Course: Jewish Wisdom for Climate, Environmental and Food Justice

Taught by Rabbi Natan Margalit. Sponsored by Organic Torah, the Jewish Climate Action Network, and Open Circle Jewish Learning at Hebrew College

6 sessions on alternate Mondays in 2017:

  • January 30
  • February 13
  • February 27
  • March 13
  • March 27
  • April 3

7:30 – 9:00 PM
Hebrew College, Newton, Mass.

In this series of classes we will look at new perspectives on how core Jewish ideas, and ways of thinking can deepen and reinforce our work for justice, sustainability and health.  By helping to  shift our orientation toward dynamic relationships, getting beyond either/or traps and visioning hope and freedom instead of despair and gridlock, Jewish wisdom can help us become better at creating the change we want to see-- in ourselves and in the world.  We will use text study, discussion and experiential exercises.

Organic Torah Principles of Sustainability: Emergence/Minyan – The whole is greater than the sum of the parts (January 30)

The natural world emerges through relationships of networks, patterns and systems – the whole is always greater than the sum of the parts. Judaism has also been built on this natural principle. The minyan is only one example. We’ll see how Judaism and the natural world connect through the principle of emergence which allows for flexible growth, newness and strength. In practical terms, new and just solutions to social problems only emerge when we look at the whole and the part that everyone plays in creating it.     

Organic Torah Principles of Sustainability: Nestedness/Mikdash – fractal reality and getting past either/or (February 13)

Nestedness is the way of the natural world: cells are nested inside organs, inside bodies, inside families, etc.  In Judaism mikdash – the sacred holy center, is nested within the inner chamber, within outer walls, within the city gates, etc. We’ll see how this principle allows for both/and solutions instead of false either/or dilemmas.   

Organic Torah Principles of Sustainability: Tipping Points/Mitzvah – Hope, faith and free will: how not to give up (February 27)

In natural systems change isn’t linear, but can jump suddenly from one state to another: the straw can break the camel’s back.  Judaism also embraces this principle as we see in the spiritual technology of the mitzvah: doing a small action which may just change everything – but we never know.  In ecological work we must know that a small action can have huge consequences – both for bad or for good.

Applying Organic Torah: The Ethics of Eating and Agriculture (March 13)

We will look at how Judaism supports an ethical and sustainable agriculture through changing our perspective to one of gratitude, caring and stewardship.

Applying Organic Torah: Environment and Climate Change (March 27)

We will see how Jewish principles can give us the tools to shift our attitudes and behavior in battling the crisis of climate change.

Applying Organic Torah: Prayer, Holidays and Social Justice (April 3)

In this class we will explore the way that the Jewish holiday and prayer cycles support a consciousness of justice and sustainability. 

Rabbi Natan Margalit, Ph.D., was raised in Honolulu, Hawaii. He received rabbinic ordination at The Jerusalem Seminary in 1990 and earned a Ph.D. in Talmud from U.C. Berkeley in 2001.  He has taught at Bard College, the Reconstuctionist Rabbinical College, and the Rabbinical School of Hebrew College. Natan is Rabbi of The Greater Washington Coalition for Jewish Life, in Connecticut and Visiting Rabbi at Congregation Adas Yoshuron in Rockland, Maine.  He is Founder and President of Organic Torah Institute, a non-profit organization which fosters holistic thinking about Judaism, environment and society (www.organictorah.org). He lives in Newton, MA, with his wife Ilana and their two sons.  

 

Decarbonizers

JCAN's powerful model program -- new in year 5777

Can be carried out by any synagogue/group

This powerful, peer-to-peer program showcases your temple members who are making reasonable but radical reductions in residential carbon consumption. See our Decarbonizers program page.

The Food/Environment Connection

This event is being rescheduled because of snow. Special guest Jeffrey Cohan, executive director of Jewish Veg, will lead an interactive discussion about the environmental impact of food production, how we can reduce our environmental footprint through food choices, and how this relates to Judaism.

Jeffrey was the Director of Community Relations for the Jewish Federation of Greater Pittsburgh from 2005-2012, then took the helm of Jewish Veg, then known as Jewish Vegetarians of North America. Jeffrey earned a B.A. from the University of California at Berkeley and a Master’s of Public Management from Carnegie Mellon University.

