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Psalm Hike, 7/9, 9am, at the Washington Park Arboretum

Come to the forest to experience the psalms.
Join Ahavat v'Avodat HaAdamah (Beth Shalom's environmental group) on a hike in the Washington Park Arboretum led by Rich Brodsky and Tamar Libicki. We will be pausing periodically during our hike to read or sing select psalms that recognize the awe-inspiring power of the natural world. "How many are the things You have made, O LORD; You have made them all with wisdom; the earth is full of Your creations." (ps.104 v.24). No hiking experience necessary to explore this trail. Meet at 9am in the main parking lot, hike will last about two hours.

Honi's Circle


Ḥoni's Circle is a climate chevruta (partner text study), in which Rabbi Paula Rose and Tamar Libicki explore Jewish texts from the Torah, the Talmud, and Commentaries to grapple with climate change. Every two weeks, we will release a new 15-minute episode with its own source sheet, allowing listeners to study along with the discussion. This Podcast is a project of Congregation Beth Shalom and Ahavat V'Avodat HaAdama, our community's environmental group.

Listen to the Podcast

Episode 10:

In this week's episode of Ḥoni's Circle we study the story of Elijah's flight from Jezebel, his deep despair over the children of Israel's abandonment of the covenant with G-d, and G-d's revelation in the "small still voice". We find parallels in Elijah's anguish and our own climate despair, and look in the passage for coping inspirations. Follow along with the source sheet here:


Episode 9:

In this week's episode of Ḥoni's Circle, we we juxtapose two texts from Pirkei Avot and the Zohar about trees and Torah study. We discuss how these texts see the relationship between Torah study and appreciation of the natural world. Are they antagonistic, hierarchically ranked, or can we hold them both as a holistic system informing each other? We also discuss the Mishnaic times as being a period of existential threat to Jewish culture, and the parallels we can draw about how we relate to our current existential threat of species extinction. Follow along with the source sheet here:

Episode 8

In this week's episode of Ḥoni's Circle, we study a section of Maasechet Brachot where Ben Zoma enumerates all the steps that lead to a loaf of bread or a piece of clothing. We discuss how, implicit in this text, there is a sense of gratitude for the entire community of artisans active in the process of providing our daily needs, and relate this to climate change by acknowledging that we need a community to provide for everyone and work for a livable world, but also that we should keep in mind our own work as fitting into the work that the entire community is doing to fight climate change. Follow along with the source sheet here:

*The book that Rabbi Rose mentioned in the episode was "Thanks a Thousand: A Gratitude Journey" By A.J. Jacobs. 

Episode 7

In this week's episode of Ḥoni's Circle, we study side by side the descriptions of the Burning Bush and Mount Sinai at the giving of the Torah. We discuss how the fire in both circumstances cultivated attention and awe, but how in the case of Mount Sinai also cohered the people with a shared experience that was necessary for them to embark on the communal mission of nationhood, similarly to how large scale disasters have mobilized the global community to act on climate. We also touch on the idea of using controlled burns to manage forests being represented by the Burning Bush. Follow along with the source sheet here:

Episode 6

In this week's episode of Ḥoni's Circle, we study a section from Vayikrah in which Nadav and Avihu, the sons of Aaron, are consumed by divine fire after bringing "strange fire" into the new tabernacle. We talk about this story from a few angles including the need for humility, how one conveys one's story being important to its acceptance, and how the disasters of climate change can feel like a mismatch to the small actions of our every day lives. Follow along with the source sheet here:


Episode 5

In this week's episode of Ḥoni's Circle, we study a section from Dvarim (that also appears in the second paragraph of the daily Shema) about how in the land of Israel the weather and consequently agricultural yields depend on fidelity to G-d and the commandments. We talk about how this section has become meaningful in the context of climate change both for individual and communal responsibility, techno optimism and its doubters, and reaching for coping mechanisms when it comes to facing the enormity of global changes. Follow along with the source sheet here:

Episode 4

In this week's episode of Ḥoni's Circle, we study the verse, shortly after the flood, that allows people to eat animals. Alongside the verse, we read commentaries by Ḥizkuni and Breishit Rabbah that initially seem to hold contradictory opinions about the roles of humans and animals in creation. In the end, both commentaries are strong arguments for ecological and species preservation. Follow along with the source sheet here:

Episode 3

In this week's episode of Ḥoni's Circle, we return to Ḥoni the Circle Maker, (our namesake), and another story in Mishna Ta'anit about the Talmudic Rip Van Winkle. We discuss what this story can tell us about living for future generations, appreciation of nature and the work of our ancestors, and the power of dreaming. Follow along with the source sheet here:

Episode 2

Episode 1

Care for the Earth

Beth Shalom is a member of Greening Congregations with Earth Ministry/Washington Interfaith Power and Light. This means that Beth Shalom has set for itself goals for how to be more environmentally friendly in the year to come. We have set goals in the following five fields: worship, education, building and grounds, community engagement, and faithful advocacy. Being a Greening Congregation also includes us in a network of interfaith congregations who encourage each other to increase their care for the earth.

Beth Shalom's earth care group is called Ahavat v’Avodat HaAdamah (AAA), meaning “Love and Service of the Earth.” We will be hosting a series of events throughout the year from adult education and themed kiddush lunches to religious school curriculum and young family programming. These will be on the calendar and publicized through the Beth Shalom newsletter. If you would like to be on the AAA email list, to lead an AAA event, or just ask questions about Greening Congregations, please email Tamar Libicki.

Tree of Life

The Eitz Chaim, or Tree of Life is a visual representation of Environmental Actions that the CBS and its members are currently taking. On the tree in the CBS lobby, you will find leaves with gold writing on them. You will see a small or large step we are taking as a community to protect our environment. The goal of this project is to get our members thinking about actions they can take in their own lives and get us talking to each other about ways of improving our consumption, transportation, travel, construction, etc. Ideally once the tree is full of action-leaves, if you want to replace your roof, or offset your plane travel, or change your diet, you can look at the tree and find a CBS member who can give you advice based on what they are currently doing. We hope that the Eitz Chaim will create a culture of celebrating and pursuing sustainable living.

Click here to fill out a form with environmental actions you and your family are taking, so leaves can be put up on the tree in the lobby on behalf of your efforts, and you can share your knowledge with the community.

Shmita Project Northwest

Shmita Project Northwest, a collaboration between Congregation Beth Shalom and Earth MinistryWashington Interfaith Power and Light seeks to educate, inspire, and build community around bringing Shmita to life. Also known as the Year of Release, the Shmita Year invites each of us to re-examine our relationship with the earth, with the Divine, and with one another. Find out more here

Thu, June 8 2023 19 Sivan 5783