UPDATE July 6, 2022: CANCELLED! Unfortunately Rabbi Natan has tested positive for COVID and cannot conduct services or do his book talk on July 9, 2022. Stay tuned for a rescheduled future program. Second Saturday Kabbalat Shabbat, July 9th, – Services cancelled.
By Quinn Diacon-Furtado as a Special for the Washtenaw Jewish News
Rabbi Natan Margalit will be the guest service leader at the Ann Arbor Reconstructionist Congregation’s Second Saturday Shabbat service at the Jewish Community Center, 2935 Birch Hollow on July 9, 10 am to Noon. Following the service, Margalit will lead a book talk on his new book, The Pearl and the Flame.
The Pearl and the Flame from Albion-Andalus Books examines how Judaism, along with other indigenous and traditional cultures, has preserved the understanding of the world through patterns and relationships. Margalit grounds key systems sciences concepts, such as emergence, embeddedness and tipping points, in Jewish language and spiritual tradition. This blend of spirituality and systems sciences offers a timely integration of old and new, suggesting approaches that stand to move humanity away from cultures of control and towards cultures of relationship.
The Pearl and the Flame also chronicles Margalit’s secular upbringing in Honolulu, his exploration of Orthodox Judaism in Jerusalem, and his own spiritual path rooted in ecological interconnectedness. A theological and ecological thinker and teacher, Margalit’s stories and experiences highlight the integration of ecological thinking and core Jewish concepts, positioning Judaism at the forefront of our struggles against our current social crises.
“There aren’t too many rabbis who can weave together pieces of wisdom from Wendell Berry, Mary Douglas, and Kalonymous Kalman Shapira, the rebbe of the Warsaw Ghetto,” comments Rabbi Sid Schwarz, author of Judaism and Justice: The Jewish Passion to Repair the World. “It reflects the genius of a book that is an antidote to an ever more fragmented world.”
Rabbi Jill Hammer, author of The Jewish Book of Days: A Companion for All Seasons, comments on Margalit’s suggestion that the Jewish tradition of sacred communal storytelling can shift the paradigm and encourage ecological revolution: “Margalit’s book, full of down-to-earth personal stories as well as astute cultural observations, beautifully strings the pearls of Judaism and ecological thinking together to create a relevant and nourishing whole.”
Margalit, a rabbi and scholar with 30 years of experience in teaching, writing, organizing and congregational leadership, earned his Ph.D. in Near Eastern Studies at U.C. Berkeley. He has taught at Bard College, the Reconstructionist Rabbinical College, Hebrew College Rabbinical School, and now is chair of the Rabbinic Texts Department at the ALEPH Ordination Program (AOP). He is also Director of the Earth-Based Judaism track of the AOP, and is founder of the non-profit Organic Torah, now a project of ALEPH. For more information on Organic Torah and Earth Based Judaism, visit aleph.org.