When we studied the Book of Judges in 10th grade, we read many stories of ancient Israel – stories
    of wars and their heroes and of conflict between monarchists and supporters of other political systems.
    One story that stuck with me was the story of Abimelech.  In this story, Jotham stood on a mountain over
    Shechem and delivered a parable.

    Why is this story relevant? Why should we care? Well, it reminds me of a few non-biblical stories. One
    comes from Hamlet, in which Laertes rushes into Elsinore shouting, "To hell, allegiance! Vows, to the
    blackest devil!" in his determination to avenge his father's death. Behind him rush the people of Denmark,
    chanting, "Laertes shall be king! Laertes king!" The people have thrown their support to Laertes without
    truly considering why, and Laertes is ready to kill. This leads directly to the play's tragic ending, in which
    four major characters, including both Laertes and Hamlet, are killed.

    Another story is that of how Hitler came to power. A third example is the case of Syrian President Bashar

    The lesson of Jotham's parable holds true: when a leader is selected not on merit or worth but because of
    that leader's treachery or because that leader appears bad but preferable to the alternatives, dangerous
    consequences ensue.

    Not only would I not know the story of Abimelech if I were not a Shoresh student, but I would also lack the
    analytical skills necessary to see the connections and the potency of Jotham's parable had it not been for
    the many enlightening discussions we have had at Shoresh.

    Shoresh provides what a religious school is supposed to provide – knowledge of Tanach, of the Siddur, of
    our culture and traditions – and does so amazingly well.  But Shoresh goes above and beyond that, giving
    students a set of skills that will be helpful in all settings, academic and otherwise.

    (Class of 2012)
    A Set of Skills
Ulpan Ben Yehuda
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