The Baal Shem Tov, or Besht —  the founder of Chasidism — 
met the soul of the Messiah during an ascent to heaven. 
The Besht asked him, "When will the Master come?" 
The Messiah answered, "When your wellsprings break forth to the outside!" 
(from a letter written by the Besht to his brother-in-law about one of his soul ascents) 

Add comments to this entry

“Jewish Environmentalism in North America”

First published in The Encyclopedia of Religion and Nature (ERN), Continuum Press 2005; revised for Jewish Vegetarians of North America, Jan 2007, and for neohasid, Nov 2011.
As far as I know this was the first historical article on the subject of Jewish environmentalism. This article tries to cover all the important areas, but it is not exhaustive in its listing of organizations and players. If something has been left out that you feel is critical, please let me know.


Environmental and ecological issues have deep roots in Jewish civilization, going back at least to the commandments in Leviticus 25 to let the land rest and to other agricultural laws. The consciousness that such texts are connected to environmental issues is however new, and it remains a controversial phenomenon within parts of the Jewish community. Twentieth century sources of inspiration include the works of Rabbi Abraham Isaac Kook (1865-1935), the pro-vegetarian mystic and chief rabbi of Palestine; Rabbi Abraham Joshua Heschel (1907-1972), who wrote paeans to the Sabbath and to the sense of place, wonderment, and nature in his numerous works; and A. D. Gordon (1856-1922), the theoretician of Zionist labor who emphasized spiritual unification with land. Starting from these expressions and from the appreciation of nature that has always been a part of the Jewish tradition from Psalms to Job to rabbinic midrash and medieval thought, Jewish environmentalism has sought to embrace the scientific and spiritual insights of ecology, and to transform Jewish practice based on these insights.

The Jewish environmental movement in North America was in many ways motivated by the revival of back-to-the-land values in the sixties and seventies. However, whereas for the majority of the counter-culture movement these values were an expression of 1960’s radicalism, for Jews there was the additional and powerful influence of Zionist idealism, which since its inception also emphasized returning to the land. Especially after the 1967 Arab-Israeli war, which generated a huge outpouring of sympathy and identification with Israel among unaffiliated Jews, the motif of return to the land became a bridge that connected progressive Jewish activists with the Jewish community from which they were often estranged. For the decade and a half following, there seemed to be a profound harmony between environmental and Zionist values.

Tu biSh’vat – “Jewish Earth Day”

Perhaps most emblematic of this nexus of values is the growth of the primary Jewish environmental event to which most Jews have been exposed, the Tu biSh’vat seder, often labeled “Jewish Earth Day.” Falling in the early spring two full moons before Passover, Tu biSh’vat (“the 15th of the month of Sh’vat”) generally coincides with the first sap rising in the fruit trees in the land of Israel. Because in rabbinic Judaism this day was labeled the “New Year for the Tree,” 17th century mystics created a ritual meal or seder of fruit and nuts for the day that celebrated the “Tree of Life” that sustains the universe. The Jewish National Fund (JNF) applied these motifs to in the 1950’s to championing Tu biSh’vat as a day for planting trees in the land of Israel.

One of the early moments of awakening to environmental issues in the Jewish community came when rabbis and Jewish activists drew on the symbolism of the JNF campaigns to create the “Trees for Vietnam” reforestation campaign in 1971 in response to the use of Agent Orange by the US. In 1976, Jonathan Wolf in New York City created and led one of the first modern environmental seders, incorporating liturgy from the Kabbalists with information from Israeli environmental groups like Neot Kedumim (“Ancient Fields,” a conservancy group devoted to Biblical species), and Society for the Protection of Nature in Israel (SPNI).

By the late-1970’s, Jewish groups around the country were innovating rituals for Tu biSh’vat that connected Biblical and rabbinic teachings with material from the Kibbutz movement or JNF and with current environmental concerns. In the 1980’s dozens of homemade Tu biSh’vat liturgical books or haggadot modeled after the Passover seder were being used around the country to celebrate trees and to talk about local and national environmental issues, the earth and ecology. A wealth of material on Tu biSh'vat can be found on and (and now on jewcology,org).