Speakers

Speakers offer expertise, guidance, and inspiration and are available for conferences or other events. Contact jewishclimateaction@gmail.com to arrange for the speaker to come to your synagogue or setting.

Rabbi Katy Allen

Location: Wayland, MA
Affiliations: Ma'yan Tikvah - A Wellspring of Hope; Jewish Climate Action Network; One Earth Collaborative
Expertise: Teaching about Judaism and the environment; leading groups dealing with grief and hope; leading spiritual nature walks; leading JCAN; interfaith climate work
Program or support offered: Teaching about Judaism and the environment; leading groups dealing with grief and hope; leading spiritual nature walks
Pronouns: She/her

 

Fred Davis

Location: Medfield, MA

Affiliations: President of Fred Davis Corporation, energy-efficient lighting products wholesaler (since 1986). Author of occasional e-newsletter, The Lightening Volt. Fellow in Hebrew College's Leaders in Adult Learning. Leader, teacher, facilitator in synagogue adult education. Curator for Northeast Sustainable Energy Association (NESEA) conference, Building Energy. Previous: Boards of NESEA,  local and national Boards of the Illuminating Engineering Society, Co-Chair of JCRC Energy Committee, President of Urban Solar Energy Association, President of Jewish Genealogical Society of Greater Boston.

Expertise: Professionally engaged since 1978 in the energy field: deeply in energy-efficient lighting, broadly in energy conservation and renewables.

Program or support offered: Fact-based, Jewish-text-inspired presentations and workshops encouraging and empowering congregants to radically reduce carbon footprints in stages.

Pronouns: He/him

 

Moshe Givental

Location: Boston, MA

Affiliations: Hebrew College, Rabbinic Student

Expertise: Creating ritual and teaching psychospiritual tools to be take effective Climate Action without becoming overwhelmed. Trained in The Work That Reconnects through Joanna Macy. 

Program or support offered: Judaism and Climate Change, Climate Change as a Social Justice Problem

Pronouns: He/him

 

Rabbi Shoshana Meira Friedman

Location: Jamaica Plain, MA

Affiliations: Temple Sinai of Brookline, MA Interfaith Coalition for Climate Action

Expertise: Rabbi Shoshana Meira Friedman is the Assistant Rabbi at Temple Sinai of Brookline, and brings a love of music, prayer, social justice, and relationship-building to the Jewish community. Integrating her background in environmental studies with her rabbinate, Rabbi Shoshana a leader in the Boston interfaith climate justice movement. She was ordained by Hebrew College Rabbinical School, and is an alum of Oberlin College, JOIN for Justice, and the Wexner Graduate Fellowship.

Program or support offered: Public speaking, text study, song-leading

Pronouns: She/her

Website: www.rabbishoshana.com

 

David Schreiber

Location: Waltham, MA

Affiliations: Temple Shir Tikvah of Winchester, Jewish Climate Action Network, Jewish Alliance for Law and Social Action, J Street, Greater Boston Interfaith Organization

Expertise: Socially responsible investing and fossil fuel divestment and financial planning.

Pronouns: He/him

Workshops

Workshops are interactive sessions with expert facilitators that you can schedule for your institution.

Acting On Climate Concerns: Three-Part Workshop Series

Workshop Coordinator: Fred Davis

Jewish values guide us to a new environmentalism informed by the need for an 80% reduction in fossil-fuel use. Such a goal is radical yet feasible with changes that are ethically just and economically sound. This workshop-style course reviews actions available now to ameliorate climate change. It was originally offered in 2015, includes experts in energy and climate, and is adaptable. Speakers are as available.

Part 1: What is our responsibility as stewards of our congregational facility?

Jim Nail, President, Massachusetts Interfaith Power & Light
Vincent Maraventano, Executive Director, Mass. Interfaith Power & Light

Part 2: How can we significantly reduce the carbon footprint of our individual households through energy conservation and solar?

Rachel White, Performance Manager at Byggmeister Design/Build; former Meah instructor; Co-Chair, BuildingEnergy16 Conference of Northeast Sustainable Energy Association
Haskell Werlin, Director of Business Development and Government Relations, Solar Design Associates

Part 3: What actions can we take in the greater community (carbon tax/fee, ethical investing)?

