JES 505 Eco-Judaism: The Theology & Practice of Jewish Responses to Ecological Crises, Past & Present

Faculty: Rabbi Arthur Waskow (Profile)


This course will cover three areas of focus with a practicum included. Part 1: “The dance of control and community” will cover the present ecological crisis and analogous crises in Jewish history; socio-ecological analysis; Eisenberg’s Ecology of Eden; the emergence of Rabbinic Judaism; Zalman S-S theory of new paradigms; the relationship of human history to evolutionary history through which eco-systems emerge; Martin Buber, I and Thou; Teilhard de Chardin (The Phenomenon of Man); Evan Eisenberg (The Ecology of Eden); and evolution as “Divine unfolding,” among other related topics. Part 2: “Responding to the crisis will cover new forms of community” will cover topics such as cultural ecology and Adam/adamah inerwovenness; new paradigms of Judaism? (Schachter-Shalomi, Waskow); sexual ethics, work ethics, the nature of Shabbat; Earth-oriented strands of Jewish teaching, and related topics. Part 3: “Life-practice in an eco-Jewish life-path for our day” will cover eco-Kashrut; re-energizing earth and intergenerational aspects of life-cycle markers; renewing Shabbat and other prayer-liturgy and “Prayer as if the Earth really mattered”; re-weaving Torah as intellect with earth-experience; eco-Zionism; advocacy for policy change and forms of Jewish organizing for eco-Judaism, among other related topics. Part 4: Practicum. Each student is required not only to read, etc., but also to prepare a hands-on project in creating actual events for congregations, etc. (e. g. eco-centered celebration of festivals, Shabbat Noach, Shabbat B’Har, Brit Milah, B’nei Mitzvah, etc.).

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