The pioneers of environmentalism in the Jewish community who began these innovations were a quirky lot that often focused on a strongly ideological reading of the tradition. Many of these figures, including Wolf, who founded Jewish Vegetarians of North America in 1976, were deeply committed to vegetarianism. Notable among this group alongside Wolf is Richard Schwartz, who published Judaism and Vegetarianism in 1982, followed by Judaism and Global Survival in 1984, and who has headed Jewish Vegetarians of North America to the present. Roberta Kalechofsky also began turning out tracts on Jewish vegetarianism in 1985 through her press, Micah Books.

As with most things Jewish, a large part of Jewish environmental work has consisted of investing Jewish practice with ecological meaning through sermons, teachings, and books. Two early writers were especially influential, Eric Freudenstein (1970) and Rabbi Everett Gendler (1971). Rabbi Arthur Waskow has been one of the leaders in this area, starting with his work Seasons of Our Joy (1982), which follows the liturgical calendar through the changes in the earth. Waskow’s work reached a wider audience than Schwartz’s, and was part of a trend now called “Jewish Renewal,” which involved uniting values associated with 1960s or New Age spiritual countercultures with Jewish practice.

In the same year, Rabbi Robert Gordis of the Conservative movement published his article “Ecology in the Jewish Tradition,” while David Ehrenfeld, a scientist affiliated with Rutgers University, organized the first-ever Jewish Environmental Conference with Rabbi Gerry Serotta of Rutgers Hillel (the Jewish campus organization). Ehrenfeld’s seminal conference brought together most of the people mentioned in this section. Rabbi Everett Gendler also influenced a great many activists and teachers during this period, both through his teaching and his farming. In 1983, Waskow founded the Shalom Center, which over time increasingly turned its energy from nuclear weapons to environmental issues. The Shalom Center is now one of the primary organizations in North America and the world that promulgates an activist ecological understanding of Judaism.

Books and Film

During the 1990’s publishing burgeoned in the area of Judaism and ecology. In 1991 and 1992 the Melton Center for Jewish Education published two issues of its journal devoted entirely to ecology and the environment under the editorship of Eduardo Rauch. Rabbi Arthur Green’s seminal work on the contemporary meaning of Kabbalah, Seek My Face, Speak My Name (1994), included discussions of both ecology and vegetarianism, and his subsequent work has continued to explore the nexus of ecology and theology. Shomrei Adamah (see below) published numerous volumes during these years, including Ecology and the Jewish Spirit (1998). Waskow edited or co-edited the important collections Trees, Earth and Torah (2000) and Torah of the Earth (2001). The 1998 conference on “Judaism and the Natural World,” part of the Religions and Ecology conference series produced by Harvard University, led to the publication of Judaism and Ecology (2003).

Careful readers of the many works that now exist will find much to criticize: the more scholarly material is often written by Judaic specialists who have not studied ecology, whereas much of the popular material is written with a superficial knowledge of Judaism. Nonetheless, there are valuable insights in all of the above-mentioned works.

Two books deserve special mention. The first is Jeremy Cohen’s treatment of the use of the verses in Genesis about dominion in Christian and Jewish civilizations, “Be Fertile and Increase, Fill the Earth and Master It” (1989). While Lynn White Jr. popularly analyzed these verses to be the source of anti-environmental trends within Western civilization, Cohen marshaled exhaustive documentary evidence to argue that cultural and intellectual trends, especially in the Jewish tradition, do not support White’s thesis. The other important work is Evan Eisenberg’s Ecology of Eden (1998), which examined the cultural significance of the Biblical tropes of garden, mountain, and so on, in the light of ancient environmental crises faced by Mesopotamian civilization. Eisenberg, an independent scholar, has also advocated increasing urban density as a method for minimizing the negative impact of the human population on ecosystems.

