Tu Bishvat is mentioned in the Mishna as Rosh Hashanah L’Ilan, the New Year of the Tree. It gained in popularity when the 16th-century Kabbalists in Safed began to hold a Seder Tu Bishvat and eat up to 30 types of fruits, while the Zionists in the 20th century began to plant trees on Tu Bishvat.
The purpose of the trip was to learn about Jewish education in the Diaspora in order to broaden their perspectives on issues of Jewish identity in the State of Israel. I didn’t realize then that the choice to begin my visit specifically here would be a defining moment which would accompany me throughout the week.
This eye-opening encounter with the American Jewry shines a new light on the Israeli participants’ identities, and shapes educators who actively engage with the world of ideas and transmit the appreciation of pluralistic Judaism to their students.
Israeli cantor and musician Saralee Shrell-Fox shares her experience teaching in this unique camp, which provides an opportunity for teenagers to encounter a joyous Jewish community environment and create connections that last a lifetime.
Dr. Ramon describes the beautiful scene that takes place at the Western Wall, the Kotel, in the early pre-dawn hours during the month of Elul. She talks with yearning and wonder that will make you want to close your eyes and join her in the next Selichot prayer.
Memory or heroism? Victims or heroes? What should a museum commemorate? Professor Doron Bar, President of the Schechter Institute of Jewish Studies, shares insights into how Yad Vashem, Israel’s national Holocaust memorial and museum, was established. He focuses on the Hall of Remembrance, a less frequented site in the Yad Vashem complex, and its meaning to him and to his students.
In the midst of all the headlines about corruption, security issues and President Trump, there is an important topic which has been overlooked. On Thursday, February 8, 2018, hundreds of Haredim, secular Jews and Bedouin demonstrated at the entrance to Arad together with Deputy Health Minister Litzman against the plan to dig a new phosphate mine at Sdeh Brir near Arad. Despite all of the opposition to the plan – see below – the plan was recently approved by the National Planning and Building Commission. Indeed, Prime Minister Netanyahu in his capacity as Minister of Health has submitted an appeal against the decision.
We once again witnessed the ridiculousness of the separation between men and women at the Western Wall when female journalists were forced to stand on chairs to see US Vice-President Michael Pence pray at the Western Wall during his recent visit. No one, not even the rabbi of the Western Wall, can explain the benefit or importance of this separation of the sexes.
Professor Doron Bar, President of the Schechter Institute of Jewish Studies, describes how during times when Jews did not have access to particular holy sites, they created and ‘discovered’ new ones based in history and in Biblical stories.