now! We will not let racism and fear, xenophobia and hate, misogyny and narcissism define this country that we live in and have a citizen’s voice in. #TruthandReconciliation for the United States of America in 2017! There is no place for Evangelical-Alt-Right-ism within the offices of our national government. Remember, 73.6 million voters, the clear majority of U.S. citizens, said #NotMyPresident to the #Trump guy in 2016, and fully meant it when they cast their vote. This hasn’t changed. It’s okay to #Resist throughout 2017-2020, as all patriots who wish to see a better America should enthusiastically do.

    Trump tweets “Happy New Year to all, including to my many enemies and those who have fought me and lost so badly they just don’t know what to do. Love!” to bring in the New Year 2017
    http://www.nbcnews.com/politics/politics-news/trump-tweets-enemies-world-leaders-share-new-year-s-messages-n701821
    As 2016 comes to a close, world leaders appear just as eager to start fresh in the new year.

  6. “It would be fatal for the nation to overlook the urgency of the moment. This sweltering summer of the Negro’s legitimate discontent will not pass until there is an invigorating autumn of freedom and equality. 1963 is not an end, but a beginning. And those who hope that the Negro needed to blow off steam and will now be content will have a rude awakening if the nation returns to business as usual. There will be neither rest nor tranquility in America until the Negro is granted his citizenship rights. The whirlwinds of revolt will continue to shake the foundations of our nation until the bright day of justice emerges…

    Now is the time to make real the promises of democracy. Now is the time to rise from the dark and desolate valley of segregation to the sunlit path of racial justice. Now is the time to lift our nation from the quicksands of racial injustice to the solid rock of brotherhood. Now is the time to make justice a reality for all of God’s children…

    I say to you today, my friends, so even though we face the difficulties of today and tomorrow, I still have a dream. It is a dream deeply rooted in the American dream. I have a dream that one day this nation will rise up and live out the true meaning of its creed: “We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal.””

    “I Have a Dream,” Address delivered at the March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom
    https://kinginstitute.stanford.edu/king-papers/documents/i-have-dream-address-delivered-march-washington-jobs-and-freedom
    In his iconic speech at the Lincoln Memorial for the 1963 March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom, King urged America to “make real the promises of democracy.” King synthesized portions of his earlier speeches to capture both the necessity for change and the potential for hope in American society.

    #MLK #MartinLutherKingDay #IHaveADream #Trump #election2016 #BlackLivesMatter #AllLivesMatter only when the United States embraces #TruthandReconciliation and #RestorativeJustice – it is time for brotherhood among human Sapiens, regardless each other’s physical looks, political and religious beliefs, gender or capability, and present economic status.

  7. “And the first thing the (white racist) does when he comes in power, he takes all the Negro leaders and invites them for coffee to show that he’s alright. And those Uncle Toms can’t pass up the coffee. They come away from the coffee table telling you and me that this man is alright… Make him the President… Oh, I say you been mislead. You been had. You been took… The white man is too intelligent to let someone else come and gain control of the economy of his community…

    America is just as much a colonial power as England ever was. America is just as much a colonial power as France ever was. In fact, America is more so a colonial power than they because she’s a hypocritical colonial power behind it… Liberty or death was what brought about the freedom of whites in this country from the English. They didn’t care about the odds…

    This is why I say it’s the ballot or the bullet. It’s liberty or it’s death. It’s freedom for everybody or freedom for nobody. America today finds herself in a unique situation. Historically, revolutions are bloody,… but America is in a unique position. She’s the only country in history in a position actually to become involved in a blood-less revolution…

    And here you have 22 million Afro-American black people today catching more hell than Patrick Henry ever saw. And I’m here to tell you in case you don’t know it — that you got a new generation of black people in this country who don’t care anything whatsoever about odds…

    The time when white people can come in our community and get us to vote for them so that they can be our political leaders and tell us what to do and what not to do is long gone. By the same token, the time when that same white man, knowing that your eyes are too far open, can send another negro into the community and get you and me to support him so he can use him to lead us astray — those days are long gone too.” – Malcolm X

    The Ballot or the Bullet
    http://www.digitalhistory.uh.edu/disp_textbook.cfm?smtid=3&psid=3624
    In this 1964 speech Malcolm X described how Blacks should fight for civil-rights in America. Malcolm X emphasizes the worth of voting as a solution to ending discrimination against Blacks. He addresses both the poor voting decisions and also the denial of legitimate voting rights to Blacks.

