United Synagogue of Conservative Judaism: Environment (2003)
Generations come and go, political leadership changes, but "haaretz leolam omedet" - the earth is forever. As the matrix for all life, the earth is precious. This is a basic teaching of our Jewish tradition and certainly not that tradition alone. All people have the responsibility to care for the cradle of humanity and the home of future generations. Thus, United Synagogue calls upon the political leadership of our country to ensure that earth, its air and its seas and bounty, our environment be considered a first priority, to preserve it as a healthy and viable setting for our citizenry, and that any measure enacted be viewed within the perspective of what it will yield in terms of sound environment. Not unaware of the economic needs of our people, we posit that these needs can be addressed within the confines of sound, healthy, preservative policies. Progress in this generation, which erodes the environment, will be viewed with sadness and anger and as malice by future generations if our forests are denuded, our streams polluted, our air sickening our foodstuffs replete with health questionable substances. Growth of the economy cannot be at the expense of destruction of the natural bounty of our country. We urge, too, that our government make all efforts to inform the citizenry through objective and clear dissemination of information as to any policy changes, plans projected, activities anticipated where the environment and mother earth are concerned. Too, information on environmental happenings, from whatever causation or event, known to the government should be candidly shared with the populace... not alarmist but not reassuring when circumstance warrants full disclosure and cautionary measures in the interests of the citizenry. And we call upon our government to take the lead in international forums and other modes as well to convince other governments to this posture. For we all know that we are but sojourners on the earth, a blessing from God.

Suggested Discussion Questions:

1. What does "the world is forever" mean?

2. Can you think of examples when we thought we were progressive but realized later that we were engaging in harmful activity?

3. Who does this text call on to preserve the environment? What can we do to help?

Time Period: Contemporary (The Yom Kippur War until the present-day)