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Creating a Sustainable Jewish Ecology

October 3, 2007

Ellen Bernstein, author of The Splendor of Creation: A Biblical Ecology, writes in the newest issue of Zeek about Jewish connections to ecology:

Judaism, I found, like many other indigenous traditions, is necessarily an ecological, sustainable tradition. All traditions that rise up out of the land, all indigenous traditions like Judaism, are interested in sustaining a people into the future. Both Judaism and ecology require a long-term vision; they are concerned with insuring a future for generations to come; you can’t use up all your resources; you can’t wantonly pollute the earth or heat up the atmosphere, if you want to insure a future for your children. And like ecology, whose concern first and foremost is the ecos, the house, Judaism is interested in preserving the home–our earthly home. And so in Judaism we have laws that forbid the cutting down of fruit trees and the polluting of waterways, and edicts that describe where to locate tanneries and how to plan towns and where to plant gardens and where to browse the sheep. Our whole system of social justice and tzedakah grew out of a landed consciousness. Without this kind of ecological appreciation, our culture would have dried up thousands of years ago.

A fitting end to a month’s worth of holidays.  Chag sameach.

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