Reform Jewish publisher presents major volume focused on environmental advocacy and sacred connection to the natural world
New York, NY – June 2023: CCAR Press, a division of the Central Conference of American Rabbis, is pleased to announce the publication of a major new anthology on Judaism and the environment, The Sacred Earth: Jewish Perspectives on Our Planet. The volume is edited by Rabbi Andrue J. Kahn, incoming associate director of Yachad and adult education at Congregation Beth Elohim in Brooklyn, and includes a foreword by Karenna Gore, climate activist and the founder and executive director of the Center for Earth Ethics at Union Theological Seminary.
The Torah begins by setting forth the heavens and the Earth as God’s creation. Humans are then given the responsibility to protect the planet for its own sake and for its ability to nurture our lives. Yet the human-Divine-environment relationship seems to be in perpetual crisis. The Sacred Earth is a contemporary Jewish response to the ongoing threat of climate change, the widespread desire for experiential spirituality rooted in the environment, and the ever-evolving relationship between humanity, nature, technology, and the Divine. The volume includes five main sections: “Theology,” “Jewish Texts,” “Encountering the Divine,” “Sacred Time,” and “Contemporary Responses.” Throughout, the book’s expert contributors reflect on human vulnerability in the face of natural forces, examine conceptions of our place in cosmology, and grapple with environmental destruction. Ultimately, with hope, they creatively explore ways to redeem our sacred planet.
Rabbi Jill Jacobs, CEO of T’ruah: The Rabbinic Call for Human Rights said, “In this invaluable collection, Jewish thought leaders from a diversity of backgrounds and positions delve deep into text, theology, and history to bring new perspectives to the fight to save our planet. For anyone interested in what millennia of Jewish wisdom can teach us about today’s climate challenges, this book is required reading.”
The anthology brings together a group of environmental advocates from a wide range of sectors. Among them are Jeremy Benstein, PhD, founder and senior staffer at the Heschel Center for Sustainability; Rabbi Mike Comins, founder of the TorahTrek Center for Jewish Wilderness Spirituality; Rabbi Jill Hammer, PhD, the director of spiritual education at the Academy for Jewish Religion and cofounder of the Kohenet Priestess Institute; Rabbi Devorah Diana Lynn, cofounder of the grassroots network the Jewish Earth Alliance; Nigel S. Savage, the founder of Hazon, the largest environmental organization in the American Jewish community; Rabbi Arthur O. Waskow, PhD, founder and director of The Shalom Center; Rob Watson, founder of the LEED green building rating system; and Rabbi Dvora E. Weisberg, PhD, Rabbi Aaron Panken Professor of Rabbinics and rabbinical school director at Hebrew Union College–Jewish Institute of Religion.
Susannah Heschel, PhD, the Eli M. Black Distinguished Professor at Dartmouth College said, “The Sacred Earth—a wide-ranging collection of Jewish teachings on ecology—offers profound insights and inspiring challenges to all of us, who must immediately rise up and protect our planet and all life upon it from utter devastation.”
“It was for such a time as this that The Sacred Earth was published,” said Rabbi Jonah Dov Pesner, the director of the Religious Action Center of Reform Judaism. “As we face the very real possibility of an impending climate catastrophe and certainly the reality of widespread suffering because of ecological devastation, this volume gives us the spiritual resilience we will need to rise up and collectively confront the challenge. This book is a deep and urgent call to action as Jews in the broader social movement to save the planet.”
The Sacred Earth: Jewish Perspectives on Our Planet is available at sacredearth.ccarpress.org
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