Friday, August 15, 2008

Tikkun Olam Fridays

Every Friday I’m going to post on the concept of tikkun olam. It means ‘to repair the world’. While it’s the one Jewish teaching that most resonates with me, I believe it’s the catalyst behind the race to save humankind from global warming and all the catastrophes that entails. It’s a path that all religions and people of concern can share and practice.

The nice thing about tikkun olam is what Rabbi Tarfon, a sage of the first century AD says: you don’t have to finish the job, but it is your responsibility to start.

No whining that you can’t devote hours of time and money changing every light bulb in the house this weekend. Change one light bulb the next time one goes out. The first step is always the hardest.

So each Friday I’m going to ask “What did you do this week to repair the world?” What one little thing, or big thing, did you do to make a difference?

Did you:

  • Start to compost?
  • Make a donation to a cause?
  • Turn down or up the heat or AC?
  • Smile at a neighbor?
  • Read your local weekly, not big city daily, newspaper?
  • Read up on an ecological issue – but borrow the book from a library?
  • Write a letter to a Congressperson?
  • Decide not to buy something and save the money instead?

You get the picture. Each step can lead to another and another. We’ll grow in strength and move toward the positive. Together.

So here goes …

Mr. Local and I are joining a synagogue, Valley Beth Shalom in Encino, CA. Yesterday I went in to meet the rabbi in charge of The Green Team, which I’m going to join. Of course. We spent an hour (whoa, thank you Rabbi Farkas for your generous time) getting to know each other and riffing on all things green.

The meeting was supposed to be about what the synagogue’s plans were and how I might help out. What I left with was something more.

To paraphrase him, hopefully correctly, he said that going for the goals of recycling or traveling as a group to New Orleans to rebuild houses is great. But if we’re not getting to know and depend on each other along the way, if we’re just individuals lowering our own carbon footprint, than we haven’t built community. And that ultimately for him, and I agree, should be our goal.

A little bit of Torah/bible study/Koran/contemplation as I went out the door into the uncharacteristically humid California afternoon.

So pull out your tool kits (or borrow your neighbor’s), roll up your sleeves and let’s … start.


Natalie said...

I like the idea of Tikkun Olam Fridays! (I'm a little late on my own Do-Good Friday post. I've been bizzz-eeee!) I'll be the first to admit I know almost nothing about Judaism, but Tikkun Olam sounds really interesting. That's great that you're joining the synagogue's Green Team. I can't wait to read more about it.

As for me, well I guess my quick answer is that I donated to the March of Dimes (a neighbor came 'round collecting). But my Do-Good Friday post (when it finally gets up, maybe Monday) will be about trying to rally my low-vocal friends into action about the (endangered) endangered species act and offshore drilling.

crstn85 said...

It is so true that the first step is the hardest. I do so many things now out of habit, but I would have been overwhelmed at the idea of doing all of them a year ago. Developing a community of people with good habits is an excellent next step!

Bobbi said...

Natalie: rallying friends is good. Maybe getting the names/contact info for them so it makes it easier. I'm not a big letter writer so getting me out of that comfort zone takes gentle prodding.

crstn85: I'm excited about having a community in place. Re-inventing the wheel takes effort and this is a good way to meet like-minded people.

Thanks to both of you for your comments! Have a good week!