Sunday, March 24, 2024

Purim 2024/5784


It was cold! Thanks Betsy, Grace, Eleanor, Sheila, Bob and Ruth

Thanks to all who contributed in so many ways! Enjoy your goodies, cards, and the reusable cocofiber basket, which you can return for next year. And, reuse the shower cap for covering open containers. :-)

Origami creators: Eleanor Brownstein + Sheila Erlbaum

Bakers/Content Contributers:

Phyllis Berman
Fredi Cooper
Helen Feinberg
Pesha Leichter
Ruth Loew
Naida Mosenkis
Irene McHenry
Sharon Strauss


Michael Blackman
Eleanor Brownstein
Sheila Erlbaum
Grace Flisser
Ruth Loew
Sharon Strauss
Bob Tabak
David Teutsch


Betsy Teutsch

This year we netted around $1200, we we are sending $300 to each of four tsedakot.

1) Philadelphia's own Female Hebrew Benevolent Society, for Passover ma'ot chitim, provisioning for Passover for low income clients.

2) The Community Germantown Fridge, a community 24/7 street access pantry for our hungry neighbors. We are excited that this year all GJC will be collecting surplus chametz and donating it to the CGF as well.

3) To Dorshei Derekh Alum Ari Brochin, son of Rabbi Reena Spicehandler and Jermy Brochin. The donation will fund the group he works with at the Jerusalem African Community Center, whose members are primarily seeking asylum.

4) To Anya Friedman-Hutter, daughter of Rabbi Dayle Friedman and David Ferleger, who works in education in Beer Sheva and will share it with the hungry there.

Tuesday, March 5, 2024

The Role of Adina Abramowitz, z”l, in Reconstructing Judaism

The role of Adina Abramowitz, z”l, in Reconstructing Judaism  - by Ruth Loew

On December 13, the Germantown Jewish Centre community was stunned and saddened by the unexpected death of Adina Abramowitz z”l.  Adina and her wife, Naomi Klayman, were longtime members of Dorshei Derekh, the Reconstructionist minyan within GJC.  In the minyan, Adina and Naomi often led Shabbat morning services.  Sometimes Adina presented a teaching (d’var Torah) on that week’s Torah reading and led the discussion that followed.  She coordinated Dorshei Derekh’s High Holiday services for several years and took turns as the coordinator for leading services or presenting divrei Torah.  Many who had worked, learned, and worshiped with her, in GJC and in the larger world, valued her for her deep knowledge of Judaism; her talents for organizing (whether a meeting, a project, or a budget) and for teaching; and her honesty, generosity, humility, and dependability.  She had a rare gift for clarifying issues that others found hopelessly confusing.  Her sense of humor was also appreciated: Rabbi Micah Weiss, the Reconstructing Judaism staff Tikkun Olam Specialist, valued Adina’s “ability to lovingly roll her eyes.” 

Her entire career, both professional and volunteer, was driven by her values: she was dedicated to creating a better life for those who were disadvantaged.  Professionally, she worked with CDFIs (Community Development Financial Institutions), which offer financial resources to underdeveloped communities. In her private life, among the many organizations that benefited from her time and talents was the Reconstructionist movement. Most of her work with it was related to one of three projects: the Prayerbook Commission of the 1990’s, the Tikkun Olam (Repairing the World) Commission, and change management support for the Board of Governors.

The Prayerbook Commission created guides to Reconstructionist worship, including a siddur (prayerbook) for Shabbat and holidays; a mahzor (prayerbook for the High Holy Days); a weekday prayerbook; and one for houses of mourning.  Her excellent command of Hebrew and of Jewish liturgy were great assets.  Also importantly, she presented a perspective from the LGBTQ community.  Rabbi David Teutsch, who worked with her on this venture, describes her as “judicious, thoughtful, and capable of working with grace and good will.”

Adina was more recently active in the movement’s Tikkun Olam Commission, which addresses social justice issues. She was passionate about its work, particularly its commitment to racial justice, including reparations. She and Naomi were among the first to sign up for Reconstructing Judaism’s civil rights pilgrimage last spring. She was first a commission member, then became the transitional lay co-chair of the commission. When the new chair was on-boarded and ready to take on leadership, Adina, with characteristic humility, intended to step back into her role as a member.

As part of the Tikkun Olam Commission, she led a qualitative research project on racial justice work in member congregations. What initiatives had the congregations tried? What were they accomplishing? What feedback were they hearing from members of color? This project concluded with recommendations for congregational action. Adina helped make racial justice a primary role of the Commission.

