Aish HaTorah Starting an Eco-Fellowship Program about Jewish Responsible Living

Aish’s eco-fellowships will teach young participants why being green is being more Jewish.

Aish HaTorah, a leading organization in the realm of creative Jewish educational programs and leadership training, was founded in 1974 and has been trying to revitalize the Jewish community ever since. Now it is expanding its programming on Judaism and the environment by attempting to create an eco-fellowship that will focus on “the Jewish Biblical and traditional requirements for compassionate and sustainable living and how that applies to modern times.”

The mission of the eco-fellowhips, in Aish’s own words, would be

“to promote global environmental wellness by educating and informing about the Jewish requirements for responsible living. As the question of global sustainability and clean technology dominates the world stage, the often-overlooked Jewish perspectives on environmental responsibility have the potential to contribute greatly and the Eco-Fellowships seek to actualize that potential.”

Aish hopes to annually select a group of around 30 students to travel to Israel for an intensive 2-week eco-fellowship that trains them in Jewish environmental advocacy. The plan is for these students to then return to their respective campuses and create their own programming within their communities.

Topics that would be covered during the eco-fellowship include:

  • Alternative energies (both solar and wind)
  • Desert agriculture and desertification
  • Waste management
  • Electric car network
  • Water treatment
  • Talmudic agricultural practices as a model of sustainability
  • Ecological commandments (waste disposal and compassion for nature)
  • Tikkun Olam (the Jewish edict to repair the world)

To learn more about the Aish HaTorah Eco-Fellowship program, contact Patrick Amar ([email protected]).

Read more about Judaism and the environment::
Recycling Mikveh Water to Put God and Environment on Same Page
Eco-Activist Yeshiva Offers Summer Session That Brings Torah Down to Earth
Israel’s New “Green” Synagogue to Raise Environmental Awareness

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4 thoughts on “Aish HaTorah Starting an Eco-Fellowship Program about Jewish Responsible Living”

  1. Kol hakavod/kudos to Aish Hatorah for this wonderful initiative. As president of Jewish Vegetarians of North America and author of the book “Judaism and Vegetarianism,” I urge Aish HaTorah to consider the environmental impacts of animal based-diets, which contribute significantly to climate change, deforestation, desertification, soil erosion, loss of biodiversity, water shortages, and other environmental problems that threaten all of humanity. For example, a 2006 UN Food and Agricultural Organization report indicated that animal-based agriculture emits more greenhouse gases (in CO2 equivalents) than all the cars, planes, ships, and other means of transportation combined.

    Also, (1) the production and consumption of meat and other animal products arguably contradict basic Jewish mandates to preserve human health, treat animals with compassion, protect the environment, conserve natural resources and help hungry people, and (2) animal -based diets and agriculture are causing an epidemic of diseases in the Jewish and other communities.

    I believe it is essential that the Jewish community address these issues to show the relevance of eternal Jewish teachings to current issues and to help shift our imperiled planet to a sustainable path.

    For further information about Jewish teachings on vegetarianism, please see my over 150 articles and 25 podcasts and book “Judaism and Vegetarianism” at JewishVeg.com/schwartz and please see our acclaimed documentary “A Sacred Duty: Applying Jewish Values to Help Heal the World” at ASacedDuty.com.

  2. Kol hakavod to the Interfaith Center for Sustainable Development and the Konrad Adenauer Shiftung (think tank) for organizing The Interfaith Climate and Energy Conference that I was privileged to attend on March 19, at which Christian, Jewish, and Muslim clerics stressed that religious values must be applied in order to avert an impending climate catastrophe (“Religious leaders unite to bless sustainability,” March 21 issue). As conference organizer Rabbi Yonatan Neril said, “Religious leaders and institutions have the potential to mobilize billions of followers and achieve sustainable development in the global struggle to curb climate change.”

    On July 7, 2007, the Jerusalem Post had an article, “Israel urged to ‘act now’ or risk global warming tragedy.” The article discussed a report of the Israeli Union for Environmental Defense (Adam, Teva, v’Din) which stated that unless significant changes soon occurred, Israel would face severe problems from climate change, including: an average temperature rise of 3.3 degrees Celsius [well above the two degrees Celsius rise that climate experts say will be catastrophic]; an annual rainfall decrease of 20-30 percent, with much of the rain coming from sporadic, intense storms that will cause flooding in some areas; an expansion of the Negev desert; and a flooding of the entire coastline due to a rising Mediterranean Sea, which will cause “irreparable damage to essential infrastructure like ports and power plants, as well as residential areas along the shore.” Recent reports of severe heat waves, droughts, storms, floods, and wildfires worldwide indicate that we have very little time to make necessary changes.

    Unfortunately, relatively little has been done in Israel and worldwide to try to stabilize the climate. It is time to make tikkun olam (the healing and repair of the world) a central focus of all aspects of Jewish life today, in order to help shift our imperiled world to a sustainable path.

  3. Tova Saul says:

    This is the usual Jewish environmentalism as is stands today. It is a form of environmentalism that relies heavily on technology and science to rescue us from our mess (as opposed to facing the hard core truth: The human race needs to limit the number of their children and we do not have the right to build on any more open land. There is no such thing as sustainable development. What we need is sustainable retreat.) In addition, it is a form of environmentalism that is concerned with human health, but not beyond——-to conserving habitats/ecosystems that support Hashem’s biodiversity (note that there is not one single image of a wild creature in the video, and not one mention of Israeli wildlife).

    Jewish environmentalism is centered on human health only, while ignoring the vastly larger issues—the rest of the planet. I therefore call it “Woody Allen environmentalism”.

  4. Yoni says:

    This is fantastic – looking forward to hearing more about it!

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