Today the House Appropriations Committee will be voting on state and foreign operations funding allocations for the fiscal year 2016. Currently, House appropriations bills do not include allocations for the Green Climate Fund and may carry rider amendments that would restrict Congress from funding the Green Climate Fund or other climate change-related initiatives at all. The Green Climate Fund is both an important symbol of global unity and a pressing environmental justice matter. We must urge our Representatives to support the Green Climate Fund.
Summer is finally and fully upon us! This is the time of year when many of us most appreciate the natural world around us, either by simply spending more time outside in the sun or in home and congregational gardens, hiking, swimming and generally exploring. With summer here and the school year ending, camp season is also by now well underway. For many of us, including me, Jewish summer camp was an amazing opportunity to deeply connect both with the natural world and with our Jewish identities.
June 1 marked the beginning of the six month countdown towards the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change in Paris, France. In advance of this convening and in the spirit of international work on climate change, Religions for Peace USA is hosting an interfaith Teach-In on climate justice and coalition building with emerging faith leaders from around the country and the world. I will be attending and helping lead elements of this Teach-In as a representative for the Reform Movement.
This week, the Environmental Protection Agency and the Army Corps’ of Engineers released a final Waters of the U.S. rule clarifying the purview of regulations for the Clean Water Act. While this may sound a little wonky, the Clean Water Act is an incredibly important foundation for environmental protection in the United States. The Clean Water Act, passed in 1972, was intended to restore the environmental integrity of American waters, which were being polluted by chemical, biological, and physical contamination. Read more…
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…