By Morris Panitz
Program Director, Kayam Farm
Kermit the Frog has been misquoted! Sure, he said “It’s not easy being green,” but, if you listen to the whole song, you’ll remember that’s not all he said. After recounting the difficulties of “being green,” he shifted his attitude and sang (or croaked):
But green‘s the color of Spring
And green can be cool and friendly-like
And green can be big like an ocean, or important
Like a mountain, or tall like a tree.
Kermit looked himself in the mirror and realized that “being green” can be understood much more broadly than he once imagined. Let’s join Kermit on that journey of self-realization (yes, I realize Kermit is a Muppet) and expand our notion of what it means to live a green life. Here, we can turn to our tradition for insight into how to live an environmentally and socially conscious life.
As Abraham Joshua Heschel famously said, “Wonder rather than doubt is the root of all knowledge.” When we take the time to notice the beauty of nature, the complexity and interconnectedness of the living world and the simple fact that we are living, loving creatures, we create the foundation for a life of awe and amazement, gratitude and awareness. With this foundation, we encounter the world and strive for solutions to the social and environmental issues that threaten our sustainability.
We mistakenly think that environmental and social causes belong in different conversations; whereas, in reality, the interconnectedness of our social and environmental issues demands our full, undivided attention. While pesticides degrade our soil and contaminate our water sources, poisoning vital soil biology and aquatic life, poor communities suffer the health consequences of cheaply produced, processed food and contaminated water. When we advocate for fair distribution of food, we must also ask the fundamental questions of how that food is grown and at what cost to the health of our planet. Being green and being a social justice advocate are two sides of the same coin.
Our Jewish calendar and the holidays we celebrate throughout are based on the natural cycles of our planet and the agricultural rhythms our ancestors knew so well. Imagine a Judaism that went beyond Tu B’Shvat as the only day of the year in which we examine our connection to the Earth. As we celebrate Sukkot in the upcoming holiday season, let’s reclaim the agricultural roots of the holiday. Known as the Harvest Festival, Sukkot is a time to express our gratitude for the water that animates life, the food that sustains us and the opportunity to gather as community to celebrate our countless blessings.
When green is all there is to be
It could make you wonder why, but why wonder why
Wonder, I am green and it’ll do fine, it’s beautiful
And I think it’s what I want to be