A third area in which Adina took a leading role in Reconstructing Judaism was change management: helping the movement assess its organizational and financial future, particularly in the wake of Covid and, more recently, of October 7, 2023 and its aftermath.  She served as a pro bono consultant to the Reconstructing Judaism Board and movement leadership in evaluating what products and services Reconstructing Judaism offers and how it does its work. That meant working closely with its president, Rabbi Deborah Waxman; its executive vice president, Rabbi Amber Powers; and the senior leadership team. She offered individual coaching and led a pivotal discussion at their retreat this past fall.  She quickly became a trusted advisor, confidante, and coach to many with whom she worked. As Rabbi Deborah Waxman said, “All of this was in a volunteer capacity and all with generosity, creativity and effectiveness.”

Adina quietly went about being helpful whenever she could, without calling attention to herself. She didn’t care whether she was praised for her work; she just cared that the work was done and done well.  As Rabbi Teutsch said, “I never asked for help with anything that she didn’t say yes.” 

Zichronah liv’rachah – זיכרונה לברכה - May her memory be for a blessing.

Thank you to those who agreed to be interviewed for this article: Mark Pinsky, Rabbi David Teutsch, Rabbi Deborah Waxman, and Rabbi Micah Weiss.


Thursday, February 29, 2024

A Farewell to Ellen from Rabbi Simkha Weintraub


A Prayer/A Psalm at the Funeral of Rabbi Ellen Bernstein zts’l


It is good to give thanks for Rabbi Ellen Bernstein/HaRav Nehamah bat Etta v’Pinhas

Who leaves this life too soon for us, and passes on to the Garden of Eden,

which she will certainly till and probably enhance.

“And Adonai/God took the Human and put the Human into the Garden to till it and to guard it.”

(Genesis 2:15)

May the colors of Ellen’s garments and jewelry, flowers and plants, dishes and travel

Bless and rebuild our assaulted planet, from Kibbutz Be’eri to Zaporizhzhia,

from Gaza to benighted American zip codes,

from bursting refugee camps to razed forests, choked oceans, and decimated species.

“The Heavens are Heavens of the Holy One, but Earth was given by God to humankind.”

(Psalm 24:1)

God, give Ellen the power to empower those who truly value and respect Earth,

Who see the whole of our planet as Holy,

And seek to live on it with reverence, awe, and responsibility.

Introduce our dear Ellen to the Matriarchs and Patriarchs, to Hagar, to Serach bat Asher,

to Shifra and Puah, Miriam, Pharaoh’s daughter, and Yael.

Arrange banquets with Tzelophhad’s daughters, and those of Rashi and Mordecai Kaplan;

Brunch with Eleanor Roosevelt and Bella Abzug, Afternoon tea with Gluckel of Hamelin,

Dinner with Margaret Mead, Rachel Carson, and Henrietta Szold.

Under Your sheltering Sh’khinah, may Ellen find not just rest but peace and renewal,

Not only comfort but creative freedom and discovery,

Stellar insights, and radiant innovations.

I want You to know, God, that Ellen asserted M’hayei haMeitim loudly in a Reconstructionist

minyan in Philadelphia – affirming that You do, or will, revivify the deceased,

And so we request that You acknowledge her traditional and yet rebellious affirmations.

“Praise Adonai from the earth, sea monsters and all deeps;

Fire and hail, snow and smoke, stormy wind executing God’s command;

The mountains and all hills, the fruit trees and all cedars,

The wild animals and all cattle, creeping things and flying birds…”

(Psalm 148:7-10)

Enliven our memories of Rabbi Ellen,

Not only for our own savoring, but for the sake of the world itself.

Amen v’Amen, Halleluyah!

(Rabbi Simkha Y. Weintraub, Feb 29, 2024)

Photo: Steven Tennenbaum

Sunday, February 4, 2024

Thanks to the Invisible Laborers Who Make our Minyan Thrive!


It takes a lot of behind-the-scenes work to keep Dorshei Derekh thriving.

Yesterday the Mazkirut (at present George Stern is outgoing coordinator, Deborah Weinstein is the Chair, and Betsy Teutsch is the incoming coordinator) thanks Mike Gross, who completed his three year Mazkirut term. We also thanked outgoing Green Coordinator Simone Zelitch and welcomed Jennifer Paget in that roll.

 This was also a chance to thank all the longterm coordinators who are listed on the side bar.

