|Tower of Babel by Dr. Seuss|
This week JCHS welcomed undergraduate guests from Shalem College in Israel, whose motto is "leadership for Israel begins here." We enjoy our annual encounter with these students because, in a country where many college students specialize as undergrads, Shalem undergrads dedicate themselves to four years of conversation across the ages and disciplines.
For them, “shalem” (lit. completeness) does not come from developing expertise in a single academic or professional discipline or following a single path, rather it comes from integrating diverse disciplines, being in conversation with a diversity of voices and perspectives. We love hearing that their JCHS visit is a highlight of their Bay Area tour because of the school community's vibrant, living laboratory of intellectual and Jewish pluralism.
All of that is amplified by an infamous story in this week's Torah portion: The Tower of Babel. Its infamy always has intrigued me because the Tower could easily have been swallowed up by the even more famous introductory story this week's Torah portion: Noah and the Flood. Torah's Noah narrative is told over four full chapters with lots of detail and drama. By comparison, the Tower tale uses a mere nine verses.