    #MLK #MartinLutherKingDay #IHaveADream #Trump #election2016 #BlackLivesMatter #AllLivesMatter only when the United States embraces #TruthandReconciliation and #RestorativeJustice – it is time for brotherhood among human Sapiens, regardless each other’s physical looks, political and religious beliefs, gender or capability, and present economic status.

  8. January 29 is Freethinker’s Day, aka Thomas Paine Day
    Do you want to know how America was formed? What thoughts brought about the United States of America?

    “Thomas Paine was a courageous freethinker, whose life and work inspired great social and political advancement across world. Raised in England, Paine played a vital role in the American and French Revolutions”… the rise of American and European democratic states “… His books and pamphlets, including “The Age of Reason,” “The Rights of Man,” and “Common Sense,” gained a mass audience for the liberating philosophy of the Enlightenment. Freethinkers Day, also known as Thomas Paine Day, is an opportunity to promote appreciation of freethought through the life and works of Thomas Paine. Freethought supports reason over faith, and rejects arbitrary authority.”… Like our U.S. constitution, which formed on Deism and Englightenment thinking!

    “Thomas Paine (1737-1809) arrived in America in 1774 at Benjamin Franklin’s request. On January 10, 1776, he published “Common Sense,” a remarkable and powerful republican pamphlet which had an immediate success. He served in the Revolutionary War under General Greene and later in official positions appointed by congress and in the Pennsylvania legislature. In his later publication, “Age of Reason,” Paine expressed that “all religions are in their nature mild and benign” when not associated with political systems. Paine was the quintessential Deist of the 18th century.
    Between March 1791 and February 1792 he published numerous editions of his Rights of Man, in which he defended the French Revolution. The words of Thomas Paine inspired many to strive for political, economic and social advancement. He was among the first to call for an end to slavery and the establishment of human rights around the world.
    In the 1990s, the Truthseeker magazine began celebrating Freethinkers Day on Thomas Paine’s birthday in order to educate the public on the importance of Thomas Paine in the history of freedom. Also in the 1990s, the Thomas Paine Foundation began celebrating the birthday of Thomas Paine on January 29th, a Thomas Paine Day proclamation on June 8 and other Paine theme events during the year.”

    Thomas Paine Day
    http://secularseasons.org/january/thomas_paine.html
    Secular Seasons: Dedicated to the celebration of secular living!

    #SecularSeasons #ThomasPaine #AgeofReason #EraofEnlightenment #UnitedStates

    “On this day in 1776, writer Thomas Paine publishes his pamphlet “Common Sense,” setting forth his arguments in favor of American independence.  Although little used today, pamphlets were an important medium for the spread of ideas in the 16th through 19th centuries.
    Originally published anonymously, “Common Sense” advocated independence for the American colonies from Britain and is considered one of the most influential pamphlets in American history.  Credited with uniting average citizens and political leaders behind the idea of independence, “Common Sense” played a remarkable role in transforming a colonial squabble into the American Revolution.” – American Revolution, 1776, Thomas Paine publishes Common Sense
    http://www.history.com/this-day-in-history/thomas-paine-publishes-common-sense

    “Europe, and not England, is the parent country of America.  This new world hath been the asylum for the persecuted lovers of civil and religious liberty from every part of Europe.  Hither they have fled, not from the tender embraces of the mother, but from the cruelty of the monster; and it is so far true of England, that the same tyranny which drove the first emigrants from home, pursues their descendants still.” – Thomas Paine, 1776, from his pamphlet “Common Sense”.

    Maybe that #Trump guy and present day Republican Party needs to read a few of these 1700-era pamphlets. Every American should. We could all do with a bit of history learning! #GOP #CommonSense #ResistTrump #Indivisible #UnitedWeStand #WomensMarch #NationalPopularVote

    “I believe in one God, and no more; and I hope for happiness beyond this life. I do not believe in the creed professed by the Jewish church, by the Roman church, by the Greek church, by the Turkish church, by the Protestant church, nor by any church that I know of. My own mind is my own church. All national institutions of churches, whether Jewish, Christian or Turkish, appear to me no other than human inventions, set up to terrify and enslave mankind, and monopolize power and profit.” – Thomas Paine, 1794, from his pamphlet “Age of Reason”

  9. February marks the launch of Black History Month, a time to recognize the central role and revolutionary work of black people in America.

