Earth-Based Jewish Practices Subscribe

A selection of initiatives, blogs, resources and communities on Jewcology which focus on earth-based Jewish practices.


Blogs

Yom Kippur and Vegetarianism

   by Richard Schwartz ~                          There are many connections that can be made between the sacred Jewish holiday of Yom Kippur and vegetarianism: 1.  On Yom Kippur, Jews pray to the “Living God,” the “King Who delights in life,” that they should be remembered for life, and inscribed in the “Book of Life” for the New Year.  Yet, typical animal-based diets have been linked to heart disease, stroke, several types of cancer, and other chronic degenerative diseases, that shorten the lives of millions of people annually. 2. ...

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Rosh Hashanah and Vegetarianism*

by Richard Schwartz~ Rosh Hashanah is the time when Jews take stock of their lives and  consider new beginnings. Perhaps the most significant and meaningful  change that Jews should consider this year is a shift away from diets  that have been having devastating effects on human health and the  health of our increasingly imperiled planet. While many Jews seem to  feel that the holiday’s celebration can be enhanced by the consumption of chopped liver, gefilte fish, chicken soup, and roast chicken, there are many inconsistencies between the values of Rosh  ...

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Rosh Hashanah Message: Saving Our World.

      by Richard Schwartz~  Rosh Hashanah commemorates God’s creation of the world. The “Ten Days of Repentance” from Rosh Hashanah to Yom Kippur is a period to evaluate our deeds and to do teshuvah (repentance) for cases where we have missed the mark. Hence, the upcoming weeks provide an excellent time to consider the state of the planet’s environment and what we might do to make sure that the world is on a sustainable path.      When God created the world, He was able to say, "It is tov meod (very good)." (Genesis 1:31) Everything was in ...

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Earth Etude for Elul 29 – World as Lover, World as Self

by Daniel Kieval~ there is a meditation practice watching everything arising, inside and outside responding with a gentle, "not me" this thought - "not me" this anger - "not me" this leg - "not me" "not me" it is a Big Truth all this stuff is unfolding in a giant performance art piece we call The Universe and we are just a witness to this flow They say the opposite of a small truth is a lie, but the opposite of a big truth is another big truth is it not equally true to say to everything - "me" ? this anger - "me" this song - "me" this wafting scent of ...

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Earth Etude for Elul 28 – Not One

by David Greenstein~ There is not one blade of grass on earth without its angel descending from above, prodding it urgently: “Grow, grow!”* And, in return, the grass keeps growing. There is not one lion on earth without its angel descending from above, prodding it urgently, “Roar, roar!” And, in return, the lion keeps roaring. There is not one stream on earth without its angel descending from above, prodding it urgently, “Flow, flow!” And, in return, the stream keeps flowing. There is not one bee on earth without its angel descending from above, ...

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Earth Etude for Elul 27 – Elul Solastalgia* Blues

by Rabbi Ben Weiner~ Like almost every Jewish festival, the High Holidays have both spiritual and natural resonance, which, at the deepest level, are intertwined.  Our ancient ancestors, linking the quality of the oncoming rainy season with the quality of their deeds, derived the need to perform an intense ceremony of  repentance at just the time they began anxiously scanning the sky for clouds. Growing up in central New England, it was not the rains I anticipated as the days of Elul ticked away but the first signs of autumn--cool dewy mornings and crisp breezes by ...

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Earth Etude for Elul 26 – Returning to The Trees of Life

by Rabbi Margaret Frisch Klein~ I am a tree hugger. From long ago. I have planted trees, hundreds of them. I have celebrated Arbor Day as a Girl Scout. I have hiked in the woods from the time I was little. There is a tree that grows in the center of the Merritt Parkway on the way into New York. I passed this tree every week on my way to rabbinical school. It is a beautiful tree with many strong, curved branches coming out of the central trunk. It looks like a menorah. There is another tree like that, a very old tree on the Marginal Way in Ogunquit, ME. Over a ...

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Earth Etude for Elul 25 – The Hawk and the Kippah

by Rabbi Katy Z. Allen~ For the past 13 years since my ordination, I have been wearing a rainbow kippah. The kippah and its pattern hold many meanings for me: connection to family, covenant with G!d, hope for the future, acceptance of all kinds of people (including myself), and more. Periodically, I have had to make a new kippah, when the previous one wore out. Recently, when I again needed to make a new kippah, as I thought about it, I realized that I wanted to make this new kippah slightly different from all my previous rainbow kippot. I crocheted the first few ...

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Working Together: Will a Single Plan Ameliorate Climate Disruption? Earth Etude for Elul 23

by Andy Oram~ Climate disruption is a universal scourge that requires a coordinated worldwide response. As such, it is a constant frustration to activists who wish that institutions everywhere could collaborate on implementing the Paris accords and to do even more. We often lament that governments and companies go their own ways, violating their own promises to hold back carbon production. Why can't humanity learn to work together in its own interest? Recourse to Jewish traditional texts can help us accept this situation. In particular, the story of the ...

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Earth Etude for Elul 22 – You Shall Be Like a Watered Garden

by Rabbi Toba Spitzer~ Of the many ways that the Divine is described and experienced in the Hebrew Bible, one of my favorites is Water. In the prophets, in Psalms, God is referred to as Peleg Elohim/“River of God”; M’kor Mayyim Hayyim/“Source of Living Waters”; Ma’ayanei Hayeshua/“Wells of Liberation,” and more. For our Biblical ancestors, the metaphor of God as Water was a powerful way of describing their connection to the Source of Life:  How precious is Your love, O God!...Humanity is nourished from the riches of Your house, You give them ...

