A Greener Bar Mitzvah with Yours Truly on PBS Religion and Ethics NewsWeekly

Featured above is “the Greener Bar Mitzvah” clip that will be featured on PBS’s Religion and Ethics NewsWeekly show this weekend featuring  me along with Rabbi Lawrence Troster, Director, Fellowship Program at Greenfaith Interfaith Partners for the Environment.  It is only three minutes.

What’s the big deal about a green bar mitzvah? Let’s face it. Bar mitzvahs tend to be as lavish and  as costly as weddings. Even nonjewish children want to have a bat or bar mitzvah since the party is so much fun.  Being 13 and having 200 of your closest friends party with you. Who wouldn’t want this?  Talk about huge carbon footprint.

But seriously, being bar or bat mitzvahed is hard work and a very important day in the life of a young man or woman.  Jacob attended Hebrew school since he was in kindergarten.  He studied intensively for a year with the Rabbi and Cantor to read a portion of the Torah and to learn to lead the service.  To give you a point of reference how hard this is, normally the Hebrew language has vowel markers under the letter so you can pronounce the letters. In  the Torah there are no markers so basically you are memorizing your portion.  This is no easy feat. On top of this, the child leads the service Friday and Saturday.  Talk about being nervous.

But why green the bar mitzvah besides the obvious reasons of reducing our carbon footprint?  Judaism is very connected to the environment.

The Coalition on the Environment and Judaism states:

“Many mitzvot (commandments) found in the Bible and laws found in the Talmud instruct us to protect what the Jewish tradition views as “God’s creation”– the totality of the physical world in which we live. Bal tashchit (do not waste) teaches us to conserve resources. Shiluach ha-keyn (chasing away the mother bird) teaches us to safeguard all species. Shmita (sabbatical year) teaches us that economic justice and ecological sustainability are intimately related. And Shabbat reminds us that we are but one strand in the web of creation. When we consider the state of the environment today in light of these mitzvot and values, it is clear that we have an urgent Jewish mission to establish a more healthy and sustainable relationship between human beings and the rest of God’s creation.”

The video only highlights some of what I did.  The website has some of my ideas on how to green your bar mitzvah or any affair for that matter. Is a book in the works? I am working on a manuscript to present to a publisher.   For those of you who have written books, I don’t know how you do it. I need book coaching.

I want to thank PBS and especially Noelle Serper,  associate producer  at Religion and Ethics NewsWeekly who interviewed me for this piece.  Her crew took 9 hours of footage and condensed it to 3 minutes to inspire others to green their affairs.  She was wonderful to work with.  Most importantly, I want to thank my family who puts up with my pushing the green envelope in life.  Our family life could easily be a reality show of how much tugging and pulling goes on in our household over being green. (Remember my post about the candy box showing up in the trash and my first reaction why wasn’t that recycled rather than being upset it was candy?)

If you can, please go to the PBS site and leave a message as well as rate it.  (Click on the fifth star to rate it. I made the mistake of clicking on any star and that was what it was rated.)   I just want Noelle to know what a great job she did.

In addition, to check when the entire program is aired,  see here.

As always, please support your local PBS station since their programing is outstanding.

Let me hear your thoughts about greening our parties?  What have you done?

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    Never seen a Bar Mitzvah that was done that way, this is very creative way to do things greener… I guess we can implement it into every other aspect of our lives. By the way, the shmita is still kept today in Israel, although not by any farmer.

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    What a great video! My daughter recently became a Bat Mitzvah. The affair was not as green as I would have liked it to be. My younger daughter’s Bat Mitzvah is in 2 years and I plan on showing her this video. She is very interested in environmental issues. I think your example will really spark her imagination. Thanks!


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