What is Jewish Environmentalism?
When I try and answer the above question, I find myself dizzy with axioms and assumptions. This intellectual limbo is at time frustrating, however it is also liberating. Whereas I am without a definitive answer, I am free to entertain the endless possibilities of the question. There are a myriad of ways to practice Judaism – orthodox, conservative, reform, reconstructionist, renewal to name just a few. Environmentalism is similarly diverse. Within the environmental movement there are branches focused on conservation, preservation, restoration, sustainable development, and more.
The multiplicity of ideas and approaches in both Judaism and environmentalism is fundamental. Historically, each has been and continues to be committed to critical and creative inquiry, a divergent process that is neither interested in nor capable of generating a definitive, all encompassing position. By crossing these two disquisitive and curious –isms the number of possible permutations for Jewish environmentalism is seemingly endless.
As a founding member of Jewcology it was and is my hope that this site can enable those of us grappling with these questions to collaborate, discuss, and share our experiments in thought and action. As individuals engaged in both Judaism and environmentalism, as well as any other –ism or profession we draw inspiration from, each of us has unique processes for enriching our lives and inspiring those around us. The axioms and assumptions that these processes generate can and should be shared, but I do not believe they can answer my initial question. The processes and pathways we promulgate as Jewish environmentalists are what defines the movement. To stay vital and innovative it would be wise to remember that what we do as Jewish environmentalists may not be as important as how we do it.