It’s Not Easy Being Green

It’s Not Easy Being Green

Rabbi’s Message – January 26, 2021

Rabbi Karen Bodney-Halasz

Tu B’Shevat marks the beginning of yet another new year – the new year of the trees.  The Talmud explains that Tu B’Shevat delineates between last year’s crops and produce that will be assigned to the next year.   It is traditionally a time to begin planting, reflect on environmental and personal renewal, and appreciate the beauty of nature.  
 
In many ways, Tu B’Shevat has become the Jewish Earth Day or Arbor Day.  It reminds us that we have an obligation to care for our planet.  In Genesis 2:15 we are taught “God placed the human in the Garden of Eden, to work it and guard it.”   Throughout Jewish texts this message is echoed.  We must not be wasteful nor contribute to the destruction of the world.  
 
Being environmentally responsible is not always the easiest or least expensive path to take, but Jewish tradition teaches that righteous people “…use all their strength to save everything possible from destruction (Sefer HaChinuch 529).”  What will it take for us to fulfill this obligation today?
 
Tomorrow begins a wonderful festival that will help us to answer this question in fun and creative ways.  From the same group that brought us last year’s Great Big Jewish Food Fest comes “The Big Bold Jewish Climate Fest.”  This online program is free and offers 150 events throughout the week.  According to their website, these events are being held in an effort to position climate change as a central moral issue of the Jewish community and to re-energize Tu B’Shevat as a modern, purpose driven holiday.  With extra time on our hands due to the pandemic, perhaps this is the perfect year to delve further into this important religious endeavor.  
 
To learn more, visit The Big Bold Jewish Climate Fest website.  Be sure to check out the “Main Stage” schedule to find unique learning opportunities from some of today’s most engaging teachers.  There is a wide variety of learning modes, including panels, discussions, performance, presentations, workshops, and rituals.  There will certainly be something of interest to everyone.
 
Wishing us all yet another happy New Year.  May we find hope in this friendly reminder that spring is on the horizon.
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