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At the Confluence of Environmentalism & Our Sacred Story of Exodus

This post also appeared as an article in the May issue of The Observer, Nashville’s Jewish Newspaper

Over 30 adults, a handful of children, and a few pets turned out for Nashville’s First (in-person) Earth Seder, an outdoor, Earth-conscious second seder on Shabbat afternoon. Rabbi Jessica Shimberg, assisted ably by her hubbitzen, sous-chef, and holy schlepper, Eric Stillman, welcomed guests with traditional seder foods and vegan snacks to fortify their journey through the ecologically focused haggadah ~ The Promise of the Land, written by long-time eco-Jewish author, Rabbi Ellen Bernstein, and beautifully illustrated by Galia Goodman. Those drawn to the Earth Seder included a cross-section of ages and backgrounds, and a variety of newcomers and long-time Nashvillians. The seder table was decorated with up-cycled materials evoking the cycles of Jewish time, as well as plants, and seed packets, in addition to traditional seder items. Participants were asked to bring their own cutlery, plates, napkins, cups, and water bottles, to avoid the use of plastics and disposable items. A vegan meal from The Wild Cow was served, and all food scraps were collected and brought home for composting (Rabbi Shimberg composts through Compost Nashville).

Sevier Lake and the lush spring flora of East Nashville’s Shelby Park served as the perfect backdrop to the lively afternoon of questions, conversation, singing, and seder reminding us all of our connection to and responsibility for the Earth, deeply rooted in Torah and Jewish wisdom.

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