Additional scholarly work in both North America and Israel, including a dissertation and articles by myself and articles by Eilon Schwartz of the Heschel Center for Environmental Awareness in Israel, focused on creating a theology of nature and an eco-theology of Judaism that taps into the sources and roots of the Jewish tradition. On a more popular level, Jeremy Benstein of the Heschel Center published The Way Into Judaism and the Environment (2006), and Rabbi Mike Comins of Torah Trek also completed an introduction to Jewish spirituality and the environment, A Wild Faith: Jewish Ways Into Wilderness, Wilderness Ways Into Judaism (2007). (See also postcript below.)

Among the most significant contributions of any one individual to Jewish environmentalism are he environmental films of Judith Helfand, whose documentary about Thalidomide and her family, “A Healthy Baby Girl” (1996) connected Jewish and health issues with the environment and corporate practice. Helfand subsequently produced “Blue Vinyl” (2001), a “toxic comedy” about the siding industry and its environmental impact, creating a model for bringing activism to the mainstream Jewish community.


By the end of the 80’s, through the work of Wolf, Schwartz, Waskow, and others, substantial networks of people were involved in some activity that connected Judaism and ecology. Some of the most important work was done by “L’OLAM” (whose name means both “Forever” and “For the World”), which was created in Manhattan by Wolf under the guidance of Rabbi Saul Berman at Lincoln Square Synagogue, a liberal Orthodox shul and by Ken Amron of Conservative Congregation Ansche Chesed. L’OLAM expanded throughout the New York City region between 1984 and 1989 with the help of Susie Tanenbaum and others, growing from a social action committee to a network over a thousand people from dozens of synagogues and organizations who cared about Judaism and environmentalism.

In 1988, Shomrei Adamah (“Guardians of the Earth”) burst on the scene as the first national Jewish organization devoted to environmental issues. Founded by Ellen Bernstein in Philadelphia, Shomrei Adamah produced guides to Judaism and the environment such as Let the Earth Teach You Torah (1992), which was one of the works that initiated the field of Jewish environmental education. Shomrei Adamah captured the imaginations of environmentally concerned Jews around North America and quickly supplanted groups such as L’OLAM on the national level. However, even as regional groups like Shomrei Adamah of Greater Washington DC (founded in 1990) sprung up to do grassroots organizing, the national organization pulled away from involvement with political issues, leaving a gap between national, institutional groups and grassroots organizations which would continue to be a source of tension even after national Shomrei Adamah ceased to be active.

Shomrei Adamah-DC and L’OLAM continued their activist work, but the tension between local groups and Bernstein’s organization kept resources from being developed and utilized in a unified and cooperative way. During this time, other regional groups like the Northwest Jewish Environmental Project in Seattle (NWJEP or NJEP), founded in 1997, took a decidedly different approach. While Jewish identification with the earth and Jewish environmental activism had gone hand-in-hand up until then, these new groups focused on making nature a source of Jewish identity and explicitly de-emphasized political activism. The roots of this approach can be traced back to Jewish hiking groups and to the national network of such groups, Mosaic Outdoor Clubs of America (founded in 1988).

In 1993, The Coalition on the Environment and Jewish Life (COEJL) was formed to bring the Jewish environmental movement into the mainstream. COEJL filled the vacuum left by Shomrei Adamah, working with other religion-based groups under the umbrella of the National Religious Partnership for the Environment (NRPE) to achieve these goals. Unlike earlier groups, which were created by activists or organizational entrepreneurs, COEJL was founded by three institutions: The Jewish Theological Seminary (of the Conservative movement), the Religious Action Center (the lobbying arm of the Reform movement), and the Jewish Council for Public Affairs (previously the National Jewish Relations Advisory Council), the national umbrella for the Jewish Community Relations Councils that can be found in most metropolitan areas. Led from 1995 to 2003 by Mark X. Jacobs in Manhattan, COEJL’s work was characterized by lobbying, national campaigns in coordination with NRPE, and the development of curricula such as “Operation Noah,” which examined the theme of biodiversity in Jewish texts (1996).