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Earth Etude for Elul 21 – Choose Life! Whose Life?

by Rabbi David Seidenberg~ Every year before Rosh Hashanah we read the ultimate Torah portion about t’shuvah, returning to God, called parshat Nitzavim. Every year we are reminded that if we turn toward God, then God will circumcise our hearts. And every year, in a section of Nitzavim that Reform congregations also read on Rosh Hashanah, we are admonished, “Choose life!,” even as we pray to be inscribed in the Book of Life. How do we choose Life? A few weeks before Rosh Hashanah, in parshat Ki Teitzei, we are given concrete instruction. “When a ...

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Earth Etude for Elul 20 – Elul Dinner

by Judith Felsen, Ph.D.~ Elul Dinner Dining open air chandeliers starry night invitations flowing rivers boulders chairs ledges tables grasses carpets mosses cushions wildflowers ornaments vegetation food come eat with Us © Judith Felsen, Ph.D., 2018 Judith Felsen holds a Ph.D. in Clinical Psychology, certificates in hypnotherapy, NLP, Eriksonian Hypnosis, and Sacred Plant Medicine. She is a poet, consultant, creator of collaborative integrative programs involving nature, Judaism, spirituality and the arts, student of Torah, sacred texts and ...

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Earth Etude for Elul 19–Elul: The Month for Climate Action

  by David Krantz~ Tekiah! In Elul, we hear the call for the quintessential sound of the shofar every morning. It’s meant as a daily wake-up call to action. Perhaps appropriately, the word Tekiah itself also means “disaster.” Day after day in Elul, the shofar shouts: “Disaster! Act now!” Just as an alarm clock gives us notice that we have to get to work, the shofar reminds us that time marches onward and that our mistakes won’t correct themselves. We must actively engage with the world to repair it and our relationships with each other. The ...

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My articles on Rosh Hashanah, Yom Kippur, and Sukkot

     I am posting this material involving articles related to Rosh Hashanah, Yom Kippur and Sukkot relatively early for the following reasons: 1 I hope that readers will use the material to create their own articles and letters and/or talking points for radio call-in programs and for other activities; 2 I plan to send the material to the Jewish media soon, and would welcome any suggestions you might have for improvements; 3 I often receive messages re kapporot (kapporus) ceremonies when it is too late to respond effectively, so I wanted the articles on that ...

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Earth Etude for Elul 18

Awareness of Holiness: Re-enchantment with the World and Restitution by Renee Shapiro~ A few years ago I did a short, pithy d’var Torah with my photos based on a couple of lines from a portion I was learning. The lines are Exodus/Shemot 3:4-5. 4.When YHWH saw that he had turned aside to see, God called out to him out of the midst of the bush, He said Moshe! Moshe! He said, here I am.  5. He said: Do not come near to here, put off your sandal from your foot—for the place on which you stand—it is holy ground (Everett Fox translation) It strikes me that the ...

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Earth Etude for Elul 17 – Tree Speaking

by Rabbi Jill Hammer~ The trees are speaking with one another. The trees are speaking with all creatures… and all the conversations of living things are about the earth.  (Genesis Rabbah 13:2) Trees have been speaking with me since I was a child, and each tree speaks in its own way. The pine shelters; the willow bends in the wind; the birch has its cool gracefulness. The sycamore sheds its bark in July; the oaks drop their acorns in autumn; the maple leaks sap in February. The cherry, pear and apple blossoms make spring an enchanted kingdom. My father’s chestnut ...

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Earth Etude for Elul 16 – Boggled by Bottles

by Rabbi Suri Krieger~ Today, driving home from the gorgeous flower-full Massachusetts Horticulture Society in Wellesley, I had to swerve on the road three times… to avoid plastic bottles thrown out on the highway. It boggles my mind that the bottle dilemma is still one of the most abusive forms of earth erosion we are guilty of. Bottles were one of the first recycle items to be tackled, and yes… we can see recycle bins everywhere now. But the fact that we even have those bins, indicates how drastically we have missed the point. The Recycle, Reuse, Reduce trilogy is ...

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My Two Environmental Essays Related to the Hebrew Month of Elul

Elul: A Time to Start Shifting Our Imperiled Planet onto a Sustainable Path      Elul is here. It represents an opportunity for heightened introspection, a chance to consider teshuva, changes in our lives, before the “Days of Awe,” the days of judgment, the “High holidays of Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur. The shofar is blown every morning (except on Shabbat) in synagogues during the month of Elul to awaken us from slumber, to remind us to consider where we are in our lives and to urge us to consider positive changes.      How should we respond to Elul ...

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Earth Etude for Elul 15 – Shema: Listen to, and do for, the Earth

by Joan Rachlin~ During Elul, the month of reflection and spiritual return, or t’shuvah, I am working to deepen my connection to the earth so that I can in turn strengthen my efforts to protect it. I want to listen to and observe nature in a more intentional way and to encourage others to do the same. We all know how to observe nature, but how—and why—should we listen to it as well? I want to both watch and listen to the miracle that is nature so that I can better understand what we have, stop taking those gifts for granted, and to become more aware of ...

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Earth Etude for Elul 14 – The Earth Is on Fire — And the Torah Tells Us What to Do About It

by Jeffrey Cohan- This summer, our precious Earth has been burning. Catastrophic wildfires have ravaged their way across several California counties. One of the fires is the largest ever in the state. In Colorado, four massive wildfires have consumed a total of almost 250,000 acres. All four rank among the Top 10 largest conflagrations in the state’s history. Even in Sweden, of all places, 50 wildfires have broke out this summer, including at least one above the Arctic Circle. Sweden is so unaccustomed to such calamities, the country doesn’t own a ...

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