Earth-Based Jewish Practices Subscribe

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


Blogs

“Esh, Esh Medura” (Fire, Fire, Bonfire)

by Einat Kramer, Director – Teva Ivri One of the most “Israeli” phenomena that I know is the bonfires of Lag B’Omer. Immediately after Pesach, even before the clean spring scent fades in the heat of the summer, the streets of our country are filled with children looking for firewood. They are everywhere; in forests, building sites, and among the garbage cans, they collect wood (or anything resembling wood), hauling it off in “borrowed” supermarket carts to their secret hiding place and guarding it fiercely until ...

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Eco-friendly Summer

Summer will be here before you know it. One way to be a better guardian of the Earth and to follow the Jewish imperative of bal tashchit (do not waste) is to take some simple steps to keep your home naturally cool in the summer months. Here are a few ways to make that happen: -- Close your curtains: During the heat of the day, close your curtains or blinds. This blocks the sun’s rays so that less air conditioning will be needed to cool your home. -- Keep the oven off: As much as possible on hot days, use the microwave, toaster oven and/or the outdoor ...

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Support Sustainability and Community in Chicago

Support Sustainability and Community: Purchase Your Organic and Heirloom Plant Starts at The Gan Project’s 2nd Annual Spring Plant Sale CHICAGO, Ill. -- Looking for locally grown, organic, heirloom plant starts for your garden or patio planter? The Gan Project will be having their 2nd Annual Spring Plant Sale with proceeds going to support the creation of a local, just, and sustainable food system in the Chicagoland region. Many varieties of vegetables and herbs will be available for purchase. The Gan Project grows ...

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MEDIA ADVISORY: Earth Day heralds funding of $65,000 for new Jewish environmental network

New York, New York (April 9, 2012) –The Nathan Cummings Foundation and the Morningstar Foundation have awarded the Green Hevra, a new network of U.S.-based Jewish environmental organizations, $65,000 in seed funding. With these funds the group will lay the groundwork for strategic collaboration across the Jewish environmental movement in 2012. “We believe that the global sustainability challenge is analogous to the civil-rights campaigns of an earlier time,” said Sybil Sanchez, director of the Coalition on the Environment and Jewish Life, the organization charged ...

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Earth Day Mitzvah Mania Cultivates Community in Chicago: This Earth Day, Slow Down and Dig In

CHICAGO, IL -- The Gan Project, a Jewish social and environmental justice organization, is pleased to announce their first annual Earth Day Mitzvah Mania. The Gan Project grows organic, heirloom produce on its quarter acre Homestead located in West Rogers Park, Chicago. Of that produce, half is gleaned by the community, in accordance with the ancient agricultural practices outlined in the Torah, and half is donated to the ARK food pantry. “We see the roots of Judaism grounded in the agricultural practices of our ancestors and believe that engaging in contemporary ...

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A Jewish Environmental Proclamation

When God created the first human beings, God led them around the Garden of Eden and said: “Look at my works! See how beautiful they are – how excellent! For your sake I created them all. See to it that you do not spoil and destroy My world; for if you do, there will be no one else to repair it. - Midrash Kohelet Rabbah 1 (on Ecclesiastes 7:13) We are witnessing a time in which the future of the planet is at stake. The climate crisis is escalating, and it is upon each one of us to do what we can to change course. In the Torah it is ...

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Take an online, college-accredited course on Judaism and the environment!

Introducing an online, college-accredited course on Judaism and the environment! The course, ‘A Jewish Perspective on Environmental Sustainability,’ relates to contemporary environmental issues from the lens of Jewish teachings. The units covered include the Garden of Eden and a stewardship paradigm; Jewish sources on agriculture and globalized food production today; and the Torah’s injunction not to waste in regards to food and energy waste in modern society. The course is being offered by the New York-based Theological Research ...

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Celebrating Tu B’shvat… By Living Up in a Tree?

Jewish camp directors spend week aloft in a redwood “tree-sit” In preparation for Tu B’shvat, my husband and I lived this past week 150 feet up in the air into an ancient and endangered redwood tree in northern California. We cooked, slept and made Shabbat in the over-200-year-old trees as part of an environmental protection action, called “tree-sitting”, to keep the trees from being cut down. Our grove included 50 redwoods connected by ziplines; these trees would have been cut down three years ago were it not for the continual presence of ...

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Take Care Reproducing Documents (CJN May 2011)

This "Sustainable Jew" column originally appeared in the Canadian Jewish News May 12, 2011 We are now in “sphirat ha-omer,” the count-up to Shavuot—the time of the giving of our Torah. Our study and transmission of our Written and Oral Laws ("Torah Shebichtav" and "Torah Sheba'al Peh," respectively) has benefitted from technological advancement. We are known as the “People of the Book”—five books of Moses, 24 books of Tanakh, countless written commentaries—but many are beginning to find ...