There are more folks whose work people might not be aware of. Neysa Nevins manages our listserve, and has done so for a long time. Betsy Teutsch manages this blog (though many other members are also editors and *could* post.) 

Sheila Erlbaum tends our plants. She selected them, has watered them weekly, and Jennifer Paget took care of them at home during the Pandemic. Thanks to Sheila and Jennifer, our room is graced with growing things!

Thanks, Dick Goldberg, our Minyan Muse, for celebrating our Coordinators, outgoing and presen

February 3, 2024 Kiddush


(To the tune of “I Am the Very Model of a Modern Major-General” by Gilbert and Sullivan)

We are the very model of a modern, major min-i-yan!

Yes, Dorshei’s quite the prayer group in my humblest of opinions!

Whose mazkirut in ’23 was led by rebbe Georgie Stern—

From such a rebbe, oy, mein kind, a person has a lot to learn!

And speaking of the mazkirut, I think we really have to boast!

For three long years that we were blessed to have a leader in Mike Gross

And while we’re hoo- and hah-ing and we’re celebrating our dear own

How ‘bout that green coordinator, our Ms. Zelitch, a/k/a Simone!

Another who coordinated with elan, aplomb and flare

Was Ms. Naomi Klayman who saw to it that our every prayer

Was uttered with con-siddur-ation, Hebraic-ly and every time

Was led by service leaders though Kol Haneshama doesn’t rhyme.

Another who has planning skills quite peachy keen and yes, exempl’ry

Is thoughtful Toby Kessler, who booked Torah readers for both you and me.

And one to whom our gratitude is more than merely o-owin’

For all those Divrei Torah, taka, taka, Debrah Co-ohen!

For managing our membership for now and ever af-after,

We give our thanks— to whom? Of course, the gifted Heather Shaf-after!

For organizing kiddushim, of course, we must express-uh

Our sheer delight from morn to night— to whom? To our dear Pesha!

Well, LBJ, as you well know had Zbigniew Brzezinski.

The Rite of Spring was one wild thing thanks to I-igor Stravinsky.

But neither could outdo our techy poohbah I mean, come on, Dorshei, since he

Is also quite the hagbah, I mean Pinsky, Pinsky, Pinsky!

I’d like to end this ditty with a gentleman who in my view, he

So ably keeps our bank accounts, I’m talking Arnie Lurie!

In short, I think you’d have to say we are one in a trill-i-on—

Yes, Dorshei is the model of a modern major min-i-yan!

Tuesday, November 14, 2023

Yasher Koach to Rabbi Tamara Cohen, Covenant Grant Winner 2023

Congratulations to our own Rabbi Tamara Cohen, recipient of the Covenant Foundation Award. Here is her talk, presented on November 8, 2023:

Hineni, here I am, Tamara Rut bat Esther Rachel v’ Shachna Pinchas, Zichrono Livracha.  

Hineni, here I am, a Jewish feminist educator, nurtured by beloved mentors and community and passionately committed to transforming Jewish education by centering the experiences of Jewish women and girls, LGBTQ+ Jews and Jews of color.

My work is the weaving together of ancient and new, the grafting of tradition and innovation, the invitation to others to join me in sacred play and holy community building. I gather and create texts, ideas and rituals that have been rescued, excavated and revealed to us by Jewish feminist historians, theologians and scholars and I offer them to Jewish young people, their parents and educators, as keys, as pathways, as doors inviting our youth, especially those who feel on the margins, to come inside, to make themselves at home in Judaism, a richer, more multifaceted, more whole Judaism that with their presence and creativity, can and truly serve as a home for all of us in our diversity.

Jewish feminism starts by recognizing the vibrant Jewishness of women but it doesn’t end there. It challenges structural inequity, asks us to re-think our core assumptions, dares us to name what is sacred in ourselves and in every being we encounter with ancient and new language.

Jewish education grounded in feminism is a practice of hope. Born of necessity, loss, exclusion, oppression, revolution, it invites us all to hold complexity, to dream that more is possible, and to trust that we have and can create the tools we need, even for this intensely challenging moment.

We have practices of empathy and listening, midrash, ritual and Torah study. We know how to honor each other’s experiences and embrace each other’s questions, how to hold ourselves and others accountable, how to walk the path of teshuva, how to envision justice and enact compromise, how to cultivate the courage for the hard work of collaboration and connection across difference, how to praise and cry out to God using Her many names.

