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Why Jewish Environmentalism

What is Jewish environmentalism? 1. The beginnings of a Jewish environmental ethic emerge out of Bereishit, – Genesis – through the two creation stories, which set up models of our relationship as human beings with the rest of creation, and which obligate us to tend and to protect the world. 2. Our agricultural roots, celebrated on holidays and in sacred texts, are intended to connect us to the land. 3. The cycles of the Jewish year are grounded in the natural world and our connection to it 4. Shabbat – stopping and resting on the Sabbath – teaches that there are higher values than production and consumption. Resting on Shabbat – one day in seven – lies at the heart of a healthy relationship with oneself, one’s friends and one’s family, and the wider world. 5. The biblical concept of shmitta – having the land rest on its seventh year – provides an equivalent model of rest for the land itself. 6. The biblical concept of peah – leaving the corner of the field unharvested for the poor to pick themselves – connects ecological issues with human values: our obligation to see that people live free of hunger and that […]

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