The iridescent colors reflected off an oil slick are like a twisted and distorted rainbow.
This coming Monday, May 10th, is also the 27th of Iyyar—the date when Noah’s family and the animals left the ark and received the rainbow covenant.
There is a special correlation between this week’s Torah portion and the rainbow covenant of Noah’s time. And there is a foreboding contrast between the rainbow covenant and what’s happened in the Gulf of Mexico. The tension between these dynamic relationships in many ways defines the predicament of our time.
This week, as Earth Day came and went and I attended a fair here or an Earth celebration there, it also donned on me that Spring is here!
So, beyond my environmental excursions, I also attended of variety of events held on my very own Columbia University. Yet, what I found was an inability to fully appreciate some of the events due to the ubiquity of plastic water bottles. Some may laugh, but I find myself becoming more and more annoyed with these obnoxious bottles that I suddenly see everywhere. As I have previously written about bottled water, my awakening began when seeing the movie “Blue Gold: World Water War’s” on instant play on Netflix. Then, I really became irked when seeing “The Story of Bottled Water,” which I posted on this blog.
If you didn’t know, this past week featured World Water Day. A brief internet search can tell you more about this, but the general idea is for people to focus on water consumption and stress the importance of water conservation. Last summer, when I was wwoofing in Israel, water conservation was at the forefront of everyone’s minds. It only rains in the winter there, and farming in the summer meant that water had to be very seriously considered in its allotment. Luckily, farmers utilize gray water and drip irrigation methods to maximize water usage.
However, for those of us who do not live in the Middle East or on a farm, usually we are pretty unconcerned with our water usage. We shower everyday, run dishwashers, run laundry machines, brush our teeth and leave the water running (I never understood this one) and other daily mundane activities that consume our fresh water supply. In NYC, our fresh water is being threatened by drilling for natural gas near the reservoirs upstate, where our tap water comes from. The danger of losing our tap water is one of the most serious issues facing the future of the city.
These days, it seems everyone is talking about â€śgoing green.â€ť Never has such a simple sounding term had so much meaning.Â For nonprofit overnight Jewish camps, their staff and lay leaders, this means changing old habits, teaching campers about how and why to make changes, and ensuring a vibrant future for their camps.
Many camps have begun to implement green practices, taking action to decrease their carbon footprint, and impart a positive environmental message to their campers.Â Steps have included forgoing paper, plastic, and Styrofoam in favor of using reusable tablewareÂ and reducing non-biodegradable waste, using solar power for heating, providing campers and staff with environmentally friendly water bottles, changing light bulbsÂ to reduce carbon emissions, and more! Â Several camps have also planted gardens and are teaching their campers about healthy cooking and organics.
Last week, The Washington Post‘s On Faith blog published a piece of mine inspired by the Hazon Food Conference. Specifically, I was inspired by the session “What Would Moses Drive?”
Entitled “Can Judaism save the planet?”, this piece presents one perspective that answers the question with a resounding “Yes!” We at least have the tools to do it. Judging from the number of people at the conference, and their passion and dynamic visions, we have the resources as well.
(This post originally appeared on Jewcy.com and is reprinted with permission)
What would Moses drive? This was the title of a session on climate change at the Hazon Food Conference, held December 24 to 27 in Pacific Grove, Calif. Indeed, this is a question for the ages. Or for right now.
The conference came just a few days after the close of the United Nations’ climate talks in Copenhagen, Denmark. The conference also marked the end of a journey by a very wacky school bus, which cruised across the country on used vegetable oil to raise awareness about the Jewish Climate Change Campaign [read more about that here and here]. So it made sense for Jewish educator and environmental visionary Adam Berman to ask the question.
As it turns out, it didn’t really matter when this conference on a Jewish food movement that emphasizes sustainability took place. Really, Jews should be asking themselves what the quintessential member of the Tribe would do about climate change every day, and modeling solutions themselves. Luckily, Jewish practices translate beautifully into concrete tactics.
TheÂ Climate Change Bus Tour, a joint project of The Teva Learning Center and Hazon,Â is now in its final leg of the their cross-country tour!
It has been an incredible journey so far. Hundreds of Jewish students, teachers, and families have engagedÂ with environmental education programs and activities. Many have also signed theÂ Jewish Climate ChangeÂ pledge committing themselves to sustainable action and advocacy.
Check out the latest video of the bus tour’s Chanukah out west and the latest press in The Jewish Exponent.
The Jew and The Carrot, Hazonâ€™s blog about Jews, food and contemporary life.Â The blog has a diverse and inclusive community, where we welcome readers and volunteer writers from across the Jewish denominational spectrum, and from all walks of culinary life.Â Our aim is to ensure that The Jew and The Carrot community is a platform for vibrant discussion for anyone interested in food issues.
