Rabbi Arthur Waskow

Trees, Earth and Torah: How Jews Learned to Heal the Earth

waskow picTuB’shvat, the 15th day of the month of Hebrew month of Shvat, is often marked with a “TuB’Shvat Seder” for children and families; however, did you know that this day was originally a tax holiday and that the Seder in its original for was written by mystics living in Sefad Israel in the 1500’s? Today, TuB’shvat has become an important teaching tool for children and adults with its timely messages about ecological and environmental concerns.

Rabbi Waskow raises many questions in his presentation, such as:

          • What can we learn from the TuB’Shvat Seder ?
          • How come the Kabbalist mystics connected to a Tax Day?
          • What is the only ritual meal that doesn’t involve killing or uprooting any living thing?
          • What actions steps can we take to help the environment on TuB’shvat?
          • What does Judaism teach about our responsibility to the Earth and its environment?

Explore the tabs above for his biography, the webinar video, and more!

Rabbi Arthur Waskow, Ph. D., founded (in 1983) and directs The Shalom Center, a prophetic voice in Jewish and American life that brings Jewish and other spiritual thought and practice to bear on seeking peace, pursuing justice, healing the earth, and celebrating community. He edits and writes for its weekly on-line Shalom Report.

 In 2001, Waskow was presented with the Abraham Joshua Heschel Award by the Jewish Peace Fellowship. In 2005, he was named by the Forward, the leading Jewish weekly in America, one of the “Forward Fifty” as a leader of the Jewish community. In 2007, he was named by Newsweek one of the fifty most influential American rabbis.

He had primary editorial responsibility for two pioneering anthologies on eco-Judaism: With Ari Elon and Naomi Mara Hyman, he co-edited Trees, the Earth, and Torah: A Tu B’Shvat Anthology, a new addition to the classic “Festival Anthology” series of the Jewish Publication Society (1999). And he edited another anthology of texts and articles on eco-Judaism: Torah of the Earth: Exploring 4,000 Years of Ecology in Jewish Thought (2 vols., Jewish Lights, 2000).

Waskow has taught as a Visiting Professor in the religion departments of Swarthmore College, Temple University , Drew University on Judaism and the environment and on emerging feminist and neo-Hassidic theologies of Judaism in America; and Vassar College on the theology and practice of Jewish renewal and feminist Judaism.From 1982 to 1989, Rabbi Waskow was on the faculty of the Reconstructionist Rabbinical College and in 2008 taught the first course on Eco-Judaism ever given at a rabbinical seminary, at Hebrew Union College in New York City.

In 1993, Waskow cofounded ALEPH: Alliance for Jewish Renewal, From then till 2005, Waskow was first a Pathfinder and then the Tikkun Olam Fellow of ALEPH, through which he did research, wrote, and spoke to explore and deepen the renaissance of North American Jewish culture and community.

Waskow founded Menorah, a journal of Jewish renewal; from 1984 to 2004 was editor of the ALEPH quarterly journal New Menorah.

Waskow has taken a vigorously active role in a number of Jewish, multi-religious, and socially responsible email list-serves to discuss various issues in such a way as to unite spiritual and political concerns. He has created a treasury of midrash, prayer, and essays on contemporary issues in the same vein on the Shalom Center Website.

Waskow has spoken widely and led retreats and study groups at synagogues, universities, inter-religious convocations, and churches, on Jewish renewal, the meaning of recent religious upheavals throughout the world, the practice and meaning of the spiral of Jewish festivals, religious perspectives on environmental issues, and the spiritual roots of tikkun olam (action to heal the world).

He was born in Baltimore and has a BA from the Johns Hopkins University and a doctorate in United States history from the University of Wisconsin. Until 1968, Waskow was watching Judaism from the sidelines, but the Passover Seder and its connections to freedom and oppression inspired him to study more. As his study deepened, his life turned from a life in politics and public policy to rethinking Judaism and the intersection of its practice with American life.

In 1995, Waskow was ordained a Rabbi by a Beit Din under the auspices of ALEPH: Alliance for Jewish Renewal. It was made up of one Rabbi whose rabbinic lineage was Hassidic, one Conservative Rabbi, one Reform Rabbi, and a feminist theologian.

For a list of his books, CLICK HERE.

Video coming soon….