    Historian Carter G. Woodson created Negro History Week in 1926 and it officially evolved into a month-long celebration forty years later. With white history being the dominant narrative in America, the work of revolutionary black Americans is often neglected and, while it should acknowledged all the time, February serves as a time to educate ourselves on the invaluable contributions of these trailblazers. 

    This Black History Month, We Declare: ‘We, Too, Are America’
    http://www.huffingtonpost.com/entry/this-black-history-month-we-declare-we-too-are-america_us_588fa515e4b0c90efeff4088

    #BlackHistoryMonth #WeTooAreAmerica

  10. Since its formal beginning as Negro History Week in 1926, Black History Month has revealed the “white lie” of American history. It has been a project aimed at correcting the misrepresentations and stereotypes of black life throughout the country and at vindicating black people by celebrating our extraordinary achievements as a race.

    Black History Month is more than a celebration of black achievement. It is a political and moral project that exposes the willful ignorance about black people that shapes American history and informs our present troubles.

    #BlackLivesMatter in the United States of America. #BlackHistoryMonth
    #Alllivesmatter in the United States when America begins to fully embrace its history and its constitution, and when #WhitePrivilege ceases to have meaning in U.S. society.

    Black History Month Reveals the White Lies of America
    http://time.com/4661866/black-history-month-white-lies/
    Negro History Week represented a formalization of what was already taking place throughout black America. Laypersons and scholars created an archive of black achievement to respond to the racist claims that African Americans contributed little or nothing to world history — claims often used to justify our second-class status and white superiority.

  11. Tu Bi’Shevat (literally the 15th day of the Jewish month of Shevat) has a long history. Some scholars believe that in its most ancient form, the holiday celebrated the Near Eastern goddess Asherah (also known as Astarte or Ishtar), whose symbol was a tree. Asherah was a popular fertility deity and consort of the Canaanite God El. Asherahs are mentioned in the Hebrew Bible, though they are not described in detail, and were likely symbols, poles, or wooden objects made from trees.

    Tu Bi’Shevat
    http://www.shj.org/humanistic-jewish-life/about-the-holidays/tu-bishevat/
    During the Temple period (until 70 CE), farmers of fruit were taxed in the form of tithes. Tu Bi’Shevat was likely a tax collection day for fruit, whereupon it was agreed that the tax year would begin and end. Tu Bi’Shevat become the “new year for trees.”
    The idea that Tu Bi’Shevat was something more than a simple legal requirement, that it marks the end of the heavy rain season in the land of Israel when the sap starts to rise in the trees and the earth begins its slow emergence from deep winter, may account for why the festival stayed in existence among the Jewish people.
    Since the rise of Zionism and the establishment of the state of Israel in 1948, Tu Bi’Shevat also has come to be associated with planting trees in Israel. Like the mystical rebirth of earth celebrated in the most ancient roots of the holiday, Tu Bi’Shevat is now associated with the birth of the Jewish state. Most recently, as awareness of the environment has become a more pressing concern for many people, Tu Bi’Shevat has become a “Jewish Arbor Day,” a day on which we recognize our ethical obligations to care for the planet and its inhabitants. The theme of a new year for trees, a time of recognizing our connection to the earth, is a popular Tu Bi’Shevat theme today.

    #TuBiShevat #SHJ #JewishHistory

  12. Darwin Day, February 12th!
    Charles Darwin contributed to our understanding at the deepest level and forever changed the way we see ourselves in this vast, impersonal universe. He brought about a paradigm shift of epic proportions. This mere mortal symbolizes the brave, human enterprise of science in confronting the mystery of existence. His life and work exemplify the spirit of wonder, curiosity and adventure along with the excitement that the quest for knowledge and understanding can provide.

    http://secularseasons.org/february/darwin_day.html
    Darwin Day allows us to come together and champion science and humanity throughout our global community. It offers a chance for us to celebrate the astonishing engagement of our common intelligence with the wonder and excitement of life in the universe.

