Eco-Theology Subscribe

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


Blogs

The Sacred Green Menorah: Deeper Meanings of Hanukkah & Earth

On Shabbat Hanukkah (this year, Nov. 29-30), we read an extraordinary passage from the Prophet Zechariah. Speaking during the Babylonian Captivity, he envisions the future Great Menorah, taking its sacred place in a rebuilt Holy Temple. Zechariah, in visionary, prophetic style, goes beyond the Torah’s description of the original Menorah (literally, a Light-bearer). That Menorah was planned as part of the portable Shrine, the Mishkan, in the Wilderness. First Zechariah describes the Menorah of the future that he sees: “All of gold, with a bowl on ...

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Transformative Judaism and our Planetary Crisis

Since human action has endangered the web of life on earth, human action can heal it. And the religious and spiritual communities of our planet have the wisdoms and the tools to do the healing. Judaism is especially relevant because, unlike most world religions, we preserve the teachings of an indigenous people in the biblical tradition –- the spiritual wisdom of shepherds and farmers. And yet as a world people, we can now apply the earthiness of our origins to the Whole Earth. That does not mean simply repeating the ancient practices. For instance, ...

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The Meaning of This Hour: Confronting the Coming Cataclysm of Global Climate Change

In March 1938, Abraham Joshua Heschel delivered a speech to a conference of Quakers in Frankfort (it was later expanded and published in 1943) called The Meaning of this Hour. Heschel had been living in Berlin for some years, acquiring his Ph.D. and a liberal rabbinic ordination (he had already gotten a traditional ordination when he was a teenager in Warsaw). During his years there, he was a witness to rise of Nazism even while he taught and began to publish his work. In 1938, it was clear to many people that war in Europe was coming. In the very month that ...

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The Age of Climate Dithering Must Come to an End

There is a new genre fiction called “Climate Change Fiction” that has become increasingly popular. The major theme of these works is what the world will be like after the effects of climate change has taken effect. One of my favorite Science fiction authors, Kim Stanley Robinson, has utilized this theme in several of his books, the latest being, 2312 which won the 2012 Nebula award for best science fiction novel and has been nominated for the Hugo award for best science fiction novel of 2013. 2313 mostly takes place off Earth among colonies on ...

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Earth Etude for 3 Elul – Paying Attention to Roots

by Maxine Lyons Being a passionate gardener, I have been tending several gardens in my yard as well as many flower pots on our large deck so my hands are in dirt quite often these days. I have been transplanting yellow primroses, succulents, day lilies and sunflowers, focusing on the integrity of the roots, noticing how each root system is different. For example, some plants require a full root for transplanting while others need a partial root to survive. Succulents do not need roots at all; pieces can be immersed in dirt and re-establish their roots in ...

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Do Animals Go to Heaven? Reflecting on Our Relationship to Non-Human Life

Do All Dogs Go to Heaven? When we ask such a question or “Do animals have souls?” what are we are really saying? We are revealing a deeper existential and theological question about how human beings relate to other living creatures. No one can know the actual reality of the afterlife, but what we believe about it says something about what we believe about life. Our ideas about animal “souls” is, therefore, really about whether humans are unique among living creatures and determining the spiritual distance or ontological gap between humans and ...

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Tisha B’Av and Vegetarianism

There are many connections between vegetarianism and the Jewish holiday of Tisha B'Av: 1. Tisha B'Av (the 9th day of the month of Av) commemorates the destruction of the first and second Temples in Jerusalem. Today the entire world is threatened by climate change, and modern intensive livestock agriculture is a major contributor to greenhouse gas emissions. 2. In Megilat Eichah (Lamentations), which is read on Tisha B'Av, the prophet Jeremiah warned the Jewish people of the need to change their unjust ways in order to avoid the destruction of Jerusalem. Today, climate ...

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Spreading Our Roots on Shavuot

Blog post by Joshua Boydstun, Jewish Farm School Rabbinic Intern ----------------------------------------------------------- As a rabbinical student, I spend a lot of time thinking and talking about metaphorical “roots”: What is “the root of an idea”? Are texts and traditions “rooted” in a particular time or place? Is it dangerous to be “rootless”? And if so, how can we “get back to our roots”? All of these metaphors depict the “root” as something fundamental and foundational—as a point ...

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Where is Wisdom to be Found?

Most scholars believe that chapter 28 of the book of Job is a later poetic addition into the text. The poem is nonetheless a beautiful hymn to Wisdom (Hokhmah) and a meditation on how to acquire it. The unknown Wisdom teacher who composed this poem is warning us that we cannot find wisdom in the ingenuity of human activity, which can even encompass searching the depths of the earth through the mining of precious metals and jewels. Man sets his hand against the flinty rock and overturns mountains by the roots. He carves out channels through rock; his eyes ...

