In previous articles, we’ve illustrated that religious Jewish practices such as Shabbat and Shmitta have the potential to affect the environment in a positive way. This makes us happy, as we at Green Prophet like when Jewish customs dovetail with the ideals of sustainability that we want to promote.
We therefore regret to report that Mikvah, or ritual immersion, is currently motivating some people to have a negative impact on one of Israel’s most endangered species, the orange salamander.
Israel’s Upper Galilee and Golan Heights is home to the salamander, adorably pictured above. This species has already been endangered for a variety of reasons–from the Katyushas fired during the Lebanon War that destroyed their habitats, to the trees that the JNF planted by the pools that once nurtured salamander tadpoles. Ironically–since tree planting is usually seen as a good thing–the trees drained the pools and caused the deaths of thousands of salamanders.
Now there’s a new threat: People who want to immerse themselves in the pools where the tadpoles live, but who don’t want to deal with all the nasty algae, are putting goldfish into the pools. The goldfish eat the algae–but they also eat the tadpoles.
In an effort to save the tadpoles, the Galilee Technology Center is sending technicians to insert an electric device into the water that will stun the fish and cause them to float to the top, thereby enabling the technicians to remove the fish from the water. (Question: how is it that this electrical device will stun the goldfish, but nothing else in the water…?)
But the root problem is far from solved, as long as people continue to throw goldfish into the pools.
A little algae never killed anyone, folks. Immerse yourselves, but for God’s sake, it’s not a fountain in the pleasure gardens of the sultan’s palace. There is going to be some stuff in there that you don’t like–that’s what makes it a natural spring, right? Don’t mess with the fragile ecosystem in an attempt to “clean it up.” If you’re grossed out by natural springs, go to your friendly neighborhood Mikvah.