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#### Fibonacci Sequence

Count Down

* Daisies can have 34, 55, or 89 petals.

* Each twist of the DNA double helix is 34 angstroms long by 21 angstroms wide.

Values
Author: Babaganewz

#### Fibonacci Sequence

Count Down

* Daisies can have 34, 55, or 89 petals.

* Each twist of the DNA double helix is 34 angstroms long by 21 angstroms wide.

* The human hand has 5 fingers, with 3 parts and 2 knuckles each.

Common Denominator

What do daisies, DNA, and hands have in common? Answer--the Fibonacci Sequence, which is a series of numbers discovered by Leonardo Fibonacci in 1202. Here's how it works: Start with the numbers 0 and 1. To calculate the next number in the series, add together the two numbers before it. You'll get 0, 1, 1, 2, 3, 5, 8, 13, 21, 34, and so on.

As the numbers in the Fibonacci Sequence get larger, the ratio between consecutive numbers (which is a number in the series divided by the previous number) approaches 1.618, what mathematicians call the Golden Ratio. When the Golden Ratio exists between a rectangle's length and width, that rectangle is called a Golden Rectangle.

Mathematicians discovered Fibonacci numbers and Golden Rectangles throughout nature. For example, most flowers have a Fibonacci number of petals and leaves. Lilies have 3 petals, buttercups have 5, and sunflowers have 34--all Fibonacci numbers. In addition, the human head fits into a Golden Rectangle with the eyes in the center.

Since the Golden Rectangle is a particularly pleasing shape, it's not surprising that artists and musicians want to capture nature's beautiful pattern in their work. For example, Leonardo da Vinci painted the "Mona Lisa" so that her face fits perfectly into a Golden Rectangle. So does her body from the top of her head to her folded arms.

Fibonacci numbers fill pianos, too. Musical scales use 13 keys, 8 of which are white, and 5 black. Black keys are divided into groups of 2 and 3. If you look closely enough, you'll find the Fibonacci Sequence everywhere--in nature, art, music, and Judaism.

Biblical Beauties

If scientists have found the Golden Ratio embedded in the world’s most beautiful creations, then it’s not surprising that the Divine Proportion (as the Golden Ratio is sometimes called) has been found in the Torah, God’s blueprint for creation. For example, God commanded Noah to build the teyvah, ark 300 cubits long, 50 cubits wide, and 30 cubits high (Bereishit 6:15). The difference between the Golden Ratio (1.618) and the ratio between the teyvah’s width and its height (1.666) is not visible to the naked eye.

Furthermore, according to God’s command in Shemot 25:10, the ratio between the length and width of the Nora8 (aron, Ark of the Covenant) was also 1.666. Are these findings merely a fascinating coincidence? No. Science teaches us to systematically investigate the underlying harmony in the world, and Judaism teaches us how to praise the Architect of that harmony. “How great are Your works, God; You make them all with wisdom” (Psalms 104:24).

#### Biotech Food

Imagine a spider biting a high school student and transferring spectacular, spider-like powers to the unsuspecting teen. This famous plot device is not so far-fetched today.

Values
Author: Babaganewz

#### Biotech Food

Imagine a spider biting a high school student and transferring spectacular, spider-like powers to the unsuspecting teen. This famous plot device is not so far-fetched today. Although scientists won't be creating Spider-Man anytime soon, they are breaking the natural boundaries that exist between species and creating new plants and animals that exhibit extraordinary traits. For example, genes from salmon can be spliced into tomatoes to make them more resistant to cold weather. "Biotechnology is one of tomorrow's tools in our hands today," say executives at Monsanto, a corporation that believes genetically modified organisms (GMOs) benefit humanity. But critics of GMOs caution that public safety and ethical concerns override the potential benefits. "Swapping genes between organisms can produce unknown toxic effects and allergies," says Dr. Vyvyan Howard, an expert in infant development.

A MATTER OF LIFE AND DEATH

Supporters claim that genetically modified food will save billions of people from starvation because seeds can be engineered to produce more abundant and nutritious food and to create disease-resistant crops. As proof of the benefits, GMO backers describe a new species of corn engineered to resist the European corn borer. This insect destroys 7 percent of the world's corn crop each year, an amount that could feed 60 million people. According to Anthony Trewavas, a leading researcher on GMOs, continued development of GMOs "is a matter of life and death."

TOO RISKY TO EAT

Opponents call GMOs "Frankenfoods," a label they hope will raise ethical concerns about human beings tampering with the natural order of life; after all, Frankenstein turned against his creator. Might the same thing happen with GMOs, which, like Frankenstein, are entirely man-made and never would have appeared in nature? Nobel Prize winner Dr. George Wald expressed this fear when he warned that restructuring nature "may be not only unwise, but dangerous."

