EcoJewish Action on One Foot

Aytzim and others offer many environmental tips for how together we can help build a more sustainable world. But each of these actions can have vastly different scales of impact. For example, recycling is good, planting your own garden is good, but neither is nearly as impactful in addressing climate change as much as going solar. So how can you prioritize your environmental actions? In the Talmud, Pirkei Avot, ethics of our ancestors, teaches us that the world rests on three things: Torah, service, and kindness (Pirkei Avot 1:2). While proverbially standing on one foot — Jewish shorthand for quickly providing the basis of a complex subject (Shabbat 31a) — the following are three actions for making a positive environmental difference in the world.

 

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Big Changes at Aytzim: WZC and Welcoming Jews of the Earth

While Aytzim’s Green Zionist Alliance will no longer be in the World Zionist Congress, it will continue its mission of education and advocacy about Israel’s environment through resources available at aytzim.org and Jewcology.org as well as, after the coronavirus pandemic has ended, through in-person meetings and public lectures. And the Green Zionist Alliance is only one of the projects in the Aytzim grove. The others are Jewcology.org, the online home of the Jewish-environmental movement; Shomrei Breishit: Rabbis and Cantors for the Earth, a cross-denominational international group for Jewish-clergical environmental advocacy; and EcoJews, a regional group for Jewish-environmental activities in the San Francisco Bay Area. Now we are pleased to welcome a fifth project to the Aytzim grove: Jews of the Earth.

 

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EcoJudaism in the Time of the Coronavirus

Covid-19 is not a punishment brought by God for our transgressions against nature; rather Covid-19 is a direct result of our transgressions against nature. In Judaism, the Torah is our guidebook to life. We learn best practices for human behavior. And, we are warned, it is best to maintain a healthy balance with nature because if we do not do so, the results will be deadly for humanity.

 

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Aytzim Brief Statement Against Unilateral Annexation

30 June 2020 / 8 Tammuz 5780

Empowered by a U.S. president facing reelection and courting votes from U.S. evangelical Christians — many of whom see strengthening Israel as key to enabling the New Testament-prophesied "End Times," aka apocalypse and Armageddon with true believers of Jesus raptured to heaven and terrible things happening to nonbelievers — the Israeli government is considering unilaterally annexing parts or all of the West Bank. Regardless of whether or not these lands eventually would become part of Israel as the result of a negotiated two-state solution, unilateral annexation is a mistake, in that it lessens the likelihood of long-term peace in the region, harming both Israelis and Palestinians, and it threatens to extend unjust treatment of Palestinians in perpetuity.

It has been 53 years since Israel seized the West Bank from Jordan in the Six Day War and nearly 27 years since the signing of the Oslo Accords that began steps toward establishment of a Palestinian state in the West Bank. For decades Palestinians in the West Bank have been living under a combination of Israeli martial law and very limited self-rule, without the benefits of Israeli citizenship, and without representation in the Israeli government — a moral failure that should be corrected, not exacerbated. In keeping with Theodor Herzl's vision for a Jewish state that treats all peoples fairly and equally, and in keeping with Jewish laws and customs to treat all peoples fairly and to pursue justice, Aytzim has a long record of supporting a two-state solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, and of opposing violating the human rights of Palestinians. Aytzim supports efforts toward peace and justice and condemns efforts that work against peace and justice. Correspondingly, Aytzim opposes plans for Israel's unilateral annexation of part or all of the West Bank and encourages Israeli and Palestinian leadership to return to the negotiating table to reach a lasting agreement for peace in the region.

 
Aytzim Brief Statement for Reparations and Against Violence and White Supremacy

3 June 2020 / 11 Sivan 5780

The racist rhetoric and actions of white supremacists — including policemen who murdered George Floyd, and the U.S. president who threatens further violence against those who stand up for justice — once again leaves us stating the obvious: Caring for the Earth also means caring for its people, and the institutional racism built into governmental systems causes senseless death and suffering, as well as economic deprivation, traumatic stress and exposure to pollution that is inflicted from generation to generation. White supremacy should have been dismantled long ago and its stubborn persistence represents a blight on society. White supremacy is a systematic problem and it demands a systematic solution. As always, Aytzim stands against senseless violence and stands against racism and stands against white supremacy. And as always, Aytzim stands with the marginalized, the oppressed and their allies who shout for justice.

To that end, it is past time that America pays for its crimes of slavery. Reparations cannot heal the wounds of slavery, racism and white supremacy, but it offers the opportunity to help correct some of the economic injustices that have been institutionalized by governmental systems for generations. The Jewish laws of shmita dictate that it is not enough to free enslaved people, but that they must be compensated for their labor. They must be given reparations. Grounded in our Jewish values, Aytzim supports efforts to provide long-due reparations and we also support efforts to end police violence. As the Torah commands us (Deut. 16:20), we must pursue justice. Justice!