To a large degree during the 1990’s, the model represented by COEJL dominated Jewish environmental work. COEJL held annual national conferences that spawned regional networks, and COEJL subsequently began to provide money for staff to organize regional affiliate groups. By the turn of the twenty-first century there were over 25 such groups in the US and Canada, including Jews of the Earth in Boulder Colorado (founded in 1999), the Jewish League for Environmental Awareness in Ventura County California, and other similar groups. COEJL also established affiliate relationships with some independently founded groups like Shomrei Adamah-DC, though in some places, such as New York City, COEJL tried to develop its own networks independent of existing Jewish environmental groups. The majority of these groups folded when COEJL withdrew its support in 2003 in order to focus on national campaigns.

COEJL’s national conferences also attracted many locally-focused environmental activists who were seeking community with other Jewish activists. Building a movement from these networks proved difficult for COEJL though because of tension between the direct action approach many activists favored, and COEJL’s more institutional approach. While often this was a question of strategy, in some instances a more fundamental conflict aros, between those within Jewish institutions who emphasized using environmentalism as a way to connect Jews to Judaism, and independent activists who thought sustainability issues and ecology were paramount.

Some of the more recent developments can be found in the postscript below.


For most of the people involved with Jewish environmentalism, however, Judaism, environmental action and social transformation were all fundamentally important and interconnected. The movement for Jewish environmental education was one of the chief meeting grounds where these concerns were given equal weight. The Teva Learning Center, founded in 1994 by Amy Meltzer, has been the flagship of this movement. Under the leadership of Adam Berman and then Nili Simhai, Teva (“Nature”) continues to bring committed activists and educators together with day school and Hebrew school students at sites in New York and Connecticut. Teva trained many of the people who started environmental programs or retooled traditional Nature programs in schools and Jewish summer camps throughout Canada and the United States; through its trainings, it also played a critical role in disseminating the work of environmental educators and ecological thinkers.

Several other camps and camping programs, also made contributions to this field; Camp Tawonga in California in particular trained some of the people and created curricula that became one of the the foundations for Teva when it first began. Teva in turn has become a fount and inspiration for new ideas and leaders in the field. One such effort is Canfei Nesharim, which focuses on reaching the Orthodox community. Also noteworthy is Hazon, founded by Nigel Savage in 2000. Hazon has begun to pick up the slack left by the collapse of COEJL Jewish grassroots environmental groups as it evolved from a grassroots Jewish environmental fundraising effort into an organizer of varied educational and practical programs.

Hazon has since become the preeminent Jewish environmental organization in North America. In addition, there has recently been an explosion of Jewish farming programs. Lastly, Camp Eden Village has become a laboratory for integrating the best of all of these trends. (See postscript below on these organizations and trends.)

Some of the more recent developments can be found in the postscript below.

Other Trends

While the mainstreaming of Jewish environmentalism sometimes led to the marginalization of certain types of activism, new projects continued to be initiated on the edges of the community. One of the last efforts undertaken by L’OLAM was the campaign to stop the Trans-Israel Highway, which according to activists would destroy huge tracts of land and push Israel’s development toward an automobile-centered culture. This campaign, led from Israel by Dr. Uri Shanas and spearheaded in the United States by Corri Gottesman, along with many others, brought together a broad spectrum of Jewish activists who had a more overtly political approach than COEJL.

In this same vein, one of the most innovative moments in Jewish environmentalism was the Tu biSh’vat seder of 1996 created by the “Redwood rabbis,” Naomi Steinberg, Margaret Holub and Lester Scharnberg, in which a hundred Jewish activists trespassed onto land owned by Pacific Lumber Company to “illegally” plant redwood trees in civil disobedience against clearcut harvest practices that have caused significant ecological and economic damage in Northern California. A number of activists like Ramona Rubin and Barak Gale graduated from these actions to other projects that challenged Jewish institutions to oppose corporate practices. Some of this energy began to crystalllize in the movement associated with the World Trade Organization protests that climaxed in Seattle in 1999, but world trends stirred up by the terrorism of 9/11 have largely displaced those energies.