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New Year of Jewish Learning on the Environment Materials Released!

The eleventh topic in the Year of Jewish Learning on the Environment, Praying for a Sustainable World, has just been released! Today’s environmental movement seems to focus strongly on doing. There are things to buy, actions to take, petitions to sign, policies to advocate. It is rare for environmentalists to think of prayer as a tool for change. Many people in today’s society think of prayer as a passive, contemplative activity – a break from action. Jewish teachings express a very different view of prayer. Prayer is one of the key tools ...

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Earth Etude for 14 Elul

Elul Greening by Judith Feinstein Have we done the reparation so to take the consolation and digest it all and well? Have we psalms we want to hear releasing some for other's ears while disregarding somber prohets' words? Can we see Akiva's vision, crumbling Temple fox is running as a sign Moschaiach's coming or do we yet deny our state? Do we choose to not attend to what this month we must amends do so that we are then released from martyr's fate at our own hands. We do not ...

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New Interfaith Ecology Video “One Home”

The Interfaith Center for Sustainable Development based out of Jerusalem has recently released a new video entitled "One Home." This unique interfaith eco viral video features world religious leaders speaking out on environmental sustainability. Faith leaders including Chief Rabbi Jonathan Sacks, the Dalai Lama, and others deliver a message of hope and inspiration on the importance of protecting the earth, our common home. Please share this video with your family, your friends, and your community and help promote a sustainable future! bit.ly/onehome1

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Covenant Campaign Blog from The Religious Action Center of Reform Judaism

At the Starting Line: 14% by 2014 By Susan Paykin, Religious Action Center of Reform Judaism (the RAC) Two years from now, we will celebrate the beginning of the Shmittah year, or sabbatical year. Shmittah marks the seventh year in the ancient agricultural cycle, when we are commanded to “release” (the literal Hebraic translation of shmittah) the Earth from human stress. Our land is to lay fallow and any fruits or vegetables that grow are ownerless, open to anyone who needs or wants to eat them. In the new millennium, observing Shmittah ...

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Torah tour of Brooklyn Botanic Garden, Sunday, July 22, 2012

Torah tour of Brooklyn Botanic Garden Sunday, July 22, 2012 11 AM This is a great way to spend part of a Sunday during the three weeks. We will meet at the Flatbush entrance to the Brooklyn Botanic Garden (corner of Flatbush Avenue and Empire Blvd.) at 11 AM. Admission to the Garden is $10 for adults, $5 for students age 12 and older and seniors age 65 or older, and free for members and children under age 12. There is an additional $5 charge (cash only, please) for the Torah tour. Children will also receive a free craft project to take home. The ...

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Think Jewishly, Act Globally: Teva Ivri at RIO+ 20

Dear Friends, A few weeks ago , I traveled with the Israeli delegation to The United Nations Conference on Sustainable Development in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. The conference, titled “The Future We Want,” was an opportunity to evaluate the global progress on environmental issues since the last summit in 1992 and to commit to future changes. An amazing cross-section of humanity – heads of state, tribal kings, medicine women, and ordinary activists like me – gathered from all corners of the earth to discuss how to reduce p¬overty, ...

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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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Equity or the Flood: Two Visions of Justice

It is now seven weeks to Passover and the Passover foods are already for sale in my local supermarket. My family is already planning when to do our shopping and whom to invite to the seder. Like many Jewish families, we put a lot of time and preparations into this holiday because we want to make it special and different from the rest of the year as was done when we were children. But our preparations are not only about shopping, cooking, invites and the changeover of dishes. Every year, we spend at least a little time considering what we ...

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Last Day to Order Free Haggadot

Good Chodesh! Today is Rosh Chodesh Shevat; according to Beit Shammai, THIS is the new year of the trees! In any case, we wish you a good and green new month. Tu b'Shevat is in just two weeks, on Tuesday-Wednesday February 7-8! Today is the final deadline for orders of free haggadot this year. You can order up to 25 Haggadot absolutely free by posting your request on our facebook page. Please post the number of haggadot you are requesting, your location, and the community where the materials will be ...

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Tu B’Shevat Seeds

Dear friends, The origins of this post began over a year ago when I came across a quote that looked to me like Rabbi Heschel challenging Martin Buber’s masterpiece, I and Thou. Unbelievable, right? Like two superheroes fighting. I was compelled to explore deeper. Here’s what Rabbi Heschel said: “…I am not ready to accept the ancient concept of prayer as dialogue. Who are we to enter a dialogue with God?” He then declares that he is only an “it” immersed within the all that is God and can not be an ‘I’. ...

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