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Synagogues Reduce Energy Costs (CJN February 2011)

This article originally appeared in the Canadian Jewish News on February 17, 2011 What role should a synagogue play in helping its members live a more sustainable existence? Should a synagogue lead by example or just respond to the requirements of their boards and their members. Are we dealing with a business decision or a spiritual imperative? Rabbi Voss-Altman of Temple B’nai Tikvah in Calgary was one of the first in the Canadian Reform movement to dedicate one of his Shabbat talks to putting a green spin on Parshat Noach. His talk focused on the ...

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What does it mean to be a “Sustainable Jew” (CJN Sept 2010)

This column was originally published in the Canadian Jewish News - September 22, 2010 Have you ever thought of Sukkot as a holiday which celebrates the Sustainable Jew In ancient Israel, Sukkot had a major agricultural focus. The celebration was a thanksgiving for the fruit harvest and the blessings of nature in the year that had passed. Today, Sukkot is a Jewish Festival where we step out of the comfort of our own homes, and enter temporary dwellings where we are exposed to the vagaries of the weather while performing the mitzvah of “Leshev Bsukah&rdqu...

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Tree B’Earthday SAVE THESE DATES!

Come have a very special Tree b'Earthday with a pluralistic ecologically engaged Jewish community the week before Tu b'Shevat. Return home with (tree)sources to enhance your community's celebration of Tu b'Shevat, which falls on February 8, the following week. Our weekend includes spirited pluralistic Shabbat services, guided hikes, workshops, farm-to-table kosher dining, and a beautiful Tu b'Shevat seder on Saturday night. Families are welcome and children under 13 come for free if they stay in the same room as their parents/guardians. ...

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Exciting Tu b’Shevat Raffle – Win a Great Prize!

Exciting Tu b’Shevat Raffle - Win a Great Prize! Jewcology and Isabella Freedman Jewish Retreat Center are pleased to announce an exciting new raffle opportunity. You can win an all-inclusive free pass to the Isabella Freedman Tree b’Earthday Tu b’Shevat Retreat (a $200 value!). It’s easy to enter! Just post your favorite reason for celebrating trees in the Isabella Freedman Jewish Retreat Center community on Jewcology (www.jewcology.org). Raffle Rules: Entries must be posted in the Isabella Freedman Jewish Retreat ...

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Maccabees Redux: Oil-Fracking Fight in Israel

NEW YORK (Dec. 22, 2011) — We need another Chanukah miracle. On Chanukah we recall the victory of the few over the many and the weak over the powerful. We celebrate the miracle of the oil and of the reassertion of control over our historic homeland, the present-day land of Israel. But, as history repeats itself, this Chanukah, the role of the Greek Assyrians and local Hellenized is being played by telecommunications-giant IDT Corporation, a multinational New York Stock Exchange-listed company that aims to frack for oil across Judea through its ...

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Greening Hanukkah

Hanukkah is a time where we celebrate the renewal of the eternal flame and rededication of the Temple. It is a great time to rededicate ourselves to the goal of preserving God’s creation, conserving energy and helping the environment. Here are a few things you can do leading up to, and during, the holiday to rededicate yourself to making the world more eco-friendly. Leading up to the holiday: · Buy gifts with a low carbon footprint—local stores that sell vintage, locally made or locally grown products are a great place to find ...

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Reflections on the Jewcology Leadership Training

One of the major things that struck me during my time at the Jewcology Leadership Training in Public Narrative, that felt powerful and resonant, was the fact that several trainers and participants cried (heck, maybe we all did!) at different points in either listening to others’ stories or telling their own story, and that it felt completely natural and unsurprising. I felt like everyone who attended the training was feeling the catharsis of telling about our frustration and our emotional discomfort with mainstream acceptance of environmental degradation. Many of ...

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Where the Fruit Comes From

It's humid and in the 90s, the sun is high in the summer sky, and it's time for blueberry picking! We picked ours a couple of weeks ago, on an organic farm not too far from our house. I love picking fruits and berries in the summer, but I find blueberries most enjoyable. Maybe it's the way that the abundance of berries just falls into your hands; maybe it's that the bushes are at arms level. Or maybe it's just that it's the first fruit we pick in the season. In the hustle of beginning summer, we have to remind ourselves to pick ...

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The world is sprouting at Camp Sprout Lake

It has been three days of hard work, blisters, and buckets of sweat, but it is almost time to sprout, literally. Next week, the campers of Young Judea Sprout Lake in upstate New York will arrive. For this eight-week summer, I have one goal in mind, to make clear the intimate connection our tradition has with the earth. As staff has slowly trickled in from across Israel, Canada and the United States, I am impressed by the continual excitement when they meet “the Garden Guy”. The desire to dig, plant and labor is ever present. I believe this spirit is ...

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Landscape Architecture in the Image of God

I have questions. Before getting too deep in to the specifics, let me frame my concerns. According to Kabbalah and the axioms of Heschelian thought, the human experience is fundamentally limited. We can never know everything. Most of the time, we are too fragmented to grasp the fullness of God and too self-aggrandizing to pay attention to the intricacies of the universe. Nonetheless, we are all expected to intervene and to act, to live as an image of God (B’Tselem Elokim) without actually being a God. As a landscape architecture graduate student, I am forced ...

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