    #DarwinDay #SecularSeasons

  13. Are you familiar with International Women’s Day? Did you feel the effects of the worldwide strikes that women engaged in to bring home the point that without women – the woman’s voice, her actions, her inherent relevance and importance, her deserving of the upmost respect always(!) – the world of man would be truly in hurt. In fact, without women, there is no life for any human being! Welcome to Women’s History Month. Take the time to learn about the women who’ve helped change American society and the world, at large.

    #WomensHistoryMonth #WomensMarch #Women

  14. The secular Jewish festival of Purim is upon us. An evening and a day to have costumed fun and joyous partying!

    “As winter becomes spring, Jews celebrate Purim, the annual struggle to end the harsh reign of winter. The original characters of the Purim story appear to have been Babylonian gods: Ishtar, the goddess of fertility; Marduk, the chief guardian of the heavens; and Haman, the underworld devil. Ishtar and Haman, life and death, vie with each other for supremacy. Ishtar triumphs; spring returns; and life is renewed. Purim is a celebration of the heroic in Jewish history, a tribute to human ethical role models. Human courage and ingenuity are at the center of a story about the triumph of Esther’s good intentions over Haman’s evil intentions. Humanistic Jews celebrate the heroes and chastise the villains of the world through modern Purim shpiels.”

    Celebrating Purim
    http://www.shj.org/humanistic-jewish-life/about-the-holidays/purim/
    The Megilla, or biblical Book of Esther, replaced Ishtar and Marduk with Jewish mortals (Esther and Mordecai); Haman became a Persian “devil.” The holiday’s name, “Purim,” meaning “lots” or “dice,” is meant to remind us of how the evil character Haman drew lots to determine the fate of the Jews of Persia. According to the Book of Esther, were it not for the goodness and intervention of Esther and her uncle Mordecai in the court of King Ahasuerus, the Jews certainly would have been exterminated by the king’s vizier Haman. Purim became the joyous celebration of an epic Jewish victory over anti-Semitism and threatened annihilation – an enactment of the hopes of persecuted Jews throughout the centuries.

    #Purim #Jewish #secular #secularholidays #SHJ

  15. What is Pesach (Passover), precisely? Do you actually know, beyond the accepted teaching of your community?

    Pesach is the yearly Jewish celebration of two very ancient spring festivals in one. A sheppard’s firstborn slaughter festival + a farmer’s wheat harvest festival + modern rabbinical re-invention of these holidays = Pesach, as we know it today! Let’s break this down further, shall we?

    There is the spring sheppard festival of celebrating the firstborn of domesticated animals, through slaughtering and consuming these nefesh chayah (living breathing-creatures, as Torah puts it, that are of the four-legged and without-voice kind). This is why this festival is celebrated during the spring season, and it is also why it is called Pesach (passover, the warding off evil from homes by marking entrances with the blood of slaughtered animals).

    There is also the farmer’s wheat harvest festival that celebrates the spring time’s first-fruits of the coming year’s barley and wheat harvest. Planted in autumn as seeds and dormant all winter, it is a testament to life and survival to see the land blossom in the new spring after winter’s barrenness. Though likely originally celebrated more closer to summer’s first harvesting, this seasonal festival has been shifted over and merged into this sheppard’s spring festival. This is why matzot (unleavened bread) is eaten at this time of year, ahead of season, during the spring festival rather than in summer when barley has already matured and wheat is reaching its fullest.

    Originally, during the monarchy ruled kingdom years of Jewish history, each was celebrated separately in their season, and there was no exodus story tradition to merge them together as one. With the rise of the subsequent priestly ruled kingdom, after the fall of the original monarchy kingdoms, the Jews in the wilderness tradition that pre-existed an exodus story was supplanted by a new tradition of Exodus from Egypt and nation-hood at Sinai.

    This is what solidified the festival of Pesach (Exodus and Matzot) as the tradition that we know and celebrate as Jews today. Although, when it comes to how we celebrate this festival, it would take the Rabbi’s of the Common Era (A.D.) to turn it into the Seder meal that we all know and celebrate in some way.

