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Eco Al Cheyt:
Atoning for Our Environmental Sins
by Dan Brook

The Al Cheyt is a traditional part of the Yom Kippur-Day of Atonement liturgy, in which Jews publicly confess our individual and communal sins,
our going astray,
literally our missing the mark, each of us alone and all of us together.
We are not necessarily personally at fault for each sin, yet we are all responsible for all the sins.

There are 36 sins listed below divided into two sections of 18.  In Judaism, the number 18 is associated with life, 36 with justice;
a sin means missing the mark; and it is a mitzvah-holy deed in Judaism to both “remember” and “not forget”.

Please feel free to adopt or adapt this Al Cheyt, which is neither comprehensive nor perfect, for your personal, professional, spiritual, or religious practice.



For the sins we have committed against You, against ourselves,
against other living beings, and against the Earth,
we ask for forgiveness for missing the mark and for strength to improve our ways:

For the sin of destroying gardens of Eden
For the sin of chopping down trees
For the sin of not planting trees
For the sin of mining mountains for coal
For the sin of spilling oil
For the sin of burning fossil fuels
For the sin of not using renewable fuels
For the sin of throwing away when we could reduce, reuse, recycle, and compost
For the sin of throwing away and thinking it’s really gone
For the sin of wasting water on our farms, lawns, and golf courses
For the sin of wasting water in our kitchens and bathrooms
For the sin of thinking it’s only water
For the sin of putting chemicals into the air, water, soil, and ourselves
For the sin of polluting the lakes, rivers, oceans, and our bloodstreams
For the sin of passing litter and saying it isn’t mine
For the sin of not remembering that paper comes from trees
For the sin of not remembering that plastic comes from oil
For the sin of loving nature yet not protecting it more

For the sins we have committed against You, against ourselves,
against other living beings, and against the Earth,
we ask for forgiveness for missing the mark and for strength to improve our ways:

For the sin of smoking, befouling our inner and outer environments
For the sin of contributing to global warming
For the sin of denying global warming
For the sin of saying there is nothing we can do about global warming
For the sin of supporting factory farms
For the sin of saying they’re only animals
For the sin of putting chemicals on our crops
For the sin of not thinking about where our food and other purchases come from
For the sin of thinking finite resources are infinite
For the sin of over-production and over-consumption
For the sin of wasting resources, “even a mustard seed”
For the sin of thinking that whatever we do is enough
For the sin of thinking that whatever we do is not enough
For the sin of not considering sustainability when we shop, eat, and work
For the sin of placing convenience ahead of sustainability
For the sin of not teaching our children environmental ethics
For the sin of not learning the environmental ethics of our children and parents
For the sin of losing hope

For the sins we have committed against You, against ourselves,
against other living beings, and against the Earth,
we ask for forgiveness for missing the mark and for strength to improve our ways.


 
Originally published in Tikkun Daily, on October 6, 2011
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