Until independent, long-term studies determine that GMOs are safe for humans and the environment, critics demand that America join the coalition of 30 countries, including Japan and many European nations, that has banned GMO crops. "Most ill effects from food and allergies are not easily quantified until after the disaster," says Professor Joe Cummins of the University of Western Ontario.

THE JEWISH VIEW

Judaism places some limits on our ability to tinker with nature. The Torah prohibits mating of animals from different species and grafting of different species of trees (Vayikra 19:19). However, Judaism places no parallel limits on genetic engineering, meaning that we have the right to do so whenever our efforts will improve the world rather than damage it.

Because GMOs have the potential to create a more abundant food supply for the benefit of starving people, most rabbinic authorities permit genetic engineering. While the critics point out the risk of unknown harm, these authorities believe that the known benefits of GMOs outweigh potential dangers that are not identifiable now.

Judaism's view of GMOs is consistent with our tradition's overall view of our responsibility as God's partners and as guardians of the Earth for the coming generations: "Be careful not to spoil or destroy My world, for if you do, there will be nobody after you to repair it" (Kohelet Rabbah 7:28).

WHAT DO YOU THINK?

Do you agree that the benefits of GMOs outweigh the risks? Do you think genetically modified foods sold in stores should be labeled?

#### A Hanukkah Ceremony for the Family

This creative ceremony begins with lighting the hanukkiyah and saying the appropriate blessings, but it doesn't end there.

Holidays, Ritual, Values
Author: Babaganewz

#### A Hanukkah Ceremony for the Family

This creative ceremony begins with lighting the hanukkiyah and saying the appropriate blessings, but it doesn't end there. Students will learn what Jewish life was like during the time of the Maccabees and consider how difficult it can be to belong to a minority. This ceremony looks at the importance of community and the strength of heroes who stood up for their beliefs even in times of great pressure and inspired others to take action. This special lesson contains ideas to help enrich the Hanukkah Ceremony for the Family.

#### The Choice of a Lifetime

Choosing Sobriety

Values
Author: Babaganewz

#### The Choice of a Lifetime

Choosing Sobriety

After her boss fired her and her parents kicked her out of their house, Rachel Cohen (not her real name) fled to a friend's apartment. But it wasn't long before that situation soured, and she was forced to leave. Rachel's last stop in her steep, personal decline was sharing a house with people smoking heroin.

"That's when I realized that if I stayed there," Rachel, now 17, recalls, "this is where my life would be going."

The road to rehabilitation proved long and arduous for Rachel, who discovered marijuana the summer before she entered seventh grade. When she began to smoke regularly, her life started unraveling.

"It was like a disease," she notes. "Drugs overcame my entire being. I didn't show up to my sister's birthday party because I was too busy getting high. I stopped going to school, and I was so high that I couldn't stay awake the few times I did go. I dropped 65 pounds in six months. I was depressed, anxious, and I couldn't sleep."

Rachel found valuable help through Jewish Alcoholics, Chemically Dependent Persons, and Significant Others (JACS), a program of the Jewish Board of Family and Children's Services in New York. "It was about changing my entire life," she explains. "I had to get new friends, hang out in new places, and do new things.

Today, Rachel has restored ties with her family, is enrolled in college, and hopes to visit Israel for the first time. "Today, I have so many opportunities because I stopped taking drugs," she notes. "My life was so limited back then. I was paralyzed by my addiction. Today I'm free."

What can she tell kids who feel they can never change their bad habits? "I'd probably tell them the same thing that people told me," Rachel responds. "They do have beh.irah. They do have a choice."

Choosing Judaism

Natan Gamedze, crown prince and heir to the throne of Swaziland-a small kingdom that borders South Africa and Mozambique-remembers the instant he felt drawn to Judaism: He had signed up for a Hebrew course in university and began studying the Biblical passage of the binding of Yitzchak.

"It was like opening an inner dimension,"he recalls. "I felt it was telling me something about myself."

"Fluent in 13 languages, Natan understood the nuances of the spoken word; yet Hebrew touched him like no other foreign language had. After receiving a full scholarship to Hebrew University, the African prince left his country for Israel."

"I began to discover the beauty of Judaism," he says. "But it was frustrating. I couldn't understand why someone like me, who wasn't Jewish, had such a thirst and love for Judaism."

To escape his growing attachment to Judaism, he decided to visit Rome, the center of his Catholic faith. Surprisingly, he felt an urge to recite the Shema in his hotel room near St. Peter's Basilica. "To this day," he says, "I can't explain what happened there. It was a frightening and powerful experience."

Later, Natan sat down to breakfast but discovered he could not eat. He checked his calendar and discovered that it was Yom Kippur. At that moment, he decided to convert to Judaism.

"I knew the road was going to be extremely difficult," he admits. "Wherever I'd go in the Jewish community, I'd stick out like a sore thumb. But I was confident I was doing the right thing."

