Mini-Exploratorium on Torah Ecology
Stewardship/Kindness to Animals, Renewable Resources, Sustainable
Agriculture, Jewish Insights, Bio-Diversity, Ba'al Tashchit & Hakarat HaTov
Stewardship/Kindness to Animals Jewish nation began as
shepherds and animal owners: Just about anybody you can think of in the
Torah had flocks--Avraham, Yitzchak, Yaakov, 12 brothers, Bnai Yisrael
in Egypt, Moshe, Shaul, David. Very early on we see our Avot being kind
to animals: Rivkah includes the camels when she gives Eliezer water;
Jacob builds Sukkot to shelter his flocks; Jacob and David fight off
predators to save sheep; Jewish leaders are chosen based on their mercy
developed as shepherds (Moshe, David). When Torah is given, we learn we
must feed our animals before we eat [Ve'Achalta Ve'Savata].
Meet Animals that Give Us Renewable Resources
Angora rabbit, duck, sheep, pygmy goat, miniature donkey, alpaca, pigeon, chicken
Bio-Diversity: Uniqueness of Angora Rabbits.
Renewable Resource (Angora wool): Children take Angora wool without
hurting the rabbit (Tzaar Baalei Hayim) and twist it into tough thread.
Demo of spinning Angora wool into yarn on a spinning wheel! Children
feel soft Angora sweater.
11th & 12th graders at the Melvin J. Berman Hebrew Academy in Rockville, MD, learn to calm
a sheep (R) and clip wool (L) without hurting the sheep. Photo credit: Jeff Powers,
Bio-Diversity: Uniqueness of Sheep.
Renewable Resources (wool & milk): Children cut wool off sheep
without hurting it (Tzaar Baalei Hayim) and weave yarn on a loom.
Children see feta cheese (made from sheep's milk). Sustainable Agriculture/ Maintenance Crew: How sheep are lawn mowers and fertilizers. Jewish Insights: 1) Explanation of specked brown and white coloring from the story of Yaakov and Lavan. 2) Hakarat Hatov:
Yaakov sends Yosef to his brothers to see how they and their sheep are
doing (ma shlom hatzon), because we must acknowledge when somebody does
something good for us (what did the tzon provide Yaakov with)? Craft: "Weave Your Own Lego-Sized Rug."
Bio-Diversity: Uniqueness of Goats.
Renewable Resources (wool & milk): Children pet rough goat wool
and learn about black goat-hair tents and goat-hair protective layer
over the sheep's wool tapestries in the mishkan. Sustainable Agriculture/Maintenance Crew: Demo of how goats are weed-whackers! Jewish Insights:
Children learn why the Land of Milk and Honey referred to goats! Craft:
"Weave Your Own Lego-Sized 'Goat-Hair' Avraham Tent."
Bio-Diversity: Uniqueness of Ducks.
Renewable Resources (feathers & down): Children feel the difference
between a duck's smooth feathers and its soft down and see a demo of
how to hypnotize a duck/goose to remove its down. Craft: "Write
with a Quill." Try on a down jacket. Sustainable
Agriculture/Maintenance Crew: Ducks and geese weed around trees and
other places the lawnmower can't reach; geese also weed the grass that
grows in between corn rows.
Donkey & Alpaca (representing Llama) Bio-Diversity: Uniqueness of Donkeys & Alpacas/Llamas.
Renewable Resources (transportation and hauling). Sustainable Agriculture/ Maintenance Crew:
Keep grass mowed. The donkey is a renewable resource tractor for
plowing fields (note: not yoking donkey and ox together because it
disturbs the ox) and donkeys and llamas can be trained as guard animals
for sheep. Jewish Insights: Donkey as object of Hakarat Hatov (we honor the
donkey for carrying our wealth out of Egypt) and, as a pack animal,
must be given rest on Shabbat.
Pigeon & Chicken
Bio-Diversity: Uniqueness of Pigeons & Chickens.
Renewable Resource (eggs). Stewardship/Kindness to Animals & Jewish Insights:
Explanation of Shiluach HaKen (pigeon or dove); why doesn't shiluach haken apply at night to
these birds? Sustainable Agriculture:
Mixing and matching our resources to avoid Baal Tashchit; Chicken
Tractor, heating greenhouse with chicken heaters, chicken segment of
Exploratorium on Torah Ecology
Full-size program includes plant-based
stations of such renewable resources as make your own papyrus, linen,
pizza, challah, etc., chick-holding, and more complicated animal-based
renewable resources such as making parchment, felt projects such as
colorful balls and a mini-yurt, cheese, and Kick-the-Can Ice Cream.