Superstorm Sandy jump-started a conversation about the environment and climate change that calls upon individuals and institutions to do their part to help the planet avoid an environmental crisis. What are we as Jews and Jewish institutions doing?
The Jewish conversation on the environment began a long time ago. According to Genesis, human beings were created in order "to work the earth and to guard it" (2:26). In Numbers, we are enjoined to create a green space (migrash) around our cities for pasture and enjoyment. In Deuteronomy we are told not to cut down fruit trees when laying siege to a city. The Torah rhetorically asks: "Is the tree of the field a human being that it can withdraw before you into the city?" (20:20). By expanding the range of this mitzvah, which later came to be codified as bal tashhit ("do not destroy"), the rabbis sent a clear message: not only farmers, but all Jews, should live in a way which accords dignity to the earth as the fruit of God's creation.
To that end, a group of TIC congregants and staff members has formed our TIC Green Team. Our Green Team's mission and goals:
• Make TIC's facilities more energy efficient
• Make TIC's operations more sustainable
• Raise awareness of environmental issues among our members and constituents
• Generate meaningful responses to global climate change while strengthening Jewish life
The Jews of antiquity lived, breathed and prayed about their care for the earth. They were motivated by God's word, as pronounced in Leviticus that while the Earth is entrusted to us, it is not ours to squander: Ki li ha'aretz --"For the land belongs to me." (Lev. 25:23). There is no need to ‘make' the environment a Jewish issue; it already is one.
To get involved in TIC's "Green Team," contact Interim Executive Director, Sandy Silverstein
Read more about the Jewish Greening Fellowship at: http://isabellafreedman.org/environment/greening