Shmita Live: Allstar Conversation

This recording presents nine Jewish thought leaders talking about "Shmita", the Biblical commandments for living in balance with the environment and each other, and how they are practiced today. Co-hosts: National Wildlife Federation, Shmita Project Northwest, and Hazon.

"We are commanded to sustain the world."
- Rabbi Nina Beth Cardin & Rabbi Avram Resiner

“They shall forever inhabit this earth, the result of My planting, the work of My hands in which I glory.” (Isaiah 60:21)

Shmita is a set of commandments in the Jewish and Christian Bibles (The Torah) to practice and celebrate the cyclical "release" of agricultural lands, financial debts, slaves, and ancestral lands. "Shmita Live" was a conversation on Zoom, March 1, 2022 exploring the ancient shmita commandments' many meanings today. The event brought together a number of the amazing people who contributed to AllCreation.org's "Shmita Now" collection, created by guest editor Yaira Robinson. Our fun and incisive hour celebrates these fine folks, welcomes some outstanding guests, and gives everyone a chance to share some truly breakthrough ideas on how to integrate the ancient shmita commandments into our lives now. We hope you enjoy listening. Co-hosted by: AllCreation.org, National Wildlife Federation, Shmita Project Northwest, and Hazon. Presented by BioIntegrity Partnerships. Original event page: Shmita Live.

Background info: 


PANELISTS
  • Rabbi Nina Beth Cardin of St. Mary's Seminary, and MDEHR 
  • Rabbi Fred Scherlinder Dobb of Adat Shalom, Interfaith Power & Light, and COEJL
  • Dr. Mirele Goldsmith of Jewish Earth Alliance
  • Simcha Scwhartz of Wilderness Torah
  • Rabbi Laura Bellows of Dayenu
  • Nati Passow of Dayenu, and Jewish Farm School
  • Shmita Project Northwest's Deirdre Gabbay
  • Hazon's Sarah Zell Young
  • National Wildlife Federation's Naomi Edelson
  • AllCreation.org's Chris Searles (moderator)


PROGRAM
I. WELCOME 
  • 0:00 Preroll
  • 0:08 Welcome & Introductions -- by Chris Searles (moderator), AllCreation.org 
  • 3:35 "Shmita 101" by Deirdre Gabbay (co-host), Shmita Project Northwest
II. PANELIST SELF-INTRODUCTIONS 
III. PANELISTS' CONVERSATION & END
  • 29:00 Deepening connections
  • 43:12 Shmita practices this year
  • 51:00 The Dominion Question
  • 61:47 Quick wrap-up on Shmita today
  • 64:50 Q&A
  • 71:15 GOODNIGHT

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CONVERSATION DETAIL: 

Deepening Connections 
29:08 Deirdre - Appreciation & highlights
31:04 Rabbi Nina - "How do we name each year in the Shmita cycle?"
32:19 Rabbi Laura - We need a reset … 
33:53 Simcha - Hakhel, "A moment where we declare the new cycle"
35:08 Deirdre - Creative ideas for deepening connections to Synagogue life 
36:00 Rabbi Nina - Rosh Hashanah Sadir plates for seven year Shmita practice 
37:02 Sarah - Hazon's Shmita vision summit: the next 6 years + organizational climate action plans from a Shmita frame
37:50 Naomi - “We don’t have to go far away to have a relationship with the natural world.” 
39:25 Mirele - “Our connection to the Earth is not only through agriculture.”
40:57 Nati - Shmita year by year (pdf) (coming soon)
42:05 Deirdre - High-level Shmita study group?
42:38 Mirele - Rabbi Ari Hart (for Shmita studies)
42:57 Rabbi Nina - “Do it!”


Shmita Practices This Year
43:12 Rabbi Nina - “What are people doing this year to mark shmita for themselves?” 
43:25 Rabbi Fred - Multiple programs, exploring & acting on: 1) Karka (relationship with the lands), 2) Shemitat Kesafim (economic justice), and 3) Shmita rest and renewal. "What would it actually look like to go back and try to do what Leviticus 26 says?”
44:50 Deirdre - list of actions, groups, initiatives, and alignments, "We're trying to be that angel that sees that little blade of grass growing and encourages it."
48:00 Rabbi Laura - on valuing shared resources
49:30 Mirele - Thrive 2050 planning, "Shmita year is also about looking at a vision for society and investing in the future."


The Dominion Question
51:00 Chris, "We do not have dominion?"
52:42 Rabbi Dobb, Leviticus 25 Shmita and Yovel are next to each other; Leviticus 25:23, "The land is mine."
53:25 Rabbi Cardin, "I see Genesis I and Genesis II as a way to respond to that."
55:55 Nati, "When we're exiled (from Eden), the punishment is that we become farmers." Ishmael, Genesis and the Rise of Civilization
59:12 Naomi, "Dominion” as in “domination” has to be taught
60:15 Deidre, Perhaps Love-based “dominion” (the babysitter analogy) is what's intended 


Quick Wrap-up on Shmita Today
61:47 Chris shares a few ideas from Israel and the U.S.


