At Bina, the Center for Jewish Identity and Hebrew Culture, the brand of Judaism being practiced is Jewish social action. It is a formula that is meant to work specifically for secular Israeli society, and it defines them, from the Bina location in downtrodden south Tel Aviv to their community work and secular-based study of Jewish texts and culture. In order to best understand the Bina mindset and their grassroots approach, it’s helpful to study a text often taught to new Bina students, from the Talmud Bavli, about the ways to give tzedakah.
In this session developed for Expeditions, Noga Brenner Samia, Bina’s director of development, uses the tale of Mr. and Mrs. Ukva to discuss Judaism’s two models of giving and how those models affect Bina’s communal methodologies, both in Tel Aviv and beyond, as they expand their own model. Rina Levanon, a student in BINA’s Beit Midrash for facilitators, offers her own ‘parshanut’ or commentary on the piece, involving a gender perspective that at first distracted her from the social action element of the text, before she saw it as different perspectives on giving.