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A selection of initiatives, blogs, resources and communities on Jewcology which focus on education.


Blogs

Earth Etude for Elul 8 – The Silence of the Frogs: Environmental Confession

by Rabbi Lawrence Troster~ Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur are traditionally called the Ten Days of Repentance. Part of the Jewish concept of repentance is the act of confession, the Vidui. We confess publicly rather than privately, and in general terms rather than in specifics, because it allows everyone to confess without shame or embarrassment. It also binds the sins of one person to that of the whole community so that all take responsibility. While Moses Maimonides (1135-1204) said that we are only to confess in specific terms for sins between one person and ...

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Earth Etude for Elul 7 – So Many Ways to Repair the World

by Mirele B. Goldsmith~ The reality of climate change and other environmental problems weigh on me all year long. But as Yom Kippur approaches my thoughts turn more and more to my own responsibility.  During this past year did I do enough?  Was I effective in what I did?  And most troubling of all, did I make the right choices about where to invest my efforts? An answer to this question came to me this summer when I participated in the Green Attica Conference.  The conference was convened by Patriarch Bartholomew, leader of the Eastern Orthodox Church, who is ...

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Earth Etude for Elul 6 – Once Upon a Time I Had a Garden

by Rabbi Peg Kershenbaum~ Once upon a time I had a garden. I must have been inspired by reading The Good Earth to plunge a spade into the unyielding, aptly named, Rockland soil. But, after moving rocks, boulders and many less natural obstacles, I protected the small plot and planted tomatoes, cucumbers, Brussels sprouts and 5 slender corn seedlings. As the spring turned to summer and blossoms turned to the beginnings of identifiable vegetables, I realized that I was going to share the bounty with a pudgy and persistent woodchuck, some opportunistic rabbits, ravening ...

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Earth Etude for Elul 5 – In Regard to Feathers

by Rabbi Katy Z. Allen~ For many years I collected feathers. Walking along the trails, near my home or far away, whenever I spotted a feather, I brought it home. Together with rocks, shells, bits of wood, and other nature memorabilia, they helped to create a sense of the outdoors inside. The feathers meant a lot to me. Then one day, while trying to identify a feather my granddaughter had found, I stumbled inadvertently across a government website with information about feathers. I learned that it is illegal in the United States to collect feathers. The reason ...

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Earth Etude for Elul 4 – Finding Quiet for Reflection

by Hazzan Shoshana Brown~ Although Psalm 130 can be recited all year long, it is especially appropriate for the season of introspection and repentance, speaking as it does of waiting and watching for the dawn. I have chosen photos that look up to the hills "out of the depths," as the psalmist says, and also out at the sea, or at the early moments of the rising sun, or at its setting. They are mostly lonely pictures, since it is in quiet and reflection that we search our souls, but since we are often most aware of God when we behold God's beauty in creation, I have ...

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Earth Etude for Elul 3 – Environmental Etude

by Rabbi Sam Yolen~ At this point in time, to write something about the environment has to be more of a “in commemoration of” than a “dedicated to” exercise. We’ve been standing at the juncture of run-away environmental change for longer than I can remember, and the patience of the Earth to absorb our species’ immaturity has indeed turned into vengeance. From fracking the Earth’s crust to clear cutting forests, we’ve done things that most ancient cultures would find unfathomable -- real crimes against the future of humanity. The biblical truth that ...

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Earth Etude for Elul 2 – Twilight

by Carol C. Reiman~ Sky still blue, Eyes still brown-- Colors Fading. ~ Leaf veins branch, Hand veins thin-- Skin Cascading. ~ What time we have; Have we time-- To laugh in sync, While eyes dim. ~ Leaves dry, Sweep away; Book of Life Unfurls pages. ~ Where the path? Circling, thin, Narrowing As the fog sets in. ~ The blue, The eyes, Change color, Go. ~ The sun Goes on Beyond Our line Of sight. ~ To other Realms In other Forms. ~ Our day, Our year, Teaching, Thought All Turn... Carol C. Reiman is out of library work into ...

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Summary of my key activities to promote veganism during the two years I have been living in Israel

Shalom, I would like to update you on some of the things I have been doing to promote veganism in the now two years that I have been living in Israel, with the hope that it might inspire others to take similar actions. With many of the areas of my involvement I have added a suggestion of how it could be applied more widely to break through the current widespread denial, apathy, misinformation, and resistance and help get veganism and related issues onto the Jewish agenda.I am sorry that this message is very long but I hope the examples and suggestions I include make it ...

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Introducing the Organic Torah Translation Series

This year, starting in September, I or another Organic Torah teacher will write a monthly translation, summary and commentary on a short section of spiritual Torah. Most often it will be from the book Derekh HaMelekh, by Rabbi Kalonymus Kalman Shapira (The Piazetzner Rebbe) (1889 – 1943). This first one is for everyone but starting in September, these translations will be offered to Organic Torah members. We’ll also have periodic members’ webinars, an online discussion forum, members’ discounts on Organic Torah classes and workshops, and more. So, please join us ...

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Rainbow Day is on Shabbat Behar in 2018, May 11-12!

Celebrate Rainbow Day and the Rainbow Covenant with all Life! The first covenant in the Torah, when Noah leaves the ark, is a covenant with all creatures, and a covenant with the Earth itself, not just with humanity. There are so many ways you can teach about this covenant, the rainbow covenant, on the day it was established! What is Rainbow Day?  On the 27th day of the second month, Noah, his family, and all the animals that were with them left the ark (Genesis 8). Exactly one lunar year and ten days before—one complete solar year—the flood began on the ...

