Tag Archives: Environment

Holding Ourselves Accountable: Tending to the Earth

In B’reishit, this week’s Torah portion (parashah), we read the epitomic Jewish environmental verses: “The Lord God took the man and placed him in the Garden of Eden to till and tend it” (Genesis 2:15). For both Jewish and Christian communities, this line is the basis of our obligation as stewards of the environment.

In the story of creation, God gives to the first human beings “every seed-bearing plant that is upon all the earth” along with “everything that creeps on the earth, in which there is the breath of life” (Genesis 1:29-30). The human being’s task then, is to take care of what God has already given, what existed there before people inhabited the earth.

This parashah speaks to me for what it says about human accountability for our impact on the world around us. At its core, Jewish theology teaches us that there’s something greater than our immediate needs. In the same way that Adam and Eve are told to “till and tend” the Garden of Eden, we have a covenantal obligation to tend to the world we have been given, to hold ourselves and those who represent us responsible for the long-term welfare of our earth, for our families and communities and those less fortunate than our own.

If we hope to live in a world with sea levels low enough and temperatures cool enough to produce food for the global population, we must take it upon ourselves to till and tend as we can. Do your part by GreenFaith Energy Shield Certification to ensure that we minimize our community’s carbon footprint. Today we must act, in covenant and partnership, and raise our voices to help stem climate disaster. If you’re interested in doing more take my Tishrei Green Challenge and stop using plastic bags, or tell the Environmental Protection Agency that you support carbon pollution standards for existing power plants.

Praying for Rain Amidst Droughts and Storms

Last night we celebrated Shemini Atzeret, the last day of Sukkot. As the final day of the fall harvest chag, Shemini Atzeret includes a special prayer for rain called Tefillat Geshem. In the Biblical state of Israel (as opposed to in river-crossed Egypt) rain had incredible significance and was central to the continued viability of Israelite communities. Their gratitude to God for providing rain was necessarily a cornerstone of their religious identity.

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I am the Walrus

There are 35,000 walruses stranded right now on the beaches of northwest Alaska. Walruses, which rely on sea ice to rest periodically, are having a harder and harder time finding it in the Bering Sea due to ice sheets melting from rising global temperatures. Scientists, including those at the Walrus Research Center in Anchorage Alaska, have serious concerns over whether walruses will be able to adapt to shrinking sea ice levels. They may very well become one of the wide array of species that we can expect to go extinct as climate disruption ravages our planet.

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Green Tishrei Challenge: BYO Grocery Bags

Happy New Year and welcome to the Jewish month of Tishrei! The Jewish new year is a time for rededication and reflection, looking back on what we’ve done right in the past year and what we would like to do better in the year ahead.

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GreenFaith Congregation

October 6 – GreenFaith Certification Learning Session

Transformation. New members. Cost savings. Relevancy. Spiritual growth. Culture shift.

When GreenFaith recently interviewed 15 graduates of the Certification Program, these words were echoed again and again.

“The thing about GreenFaith is that it works. There a lot of programs that are a mile high and an inch deep, but this is a mile high and a mile deep. After having gone through it, you’ll see a tangible difference: improvement and growth in your faith community, more credibility in this work, and the ability to lead more confidently.” – Margy Clarson, Green Team member at St. Francis of Assisi Catholic Church, Triangle, VA

Join us for a webinar on October 6th at 8:00 p.m. ET to learn more about the GreenFaith Certification Program!

GreenFaith Certification is a comprehensive environmental program that helps your community be transformed into a religious leader for the environment. With processes that work, over 200 free resources, one-on-one consultation, and networking with other faith communities, the Certification Program offers more than any other program in the country.

During the learning session, We’ll share with you the benefits and results of the program, and you’ll hear from a participant. You’ll also learn of some tuition subsidies that are available to help offset the cost.

Your congregation could be next! Register for the Certification webinar today—even if you can’t make the webinar live, we will send you the recording.

new legislative assistants, Rachel, Jordan, Liya, Melanie, Claire, Jonathan

A New Year for the New Legislative Assistants: Our Reflections on 5775

Last month, the six of us began our new year as Eisendrath Legislative Assistants, complete with apples and honey, a RAC tradition to mark our office “Rosh Hashanah.” After two weeks of orientation and several weeks of familiarizing ourselves with our new portfolios, we are looking forward to the Jewish New Year and excited for the opportunities it will bring:

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Peoples Climate March

Environmental Stewardship on the Eve of Rosh Hashanah: The People’s Climate March

Yesterday I was one of over 310,000 people to march across Manhattan the weekend before the UN Climate Summit with the People’s Climate March. Together, we asked our leaders both domestically and internationally to support a strong, global commitment to curbing greenhouse gas emissions and protecting the most vulnerable communities worldwide from the devastating effects of climate change. The march included a broad swath of people from environmental, labor, scientific and faith communities. In the hours leading up to the March, Reform Jews stood side by side with Catholics, Muslims, Protestants, Unitarians, Southern Baptists, seekers and pagans for an interfaith prayer service. On a stage propped up in front of an inflatable mosque and an interfaith arc, we watched Rabbi Arthur Waskow give a benediction, Josh Nelson and Neshama Carlebach lead a niggun, monks, preachers, imams and priests all provide blessing in their traditions for the march, the UN Summit leaders, and the earth.

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NYC UN Climate Summit

UN Summit a Meaningful Opportunity to Impact Climate Change 

In advance of the UN Climate Summit beginning tomorrow, Barbara Weinstein, Associate Director of the Religious Action Center of Reform Judaism and Director of the Commission on Social Action, issued the following statement:

“We are pleased to join with others in the environmental, scientific and faith communities in urging our domestic and international leaders this week to make a strong commitment to curbing climate change and its effects. This past weekend, the Union for Reform Judaism and the Central Conference of American Rabbis were proud to partner with HUC-JIR and Reform congregants and congregations from the greater New York area and beyond to be part of the 300,000-plus who participated in the People’s Climate March to express our shared commitment to achieving a solution to the current climate crisis.

As people of faith, blessed to live in a nation with the resources and ability to be a climate leader, we have a moral obligation to address the devastation of climate change that is already wreaking havoc on the air we breathe, water we drink and earth that sustains us. Yet only with a concerted international commitment to tackling this challenge can we ensure that we pass on a healthy earth as we pass on our sacred traditions l’dor v’dor, from one generation to the next. We must act in particular for the sake of the most vulnerable – the sick, children, the elderly and others living in communities ill-equipped to respond to the increasing instances of flooding, drought, food shortages, and disease associated with climate change.

We look forward to this week’s summit renewing the global commitment to stemming climate change and to meaningful engagement from individuals, corporations, communities, and nations.”

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