6 Ways to Enjoy Rosh Hashanah Sustainably


By Joan D. Plisko, Ph.D., Community Sustainability Director, Pearlstone

As we reflect on our personal actions and look toward the year ahead, it is an appropriate time to contemplate our relationship with Earth and our roles as stewards of G!d’s creation. G!d created the first human beings and led them around the Garden of Eden and said:

“Look at my works! See how beautiful they are – how excellent! For your sake I created them all. See to it that you do not spoil and destroy My world; for if you do, there will be no one else to repair it” (Midrash Ecclesiastes Rabbah 7:13).

From the onset, Jewish tradition teaches us that when we do not preserve the environment, we not only destroy life, but we diminish G!d’s presence in the world. As we enter 5780, I encourage each and every one of us to examine the small and large changes we can make that will create a deeper connection and benefit to Earth. Here are a few suggestions:

Buy Local: Enjoying the sweetness of Rosh Hashanah is synonymous with apples dipped in honey. To reduce the apple’s foodprint (i.e., environmental impact, or footprint, including the amount of land required to grow, the amount of carbon dioxide produced, if the food is organic, and if it is local), venture to a local orchard and pick your own organic apples! Alternatively, visit a farmer’s market to buy juicy local apples. Pick-up some local honey too!

Year ahead > Can you commit to buying more local food throughout the year?

Forest Bathe: One of my favorite rituals of Rosh Hashanah is Tashlich – a time to enjoy nature and cast away the sins of the past year. This year consider a deliberate walk in the woods and forest bathe – walking through the trees, soaking in the experience through your senses (note: this is not exercise, or hiking, or jogging), and ending up at a local river or stream.

Year ahead > Learn more about the watershed where you live and ways to help preserve it.

Zero Waste: A traditional and bountiful meal is the perfect opportunity to prevent waste. Serve a mouth-watering meal using only reusable dishes, cups, cutlery and napkins; and prepare only the amount of food you and your friends and family can eat in an effort to eliminate food waste.

Year ahead > Reduce/eliminate using plastic water bottles, plastic bags, straws and more.

Turn Up the Ambience: To save energy, dine by candlelight using soy or beeswax candles. Also, get creative and use items found around your home or yard to accentuate your holiday table.

Year ahead > Grab a sweater and turn down the thermostat over the winter! You will be amazed at how much energy you can save by lowering the temperature a few degrees.

Dress for Earth’s Success: Thinking of buying one more outfit to wear? Consider these alternatives: swap clothes with friends, buy something new (to you) at a consignment store or purchase a new accessory such as a scarf or tie to accentuate an outfit you already have.

Year ahead > Borrow, trade, swap or visit a tool bank (i.e., an organization that lends tools to community members) to get the items you need. Get creative and also donate unwanted clothes, tools, books and other items to local nonprofits.

Take Earth Action!: During your amazing holiday celebration, discuss environmental issues and focus on actions you can make individually and collectively. Use your pen, keyboard, voice or organizing skills to become a Jewish environmental advocate.

Year ahead > Join other Jewish Environmental enthusiasts via the Pearlstone Sustainability Coalition.

About the coalition: Launched in 2015, and currently chaired by Pearlstone Board Member, Delegate Dana Stein, the Pearlstone Sustainability Coalition facilitates the coming together of individuals and organizations to promote and foster our collective vision, A culture where sustainability and environmental health are integral to Baltimore’s Jewish community.

Have a healthy, sweet, and low impact year!

For more information or to share your Jewish environmental actions, please reach out to Joan Plisko, Community Sustainability Director, Pearlstone.

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