The Israelites in the desert are said to have been sustained by Miriam’s Well. Perhaps it was the same well that Hagar saw when God opened her eyes in her moment of despair. That ancient mythical well is what I want to help our youth see, drink from, and when needed, help us refill. It is a well of sustenance, healing and hope.

Jewish youth need us to walk with them into the pressing questions and challenges of our era as guides and as partners. They need us to be honest, brave, and moral cultivators of hope even as we take seriously the threats we face. They need us to see in them what they can’t always see in themselves or in one another.

Hineni, here I am. Filled with gratitude and ready to answer the ongoing call to teach, to lead, to widen the tent, to insist on a third way, to do justice, love goodness and walk humbly with God.

The Covenant Foundation's Covenant Award, honor three exemplary Jewish educators who are each meeting a complex moment in Jewish communal history with a powerful blend of courage, commitment, and compassion.

The 2023 Covenant Award recipients are: Rabbi Tamara R. Cohen, Chief Program Officer, Moving Traditions, Philadelphia, PA; Allison Cook, Founder and Co-Director, Pedagogy of Partnership, Powered by Hadar, Cambridge, MA; Nicole Nash, Head of School, Hannah Senesh Community Day School, Brooklyn, NY.

Thursday, October 19, 2023

Parshat Bereshit - by Rabbi Ellen Bernstein - 2023/5784

Bereshit, Genesis I
, by Rabbi Ellen Bernstein


I want to apologize first for not giving a d’var related to the tragedy in the Middle East. Bereshit comes around just once a year and I’ve been waiting 2 years to give this d’var, since the slot was already taken last year. However, wrapped up in this d’var—but perhaps not so explicit—is the resilience of the natural world, so I hope that in this time of great sorrow, she can whisper some measure of comfort to you.

My decision to take Judaism seriously and my entire career in the field of religion and ecology is a result of my first encounter with Genesis 1 as a young adult. In college in the 70’s, I studied in one of the first environmental studies programs in the US at Berkeley. Science seemed like only part of an answer to our environmental crisis, so I also embarked on a spiritual search that led me to studying the parsha with a friend; Having no prior relationship with the text, I was stunned to find such an elegant environmental manifesto in this very first chapter of the Bible.

In case you have never studied this chapter before—a brief overview. God creates light on the first day, divides up air and water on the second; earth and trees appear on the third, stars and planets on the 4th, swimmers and flyers on the 5th, land animals and people on the 6th ; and on the 7th, God rested, creating Shabbat. In an elegant design the habitats/elements of air and water on day 2 and earth on day 3, give rise to their inhabitants--the air creatures and water creatures on day 5, and land creatures on day 6. If you plot out the creations of the days, you will see this simple and orderly design.


Significantly, God sees everything that comes into being as “good.” In Genesis 1, the goodness of the biodiverse world is the pre-eminent value. Each creature is inherently valuable—each has value in and of itself—whether or not we humans deem it useful or valuable. The rabbi, philosopher, physician Maimonides, writing in the twelfth century, said that the goodness of all the creatures is a testament to their intrinsic value. Each organism has integrity, each contributes to the whole and is required for the whole. The world is built on the foundation of the goodness of the creatures, without which it could not exist.

This alone is a fundamental ecological idea, but there are several more that permeate the text.

The centrality/agency/meaning of Earth: Eretz

Go to Gen I.11; The idea that the Earth is alive in some way—is a second fundamental ecological idea in Genesis 1. Many environmentalists argue that our environmental problems are rooted in our haphazard treatment of the earth. Since we don’t regard the earth as alive or life giving, we can innocently exploit and pollute her with no thought of the damage we may be inflicting or the consequences of our lifestyles. The scientists James Lovelock and Lynn Margulies understood earth as a self-regulating living system and called this idea the Gaia hypothesis—after the Greek goddess of earth, Gaia, mother of all life. This was considered a radical idea in its time about 50 years ago. And yet Genesis I portrays the earth as the mother of life, generating life, centuries before Lovelock, but most of us don’t recognize the aliveness of earth in the Bible, just like we don’t recognize the aliveness of earth beneath our feet. The construction of the Hebrew in verse 1:11 points to her lifegiving nature. On the third day, the text proclaims, “Let the earth bring forth vegetation.” The earth here has agency; she partners with God in the “bringing forth.” The earth has the ability to grow the creatures that will inhabit her. She is prolific. She is alive. We see this unusual construction again on the sixth day when the earth partners with God to bring forth animals. The 12th century rabbinic commentator Nachmanides recognized the aliveness of the earth, stating that the very word for earth, eretz, suggests a force that causes growth.