    Though the farmer’s and sheppard’s festival is still a vital part of this spring festival celebration, it is the humanistic focus that is now most paramount. The humanism of struggling for and finding freedom and ethic self-autonomy from out of bondage and persecution and slavery, shared on these nights (and in Torah) within a mythical story of a storm god known as Yahweh, who chooses the Jewish people for redemption and national salvation.

    The rest is the story near everyone knows, a Levitical priest and Jewish patriarch known as Moshe (Moses) leads an exodus of Jews from Mitzrayim (Egypt) and from slavery, through the spell-binding supernatural feats of the Jewish national god, and establishes them as a nation after a forty year wandering in a dry desert wilderness.

    This is a festival story that reminds us to share our more recent histories of exodus from oppression, and to struggle always as a Jewish ethnicity for liberation of those who are oppressed. Whether it is our fellow Jews or others of different ancestry throughout this world, we need this festival of remembrance to remind us and be active.

    Hope you all enjoy our spring festival, and chag Pesach sameach!

    #Pesach #Passover #Jewish
    Because they so need to learn – #maga #inhisimage #inhislikeness

    A Humanistic Passover Celebration
    http://www.shj.org/humanistic-jewish-life/about-the-holidays/passover/
    Humanistic Jews question the traditional explanations of Pesakh. There is no evidence that the Exodus occurred or that the Hebrew people were in Egypt in the numbers described. The traditional Haggada includes an anthropomorphic, active, ethnocentric God and the passive deliverance by God of the Hebrews. There are few, if any, women in the traditional Passover story, and there are no daughters while four sons are described.
    A secular Passover relates a nontheistic tale. Humanistic Jews celebrate the actions people take to improve their own lives. A cultural Passover recognizes gender equality and the value of inclusivity so that both girls and boys, men and women feel connected to their history.
    So what is meant by a Humanistic Passover celebration? For one thing, Humanistic Jews continue the tradition of telling the Exodus story, but they accept that it is a story, not history. Humanistic Jews also talk about the possible history behind the story, perhaps a small slave escape that grew in the retelling. The Humanistic Passover celebration emphasizes the themes of human freedom and dignity, the power of human beings to change their destiny, and the power of hope.
    Events of the twentieth century record the courage of millions of Jews who left the land of their birth to escape persecution and seek freedom in Palestine and the land of Israel. Passover recognizes the struggles of millions of people to overcome oppression to achieve freedom and equality. Telling the story of Jewish immigration from Eastern Europe to America, perhaps the largest Jewish Exodus ever, is a powerful part of a Humanistic Passover. Even more significant, the Warsaw Ghetto Uprising against the Nazis in 1943 began on the first night of Passover; including a commemoration of this struggle provides a meaningful true story of a people’s fight for dignity, using their own power to control their destinies. The departure of Refuseniks from the former Soviet Union for Israel and America, the successes of the labor, Civil Rights and women’s movements in the twentieth century – all of these find a place in the Humanistic Haggada.

  16. Shavuot is a minor, ancient pilgrimage festival that marked the harvest of barley. Shavuot literally means “weeks,” so named because the festival is exactly seven weeks (plus one day) from the second night of Pesach. It is also called Festival of First Fruits, Hag HaBikkurim, and the Feast of Weeks. In rabbinic times, the ancient agricultural feasts were recreated into festivals marking the anniversary of significant legendary events in the life of the people, and the festival became the anniversary of the giving of the Torah at Sinai. For Humanistic Jews, Shavuot is a wonderful day for picnics with fresh loaves of challa and is also a time to honor educational achievement.

    Shavuot
    http://www.shj.org/humanistic-jewish-life/about-the-holidays/shavuot/
    Shavuot has just a few special rituals. In modern Israel, some kibbutzim have tried to revive some of the harvest ceremonies. In the synagogue, it is customary to read the Book of Ruth on Shavuot. It is customary in some congregations to decorate the synagogue with plants and flowers. It is also customary to eat dairy products in the home on Shavuot. In some communities triangular pancakes stuffed with meat or cheese are eaten because the Hebrew Bible has three parts (Torah, Prophets, and Writings). Also, in modern times Shavuot has become a day for confirmation ceremonies and religious school graduations.

    B’rukhim hamotziim lehem min haaretz.
    Blessed are those who bring forth bread from the earth.

    #Shavuot #Pesach #Israel #Jewish #Humanistic #SHJ

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