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Environmentalism and Judaism

Environmentalism and Judaism

Learn more about Judaism's teachings on environmentalism by exploring these suggested resources:

Audio and Video

  • The American Jewish Mosaic—Hear audio from this panel discussion held at Spertus on June 6, 2010. Features Emily Soloff of Interreligious and Intergroup Affairs of the American Jewish Committee (AJC) with Rabbi Capers C. Funnye, Jr. of Chicago’s Beth Shalom B’nai Zaken Ethiopian Hebrew Congregation and Rabbi Rigoberto Emmanuel Viñas of New York's El Centro de Estudios Judios.

Online Resources

Books Recommended by Jewish Environmental Group Hazon
*Starred resources are available in the Asher Library

  • Religion and the Order of Nature. Seyyed Hossein Nasr.
    Oxford University Press, 1996.
    Seyyed Hossein Nasr argues that the devastation of our world has been exacerbated, if not actually caused, by the reductionist view of nature advanced by modern secular science. What is needed, he believes, is the recovery of the truth to which the great, enduring religions all attest: that nature is sacred.

  • Judaism and Ecology: The Created World and the Revealed Word. Hava Tirosh-Samuelson, Ed. Cambridge, MA.: Harvard Divinity School, 2002.*
    Jewish ecological discourse has shown that Judaism harbors deep concern for the well-being of the natural world. However, the movement has not articulated a Jewish theology of nature, nor has it submitted the sources of Judaism to a systematic, philosophical examination. This volume intends to contribute to the nascent discourse on Judaism and ecology by clarifying diverse conceptions of nature in Jewish thought and by using the insights of Judaism to formulate a constructive Jewish theology of nature.

  • Torah and the Earth: Exploring 4,000 Years of Ecology in Jewish Thought. Waskow, Arthur,Ed. Woodstock, VT.: Jewish Lights Publishing, 2002.*
    Human responses to the natural world stretching back through the last 4,000 years come to life in this resource providing a diverse group of ecological and religious voices. An invaluable key to understanding the intersection of ecology and Judaism.

  • Judaism and Ecology (A Hadassah Study Guide in Cooperation with Shomrei. Adamah, Keepers of the Earth). Hadassah, 1993.

  • A Wild Faith: Jewish Ways into Wilderness, Wilderness Ways into Judaism. Rabbi Mike Comins. Jewish Lights Publishing, 2007. 
    This comprehensive how-to guide to the theory and practice of Jewish wilderness spirituality unravels the mystery of Judaism’s connection to the natural world and offers ways for you to enliven and deepen your spiritual life through wilderness experience. Over forty practical exercises provide detailed instruction on spiritual practice in the natural world.

  • Judaism and Environmental Ethics: A Reader. Martin D. Yaffe, ed. Lexington Books, 2001. * ebook
    A well-conceived exploration of three interrelated questions: Does the Hebrew Bible, or subsequent Jewish tradition, teach environmental responsibility or not? What Jewish teachings, if any, appropriately address today’s environmental crisis? Do ecology, Judaism, and philosophy work together, or are they at odds with each other in confronting the current crisis?

  • The Environment in Jewish Thought and Law. Sviva Israel. Israel Ministry for Environmental Protection, 2007-2008.
    Annual scholarly journal featuring academic papers by rabbinical scholars on the topic of The Environment in Jewish Thought and Law. Sponsored by the Israel Ministry for the Protection of the Environment, the Jerusalem Municipality, and the Ramat Shlomo Community Council and distributed free of charge to hundreds of synagogues and yeshivot throughout Israel.

  • Trees, Earth, and Torah: A Tu B’Shvat Anthology. Ari Elon, Naomi Mara Hyman, Arthur Waskow, eds. Philadelphia: Jewish Publication Society, 1999.* 
    This anthology draws upon biblical, rabbinical, medieval, and modern sources from art, music, recipes, and crafts, as well as fiction, poetry, and essays—about the significance and historical development of Tu B’Shvat, the Jewish “New Year of the Trees,” and includes mystical writings along with Zionist and Eco-Judaism pieces. Also includes examples for preparing a Seder Tu B’Shvat.

  • Pollution in a Promised Land: An Environmental History of Israel. Alon Tal. University of California Press, 2002.
    Virtually undeveloped one hundred years ago, Israel, the promised "land of milk and honey," is in ecological disarray. In this gripping book, Alon Tal provides a history of environmentalism in Israel, interviewing hundreds of experts and activists who have made it their mission to keep the country’s remarkable development sustainable amid a century of political and cultural turmoil.

Additional Books Available in the Asher Library

Resources at the Asher Library

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Programs integrate physical, social, spiritual, Jewish, and ecological realms in order to inspire participants to a life of service — to the Jewish community and to the earth. Emphasizes hands-on experience and peer leadership.

Help to launch start-ups that contribute to the diversification and reinvigoration of Jewish life.

The Coalition on the Environment 
and Jewish Life (COEJL) 

Deepens and broadens the Jewish community’s commitment to stewardship and protection of the Earth through outreach, activism, and Jewish learning.

Creates healthier and more sustainable communities in the Jewish world and beyond, effecting change through transformative experiences, thought-leadership, and capacity-building. Programs are multi-generational and give entry points for Jews of all backgrounds who are concerned about the environment and the world.

Strengthens innovation in Jewish life by developing next-generation funders and providing resources to leverage their impact. Slingshot, A Resource Guide to Jewish Innovation, is an annual compilation of the most inspiring and innovative organizations, projects, and programs in the North American Jewish community today.