Shabbos Earth Day & Pesach 2000

Rabbi Arthur Waskow


Shabbos Earth Day & Pesach 2000

Dear Chevra,

I recently noticed that this next Earth Day, to occur on April 22, 2000, will coincide with Shabbat.

And not "any old Shabbat," either, but Shabbat chol ha'moed Pesach.


That Shabbat, traditionally, is marked by the reading of Shir HaShirim, the Song of Songs -- which is not only about the flowing, loving relationships between human beings, but also about flowing, loving relationships between adam & adamah, between humans & the earth.

What could be a better passage for drawing on Jewish tradition to celebrate the earth and a new kind of human relationship with it?

Pesach itself, of course, has strong earthy roots in the sprouting of barley and the birth of lambs. And the Plagues were a showing that an unjust society creates ecological disasters (blood in the rivers, frogs, disease-bearing mosquitos, etc etc)

There is also a traditional brocha for special use in the month of Nisan on seeing a flowering tree.

So we began to imagine what would ideally be a two-day Jewish celebration of Earth Day -- the celebration of Shabbat as Shir HaShirim Day, Earth Shabbat -- etc etc -- if possible in some open-air place, depending on one's household or synagogue/ havurah version of Shabbat observance,maybe outside but near the shul or the house in some spot of beauty.

Reading the Song (using Marcia Falk's or Chana & Ariel Bloch's translations. especially) can be a heart-opening and mind-expanding process, simply by inviting discussion afterward, etc. (May I also suggest reading the chapter on the Song in my book *Godwrestling -- Round 2*.)

-- And then, either the same day (again depending on orientation to Shabbat practice) or on the next day, Sunday, a joyful protective gathering at some place that is endangered -- by sprawl, by pollution, by autos, etc etc

Making both a direct experiential joyful event and one that has an activist/ political impact.

The two events -- Earth Shabbat and Protect with Joy -- don't have to be in direct sequence -- the latter might be later in the spring, etc -- but this skeleton plan appealed to people in Philadelphia who are working toward regional affiliation with COEJL.

Details to be explored:

Where is a good place for a Protect with Joy action? What about an Eco-Seder? Do we need a guide for joyful study of Shir HaShirim? etc etc etc

I would be glad for The Shalom Center to act as networkers for this possibility, especially with people who are not on the Kol-Chai eco-Judaism list. If you want to contribute to a dialogue on these matters, please send a copy of whatever you post to this list, to The Shalom Center at

L'chayyim u'l'shalom,



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