Culture, Global, Israel, Justice, Politics, Religion, Uncategorized

Rabbis for Human Rights Vidui

On this, erev Yom Kippur, Rabbis for Human Rights has posted their yearly vidui. I think maybe I ought to add to mine:
For the stories I couldn’t find the energy to post because they were so depressing, and for the stories I posted, but couldn’t bring myself to comment on;
For the posts that I failed to blog because someone out there knows who I am and I have to work, and for perhaps being occasionally too quick on the trigger
For my own cowardice, and for the failure to look truth in the eye….
You can find the following, as well as a Hebrew version which for some reason I couldn’t copy to the blog here.
Vidui 5768
The vidui (recounting of our sins) during the High Holidays is intended to make us feel uncomfortable,
to confront us with the wrongs we have done. This vidui relates to our society today, to the way in
which we treat the unemployed and disadvantaged, immigrants, migrant workers, single mothers,
the elderly, the exploited women, the Arab citizens of the State and the Palestinians, and those we
disagree with politically. Each one of us is guilty of some of these sins; collectively, we are guilty of
them all.

For the sin which we have sinned against you by the closing of borders To Sudanese refugees fleeing for their lives.
And for the sin which we have sinned against you by the closing of borders, As Gazans killed each other and languished with a minimum of
supplies.

For the sin which we have sinned against You by valuing the blood of some more than the blood of others.
When we did not say a word about the missiles falling on Sderot even as we protested against missiles falling on Gaza.
And for the sin which we have sinned against You by valuing the blood of some more than the blood of others.
When we protested against the missiles falling on Sderot, but were silent regarding the missiles falling on Gaza.
For the sin which we have sinned against You by indulging in food and drink. As the social gap has grown.
And for the sin which we have sinned against you by the chasing of material gain, Casting Kfar Shalem* residents into the street so that private
developers can profit.
For the sin which we have sinned against You by hardening our hearts To poverty, hunger and despair, allowing the unequal distribution of
resources.
And for the sin which we have sinned against You by insensitivity Repeatedly cutting away the safety net from underneath the weaker
sections of society
For the sin which we have sinned against You through Lashon HaRa (slander), Claiming that the unemployed are “faking it” and “parasites.”
And for the sin which we have sinned against You by casting aside the weak Neglecting medicines for the sick, those requiring assisted living
and the mentally ill in the health care budget.
For the sin which we have sinned against You by intentionally forgetting As we exploit foreign workers, that we were once strangers in the
Land of Egypt.
And for the sin which we have sinned against You in doing business Rather than fighting those operating as pimps and trafficking in
women.
For the sin which we have sinned against You by desecrating Your name Abandoning the “agunot” and those women who were not granted
a divorce in the name of our religion, and ignoring the solutions which exist in the Halacha.
And for the sin which we have sinned against You by scoffing, Denigrating new immigrants and failing to honor their traditions and
cultures.
For the sin which we have sinned against You consciously or unconsciously, When fellow citizens are under-represented in government, academia and business, And are not permitted to fully be a part of society.
And for the sin which we have sinned against You through the words we have mouthed, As if we truly cared about the weakest and poorest
among us.
For the sin which we have sinned against You by being silent, when we knew that others were being mistreated and yet we did nothing.
And for the sin which we have sinned against You by standing by Or even defending those who took the law into their own hands.
For the sin which we have sinned against you by light headedness. When we failed to distinguish between genuine self defense
and the use of exaggerated Deadly force.
And for the sin which we sinned against you through justification When we said that everything is permitted in the name of our
defense.
For the sin which we have sinned against You knowingly or unknowingly, Allowing Israeli governments to continue steal or prevent access to
lands, demolish homes, pave roads, uproot trees, limit the flow of basic goods, torture, abuse and humiliate.
And for the sin which we have sinned against You through insolence – Saying that only Jews have rights to the Land.
For the sin which we have sinned against you knowingly or through self deception, When we found excuses for collective punishment and the
harming of civilians.
And for the sin which we have sinned against you by running to do evil When we used force before looking for other options.
For the sin which we have sinned against You through baseless hatred Of all who are not “us.”
And for the sin which we have sinned against You by narrow mindedness – Feeling only our own pain, while closing our minds to the agony of
bereaved Arab mothers and fathers.
For the sin which we have sinned against You by desecrating Your Name – By abusing others and calling it Your Will.
And for the sin which we have sinned against You by thinking to ourselves and by Whispering in closed rooms about that which we should
have shouted from the Rooftops.
For the sin which we have sinned against you through lack of knowledge Because we didn’t want to know how we could have helped.
For the sin which we have sinned against You by lack of faith in You, in ourselves, and in our society, When we said that Tikun Olam (Repairing
the World) is “In the heavens” or “Across the Sea,” and thus beyond our capability.
For all these and more, God of forgiveness, we ask forgiveness, pardon, and atonement.
May the words and the intentions of our prayer bring us to true repentance and lead us forward to acts of righteousness and tzedaka, in order to make our world a place in which Shechina can dwell.
*Kfar Shalem is a Tel Aviv neighborhood populated by Yememite Jews, who allegedly
squatted in houses 50 years ago. Some of this land has been sold to private developers
and there have been repeated attempts to expel the residents. Until 1996 it was
recognized that, after so many years, expelled residents must be compensated.
However, now they are just thrown out of their homes.

