Religions of the World and Ecology home

Tsvi Blanchard is an ordained rabbi with doctorates in philosophy and psychology. He taught philosophy of science and Jewish studies at Washington University. He has also served as the principal of the Ida Crown Jewish Academy in Chicago. Presently, Blanchard is a senior teaching fellow at the National Jewish Center for Learning and Leadership (CLAL), a Jewish think tank and leadership-oriented community organization group based in Manhattan and active throughout North America. His recent publications include How Stories Heal and Joining Heaven and Earth: Maimonides on the Laws of Visiting the Sick.


Abstract of paper given at Judaism and Ecology conference:
Can Judaism Make Environmental Policy? Sacred and Secular Language in Jewish Environmental Discourse

This paper addresses the question: Given the primarily non-Jewish and secular international language of contemporary environmental policy discussions, is there a role for the language of classical Jewish texts in formulating global ecological approaches? To answer this question, I examine three types of texts: one whose language blends the secular and the sacred, the second whose language exhibits a "secularizing shift" and a third whose language is primarily but not wholly secular. In considering these texts, I offer neither a Jewish environmental theology nor a phenomenology of a Jewish religious experience of nature. Instead, I argue for models of classical Jewish policy discourse which allow Jews to participate in more secular "universal" ecological debates while at the same time retaining a meaningful place for the religious dimension of Judaism.

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