By: Rabbi Kimberly Herzog Cohen, Temple Emanu-El, Dallas, TX
Visiting Faculty at GFC
A little over five years ago, I spent my first year of rabbinical school in Israel. Our visit to Kibbutz Lotan in the Arava Valley stands out as a highlight. Lotan serves as a model for sustainable living—a whole section of the kibbutz features eco-friendly domed apartments, solar ovens, solar hot water collectors and more. Little did I know while I toured the kibbutz in 2007, I would be on faculty for Greene Family Camp’s new Eco Village with several Lotan kibbutzniks five years later!
Greene’s Eco Village staff is guiding Kibbutz campers through an inspiring and thought-provoking summer. This past Friday, Kibbutz campers toured the landfill of Temple, TX, an experience that opened our eyes to harsh realities. We watched an endless line of trucks dump loads of trash, including tons of cardboard boxes and other material that could easily berecycled. Standing in the noonday heat, we looked at the massive heap of waste before us. It seemed to have been accumulating for days, but shockingly, our tour guide reported that it had only begun accumulating at 7 am that morning.
At that moment, I thought of the beginning of a prayer in the Reform siddur, Mishkan T’filah: “Disturb us, Adonai, ruffle us from our complacency. Make us dissatisfied.” Indeed, all of us were disturbed as we witnessed the piles of trash expand and grow before our eyes. We were left with the question that continues to take shape in the minds of kibbutz campers at Greene this summer: and what can we do about it?
I am hopeful when I see the campers wrestle with this question, and consider the various pathways towards greater environmental sustainability. I am hopeful when I experience the way they are growing as a community. And I am hopeful when they take pride in adding their own contributions to the ongoing creation of our Eco Village at Greene (check out the picture of the mud oven!).
I have always felt deeply connected to nature. It was in the Sierra Mountains as a young girl that I first experienced, what I now describe to be, a Divine Presence in the universe. My summers have always been sweetened by the memories of camp outs, starry skies and peaceful kayak rides. For me, being in the outdoors is about coming home. And now, as I look back on this week at Greene, I realize that I have returned home anew, for I feel even more motivated by the challenge before us: and what can we do about it?