According to the Jewish calendar, this year is a shemitah year, one of every seven in which the earth and soil must be allowed to rest and lie fallow. Commanded in the Book of Exodus, this is still practiced to a degree in Israel today. However, this Sabbath of the Earth also reflects the interwoven relationship of humanity and land in the Jewish spiritual landscape. Rabbi David Edleson will explore some ways this connection is seen in the Hebrew language, in the concept of the Sabbath, and in centrality of the Land of Israel in Jewish prayer and poetry.
David Edleson grew up going to synagogue, church, and to Unitarian Fellowships in the deep south. His experiences of anti-Semitism were also formative. Born into an assimilated Jewish family, David was removed as drum major of the band in high school because parents didn’t “want a Jew leading the band down Main Street. David became very active in the Jewish community, was president of his college Hillel and William and Mary, and after living and working as a Jewish educator in Jerusalem, was ordained by Hebrew Union College in 1990. While in seminary, he successfully lead the student fight for the ordination of LGBT rabbis in the Reform movement. David served as the rabbi for the Hebrew Association of the Deaf for 25 years, leading services in ASL and adapting services to be participatory and inclusive for hearing and deaf. While serving as a rabbi, David also worked as a leader at several social service agencies, including Vermont CARES, the AIDS service and advocacy agency in Vermont. He was awarded his Doctor of Divinity in 2015. David now serves as the rabbi at Temple Sinai in South Burlington, Vermont. In addition to his work as a rabbi, David has taught in a variety of spiritual traditions, and taught courses in literature, religion and ethics at the Community College of Vermont, and Middlebury College, where he served as a dean for eight years. David grew up in rural Georgia where he met his husband Tim in ninth grade; they now live with their standard poodle Ginsberg in a house they built by hand in Lincoln.