A Sabbath Prayer for Earth Day Given at Temple Israel, Minneapolis, April 22, 2022

by Alliance President Terry Gips

Shabbat Shalom. At Shabbat we celebrate two things: The Creation of the World and Freedom from Slavery.

In other words, each Shabbat is a holy day combining both Earth Day – a celebration of God creating our world, and Passover, marking our freedom from the slavery of Egypt and all things, including consumption.

So, what makes this Sabbath night different than all others? Because we’re celebrating this actual Earth Day and the end of Passover…and matzah.

All of this is incorporated into the concept of sustainability, which has always been part of Jewish teachings, even though the term has only been with us about 40 years.

At the Alliance for Sustainability, we created one of the first definitions: ecologically sound, economically viable, socially just and humane, embodying our highest values in terms of how we treat people, animals and the planet.

Speaking of our planet, did you know that every astronaut has said it was a transformative experience seeing the Earth as one whole, interconnected ecosystem with no political boundaries whatsoever?

US Astronaut Edgar Mitchell said, “My view of our planet was a glimpse of divinity.”

German Astronaut Sigmund Jahn said, “Before I flew I was already aware of how small and vulnerable our planet is; but only when I saw it from space, in all its ineffable beauty and fragility, did I realize that human kind’s most urgent task is to cherish and preserve it for future generations.”

So how can we preserve our sacred home, free us from the Pharaoh of fossil fuel and bring about sustainability?

If each of us recycles and composts we can save massive amounts of energy, equivalent to getting rid of 21% of US coal-fired power plants.

One of the biggest things we can do is to reduce our meat consumption. It contributes to 18% of all global warming.

Please consider having a Meatless Monday at home and work or join me in having an organic, plant-based diet. It’s good for your health, the planet and your pocketbook.

You can save 25% at the gas pump by “eco-driving” with properly inflated tires, following the speed limit and avoiding sudden stops and starts.

We can break free of the Pharaohs of political tyrants and oil companies while saving money, being healthier and have a thriving, safe Mother Earth.

Happy Earth Day and Shabbat Shalom.  

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