Let’s Not Lose This Important Event


The Baltimore community is in danger of losing a unique and underappreciated event, and few people seem to be aware. The Pearlstone Beit Midrash — the brain-child of Aaron Shamberg, which was developed by Jakir Manela, executive director of the Pearlstone Center, into an event attended by close to 200 people annually — will not be held this year due to funding shortfalls.

The Beit Midrash has been held every year for the past half-decade. It is a weekend event during which participants have the opportunity to attend their choice of around 20 workshops and several keynote addresses focused on the Torah and agriculture.

It attracts a broad range of participants from Chasidic to Reconstructionist Jews; from ardent feminists to black-hatters. I do not believe there is a similar convention focusing on Zeraim, the Talmudic discussions about agriculture, held anywhere in this country. If the Beit Midrash were to be [permanently] canceled, the
research and scholarship that underlie the presentations will be lost and those who have grown from dialogue and collaborative learning will no longer have a vital resource.

More importantly, the Beit Midrash is a unique phenomenon of Jewish unity. Where else do you find Jews of such diverse backgrounds gathering to spend an entire weekend together, united by a mutual desire to understand the messages of the Torah? We eat together, sing together, study together and dance together. Our tradition teaches us that the scourge of disunity has been the catalyst for the destruction of our Temple and its continued absence for two millennia. More than the Torah learning, each day I and many other participants have come away inspired by the display of unity. Friendships are built across the religious divides that plant the seeds for understanding and cooperation that are currently lacking.

As a community we have a mandate to ensure that the Beit Midrash is not canceled and that we continue to gather to share Torah and strengthen brotherhood.

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