Uncategorized


Rabbi Ellen Bernstein, 70, Mother of the Jewish-Environmental Movement

18 Adar 1 5784 / 27 Feb. 2024 It is a rainy day in Rabbi Ellen Bernstein’s hometown of Philadelphia, as even the skies are crying. The Jewish-environmental movement has lost one of its earliest founders — the visionary rabbi moved on from this world earlier today (18 Adar I) on the Hebrew calendar and last night on the Gregorian calendar. She was 70. In 1988, Ellen, at the age of 34, founded Shomrei Adamah, one of the earliest Jewish-environmental organizations. Her work with Shomrei Adamah and her books — most prominently Splendor of Creation, Let the Earth ...

Read More


How not being vegan makes war more likely

by Richard Schwartz Article in the Jerusalem Post--January 28, 2024 Tu Bishvat, the New Year for Trees, celebrated on January 25 this year, has many environmental connections. It is the most vegan Jewish holiday, since all the traditional foods at Tu Bishvat seders are vegan. The values of Tu Bishvat conflict dramatically with modern animal-based agriculture. Almost all of the 80 billion farmed animals slaughtered annually experience horrible lives on factory farms. Producing meat also has very negative environmental effects, and these greatly increase the ...

Read More


My Eight Articles About Many Aspects of Tu Bishvat

Tu Bishvat is the New Year for Trees. It honors trees, fruits and other aspects of nature. It is a Jewish holiday that is typically vegetarian or vegan as nuts and fruits are eaten as part of the ritual. To learn more take a look at the eight articles that follow: 1. Why Is This Night Different: Thoughts on Tu B’Shvat 2. Tu B’Shvat and Vegetarianism and Veganism 3. Preserving the Sacred Environment: A Religious Imperative – A Tu Bishvat Message 4. Lessons From Trees: a Tu Bishvat Message 5. Celebrating Tu Bishvat as if Environmental ...

Read More


3 Ways to Celebrate Chanukah

(NOTE: A vegetarian diet is mostly vegetables, fruits, grains, beans (i.e. tofu) and nuts but no meat, poultry or fish. A vegetarian may eat dairy products and eggs. A vegan diet usually eliminates all dairy products and eggs. How a person eats can be changed gradually; for example you can start by trying one vegetarian day a week and when you feel comfortable, you can add more. There are many resources for vegetarian meals--see the end of this article for the link to Meatless Monday website)** Think about the connection between Chanukah and a Vegetarian/Vegan ...

Read More


Update on Aytzim and its Projects

Aytzim (https://aytzim.org) is a Jewish-environmental nonprofit active in the United States and Israel.  Aytzim has five projects: •Green Zionist Alliance: The Grassroots Campaign for a Sustainable Israel~The Green Zionist Alliance works on issues related to the environment of Israel and the Middle East.  •Jewcology: Home of the Jewish Environmental Movement~Jewcology.org is an online resource for information on Jewish environmentalism. https://jewcology.org/ •Shomrei Breishit: Rabbis and Cantors for the Earth~An environmental-advocacy group ...

Read More


Transforming Pain into Beauty, Yom Kippur

by Rabbi Katy Z. Allen We have, to date, failed to stop the runaway train of climate change. On this holiest day of the Jewish calendar, we must ask ourselves, How can we find and extract beauty from the pain of our failure? What does it take for us to put love, compassion, and hope at the center of our lives, and in the process transform both ourselves and the world around us into something far more beautiful than anything we have known before? Part of what it takes is determination and an unwillingness to give up. We can learn something about determination from ...

Read More


Rosh Hashanah

The Challenge in life is to figure out how to turn our pain into beauty by Rabbi Katy Z. Allen Photo by Mary North Allen My mother, z"l often spoke of the challenge of dealing with pain as she navigated a life marked by trauma and mental crises, as well as profound and beautiful artwork and deep friendships. My brother, a gifted musician, repeats these words often. And lately, long after my mother's passing, they have been resonating strongly with me, informing my life. As we celebrate the New Year and enter Yamim Noraim, the Days of Awe, ...

Read More


Earth Etude for Elul 29

A Flower's Call by Rabbi Malkah Binah Klein Hello! Hello there! Yes, you! I'm calling to you! Slow down See me Let me reveal my face to you Let me delight you and delight in you Join me in the New World, the world beyond worlds that opens through our face to face encounter Rabbi Malka Binah Klein, founder of Merkava, a new organization which supports the transformation and healing through creative ritual and spiritual practice. Her website is thrivingspirit.org.

Read More


Earth Etude for Elul 28

The Path of Blessings by Rabbi Josh Breindel ~In our journey through the month of Elul, the ancient Rabbis call to us across the years. They encourage us to engage in teshuvah – to turn from destructive behaviors and mend our ways. This practice has a special urgency today, following one of the hottest summers on record. We know that humanity has great power over our environment and the climate. The Rabbis shared this same perspective. While this midrash (Rabbinic story) was written 1,500 years ago, it’s just as relevant in our own day.  When the ...

Read More


Earth Etude for Elul 27

A Narrow Bridge by Chaplain Dr. Rabbi Leslie Schotz Rabbi Nachman of Breslow says the world is a very narrow bridge. The main thing is not to be afraid. We are created from the earth and to the earth we will return. The heavens are water above. The lakes and oceans hold the mystery and life force below. We walk a path of hopefulness even as we reflect about the future of all life on earth. Our days are numbered. The Psalms remind us to treasure each day and open our hearts to its wisdom. The path we take can lead us to transformation. ...

