Thursday, June 09, 2005

The time draws near and nerves are building

In a few short months Maxwell will be chanting Havdalah at Lichterman nature center with his close friends and family. Many of them will never have been a part of a Jewish ceremony before because many of our close friends and family are not Jewish. I know Max is nervous, but it occurs to me that the guests may be nervous too! In an effort to prepare and educate anyone who's reading this blog (you really must go do something more productive) and is also invited to the ceremony, I'd like to give you a few basics in Judaism.

For an explanation of the Havdala service:

Judaism embraces the concepts of preseving nature and repairing the world or "Bal Tashchit" and "Tikun Olam". Our family is not as religious as some and no longer keeps Kosher, but we're more religious than others. We focus on conscious living and though we do some things that are against Jewish teaching, we do them not in ignorance, but in full and conscious choice. We spent as much time discussing if/how/why to stop keeping Kosher as we did when we began keeping Kosher! Similarly, building trail is something that doesn't just happen magically. We discuss the trips and decide which trip we'll participate in. With fuel prices at $2.00, it's not responsible to jump in the van and head to Missouri or Arkansas for a trail build or maintenance each time it's posted. We value our time as a family, value our financial and environmental resources and choose to participate in at least one trail build per month. It is true that Max's interest has waned dramatically in the last year. He's logged his hours and he's ready to stay closer to home, but he has had the experience and he knows how to push himself to finish a project even when the luster has worn off.

Caring for and repairing the world is like that; the work has to continue long after the luster has worn off. There is little, if any, recognition for slogging through muck and mire to repair a foot bridge or water bar. The challenge, and I hope Max's guests leave with this thought, is that we each can make a conscious choice in our daily life to help repair and care for the world. It doesn't have to be driving five and a half hours to build hiking trail in a remote area without running water. It can be as simple as walking to the corner store instead of driving or refilling water bottles instead of purchasing another case. For more information on the Jewish slant on environmentalism: and

Jewish Folk TaleTwo men were fighting over a piece of land. Each claimed ownership and bolstered his claim with proof. To resolve their differences, they agreed to put the case before the rabbi. The rabbi listened but could not come to a decision because both seemed to be right. Finally he said, " Since I cannot decide to whom this land belongs, let us ask the land.' He put his ear to the ground and after a moment straightened up. 'Gentlemen, the land says that it belongs to neither of you - but that you belong to it.'

Please find one simple way today to care for the earth that supports you.

B'Shalom (In Peace),


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