Limmud eFestival 2022 Limmud eFestival 2022
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Sacred Attunement: Shmita as Cultural Biomimicry

Zoom 11

Dr. Cara Judea Alhadeff, Sephardic Professor of Transdisciplinary Jewish Ecological Leadership at The Lake Erie Institute(, has published dozens of books and articles on Jewish philosophies, Sephardic histories, climate justice, art, gender, and ethnic studies including the critically-acclaimed Zazu Dreams: Between the Scarab and the Dung Beetle, A Cautionary Fable for the Anthropocene Era and Viscous Expectations: Justice, Vulnerability, The Ob-scene. Her photographs/performance-videos are in private and public collections including MoMASalzburg and SanFrancisco MoMA. Alongside Archbishop Desmond Tutu and Vandana Shiva, Alhadeff received the Random Kindness Community Resilience Leadership Award, 2020. Alhadeff's theoretical and visual work is the subject of documentaries for international public television. Former professor at UC Santa Cruz and Program Director for Jews Of The Earth, Alhadeff teaches, performs, and parents a creative-zero-waste life. She and her family live in their eco-art installation repurposed school bus where they perform and teach social permaculture and cultural diversity. ( /

This upcoming Jewish New Year marks the year of rest, the Shmita, a sabbath or sabbatical year. I investigate the Jewish commitment to a personal and collective cultural, economic, and agricultural pause (release or letting go). In response to climate chaos, "Sacred Attunement: Shmita as Cultural Biomimicry" reflects the values of Sabbath and the Slow Movement as alternatives to unlimited economic growth, progress, and development paradigms. Counter to agribusiness and advanced capitalism, Jewish sacred activism incorporates a commitment to our non-human kin. These include Shabbat, the Jewish laws of Shmita, and the Sabbatical years including Yovel, the Jubilee years. Judaic relationships to generosity and agriculture, gleaning, eco-kashrut, restoring balance to the land, forgiving debt, and multiple interpretations of fertility offer visions of possibility for contemporary social and environmental justice.As a resolution to current refugee and ecological crises, this Jewish philosophies', environmental-justice performance is intended to illuminate intersections between ancient Middle Eastern spiritual-pharmacopeia rituals in relation to their agricultural and architectural environmental-engineering practices. While encouraging individuals and communities to collectively resist industrialized convenience-culture and its self-destructive consequences, this action-based academic performance offers behavioral and infrastructural design shifts that embody Jewish indigenous wisdom/spiritual intelligence. I explore principles found in ancient Judaic texts and laws as antidotes to our consumer-waste culture.