Judaisms and Ecology: Visions, Voices and Practices

School of Consciousness and Transformation PAR 6369 1.00

Jewish visions of nature are as plural and dynamic as Judaism itself!  This course will introduce students to that dynamism and offer windows into thinking about the many interpretations of the human-nature relationship that have evolved over a large span of time and a wide range of social, political, historical and bio-regional contexts.  We will look at biblical, rabbinic, medieval, modern and contemporary sources, paying attention to those voices and moments where ideas of nature have been emphasized and debated.  At the same time, we will pay considerable attention to what many call "eco-Judaism" today.  What does it mean to farm "Jewishly?"  How are ideas of keeping kosher being debated and re-interpreted in the context of  "green," ethical eating and climate change.  How is "eco-Judaism" being deployed politically?  Given that many understand Judaism as a tradition of practice more than "belief," we will examine how, in the 21st century, sacred texts, home-based practices and holidays are being re-conceived by those whose Jewish identities are deeply interwoven with their ecological commitments.  Our scholarly work will be deepened and supplemented by experiential exercises and contemplative practice.

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