Two weeks ago, first Jewish Eco Seminar’s program for Spanish-speaking communities (Jewish Eco Seminars engages and educates the Jewish community through inspiring seminars on Jewish environmental wisdom) took place in Yerushalayim. In the midst of winter, a group of thirty one people from Midreshet Chail (including students from Chile and Argentina, their coordinators and two of their rabbis), besides the Jewish Eco Seminars’ staff of educators, put aside the cold to venture into the forests of Har Nof, to experience and study about the environment in Judaism.
After a short walk, the girls participated in an experiential activity to raise awareness on our relationship with trees. Later, they were involved in a text study session on the basic "ecological commandments" found in Torah and the Talmud.
After the study session, the group resumed the hike, taking the opportunity to meet a carob tree and eat its fruits (same as Rabbi Shimon Bar Yochai did for thirteen years). Afterwards, the participants heard a Dvar Torah on tefillah (prayer) in nature, that prepared themselves for davening Mincha (the afternoon prayer) in the forest. Later on, returning to their midrasha (study location), the girls participated in an introductory class on the environment in Judaism, concluding the day that way.
Despite the cold, it was an amazing experience, full of learning and learning in deep from the nature. Midreshet Chail girls were living in Har Nof, and had no idea that such a huge forest existed just ten minutes walking from home! On the other hand, most of the participants never thought that an environmental ethic could be found in Torah and other Jewish sources.
Beyond any personal experience, it was a great way of launching the Jewish Eco Seminars Spanish programs which, according to me, sets a before and after in Spanish-speaking Jewish communities, which in general (except in certain special cases) little is known about environmental issues in Torah and it is almost not discussed at all.
Thanks G-d, we recently received a grant from ROI to expand our programs to Spanish-speaking organizations based in Israel. For this reason, we have a great responsibility being the spokesmen of a consciousness shift within the Latinamerican world. We do not teach anything new. We just bring in an ancient wisdom from which we could learn how to deal with the current environmental challenges.
If you want to find out about our programs or you want to help us in any way, please visit www.jewishecoseminars.com
Shabat Shalom to you all!