Thursday, May 17, 2012

A Baby Monitor

I recently acquired a new specimen for my forthcoming "Jewish Museum of Natural History." In the Torah's list of sheratzim - small creatures that transmit ritual impurity when dead - one of the creatures is called koach. According to some scholars, this refers to the monitor lizard. Monitors grow to be very large - the desert monitor in Israel grows to around four feet, while in other parts of the world monitors can reach ten feet or more. Accordingly, koach, which means "power," is a worthy name.

The monitor that I acquired is a Savannah monitor. Fully grown, it can reach 4-5 feet in length, but the one that I purchased is just a baby, no more than six inches long. He's incredibly vicious - when I open the cage, he jumps up with an open mouth and tries to bite - but when I hold him for a while, he calms down, and hopefully he will become tamer in due course.

Anyway, the day after I got him, I saw the following e-mail posted to the local Bet Shemesh mailing list:
Subject: Baby Monitor
Date: Wed May 9, 2012 10:07 am
Hi i am looking to buy or borrow a baby monitor from somebody. If anybody has one available please respond to this email.
Thank You, Yossi 
 Wow, I thought, isn't that a strange coincidence? The day after I get a baby monitor, somebody else wants one! And why does he want one, anyway?

Then I realized that he wasn't looking for a baby monitor. He was looking for a baby monitor!

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

The Jewish Museum Of Natural History

I am thrilled to announce that plans are moving ahead for the development of "The Jewish Museum Of Natural History." The mission is outlined below, and you can download a full prospectus at this link.


The Jewish Museum of Natural History will be a unique institution. Its primary goals are twofold: To enhance appreciation and understanding of Scripture, Talmud and Jewish tradition via the natural world, and to thereby also enhance appreciation and understanding of the natural world itself. Visitors will learn about Scriptural and Midrashic symbolism, Jewish law and history, and the natural history of the Land of Israel.

The museum will accomplish this mission via a combination of extraordinary live and inanimate exhibits, including taxidermy mounts and other intriguing biological artifacts. All exhibits, including live specimens, will be hands-on, since tactile experiences are the most powerful. Visits will be conducted exclusively via guided tours, in order to maximize the educational value. The Jewish Museum of Natural History will also serve as an invaluable educational resource, providing teacher training courses, extended lecture series, and trainee assistant curator programs for teens.

The nucleus of the collection has already been assembled and is licensed by the Nature Reserves Authority. Plans are currently underway for a temporary facility, under the auspices of a Foundation created for the museum and its associated publications. The long-term goal is to construct a building for the museum in the city of Bet Shemesh. Although housing a population of 80,000 which is projected to double in the next decade, and home to a large Anglo population which regularly receives visitors from abroad, Bet Shemesh lacks any kind of tourist attraction. The Jewish Museum of Natural History will fill that gap in a unique way.