David Schreiber, Financial West Group
Rabbi Judy Weiss, Citizens' Climate Lobby, Boston Chapter Co-leader

Cost: by donation

 

Shabbat for the Earth on Any Day

Workshop Coordinator: Rabbi Katy Allen

Bring Shabbat for the Earth to your synagogue any day of the week. Options range from a single d'var Torah to nature-themed guided meditations, Torah study with a focus on the Earth, Jewish nature walks and other outdoor experiences, sessions for exploring emotional and spiritual responses to climate change, an exploration through various kinds of texts of our connection to the Earth, and facilitated discussions of how to increase synagogue response to climate change.

Rabbi Katy Allen is the co-founder and President pro-tem of the Jewish Climate Action Network and a board certified chaplain with 10 years of hospital chaplaincy experience. She serves as an eco-chaplain and the facilitator of One Earth Collaborative, a program of Open Spirit, Framingham, and as a hospice chaplain. She is the founder and rabbi of Ma'yan Tikvah - A Wellspring of Hope, which holds services outdoors, and she writes about matters of Torah and Earth. She is a former science teacher and received ordination from the Academy for Jewish Religion in 2005. You can learn more about her programs at .

Cost: contact Rabbi Katy Allen.

 

What's Your Carbon Footprint: Stories for Our Lives

Workshop Coordinator: Thea Iberall

Life in the future will be one where energy use is more limited than in the past. How will it affect you, your loved ones, and your community? In this interactive workshop, you will explore understanding how climate change will affect your life, do some exercises to open your heart, and have the opportunity to draft a story/poem about your relationship to nature. Guidance is provided for non-writers.

Dr. Thea Iberall has taught writing since 2005. An inductee into the International Educators Hall of Fame, Iberall has had over 50 poems published in anthologies and journals including in Blood to Remember: American Poets on the Holocaust. Her book of poems, The Sanctuary of Artemis, bridges science and the arts, the heart and the mind. In her novel, The Swallow and the Nightingale, a scientist goes head-to-head with an Orthodox Rabbi about the moral issue of today. Author of three scientific textbooks and a semi-finalist in the 2014 Mary Ballard Poetry Chapbook contest, Iberall gives climate change workshops and studied Method Writing with Jack Grapes.

 

The Work That Reconnects

Workshop leader: Moshe Givental

In the face of seemingly overwhelming social and ecological crises, we are challenged to find processes to help transform despair into ever deeper compassion, gratitude, creativity, and insight, as well as deeper connection with ourselves, one another, and the larger web of life. This experiential workshop will draw upon practices shaped by eco-philosopher and activist Joanna Macy and offer tools to move us from crisis towards clarity of vision and then into constructive and collaborative action to help us build a more resilient and just future.

Moshe Givental is a trained facilitator in The Work That Reconnects, a 5th year Rabbinic Student at Hebrew College, and a former psychotherapist.

 

Using Our Forks to Reduce Our Carbon Footprint

Workshop leader: Judith Mabel

Our food choices impact our health and our local environment, and also have global impact in connection to climate change. What foods are best bought organic? What’s the importance of miles travelled in food choices? In this workshop you will out how to reduce your carbon footprint with your eating habits.

Judith Mabel is a nutritionist and biochemist, with degrees from Cornell University, Harvard University, and Boston University who has authored over 20 scientific papers. She blends traditional and complementary techniques in her private practice in Brookline, evaluating and educating her clients so that they can take an active part in their health and fitness. She specializes in Functional Medicine, digestive issues and food sensitivities.

 

Engaging Youth in Climate Change

Workshop leader: Sheila Berenson

Young people are often passionate about saving the world they are inheriting. The focus of this series of workshops is to help them channel this fervor for positive, real-world environmental actions on behalf of Boston and the world. This workshop is designed for ages 10 and above.

Sheila Berenson is a long-time educator, having taught at universities throughout the Midwest as well as students in K-12. Currently she is a professor in education at Framingham State University. Her articles and stories for children and young adults have earned numerous writing awards, both regional and national; pieces she has written on creative teaching strategies have appeared in national journals; and technology she developed for the classroom earned one of three tech awards from the International Reading Association. She was also founder/founding director of a large, hands-on children's museum. Sheila has presented at conferences across the country and now consults with schools on implementation of Project-based Learning, a highly-engaging classroom methodology that is sweeping the country.

