Celebrating Jewish Earth Day here and there

As a child, on our Jewish Earth Day called Tu Bishvat, my peers and I would buy trees to plant in Israel.

As I grew into a young adulthood, we’d have Tu Bishvat seders. Exploring Jewish mysticism, we’d eat the fruits and drink the wines of Israel – four cups moving from white to rose to red.

Today, those of us who are connected with Israel need to plant and nurture synagogues and organizations that work for peace. A two-state solution in the land that I was raised to love cannot be imposed. It must be built through negotiations, through relationships developed in the leadership above and through partnerships on the ground, through trust and risks and safety and faith. The fruits will be saved lives and prosperity — a strong future for both Palestinians and Israelis.

Today, we need to buy trees in America: Trees cut down by development and trees to offset our carbon footprint.

We need to plant stakes in the ground. We need to vote for leaders who make this a highest priority.

We need to listen to our kids who fear for their future and we need to work on their behalf.

Today we need to have seders that stir our conscience to work towards environmental justice. Like at the Passover seder, we need ask four questions and more:

  • How does this issue disproportionately affect the poor – their air, water, and soil?
  • How can we move beyond political polarization to work on this issue that affects the fate of us all?
  • What can we do to create change in our homes, in our workplace, in our city, and our country?
  • If not now, then when?

There is a Jewish folktale of two people fighting over a piece of land, each one claiming ownership. After arguing for a long time, they resolved to put their case before a rabbi. The rabbi listened carefully to their respective arguments but could not reach a decision. Both parties seemed to be right. Finally, the rabbi said, “Since I cannot decide to whom this land belongs, let’s ask the land.” The rabbi put an ear to the ground, and after a moment stood up. “My friends, the land said it belongs to neither of you – but that you belong to it.” 

We belong to the land and the land belongs to our future.

A Seventh Generation Principle, based on an ancient Iroquois philosophy can guide us. The decisions we make today should result in a sustainable world seven generations into the future.

Today is Jewish Earth Day. It celebrate the start of the transformation of the seasons in Israel from winter into spring. We are globally connected. Let us all take part in the celebration and transformation of our environment and world.

Photo by Arnaud Mesureur.

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