Topic: Israel


Tisha B’Av, Copenhagen and Climate Change

Rabbi Yedidya (Julian) Sinclair, Director of Education, Jewish Climate Initiative, and Hazon Rabbinical Scholar Recently I was asked an interesting question by an Israel environmental leader. “I was a bit surprised and somewhat dismayed,” he began, “to find out that the date chosen for the Copenhagen Planning Seminar was also Tisha B’Av.” A bit of background for the uninitiated: 1.         The Copenhagen Summit in December is a gathering of world leaders that aims to bash out a successor agreement to the Kyoto protocol that will limit CO2 emissions going forward. It is widely seen as a critical moment in the global effort to address climate change. 2.         The particular Seminar spoken about here is a gathering of Israeli environmental NGO’s that will propose an Israeli position for the Copenhagen Summit. Israel has not so far taken an official line on global warming. That is probably about to change. The new environment minister, Gilad Erdan, is one of the very few in recent years not to see the appointment as a consolation prize for not receiving a “real” ministerial job.” Erdan gets it. He understands that the environment really matters. The Tisha B’Av seminar includes a meeting with him. 3.         Tisha B’Av […]

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Pollution in the Promised Land

By Rabbi Julian Sinclair, Hazon Rabbinic Fellow Yom Haat’zmaut. Here in Israel we celebrated Yom Ha’atzma’ut last week; fireworks, barbecues, mutual congratulations on how much we’ve achieved in 61 years (absorbing millions of immigrants, sustaining a vibrant democracy, building a dynamic economy, etc.), and a certain amount of soul-searching about how much we still haven’t: (peace, intra-Jewish harmony, a national soccer team that qualifies for the World Cup finals etc etc.). In honor of Yom Haatzmaut, I read a brilliant 500 page book; (rather sad, I know, but that’s the kind of kid I’ve always been…). Professor Alon Tal’s “Pollution in the Promised Land: an Environmental History of Israel” is the definitive work on the subject. In retrospect it was also the perfect read for the day. Tal’s book does much more than its subtitle claims. As you would expect it tells the story of how Israel’s rapid economic development has come at a high environmental price; it traces the roots of Israel’s current water crisis to bad planning and short sightedness in the early years of the State; one chapter relates the staggering success, or disastrous stupidity (depending on your perspective) of the JNF’s forestry policies. (The JNF planted […]

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Ba Midbar – In the Wilderness…

Leviticus 26:3-27:34 A few years ago I went hiking with friends and with a Bedouin guide in the area around and behind Santa Katerina, in southern Sinai. Sinai is an extraordinary place, raw and grand. The peaks are majestic and whistling cold. The wadis are full of hidden crevices, shade and light, little crawly things, small shrubs and unlikely greennesses. On a hot day, moving slowly, we rounded a corner and came upon a pool, translucent blue, still in the windless day, ice-cold despite the heat. As we read parashat Be-Midbar, and begin the book of Be-Midbar, that hike and that natural pool provide insights into two important questions: why was it necessary for the children of Israel to spend so long in the wilderness? And what message should we learn from that today? (more…)

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Shabbat Hazon 2006

Friday July 28th 2006 / 3 Av 5766 Dear All, This Shabbat is Shabbat Hazon, which you would think would be the sort of time I ought to write something to our list. But then one recalls that Shabbat Hazon is not about “hazon” – vision – in a positive and inspirational sense (which is largely why Hazon is called Hazon) but rather about a prophecy of destruction and despoliation, especially in Israel. And then I think: well, perhaps I should indeed write something… (more…)

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An Amazing Way to Arrive

Jerusalem Yom Ha’atsma’ut / Israel Independence Day – 20th day of the omer 5766 Wednesday May 3rd 2006 Here’s how I arrived in Israel yesterday – in the waning afternoon hours of Yom Hazikaron, Israel’s memorial day, and just ahead of Yom Ha’atsma’ut, Israel’s Independence Day, last night and today. I walked through customs at Ben Gurion airport at 4.30pm. Yigal Deutscher met me at the airport; less than half an hour later I was walking around Chava v’Adam, visiting his new Shorashim project. I’ll explain what that is in a minute and why it was so amazing, but first a word about Yigal. (more…)

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2003 Israel Ride – Letter from Nigel

New York Yom Ha’atsma’aut 5763 / 7th May 2003 Dear All, I’m back in New York after the first-ever Arava Institute Hazon Israel Bike Ride. I’m jetlagged and sunburned and, courtesy of my first-ever downhill mountain-biking, bearing one or two scars. But I had a wonderful time, and I’m delighted to report that (minus the injuries) so did the rest of our riders. I got an email yesterday from Rosie Sharabhani which was typical of people’s responses: “I’ve been to Israel over a dozen times, but this has definitely been one of the most memorable trips I’ve ever had – from biking across the desert and feeling the utter beauty of the land in a more intimate way than ever before, to bonding with Jews from different backgrounds and ages who I would otherwise never have crossed paths with, and meeting Israelis who were so gracious and welcoming, and who shared with us their commitment and incredible contributions to this country. I’ve come out of this trip feeling a deeper love and connection to the miracle of Israel, and really look forward to build upon the community/family that was formed on this bike trip!” (more…)

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