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Judaism and Ecology


February 22-24, 1998


  • Opening Session
  • Interdisciplinary Reflections
  • Toward a Contemporary Jewish Theology of the Natural World
  • The Mystical Tradition
  • Nature and Moral Obligation
  • The Bible through an Ecological Prism
  • Nature and Human Obligation
  • Creation and Nature
  • Modern Jewish Thought
  • Nature and the Environment
  • The Engaged Community


Opening Session


Welcome and Introduction:


Lawrence Sullivan, Harvard Center for the Study of World Religions


Mary Evelyn Tucker and John Grim, Bucknell University


Steven Shaw, Jewish Theological Seminary


Moshe Sokol, Touro College


Interdisciplinary Reflections


Moderator - Michael Paley, UJA Federation, New York


Ismar Schorsch, Jewish Theological Seminary - Judaism and Nature: Some Critical Reflections


Lawrence Rasmussen, Union Theological Seminary - New Directions in Theological Ethics, Nature and the Environment


J. Baird Callicott, University of North Texas - Current Issues in Environmental Philosophy


Toward a Contemporary Jewish Theology of the Natural World


Moderator - Mitchell Thomashow, Antioch New England Graduate Center


Michael Fishbane, University of Chicago


Arthur Green, Brandeis University


Nature in Winter: A Brief Ecological Field Trip (Part I) - Steve Shaw, Dan Swartz, and Michal Smart


The Mystical Tradition


Chair - Everett Gendler, Andover, Massachusetts


Yehuda Gellman, Ben Gurion University of the Negev, Israel - Buber's Bluff: On the Attitude of Early Hasidism to the World and Nature


Shaul Magid, Jewish Theological Seminary - Nature and Disability: The Natural World in Nahman of Bratzlav's "Tale of The Seven Beggars"


Elliot Wolfson, New York University - The Mirror of Nature in the Jewish Mystical Tradition


Respondent - Hava Tirosh-Samuelson, Indiana University


Nature and Moral Obligation: Theoretical Perspectives


Chair - Roger Gottlieb, Worcester Polytechnical Institute


Lenn Evan Goodman, Vanderbilt University - Respect for Nature in the Jewish Tradition


Shalom Rosenberg, Hebrew University, Jerusalem - Torah and Nature: On the Functionality of "Nature"


Moshe Sokol, Touro College - What are the Ethical Implications of Jewish Theological Conceptions of Nature?


Respondent - Barry Kogan, Hebrew Union College, Cincinnati


The Bible through an Ecological Prism


Daniel Hillel, Center for Environmental Studies, Karkur, Israel - The Bible through an Ecological Prism


Nature and Human Obligation: Biblical and Theological Reflections


Chair - Eric Katz, New Jersey Institute of Technology


Tsvi Blanchard, CLAL - Can Judaism Make Environmental Policy? Sacred and Secular Language in Jewish Environmental Discourse


Evan Eisenberg, Leverett, Massachusetts - The Ecology of Eden


Tikva Frymer-Kensky, University of Chicago - "Leshev" and Gaia: The Limits of Biblical Ecology


Respondent - Eilon Schwartz, The Hebrew University, Jerusalem


Creation and Nature


Chair - David Shatz, Yeshiva University


Stephen Geller, Jewish Theological Seminary - Nature's Answer: Creation and Theodicy in the Bible


Neil Gillman, Jewish Theological Seminary - Liturgical Transformations of the Creation Stories


David Novak, University of Toronto - The Doctrine of Creation and the Idea of Nature


Respondent - Jon Levenson, Harvard University


An Evening with Edward O. Wilson, Harvard University


Chair - Paul Gorman, National Religious Partnership for the Environment


Nature in Winter: A Brief Ecological Field Trip (Part II) - Steve Shaw, Dan Swartz, and Michal Smart


Modern Jewish Thought


Chair - David Szonyi, Jewish Theological Seminary


Benjamin Ish Shalom, Bet Morasha, Jerusalem - Nature in the Thought of Rabbi Abraham Isaac Kook


Edward Kaplan, Brandeis University - Reverence and Responsibility: Abraham Joshua Heschel on Nature and The Self


Respondent - Susan Shapiro, Columbia University


Nature and the Environment: Perspectives from the Rabbinic Tradition


Chair - Lawrence Troster, CLAL


Eliezer Diamond, Jewish Theological Seminary - How Much Is Too Much? The Problem of Conventional Versus Individual Pollution Standards in Rabbinic Law


David Kraemer, Jewish Theological Seminary - Jewish Death Practices: A Commentary on the Relationship of Humans to the Natural World


Respondent - Saul Berman, Yeshiva University


The Engaged Community: Reflections by Jewish Environmental Practitioners


Chair - Rachel Cowan, The Nathan Cummings Foundation


Daniel Swartz, National Religious Partnership for the Environment


Mark Jacobs, Coalition on the Environment & Jewish Life


Michal Smart, Camp Isabella Freedman


Jeremy Benstein, Heschel Center for Nature Studies, Israel