Despite their initial shock, Natan's parents supported his decision. "I was brought up in a home that emphasized independent thinking and self-reliance," he explains. "My choice was an outgrowth of this upbringing. How could they oppose it?"

Today, Natan is a rabbi in Israel, where he lives with his wife and two children. He understands his conversion as a way to spread God's glory. "For many people," he explains, "seeing a black Orthodox rabbi hits a chord. It opens people's eyes to the universality of Judaism."

#### Two Sides of the Story

One Side of the Story

Values
Author: Babaganewz

#### Two Sides of the Story

One Side of the Story

As the band played, my cousin David teetered precariously on a synagogue chair lifted high above the happy, proud faces of his bar mitzvah guests.

Alternating between euphoria and terror, David clutched the sides of the chair, willing himself to be brave, and smiled broadly; after all, this was his day. He had worked all year to recite his Torah portion flawlessly, and now he could celebrate.

The room appeared to be well-prepared for such a celebration: The tables were bedecked with fine china and festive balloon centerpieces, and the band kept people on their toes. Yet I couldn't help but notice that one important element was noticeably absent: No photographer snapped pictures of this memorable event.

Confused, I wondered how someone with such a significant role could not be here. Yet when David gave his speech, not one bulb flashed. He called up his relatives to kindle his birthday candles, danced with his friends and family, lost playing limbo, and even kissed his older sister--something he hadn't done since he was a baby. No photographer captured these moments on film.

Dessert was being served when a burly man, wearing shorts and T-shirt and clutching a camera, burst through the doors of the hall. A guest directed him towards David, where he began to rapidly snap pictures, all the while calling, "Give me a smile, bar mitzvah boy!" Sweating profusely, he endeavored to gather the guests at their tables for group photos, although some had already gone home. Running from one table to another, he snapped roll after roll of film.

Appalling, I thought. What kind of a photographer has the audacity to arrive late at a bar mitzvah, and not even dressed properly? How many precious memories would be forgotten because he hadn't taken the pictures in time? What possible excuse could justify such irresponsible behavior?

I would be sure to find out his name before I left. At least I could warn my friends never to hire him for any of their important events.

The Other Side of the Story

Sundays without weddings or b'nei mitzvah are rare in my profession, but I was looking forward to a quiet afternoon taking care of business at my studio. I was examining photo proofs when the phone's ring startled me. Now, who would be calling on a Sunday? I thought.

I'm not sure why I answered the phone; perhaps I thought it was my wife, or perhaps I just wanted it to stop ringing. But the voice on the other end of the line turned my relaxing Sunday upside-down.

"True You Photography."

"Hello? Oh, thank goodness someone is there!

We're having a crisis here, and we need you to come down immediately..."

"Whoa," I said. "Slow down. What are you talking about?"

The woman drew a deep breath. "I'm at Beth Emet, not far from your studio. My friend's son David is having his bar mitzvah party today, and the photographer never showed up! All the relatives and friends are here, and we won't have any pictures! Can you possibly help us?"

I considered the unusual request. "What time does the bar mitzvah start?"

"It already started," she replied, her voice catching, "almost two hours ago."

I thought of this 13-year-old kid one day explaining to his grandchildren why he had no pictures of his bar mitzvah. Not if I can help it, I decided.

"I'll be right there," I said, and hung up the phone.

I left the photo proofs on the table, grabbed my car keys, and headed out the door. I certainly wasn't dressed for the occasion, but I didn't want to waste more time by going home to change.

On the way to the synagogue, I planned my strategy: I would take as many pictures as I could, as well as I could. As I entered the hall, I thought of the quiet Sunday I had looked forward to, but took solace from knowing that I had definitely done the right thing.

And besides, I thought hopefully, good deeds can help bring good business.

Jewishful Thinking

He never replied to your e-mail.
She ignored you in class.
He invited your friend to the movie, but not you.
She pushed ahead of you in line.

WE’VE ALL MET THEM — the people who are thoughtless, inconsiderate, and stuck-up — or have we?

Perhaps your e-mail was zapped by an overzealous spam-blocker.
Maybe she had a fight with another friend this morning and she’s consumed by the thought of it.
It’s possible he thought you’d seen the movie already.
Maybe she has low blood sugar and needs to eat immediately.

SOUNDS IMPROBABLE? It happens all the time. For this reason, our sages cautioned us: Hevay dan et kol ha’adam l’khaf z’khut, Judge everyone favorably, Pirkei Avot 1:6. So the next time a person behaves strangely, look beyond the way things appear. There may be another side to the story.

#### Ed Theory: Scaffolding

When you scaffold, you increase learning and retention and you differentiate instruction. Read how in this post.

Professional Development
Author: Babaganewz

#### Ed Theory: Scaffolding

When you scaffold, you increase learning and retention and you differentiate instruction. Read how in this post.