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Monday, August 31, 2009

Videos from Tuesday, August 25, 2009 Hike in Boulder, Colorado - discussions about the upcoming Rosh Hashanah holidays

Rabbi Korngold, the Adventure Rabbi, shares thoughts on preparing for the upcoming High Holidays:

Video 1: Preparing for Rosh Hashanah - Starting Out (2:00)

Video 2: Discussion at the Bridge (4:51)

Video 3: Blowing the Shofar (7:30)

Video 4: Call & Response (4:53)

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Adult Bar and Bat Mitzvah Class to begin this fall

Adult Bar and Bat Mitzvah Class to begin this fall

Over the past two weeks, I have had many amazing conversations with families considering our new Adventure based Bar and Bat Mitzvah program. Since it is a new program, there were all sorts of pieces that needed explanation.

One mom asked me if I answered the same question again and again from prospective bar and bat mitzvah parents. I thought about that and then said, “Not really, because each family really comes to our b’nai mitzvah program with their own story, their unique struggles with tradition and their personal excitement.”

I also realized that I really loved talking with the moms. One mom joked, “Well, if my daughter doesn’t want to join the program, maybe I will!” I had already received some emails from adult asking for an adult bar and bat mitzvah program, (because the kids one looked so amazing) so, I thought, let’s see if we can rally a group of people to study for an adult bar bat mitzvah! Check out the plan and let me know if you might be interested.

More details on the Adult Bar and Bat Mitzvah Program in Colorado >>

These are two of the text I shared on our Tuesday night hike

These are two of the text I shared on our Tuesday night hike. Some members of our group were asking to see the, so I post them here to share:

Reading 1:
Said Dov Baer, the Preacher of Mezhirech:

Your kind deeds are used by God
As seeds for the planting of trees in the Garden of Eden;
Thus each of you create your own Paradise.
- Esser Orot, Ukraine (died 1772)

Reading 2: On Tu b’Shevat
When spring comes,
An angel descends, ledger in hand,
And enters each bud, each twig, each tree,
And all our garden flowers.
From town to town, from village to village
The angel makes a winged way,
Searching the valleys, inspecting the hills,
Flying over the desert
And returns to heaven.
And when the ledger will be full
Of trees and blossoms and shrubs,
When the desert is turned into a meadow
And all our land is a watered garden,
The Messiah will appear.

-Shin Shalom (adapted)
Poland/Vienna/Paelstie/Israel, b. 1904

Shofar blast in Golden, Colorado by Rabbi Steve Booth-Nadav

Charlie on our Saturday night hike shot this quick video of Rabbi Steve Booth-Nadav blowing the shofar outside Golden, Colorado:

Friday, August 21, 2009

What are we suppose to do with all our incandescent bulbs once we switch to CFLs?

This week we study the Torah portion known as Shoftim. It contains one of the primary Eco-Judaism teachings Ba'al Taschit, which urges us not to waste anything. So in that spirit, I bring you a bright idea. (a bright green, eco Judaism, Ba'al Taschit, Thou Shalt Not Waste, idea.)

What are we suppose to do with all our incandescent bulbs once we switch to CFLs ? You know that box or two or three under the bathroom sink or in the garage waiting patiently for an empty light socket that now will never need it?

When we go green and switch to CFL light bulbs, how green/ environmentally sensitive is it to throw out our old incandescents?

For that matter, what are we supposed to do with burned out incandescent bulbs? We can't recycle them, at least not easily.

I've go the solution! My bright green, eco Judaism, Ba'al Taschit, Thou Shalt Not Waste, idea.

At countless Jewish weddings, the last "step" of the wedding is when the groom stomps on the glass, and the guests yell, "Mazel tov!"

Did you know that glass need not be a fine crystal wine glass? It just needs to be some thing glass that breaks and makes a loud noise. Incandescent bulbs, it turns out, fit the bill. They break and because of the vacuum, they make a far superior popping sound to a wine glass. (And it also relieves the worry of the stem of the wine glass gong through the groom's fancy, thin soled, Italian shoes and piercing his foot. That, it turns out, is a great way to ruin a wedding.)

You probably know about the Adventure Rabbi Sisterhood Gift shop. (Giftshop sales help us fund our programs, because all proceed go right back into the Adventure Rabbi program budget.) But you may not know that we make and sell the special breaking of the glass kits we sell. We take light bulbs, sew a beautiful ivory, purple or black cover around it, decorate it with beads or flowers, bless them with blessings for a good marriage, and then ship them around the world for grooms to stomp on. (Is that the last time the man gets to put his foot down?)

What do we use for incandescent bulbs? Well, in the beginning we simply took the ones we could find on the back shelf of our linen closet or from old lamps we no longer used. Then, when we switched our home and office over from incandescent bulbs to CFL, our incandescent bulbs supply chain ended. (Note: you cannot use CFL bulbs for this project.) We could buy incandescent bulbs to break, but that seems really wasteful.

