Human Composting: What is a Jewish View of Natural Organic Reduction?

Earlier this year I was honored to be a part of the Big Bold Jewish Climate fest, speaking about Jewish views of human composting, along with another rabbi, Adina Lewittes. Our presentation was also part of a live podcast recording through Evolve: Groundbreaking Jewish Conversations, a project of Reconstructing Judaism.

Now that Washington State as legalized Natural Organic Reduction, I was invited to think about what might be a Jewish response by a member of Temple Beth Hatfiloh. That thinking turned into an essay, Human Composting: A Reconstructionist Rabbi’s Response, and then the podcast episode. You can listen here:

Episode 33: Whitewashing Biblical Characters Evolve

From the time she was a young girl, Rev. Wil Gafney knew something was wrong. Every major biblical figure, in both art and popular culture, was represented as white. Now a scholar and Episcopal priest, Gafney paints a more accurate picture of our Afro-Asiatic forebearers, making a case that engaging with the racist history of biblical criticism and western art is key to forging a more just future. Gafney also briefly discusses her love of sci-fi and Star Wars and tries to dissect the animus aimed at black actors that ventured into the Star Wars universe. She also discusses her love of Hebrew, praying in synagogues and connection with Jewish community, and some of the fraught nature of inter-religious interactions. Though the discussion isn’t High Holiday-themed per se, the content seems apt for the days of awe as it challenges all of us to question our assumption and, perhaps, to atone for harm caused intentionally or unintentionally. Theme song, “Ilu Finu” by Rabbi Miriam Margles. Her album This is the Day is available for purchase at CDBaby: Visit our home on the web — Evolve: Groundbreaking Jewish Conversions: Subscribe by Email at Read these show notes on the web at This podcast is produced by Reconstructing Judaism. Visit us at ( Special Guest: Rev. Wil Gafney, Ph.D..
  1. Episode 33: Whitewashing Biblical Characters
  2. Episode 32: Rethinking the Circumcision Part 2, with Rabbi Kevin Bernstein
  3. Episode 31: Rethinking the Circumcision Part 1, with Gary Shteyngart and Max Buckler
  4. Episode 30: Warm and Welcoming?
  5. Episode 29: Special Live Episode: Addressing Global Climate Disruption Through Torah

Published by


I am a Rabbi, serving the Jewish community of Olympia, Washington and the surrounding area.

One thought on “Human Composting: What is a Jewish View of Natural Organic Reduction?”

  1. Can we experiment with Ted Cruz? Asking for a friend. I mean, the Hebrew Bible includes human sacrifice in many places. Is it time to reinstate an ancient tradition?


Thanks for continuing the conversation!

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s