Its worth noting as well that the word eretz occurs 10 times in the creation story—a kind of magic number—again highlighting her significance.


Third, the ecological idea of sustainability or flourishing appears over and over throughout Genesis 1. Sustainability is communicated in several ways—first, through the attention to seeds, or zera, given on the 3rd day in Genesis 1:11-12. Most people familiar with the creation story will tell you the third day is all about the trees and vegetation, and while all this green growth is incredibly significant, what is actually emphasized on day 3 is the word zera or seed. Zera, in various forms, is repeated 6 times in these 2 verses, telling us to pay attention; seeds are significant. The plants will seed seeds and fruit trees will make fruit with seeds in them. Seeds are, after all, the way that life is able to sustain and diversify itself from one generation to the next; This is what the biblical author seems most eager to convey on the 3rd day.

Sustainability is also communicated through the phrase “after its kind” used repeatedly throughout Genesis 1 after almost every creature is created, pointing again to the biblical regard that life must be able to perpetuate itself.

The concept of blessing is another way in which the sustainability—the perpetuation of the species line—is articulated in Genesis 1. Most people assume that the Torah’s first blessing was given to humans—but in fact it is given to the fish and the birds. Take a look at verse 1:22 . God blesses the flyers and swimmers with the ability to be fruitful and multiply.

With so many references the idea of living beings reproducing themselves, it’s clear that the biblical author was concerned—perhaps first and foremost—with the perpetuation of life on earth. The first creation story concludes with Genesis 2:3, and those of you who are facile with the Hebrew should be able to find a clue that this whole story ends with yet another declaration of the significance of sustainably. We can come back to this later if we have time.

Very Goodness=Kol

One more ecological idea that I want to mention today comes at the conclusion of the 6th day. While on all other days, God sees each creation as good, on the sixth day, God makes a proclamation that God’s creation is “very good,” tov maod. Without looking at the text, what category of creation do you imagine is called “very good”—or lets’ say, what would most people who have not studied the text say?

Verse I:31 clearly declares: And God saw everything –kol—that God had made and behold it was very good. Each individual creation was called good and now all the creatures, everything altogether is deemed “very good.” The repetition of the two-letter word kol or everything seven times in verses 29 and 30 evinces the importance of all the creatures, all together. There is a sense of indivisibility of all the creatures involved as one living breathing whole. Every organism is bound up in the life of every other organism.

Commentators and many readers of the text have long presumed that the designation of “very goodness” on the sixth day referred to the human creatures who were created on this day. They assumed that humanity was the crown of creation, and that the creation was established solely for people to use for their own benefit. Such an assumption leads to a utilitarian and anthropocentric stance towards the world. Curiously, human creatures, unlike all the other animals, do not receive the designation of “tov.” From the beginning, the biblical author was circumspect about humanity. Indeed, the midrash teaches that God consulted with the angels to determine whether or not to even create human beings. (Bereshit Rabbah 8:8).

There’s more I can say about Genesis 1’s ecological vocabulary (I wrote a whole book on it 20 years ago: The Splendor of Creation) but I want to make sure to leave plenty of time for a discussion of humanity’s role Genesis 1:28. Perhaps—if you are familiar with the text, you will recall that when humanity was created—last after all the rest—God gives them mastery over the earth and dominion over the other creatures. Read Gen 1:28.

In 1969, the historian Lynn White wrote a famous article in Science Magazine, “The Historical Root of the Ecologic Crisis,” blaming the Bible and the Judao-Christian tradition for our environmental crisis: He claimed that God’s giving humanity dominion meant that God gave humanity a mandate to dominate and exploit nature. This has become a very common reading in liberal and environmentalist circles, including among environmentalist rabbis.

For example: The esteemed Israeli soil scientist and irrigation expert, Daniel Hillel, (author of The Natural History of the Bible and many other books) referring to Genesis I:28 wrote, “His [the human’s] manifest destiny is to be an omnipotent master over nature, which from the outset, was created for his gratification. He is endowed with the power and right to dominate the creatures toward whom he has no obligation.”

There are legitimate reasons that so many people are suspicious of Genesis 1.28. The idea of dominion as domination has endured a long and dark history that has led to terrible suffering and disastrous consequences. The verse was appropriated by the pope in 1493 to justify the Doctrine of Discovery and legitimize the confiscation of native lands everywhere. Tragically, this ideology persists.

