Rabbi Menachem Creditor, a pulpit rabbi in Berkeley, C.A. and the author of several books, figured he would write another book one day.
He didn’t imagine that it would take him only one day to do it.
Actually, 36 hours, if you’re counting.
Rabbi Creditor, spiritual leader of Congregation Netivot Shalom, compiled and had published, during the height of Israel’s war against Hamas in Gaza last month, a collection of essays and other writings that defended Israel’s conducts asserted the country’s right to defend itself.
The rabbi finished his project “in 48 hours,” wrote the Bay Area’s Jewish newspaper, which didn’t do the math.
Rabbi Creditor put the call out for submissions, on Facebook and other social media outlets, with the aid of New York-based publicist Shira Dicker, one morning at 10 a.m.; sermons and poems and prayers and other “reflections” started coming in immediately. The rabbi stayed up the whole night editing and by the following night at 10 p.m., “The Hope: American Jewish Voices in Support of Israel” went on sale on CreateSpace Independent Publishing Platform, a self-publishing firm under the auspices of amazon.com.
The book had sold more than 600 copies by this week, Rabbi Creditor told The Jewish Week in a telephone interview.
Proceeds go to Israel’s Lone Soldier Center named for Michael Levin, the Philadelphia-born member of the IDF who was killed during Israel’s fighting against Hezbollah in southern Lebanaon in 2006.
Why the quick turn around for his anthology?
“There was no time to waste,” Rabbi Creditor said – public opinion in many corners of the world was turning against Israel, fueled by images of suffering Palestinian Arabs in Gaza and reports of a mounting civilian casualty toll. “Things were getting worse.”
Rabbi Creditor, a self-described “progressive American rabbi” who has visited Israel two dozen times, led a group of like-minded colleagues on a week-long educational mission there, under the auspices of AIPAC, at the start of Israel’s Operation Protective Edge. Like other people in Israel then, he and the other rabbis had to, at times, retreat to bomb shelters when sirens announced the arrival of Hamas rockets.
Back in the States, distressed by what he saw as a growing, undeserved criticism of Israel, he wrote an essay, “I’m Done Apologizing for Israel,” which appeared on the Huffington Post website and has received up of 13,000 shares. “I am done apologizing for my own existence,” he wrote. “I’m done mincing my own words.
“What do Israel's enraged critics truly desire?” the rabbi asked in the essay. “How is it possible to hear indignant claims of human rights violations in the context of Syrians slaughtered by the hundreds of thousands, state-sanctioned terrorism around the globe, and young immigrants treated like chattel by the US and other? Israel is doing its best, sacrificing its own children to preserve the lives of Palestinians.”
From the essay grew the book. Its three dozen contributors cover the denominational range of American Jewry.
One guideline for submissions: “No hatred against anybody.”
Rabbi Creditor said his wife supported his dedication to the book, which kept him in front of a computer screen for almost two solid days. “She thinks I’m obsessed,” he said. “Obsessed with the right thing.”