Today is the 51st Anniversary of Earth Day. I like to take this opportunity to study the rich variety of Jewish texts that remind us of our deep connection to, and moral responsibility for, the environment; texts that educate us, challenge us, and inspire us to take action. You’ll find a handful of Jewish texts at the end of my column, but what I’d really like to do this year is to let you know the variety of ways you can take action to take care of our local community and our planet through greater awareness and advocacy.

There is a lot happening in Jewish and interfaith communities. Check out these websites for a start:

Hazon: The Jewish lab for Sustainability: www.Hazon.org 

The RAC (the Religious Action Center of Reform Judaism): www.rac.org  

Dayenu: www.dayenu.org

JCAN (Jewish Climate Action Network): www.jewishclimate.org

Together Baton Rouge: www.togetherbr.org

GNOICC (Greater New Orleans Climate Coalition): www.gnoicc.org

 

There is a lot happening in Jewish and interfaith communities. Check out these websites for a start:

From the RAC

As Earth Day approaches on April 22, the RAC recommends that we not only think about our commitment to environmental protection for the future, but also look back at the connection between historic injustices, particularly against Communities of Color that disproportionately bear the burdens of environmental harms, and the solutions to correct those injustices.

Here are some ways you can take action to celebrate Earth Day:

From Together Baton Rouge:

Save Our Water Civic Academy

Ever wondered why the Baton Rouge area has the cleanest, best-tasting drinking water in the state? Beneath the ground lies an aquifer, or freshwater reserve, that naturally purifies our water for drinking. But there’s a problem. Over-pumping by large, industrial facilities is sucking salt water into the aquifer, and threatening the longevity of our drinking-water reserve. If things don’t change, we may soon be drinking water from the Mississippi River!

Join the Louisiana Environmental Action Network and TBR for an hour of learning, Q & A, and story-telling about Louisiana’s freshwater resource – and its mismanagement.

Tuesday, April 27, 5:30pm-6:45pm. Register here

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And, for those of you who love to study texts….

The Torah Says: Plan for the Future

Midrash Tanchuma, Kodashim (8)

Even if the land is full of all good things, you still must plant…even if you are old, you must plant. Just as you found trees planted by others, you must plant them for your children.  

Avot d’Rabbi Natan (31b)

Rabbi Yochanan ben Zakkai used to say: “If you have a sapling in your hand, and someone should say to you that the Messiah has come, stay and complete the planting and then go to greet the Messiah.”  

The Torah Says: Do Not Destroy

Midrash, Ecclesiastes Rabbah (7:13)

When G-d created the first human beings, G-d led them around the Garden of Eden and said, “See how beautiful the world is!! I give it into your care. Do not spoil it. For if you destroy the world, there will be no one after you to restore it.”  

The Torah Says: All Living Things are Connected

Tanna de Bei Eliyahu Rabbah (2)

The whole world of humans, animals, fish, and birds all depend on one another. All drink the earth’s water, breathe the earth’s air, and find their food in what was created on the earth. All share the same destiny.  

Midrash, B’reshit Rabbah (13:3)

Rabbi Shimon bar Yochai said: Three things are of equal importance—earth, humans, and rain. Rabbi Levi ben Chiyata said: …To teach that without earth, there is no rain; and without rain, the earth cannot endure; and without either, humans cannot exist.

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Question: 

What is one thing you can commit to do to help sustain the earth?

Kol Tuv ~ Rabbi Teri