Judaism allows us to create opportunities to increase environmental awareness through Shabbat and the festival cycle. Ecology is a key theme in many festivals and has become a new inspiration for changing the way Jewish traditions are celebrated. Please see the side menu for information about specific festivals - more to follow!
Jewish traditions have always had a close relationship to the earth. Tu B’Shevat has an inseparable tie that binds Judaism to nature and the earth’s ecology. This festival has been celebrated for thousands of years and is often called Judaism’s ‘New Year of the Trees’. It highlights the importance of preserving the balance between man and nature.
The holiday of Shavuot is celebrated in contemporary times to mark the Jewish community’s receipt of the Torah on Mount Sinai, but in earlier days it signalled the beginning of the spring harvest season in Israel. Traditional foods such as cheese, ice cream and other dairy foods are served at this time to commemorate the spring holiday.
An increasing number of Jewish communities have chosen to celebrate this link as part of their Passover Seders. The coinciding of Earth Day with the first days of Pesach in 2008 inspired an interest in “green Seders” and in finding ways to make their Pesach celebrations as ecologically sound as possible.
Today this effort continues with newly inspired haggadahs that help readers and participants understand that Passover is not just a testament to the Jews’ survival, but to the earth’s survival and growth as well.
No holiday better illustrates the significant link between man and nature than Sukkot. During Sukkot Jews are commanded to construct a sukkah, as a reminder of the ancient Jewish life after Egypt. For seven days, Jews eat, pray, meet, sleep and spend their time in a sukkah built out of branches, twigs, cloth and other temporary materials. Their lives are at least symbolically if not wholly, linked to the earth and its ecology for those seven days.