Rabbi Zalman Schachter-Shalomi, Early Proponent of Eco-Kosher

Rabbi Zalman

Jspace reported earlier on the recent passing of Rabbi Zalman Schachter-Shalomi, an influential founder of what is now called the Jewish Renewal movement. Among his many accomplishments and contributions to religion and spirituality, Schachter-Shalomi was also an early user of the term “eco-kosher.”

Discussing the term and its ensuing movement earlier this year, we wrote:

“That term was perhaps first used by Rabbi Zalman Schachter-Shalomi as early as the 1970’s. A former Chabad rabbi who became involved with the counter-culture movements of the 1960’s, Schachter-Shalomi is now regarded as a founder of the Jewish Renewal movement.

The basic idea behind the movement is that Jews should embrace a new definition of kosher, which demands that foods not just meet the halachic guidelines for kashrut, but also meet environmental guidelines–in other words, ‘following God’s law while also protecting God’s creation.’”

Writing at ReclaimingJudaism.org, Rabbi Goldie Milgram quotes Schachter-Shalomi taking personal credit for the term, and explaining the difference between regular kosher and eco-kosher. He says that Styrofoam plates are great for kosher, because they are only used once and then thrown away, causing no contamination. But they are bad for the planet, so not “eco-kosher.”

Schachter-Shalomi was born in Poland and raised in Vienna, fleeing the Holocaust in 1941. He was ordained by the Chabad Lubavitcher movement, but left after getting involved with the counter-culture movement of the 1960’s. He was 89.