From our ancient texts we learn that Judaism speaks out against wasteful consumption of nature’s resources. The concept of bal tashchit (do not destroy; do not waste) has been a guiding rabbinic principle based on Deuteronomy 20:19-20, which admonishes the warrior not to destroy the trees of a city under siege. Over time, that admonition has been extended to include all careless consumption of nature’s bounty.
Maimonides in the Mishnah Torah, speaks of the laws of discernment and the ethical efficacy of bal tashchit and its function to train a person not to be a destroyer and wanton exploiter of nature’s resources. The implication is that we should live with a recognition of what the earth can sustain in the present and what our commitment to the generations that follow must be with respect to sustainability of resources in the future. Women’s League for Conservative Judaism embraces the principle of bal tashchit and applies it to the issue of responsible use of energy.
WHEREAS Women’s League for Conservative Judaism has advocated for environmental consciousness since 1976 and has actively advocated for measures to improve the environment and to reduce our dependence on fossil fuels, and
WHEREAS much can be achieved by encouraging conservation and focusing on the development and implementation of alternative forms of energy thereby reducing our nation’s dependence on foreign energy sources and reducing our carbon footprint;
THEREFORE, BE IT RESOLVED that Women’s League for Conservative Judaism, through its sisterhoods and region leadership:
- advocates and supports legislation at local, state and federal levels to promote the advancing of the goal of a cleaner, toxin free environment within ten years through the required utilization of clean energy sources both in the home and in local industrial sites;
- suggests that their synagogues install solar eternal lights, use Eco-Shabbat candles and other initiatives sponsored by the Federation of Jewish Men’s Clubs;
- urges its members to introduce into their homes and congregations the use of compact fluorescent lights, zone thermostats, low flush toilets, and other energy saving devices, coupled with responsible behavior with respect to energy usage;
- encourages the initiation of on-going dialogue with local utility companies and agencies with the educational objective of teaching community members responsible energy use; and
- calls on its members to seek and join organizations such as the Coalition on the Environment and Jewish Life (COEJL), a source of comprehensive programs on preserving the environment and energy resources; and
- supports enhanced, responsible energy research and development.
No issue confronting the United States rivals the urgency or magnitude of energy. Yet, no broad sense of crisis or urgency is evident on the part of the American public.
Therefore, Women’s League for Conservative Judaism urges its members to:
- Include a study of energy problems to their Sisterhood programming;
- Join with other organizations in interpreting the pressing need for such programs to the Jewish community and the general public;
- Devise and practice diligently every possible measure of energy conservation and persuade others to do the same.
Energy Problem (1976)
The recent energy emergency has alerted us to the dangers of wasting energy and to the realization that our resources are not unlimited. Although the immediate crisis seems to have subsided, the problem of insufficient energy remains.
Therefore, Women’s League urges its members to:
- Make efforts to conserve energy, to educate the community and to cooperate with other groups in these endeavors;
- Evaluate our country’s present energy resources and future needs;
- Utilize our present energy resources more economically and to better advantage;
- Seek and develop new sources of energy, and thus reduce our dependence on oil as the major source of energy.
- We urge our government to institute a national energy policy that will encompass the above issues.