 

Courses

 

Rabbi Natan Margalit

In this series of classes we will look at new perspectives on how core Jewish ideas, and ways of thinking can deepen and reinforce our work for justice, sustainability and health.  By helping to  shift our orientation toward dynamic relationships, getting beyond either/or traps and visioning hope and freedom instead of despair and gridlock, Jewish wisdom can help us become better at creating the change we want to see-- in ourselves and in the world.  We will use text study, discussion and experiential exercises.  

Six Classes:

Organic Torah Principles of Sustainability: Emergence/Minyan – The whole is greater than the sum of the parts: 

The natural world emerges through relationships of networks, patterns and systems – the whole is always greater than the sum of the parts. Judaism has also been built on this natural principle. The minyan is only one example. We’ll see how Judaism and the natural world connect through the principle of emergence which allows for flexible growth, newness and strength. In practical terms, new and just solutions to social problems only emerge when we look at the whole and the part that everyone plays in creating it.     

Organic Torah Principles of Sustainability: Nestedness/Mikdash – fractal reality and getting past either/or

Nestedness is the way of the natural world: cells are nested inside organs, inside bodies, inside families, etc.  In Judaism mikdash – the sacred holy center, is nested within the inner chamber, within outer walls, within the city gates, etc. We’ll see how this principle allows for both/and solutions instead of false either/or dilemmas.   

Organic Torah Principles of Sustainability: Tipping Points/Mitzvah – Hope, faith and free will: how not to give up. 

In natural systems change isn’t linear, but can jump suddenly from one state to another: the straw can break the camel’s back.  Judaism also embraces this principle as we see in the spiritual technology of the mitzvah: doing a small action which may just change everything – but we never know.  In ecological work we must know that a small action can have huge consequences – both for bad or for good.

Applying Organic Torah: The Ethics of Eating and Agriculture

We will look at how Judaism supports an ethical and sustainable agriculture through changing our perspective to one of gratitude, caring and stewardship.

Applying Organic Torah: Environment and Climate Change

We will see how Jewish principles can give us the tools to shift our attitudes and behavior in battling the crisis of climate change.

Applying Organic Torah: Prayer, Holidays and Social Justice

In this class we will explore the way that the Jewish holiday and prayer cycles support a consciousness of justice and sustainability. 

 

Presentations

Presentations are formal talks on particular topics. Contact jewishclimateaction@gmail.com to arrange for the presentation at your synagogue or setting.

The Radical, Reasonable Route To 80% Reductions

Speaker: Fred Davis

Many in Massachusetts don't realize we’ve been leading the country in conservation and renewables. This updated presentation demonstrates the path to dramatically reduce our use of energy at each level: world, national, state, synagogue, residence. Drilling down from the global to the granular, we appreciate that the process is the same: assess (benchmark), plan, and implement changes over time. It is not beyond us.

Fred Davis, JCAN Vice president pro-tem, has been professionally involved with energy conservation since 1977, starting in residential conservation and solar, and helped devise the first national standards for lamp efficiency. He is president of Fred Davis Corporation, a leading national wholesale supplier of energy-efficient lighting products since 1983. He chaired the first national conference on energy-efficient lighting and has spoken on energy and lighting from Stockholm to Sacramento. Fred was President of the Urban Solar Energy Association, has served on the Board of Northeast Sustainable Energy Association, and on both national and local Boards of the Illuminating Engineering Society of North America. He is a past Co-Chair of the JCRC Energy Committee, and a Past President of the Jewish Genealogical Society of Greater Boston.

Extracting Fossil Fuels from Your Portfolio

Speaker: David Schreiber

As Jews we are obligated to practice tikkun olam and do what we can to repair the world, and also to pursue justice. This workshop is focused on the why, how and what of obtaining comparable returns through carefully designed and balanced portfolios of securities screened for the environmental, social and governance practices of the companies behind them. It is designed to help both individuals and institutions move to fossil-free investments.

David Schreiber, CFP® is a Certified Financial Planner.