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A selection of initiatives, blogs, resources and communities on Jewcology which focus on eco-theology.


Blogs

Earth Etude for Elul 12- Returning to Diversity

by Rabbi Michael Cohen~ The opening chapters of Genesis not only include the account of the creation of the earth but over and over tell us of the importance of diversity. All of creation is called "good," reminding us of the value of the multiplicity of the world that we live in. The text also teaches us, by describing everything that is created before humans as "good," that all things have intrinsic value in and of themselves beyond any value that we may place on them. Once humans are created, "very good" is the adjective applied by the text. An anthropocentric ...

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Earth Etude for Elul 11 – The Shemittah Cycle

by Rabbi Nina Beth Cardin~ Do you know where this new year falls in the shemittah (seven-year) count? Or when the next shemittah year will be? Even those of us who were deeply engaged in celebrating the last shemittah year may have difficulty remembering if it was 2 or 3 years ago. (It was 3 years ago – 5775, 2014-2015.) Yet shemittah, like Shabbat, is more than a slice of time. It is a presence, always with us. It is a practice, an attitude, a social, economic and spiritual ethic that guides our lives. In the biblical era, this was evident, and the air of the ...

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Earth Etude for Elul 9 -Natural Awe and Artistic Representations

by Rabbi Steve Altarescu~ When we stood at Mt. Sinai, the mountain was described as ablaze with fire and the people heard the sound of God from out of the fire but did not see any form or shape. We learn that since we experienced God without a form or shape it would be wrong for us to make a likeness, a resemblance of anything in nature. Why does Moses repeat this prohibition four times? For the Torah there is power to an image, whether it be a sculpture, a painting or any other art form that stands in contrast to feeling the power of God. For me, there is a ...

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Earth Etude for Elul 7 – Our Last Elul?

by Judith Felsen, Ph.D.   ~If this were our last Elul might we see a different world? On the verge of our demise would each spark of nature sent by You remind us of Your light we are? In these days of hidden peace do we know we are Your kin together in the field? In darkest times does not the moon and sun still shine on us? Today may  elements of earth  be  manna, all reminders of divine connection and Your care through deserts now. This Elul may we see You within all shadow and not be blinded ...

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Earth Etude for Elul 6 – Looking to the Sky, Remembering Our Ideals

by Rabbi Natan Margalit, Ph.D. ~Recently, I read an article in the New York Times Magazine that talked about the way that people do or say things, say, supporting a good cause or political opinion, not because they really believe in it, but because they want to signal to their social network that they are virtuous.  Apparently, there is a popular new label for this behavior: “virtue signaling.” The author reports that this term is most often used by people on the right against people on the left (“Virtue Signaling Isn’t the Problem. Not Believing One Another ...

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Earth Etude for Elul 4 – Saying Farewell with Each Breath, Starting Anew

by Rabbi Judy Kummer~   Towards end of the day, towards summer's end, body and soul prepare for farewells.   Through piney woods I run, gauntleted by trees whose dark limbs reach up to breathe in fresh blue sky. Dim path; the light can't reach down here. Ahead, the river winks at me.   I thread my way out the wooded tunnel's end and can feel the sky lift -- and my mind lifts too. Before me lies still water meandering between wooded banks. Turning, I race the river. Feet pound on hard sand paths, ...

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Earth Etude for Elul 2 – From the Perspective of the 9th of Av, 5777

by Hazzan Shoshana Brown~ Writing on the mourning day of Tisha b’Av, I am inclined to think of this “etude” as rather more of a kinah (lament) for the magnificent temple of our Earth, third planet in our solar system. Not to say that Earth is a churban, a ruin like our ancient Temple in Jerusalem, but to say that like that once beating spiritual heart and ritual nerve-center of the nation of Israel, our planet is both magnificent and utterly vulnerable to the predations of human greed, violence, and recklessness. And yet I have got the analogy turned inside-out ...

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Working With Israeli Orthodox Rabbis To Reduce Climate Threats

Working with Israeli Orthodox Rabbi Yonatan Neril. founder and director of the Interfaith Center for Sustainable Development, I have put together a statement on climate change (below) that urges Israel and Israelis to become more actively involved in reducing climate threats. The names and affiliations of the 23 rabbis who already signed the statement are also below, as is a press release for a major interfaith climate forum that is taking place at the Jerusalem Press Club on July 26, in conjunction with the release of the rabbinic statement and signatures. We hope to ...

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Vegetarianism and the Jewish Dietary Laws

Since Judaism is a religion that speaks to all aspects of life, it has much to say about one of life's most commonplace activities, eating. The Jewish dietary laws, also known as the laws of kashrut or kosher laws are extremely important in Judaism. They regulate virtually every aspect of eating for members of the Jewish community (the only dietary law given to non-Jews is to not eat a limb from a living animal). Kashrut includes: (1) which foods may be eaten (although God's initial intention was that people should be vegetarians (Genesis 1:29), permission was later ...

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Shavuot and Vegetarianism

There are many connections between vegetarianism and the Jewish festival of Shavuot: 1. Shavuot is described as "z'man matan Toratenu" (the season of the giving of our law (the Torah)). It is this Torah that has in its very first chapter God's original, strictly vegetarian, actually vegan, dietary law: "And God said: 'Behold, I have given you every herb yielding seed which is on the face of all the earth, and every tree, in which is the fruit of a tree yielding seed - to you it shall be for food'" (Genesis 1:29). 2. To honor the Torah, many Jews stay up the entire ...

