Torah Flora is written by me, Dr. Jon Greenberg, and is devoted to biblical ethnobotany. In addition to writing the essays on this Web site, I also present live programs on this subject for audiences of all ages and educational levels, often at synagogues, religious schools, and botanical gardens. I encourage you to contact me at jon@torahflora.org to arrange a program for your school, congregation, community or organization.

What is biblical ethnobotany?

Ethnobotany is the study of how people use plants. Biblical ethnobotany is a way of using the tools of botany and ethnobotany to help us better understand the Torah. This includes such things as identifying the plants and other natural phenomena mentioned in the Tanach (Jewish Bible), using information about these plants to shed light on their use in prophetic metaphor, and studying the plants involved in performing various mitzvot in order to better appreciate and perform those mitzvot. To see what this sort of scholarship looks like in practice, click on Essays and read a few of the items available there. The Resources page will also provide you with opportunities to learn more about Biblical ethnobotany.

Who is Dr. Jon Greenberg?

Dr. Greenberg received his bachelor’s degree with honors in biology from Brown University and his Master’s and Doctorate in agronomy from Cornell University. He has also studied with Rabbi Chaim Brovender at Israel’s Yeshivat Hamivtar and conducted research on corn, alfalfa, and soybeans at Cornell, the US Department of Agriculture, and the University of Pennsylvania’s Institute for Cancer Research. Since 1989, he has been a science teacher and educational consultant. Dr. Greenberg was Senior Editor of science textbooks at Prentice Hall Publishing Co. Previously on the faculty of Yeshivas Ohr Yosef, the School of Education at Indiana University, and the University of Phoenix, he has taught at the Heschel School since 2008. In 2021, he published Fruits of Freedom, a Passover Hagadah with a commentary from the perspective of the history of Jewish food and agriculture. He is a frequent speaker at synagogues, schools, and botanical gardens. Dr. Greenberg can be contacted at jon@torahflora.org.

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