One of the trends in Jewish eco-activism is “eco-Kashrut,” which was actively explored in the 90's stage by people like Rubin in Santa Cruz California, and Rabbi Yitzhak Husbands-Hankin in Eugene Oregon, as well as by Arthur Waskow. The term eco-Kashrut, which signifies the inclusion of environmental and labor standards in the laws that determine what is kosher, was coined by Rabbi Zalman Schachter-Shalomi, a grandfather of the Jewish Renewal movement. The rabbinic arm of this movement has offered training for kosher supervisors incorporating these ideas. (See postscript below on the newest trends in eco-kashrut within the Conservative and Orthodox movements.) Another trend is signaled by the term “eco-Zionism,” which attempts to connect Jews in North America to Israel through environmental issues or through involvement with green Kibbutzim (see below). In Israel itself, North American Jews, such as Devorah Brous (Bustan “Orchard”), Jeremy Benstein, and Eilon Schwartz, have played critical roles in environmental organizations and organizing.

One important nascent phenomenon has been the blending of Native American and shamanistic ideas and rituals with Jewish practice in the environmentally-focused teachings of people like Gershon Winkler in New Mexico and Gabe Goldman in the Northeast. (See more recent developments in postscript.) In Israel, a parallel trend led to some new approaches to the land itself. This approach, blending a body-centered approach to Judaism, meditation, and a reevaluation of what might be called “pagan” elements from Jewish tradition, was developed by the Israeli version of Jewish Renewal, exemplified by Bayit Chadash and Hamakom communities, both of which have ended.

Another contemporary trend has been the development of Jewish eco-feminism corresponding to secular eco-feminism. This subject was first discussed in print in a special issue of Bridges journal called “Jewish Women and Land” (Fall 1995). Colloquia and academic panels in this area were organized by Irene Diamond from 1997 through 2004, but the next steps in this direction have not yet emerged. However, Jewish Renewal in North America has been a laboratory for the integration of both ecology and feminism with Jewish practice, especially in the programs and internships of Elat Chayyim Retreat Center. Growth in a Jewish approach to environmental justice corresponding to secular trends within North American environmentalism has not yet appeared, though the work of American Jewish World Service overseas, and on a much more intimate level the work of Bustan with Bedouin, Israelis, and Palestinians in Israel's Negev desert, may point in this direction.

The Land

While most Jewish environmental work focused initially on finding ways to celebrate the earth through Jewish text and ritual, a handful of people began to experiment with intentionally living on the land as Jews. Rabbi Everett Gendler started an organic farm in Andover Massachussetts as a way to understand the cycle of nature within the Jewish holidays in the early 70’s. In 1970, a collection of olim (Jewish immigrants to Israel) from North America, Europe and South Africa, took over Kibbutz Gezer in Israel’s coastal plain and turned it into a vegetarian environmental community; similarly, North American olim founded Kibbutz Lotan. Mike Tabor organized a prototype communal farm in Pennsylvania called Kibbutz Micah in 1972 with the support of the Fabrangen minyan and Jews for Urban Justice in Washington DC. Tabor grew up on one of the many socialist-influenced Jewish agricultural communities in North America that once existed in places such as Vineland New Jersey and Petaluma California, though there is little evidence that those earlier communities had a strong influence on Jewish environmentalism as a whole. In the 90's, Farmer D (Doron Joffe) took up the mantle of Jewish organic farming, and both Tabor and Joffe continue to farm.

