Tikkun Olam. Healing the world.
The concept is not an unfamiliar one to the average Jewish human.
We make concerted efforts to plant trees in Israel and pick up trash on Clean Up Australia Day. Yet paradoxically, there seems to be an odd absence of environmental awareness when it comes to how we practise the very Jewish customs that preach tikkun olam in the first place.
With Pesach pending - a time when we reflect on our people’s past - it seems somehow fitting to consider a couple of our current approaches and how they may impact our people’s future.
A load of crock(ery)
Pesach Seders can be enormous affairs. It’s not unusual for 20-30 family and friends to gather together to share the paschal meal.
We spend hours and hours meticulously planning and prepping. But when it comes to the post-Seder clean-up, many of us prefer processes that expedite. Once the eating is complete, remaining table contents are simply scooped into a large garbage bag and unceremoniously trashed.
Disposable plates. Disposable cups. Disposable cutlery. Disposable napkins.
It’s remarkable how much landfill-bound waste 20-30 people can produce over the course of a single meal. And all in the name of convenience.
What you can do instead:
Choose re-usable! Skip the single-use serviettes and go for washable linen napkins instead. Pass on plastics and crack out some metal cutlery and ceramic crockery. If you’re worried about keeping kosher-le-Pesach, consider a once-off investment in a Pesach-specific set that can be brought out and used again each year.
If you can’t bear the thought of washing all that up, consider more enviro-friendly disposable options. Bamboo plates (58c each), classy paper plates (25c) sugarcane plates (7c) and wooden cutlery (4 or 5c each) break down naturally in landfill, in contrast to their plastic counterparts (7.6c) that take hundreds of years to do the same. In the context of our current recycling crisis, such choices are more important now than ever before!
Check out https://hazon.org/10-ways-to-make-your-passover-more-sustainable/ for more ideas.
(Not) pleased to meat you
Hundreds of years ago, meat was a rare and expensive treat, served only on special occasions. Flash forward to modern day. Somehow, there has been a propagation and proliferation of the misguided mindset that a meal is not a real meal unless it involves a giant hunk of flesh.
As such, and particularly when it comes to festive feasts, there’s pressure to make it meaty.
The problem is that frequent meat eating is unsustainable. Studies have suggested that the animal agriculture industry contributes more greenhouse gas to the atmosphere than any other industry.
Add to this the enormous resources required to raise a bit of beef. The Institution of Mechanical Engineers estimate that 15,415 litres of water are required to raise 1kg of beef; a hefty load compared to the water needed to grow 1kg of potatoes (287 litres), tomatoes (214 litres), bananas (790 litres) or even rice (2,497 litres).
What you can do instead
Consider a flesh-free Seder.
Our ancient ancestors had to slaughter a lamb so they could plaster their door posts with its blood. But we don’t have to do the same.
Ditching meat for a meal not only takes some of the pressure off the planet, but frees up a lot of delightful milchig kosher-lePesach options; ice cream, cheese platters, cheesy zucchini slice etc.
With vegetarian and vegan diets rocketing ever upwards in popularity, there’s a huge range of tasty, meat-less meal ideas waiting to be discovered. Check out the attached recipe for one such delish kosher-lePesach veggo dish.
As we set up our Pesach Seders this year, let’s not pass over thoughts about how our choices may affect our planet.
Jewish Ecological Coalition (JECO)
Each year on the closest Sunday to 17 January (the supposed date of the last sighting of Raoul Wallenberg, the City of Port Phillip hosts a commemoration service to help perpetuate the memory of Raoul Wallenberg and the work he did in saving tens of thousands (estimated 100,000) of Jews in Hungary during the later years of World War 2.
This year on 13 January, Phil Symons, Co-Chair of Action Wallenberg of B'nai B'rith Raoul Wallenberg Unit chaired the gathering. The meeting was addressed by: Mayor of City of Port Phillip, Cr Dick Gross, Councillor Marcus Pearl, Dr Frank Vajda, Holocaust survivor who has dedicated his life to honouring Raoul Wallenberg, Dr Peter Barta, Holocaust survivor, who gave a moving survivor testimony of his experience as a child in hiding in Hungary. Approximately 100 attendees were present. The vote of thanks was given by Simone Markus, Co-Chair of B'nai B'rith Raoul Wallenberg Unit.
Interview with Dr. Tony Weldon, Chairman of B'nai B'rith's Courage to Care, on J-AIR's Shabbat Shalom Drive.
On Thursday 13th December, BBVic hosted the final Speakers Forum for the year. Over 120 people were in attendance to hear our guest speaker, Zeddy Lawrence (National Editor of The Australian Jewish News), share his incredible insights on the topic 'Behind the News: the Role of the Jewish Press,' followed by a Q&A.
BBVic Presentations were awarded that evening to:
Evelyn & Malcolm Flitman - George Huppert Memorial Award
P/P Ruth Figdor - B'nai B'rith Recognition Award
P/P Leah Black - Certificate of Appreciation
It was also announced that the annual Leah Black Youth Art Prize will now be included in the BBVic Jewish Youth Art Competition.
These four BBVic members encapsulate the tenets of B’nai B’rith with their work both within the Jewish and wider communities.
Following on from the Pittsburgh Synagogue Shooting on 27 October, I reiterate that B’nai B’rith Australia/New Zealand shares in the grief suffered at the senseless loss of life of eleven Jewish worshippers in Pittsburgh on Saturday morning. The rise of antisemitism is extremely troubling, and the perpetrator of this vile crime will be brought to justice, although the 11 lives lost cannot be recovered.
Australia’s gun laws have prevented mass shootings since they were invoked in 1996 after the Port Arthur Massacre where 35 innocent lives were lost. We have had gun deaths, but usually not more than one death in any incident. I fail to understand why the US Congress cannot look to Australia for a fine example of gun management and overturn “The Right to Bear Arms.”
I am troubled by the rise in attempts to have our extremely effective gun laws overturned or even just watered down by political and other interests within our safe Australian community.
Please see the following links….
I am also concerned that gun theft is a major problem, as it is stolen firearms that are most likely to be used in violent crimes.
See also, Facebook post from Mark Dreyfus including responses….
Read more about it at: https://www.theguardian.com/australia-news/2018/oct/23/gun-lobby-makes-no-mention-of-guns-in-victorian-election-ad-blitz
If you agree with my outrage, I implore you to write to your members of Australian parliament, both Federal and State.
President - B’nai B’rith Australia/New Zealand
Senior VP - B’nai B’rith International