Editor’s Wrapup: Taking Heart
I am writing this on a frigid December day. Not only is the weather harsh, the plunging stock market, rising unem- ployment and home foreclosures add layers of gloom. Our tribal angst deepens as we discover how a once trusted financial broker has betrayed Jewish and other educational and charitable institutions. Finally, adding to the misery, Hamas ended last summer’s ceasefire—forcing Israel to strike back at Gaza to end the rocket barrages and military buildup.
How, then, can we lift our spirits? One way is to take heart from the determined young activists in the growing Jewish environmental movement. From New York to California, from Jerusalem to Eilat, leaders—nurtured at programs such as Adamah, Hazon and the Coalition on the Environment and Jewish Life—are joining their desire to build a more compassionate world with Judaism’s deepest values.
One of the programs Rahel Musleah explores in this theme issue is Kayam Farm, where Jews plant and teach. “The environmental crisis articulated as a spiritual crisis is powerful for me as a Jew,” explains Jakir Manela, Kayam’s director. “This is the issue of my generation. Of my son’s generation. It has really deep ramifications: What kind of world are we going to live in?”
Not only are Jews growing their own fruits and vegetables, but some are taking responsibility for procuring locally raised, pasture-fed animals and for more humane slaughter. Sue Fishkoff writes about new businesses with names like Kosher Conscience, where men and women are learning the meat business from the bottom up. Says Maya Shetreat-Klein of Mitzvah Meat, “The whole concept of Judaism is of being thoughtful and mindful about everything that you do, channeling the spirit of God through your action.”
So when the measure of dark appears to outweigh the light, it is time to look at the next generation—who have taken up the banner of tikkun olam and are running with it.