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Planning for 7 Billion: Water Scarcity

This post is part of our Planning for 7 Billion series, highlighting the challenges posed by a quickly growing global population.

Two and a half years ago I celebrated Passover in China, attending Seder with Kehillat Beijing, a congregation composed mostly of Jewish expats living and studying in the Chinese capital. Gathered together to retell the exodus of our ancestors, I remember reaching the point in the story where Moses parts the Red Sea to lead the Jews out of Egypt. This is one of the most well-recognized and controversial narratives in the Haggadah. Moses gains control of the sea to lead the Jews to freedom, ultimately causing the death of many Egyptians. His God-given ability to control the sea is regarded as one of the most awesome of all of his mighty deeds; still, to this day, whether afflicted by violent hurricanes, tsunamis, or droughts, humanity seeks ways to wield power over water. Read more…


Election Reform for the 21st Century

Proponents of voter ID laws argue that voters should be required to present government-issued ID at the polls in order to limit voter fraud. But a new report released this Tuesday helps expose one of the major flaws in this line of reasoning: poor design and out-of-date technology are more likely to cause problems in American elections than any incidence of “voter fraud” is likely to occur. Read more…


Rumblings of a Carbon Tax

How do we measure the true cost of carbon pollution? The answer has stumped scientists, lawmakers, economists, and religious leaders alike for decades. We can measure the cost of making increasingly acidifying waters potable. We can measure the rising cost of basic food staples, whose prices have skyrocketed in the last decade. We can measure the rise in cost of treating water-borne diseases, which are spreading to more places due to warmer temperatures. Read more…


Election Year Dos and Don’ts

As one rabbi recently wrote on this blog, voting is a mitzvah. “A ruler is not to be appointed unless the community is first consulted,” we read in Talmud (B’rachot 55a). American Jews have a special opportunity and obligation to put these democratic values into practice on Election Day, this year falling on November 6. Read more…


10 States, 10 Million Voters, 10 Miles

How far away do you live from your local DMV, or other government-designated office? If you needed to obtain a license or other form of identification, how would you get to this office? And during what time of day would you go? Read more…


At the Starting Line: 14% by 2014

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 is not as simple as it was during the Biblical era. In North America, most of us do not work on farms nor do we have fields in our backyards to leave unharvested. But this Shmittah cycle, beginning in 2014, the Jewish community is coming together to observe this ancient ritual in a new way: reducing our collective energy use 14% by 2014. The Coalition on the Environment and Jewish Life (COEJL) is spearheading this community-wide effort under the banner of the Jewish Energy Covenant Campaign, which launched earlier this year. Read more…


Can I See Your ID?

The rate of participation among eligible American voters is already abysmally low, with just 64% of those eligible going to the polls in 2008. So why are some elected officials taking steps to push that number down even lower? Read more…


In the Aftermath of the Colorado Firestorm

Yesterday, following weeks of fast-moving wildfires spreading across the state, Governor John Hickenlooper officially lifted the fire ban in Colorado.  Extreme fires have burned throughout Colorado since late June, devastating thousands of acres of land and causing tens of thousands of people to evacuate their homes. At its height, ten major fires were burning throughout the state, marking the worst wildfire season the state has ever seen. Read more…