Q&A
64:49 Q: "How can, and can, non-Jewish people practice Shmita?"
Mirele, “Of course you can, Shmita is in your Bible, too!”
Chris, "Shmita is a template I can apply today."
66:14 Q: "What is the “Maryland Campaign for Environmental Human Rights (MDEHR)?”
Rabbi Cardin explains.
66:28 Q: What is Shmita Yisraelit?
Rabbi Dobb explains.



A FEW QUOTES 
Shmita comes with a promise and a warning: Do this and you will live in security and abundance, and If we don’t there will be consequences that will manifest through an increasingly hostile environment.” — Deirdre Gabbay, re: Shmita 101

"We need to change how we take care of our yards; change them to put in native plants that will help people and wildlife." — Naomi Edelson

“We have a disconnect with each other, but also Nature and wildlife. This whole reflection gives us hope that we can reset ourselves… to remind that the world is good.” — Naomi Edelson

"The way we can be the very best that we can be is engaging in the external world and seeing how it is beautiful and yet how it needs to be improved." — Rabbi Nina Beth Cardin

“Shmita and Shabbat are that moment of getting to say, "You know what? We’re in a raging sea right now, but we have to sometimes release in order to find the people who can carry the enormity of it with us."" — Rabbi Laura Bellows

"We see Shmita as something to strive for, something where we can really think about the world we want to live in." — Sarah Zell Young

“Shmita is (also) an economic consciousness, it’s saying, "Hey, stop, slow down. It’s not about necessarily the accumulation of wealth. Let’s just rest for a moment, let some debts free, and step back and reevaluate.” — Simcha Schwarz

"Shmita is not just waking up on the seventh year and saying, "It's Shmita."" — Simcha Schwarz

“We’re doing Shmita on a multi-faith basis.” — Deirdre Gabbay

"What transformational projects can we envision and then begin to work with when we have a long time horizon, like six years, to prepare for going into the next Shmita cycle?"  — Deirdre Gabbay

“Shmita is the grand unification theory of all of our great values.”
— Rabbi Fred Scherlinder Dobb

“Shmita is a year dedicated to sustainability. It’s about caring for Earth and caring for people. It’s the Jewish version of the social, the environmental, and the economic going together.” — Dr. Mirele Goldsmith

“Shmita is in your Bible, too." — Dr. Mirele Goldsmith

"When we were very small... Genesis I's "blessing of domination" worked. But when we hit the capacity we have now, and the numbers that we have now, and the technology that we have now, Genesis I theology ends up being a destructive theology. Which is where Genesis II comes in. Genesis II talks about humanity being in service to the land... Genesis II is actually an antidote to that vision that we are here to dominate the Earth... As we build this glorious civilization that we want to build, let's be careful how we do it and make sure that we don't do it in a dominating and destructive way. I see Genesis II is a corrective to Genesis I." — Rabbi Nina Beth Cardin

"Shmita points back into the Edenic way of life... So Shmita kind of keeps that memory alive; reminds us that we were not always farmers... It's a reminder that we're animals..." — Nati Passow

"We are born loving and creative..." — Naomi Edelson

"If we think of the Creator as creating all of these things with love, wanting them to fill the Earth and to be fruitful and multiply, and admiring their beauty and reflecting on their goodness... that form of "dominion" looks very different... Like, "You're the babysitter of my children, I give you dominion over my household," and it doesn't mean that you're going to whip my children, I want them to be taken care of..."  Deirdre Gabbay

“The letter of the Torah, in a world of eight billion people, may not be the thing to do anymore. The Spirit of the Torah: Shmita consciousness, is the lodestar for almost everything we’ve been talking about.” — Rabbi Fred Scherlinder Dobb

"Props not just to the people trying to help Orthodox farmers in Israel this year... But actually to think in the interconnected whole we are a part of... And maybe we can do that in the human sphere and maybe we can do that in the ecological/agricultural sphere." — Rabbi Fred Scherlinder Dobb

"Imagine a world where Tech and the laws of the biosphere are integrated successfully."  — Chris Searles

“There’s so many things we need to do and can do… We are at the beginning of how we think about how we live together on Earth.” — Chris Searles


Thanks for listening.
This podcast is part of our Winter 2021 series, Shmita Now.
Visit the AllCreation podcast site or AllCreation.org for more. 
Thanks to Deidre Gabbay for co-authoring the script.
Thanks to Naomi Edelson for collaborating on the program. 
Thanks to Amie Stone King for helping plan and manage this session.
Created and produced by BioIntegrity Partnerships. Edited by Chris Searles.
@BioIntegrity Partnerships