Hazon recently wrapped up another successful New York Jewish environmental bike ride. This unorthodox group also runs an Israel ride, created a buying co-op between urban communities and organic farmers, and worked on developing Limmud NY. Hazon was recently listed among the top 50 innovative Jewish groups. (I would have reported on the Hazon bike rider earlier, but for hurricane Katrina. New Yorkers can still go to their celebration party on Sept. 21st.
Canfei Nesharim, a more Orthodox Jewish environmental group, issued another newsletter. One article deals with one of my pet peeves, the plastic and styrofoam waste on Shabbat at Orthodox homes and shuls. The author recommends bulk purchase of recyclables, but it would be better to use non-disposables. Also in the newsletter:
Rabbi Shmuel Simenowitz from Sweet Whisper Farms explains the halakhah on re-using "graywater" (that's wastewater except toilet waste). Graywater can be used for toilet flushing and lawn and garden irrigation. The freiliche* Rabbi S. says that, under Jewish law (halakhah) graywater shouldn't be used for ritual handwashing. He also explains that graywater was analyzed in daf yomi about 2 months ago:
Not only is wastewater reuse consistent with halachic principles, but the Talmud actually addresses the issue of graywater explicitly. In Shabbos 78a, the gemara discusses volumes of liquids which may be transported from one domain to another on Shabbos. The quantity given for wastewater is a r'viis. The gemara then inquires as to the uses for wastewater. The gemara replies that it can be used to mix with clay (an industrial use). The Tosfos (ad loc.) goes even further to differentiate between lightly used non-potable water which could still be used for washing cups and platters and heavily soiled or disgusting water which even then could be reused as suggested by the gemara.
Thanks to a maple syrup-making Rabbi, Talmudic environmentalism lives on...
* "The freiliche farmer - Rabbi ShmuelL Simenowitz is one of the finest guitarists on the Jewish musical scene. Well versed in Jewish liturgical and folk melodies, he blends the different musical styles that shaped his life - Hebraic chant, Southern blues and rock, bluegrass, jazz and reggae. The result was "The Jewish Blues" released in 1980 with long-time friend and musical mentor, guitar legend Roy Buchanan. Simenowitz has toured extensively with his band, "The Jewish Blues" at concerts in colleges and festivals throughout the US, and has accompanied Shlomo Carlebach, Piamenta, and others. In 1995, Shmuel and his family established Sweet Whisper Farms, a horse-powered, organic maple syrup farm in rural Vermont. He heads "Project Ya'aleh V'Yavo" introducing day school students to farming. The Freilicher (happy) Farmer will perform his jolly tunes, and also sell his own maple syrup products, and offer maple syrup tasting."