Tag Archives: Environment

U.S-China Climate Agreement a Positive Step

Yesterday, President Obama came to an agreement with Chinese President Xi Jinping to curb greenhouse gas emissions in both countries. This agreement comes in advance of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change in Lima, Peru, next month.

In response to the announcement of the U.S.-China climate agreement, Barbara Weinstein, Director of the Commission on Social Action, said in a statement:

“Though far from perfect, this week’s agreement between the U.S. and China, the world’s two most carbon emitting nations, is a positive step toward addressing the crisis of climate change… We are reminded of the words of Pirke Avot, the Ethics of the Fathers, that it is not our responsibility to finish the task, but neither are we free to desist from it. The U.S–China deal is a recognition by leaders of both nations that they have a responsibility to current and future generations to respond to the challenge of climate change. We will continue to work to ensure that this plan is not the end of the process of addressing climate change, but one step toward a healthier future for our earth and all its inhabitants.”

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We Need To Protect Monarch Butterflies from Extinction

Monarch butterflies are dying. Specifically, over the past 20 years, as global temperatures rise due to climate disruption, and milkweed — the monarch butterfly’s primary source of food – is killed by ever-stronger herbicide sprays, the worldwide population has declined 90 percent. It is for this reason that the butterflies, known for their spectacular migration from Mexico to Canada and back (and their recognizably symmetrical wings), need to be added to the list of species protected under the Endangered Species Act. Otherwise, the butterflies will become one more of the 50,000 species that become extinct worldwide each year.

Jewish tradition teaches us to care for our Earth — to preserve that which God has created. The rabbis developed the principle of bal Tashchit (do not destroy), which forbids needless destruction. Rather, we are encouraged “l’vadah ul’shamrah,” to till and to tend, to become the Earth’s stewards. In Genesis after the great flood (9:9), God declares that the Covenant established is one between God and all the creatures on the planet. These principles, among many others, highlight the Jewish concern toward creation and our mandate to preserve it, for our own sake and for the sake of the Covenant. Read more…

Green Cheshvan Challenge: Turn Down Your Thermostat

Welcome to the month of Cheshvan! As the leaves turn and November winds begin to bluster, let’s keep in mind small ways that we can reduce our carbon footprint and act as stewards of the environment.

This November, as a legislative assistant at the Religious Action Center and a recent college graduate, I am having the both freeing and somewhat overwhelming experience of living in an apartment where I can actually control our energy usage far more than I could in a college dorm room. While I’m not quite ready to petition my building management to install solar panels, I am looking for ways to minimize my impact on the environment. There are some small things that I think I – and you – can do in 5775 to contribute to the project of environmental stewardship. This blog post is the second in a monthly series of changes that I am going to make my life a little greener this year, which I challenge you try with me throughout the year.

In the month of Cheshvan, I am going to turn down my thermostat when I leave the apartment. This is a very small change that will easily become a habit for me, but it has a huge impact in reducing my energy usage. Not only is this an energy efficient challenge, it also saves money. According to Energy.gov, “By turning your thermostat back 10° to 15° for 8 hours, you can save 5% to 15% a year on your heating bill.” By turning down our thermostats, we can minimize the damage done to our earth when we use unnecessary energy to heat our homes and uphold our Jewish obligation not to destroy our earth and not to waste its resources, bal taslich (Deuteronomy 20:19).

If you’re interested in doing more for energy efficiency, talk to your congregation about enrolling for GreenFaith’s Energy Efficiency Certification or register for the GreenFaith Energy Stewardship webinar series. You can also check out my Green Tishrei Challenge to stop using plastic bags and take action by signing on to support the Environmental Protection Agency’s Clean Power Plan Proposal.

Join the GreenFaith Webinars and Learn about Energy Stewardship!

With the High Holiday season now officially over, we’ve tasted sweet apples on Rosh Hashanah and thrown bread into the ocean on Yom Kippur; we’ve talked about food justice in the sukkah and prayed for rain on Shemini Atzeret; we’ve rolled our Torah scrolls back and begun again at B’reishit, reminded of our obligation to “till and tend” the earth.

Lech Lecha is this week’s Torah portion, in which God tells Abraham to leave his family and start anew and so do we go forward into the new Jewish year. What will we do this year differently than the last? How can we go forward both to improve congregations and Jewish communities and to engage more deeply as Jews in the world around us?

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Five Jewish Things You Can Do to Celebrate Food Day

Tomorrow, October 24, is Food Day, a nationwide celebration of the movement for sustainable, healthy, affordable food. Food Day envisions food that is healthy, affordable, produced with care for environmental sustainability, farm animals and the farmers and laborers who grow, harvest, and serve our food. Food Day’s themes also touch on public health, food education and economic inequality.

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climate change tree

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.

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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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