By the 1980’s other experiments in rural Jewish community, like Shivtei Shalom (“Dwellers in Peace”) in Oregon, were underway. Many North American Jews were also heavily involved in the Green Kibbutz initiative in Israel, and remain instrumental in the ecological education programs of communities like Kibbutz Gezer, in central Israel, and Kibbutz Keturah and Kibbutz Lotan, both in the Negev desert. Most of the stateside intentional communities were short-lived experiments, with people often returning to urban areas afterward. The Jewish population that does live in rural areas has nevertheless become an important birthing place and testing ground for new forms of Jewish environmental work. Communities in New England, for example, have continued the tradition of the Conference on Judaism in Rural New England, founded 1982, for over twenty years, and synagogues in Northern California have supported their rabbis’ and members’ activism on behalf of forests.

In 2003, an effort began to create the first new intentional Jewish farming community in many years in Western Massachusetts, under the leadership of the Lubavitcher community and the guidance of Rabbi Shmuel Simenowitz from Vermont. Calling itself Eretz Ha’Chaim (“The Land of Life”), the project was part of a slowly growing trend within the Hasidic and ultra-Orthodox community to emphasize organic diet and healthy living. Unfortunately, the experiment did not come to fruition. Similar efforts in the past (including my own work in Vermont and New Hampshire in the 80's) have also remained on the drawing board. (See more on this in postcript.)

Also in 2003, the Adamah farming program, hosted by Camp Isabella Freedman in Connecticut, emerged as a cutting edge laboratory teaching mostly younger Jews the techniques of organic farming, and has now begun selling produce from its farm to local establishments. Camp Isabella Freedman, under the leadership of Adam Berman, also hosted Teva seminars and incorporated Elat Chayyim, a Jewish Renewal retreat center, in 2006, bringing together several powerful elements capable of integrating Jewish life with land ethics and practical transformation. In a similar vein, Hazon established a community-supported agriculture (CSA) group in New York City in 2004 that engages in Jewish learning along with their produce pickups, and has begun offering this program to other cities in 2006.

Challenges and Conclusions

By the beginning of the twenty-first century, the Jewish environmental movement had made substantial inroads into the institutions of the Jewish community but the push to mainstream this movement appeared to have stalled. Numerous local Jewish environmental groups COEJL disappeared, and growth into new synagogues has been slow. While the tension between mainstream organizers and grassroots activists remains an issue, the greater challenge appears to be to find effective ways to transform communities and lifestyles. This challenge has been taken up by some of the groups mentioned. Perhaps more importantly, the newly mainstream focus on global warming may be the impetus for overcoming this great challenge.

The question of transforming lifestyles faces the entire environmental movement, of course. The Jewish community, however, faces unique challenges as well. One central issue, especially for outreach to the Orthodox community, is that environmental discourse often sounds “pagan” and is therefore regarded with suspicion. This struggle is partly a legacy of the 19th century rationalists who interpreted Judaism as antithetical to “nature religion,” though the trend toward anti-Biblical and anti-monotheistic rhetoric among some environmentalists reinforces these fears. Furthermore, the connection between Israel and the ecology of the land, which once strengthened Jewish environmentalists everywhere, has now become a point of serious conflict. While some people see the Israeli settlers as the ultimate expression of going back to the land, others perceive the diminution of human rights in the Palestinian territories as the ultimate desecration of the land. Moreover, the emphasis one finds in most diaspora Jewish communities on the land of Israel and the state of Israel also diverts attention from land issues outside of Israel. Continued conflict in the Middle East and between Israel and the Palestinian Authority has made these issues very difficult to process in a constructive way.

Despite such challenges, the past few decades have brought “the consciousness of the earth” into Jewish ethical thought and ritual, and this consciousness will continue to exercise an influence over the evolution of Judaism. Whether the changes wrought will lead to a transformation of the way people live in the Jewish community may well depend on two things: the development of a coherent and comprehensive ecological understanding of Judaism, and the development of broader social and technological trends that will allow our society as a whole to live in a sustainable way.

