Tisha B’Av for Temple Earth

A Time for Grief and Action   

We are approaching Tisha B’Av – the date in the Jewish calendar (this year July 17-18) when the invading Babylonian Army burned the Holy Temple,  and when centuries later the  invading Roman Empire burned the rebuilt Temple..

We who write you are an array of leaders of the Eco-Jewish movement, and we are writing to connect that ancient trauma with the suffering of our own Temple Earth, the holy Place of all life-forms, including humankind.

We recognize that the suffering is caused by a subset of our own species, and that it will take action by communities of our own species to heal these deadly wounds. Our statement follows, and then the first of a series of resources to use for #TishaBAv4TempleEarth. We will continue to send out these resources , and we welcome your sending us poems, songs, graphics, brief texts, and reports of your pwn planned actions. Email them to 9Av@theshalomcenter.org

Tisha B’Av for Temple Earth:

A Time of Grief and Action to End the Global Scorching that Endangers Temple Earth


  1. We call upon Jews this year to intertwine on Tisha B’Av (July 17-18) the traditional lamentation for the ancient destruction of two holy Temples with our grief and sacred action in response to the worsening danger to Temple Earth -- the survival and integrity of many species and many human communities.
  2. We encourage Tisha B’Av gatherings to include passages of sacred text, art, and music, old and new, celebrating our love of Planet Earth, mourning the forms of its destruction,  and committing us to act for its protection and renewal. 
  1. We encourage all members of our community that, as part of our observance of Tisha B’Av, we undertake public acts of commitment to change public and corporate policy, as well as action by Jewish groups and institutions themselves. We suggest this in part as a way of embodying the last prayer of traditional Lamentation: “Turn us to You, YHWH, and we shall act to return. Make our days new as they were long ago.”

Action on public policy might include writing a letter or paying a visit to Senators, Congressmembers, state or local legislators or corporate officials. We might urge the inclusion in the proposed Jobs and Infrastructure Act of massive grants for solarizing homes, building electric railway systems and frequent service stations for electric autos,  requiring retrofitting for all public buildings in renewable energy, organizing coastal wind-turbine arrays, financing restorative agriculture and urban organic garden/ farms, etc.  

Actions in and by the Jewish community might include creating congregation-based solar co-ops; funding renewable energy and conservation in new and retrofitting older communal buildings; creating urban farms,  community-supported agriculture, grocery co-ops, and changes in food choices for communal celebrations; using energy-efficient mass transportation, biking, and low-emission  or no-emission automobiles; Moving Our Money from institutions that invest in energy choices that scorch and damage Earth, to institutions that invest in Protecting Our Planet.

  1. As we approach Tisha B'Av and other sacred days, we keep this in mind: Many of our holydays are the offspring of a long sacred love affair between Earth and the Jewish people. Now that both Earth and human Earthlings -- adamah and adam, in Hebrew -- are in serious wounded trouble, let us explore reawakening and reframing their offspring, our festivals and fast days, to rejuvenate their endangered parents.


Signers: [*Indicates the organization is listed for identification only]


Rabbi Katy Allen, Jewish Climate Action Network – MA

Rabbi Tamara Cohen, *Moving Traditions; author, “Eicha for the Earth”\

Rabbi Zelig Golden, Wilderness Torah

Mirele Goldsmith, Jewish Earth Alliance 

Rabbi/Rav Kohenet Jill Hammer, PhD

De Herman,  Jewish Earth Alliance

Mark Jacobs, *Meridian; Founding Executive Director, COEJL

 Ace Leveen, Jewish Climate Action Network –NYC

Rabbi Mordechai Liebling, *POWER; Board, The Shalom Center

 Jakir Manela, Pearlstone Center

Rabbi Natan Margalit, Earth-Based Judaism

Rabbi Jonah Pesner, Religious Action Center of Reform Judaism

Rabbi Stephanie Ruskay, *Jewish Theological Seminary

Nigel Savage, Hazon

David Schreiber, Greenvest

Rabbi David Seidenberg, Neo-Hasid

Yoni Stadlin, Eden Village Camp

Rabbi Daniel Swartz, Coalition on the Environment and Jewish Life (COEJL)