So back to my bright idea, my green solution! My bright-green, eco-Judaism, Ba'al -Taschit, Thou-Shalt-Not -Waste, idea.
You have bulbs you don't know what to do with, and we can use incandescent bulbs. If you bring us your old light bulbs, we will reduce waste, reuse and recycle your bulb into a beautiful wedding accoutrement. Nice, eh?

Check out the final product>>

So... if you want to mail or drop off a bag of bulbs, our office is at 5353 Manhattan Circle suite #103 Boulder 80303

Let me know your bright-green, eco-Judaism, Ba'al -Taschit, Thou-Shalt-Not -Waste, ideas and I will post them here.

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

The Theme for our Shabbat hike on August 8, 2009 was Judaism’s view on the ethical treatment of animals

Part I: Rabbi Korngold Talks About Jewish Views on the Ethical Treatment of Animals

Part II: Rabbi Korngold Talks About Jewish Views on the Ethical Treatment of Animals

Part III: Rabbi Korngold Talks About Jewish Views on the Ethical Treatment of Animals

Part IV: Rabbi Korngold Talks About Jewish Views on the Ethical Treatment of Animals

We began by going around the circle, introducing ourselves and answering, "If you were an animal. What would you be and why?"

We had jaguar (run fast and graceful) chimp (related to us) mountain goat (like to climb mountains) and a host of other animals . Feel free to respond to this blog with a posting of what animal you would be and why.

Then I introduced the following teaching gleaned from a fabulous source

"Judaism places great stress on proper treatment of animals. Unnecessary cruelty to animals is strictly forbidden, and in many cases, animals are accorded the same sensitivity as human beings. This concern for the welfare of animals is unusual in Western civilization. Most civilized nations did not accept this principle until quite recently; cruelty to animals was not outlawed until the 1800s, and even now it is not taken very seriously."

But for Jewish people it is an ancient tenet of our religion. For example, the historian Josephus wrote in Antiquities of the Jews, in 93 CE

"Herod also got together a great quantity of wild beasts, and of lions in very great abundance, and of such other beasts as were either of uncommon strength or of such a sort as were rarely seen. These were trained either to fight one with another, or men who were condemned to death were to fight with them. And truly foreigners were greatly surprised and delighted at the vast expenses of the shows, and at the great danger of the spectacles, but to the Jews it was a palpable breaking up of those customs for which they had so great a veneration."

In case you are wondering about who Josephus was, he was a Jewish man who become a Roman. His second major work, the Antiquities of the Jews, was completed in 93 C.E. Despite his ambivalent role, Josephus was an eyewitness to history, and his writings are considered authoritative.

As we hiked to our next stop at the pup station, I invited people to think about why Judaism might have such a strong ethic about taking good care of animals.

At our next stop, we regrouped and discussed our answers. Basically they fell into two groups:

  1. Links between treatment of animals and the way a person treats human beings.

    • A person who is cruel to a defenseless animal will likely be cruel to defenseless people.

    • There are many studies citing a correlation between childhood animal cruelty and adult criminal violence.

  2. Idea that God has a covenant with all creatures not just people. God values all creatures and so should we.

    Genesis 9:8 - 10 And God said to Noah and to his sons with him, "I now establish My covenant with you and your offspring to come, and with every living things that is with you  birds, cattle and every wild beast as well  all that have come our of the ark, every living thing on the earth."

As we continued to hike, I invited people to think about the connection between treatment of animals and people. Can you think of biblical examples of heroes and villains who are presented in relation to their treatment of animals? Modern examples or contradictions?

  1. Biblical figures who were good to animals

    • Moses chosen to lead people because of his compassion as a sheep herder. Talmud, "The Holy One, Blessed Be He, said 'Since you are merciful to the flock of a human being, you shall be the shepherd of My flock, Israel.

    • Rebecca chosen as a wife for Isaac because of her kindness to animals. When Abraham's servant asked for water for himself, she volunteered to water his camels as well, and thereby proved herself a worthy wife (Gen. 24).

    • Other biblical figures who cared for animals: King David, Jacob (as opposed to Esau the hunter)

  2. Figures who were bad to animals:

    • Esau the hunter is a villain

    • The Talmud tells the story of a great rabbi, Judah Ha-Nasi (born 135 CE, redactor and editor of Mishna) who was punished with years of pain because he was insensitive to the fear of a calf being led to slaughter.

      Excerpt from:
      Various stories are told about Judah haNasi to illustrate different aspects of his character. One of them begins by telling of a calf breaking free from being led to slaughter. According to the story, the calf tries to hide under Judah haNasi's robes, bellowing with terror, but he pushes the animal away, saying: "Go  for this purpose you were created." For this, Heaven inflicted upon him kidney stones, painful flatulence, and other gastric problems, saying, "Since he showed no pity, let us bring suffering upon him".

      The story remarks that when Judah haNasi prayed for relief, the prayers were ignored, just as he had ignored the pleas of the calf. Nevertheless, it goes on to describe him subsequently preventing his maid from violently expelling baby weasels from his house, on the basis that "It is written: 'His Mercy is upon all his works.'" For this, Heaven removes the gastric problems from him, saying, "Since he has shown compassion, let us be compassionate with him".

