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Torah teaches us that every seven years we are to give the land a rest and forgive all debts. This is known as the Shmita or Sabbatical year. The next Sabbatical year will begin on Rosh Hashanah 5782.

Thousands of years ago, no one could have imagined how we harvest earth’s resources today. We tear down mountain tops for coal, drill down over a mile for oil and gas bringing up radioactive and toxic materials buried for millions of years, overharvest our oceans for food, cut down entire forests for paper goods, carelessly allow plastic to fill our oceans and the stomachs of innocent oceanic wildlife, and fill the air with toxic chemicals. In the last 150 years, humans have changed the earth’s environment at a rate unprecedented in the history of our planet. 

Human beings are consuming our planet’s resources faster than the planet can replenish them, creating a debt, borrowing from future generations. God created a planet in balance for sustaining life. Life on the planet depends on this intricate balance of systems to survive. We have borrowed too much and upset this delicate balance. 

We have a small window of opportunity to change our lifestyle to protect God’s creation, for if we do not, it will be too late. Prioritizing care for creation this coming Sabbatical year, 5782, is more important than ever.
Rockdale’s Environmental Committee is asking that for one year, the Shmita year 5782, the entire Temple—every part of every aspect of Temple being, from every person 5 to 105—give our natural resources a rest and reduce the debt we are burdening our children and our children’s children with for generations to come. We are encouraging each person to change one behavior each month, to get outside and enjoy nature, to not put toxins in the water, air, and in our bodies, and to live intentionally to take better care of our wonderful world.

The Environmental Committee has been meeting with our rabbis, staff, and committees to develop a calendar of fun and meaningful activities throughout the coming Shmita year. Please join us on this purposeful journey to give creation a rest and release our resources from debt for 
one year. 

Begin the journey this summer by spending time outdoors to gain an appreciation and love for our wondrous natural world. Without that appreciation and love, the next generation will not understand what we are losing, or what we have already lost, when we do not “tend and keep” (Genesis 2:15) the miracle of creation. Go for a walk in a park, search for creatures hiding under rocks and leaves, notice the many varieties of plants in the woods, and stop, smell, and listen to our living world. 

In our great state of Ohio we have 77 State Parks, 17 State Forests, 20 State Memorials, 4 State Nature Preserves, 2 State Reserves, 15 State Wildlife Areas, a National Park, a National Forest, 2 National Memorials, 2 National Historic Parks, 3 National Wildlife Refuges, 3 Metro Parks and numerous County and City Parks! 
Spend some time this summer discovering the wonders of the world we live in. Let us work together to preserve it for the next generations to come.

Joanne Gerson
Chair, Environmental Committee

Wed, July 24 2024 18 Tammuz 5784