Simple Actions for Jews to help Green the Planet 521.
(photo credit: Courtesy)
Rabbi Dov Elkins has been teaching for almost half a century. An instructor in a
variety of Hebrew schools initially, he taught when he was a chaplain in the US
Army; he taught in all the congregations where he was the rabbi and he became a
scholar-in-residence in synagogues, community centers, camps and many other
Currently, one of his major interests is the environment and
what we as Jews can do to preserve it. He has collected a multitude of action
plans and sources and organized them into convenient chapters in his new book;
all we need to do is explore them and then get under way.
On Page 8 he
begins a chapter entitled “What’s a green Jew: learn what the Torah says about
protecting our environment.” He quotes a passage from Midrash Ecclesiastes Raba
that makes it clear what Judaism believes about our responsibility in
maintaining this planet: “When God created the first human beings, He led them
around the Garden of Eden and said: ‘Look at my works – see how beautiful they
are – excellent! For your sake I created them all. See to it that you do not
spoil and destroy My world; for if you do, there will be no one else to repair
it.’” Elkins then lists what we can do: develop our own moral and spiritual
position on this topic by constantly learning about it from Jewish sources. He
indicates that a proclamation has been created by the great scientists of the
world calling on the “religious communities” to take action and save the world.
Then he lists a number of sites we can turn to to enrich our environmental
action by utilizing a Jewish perspective.
Elkins reproduces completely
the “Ten Commandments of Judaism and Environmentalism” developed by Rabbi Larry
Troster, a noted authority in the field. Aside from dealing with God and God’s
relation to the world, he points out that the Torah forbids the destruction of
species, known as “bal tash’hit,” and causing undue pain to non-human creatures,
or “tza’ar ba’alei hayim.” Then he concludes with “tikkun olam”; that the
perfection and fixing of the world is in our hands.
Elkins has chapters
on reducing the impact of electronic waste; making your Jewish celebrations
green; tips for an eco-friendly Purim; making compost; and the top 10
eco-friendly ways to clean your house. Of real interest is the information found
in the latter chapter.
Elkins points out that many of the cleaning
products under our sink are labeled as poisonous. The assumption is that since
they are capped, they cannot hurt us. The author cites studies that show that
these poisons make their way through the cans and into our water
system. Moreover, it is well known that small children have died from
ingesting these cleaning materials.
Therefore, he says, it is important
to place these items in sealed closets away from water systems and away from the
hands of curious children. A very simple act, but one that can save lives and
help preserve our environment.
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“After starting to implement many of the
ideas in this book,” Elkins writes in his conclusion, “and making your home and
life more green, you will feel that there is much more to be done to make our
planet cleaner, safer and healthier for the next generation.”
really the message of this book: act now and insure our world is preserved and
made greener for those who come after us. Read this book, be inspired by it and
employ its practical suggestions.
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