The Jewish community’s mandate to cultivate, protect and nurture the environment derives from the halakhah, and is informed by traditional Jewish sources. The biblical and Talmudic principle of Bal Tashhit, “Do not destroy,” is a principle that has been expanded in the halakhic tradition to proscribe all forms of environmental waste and damage.
Man must consider the consequences of his creative activities in the world, and avoid acts of wanton destruction in order to maintain a proper balance in the environment. The environment, like man, has certain unalienable rights, and these rights are endowed to it by the Creator. It is the obligation of society to respect and protect these rights.
The unprecedented growth of science and technology has become one of the chief characteristics of western civilization. However, the very success of technology threatens to become its undoing. Polluted air and water, littered landscape, an environment contaminated with impurities from radioactive strontium to waste detergents, all place not only the quality of life in jeopardy, but the very survival of many or all species, including the human.
Women’s League urges its members and Sisterhoods to become educated consumers and work within their communities to:
- Make use of recycling programs, or start your own.
- Reduce the amount of materials that will eventually become trash; pre-cycle by purchasing products that use less packaging.
- Discontinue the use of styrofoam (unless there is an available recycling facility for styrofoam products), plastic products, aerosol sprays, and pesticides in your synagogues and homes.
- Refrain from the use of materials harmful to animals, fish and birds, such as plastic bags, balloons, pesticides, 6-pack plastic rings, etc.
- Reduce energy and water consumption.
- Use car pools or mass transit, when possible.
- Press Congress for stricter auto emissions controls and urge auto manufacturers to build more fuel-efficient cars.
- Encourage conservation and forestry programs.
- Plant trees.
- Invest in environmentally sound corporations.
Environment Program (1990)
Women’s League for Conservative Judaism, mindful of the uniqueness of life and aware that man has the power to alter nature and exhaust natural resources by his action or its consequences, supports The World United Nations Environment Programme.
- Nature shall be respected and its essential processes shall not be impaired.
- The genetic viability on the earth shall not be compromised; the population levels of all life forms, wild and domesticated, must be at least sufficient for their survival; to this end, necessary habitats shall be safeguarded.
- All areas of the earth, both land and sea shall be subject to these principles of conservation; special protection shall be given to unique areas, to representative samples of all the different types of ecosystems and to the habitats of rare or endangered species.
- Ecosystems and organisms as well as the land, marine and atmospheric resources that are utilized by man, shall be managed to achieve and maintain optimum sustainable productivity, but not in such a way as to endanger the integrity of those other ecosystems or species with which they coexist.
- Nature shall be secured against degradation caused by warfare or other hostile activities.