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February 27, 2004 - Image 24

Resource type:
The Detroit Jewish News, 2004-02-27

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or Rabbi Fred Scherlinder
Dobb, Judaism and envi-
ronmentalism go hand in
Referencing a variety of Jewish texts,
Rabbi Dobb, the Rabbinic Fellow for
the Coalition On the Environment and
Jewish Life, spoke Feb. 11 at Temple
Beth Emeth about the Jewish imperative
for environmental responsibility.
The environmental movement didn't
start with Earth Day or with the writ-
ings of Henry David Thoreau, he said,
but has roots in texts as far back as
One of a handful of rabbis who focus
their studies on environmental issues,
Rabbi Dobb emphasized the responsibil-
ity set forth in Genesis to maintain or .
improve the Earth instead of negatively
impacting it. He also cited the com-
mandment of not wasting — bal tash-
chit — that focuses on the importance
of living in a "right relationship" with
God's Earth.
"The key theme is humility," he said.
"It's about taking up a little less space
than we think we may be entitled to and
leaving room for others ... for other
species, for future generations."
Rabbi Dobb, who juggled three small
globes while reciting facts about the
depletion of natural resources and the
current dangers facing the environment,
charged audience members to think
about their responsibility — Jewishly
and globally — to make choices that
positively affect the environment.
"I want you to think about what it's
like to have the whole world in your
hands," he said, passing the globes
around the room. "There's always some-
thing more that we can do — the path
is clear and open; the choice is ours."


A Reconstructionist rabbi from
Washington, D.C., Rabbi Dobb is on
sabbatical, visiting congregations and
communities to discuss the connections
between Judaism and the environment.
In addition to speaking in Ann Arbor,
he spent time in Lansing, West
Bloomfield and Royal Oak.

Rabbi Fred Dobb juggles small Earth
balls to emphasize the need to care for
the environment.

"Judaism as a whole has much to
teach us about sustainable actions in a
time of ecological concern," he said.
'And that's not a movement issue, that's
not 'Orthodox Judaism says' or 'Reform
Judaism says.'"
Environmental concerns also play a
role in the way many young Jewish peo-
ple view themselves and their relation-
ship to the world, Rabbi Dobb said.
"A lot of people, especially young
folks, intuitively understand the urgency
of the environmental crisis and see it as
the dominating issue of the future," he
said. "In our communal efforts to
strengthen Jewish identity and affiliation,
we need to highlight Jewish concern for
the world and for the big picture."

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