by Mirele Goldsmith This article originally appeared on December 27, 2014 on the Shma website. Read the original article here. Imagine that you’re a wealthy landowner in ancient Israel. You know the shmita (sabbatical) year is coming and what’s required: You must stop planting and let your land lie fallow for the year. You must forego a year of profit. Not only that: Over the past few years, you have lent money to your poor neighbors and now you must forgive their debts so that your neighbors can also let their lands lie fallow. If they were obligated to pay you back, they would not be able to participate. These laws are good for the fertility of the land and for your neighbor’s livelihood and dignity. But observing shmita, and putting the community’s needs ahead of your own, requires a sacrifice from you. Would you do it? Fast forward to today: You live in one of the world’s richest countries and you depend on cheap energy extracted from the earth for your livelihood and your lifestyle. In neighboring countries, though, people are poor. They use little energy and they have little money to invest in new infrastructure. Will you try to […]
Topic: Climate Change
by Rabbi Shoshana Meira Friedman Rebbe Nachman of Bratzlav used to say: “Friends do not despair! When a difficult time has come upon us, joy must fill the air! We must not lose our faith in living, we must not despair. When a difficult time is upon us, joy must fill the air!” When I was a child, singing this song in synagogue gave me great hope. I hear it now as a call to keep joy and hope alive amidst this huge challenge facing humanity. We must not lose our faith in living, we must not despair. Though a difficult time is indeed upon us, joy can fill the air! I want to highlight three major gifts that Judaism brings to the table of interfaith climate change work. Experience with paradigm shifts. The connection between the environment and human actions. The Jewish cycle of time, specifically of the cycle of rest & renewal. Paradigm shifts: When the Second Temple was destroyed by Rome in 70 C.E., the Jewish community suffered cataclysmic violence and the loss of a way of life. In the chaos, a man named Rabbi Yochanan ben Zakkai was smuggled out of burning Jerusalem in a coffin. […]
Thousands of Jews from over 100 communities joined 400,000 people of all faiths in the People’s Climate March on September 21. It was an inspiring day that revealed the public’s concern about climate disruption, and growing understanding of the need for serious action. We need to keep the pressure on political leaders at every level, from local communities to the US Congress, to follow through on measures that will limit greenhouse gas emissions from fossil fuels and accelerate the transition to renewable energy. Here are some ways that you can engage your members who were inspired by the March and are ready to keep going: Educate Your Community Hannukah, the festival of light, is a great time to learn about different sources of energy and their impact. COEJL’s Hannukah Energy Scavenger Hunt is a fun place to start. Show Disruption, the exciting film that tells the story of the People’s Climate March. Do your members know what you are doing to make your organization more energy efficient? Share your progress with your board of directors and in your newsletter. If you need to start tracking your energy use, learn how to use EPA’s Portfolio Manager. Help Members Take Concrete Action […]
When I started my internship at Hazon at the beginning of the summer, I had no idea what the People’s Climate March was, let alone know that I would be devoting most of my time to it. For those of you who haven’t heard about the People’s Climate March yet, it’s being held in Manhattan on Sunday, September 21, 2014, two days before the emergency climate summit called by UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, in which he is urging world leaders to take serious action against climate change. The March will be a platform for all of us to show our support for a treaty to prevent climate change and to put pressure on leaders who can make a difference. Over the past ten weeks, I have put together a website for the Jewish Climate Change Campaign filled with content I helped create about the March, listened in on numerous conference calls, and emailed countless people about why they should participate. Through all of this, I have come to care deeply about this cause and this March. I have seen how Jewish people involved in different communities have come together, united for this one cause and the chance to change the course of […]
Jewcology is a diverse platform for Jewish environmental activists to learn from each other in order to educate Jewish communities about our responsibility to protect the environment. Hazon is excited to share these resources with you! We provide and promote ways to relate Jewish learning and Jewish teaching to environmental action and sustainability efforts. By Rabbi Yonatan Neril The first two chapters of Genesis contain teachings with profound relevance for ourselves and our world today. After creating Adam and Eve, G-d blesses them, saying “Be fruitful and multiply, fill the earth and subdue it, and have dominion over the fish of the sea, and over the birds of the sky, and over every living thing that moves upon the earth.” What does it mean for humans to subdue the earth and have dominion over other creatures? One of the central precepts of Rabbinic Judaism is that the Written Torah must be understood within the context of the 2,300 year-old rabbinic tradition (including the Midrash and other works) that interprets it. While on the surface the words of this verse appear to give people license to degrade and subdue the earth, the Oral tradition makes clear that a wholly different message […]
What’s all this talk about the drought? And why are the size of storms increasing?