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Passover: The Beginning of an Answer to Short-Circuit Thinking

After hearing the speeches given by brave, heart-broken teenagers at the March for Our Lives rallies, my heart can’t help but be broken as well. The plague of gun violence in this country is out of control and, as they have said, “enough is enough!” Yet, invariably, close behind hearing these speeches on the radio or reading about them in the newspaper, I get the balanced reporting about arguments from the pro-gun advocates. These pro-gun arguments invariably center around the idea that if the good guys have more guns and are trained to use them, then we’d all ...

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Purim: The Dangerous Holiday

Purim is a dangerous holiday. That’s probably why we in the Jewish community often trivialize it and pretend it’s just a kid’s holiday where the children dress up like Mordechai and Esther and we eat hamentashen and everyone has a nice time. We may be afraid to see what it is really saying to us. There is a lot of violence in the Purim story: the Scroll of Esther (in Hebrew, Megillat Esther) includes the king forcing his queen, Vashti, to either dance naked or be killed or exiled; there is evil Haman’s threat to wipe out the Jews of Persia; and there is also the ...

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Noah and Our Embodied Wisdom

This week’s Torah portion, Noah, starts out (Genesis 6:9) with one of those extra words that rabbis and commentators just can’t leave alone: we’ve got to understand why the Torah put in an extra word when it didn’t need to. “This is the line of Noah: Noah was a righteous man…”  In the unpunctuated Torah, it reads: “This is the line of Noah Noah…” One of my most beloved rabbis is Rabbi Kalonymus Kalman Shapira (1889 – 1943). Also known as the Piazetzner Rebbe, or the Rebbe of the Warsaw Ghetto, he was a revered rebbe, teacher and spiritual ...

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Old Habits, New Opportunities

We are creatures of habit. Mostly, that’s a good thing. I almost never forget to brush my teeth, close the windows and lock the doors before I go to bed at night. In the morning I can almost sleep walk while I make my favorite breakfast (fried rice, sardines and kale… I know, it’s not a classic breakfast like cereal and milk, or eggs and toast, but I like it and the kids like it, too. My wife, not such a big fan of sardines…) But, as much as those habits help us stay on an even keel, too much habit can keep us from changes that we want to make. As we enter ...

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A New Kind of Community

My family and I just got back from ten days at our annual “dance camp.” This gathering, which has been happening for more than 30 years, is about dancing, but more so, it’s ten days of living like a village in a tight knit, inclusive and caring community. My oldest son had a great summer this year: Jewish wilderness camp, basketball camp, beaches and more. He loved all of them, but he said that dance camp was the best: it was because he got to hang out with a tight group of teens who spent a ton of time together dancing (he’s becoming a great salsa dancer!), ...

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Tree of Knowledge, Tree of Life

My work at Organic Torah starts with asking a question about chochma/Jewish wisdom: Must the Tree of Knowledge be separated from the Tree of Life? The Tree of Knowledge is what we have become used to in much of our Western education—it begins with breaking things apart into smallest components. Our education system is divided into discreet subjects: math, science, English—too often devoid of context and the vibrancy which comes from what Gregory Bateson called “the pattern which connects.” And if we go to college or grad school we might study a “discipline” ...

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Aytzim (Ecological Judaism) is Back—Let’s reconnect!

It’s a mystery--we lost our Aytzim facebook page and all our facebook friends. So we will be sending out new invites to like our page. In case you have forgotten, we are all about the environment—saving our world. And these days, it has become more important than ever. Aytzim is the umbrella organization of: Green Zionist Alliance, Jewcology.org, EcoJews, and Shomrei Breishit: Rabbis and Cantors for the Earth. Aytzim means “trees” and here’s a little about the other organizations in our product grove: Green Zionist Alliance—Since its founding in 2001, the ...

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EcoPeace Middle East new publication; new brief

EcoPeace Middle East, a unique environmental organization that brings together Jordanian, Palestinian, and Israelis, with the primary objective of promoting cooperative efforts to protect the region's shared environmental heritage, recently published a new report entitled "Decoupling National Water Needs for National Water Supplies:  Insights and Potential for Countries in the Jordan Basin". This report analyses and compares the water allocation and management experience of Jordan, Palestine and Israel using the lens of economic and resource decoupling to highlight ...

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Shavuot and the Connection to Vegetarianism

  A compilation of articles by Richard Schwartz A Dialogue on Shavuot Night For many years Danny Shapiro looked forward to staying up all night at his synagogue with his friends on the first night of Shavuot, hearing talks about and discussing Torah teachings. This year he especially anticipated this annual commemoration of the giving of the Torah on Mount Sinai, because Rabbi Greenberg would be meeting with Danny and other college students for an hour at 3 AM to answer any questions on Judaism that they brought up. Danny had recently become a vegetarian ...

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Shmita Revival: The Reconsideration and Expansion of Sacred Land

  David Krantz will be speaking at the Mountain and Sacred Landscape Conference at The New School in New York City on Friday, April 21 from 8:30 to 10:00 am. David is a National Science Foundation IGERT Fellow and a Wrigley Fellow researching solar-energy policy and faith-based environmentalism. He also runs the environmental nonprofit, Aytzim: Ecological Judaism, parent organization of Jewcology.org, the Green Zionist Alliance, EcoJews, and Shomrei Breishit: Rabbis and Cantors for the Earth. He serves on the board of directors of Interfaith Moral Action on ...

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