Judaism, Environmentalism and the Environment by Manfred Gerstenfeld

Published 1998 by the Jerusalem Institute for Israel Studies and Rubin Mass Ltd Jerusalem

This study discusses and reviews a broad question: “How does Judaism view modern  environmentalism and environmental matters?”

Environmentalism as we know it today has developed as a mainstream interest only in the latter half of this century. The significant hold which the subject of ‘environment’ has taken on global thinking in recent decades is the motive for this study.

‘Judaism’ can be defined for the purposes of this study as the world of thought of Jews – especially its religious aspects – and the precepts for action which flow therefrom. To a lesser extent, attention is given here to Judaism’s cultural and national thought.

‘Environmental matters’ include several areas, the main ones being man’s relation with living nature, his attitude and behavior toward animals, the use of natural resources, the effects of pollution and nuisance on third parties, and issues pertinent to the allocation of
space. This broad variety of issues gives rise to the complex and fragmented environmental discourse.

‘Modern environmentalism’ refers to the world of thought and action of those currents and individuals who consider protection of the ecosystem or the environment a central goal of society. Its time frame relates mainly to the last thirty-five years.

Aim of this study
In identifying Jewish attitudes to modern environmentalism, this study starts from and focuses on contemporary Jewish writings and the many references quoted in them from the Bible, Talmud etc.

The relevant material is dispersed over many publications in several languages, and has been collected and reviewed for this purpose. This study aims firstly to analyze the material on modern environmentalism and environmental issues written by Jewish authors in their capacity as Jews, spanning the past 25-30 years. The study’s second, equally important, aim is to explore how classical Judaism views environmental issues. This goal originates
in the fact that a number of matters which, today, are considered environmental have long had a place in Judaism.

Click here to read Judaism, Environmentalism and the Environment by Manfred Gerstenfeld

Comments are closed.