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Welcome to the BZBI Shofar Blog!

January 6, 2016

The Book of Ecclesiastes opens with the bold statement, אֵ֥ין כָּל־חָדָ֖שׁ תַּ֥חַת הַשָּֽׁמֶשׁ, “There is nothing new under the sun” (Eccl. 1:9). If we wanted to be snarky — and after all, what fun is the internet if we can’t be a little snarky — we might point to any number of modern technologies, things that even Science Fiction authors couldn’t have imagined — like, say, the internet itself.

And yet. As many of you already know, learning and teaching Talmud has been one of my passions since my teenage years; and basically the Talmud was the internet before the internet was the internet. The Talmud is a strange sort of a thing — so strange, in fact, that after 150 years of academic study, scholars still debate what it actually is. Law? Literature? Bible commentary?

Consider the opening line of the first chapter of the first tractate: “מאימתי קורין את שמע בערבין,” From what time do we read the Shema in the evening?” (Berakhot 2a). The Talmud goes on this way for 2,700 more pages, each of which assumes your familiarity with 3-12 other random pages of Talmud. Later rabbis, eager to help future generations navigate this hot mess intellectual adventure, added notes in the margin telling you which other pages are relevant to the passage in front of you. At any point in studying Talmud, a link to a different passage might send you off to that volume, and from there to another passage, and so on, until the desk in front of you is piled with books, each one open to a different page. Sound familiar?

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Sounds like the internet 🙂

We all like to link to things — and we love it when our friends click and share those links. That’s why we’ve decided to relaunch The Shofar here, as a blog. It’s been some time since we produced The Shofar as a print publication, and while an electronic edition was available on the BZBI website, we are now ready to try something new. The Shofar Blog will be a place for us to share pictures and stories from recent events as well as keeping you up to date on what’s coming next.  Check us it out each Wednesday to see something new, and share the links with your friends!

As we premier The Shofar Blog, we are also increasing our presence on Facebook and Instagram — follow us in both places to keep up with the pictures, articles, and ideas that we can’t wait to share.

At the same time, we know that nothing speaks more boldly than the printed word. With that in mind, we have shifted from the semi-annual program guide book to a series of monthly postcards with information about all of our upcoming programs, classes, and special events. I already received my January postcard, so I assume yours came as well.

More than anything, we hope you’ll help us spread the word about BZBI in general andThe Shofar Blog in particular by sharing the posts that speak to you. Happy New Year!

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