23 thoughts on “Rabbis for Human Rights Vidui

  1. This is slightly pathetic. Yom Kippur is not meant to be a day of “repentance” for not having the right politics.
    And what should a right-wing group publish in its version of Al chet ? “For the sin which we have sinned against You in permitting confiscatory taxation”? “For the sin which we have sinned against You in allowing oppressive regulations to prevent decent people from supporting their families”? “For the sin which we have sinned against You in ignoring the well being of our brothers and sisters expelled from Gush Katif”?
    Please!!! Let’s get real! Yom Kippur is not about having the right politics–it’s about, among other things, coming to understand that the things that go wrong and the things we do wrong in our lives derive from archetypes of problems that lie within. The basic archetype is laid out in the “Ash’amnu, ba’gadnu…” that we say privately and with the congregation. The entire Yom Kippur experience is meant to have us turn inward individually, and also turn inward with the people with whom we are joined in prayer and coming to confront ourselves and what is really wrong and off-balance at the heart of our own lives.
    It’s NOT about “repenting” for failing to sign the right petition. To suggest that it is, is grossly cheapening and it reduces a sophisticated, integrated, intense network of thought and experience into nothing more than a convenient “social action day”.

  2. And you think the embrace of one’s fellow being as commanded in Torah is NOT a Kiddush Hashem? Or that allowing others to suffer is NOT a travesty before HaQadosh Barukh Hu?
    SOME of us have religious motives for our politics. Hence, this viduy.

  3. One’s political orientation is part of who one is. One’s choices serve to define one. Should right-wingers repent for, among other things, “permitting confiscatory taxation” and “allowing oppressive regulations to prevent decent people from supporting their families”? Absolutely! (In addition, they should repent for the sin of being right-wingers!)

  4. For the sin we have sinned against You by driving our cars irrationally, in such a manner as to delay other travelers (causing traffic jams) and polluting the air by doing so.
    For the sin we have sinned against You by poor urban planning, which wastes land through sprawl and parking lots.
    For the sin we have sinned against You by dillydallying and not doing something with our lives.
    For the sin we have sinned against You by boring people through repetitiveness and by not making peaceful and helpful group activities interesting so that they would participate.

  5. Of course Yom Kippur is about politics: “ôøñ ìøòá ìçîê, åòðééí îøåãéí úáéà áéú. ëé úøàä òøåí åëéñéúå åîáùøê ìà úúòìí”. THat’s politics.

  6. I don’t understand. How come the right can call its politics religion (“support Israel”, “don’t leave the territories – they’re Eretz Israel”) and when the left invokes its politics and calls it religion, there’s always the funny person who says poverty isn’t a religious issue.

  7. You are asking for forgiveness for Israel trying to defend its people??? It is the other side who should be asking for forgiveness for putting their children in harms’ way!!!

  8. truth is subjective. Whilst everyone may not agree with everything said in this viduy, it certainly provides for some challenging reading. So many people spend the whole day in shule on yom kippur, only come out and repeat all the terrible things they did in the previous year. that’s not teshuva. Maybe, by each person making his/her own viduy more personal and specific, we will see and end to this cycle of sinning and repenting and sinning and repenting and for once… see a real teshuva in this land.

