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גְמַ׳׳ח | A Short Reflection on the Roots of the Federation and G’milut Ḥasadim

I was incredibly honored to have been invited by the Jewish Federation of Cincinnati to speak this evening at their 120th Annual Meeting. Long-lived community bodies can seem to be just part of the landscape, as old as the mountains and somewhat inscrutable, so it seemed appropriate to me on the event of an . . . → Continue reading: גְמַ׳׳ח | A Short Reflection on the Roots of the Federation and G’milut Ḥasadim

“Tu biShvat” vs. “Tu b’Shvat”: Orthography and Presumptions of Authority in Jewish Environmental Education

Nigel Savage made public this week his reply to Ben Dreyfus[1]For more on this, see here, here, and here and others concerning Ḥazon’s orthography of ט״וּ בִּשְׁבַט as Tu B’Shvat rather than Tu biShvat. Given the seriousness of the environmental and food justice issues that Tu biShvat gives voice to, it’s important to recognize that this earnest if seemingly comical debate isn’t really about romanization of Hebrew anymore. It’s a question about Siaḥ (שִׂיחַ — discourse), the roles of Jewish education, and the goals of Jewish educators. . . . → Continue reading: “Tu biShvat” vs. “Tu b’Shvat”: Orthography and Presumptions of Authority in Jewish Environmental Education

Variations on a pedagogy for teaching bal tashḥit: on the mindfulness of plucking leaves

Last year, while preparing the text of Gale & Goodman’s popular seder for Tu Bishvat, The Trees are Davvening, I came across an important and fairly modern story that testifies to important Jewish values of bal tashḥit (not needlessly wasting or wantonly destroying) in the context of our relationship with non-human life and nature. The problem I immediately encountered was one of attribution — the story featured Rav Avraham Yitzhak Kook (1865–1935), the first Ashkenazi chief rabbi of the British Mandate for Palestine, while the story as I remembered it featured the fifth and sixth rebbes of ḤaBaD. The story in The Trees are Davvening quoted verbatim the story as recounted by Rav Aryeh Levin (1885-1969) in A Tzaddik in Our Time: The Life of Rabbi Aryeh Levin, p.107 by Simcha Raz (Feldheim 1975). . . . → Continue reading: Variations on a pedagogy for teaching bal tashḥit: on the mindfulness of plucking leaves

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