Friday Night Services With Beantown Jewish Gardens Director Leora Mallach

VilnaShul

Tucked away on Beacon Hill’s quiet Philips Street is an early 20th century synagogue known as the Vilna Shul.  Originally serving Lithuanian Jewish immigrants living in Boston’s West End neighborhood, it no longer has a full-time congregation but is being slowly restored to its former glory while hosting a few religious and cultural events each month.  Once a month, Friday night services are held with a guest speaker invited to give a talk.  This past Friday, Leora Mallach, co-founder and director of Ganei Beantown (Beantown Jewish Gardens), spoke about biblical laws dictating a rest year for the health of agricultural land.  Ganei Beantown seeks to build community by educating and promoting the connection between Judaism, food and agriculture.  Among their work has been the establishment of organic gardens at synagogues and an annual sustainability-themed conference.

Mallach’s talk was timed to coincide with the upcoming minor holiday of Tu B’Shevat, the “new year” for trees which technically serves as a reference date for laws relating to tithing and land use.  However, in modern times it has become a day for ecological awareness in Israel and many people have adopted the practice of planting trees.  Traditionally, though, the custom is to eat fruits that begin to appear at this time of year in Israel including dates, grapes and figs.

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