Does Judaism Have An Expiry Date? Best Before 2100

By 2100 AD much of the Middle East was close to uninhabitable. A temperature increase of almost 6 degrees over the preceding century had created deadly heat waves, drought, and ecological collapse. Much of the desert between Pakistan and Tel Aviv had turned into a wasteland patrolled by marauders and warlords enacting Mad Max in Arabic.  The state of Israel had effectively collapsed.

At first, Israel had used its advanced tech and military to respond, building a brilliant tech bubble on the edge of the Mediterranean sea defended by the IDF and the latest iteration of the Iron Dome. Brilliantly conceived, the hyper energy efficient urban pods had predictably and understandably attracted the envy and ire of Israel’s neighbors, but Israel had held strong for a while. By 2090, however, a horrifically unstable world economy, warfare, and the decimation of the wealth of the Jewish diaspora had crippled its survivalist empire. Those who could left, and the militaries of Arabia, with nothing left to lose, had initiated a state of constant warfare which made the 20th century seem like an Edenic idle. The Zionist dream had died, roasting in the heat of the dying planet.

If such a scenario seems like far-fetched fear mongering to you, it shouldn’t. The global dangers facing us as a result of climate change make our tittering and twittering over Trump’s latest vulgar display of turning the American dream into an episode of the Sopranos seem like crying over spilled milk when your house is on fire, or better yet, when your village is being plundered and burned. Even the tragic fighting around the Temple Mount/Al -Aqsa, with its absurdist tribal warfare ringing God’s house like an obscene condemnation of the human race, will seem an unremarkable skirmish.

As a number of pieces have pointed out lately with escalating apocalyptic imagery that reads like it was lifted from the book of Isaiah: “very soon your country will be desolate; your cities are burned with fire; your land, strangers will devour it in your presence, and it is waste as if destroyed by floods”. From New York Magazine’s terrifying depiction of a world wracked by warfare, disease, drought, famine, deadly heat waves, ruthless disease and toxic gasses to the Canadian Tyee asking if the population of the Canadian West Coast (a cool wet place if ever there was one) needs to start planning a “managed retreat” from the soon to be flooding waters and the already burning forests, it is time not to calm down but to fully grapple with the extreme danger our children and grandchildren are in.

What would the destruction of the Israeli ecosystem and the collapse of the Zionist project mean for Judaism? Could religious Judaism survive such a stunning demonstration of God’s apparent passivity, or absence, one which will likely surpass the Shoah in impact, it is shocking to say? What would it be like to see the country “which God’s eye rests upon” ruthlessly wiped out in an ecological catastrophe it would take centuries to recover from, if ever?  No doubt pockets of Jews would continue to mumble the Amidah reverently, praying for the Messiah to finally come and restore both Zion and the world. How many Jews would find such a vision tenable in the face of the death of hundreds of millions and the collapse not only of the Zionist dream but much of global civilization?

On the other hand, maybe an apocalyptic dissolution of the human project into a hundred local Armageddons would spark a religious revival of unseen proportions. Maybe Messianism will spread like fire throughout the ghettos and shantytowns of a starving world.

That’s not my Judaism, though. My Judaism would have been a light to the nations — not the only one, but one among others — that helped shepherd the human race to the worthy use of all the incredible powers invested in us. My Judaism would be at the forefront of inspiring is to be stewards of the planet, not a self-destructive virus that foolishly kills its host in its passion to feed.

My Judaism would grow and change with the evolution of human culture, slowly getting wiser alongside the rest of the human race. My Judaism would be smart enough to make the stability of the ecosystem- the garden-upon which we all depend for our survival, its priority. In so doing, my Judaism would survive 2100.

About the Author
Matthew Gindin is a journalist and Jewish educator who writes regularly for the Forward and the Jewish Independent and has been published in the Canadian Jewish News, Religion Dispatches, and elsewhere. Formerly a Buddhist monk, Matthew focuses on contemplative and philosophical traditions across religious boundaries as well as social justice issues through a Jewish lens.
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