Ideas & Philosophy
Sunday, February 27, 2022
This upcoming Jewish New Year marks the year of rest, the Shmita, a sabbath or sabbatical year. I investigate the Jewish commitment to a personal and collective cultural, economic, and agricultural pause (release or letting go). In response to climate chaos, "Sacred Attunement: Shmita as Cultural Biomimicry" reflects the values of Sabbath and the Slow Movement as alternatives to unlimited economic growth, progress, and development paradigms. Counter to agribusiness and advanced capitalism, Jewish sacred activism incorporates a commitment to our non-human kin. These include Shabbat, the Jewish laws of Shmita, and the Sabbatical years including Yovel, the Jubilee years. Judaic relationships to generosity and agriculture, gleaning, eco-kashrut, restoring balance to the land, forgiving debt, and multiple interpretations of fertility offer visions of possibility for contemporary social and environmental justice.As a resolution to current refugee and ecological crises, this Jewish philosophies', environmental-justice performance is intended to illuminate intersections between ancient Middle Eastern spiritual-pharmacopeia rituals in relation to their agricultural and architectural environmental-engineering practices. While encouraging individuals and communities to collectively resist industrialized convenience-culture and its self-destructive consequences, this action-based academic performance offers behavioral and infrastructural design shifts that embody Jewish indigenous wisdom/spiritual intelligence. I explore principles found in ancient Judaic texts and laws as antidotes to our consumer-waste culture.
Monday, February 28, 2022
Are you a Jewish atheist? Not sure what you beleive? Then this is the discussion for you! By confronting a number of profound and often overlooked biblical stories, we will learn that by shifting the question from "What do I believe about God ?" to "What have I experienced?" we can find new understandings of what it means to be connected to the Divine.
Abraham Joshua Heschel was one of the most important- and most enigmatic- figures of 20th century Judaism. Born in Poland in 1907, he received Orthodox rabbinic ordination at the age of sixteen, published original Yiddish poetry in Berlin, authored God in Search of Man: A Philosophy of Judaism, taught Jewish Ethics and Mysticism at JTS, and marched in Selma alongside Martin Luther King Jr. Was AJ Heschel primarily a rabbi, an activist, a thinker, a poet, a prophet (and/or something else entirely)? What is Heschel's legacy today?
Against the chaotic backdrops of the COVID-19 pandemic, the uptick in antisemitism, and the re-envisioning of gathering, making Jewish choices has been different than ever before. In this interactive session we'll explore the Jewish choices that we make every day - how we present Jewishly (or not), mark Jewish time, and create Jewish spaces in our lives. In thinking about our Jewish decisions and possible dilemmas, we'll unpack the question of how our Jewish identities + journeys are shaped by, and subsequently shape, our current circumstances.
Wednesday, March 2, 2022
Who has the right to anger? When is defiance cast as positive in our texts, and when is it silenced? We will explore the Vashti narrative through the lens of power dynamics, status shifts, performing of gendered emotions, and as an example of reading the resisting woman as “Other”.
When Rebecca, our matriarch, experienced suffering while pregnant with her twins, she went “to seek God,” to try to derive meaning from an otherwise meaningless experience. We will explore how Rebecca can help us in our own struggles to find meaning in a world that may or may not easily give it to us. Sources in original and English.