At our outdoor synagogue site: I passed out slips of paper with the following rules about treatment of animals. People read them aloud and we talked about them.

Text 1: Animals get to rest on Sabbath:

Exd 20:10 - but the seventh day is a Shabbat to the LORD your God. You shall not do any work in it, you, nor your son, nor your daughter, your man-servant, nor your maid-servant, nor your cattle, nor your stranger who is within your gates;

Texts 2-3 - We are required to relieve an animal of its burden, even if we do not like its owner, do not know its owner, or even if it is ownerless (Ex. 23:5; Deut. 22:4).

Exd 23:5

If you see the donkey of him who hates you fallen down under his burden, don't leave him, you shall surely help him with it.

Deu 22:4

You shall not see your brother's donkey or his ox fallen down by the way, and hide yourself from them: you shall surely help him to lift them up again.

Text 4: We are forbidden to muzzle an ox while it is working in the field so it can eat as it works:

Deu 25:4

You shall not muzzle the ox when he treads out [the grain].

Text 5-6: just as we must allow human workers to eat from the produce they are harvesting (Deut. 23:25-26).

Deu 23:25

When you come into your neighbor's vineyard, then you may eat of grapes your fill at your own pleasure; but you shall not put any in your vessel.

Deu 23:26

When you come into your neighbor's standing grain, then you may pluck the ears with your hand; but you shall not move a sickle to your neighbor's standing grain.

Text 7: Animals permitted to eat the grain from fallow fields the sabbatical year:

Exd 23:11

but the seventh year you shall let it rest and lie fallow, that the poor of your people may eat; and what they leave the animal of the field shall eat. In like manner you shall deal with your vineyard and with your olive grove.

Several commandments demonstrate concern for the physical or psychological suffering of animals:

Text 8: We may not plow a field using animals of different species (Deut. 22:10), because this would be a hardship to the animals.

Deu 22:10

You shall not plow with an ox and a donkey together.

Text 9: We are not permitted to kill an animal in the same day as its young (Lev. 22:28)

Whether it is a cow or ewe, you shall not kill it and its young both in one day.

Text 10-11: and are specifically commanded to send away a mother bird when taking the eggs (Deut 22:6-7), because of the psychological distress this would cause the animal.

Deu 22:6

If a bird's nest chance to be before you in the way, in any tree or on the ground, with young ones or eggs, and the hen sitting on the young, or on the eggs, you shall not take the hen with the young:

Deu 22:7

you shall surely let the hen go, but the young you may take to yourself; that it may be well with you, and that you may prolong your days.

Text 12-14: In fact, the Torah specifically says that a person who sends away the mother bird will be rewarded with long life, precisely the same reward that is given for honoring mother and father (Ex. 20:12; Deut. 5:16), and indeed for observing the whole Torah (Deut. 4:40). This should give some indication of the importance of this law.

Exd 20:12

"Honor your father and your mother, that your days may be long in the land which the LORD your God gives you.

Text 13:

Deu 5:16

"Honor your father and your mother, as the LORD your God commanded you; that your days may be long, and that it may go well with you, in the land which the LORD your God gives you.

Text 14:

Deu 4:40

You shall keep his statutes, and his mitzvot, which I command you this day, that it may go well with you, and with your children after you, and that you may prolong your days in the land, which the LORD your God gives you, forever.

Text 15: A person must feed animals before feeding self and may not purchase an animal unless he has made provisions to feed it, and a person must feed his animals before he feeds himself ( Talmud interpreting Deut. 11:15).

Deu 11:15

I will give grass in your fields for your cattle, and you shall eat and be full.

Humanity is given dominion over animals (Gen. 1:26)

Text 16:

Gen 1:26
God said, "Let us make man in our image, after our likeness: and let them have dominion over the fish of the sea, and over the birds of the sky, and over the cattle, and over all the eretz, and over every creeping thing that creeps on the eretz."

Which gives us the right to use animals for legitimate needs.

" consumed for food

" animal skins can be used for clothing

" The Torah, mezuzh scrolls written on parchment (animal hides),

" teffilin must be made out of leather.

" Shofar rams horn

However, dominion does not give us the right to cause indiscriminate pain and destruction.

Based on all we have discussed, what should our dominion be like?

  • The group agreed it should be composed of careful and compassionate stewardship.

  • Examples were given about kosher laws prohibit harming the animal any more the necessary. There can be no nicks in the butchers blade or anything that prolongs death.

  • And finally, we talked about how in the messianic age we will all be vegetarians and what an ideal way of eating that is, in terms of treatment of animals.

Then we sang a few songs with the backpacking guitar, ate some vegan candy and went back on down the trail.


Monday, August 10, 2009

Best Rosh Hashanah Service Ever? Adventure Rabbi

Type this into Google, and see what comes up:
"Best Rosh Hashanah Service Ever"

(Hint: it's Adventure Rabbi at #1)

Here's the link to the Google results page:

Sign up for the best Rosh Hashanah service - ever - by going here:

(If Google says we're #1, who are we to argue?)