Ecology and the Jewish Spirit: Where Nature and the Sacred Meet

Ellen Bernstein, Editor, Susan Berrin, Editor
Ellen Bernstein, Editor, Susan Berrin, Editor Jewish Lights Publishing $23.95 (250p) ISBN 978-1-879045-88-0
Reviewed on: 12/29/1997
Release date: 01/01/1998
In 1988, Berrin founded Shomrei Adamah (Keepers of the Earth), an organization ""dedicated to cultivating the ecological thinking and practices that are integral to Jewish life."" According to Berrin, humanity's task of sustaining the environment is central to the Jewish belief that all ""Creation is sacred."" This splendid anthology shows just how deeply rooted ecological thinking is in ancient Jewish texts and practices. Berrin divides the collected essays into three sections--""Sacred Place,"" ""Sacred Time"" and ""Sacred Community""--that reflect the intersections of nature and the sacred in Jewish thought. In the section on ""Sacred Place,"" for example, Eliezer Diamond, professor of Talmud at the Jewish Theological Seminary of America, examines passages from the Torah and the Talmud that encourage Jews to partake of the earth as a divine gift and thus to limit consumption. In the section on ""Sacred Time,"" Debra Robbins associate rabbi of Temple Emanu-El in Dallas, traces the development of the Jewish calendar in her essay to show the ways that modern Jews can use the calendar to weave ecological practice into everyday life. And, in the same section, a number of essayists explore the ecological significance implicit in the celebration of the Jewish holidays. In the final section, ""Sacred Community,"" Modern Orthodox rabbi Barry Freundel (Kesher Israel, Washington, D.C.) examines the impact of ""Judaism's environmental laws"" on the formation of modern Jewish community. Drawn together by their belief that Judaism contains within itself the seeds for the practice of an environmental ethic, the variety of voices contained in this collection present lively and compelling reflections on taking care of the earth. (Feb.)
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