This week's portion: silence
On religion and philosophy: Ibn Rushd and Rambam

Thursday morning miscellany

There are a bunch of things I want to point y'all to, but haven't had the wherewithal to draft a complete post about each of them. So hey, you get a Friday Thursday morning miscellany.

Ellen Bernstein, who does fabulous work around Judaism and the environment, has written an essay called Finding God Outdoors, now online at Zeek:

Jewish identity and ecological identity may seem like strange bed-fellows. Yet our identity is our sense of our self: who we are: what grounds us in our selves and the world. Knowing who we are implies knowing who we are relative to others. How we are different, and, just as importantly, how we are similar.

Beliefnet has posted an interview that Cathleen Falsani did with President-Elect Barack Obama back in 2004:

I'm rooted in the Christian tradition. I believe that there are many paths to the same place, and that is a belief that there is a higher power, a belief that we are connected as a people. That there are values that transcend race or culture, that move us forward, and there's an obligation for all of us individually as well as collectively to take responsibility to make those values lived.

And participants on the Rabbis for Human Rights North America human rights trip to Israel are blogging about their experiences. Through their posts and photos, I'm encountering the landscape again (both physical and emotional) after three months away, and it's incredibly powerful for me. Here's a taste of one post:

Arik Ascherman indicated the trees on the windy hillside before us. "This is the battle for the land," he said. The "combatants" in this struggle are the olive trees before us. A few rows belong to Palestinian farmers, the ones right next to them, in protective barrels, were planted to by settlers. On the other side of the road, it was the same -- a stand of olive trees in barrels and another stand without: Palestinian and settler, settler and Palestinian.

(That's from Carol Towarnicky's The Battle for the Land.)

And on an entirely unrelated note, there's the fabulous G!dcast -- short animated commentaries on the parsha of the week, each created by someone new. They're short, accessible, visually interesting -- and they also manage to draw deeply on the deep tradition of commentary and midrash. This week's animated short has smart things to say about the casting-out of Ishmael and Hagar, so...go and watch!

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