Rabbi Arthur Waskow, The Shalom Center


### ### ###

The Shalom Center has prepared an entire Tisha B’Av service centered on the English-language Eicha-trope-chantable “Eicha for the Earth” composed by Rabbi Tamara Cohen. It was chanted first at the US Capitol during the summer of 2010, the summer of the BP oil eruption in the Gulf of Mexico, and since then at other venues. You can see it and other elements of an Earth-oriented Tisha B’Av service at https://theshalomcenter.org/node/1733 We welcome you to circulate all or parts of it, and we will be glad to join in circulating materials about #Tisha B’Av4Temple Earth that you send us.

Two passages from that service follow: Chapter I from Rabbi Cohen’s “Eicha for the Earth” (the entire Lament is at the Website) and “Between the Fires: a Spirit-Focus for Kindling Candles of Commitment” by  Rabbi Arthur Waskow:Eicha: Alas, she sits in danger.

Earth, home to multitudes,

like a beloved, deep in distress. 

Blue ocean, source of life --
Endangered and imprisoned. 

Bitterly she weeps in the night
Her shorelines wet with tears.
Of all her friends, none to comfort her;
All her allies have betrayed her. 

Checkerspot butterflies
flee their homes;
Polar bears can find no rest.
Because our greed has heated Earth.

Whole communities destroyed
To pursue off-shore oil.
Lives and dreams have been narrowed. 

Coastlines mourn for families,
lost homes and livelihoods.
Barrier islands lament, desolate.

 Wetlands sigh without their song birds.
Estuaries grieve; the sea is embittered. 

 Earth’s children – now her enemies;
Despite destruction, we sleep at ease.
The Breath of Life grieves
our abundant transgressions.
Infants of every species,
captive to our conceit.  

Hashivenu Yahh elecha v’nashuva, chadesh yameinu kekedem.

 Let us return, help us repent,
You Who Breathe all Life;
Breathe us, Breathe us,
Breathe us into a new path--
Help us, Help us, ,
Help us Turn to a new way of living
Make–new, Make -new,
Our world of life intertwining –
Splendor, beauty, joy in our love for each life-form.

^^^ ^^^ ^^^

Between the Fires:

An Invocation for

Kindling Candles of Commitment


We are the generations

That stand between the fires.


Behind us

The burning crosses lit by hate

To choke our people in the smoke of terror;

Behind us the flame and smoke

That rose from Auschwitz and from Hiroshima.


Not yet behind us

The burning forests of the Amazon,

Torched for the sake of fast hamburger and fast wealth.

Not yet behind us, the glare of gunfire

exploding in our children

and of police gunfire exploding

in young Black men and women.

Not yet behind us –

the hottest years of human history

That bring upon us

Melted ice fields. Flooded cities.

Asthma-ridden neighborhoods.

Scorching droughts. Murderous wildfires.

Before us we among all life-forms
face the nightmare of a Flood of Fire,
The heat and smoke that could consume all Earth.

"Here! The day is coming,”

Said the Prophet Malachi,

“That will flame like a furnace,”

Says YHWH / Yahhhh --

The Infinite InterBreath of Life --

Yet for all who revere

My Interbreathing Name, Yahhhh,

a shining-solar-sun of justice will arise

with healing in its rays of light, its winds.


“Here! Before the coming

of the great and awesome day

of YHWH/ the Breath of Life,

I will send you the Prophet Elijah

to turn the hearts of elders to their youth

and the hearts of youth to elders,

lest I come not as the Breath of Life, the Wind of Change,

but as the Hurricane of Desolation

to smite all Earth."


Here! we ourselves shall turn the hearts

Of elders and youth to each other

So that this day of smiting

Does not fall upon us.


We ourselves are coming

To douse that outer all-consuming fire.

We must light again in our own hearts

the inner fire of love and liberation

that burned in the Burning Bush --

The fire that did not consume even the Bush it burned in,

For love is strong as death --

Love’s Fire must never be extinguished:

The fire in the heart of all Creation.


It is our task to make from inner fire
Not an all-consuming blaze

But the loving light in which we see more clearly
The Rainbow Covenant glowing

in the many-colored faces of all life.








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