Late on Friday we received the following letter from Pete Cohon, founder and moderator of VeggieJews, an international, real-world and online, Jewish, vegetarian organization.Â He has been a vegan and animal rights activistÂ for 22 years andÂ a vegetarian for 27 years.Â Â A former SanÂ FranciscoÂ trial lawyer, PeteÂ nowÂ lives in Tel Aviv, Israel.
Below his letter is the response from Hazon.Â We encourage a vibrant debate, but please ask commentators to refrain from personal attacks on any views.Â We reserve the right to removeÂ any comments that violate our Community Guidelines.
An open letter to Nigel Savage, Executive Director of Hazon, and the groups members:
The Hazon group claims that itÂ works to create a healthier and more sustainable Jewish community, fight climate change andÂ promote a more sustainable world for all.Â I understand that the group evenÂ hosts vegetarianÂ meals at which it promotes its programs.
That sounds great.Â But I’m concerned that Hazon is not living up to the promise.
â€śI grew up in a family that emphasized food and used it as an organizing principal for family gatherings â€“ which is probably not unfamiliar to The Jew & The Carrotâ€™s readers,â€ť says anti-food-waste activist Jonathan Bloom.
As a freelance writer for the Boston Globe and the Washington Post, Bloom wrote about food and travel. (â€śMy travel articles were about going somewhere else to eat,â€ť he jokes.) Like many Americans, Bloom became increasingly attuned to environmental issues and, he says, â€śMy interests in food and the environment came together for me in 2005, when I volunteered at D.C. Central Kitchen, an organization that rescues food that would otherwise go to waste, and trains homeless people to be chefs using that food.
If my summer were a cookbook, it would be called What to Expect When You’re Expectingâ€” Expecting Company, That Is, and It’s a Heat Wave.
Yes, welcome to life in the global warming oven.Â We are on at least heat wave #3 of the summer here in usually temperate Portland, and I’ve had a potluck to attend or guests to host for all of them.Â And while the hot weather makes me want to eat ice cream three meals a day, I know I really shouldn’t.
Especially not when “eating” means “bringing to a potluck where it will sit out in the sun.”
So what has been on the menu?Â Lots, and I figured I’d share it in case you can’t stand the heat but still need to be in the kitchen.
Flowering zucchini amidst flooded paths
It’s been cold and rainy at Adamah for quite some time now, and on Thursday we started getting worried about the river. I went down to look at the field around 2 — it was high, higher than I’d ever seen, but still about 2 feet below the banks. Dark, brown, quickly moving water, surging down the channel. Mesmerizing to look at. Difficult to believe that this flowing source of life could turn so destructive. But maybe…it wouldn’t rise any higher?
By evening, though, the water had risen to within 6″ of the banks. Where we usually scramble down four or five feet or so to hop in the river, you could practically step right in. So we assembled a crew, and moved the irrigation pump (which perches on the edge of the river) and the row cover from the fields, because if the field flooded the fabric would clothesline all the plants in its path, and collected stray buckets and plastic chairs that could float away if the river spilled over its banks and across the field.
The Faith Leaders for Environmental Justice. It’s an unwieldy name, but to the point. They are anÂ interdenominational umbrella group of clerics andorganizationsÂ working atÂ translating environmental consciousness into social justice.Â Based out of NY, and working mostly inÂ and around the city, the group is co-chaired by NY Faith and Justice (a largelyÂ ChristianÂ organization) and We ACT for EnvironmentalÂ Justice, but includes a number of representatives from interfaith groups, including our very own Hazon. TheyÂ host talks, run initiatives and are dedicated to improving theÂ livesÂ ofÂ those in lower income communities in the five boroughs. Â They take theÂ wild and crazyÂ position that these communitiesÂ foot the bill for our collective enviro-sins. See? It’s not just about saving baby seals…
Thanks so much to Richard H. Schwartz Ph.D., for this great guest post.Â RichardÂ is the author of Judaism and Vegetarianism, Judaism and Global Survival, and Mathematics and Global Survival and over 130 articles at JewishVeg.com. He is President of Jewish Vegetarians of North America (JVNA) and the Society of Ethical and Religious Vegetarians (SERV) and director of the Veg Climate Alliance. He is associate producer of the documentary â€śA Sacred Duty: Applying Jewish Values to Help Heal the World.â€ť
Thou shalt not eat meat? Have I gone completely crazy? Am I not aware that the Torah gives people permission to eat meat and goes into some detail in discussing which animals are permitted to be eaten and which are not? And that the Talmud has much material on the laws of kashrut related to the preparation and consumption of meat? And that various types of flesh products have been strongly associated with Sabbath and festival celebrations?
Yes, but I still think that it is necessary, actually essential, to argue this case because our modern meat-centered dietary culture is doing great harm to Jews, Israel and, indeed, the entire world and is inconsistent with several important Jewish values.