Postscript (2011)

In the past few years, Jewish environmental consciousness has poured itself into the food and farming movement, sparked by Adamah (now led by Shamu Fenyvesi Sadeh) , and led by Hazon, which has become the largest Jewish environmental organization in North America. There are now a number of farming programs across the United States and in Canada, including the Jewish Farm School, Kayam Farm, and the new Urban Adamah program, as well as an extensive network of Jewish-community-based CSA’s organized by Hazon. The growing farming movement has also renewed interest in creating intentional Jewish communities. Kayam Farm (founded by Jakir Manela in Baltimore in 2006) has begun its own conversation about becoming an intentional community, and there are similar conversations ongoing in other regions.

Concurent with the farming movement there has been a movement to bring shechitah, kosher slaughter, back to the small farm, using humanely- and sustainably-raised animals. The growth of shechitah operations was sparked largely by the Adva Dairy (an outgrowth of Adamah founded by Aitan Mizrahi in 2006), which needed to make use of its male animals. Also, there is widespread interest in a kosher certification (or certifications) that would guarantee that food is produced in an ethical manner. Efforts towards this have been led by Magen Tzedek within the Conservative movement and Uri L’Tzedek among the Orthodox—however, thus far workers rights have been emphasized, rather than ecology/sustainability, though there is some acknowledgment of ecological issues.

Liturgical and ritual work relating Judaism to ecology has also been developing, largely through my own work ( and the work of Rabbi Jill Hammer and Kohenet. A consciously Earth-centered Jewish practice has begum to take shape in may corners of the Jewish environmental movement. On the cutting edge of deepening Jewish experience and connection with the Earth, Wilderness Torah (Zelig Golden and Julie Wolk) and the Eber-Lat Living Laboratory (Rabbi Sarah Etz Alon) have been exploring aspects of Jewish shamanism. WIlderness Torah has also developed an extensive program of holiday observances in the wilderness which attract hudhreds of people in the Bay area. The cutting edge of Jewish ecotheology has largely been explored through these experiments in ritual practice--though a major work of Jewish ecotheology that I am publishing next year should greatly further that discussion on the academic and theological level., created in 2010, has also begun to host some of the newest thinking on these issues.

Even the briefest survey would not be complete without mentioning Eden Village Camp (opened in 2010 by Vivian and Yoni Stadlin), which integrates all the elements we have discussed here in a comprehensive summer living and learning experience for a few hundred young people. Most importantly for our purposes and for the development of Jewish environmental thinking generally, Kayam Farm has organized an annual conference on Mishnaic agricultural law.

The Sabbatical or Shmitah year has also become an important part of conversations about the future of Jewish environmentalism. These conversations have ben led by Nati Passow and myself. Lastly, a number of Jewish environmental organizations have come together informally as the Green Hevre, and they have begun to create a formal structure to further the movement as a whole. COEJL, under the leadership of Sybil Sanchez, has begun to revive its mission in the process of facilitating this endeavor.

David Seidenberg

Further Reading

Benstein, Jeremy. The Way Into Judaism and the Environment. Jewish Lights, 2006.

Bernstein, Ellen, ed. Ecology and the Jewish Spirit: Where Nature and the Sacred Meet. Woodstock VT: Jewish Lights Publishing, 1998.

Bernstein, Ellen and Dan Fink, eds. Let the Earth Teach You Torah. Philadelphia: Shomrei Adamah, 1992.

Bernstein, Ellen. The Tree's Birthday: A Tu B'Shvat Haggadah. Philadelphia: Turtle River Press, 1988.

COEJL, ed. Operation Noah: Texts and Commentaries on Biological Diversity and Human Responsibility: A Study Guide. New York: COEJL, 1996.

COEJL, ed. To Till and To Tend: A Guide to Jewish Environmental Study and Action. New York: The Coalition on the Environment and Jewish Life, 1995.

Cohen, Jeremy. “Be Fertile and Increase, Fill the Earth and Master It”: The Ancient and Medieval Career of a Biblical Text. Ithaca, NY: Cornell University Press, 1989.

Comins, Mike. A Wild Faith: Jewish Ways Into Wilderness, Wilderness Ways Into Judaism Woodstock VT: Jewish Lights Publishing, 2007.

