Southern & Jewish
Southern & Jewish celebrates the stories, people, and experiences – past and present – of Jewish life in the American South. Hosted by the Goldring/Woldenberg Institute of Southern Jewish Life, posts come from educators, students, rabbis, parents, artists, and many other “visitors-to and daily-livers-of” the Southern Jewish experience. From road trips to recipes to reflections, we’ll explore a little bit of everything – well, at least all things Southern and/or Jewish. Shalom, y’all!
Today’s game is a showdown between a veteran and a rookie. Abraham Ibn Ezra (1089-1167) will compete against Nehama Leibowitz (1905-1997).
Despite Leibowitz’s recent recruitment to the league of legendary Torah scholars, she clearly made a name for herself as both a teacher and a team player.
Meanwhile, Ibn Ezra, a renowned player in his own right from days long gone, does have one fatal flaw: He often clashes with his teammates, which has been evident throughout this season.
During this game, we’re really seeing Leibowitz bring the team together! Throughout the season, she used her own skills to strengthen the team as a whole, and today is no exception. She has racked up five assists so far this half. It is rumored that Nehama sends her teammates a weekly playbook, which she calls The Gliyo-noop[i]. Her teammates have admitted that these plays have been the secret to their successful season, and that is crystal clear this evening.
During half time, one of Nehama’s teammates put it best: “Leibowitz’s humility [is] legend. She insist[s] that everyone call her “Nehama” and refuse[s] to let newspapers interview her, or to allow people to come simply in order to meet her, declaring, ‘I am not a museum!'”
Her opponent, Abraham Ibn Ezra, proves to be more of a lone wolf on the court. Recent tabloid articles claim that his teammates have been disappointed by his reluctance to pass the ball[ii]. He has gained the nickname “Ibn Ezr-ywhere” for his frequent travels on the court[iii]. Today alone he has received a foul for arguing the referee. Ibn Ezra claims that the referee was not following the technical rules of the game.
In the final minutes of the game, Ibn Ezra has the ball and Leibowitz guards him. He sees an open opponent, but instead goes for the three-pointer before Nehama can steal the ball. The ball bounces off the rim and the rebound is caught by one of Leibowitz’s teammates. Leibowitz drives down the court, she leaps in the air as her teammate passes her the ball for one of her world famous gliyo-noops.
A slam dunk! The buzzer sounds.
The final score is 97-67. Nehama Leibowitz is off to the next round!
[i] Gliyonot are worksheets with questions about the weekly Torah portion that Leibowitz sent out to her students across the world.
[ii] Unlike his contemporaries, Ibn Ezra refused to use midrash to examine biblical texts and instead focused on grammar and the literal translation of texts.
[iii] Ibn Ezra was a restless wanderer. He never lived in one place for too long.
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Pronunced: TORE-uh, Origin: Hebrew, the Five Books of Moses.