Peoplehood With Purpose: A Renewable Light Unto the Nations

Israel's first giant solar field

[This essay is from The Peoplehood Papers, volume 14 - Sustainability and Jewish Peoplehood - published by the Center for Jewish Peoplehood Education.] By Yosef Israel Abramowitz The convenient truth about the Jewish people is that when we put our minds and capital to work, we can make miracles happen. There is no more noble cause than saving humanity itself, ensuring that God’s covenant not to wipe out the planet with rising waters will be - in some small measure - because of our actions. It is for this purpose that we have been created, that we have survived, that we have flourished. There is no higher fulfillment of Jewish mission than to save the majesty of God’s creation and to do so as individuals as part of a global Jewish collective with a national platform called the State of … [Read more...]

The Intersection of Jewish Identity, Jewish Values and Global Sustainability

We need to help people infuse Jewish identity into how they live, love, work and play. [This essay is from The Peoplehood Papers, volume 14 - Sustainability and Jewish Peoplehood - published by the Center for Jewish Peoplehood Education.] By Sandy Cardin When I was asked to write an essay on sustainability, Jewish and global, I immediately thought of our greatest renewable resource: young people. Indeed, our future depends on our ability to inspire generation after generation of young people to take an active role in making the world a better place. When it comes to young Jews, in particular, our role is two-fold: to engage and empower them to devote their time and talent to strengthening the Jewish community and to put Jewish values at the forefront of their efforts to serve the … [Read more...]

Rising to the Spiritual Challenge: Meeting the Test of Climate Change

Sign making at Hazon Philadelphia for the People's Climate March, Sept.2014; photo courtesy.

Climate change is not irrelevant to Jewish life; rather we risk making Jewish life irrelevant if we ignore it. [This essay is from The Peoplehood Papers, volume 14 - Sustainability and Jewish Peoplehood - published by the Center for Jewish Peoplehood Education.] By Mirele B. Goldsmith Climate change is the biggest challenge to sustainability that the world has ever faced, but many Jewish leaders have barely taken notice. I realized just how far we have to go when I attended a meeting just a few weeks after Hurricane Sandy devastated New York City. The topic was how to address trauma caused by the storm, which killed 117 people in the United States and left tens of thousands homeless. After the formal presentations were completed, the chairperson opened the floor for questions from … [Read more...]

Inscribe Them on Your Doorposts and Gates: Stewarding Sustainable and Just Jewish Spaces

mezzuzah

Our contemporary Jewish lives are largely lived in sanctuaries, social halls, classrooms and homes. [This essay is from The Peoplehood Papers, volume 14 - Sustainability and Jewish Peoplehood - published by the Center for Jewish Peoplehood Education.] By Rachel Jacoby Rosenfield Mishkan In Genesis, God places humans in the Garden of Eden to till and tend the land. Yet we the descendants of Adam and Eve spend 90% of our time indoors.[1] In fact, one of our first undertakings when exiled from the Garden is to lay brick and mortar. The construction of the Tower of Babel demonstrates profound moral failure as we exhibit a lack of humility and humanity, building a tower that reaches God’s heavens while, according to Midrash, caring more if a brick falls from the tower than a human being. … [Read more...]

Opening Our Eyes, Celebrating Interdependence, and Evolving Jewish Ecological Wisdom

Adamah Farm

[This essay is from The Peoplehood Papers, volume 14 - Sustainability and Jewish Peoplehood - published by the Center for Jewish Peoplehood Education.] By Shamu Fenyvesi Sadeh Many years ago I worked with science teachers who were encouraged to get their students exploring stream ecology by using a curriculum focused on ‘water chemistry.’ I have met very few middle school students whose hearts sing when they hear the words water chemistry. I have met thousands of kids and adults who were excited to learn about ‘mountains’, ‘forests’, ‘rivers’, ‘nature’ and ‘the farm’. Language matters. As someone whose primary work for the last 25 years has been creating experiences that foster as sense of awe, ecological interdependence and responsibility, I have long been in search of the right words to … [Read more...]

Celebrating the Mystery: A Vision of Re-enchantment for Judaism and the World

[This essay is from The Peoplehood Papers, volume 14 - Sustainability and Jewish Peoplehood - published by the Center for Jewish Peoplehood Education.] By Nina Beth Cardin This much is uncontestable: sustainability is a bedrock concept, even if it is wrapped in a milquetoast term. Without a doubt, life depends on sustainability. We have known this for millennia: “Then God said, ‘Let the earth put forth vegetation: plants yielding seed, and fruit trees of every kind on earth that bear fruit with the seed in it.’ And it was so. The earth brought forth vegetation: plants yielding seed of every kind, and trees of every kind bearing fruit with the seed in it” (Genesis 1). Bearing; fruit; seed. There can hardly be a set of more jam-packed verses on fertility and sustainability in the whole Bible. … [Read more...]

Sustainability and Jewish Peoplehood: An Introduction

[This essay is from The Peoplehood Papers, volume 14 - Sustainability and Jewish Peoplehood - published by the Center for Jewish Peoplehood Education.] By Jeremy Benstein At first glance, the idea of connecting the concepts of sustainability and Jewish peoplehood might be puzzling; they seem to pull in different directions. Peoplehood is an inward looking idea about what it means to be Jewish and connected to a Jewish group, the survival and flourishing of that group, as well as threats and opportunities relating specifically to the Jews. In contrast, sustainability is a global idea: it’s about the survival and flourishing of the human race, even the whole planet, and in its universality is often “color-blind,” unconcerned with and often even dismissive of issues of identity and cultural … [Read more...]

Sustainability and Jewish Peoplehood: General Editor’s Note

PP 14 banner

[This editor's note is from The Peoplehood Papers, volume 14 - Sustainability and Jewish Peoplehood - published by the Center for Jewish Peoplehood Education.] By Shlomi Ravid Peoplehood Papers 14 is dedicated to the topic of Peoplehood and Sustainability. We decided to provide the Siach Network a public platform to grapple with the challenge of sustainability through the Peoplehood lens. With shmita as the framework, authors from different disciplines consider what sustainability means for the Jewish People in the 21st Century. Some take an activist stance and call on us to renew our commitments to renewable energy sources and debt forgiveness to relieve the lives of the most vulnerable amongst us. Others understand sustainability in more spiritual terms, an opportunity to reconnect with … [Read more...]