Read More


Earth Etude for Elul 26

Refuge from Numbness by Anonymous ~In Genesis, G-d calls out to the Human, Ayeka, Where are you? However, where do we find Earth’s call for Humanity? How do we reconnect with our first potential soulmate, ADAM to ADAMAH? Amidst the stress, heartbreak, and numbness of daily life, how do we connect our little body to the body which is our Home? One of my spiritual practices in this daily chaos has been a dance practice called 5 Rhythms, except I don’t go there to dance. I go there because amidst the music and the evening darkness, is one of the few places ...

Read More


Earth Etudes for Elul 25

Jewish Foraging: What we give, what we take, praising our past, ensuring our future by Rabbi Michael Birnholz ~In the 1990s I was a counselor at URJ Camp Coleman. Now in a later part of my life, ordained as a Rabbi, with a family of my own, I have been honored to serve as faculty there. Camp has always been a place of powerful experience for me. This year, when I was asked to offer an elective, I realized I could incorporate a favorite activity, wild fruit foraging, into camp as an illustration of a valuable spiritual dynamic. While I certainly get a chance to ...

Read More


Earth Etude for Elul 24

Onyinyechi ("Gift of God") by Asher Hillel Burstein ~Blood-red light on a golden chainHangs low and onto me, overflowsLike a waterfall, I drown in its millionLambent drops formed at the other endOf the Earth, I am but a speckle butThe fiery stone holds the world entire inHer field where God, though too immenseFor the heavens may abide with comfortIn her breast where my eyes are led asIron to a magnet, moths to a candleThat consumes me and drains the lifeFrom my veins, a myriad of spritesTake flight and leave me wilted.I die in her flames.Asher Hillel Burstein is a ...

Read More


Earth Etude for Elul 23

You Shall Teach Them to Your Children by Rebecca Heisler ~ For many, Tisha b’Av is an arrow pointing towards the start of the cycle of teshuvah, that leads us through Elul and into Tishrei. The themes, questions, and prayers of this holiday can lead us to find meaning and connection in the season of returning. This year on  Tisha b’Av, as I sat around a fire, I found myself praying for the children. It began with “I’m sorry.” And it continued, “I’m sorry for the world you are inheriting, and even more for the earth you are inheriting.” I...

Read More


Earth Etude for Elul 22

Rosh HaShanah in the Northern Latitudes by Louise Quigley (Written in a year when Rosh Hashanah, the Autumn equinox, and the first killing frost in the garden all came together)Now frost-blighted fuchsias start to rot,crumpled tomatoes sag against their poles,and sap's ebb spreads across the leaves like gold;dark outlasts day again, and it gets cold.And this is the world's birthday, this the daywe call the head and start of another year.For now all nature turns to its decay:dun yard trash molders into fertile loam;Earth turns towards winter's still, which turns ...

Read More


Earth Etude for Elul 21

Turbulence Within and Without by Rabbi David Seidenberg Rabbi Nachman of Breslow taught: The divine name "YOU" (in Hebrew "Atah") is propitious over the sea to calm the waves. This is the inner meaning of the verse "YOU (Atah) rule over the magnificence/swelling (gay-ut) of the sea; in lifting its waves, YOU (Atah) will make them still." (Likutei Moharan 1:256 on Psalm 89:10) Waves of feeling can stir us up and arouse our passion, and they can arouse confusion. Amid turbulence can we see magnificence? Is there splendor to match the chaos and ...

Read More


Is Eating Meat and Other Animal Products Halachically Justifiable Today?

Based on increasingly dire warnings from climate experts and a significant increase in the frequency and severity of  climate events, it is clear that the world faces great danger from climate change. As discussed below, averting a climate catastrophe depends very much on a major societal shift to plant-based diets. That would be helped significantly if rabbis declared that eating meat and other animal products is halachically unjustifiable today. Based on Jewish teachings, there are at least six halachic reasons for rabbis to do this:                         ...

Read More


Earth Etude for Elul 20

Healing the Soil, Healing the Soul by Rabbi Robin Damsky ~ I live a life of privilege. From being a single mother, I have a student loan debt for myself and my daughter that would take 20 debt cancellations to settle. I am approaching Medicare age and my hair thins by the hour. But I am healthier than most. I dance. I understand and prepare healthy food. I teach people about the earth. As a Jew I am in the minority, but I have a voice, and a platform through which to share and amplify that voice. I am newly married to the love of my life. And I live atop a mountain ...

Read More


Earth Etude for Elul 19

A New Way to Do Teshuvah by Maxine Lyons ~Doing teshuvah means to me being responsible for turning toward my better or higher self to improve personal relationships and as well as performing my share for all beings in this coming year. I feel more responsible to contribute to and join others in actions that promote more beneficial positive actions for climate change. In that spirit of responsibility and commitment, I am also honoring the memory of Rachel Carson and her impactful and revolutionary book, Silent Spring. She advocated that each ...

Read More


Earth Etude for Elul 18

Selichot [forgiveness] by De Fischler Herman ~What is the color of forgiveness? Is it pink, delicate as the bloom of a Peace rose? Is it green, refreshing like the mist from the sparkling sea? Is it red, warm as the rock in the desert sand? Is it yellow, bright as the sunflower in summer's field? Is it blue, cool as the water under the azure sky? Is it brown, rich like the soil beneath our weary feet? Is it black, dark like the night surrounding each of us? It must be white, reflecting God's light Crafting peace Healing wounds ...

Read More