In the past decades environmentalism has emerged as one of Western society's major ideologies. It groups previously existing and new environment-related concerns within a single area of interest. This has also led to the rapid development of the new academic field of environmental studies. The interaction and meeting points of Judaism and environmental issues are dispersed over a vast, largely uncharted area. One salient aspect of this is that there are tens of thousands of references in Tanakh, Mishna, Talmud, and Midrash literature to what we now call "environmental" motifs.
Jewish environmental studies could encompass disciplines such as Jewish environmental history, Jewish environmental law, the environment in the Hebrew Bible and later classical Jewish texts, Jewish environmental thought, Jewish environmental ethics, the sociology of Jewish environmental activism, the analysis of external perspectives, and several others.
Presented here are a sampling of materials from the growing field of Jewish environmental studies:
- Technology and Jewish Life, by
Manfred Gerstenfeld and Avraham Wyler (Jewish Political Studies Review 18:1-2, Spring 2006)
- Environmental Change in the Messianic Era, by
Manfred Gerstenfeld (Jewish Environmental Perspectives, No. 6, March 2003)
- Nature and the Environment in Hasidic Sources, by
Manfred Gerstenfeld and Netanel Lederberg (Jewish Environmental Perspectives, No. 5, October 2002)
- Judaism's Approach to Environmental Quality, by
Yehudah Leo Levi (Jewish Environmental Perspectives, No. 4, April 2002)
- The Tanakh (Hebrew Bible) and the Environment, by
Manfred Gerstenfeld (Jewish Environmental Perspectives, No. 3, January 2002)
- Jewish Perspectives on Genetic Engineering, by
Akiva Wolff (Jewish Environmental Perspectives, No. 2, October 2001)
- Jewish Environmental Studies: A New Field, by Manfred Gerstenfeld (Jewish Environmental Perspectives, No. 1, April 2001)
- The Ultra-Orthodox Community and Environmental Issues, by Manfred Gerstenfeld and Avraham Wyler (Jerusalem Viewpoints, no. 415, October 1999)
- Neo-Paganism in the Public Square and its Relevance
to Judaism, by
Manfred Gerstenfeld (Jewish Political Studies Review, Spring 1999)
Judaism and the Environment
by Manfred Gerstenfeld
Policy Study No. 23, Institute of the World Jewish Congress, in cooperation with the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs (2001)
The development of the emerging discipline of Jewish environmental studies can contribute to much more than scientific progress alone: it can stimulate and enrich environmental activism and discourse in Israel and among world Jewry. It will also enable Judaism to participate as a more articulate partner in the developing inter-faith discussion.