  9. How come the right can call its politics religion
    I’ve been seeing posters all around Jerusalem with pictures of Olmert, Livni, Barak, and [I don’t recognize the 4th one], with the caption “äòáø îîùìú æãåï îï äàøõ”.
    (Though the current government has its critics on both the right and the left, I’m pretty secure in my guess about which one is putting up these posters.)

  10. Thank you so much for this. I’m celebrating the holidays through an Aish Hatorah group and I think I’m about to lose my mind. I did Viduy last night and today and whenever it came to the Torah, I just had to say – I follow my heart, and for that I am greatful.

  11. Since you have expressed regret for not doing enough to help the people of Sderot under siege perhaps this is the time to begin:
    SPONSORS WANTED FOR THE COMMUNITIES OF SDEROT AND THE WESTERN NEGEV
    At the dawn of the new year of 5768 , the Al Aksa Brigades of the Fatah, chaired by Palestinian president Machmud Abbas, AKA Abu Mazen, took “credit” for firing three salvos of rockets on the city of Sderot, setting off the Red Color Siren alert and throwing communities of the Western Negev into panic as the new year began. This is the seventh consecutive year that Jewish communities of Sderot and the Western Negev cope with daily lethal attacks from Gaza. Families hesitate to go about their normal lives. Families are afraid to send their children to school, or even to allow them to play outside with their friends.
    The people under siege in Sderot and the Western Negev want to tell their story.
    For that reason, The Sderot Media Center for the Western Negev LTD was pioneered less than one year ago to present the human face of the Jewish communities of Sderot and the Western Negev to the people of Israel and to the media.
    The Sderot Media Center, the SMC, operating with full transparency* as an Israeli corporation that serves the public interest, seek sponsors for the following projects that it has initiated
    Click here to watch SMC Aug’- Sep’ video report-
    http://video.google.com/videoplay?docid=-1808297026078775625
    1.Shelter Renovation Project: With the expectation that shelling from Gaza will become sustained and require entire communities to conduct their days and nights in shelters, residents of Sderot and the Western Negev deserve shelters worthy of human habitation. The Western Negev regional council has presented the Sderot Media Center a precise list of 78 shelters that are currently uninhabitable that are in need of repair – plumbing, electricity, etc The average budget to repair each shelter comes to $15,000.
    2.Documentary Film. Over the past few years, film clips have been gathered which show people under attack, in real time, who are eager to tell their story. Working with a leading film maker, The SMC seeks sponsors to produce a seminal Documentary Film that will portray the trauma that the people of Sderot and the Western Negev have weathered over the past six years. The remaining budget needed to produce this film is $50,000
    3.Presence in Government offices in Jerusalem. Public transportation has been virtually eliminated between Sderot and Jerusalem, making it nearly impossible for residents to travel to Jerusalem to meet with decision makers, government officials and members of the Knesset to protest their predicament and to fight for their rights as citizens of Israel. The SMC seeks sponsors for a weekly bus trip to bring Sderot and Western Negev residents to Jerusalem . Each bus trip costs $500.
    4.Legal aid. People who suffered hardships as a direct result of the continued security situation often do not know where to turn. Israeli Government offices located in Ashkelon and Ashdod are not accessible. Government damage assessors come days and weeks after rocket attacks, and often underestimate the damage done to families. People whose businesses have suffered direct hits have found that they do not have proper insurance to cover damage and have to fight for basis compensation. The SMC has therefore arranged for special facilities for lawyers from around Israel to come to Sderot to advise people of their rights. The costs of this Legal Aid service is now being evaluated.
    5.Mobile photo exhibit. Photographs taken in real time over the past seven years of people in Sderot and the Western Negev put a human face on the story. The SMC seeks to create a Mobile photo exhibit for communities in Israel and around the world to view. The cost of mounting such a professional exhibit comes to $3000.
    6 A Data Base of Needy Families. Families turn to the Sderot Media Center to ask for help, especially those who have been forced out of work because of the situation. The SMC has engaged the services of a social work professional to document the needs of each family in need and to connect sponsors to families, in such a way that the dignity of each and every family will be preserved. The SMC will make available its Data Base of Needy Families to all agencies, religious institutions and individuals who want to help to people of Sderot and the Western Negev during this time of crisis. The monthly cost of this data base will be $1200.
    *Transparency: The SMC works with a CPA with authorization to share its records, bank accounts and books with anyone who asks to see them. The SMC works with a board of advisors that includes the head of the Sderot Business Association, the head of the Sderot Parents Association and the head of the regional mental health center.
    The mailing address of the SMC: POB 472, Sderot 81074
    The bank account of the SMC : Bank HaPoalim, Sderot Branch no. 649 Account no. 480546

