Tag Archives: Environment
Seder plate

A Tomato on the Seder Plate?

Passover is holiday full of symbolism. We eat the bitter herbs to remind us of the bitterness of slavery. We dip parsley in saltwater to recall the tears of our ancestors in Egypt. The charoset is meant to resemble the mortar the Israelites were forced to use while building structures for Pharaoh and their Egyptian oppressors. These traditional symbols have paved the way for contemporary symbolism, allowing modern Jews to use the Seder plate as a place for social or political expression.

In recent years, placing an orange on a Seder plate has become a statement with various interpretations. Introduced by Jewish feminist and scholar, Susannah Heschel, the orange has come to represent the inclusion of women and LGBT people in the Jewish tradition. In general, the orange is meant to symbolize the rejection of the notion that “a woman, [gay person or other historically marginalized person] belongs on the bimah as much as an orange belongs on the seder plate.”

This year, I invite you to include another item on your Seder plate, a symbol of food justice. Read more…

Jewish envrionmental heart

The “10 Human Plagues” on Our Environment

Each year on Passover, we recall the pleas of Moses and Aaron before Pharaoh demanding, “Let my people go!” And when Pharaoh refuses, Moses warns that God will smite Egypt with a series of plagues: water turns to blood, frogs overrun the land, lice infest the people and animals, wild beasts storm the cities, pestilence kills the domestic animals, painful boils afflict the Egyptians, hail descends from the sky, locust devour crops and greenery, darkness envelops the land and finally, the firstborn children of the all of the Egyptians are slain. How do we understand these 10 plagues in the context of our modern world? What “plagues” us now? More intensely over the last few years, there have been extreme weather events and natural disasters at the hand of climate change. These are perhaps the most devastating “plagues” of our time. If we do not act now to protect our environment, we will see the modern plagues of climate disruption.

Consider these “10 Human Plagues” on our environment: Read more…

UN Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change: “S.O.S. to the world”*

We know that each one of us, to varying degrees, have an impact on the environment and contribute to the global concern of climate change. And while each one of us is also deeply affected by climate change, that impact is felt differently throughout the world.

This past Sunday, the UN Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) released the second installment of their fifth climate report. The IPCC, which is sponsored by the United Nations and represents the brightest minds in climate science, released the first installment of this report back in September. In that first report, the IPCC concluded that it is “extremely likely,” (a measure of 95-100% likely) that human influence has been the dominant cause of the observed global warming since the mid-20th century. Being that our impact is the primary problem, we must be part of the solution.

This latest report draws attention to the very real and very observable effects of climate change, particularly delving into how climate change is anticipated to affect individual regions and continents. This report invites us to consider how climate change does not just have consequences for our natural world but also detrimental societal effects. All over the world, the health and well-being of the most vulnerable and poorest of nations are disproportionately affected by the threat of climate change. Read more…

Earth Hour logo

Join the Movement: Earth Hour 2014

Tomorrow evening – March 29th from 8:30-9:30pm local time – join millions of people around the world to celebrate the 8th annual Earth Hour! Earth Hour is a worldwide movement to unite people in taking just 60 minutes to unplug, shutdown and refrain from doing anything dependent on our planet’s limited resources. The purpose of this activity is to demonstrate that the little things we do in our individual lives make a difference. When everyone is acting to reduce their impact at the same time, it amplifies the power of a single person’s actions. While the event encourages participants to turn off non-essential lights for one hour, it can also be a time to completely detach yourself from anything that depends on fossil fuels. Turn off your computer or television and go for a walk around the neighborhood. Or eat a late dinner by the light of a beeswax candle. Read more…

21 Facts for the 21st Annual World Water Day

This past Saturday, March 22nd, marked the 21st annual World Water Day.  What is World Water Day, you ask? World Water Day has been held annually on March 22nd since 1993, when the United Nations General Assembly designated the day as the first World Water Day.  World Water Day is an opportunity to focus on the importance of access to freshwater for everyone on the planet and to highlight the millions of people living without access to clean water around the globe.  This year’s World Water Day focused on the intersection of water and energy, and the crucial impacts both have on alleviating poverty worldwide. Read more…

Senate Slumber Party

Last week, 30 U.S. senators whipped out their nicest pair of pajamas, grabbed their pillows and a copy of The Lorax and headed to the Senate floor for the best slumber party ever: an all-nighter to talk about climate change. As is quite evident, Congress has been slow to move any climate change legislation and while President Obama has taken executive action, his initiatives have met a significant amount of push-back. But, to echo the sentiment of the senators that participated in last week’s event, it is past time to wake up to the reality of climate change!

Throughout the night, the senators talked about the major implications of climate change, citing studies and statistics, showing pictures and graphs, and discussing how climate change particularly affects their home states. Additionally, they promoted the economic benefits of clean energy like long-term savings and job creation. The idea, however, was not to talk about proposing specific legislation, it was aimed at showing that there are members of Congress who do care about the threat of global climate change and want to stir up some action.

As Reform Jews, we fully understand the imperative to safeguard the world for future generations and recognize that what we do in our time now with have a profound impact on the world we leave to our children and our grandchildren. As we read in Ecclesiastes 1:4, “a generation goes and a generation comes, but the earth remains forever.” Read more…

Double Booked: Helping Working Families Breathe Easier

By Rich Cizik

“Dad, I can’t breathe.”  These are words that can strike fear in the heart of any parent.   Our son John, 13 years of age, had just become a teenager.  He had occasionally complained of congestion, but nothing like this.  These were the anguished words of a growing kid who literally was having trouble breathing.

We rushed him by car to a local medical clinic nearby, not wanting to wait a minute for help.  The diagnosis: asthma.  Fortunately, we got John in quickly to see a doctor who would both diagnose his condition and prescribe the medicine and inhaler that he needed then and still does when he works outside.

Read more…

Robb Kushner

Why Fracking Gives Me the Heebie Jeebies

By Robb Kushner

I grew up in the heyday of the American post-war boom, when the sky was the limit, and exploitation of fossil fuels was the key to an ever-expanding future. The suburbs were being rolled out everywhere, and the Interstate highway system held the amazing promise of driving from New York to LA without ever stopping at a traffic light. And I remember my parents would say, “Now you’re cooking with gas!” when they wanted to encourage me.

In my adulthood, I’ve come to realize – bit by bit – how we need to be good stewards of the environment – that our future on the planet depends on it. We now know climate change is happening much faster than scientists had predicted. In order to “defuse the global warming time bomb” (in the phrase of climate scientist James Hansen), we must reduce carbon emissions around the world soon or risk the devastating effects of rising seas, more acidic oceans, accelerated species extinction, and more frequent and violent weather events. Read more…