06 October 2008

Dr. Avraham Biran

On Shabbat Ki Tavo (9/19/08), I gave a sermon as an azkarah (memorial) for Dr. Avraham Biran who had died that Wednesday. There was a paid obituary in the New York Times, to which I entered in the guestbook this note:

Tonight, at my congregation in New Jersey, I will remember Prof. Biran - most notably for the moment that he brought archeology alive for us. My HUC class was in Israel in the summer of 1993. All of our parents back in the States had read the NYTimes article about the David stele, when this energetic old man came in to speak with us, in preparation for a tiyyul (field trip) later that week. He brought with him a milk crate covered with a cloth. When he asked two members of the class to lift up the rock inside, we could scarcely believe that this was the evidence of the Davidic dynasty on the world's front pages. A fragile remnant of history in our clumsy hands! Later, when he gave us a personal tour of Tel Dan, where the stele had been found, he quite easily outpaced even the most fit - leaping from rock to rock, making the site come alive.

Today, the Times published a full obituary.

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