  12. >“SOME of us have religious motives for our politics.”
    Believe it or not, some people on the right have religious motives for their politics as well. (shocking!) And that’s exactly my point. It doesn’t matter what “motivates” your politics–politics are not what Yom Kippur is here for.
    >“Should right-wingers repent for, among other things, “permitting confiscatory taxation” and “allowing oppressive regulations to prevent decent people from supporting their families”? Absolutely!”
    No! Yom Kippur is not about “repenting” for “bad” policies of our government.
    >“Of course Yom Kippur is about politics: “ôøñ ìøòá ìçîê, åòðééí îøåãéí úáéà áéú. ëé úøàä òøåí åëéñéúå åîáùøê ìà úúòìí”. THat’s politics.”
    I strongly disagree. It’s really not politics. “åîáùøê ìà úúòìí” means ‘and don’t hide yourself from your family’. You are supposed to share your food with hungry people. You are supposed to escort poor people into your house. You are supposed to bring some of your clothing to a person who has no clothing. Demanding that the government pass a bill that requires other people to give away their clothing does not measure up. The focus is totally and entirely different. It is personal.
    The only “political” element here (if you must insist on it) is that by having such close contact with poor people you’ll probably come to some new ideas on what poverty means in a practical sense. But even there–it’s not about politics! Having relationships with people who are poor forces us to expand our understanding of community and see the beauty and value of Creation in places where it’s very difficult to see it.
    Anyway, I hope everyone had an excellent Yom Kippur.

  13. Saying “it’s not about politics” is itself a political stance, as is saying that we should focus on our own small-scale actions rather than society’s large-scale actions.

  14. I only hope those who made their sinat hinam here were sealed in for a life of more teshuva. The process never stops.
    Eric, right-wingers whose policies are motivated by religion have just a right to do vidui on YK as lefties. “Hatanu lefanecha”, not “Hatati lefanecha”. We’re confessing for the sins of all Israel, and all humanity. Now whatever you think is sinful…

  15. Ok, I’m persuaded, here’s my request for atonement next year:
    forgive the economically illiterate who continue to raise taxes, therefor hurting business and thus the economy and therefor all of our citizens;
    forgive those who hate blacks and other low income Americans and damage them by allowing illegal aliens into this country and lowering wages, thus causing further unemployment and poverty amongst American poor;
    forgive those who put Israel at risk by asking her to give back the West Bank without concern for Israeli security concerns;
    forgive those leftist anti Semites like Noam Chomsky, Mobius, and
    Finkelstein who lambaste Israel for being the worst country out there, presumably comparing unfavorably with China, Sudan, Iran, Syria, etc.
    forgive, the intellectual elite of this country who display great understanding of the rights of the Palestinians, Iranians, and other assorted Anti Americans, but make it almost impossible in the classroom and the papers and broadcasters of this nation to express a pro Israeli or pro conservative viewpoint;
    There, I feel better already.

  16. “Everybody confessing for whatever they think is sinful” doesn’t seem very helpful to me. Where other human beings are involved, there’s no elu-v’elu: either a certain action brings more honor and dignity to your fellow tsalmei-elohim, or it brings them more pain and hardship.
    Also: about the concept of personal vs. communal actions..
    “When I give food to the poor, they call me a saint. When I ask why the poor have no food, they call me a communist.”
    -Dom Helder Camara
    (part of Jewish tradition, dormant during the long exile, is the injunction not only to act justly in our own lives but to create a just SOCIETY – the commandment to become a “mamlechet kohanim vegoy kadosh” isn’t address to the individual, but to the collective.

  17. And incorrect, its nice you do viduy for others. The RHR viduy takes collective responsibility for the war crimes of the Israeli government, of which all citizens (and some more than others – like myself) are a part.

  18. Amit, for the record, I hereby take full responsibility for the warcrimes of Israel; Israel, feel free to do whatever you feel necessary to protect your citizens (including of course Amit), you have hereby been absolved of them by virtue of my taking them upon myself.

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