Topics for Lectures, Classes, Workshops and Scholar in Residence include:
Organic Torah: How to Think Like an Organic Farm
Underlying our agricultural woes and ecological crisis is mode of thought that treats the earth, oceans, animals, plants and even humans as if they were machines, running predictably, logically, like “clockwork.” This way of thinking has brought dramatic gains in the short run, but we’re seeing now how forcing life into a straightjacket is a recipe for disaster. In this class we will explore how Jewish tradition teaches us to think in a different way: in terms of webs of relationship, dynamic interactions and non-linear patterns. It’s a way of thinking that is much more like an organic farm than a machine.
From Waste to Wonder: A Jewish Vision of Zero Waste
Starting from a look at the ecological landscape of Canaan and its neighbors, we can get a picture of the origins of our culture of waste in the great river valley civilizations of Egypt and Mesopotamia – and its opposite, a culture of no- waste in the small farming land of the mountains of Canaan. We can see how this ethos of no-waste is carried through in kabbalistic and Hasidic sources which speak of the spark of divinity in all of creation, even if presently hidden under a “klippa” or shell. Together these Jewish narratives give us a picture of a Jewish vision of zero waste.
Compos(t)ing a Life: A Wild Jewish Workshop of Creativity, Ecology and Renewal
Composting your kitchen scraps is a really important thing to do. And if we understand it well, it can be a microcosm of a sustainable, healthy and spiritually rich life.We will learn the basics of how to compost, but even more, we will learn about how nothing need be wasted, whether in physical, emotional or spiritual realms, how new things emerge when we work with cycles, how to find wholeness through balancing opposites and how small actions can lead to big changes.
This workshop will feature an experiential and fun mixture of creativity exercises, discussion, text study in small groups, meditation, music and more.
*Where logistically possible, we will include a meal, and use the leftovers as an opportunity to get participants started in composting there own food waste. This will give an impetus for a program follow-up as we invite participants to come together again when their compost has matured to start or add to a garden.
Eco-Kashrut: From Priestly Code to Michael Pollen
What is the basis for kashrut? Is it a completely technical system divorced from moral concerns? Or are there hints in our texts that underlying the idea of kashrut is a deep respect for life and the web of relationships that bring our food to our tables? In Michael Pollan’s influential book, The Omnivore’s Dilemma, he looks at what he eats not as a given, but as something with a history, and that history has moral, ecological and health implications. Does not kashrut also ask us to look think about he story behind our food, ask questions about its origins?
Radical Spiritual Psychology: Reading A 19th Century Rabbi for our 21st Century Inner Lives and Relationships.
Although the “Ishbitzer” Rebbe lived in 19th century (1801 – 1853) Poland, his daring and creative thinking has the feeling of radical, contemporary thought. He touches on questions of reaching one’sunique potential, suffering, God, food, sex, and relationships. We will look at selections from his commentaries on the torah (in Hebrew and in English translation) as a starting point to open a discussion of how these ideas play out in our own lives.
Meditation and Jewish Learning
The most Jewish of spiritual practices: learning torah, interpreting texts, has not often been seen as a meditation. In this class we combine text study, discussion and silent sitting to integrate our minds and hearts in a new practice of attention and dialogue. The Shekhina, God’s Presence, is found in the present, and being present with these texts forges a unique relationship to Her.
Weaving Meaning in Talmudic Texts: Finding our way into opening our classic texts in a way that brings them to life and touches our heart, mind and soul.
Beneath the surface of these texts, we find the rabbis confronting spiritual, psychological and societal issues with profound wisdom and insight. Not that we will always agree with them! Rather, we will enter into the essential Jewish dialogue between our present moment and our rich textual tradition. Using Hebrew texts and English translations and drawing on our own skills as readers, we will identify underlying patterns in Mishnah, Midrash and Talmud which bring them alive.
These are examples. Please contact Natan at email@example.com to discuss what would best fit your community’s needs.