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Lag B’Omer and Vegetarianism: Making Every Day Count

This article was co-authored with Dan Brook. Lag B'Omer is considered a minor holiday in the Jewish calendar, but even a minor holiday is still a holiday and therefore worth celebrating. A great way to celebrate Lag B'Omer is through vegetarianism, as Lag B'Omer is deeply connected to the Earth and its fruits. Lag B'Omer represents the 33rd day of the counting of the omer, the fifty days between Passover and Shavuot, reminding us of the link between these two important holidays. While Passover celebrates our freedom from slavery, Shavuot celebrates our receiving of ...

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Shmita Revival: The Reconsideration and Expansion of Sacred Land

  David Krantz will be speaking at the Mountain and Sacred Landscape Conference at The New School in New York City on Friday, April 21 from 8:30 to 10:00 am. David is a National Science Foundation IGERT Fellow and a Wrigley Fellow researching solar-energy policy and faith-based environmentalism. He also runs the environmental nonprofit, Aytzim: Ecological Judaism, parent organization of Jewcology.org, the Green Zionist Alliance, EcoJews, and Shomrei Breishit: Rabbis and Cantors for the Earth. He serves on the board of directors of Interfaith Moral Action on ...

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The Making of a Jewish Activist: My Biography From My Book, “Who Stole My Religion?”

I am a ba’al t’shuvah – meaning “one who has returned” – a Jew who started practicing Judaism late in life. I did not grow up in a religious family, and I did not receive a yeshiva education as observant Jewish children generally do today. Most of my current Jewish learning comes not from formal education, but from extensive reading and conversations with Jews from many different backgrounds, plus Torah classes and lectures over the past few decades. Like most Jewish boys growing up in New York during the 1940s, I went to a Talmud Torah school a ...

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Summary and Conclusions Chapter of My Book, “Who Stole My Religion?”

In this hour we, the living [post-Holocaust Jews], are “the people of Israel.” The tasks begun by the patriarchs and prophets and continued by their descendants are now entrusted to us. We are either the last Jews or those who will hand over the entire past to generations to come. We will either forfeit or enrich the legacy of ages. – Abraham Joshua Heschel (The Earth is the Lord’s), 107 ------------------------- What A Wonderful Path Judaism Is!  Judaism proclaims a God who is the Creator of all life, whose attributes of kindness, compassion, ...

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How Can We Revitalise Judaism: Chapter 15 of My Book, “Who Stole My Religion?”

Little does contemporary religion ask of man. It is ready to offer comfort; it has no courage to challenge. It is ready to offer edification; it has no courage to break the idols, to shatter callousness. The trouble is that religion has become “religion” – institution, dogma, ritual. It is no longer an event. Its acceptance involves neither risk nor strain. – Abraham Joshua Heschel183 We must cultivate a sense of injustice, impatience with vulgarity, a capacity for moral indignation, a will to readjust society itself when it becomes complacent and ...

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How Can Prayer Inspire Activism? Chapter 14 of My Book, “Who Stole My Religion?”

  Prayer is meaningless unless it is subversive, unless it seeks to overthrow and to ruin the pyramids of callousness, hatred, opportunism, and falsehoods. The liturgical movement must become a revolutionary movement, seeking to overthrow the forces that continue to destroy the promise, the hope, the vision. – Rabbi Abraham Joshua Heschel180 -------------- Based on Rabbi Heschel’s challenging statement above, prayers should help transform people and inspire them to actively strive to create a more humane, compassionate, just, peaceful, and ...

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Judaism and Animal Rights- Chapter 12 of My Book, “Who Stole My Religion?”

JUDAISM AND ANIMAL RIGHTS There are probably no creatures that require more the protective Divine word against the presumption of man than the animals, which like man have sensations and instincts, but whose body and powers are nevertheless subservient to man. In relation to them man so easily forgets that injured animal muscle twitches just like human muscle, that the maltreated nerves of an animal sicken like human nerves, that the animal being is just as sensitive to cuts, blows, and beating as man. Thus man becomes the torturer of the animal soul. – Rabbi ...

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Is Judaism a Radical Religion?

There are no words in the world more knowing, more disclosing, and more indispensable. Words both stern and graceful, heart-rending and healing. A truth so universal – Elohim [God] is One. A thought so consoling – He is with us in distress. A responsibility so overwhelming – His Name can be desecrated. A map of time – from creation to redemption. Guideposts along the way: The Seventh Day; An offering – contrition of the heart. A utopia – would that all people were prophets. The insight – man lives by his faithfulness, his home is in time, and his ...

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Who Stole My Religion?

Note: This is chapter one of my book, "Who Stole My Religion? I am a Jew because the faith of Israel [Judaism] demands no abdication of my mind. I am a Jew because the faith of Israel asks every possible sacrifice of my soul. I am a Jew because in all places where there are tears and suffering the Jew weeps. I am a Jew because in every age when the cry of despair is heard the Jew hopes. I am a Jew because the message of Israel is the most ancient and the most modern. I am a Jew because Israel’s promise is a universal promise. I am a Jew because for ...

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Returning to Natural Wisdom, Expanding Our Love (appeared in EJP, 3/3/17)

In the depth of winter, when the stark lines of bare tree branches are etched against a gray sky, it feels like each tree has pulled away from its neighbor, shrinking into itself, saving its energy to survive the cold season. We are also seeing that same reflex toward isolation in our society and country. To continue reading click here.    

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