Growing up as an Israeli-American, Shavuot meant the time on my grandparent’s kibbutz when the workers from the fields and the dairy would showcase to the community the first fruits of the season. In a big community-wide gathering, fresh sheaves of wheat, fruits and vegetables, newborn calves would be paraded across a stage alongside kibbutz mothers carrying babies born in the last year. This tradition is in keeping with our sacred text, which tells us: “The choice first fruits of your soil you shall bring to the house of the Eternal your God” (Exodus 23:19).
Last week in our Torah portion B’har we saw how integral environmentalism was, not just in our commandment to “till and tend” as God told humankind in the Garden of Eden, but throughout our sacred text. In this 5776 Shmita, or Jubilee Year, when we are meant to “let the land rest” and forgive debts in our community, combatting climate change is especially important to us.
This week, in the Torah portion B’har, we read that God commands the Israelites that when they enter the Promised Land, they must let the land rest. Leviticus 25:2 reads: “When you enter the land that I assign you, the land shall observe a Sabbath of the Eternal.” The commandment goes on to explain technically what this will mean; not just when the Israelites enter the land, but every seventh year, the community is required to leave the fields unsewn and the vineyards untrimmed. Read more…
The Religious Action Center of Reform Judaism is joining this week with both faith and secular partners, across denominations and sectors around the United States, to urge Congress to support allocations for the Green Climate Fund in budget appropriations.
We are all impacted by climate change and environmental injustice. Over half of us live in counties in violation of air pollution standards, storms like Katrina, Irene, and Sandy don’t discriminate in the devastation they unleash, and communities across the coastlines of this country are facing imminent displacement due to sea level rise, which is overtaking land and resulting in increased risk of storm surge.
Starting on Sunday, April 26, Religious Action Center staff will be welcoming over 400 rabbis, cantors, and lay leaders to Washington D.C. to participate in our Consultation on Conscience. Over the course of the weekend, participants will have the chance to hear from amazing speakers, attend workshops and lobby their elected representatives on Capitol Hill.
On Wednesday, the Religious Action Center announced the eleven congregations and Reform Movement affiliates across the U.S. and Canada who won “Travel Justly” grants, which they will use to put into action a wide variety of sustainability and environmental initiatives. The projects include congregational gardening, donating eco-friendly light bulbs to a Mitzvah Corps volunteer site in Costa Rica and an initiative to create a ride-sharing program for synagogue events.