Diamond, Irene and David Seidenberg. “Sensuous Minds and the Possibility of a Jewish Ecofeminist Practice.” Ethics and the Environment 4:2 (2000), 185-95; repr. as “Recovering the Sensuous through Jewish Ecofeminist Practice.” In Arthur Waskow, ed. Torah of the Earth v.2, Woodstock VT: Jewish Lights Publishing, 2000, 245-260.

Elon, Ari, Naomi Hyman, and Arthur Waskow, eds. Trees, Earth, and Torah: A Tu B’Shvat Anthology. Philadelphia: Jewish Publication Society, 1999.

Freudenstein, Eric G. “Ecology and the Jewish Tradition.” Judaism 19:4 (1970), 406–14; repr. in Milton R. Konvitz, ed. Judaism and Human Rights. New York: W. W. Norton, 1972, 265-74; and Marc Swetlitz, ed. Judaism and Ecology. Philadelphia, PA: Shomrei Adamah, 1990, 29-33.

Gendler, Everett. “On the Judaism of Nature.” In James A. Sleeper and Alan L. Mintz, eds. The New Jews. New York: Random House, 1971, 233–43.; repr. in Marc Swetlitz, ed. Judaism and Ecology. Philadelphia: Shomrei Adamah, 1990, 53-58.

Gordis, Robert. “Ecology in the Jewish Tradition” Midstream 28: Aug-Sep (1982), 202-21; repr. in Judaic Ethics for a Lawless World. New York: JTS, 1986; and Marc Swetlitz, ed. Judaism and Ecology. Philadelphia, PA: Shomrei Adamah, 1990, 47-52.

Green, Arthur. Seek My Face, Speak My Name. New York: Jason Aronson, 1994.

Jacobs, Mark X. “Jewish Environmentalism: Past Accomplishments and Future Challenges.” In Hava Tirosh-Samuelson, ed. Judaism and Ecology. Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 2002, 449-80.

Kinberg, Clare, ed. “Jewish Women and Land.” Special issue of Bridges 5:2 (1995).

Rauch, Eduardo, et al., ed. Special issues on ecology of The Melton Journal 24 and 25 (1991 & 1992).

Schwartz, Richard. Judaism and Global Survival. New York: Vantage Books, 1984; New York: Lantern Books, 2002.

Schwartz, Richard. Judaism and Vegetarianism. Smithtown: Exposition Press, 1982; New York: Lantern Books, 2001.

Seidenberg, David. Crossing the Threshold: God’s Image In the More-Than-Human World (dissertation). Jewish Theological Seminary, 2004.

Tirosh-Samuelson, Hava, ed. Judaism and Ecology. Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 2002.

Waskow, Arthur. The Seasons of Our Joy: A Modern Guide to the Jewish Holidays. New York: Bantam, 1982; Boston: Beacon Press, 1990.

Waskow, Arthur, ed. Torah of the Earth, v.1 and 2. Woodstock VT: Jewish Lights Publishing, 2000.

Waskow, Arthur. "What is Eco-Kosher?" In Down to Earth Judaism: Food, Money, Sex, and the Rest of Life. New York: William Morrow & Co., 1995, 117-143.

Yaffe, Martin D. Judaism and environmental ethics. Lanham MD: Lexington Books, 2001

This article is one of many entries in ERN related to Judaism, including: Eco-Kabbalah; Ehrenfeld, David; Gordon, Aharon David; Hasidism and Nature Mysticism; Hebrew Bible; Israel and Environmentalism; Judaism; *Judaism and Animal Rights; Judaism and Sustainability; Judaism and the Population Crisis; *Kabbalah and Ecotheology; *Maimonides; *Paganism and Judaism; Paganism–a Jewish Perspective; Redwood Rabbis; Tikkun Olam; Vegetarianism and Judaism; Vegetarianism and Rabbi Abraham Isaac Kook; Vegetarianism, Judaism, and God’s Intention; Waskow, Arthur. (starred articles were authored by me)


Design in progress © Rabbi David Mevorach Seidenberg 2006