Faith Matters: April’s holidays ask us to give something up for the common good

  • Rabbi Andrea Cohen-Kiener of Temple Israel in Greenfield. Staff Photo/Paul Franz

  • Temple Israel in Greenfield. Staff file photo/PAUL FRANZ

Pastor, Temple Israel Greenfield
Published: 4/25/2022 12:01:12 PM
Modified: 4/25/2022 11:59:47 AM

(Each Saturday, a faith leader offers a personal perspective in this space. To become part of this series, email

Jewish, Christian and Muslin holidays — and Earth Day — coincided this year. The Passover, recalling the liberation of the Jewish people from servitude in Egypt, began on April’s full moon. Western Christian Easter fell on the first day of Passover. Eastern Orthodoxy observes Easter this year on April 24. The Muslim month of Ramadan is observed all through this month — that is, lunar month. Ramadan was half over on the first day of Passover. Even Earth Day fell on April 22, mid-way through the week of Passover.

Easter and Passover commemorate renewed hope after the dread of centuries of slavery (Passover) and renewed hope after the dread of death (Easter). Ramadan is a holy month of daily fasting and enhanced generosity towards the destitute. And Earth Day, the newcomer on the calendar, is a time of dread and hope as well. There is dread over the looming threat of environmental catastrophe and hope for empowerment to create a safe, sustainable future.

All these observances call on us to make conscious sacrifices. The fasting of Ramadan and the dietary restrictions of Passover teach us to moderate our consumption in favor of empathy and generosity towards those lacking autonomy and sustenance. Easter is wholly a story of self-sacrifice, even to the point losing one’s life, for the sake of service and obedience. In Easter, Jesus dies in order to find new life and offer the gift to others.

And Earth Day is a time, too, to consider our appetites, our relationship with wealth and consumerism. There will be conscious sacrifices on the way to a sustainable future.

Our environmental problems have a root in overconsumption. All religions speak of tithing and warn against overconsumption and waste. The Talmud teaches that wide income disparities is a source of violence. Islam teaches that investing in business with others should replace the practice of loans.

Overconsumption is the offspring of greed, corruption and waste. Creator, Earth, God — however we name God — is good and generous. If we live “in the image of God,” we appreciate the blessings and joys of life, and we are generous and not greedy; modest and not flashy; appreciative and not entitled.

Our faith traditions, and the environmental imperative of the hour, ask us to give something up for our spiritual and common good.

About Temple Israel Greenfield

Rabbi Andrea Cohen-Kiener serves at Temple Israel Greenfield and is vice-president of the Interfaith Council of Franklin County. Temple Israel is the cultural, religious and spiritual center of the Jewish community in Franklin, serving 125 household members. Rabbi Andrea and the Temple Israel community are active in ameliorating hunger, environmental decay and social repair together with colleagues and friends in Franklin County.


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