Monday, September 24, 2012
Occupy Rosh Hashanah Kicks Off Jewish New Year in Zuccotti Park
Rosh Hashanah, the beginning of the Jewish calendar and one of the two
High Holidays (along with Yom Kippur) this year fell on the
anniversary of Occupy Wall Street. And since the faith community has
been a big part of Occupy and last year's Yom Kippur ceremony in
Zuccotti was such a memorable experience (described to me by two
different people this week as the most meaningful Jewish experience
they'd had), Occupy Judaism took this opportunity to once again
celebrate in the park.
The barricades were up and had been for days as NYPD drilled in
expectation of Occupy's actions for September 17. But they let people
in from two sides, and they trickled in slowly, then streamed in
chanting as 7:30 got closer. As has become customary with Occupy
reunions of a sort, people milled around hugging and recounting what
they've been up to since the last time we were all in a public space
But this time instead of the noise being silenced by a mic check, it
was quieted by a shofar.
Well, a shofar and a mic check. This was an Occupy service, after all.
Conducted by multiple celebrants invoking multiple traditions, men and
women, the service held special resonance because it was held right
under the watchful eyes of NYPD--physical and virtual, as a spy tower
rose above the corner of the park where a few hundred people gathered,
sitting and standing at the traditional points in the service, some
huddled over prayerbooks, others huddled over smartphones.
The mood was joyous and prayerful but certainly less solemn than an
actual synagogue (and the NYPD hustling to harass and arrest folks
just outside the barricades provided a sharp reminder that we were
occupying contested space with this spiritual ceremony). As some of
the celebrants put less-familiar spins on segments of the service, the
call-and-response faded away and little side conversations sprang up,
but when Daniel Sieradski (for more on Sieradski - see this:
http://www.israelnationalnews.com/Blogs/Message.aspx/2091 --sp), who
helped organize last year's Yom Kippur service, launched into a
barnburner of a sermon, evoking the Torah and the teachings of
hundreds of years of Jewish theologians on the issues of poverty and
wealth, taxes and wages, he drew everyone's attention back.
Ahead of me, one participant, who'd been reading a prayerbook with a
headlamp, sliced apples with a pocketknife and handed out pieces to
friends, along with a plastic cup of honey for dipping. On the other
side, Occupiers handed around a bottle of red wine for the blessing.
The crowd was dotted with the bright green hats of the National
Lawyers Guild legal observers, but the police didn't encroach into the
park--even allowing the Occupy medics to handle a young man who
appeared to be sick. Right outside the barricades was another story,
as at least one arrest was reported and riot police brandishing batons
strolled down the sidewalk.
But as the crowd slowly dispersed, the tension in the air was mostly
for the morning. What will happen before the bell rings on Wall Street
on Occupy's official anniversary?
2. "Occupy" Story II:
Posted By Steven Plaut On October 11, 2011 @ 12:02 am In Daily
Mailer,FrontPage | 34 Comments
The focus of the country has lately been on the "Occupy Wall Street"
movement, or "OWS." You know, the people who claim to speak for the
99% of Americans who are not wealthy capitalists and who think they
can create social justice and equality by marching around the New York
Stock Exchange and other centers of capitalism, like Greenwich
Here is how the leaders of the leaderless OWS describe themselves on
their Web site:
"Occupy Wall Street is leaderless resistance movement with people of
many colors, genders and political persuasions. The one thing we all
have in common is that We Are The 99% that will no longer tolerate the
greed and corruption of the 1%. We are using the revolutionary Arab
Spring tactic to achieve our ends and encourage the use of nonviolence
to maximize the safety of all participants."
They go on to promise: "We are growing. Block by block – city by
city. We will see change in this country, in this world. It will
happen sooner than you can imagine."
Now it occurs to me that there is only one appropriate and sensible
response to the "Occupy Wall Street" anarchists and street urchins.
And that is to create a competing grassroots mass movement that will
challenge the attention OWS is receiving in the media, while offering
a rational and constructive alternative agenda for real social change.
I propose that the alternative mass movement be called "Occupy Berkeley."
OB will be a mass movement holding protests and street demonstrations
in Berkeley, California. Its first order of business will be to
occupy Telegraph Avenue. The slogan of OB should be, "We are the
other 99.999999%," referring to the fact that people who despise
Berkeley street hippies and "anarchists" represent exactly that
proportion of the general population.
OB will specialize in civil disobedience and street theater. Among
its initiatives will be a mass roundup of Berkeley hippies who will be
conducted to the central facilities of OB, where they will all be
given free baths. A special re-education campus will be set up in
Orange County, California, where all Bay Area communists and drug
users will be sent to learn about the disadvantages of communism.
OB will also rid Berkeley of those asking passersby for spare change.
Instead, OB will promote entrepreneurship for panhandlers and for
homeless youths. Anyone in the Bay area stopping passersby and asking
for spare change will be ordered to do pushups, where the first 40 are
unpaid but after that, payment will be made to the panhandlers at the
rate of 20 cents per pushup. Tax free. Pregnant panhandlers and
those over 70 will be permitted to do their pushups from the knees.
Telegraph Avenue will be renamed "Wall Street West" and Shattuck
Avenue will be renamed "Milton Friedman Boulevard." The area within 4
miles of the University of California (CAL) campus will be declared a
tie-dye-free zone, where no tie dyed clothing may be worn. Discounts
to the BART and other forms of public transit will be offered to
Berkeley residents wearing ties and jackets. All the "head shops"
selling drug paraphernalia along Telegraph Avenue will be converted
into barber shops and Bible stores. When not using public transit,
travel in SUVs will be not only permitted but made mandatory.
Special retreats will be held for Berkeley residents still believing
in communism. There they will be housed in Gulag barracks, woken up
at 5 AM, and ordered to do physical labor without getting paid.
Berkeley socialists can also be sent to the retreats, but they will
only be woken up to work at 5:30 AM. Non-competitive sports will be
prohibited during leisure time, only competitive sports allowed.
Afternoon breaks at the camp will be devoted to generating greenhouse
gases. On Saturday nights, "Dirty Harry" movies will be screened.
Attendance will be mandatory. Vegan foods will be absolutely
Berkeley is of course only the beginning. After Berkeley is occupied
by masses of marching conservatives, it will be the turn of Madison,
WI; Amherst, MA; and of course San Francisco. Any city or state
approving of medical marijuana will be targeted next. Cities
undergoing occupation by OB will see reverse affirmative action
implemented, whereby anyone who was harmed in the past by affirmative
action programs will be entitled to preferences, compensation, and
Occupy Berkeley is growing, town by town, block by block, taser by
taser. We are drawing bipartisan support from people sick and tired
of the selfish indulgence of leftwing radicals and hippies. Unlike
OWS, the only genders we represent are men and women. And we are
accepting donations because we believe in materialism and selfishness.
We chant: "The world is watching!"; "This is how democracy looks!";
"We are the ones we've been waiting for!"; and "It is never too late
for a spanking!"