Westwood Kehilla

Torah Flora Shabbaton

The Westwood Kehilla is excited to welcome Dr. Jon Greenberg, writer, lecturer, and editor of the Torah Flora blog, which is devoted to biblical ethnobotany.
Click here to register for this remarkable Shabbaton!

What is biblical ethnobotany?

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.

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 Co. 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.

Watch on TorahCafé.com!

Each mealtime talk over the Shabbaton is part of a series of stories and drashot related to various dishes in the meal.

Milk and Honey: Blessing or Curse? Theology, Resilience, and the Color of Wine
We’ll learn how the meaning of milk and honey changed throughout Tanach, the surprising symbolism of the rose and carrot families, and the connections among the seven species, irrigation, and the temptation of polytheism.

Noah’s Wine vs. Pharaoh’s Beer—The Barroom Brawl and Culture War that Shaped Jewish History
Enjoy Shabbat lunch as you learn the meaning of Elisha’s gourd, how coffee fueled the rise of Kabbalah, and how flexible plant stems produced flexible laws.

Olives & Social Security; Edible Lilies—Egyptian god, Israelite gourmet export, and Dutch colonial business efficiency
Learn about how Jewish cooks turn tragedies to confections, the meaning of King Achashverosh’s cotton curtains, and seder plates for vegetarians and New Jersey immigrants.