Rabbi Arthur Waskow
Shabbos Earth Day & Pesach 2000
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.
CLICK!! SHOFAR-BLAST IN THE DEEP BRAIN!!
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 firstname.lastname@example.org.