 
Aytzim Brief Statement Against Presidential Anti-Semitism

21 Aug. 2019 / 20 Av 5779

The anti-Semitic rhetoric of the 45th U.S. president — along with his other racist, xenophobic and belligerent speech and actions — are antithetical to Jewish values, and his hateful words have proven himself to be disloyal to America.

 
Aytzim Statement Against Anti-Semitic Terrorism

As advocates of sustainability, we at Aytzim realize that no progress can be made in creating harmony on the planet when there is not harmony between human beings, and that eradicating violence and anti-Semitism in all its forms goes hand-in-hand with eradicating violence to the planet. As Jews and as defenders of both human rights and the Earth, we were horrified this past Shabbat when a white-supremacist terrorist murdered 11 at the Tree of Life synagogue in Pittsburgh.

 

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Aytzim Statement for Unity and Against Hatred

The Torah commands us over and over to pursue justice. So we shall not be silent. We can’t stand by idly. We will say what the president failed to say, but what should be patently obvious.

 

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Aytzim Statement in Support of Immigrants, the Climate and Civility

Aytzim has a long history of being a Jewish-environmental organization composed of people who care not just about Judaism and the Earth, but about the peace and wellbeing of all of our planet’s inhabitants, regardless of religion, ethnicity, gender or economic status. It is therefore with grave concern that Aytzim views the recent policy shifts by the new presidential administration in Washington.

 

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Shmita Revolution: The Reclamation and Reinvention of the Sabbatical Year

NEW JOURNAL ARTICLE

Jewish observance of shmita (alternatively spelled shemitah)—the sabbatical year, or seventh (sheviit) year—is changing. Historically rooted in agriculture, modern Jewish environmentalists are seizing upon the long-ignored environmental and social justice (tikkun olam) aspects of shmita as originally described in the five books of Moses, the Torah in the Hebrew Bible, the basis of Jewish law. Primary research was conducted through key-stakeholder interviews with leading American and Israeli Jewish environmentalists and thought leaders. They see shmita as a core Jewish value—one that, like Shabbat, the Jewish sabbath, has the power to transform society. Their work has brought shmita from an obscure law dealt with mainly by Israel’s Orthodox to a new Jewish ethos being discussed across the United States, Europe, Israel, and even on the floor of Knesset, Israel’s parliament. This article also describes shmita as delineated in the Torah and through the rabbinic canon of halacha (Jewish law), and explains shmita practice from biblical times to the present day.

 

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We Need Green Rabbis

Which rabbinical school will lead the way by offering an academic focus in Jewish environmentalism? Which will be the first to eliminate landfill trash and recycle and compost all of its waste? And which will be the first to forsake fossil fuels and go carbon neutral?

 

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Introducing Aytzim: Ecological Judaism

Since our founding in 2001, the Green Zionist Alliance has successfully worked for the declaration of new nature preserves, the planting of millions of trees, and the construction of hundreds of miles of bike trails. But today we are proud to announce a large expansion in our work. And with that we have a new name: Aytzim: Ecological Judaism.

 

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The Next Jubilee: A Vision for 2050

Theodor Herzl said that if you will it, it is no dream. What our Earth looks like in the next yovel, or jubilee, year will not happen by accident. Whether our Earth continues to heat up or whether we stem the tide isn’t predetermined — it’s actually up to us. While our present is what we make of it, our future, as Herzl taught us, will be what we make it to be. By our next yovel, if we choose, we can let climate change become the biggest problem ever faced in human history, or we can deal with it and assign it to the dustbin of history. The choice is ours.

 

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L’Dor V’Dor? Intergenerational Equity, Climate and the Jews

The Green Zionist Alliance this week joined five other faith-based environmental organizations, including GZA partner Interfaith Moral Action on Climate, in filing a friend-of-the-court brief in what’s known as the “Our Children’s Trust” case.

 

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What Would Herzl Do? Zionism and Muslim-Jewish Dialogue

What happens when Jews sit down in the same room with Muslims?

 

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Social Justice and Climate Change

When we think about climate change, we often think in terms of dramatic shifts in the natural world: melting glaciers, heat waves, tornadoes and earthquakes. One might think that changes in nature affect us all equally. But in fact, poor and non-white populations — both in the United States and around the world — disproportionately pay the price for our overuse of natural resources.

 

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Eco-Quote

"May it be my custom to go outdoors each day among the trees and grass - among all growing things."

- Rabbi Nachman of Bratslav

Did You Know?

More than 700 animal species and almost 3,000 plant species can be found in Israel today.

Mideast Green News



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