Lynn White’s assumption that the Bible—and the idea of dominion—was responsible for the environmental crisis had a profound effect on a whole generation of environmentalists and their students and it had a profound effect on me. It caused me to question how Judaism understood our relationship with the natural world. Yet once I began studying the parasha with a friend, I realized pretty quickly that those who argue that dominion means domination take the verse out of context, paying no attention to the verses that precede or follow this one. Many of them are biased against the Bible to begin with.

If you read the context of this chapter, as we have been doing, you might ask, as the farmer poet Wendell Berry did, “Why would God want to give humanity a mandate to exploit nature after God worked so intentionally to create such a beautiful world”— a world that could sustain itself on its own in perpetuity, without any interference from people?

The Bible itself hints that dominion is not given to people arbitrarily. It appears that dominion is conditional as it certainly is later in the Bible. Dominion is given and can be taken away. The Hebrew word for dominion, RDH, points to this conditionality. Since Hebrew words are built on a system of three-letter roots, and one root can lend itself to multiple meanings, sometimes even a word and its opposite share the same three-letter root.

In certain grammatical forms (in the imperative form and the plural imperfect for 2nd and 3rd person) RDH looks exactly like another Hebrew word, YRD “to go down.” When RDH appears in one of these ambiguous forms as it does in Genesis 1:26, you must determine the word’s meaning by its context. Rashi, the foremost medieval rabbinic commentator, points out the wordplay inherent in this 3-letter root and explains that if we consciously embody God’s image, if we stand up-right and rule responsibly with wisdom and compassion, we will RDH, have dominion over, the creatures, insuring a world of harmony; but if we are deny our responsibility to the creation and thoughtlessly take advantage of our position and the creation, we will YRD, go down below the other creatures and bring ruin to ourselves and the world.[1] If we upend the blessing to further selfish goals, the blessing becomes a curse. If dominion becomes domination, then we are no longer worthy of the role we have been bestowed. We lose our kinship with God, and we lose our kinship with earth.

Significantly dominion is bestowed as part of a two-fold blessing or bracha. The word bracha in Hebrew is related to the word beracha, a pond of water. A blessing is enlivening and regenerative, like an oasis in the desert. The blessing in verse 1:28 is for both fruitfulness and dominion. It lays the foundation for the two basic necessities of life. Fruitfulness promises generativity of the body and dominion—through the human creature’s benevolent rule—promises generativity of the earth and its creatures. Barrenness of body and barrenness of land (famine) would be the greatest threats to the Israelite people, while fruitfulness in both would be the greatest gift. The two-fold blessing for fertility and land reverberates through the Torah in the promise that God makes to Abraham, Isaac and Jacob and the Israelites.

Notably the verses that follows add further context to the meaning of dominion. Immediately after God grants dominion to the human creature, God assigns the seed plants for food for the humans, and the leafy greens for the animals. Dominion, then, ensures that not just people, but that animals too, can eat and thrive. Notably, dominion over the animals does not include the right to eat them.

Some of the rabbinic sages, read dominion allegorically and suggested that people must have dominion over their own desires, and master the tendency towards gluttony. Dominion over the earth first requires dominion over our selves. Seventy years ago, the great environmentalist Rachel Carson eloquently wrote "We, in this generation, must come to terms with nature. We're challenged as [hu]mankind has never been challenged before to prove our maturity and our mastery, not of nature, but of ourselves."

There’s much more to say about all of this and I’m happy to refer you to resources if you are interested.

I want to conclude by saying that I always had this idea that Genesis I is an overture to the whole bible. You know the book, “Everything I need to know, I learned in kindergarten,” That’s how I feel about Genesis I.

I always intuited that if Genesis 1 offered such a profound ecology, that these ideas must—like invisible mycelia--undergird the whole Torah, but I had never heard any Jews talk about a creation theology before—Creation theology isn’t even a thing in the Jewish world. If anything, the very language of creation is off-putting to most people I know. Mentioning creation theology in certain circles, and people assume you are a fundamentalist. There are many reasons that these ideas haven’t found their way into contemporary Jewish thought, but that’s a conversation for another time.

Questions for discussion:

Are there certain ideas in Torah that you recognized as an adult that have caused you to change your mind about something? In other words, have you had an insight from the Torah as an adult that caused you to change your mind and your behaviors?

Is there a time when you changed your mind to take a new position on something? Want caused you to change your mind?

How are you influenced by ideas? In what way do they affect your life?

[1] Rashi, Commentary on Genesis I:26