Tuesday, July 29, 2014

Torah Flora Comes to New Mexico

Biblical and Talmudic Botany Walking Tours: Torah Flora (TorahFlora.org) is a website developed by Dr Jon Greenberg, and it is devoted to Biblical Ethnobotany.

Dr Greenberg also presents live programs on this subject for audiences of all ages and educational levels, often at synagogues, religious schools, and botanical gardens.

Abq Jew is very pleased to announce that Dr Greenberg will be offering two walking tours right here in the Land of Enchantment. Here you will learn about:
  • Lilies you have eaten, from Egyptian god and Israelite gourmet export to kabalistic symbol and your bagel topping 
  • Why do most English Bibles say that Noah built his ark out of “gopher wood” if there is no gopher tree? 
  • Juniper and saltcedar: Keys to Jeremiah’s theology 
  • The drug that Jacob may have sent to his son Joseph in Egypt 
  • How Miriam made the apple tree a symbol of religious faith 
  • Two American plants that are essential to Israeli identity, and one that’s really an impostor 

ABQ BioPark Botanical Garden
Torah Flora
ABQ BioPark Botanical Garden
Monday  August 4 @ 10:30 am
We will meet at the main entrance to the Botanical Garden at 10:30 am. Directions are available on the BioPark web page. The fee for the Torah Flora tour is $5. (Cash only, please.) The BioPark charges an additional entrance fee that depends on age and New Mexico residency, with discounts for military personnel and members of other zoos and botanical gardens, and free admission for BioPark members. Admission fees and advance ticket ordering are available on-line. Children will receive a craft project to take home. Advance registration is appreciated, but not necessary. To register for this tour, please e-mail jon@torahflora.org. This tour is not recommended for children under 8 years old.

Santa Fe Botanical Garden at Museum Hill
Torah Flora
Santa Fe BioPark Botanical Garden
Tuesday August 5 (Tisha b'Av) @ 10:30 am
We will meet at the main entrance to the Botanical Garden at 10:30 am. Directions are available on the Garden web page. The fee for the Torah Flora tour, which includes admission to the Garden, is $15 for adults, $14 for seniors 65 or older and active military personnel, $13 for students with ID, $8 for Santa Fe Botanical Garden members, and free for children under 12. (Cash only, please.) Children will receive a craft project to take home. To register for this tour, please e-mail jon@torahflora.org. This tour is not recommended for children under 8 years old.

Yes, Abq Jew can hear you asking three very important questions.

1. What is Biblical Ethnobotany?

Dr Greenberg answers: Ethnobotany is the study of how people use plants. Biblical Ethnobotany is a way of using the tools of botany and ethnobotany to help us better understand the Torah. This includes such things as identifying the plants and other natural phenomena mentioned in the Tanach (Jewish Bible), using information about these plants to shed light on their use in prophetic metaphor, and studying the plants involved in performing various mitzvot in order to better appreciate and perform those mitzvot.

2. Who is Dr Jon Greenberg?

Dr Greenberg received his bachelor’s degree with honors in biology from Brown University and his Master’s and Doctorate in agronomy from Cornell University. He has also studied with Rabbi Chaim Brovender at Israel’s Yeshivat Hamivtar and conducted research on corn, alfalfa, and soybeans at Cornell, the US Department of Agriculture, and the University of Pennsylvania’s Institute for Cancer Research.

Since 1989, he has been a science teacher and educational consultant. Dr Greenberg was Senior Editor of science textbooks at Prentice Hall Publishing Company. Previously on the faculty of Yeshivas Ohr Yosef, the School of Education at Indiana University, and the University of Phoenix, he has taught at the Heschel School since 2008. He is a frequent speaker at synagogues, schools, and botanical gardens.

3. Why is this happening right around Tisha b'Av?

As Abq Jew first stated in 2011 (see Consoling The Father) and reiterated in 2013 (see May The Father Find Comfort):
The Talmud says, "When the month of Av begins, we reduce our joy." During the Nine Days we observe a greater level of mourning than during the Three Weeks. We don't eat meat or drink wine (except for Shabbat). We don't wear new clothes that require the Sh’he'cheyanu blessing - we are not happy to "reach this season." We don't play or listen to music.  
But the Talmud also states that all who mourn the destruction of Jerusalem will merit to rejoice in its rebuilding. 
The Sages also teach that the Jewish Messiah was born on Tisha b'Av. It is that promise of redemption which makes this period one of hope and anticipation.
Perhaps, Abq Jew suggests, in this period of war and destruction, we are in greater need of redemption. We are certainly in greater need of consolation. Walking among God's natural wonders can ease our pain.

Weeping may endure for a night, but joy comes in the morning.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

My husband and I enjoyed our morning of Torah Flora. Jon was a wonderful storyteller and his knowledge of Torah and Midrash relevant to the topic. Unfortunately, my husband, myself, and a gentleman from Gallup were the only guests. I hope Santa Fe does a better job representing the NM Jewish community.

Walking among God's natural wonders was a wonderful, life affirming experience.
Sadly, it will be a while before our family feels joy. IDF Second Lieutenant Harad Goldin was the son of a long time family friend.