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 22: Hope as an Ethical Imperative Evolve

In 1995, Barbara Breitman’s beloved cousin was murdered and Barbara and her husband, Chaim adopted her cousin’s children. The following year, her husband died suddenly and tragically. In this episode, Brietman – a social worker, therapist, spiritual director and scholar of religion – recounts how she was able to rebuild her life after her world was shattered. And she discusses how lessons learned regarding personal resilience can be translated into the social-political realm. “When I’m talking about hope as a practice, I’m not talking about some fluffy thing,” Breitman says. In Breitman’s telling, hope is an essential Jewish practice. It enables leaders to imagine a different world and work to bring it out about no matter what obstacles stand in the way. She cites Moses, Noah and Mordechai as Biblical characters who embody this kind of hope. How can ordinary people emulate these examples? We talk about this, as well as Brietman’s idea that people can undergo reincarnation within the same lifetime, thus leading multiple lives. 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: Barbara Breitman.
  1. Episode 22: Hope as an Ethical Imperative
  2. Episode 21: Fighting Antisemitism and Racism in Minneapolis
  3. Episode 20: America's First Bat Mitzvah
  4. Episode 19: Environmental Justice and Race
  5. Episode 18: Liberating Your Passover Seder

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

  1. Marc Brenman

    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?


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