Rising Eco-Orthodoxy?

Written and reposted courtesy of Y-Love.

It’s a common complaint about Orthodox Jews from their non-Orthodox MOTTs: Orthodox Jews are not concerned with anything outside of their own spheres of influence. Social justice, the Third World, and the environment are bypassed, with ever-strengthened insularity as the priority of the day.

However, this seems to be changing. YU was notably present at a Save Darfur rally this summer, and students from the Bat Ayin yeshiva were active not only at events but also in rhetoric following the Israel-Lebanon war.

Another nugget of Orthodox global consciousness graced the pages of the Jerusalem Post a few days ago:

Orthodox conservationists

While many Israeli government organizations and private groups profess their commitment to multiculturalism, truly multicultural approaches to issues – especially with respect to engaging the haredi community – are few and far between. That is why a Torah essay competition on the environment in Jewish law and thought is being seen as such a welcome endeavor by both environmentalists and the haredi community.

Now in its third year, the competition solicits Torah essays on environmental topics in a contest open to yeshiva and rabbinical students, scholars, educators and authors from the Sephardi, Lithuanian and Hassidic communities in Ramat Shlomo, a 12-year-old neighborhood in northern Jerusalem with some 20,000 residents.

The competition is sponsored by Shomera Lesviva Tova (Guardian for a Good Environment), a non-profit organization founded in Har Nof in 1998 known for its initiatives in environmental education and activism, the Ramat Shlomo neighborhood administration, the Environment Ministry and the Jerusalem Municipality. Out of hundreds of entries, 28 were selected for publication in this year’s journal…

“This project is a unique way of working with the haredi community which is not being done anywhere else,” states Carmi Wisemon, director of Shomera Lesviva Tova. “It involves speaking to a public to whom the issue of environment is new, in their own language – that of Halacha and Torah – and providing avenues compatible to the community’s cultural needs. It is to the Ministry of Environment’s credit that it was so open-minded about new ways of getting the haredi community involved in environmental activities.”

Ken yirbu. And it is commendable that an Israeli governmental agency thought it fitting to reach out to Charedi communities in such an initiative. (Likewise commendable is charedi inclusion being included in a definition of “multiculturalism” and said inclusion being lauded in an Israeli media outlet.)

“Hundreds of entries” means, potentially, thousands of interested people.

Are we seeing, perhaps, the seeds of a trend in rising global consciousness beginning to sprout in the Charedi world?

Wow! Maybe liberal Judaism really doesn’t have the monopoly on tikkun olam!

(X-posted from Jewschool.com)

Print This Post Print This Post

One Response to “Rising Eco-Orthodoxy?”

  1. Rabbi Shmuel Says:

    “Wow! Maybe liberal Judaism really doesn’t have the monopoly on tikkun olam!” in truth it never did – it just co-opted the term for its agenda.

    You might be pleasantly surprised to learn what goes on in the charedi world – just remember – insularity cuts both ways!

Leave a Reply