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Published on December 17th, 2019 | by Jacob Sapon


Earth-Based Judaism Message from Rabbi Arthur Waskow

Dear Organic Torah community,

We wanted to pass along this message from our friend and colleague Rabbi Arthur Waskow at the Shalom Center about the new Earth-Based Judaism track at ALEPH.

Dear friends,

One of the most hopeful signs of both a new wave of creativity in Jewish life and a new determination to heal our wounded Mother Earth is the opening of the new Earth-Based Judaism track within the ordination/ education program of ALEPH: Alliance for Jewish Renewal.

The Earth-Based Judaism track leads to a certificate in that area. The Track is open to those seeking ordination and others, including rabbis and cantors and those who are or seek to be organizers, activists, and teachers. The teachers include Rabbis Natan Margalit of Organic Torah, Zelig Golden of Wilderness Torah, Jill Hammer of the Kohenet Institute, Tirzah Firestone of  Wounds into Wisdom, David Seidenberg of and Kabbalah and Ecology, and me (The Shalom Center, Down-to-Earth Judaism, etc.).

The deadline this season for applying to enter the Earth-Based Judaism track is December 23, one week from today. You can file an application by clicking here:

I will be teaching the first course in the Earth-Based Judaism track: “Earth, Tanakh, and YHWH.”This course will begin on Monday evening (7:30 -9:30 Eastern US time), February 24, and will run for 13 sessions through to May 18. It is open only to students who have been accepted into the EBJ Program. EBJ students are automatically registered. The number of students is limited to 14, so that  I can provide serious attention to each student. Register now!

The course will explore Tanakh (the Hebrew Bible) as the spiritual expression of an earth-based people, most of whom were shepherds and farmers, who viewed a sacred relationship with the land as the most important aspect of their relationship with God. We will look at several major strands of that relationship:

  1. Celebrating the seasons rooted in the dance of Earth, Moon, and Sun.
  2. Regulating how farmers and shepherds worked the land. Especially addressing the danger of arrogant human over-reaching; biblical strategies for gentling that arrogance: parables like Eden and Manna, histories and stories like the Flood and Pharaoh’s Plagues, measures like Shabbat and Shmita, and visionary poetry like the Song of Songs;
  3. Celebrating and sacralizing the food that grew from the land, in the nearness-offerings of meat and vegetable food and in kashrut;
  4. Metaphors for God;
  5. Implications of these teachings for action today.

In the course, as we respond to these strands, we will especially be watching for teachings (necessarily midrashic) that might apply today to shaping prayer, study, public policy, and hands-on practice to address the climate crisis and extinction crisis.

The Earth-Based Judaism program is unique in Jewish life and so far as I know, may be in any present religious community. I look forward with excitement to teaching in it and to working with those who will begin as students and will become far more skilled healers of Earth. If this life-path calls to you, please apply at

Shalom, Arthur

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