Israel is faced with a growing water scarcity problem that one good rainy season will not solve
GZA and COEJL to host a free webinar about the United Nations Conference on Climate Change in Durban
Aa diverse group of community leaders has joined the Jewish Energy Covenant Campaign
Sunday, November 6, 6:30 – 8:00 PM B’nai Jeshurun, 88th Street Sanctuary 257 West 88th Street (between Broadway and West End Avenue), New York, NY Meet Michael Kagan of The Jewish Climate Initiative in Israel. Michael has been an innovator and entrepreneur for 18 years. He has co-founded six high-tech companies, holds a doctorate in chemistry from Hebrew University of Jerusalem and is an inventor with twelve registered patents. This event is co-sponsored with Hazon.
10/10/10 is a globally acknowledged date to help bring awareness to the significance of climate change. It is all too appropriate that Shabbat Noah falls out on the same weekend. Our Shabbat and day of action is in participation with the 350.org campaign, an international effort that’s building a movement to unite the world around solutions to the climate crisis. September 2 , 2010 By Ilana Krakowski, a senior in the Double Degree Program between Barnard and the Jewish Theological Seminary and a committed Hazon intern If you received a divine message that the world and all of its living beings were to be destroyed, what would you do? Difficult, huh? In the story of Parshat Noah, we see that Noah remains silent when God tells Noah the plan for the Flood. Many readers of this Torah portion have perhaps, understandably, ridiculed Noah for his tacit acceptance of the world’s destruction. (more…)
October 6, 2010 By Jessica Haller, CIO for Hazon and Director of the Jewish Climate Change Campaign The vendor is calling, offering his hot roasted peanuts. The time is over 5000 years ago, and the place is central Mesopotamia. Noah’s contemporaries smell the peanuts and their mouths water. As they walk by, each takes a peanut, just one, just to taste. They aren’t really stealing, after all, it’s just a peanut. They continue to walk and as they pass the orchard, the just-ripe fruits also call to them, and they take an apple, just one, not really stealing. At the grain store, a few grains, just a taste. After a few days the peanut vendor is left with hulls, the orchard owner with bare trees. Years of not really stealing a little, a taste, a bite, and the erosion of morals is so great, according to Midrash, that God decides to start over. (more…)
10/10/10 is a globally acknowledged date to help bring awareness to the significance of climate change. It is all too appropriate that Shabbat Noah falls out on the same weekend. Our Shabbat and day of action is in participation with the 350.org campaign, an international effort that’s building a movement to unite the world around solutions to the climate crisis. August 23, 2010 By Dr. Mirele Goldsmith, environmental psychologist and sustainability consultant. Noah was 600 years old when God told him to build the ark. How the hell did he do it? We really don’t know. The Torah doesn’t say how Noah built the ark. It just says that God told Noah he had 7 days to get it done. And he did. What’s the message for us today? Why have we chosen the Shabbat when we read the story of Noah as the day to commit ourselves to take action on climate change? Because if Noah could do it, so can we. (more…)
By Daniel Bloom, Hazon Program Associate Traditionally on Chanukah we celebrate the curious episode of a jug of oil, enough for one day, miraculously burning for eight days. The rabbis debated the exact nature of the miracle. Amongst the many possibilities, one opinion suggests that the oil was divided into eighths, each of which burned for an entire day. Another opinion claims that after filling the menorah on each of the first seven nights, the jug remained full. It is apt that we will be thinking about burning oil when the world’s leaders meet in the coming days for the UN Climate Change Conference in Copenhagen. The Conference represents the best opportunity so far for the community of nations to tackle the issue of climate change on a global scale and discuss concrete plans and targets for the reduction of greenhouse emissions. Nonetheless, there is reason to be skeptical. First, we may assume that the leaders of the world’s nations lack the political will to commit to serious change, and second, that even if leaders were to make a commitment, a top-down nation-state driven campaign would have little impact in changing global emission patterns. These two claims are undoubtedly interrelated. […]
Dr. Mirele B. Goldsmith, Hazon board member Sukkot is my favorite holiday. I love spending time outdoors in the sukkah. And I love the joyful emphasis on thanksgiving and celebration. But the message of Sukkot is more complicated than it appears. Sukkot encourages us to appreciate and enjoy the bounty of nature, while at the same time it reminds us that life is fragile. Just like the sukkah, which will topple in a strong wind, we are vulnerable to the unpredictable forces of nature. The particular aspect of nature that we focus on during Sukkot is water. In the Land of Israel our ancestors were keenly aware of their dependence on rain. So while Sukkot is a celebration of the past year’s harvest, it is also a time to pray for the rain that will insure the harvest in the year to come. Each day during Sukkot we wave the lulav, a bouquet of plants associated with varied water sources, and call out to the heavens to save us with life-giving rain. By the final day of Sukkot our mood has changed. Cries of joy have become cries of desperation. By tradition this is the final day of the high […]