Environmental justice and social justice are epitomized in a biblical practice that few Jews are aware of, especially outside of Israel. Rabbi Gideon Shloush will discuss this ancient practice, shemitah, on Jan. 12 on Zoom.
Shemitah occurs every seventh year and is known as the Sabbath Year. During this year, the land in Israel lies fallow and all debts are forgiven.
Rabbi Shloush will speak about how these actions are carried out in Israel today and still enable Israelis to produce food to feed the population. He will explain how shemitah furthers Jewish ideals of environmental and social justice and love for the land of Israel.
The free program, “Shemitah and Environmental Justice,” will take place a few days before Tu b’Shevat, the Jewish holiday known as the New Year of the Trees. On the Jewish calendar, this is a shemitah year.
Shloush is the director of the Department of Jewish Heritage for the Keren Kayemet, a partner agency of the Jewish National Fund. He made aliyah to Israel earlier in the pandemic after serving for a couple of decades as rabbi of a congregation in Manhattan. As president of the New York Board of Rabbis, he has met with the pope and the United Nations’ secretary-general, as well as worked with White House staff members and many interfaith leaders. Rabbi Shloush has taught Bible and Judaic Studies for 17 years at Yeshiva University – Stern College for Women.
The program is being presented in partnership with the Community Relations Committee, a central part of the Jewish Alliance of Greater Rhode Island. The CRC’s goal is to heighten community awareness, inspire civic and social-justice engagement, encourage deliberation on key issues for the Jewish community and build meaningfu l partnership s with key stakeholders, such as elected officials, civic leaders and faith communities. Environmental justice has been a priority issue for the CRC for the past two years.
“Shemitah and Environmental Justice” takes place on Wednesday, Jan. 12, at 6 p.m. on Zoom, and is the fourth program in this year’s Israeli Culture Series, which takes place on the second Wednesday of each month. For more information, contact Amit Moshe Oren at 401-421-4111 or AOren@jewishallianceri.org. To register for the program, go to www.jewishallianceri.org/ICS-Shemitah.
LARRY KATZ (email@example.com) is the director of Jewish life and learning at the Jewish Alliance of Greater Rhode Island.