Passover and the Global
Climate Crisis

Is the Environmental Protection Agency a modern-day pharaoh? Sweep eco-chameitz from your life with these simple steps.

Courtesy of the Green Menorah Program of the Shalom Center

Passover is about the renewal of earth-life in the spring, as well as about renewing our freedom from oppressive top-down power. Both issues are raised by the danger of global climate crisis. This supplement follows the timing and pattern of Passover, from the search for leavening beforehand to the end of the week, in order to heighten our awareness and information about the global climate crisis and especially what we can do about it. We invite rabbis and eco-conscious committees and comunities to make copies and distribute it broadly, and use it in sermons, newsletters, articles, etc. Please drop us a line at to let us know how you have used it.

Searching for Chametz - What is chametz in Our Lives Today?

Before Passover begins, we traditionally rid our houses of "chametz" in any form. Chametz, literally, is anything made out of wheat, spelt, barley, rye and oats, that has been mixed with water and allowed to ferment for more than eighteen minutes. It is food that has swelled up. Chasidic teachers, though, saw chametz metaphorically, as the swelling up of excess in our own lives.


What is metaphorical chametz in our own day? What is the excess in our lives that we need to rid ourselves of, or that we can at least tone down, to keep it in proper proportion and perspective?

Chametz, first of all, can be carbon dioxide. It is the one single element most responsible for the global climate crisis. It is the element that we must immediately reduce our spewing of into the atmosphere.

Chametz can be seen as overconsumption. Is one lesson of Passover this year that we should simplify our lives?

More specifically, is coal-fired electricity a kind of eco-chametz? Is our addiction to the over-use of oil, coal and gasoline a eco-chametz?

Seen this way, what then do we need to do in order to sweep eco-chametz from our lives?

Some answers:

Switching our households and institutions to wind power and other renewable sources of energy; supporting legislation that supports this switch, as well; getting an energy audit; changing all lightbulbs to CFLs.

Driving less; purchasing fuel-efficient and hybrid cars; supporting public transportation; shopping on-line.

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