Rabbi Katy Allen image

Rabbi Katy Allen

How does your faith help you in times of struggle, change, and new beginnings?

Shabbat provides me with a time to step back from the busyness of the week and to gain perspective and revitalization. It also provides a rhythm to the week that is strengthening and comforting – Shabbat is never too far away, a landing spot for me after whatever challenges the week might bring.

Other holidays provide deeper meaning and opportunities for growth through the cycle of the year, as well as a sense of being connected to the moon cycles and the seasons.

Daily prayer and regular blessings infuse a sense of connection with the sacred into my life, and serve as a reminder both of G!d's presence in my life and in the Universe and that I'm not in control of everything. Text studies get my mind working and stimulate deeper insights into life, along with the ongoing wonder and amazement I experience in understanding that people have struggled with the issues of life for millennia.

Is there a ritual or tradition related to the environment that inspires you?

My daily davenning (Yiddish for prayer) I do outside, and every blessing and prayer takes on new and deeper meaning when I feel the Earth beneath my feet and see the sky above my head and hear the birds singing around me.

What have you done to improve the sustainability of your diet, transportation, and/or energy use?

I am a vegetarian and limit my dairy intake. I have a garden and buy much of my food through local vegetable and grain CSAs. I have solar panels and solar hot water. I use public transportation when possible, and I limit my flying. All of my finances are in fossil-fuel-free funds.

How would you describe the experience of making these lifestyle changes?

The main challenge with all of the changes is making the decision, and then sticking with that decision and implementing it. I have been a vegetarian for many years, so it is an integral part of my life and people around me now know and accept it. Although I've made moves toward a fully plant-based diet, going from vegetarian to vegan is much more challenging for me, especially given other dietary restrictions of people I live with.

Going solar was made easier because of a state-run program that our town participated in, which provided a lot of support to people as well as good prices. I live in an area without public transportation that is too far to walk to many things, though I nevertheless do sometimes walk places. This is painful and frustrating to me, and I try to carpool as much as possible, or to combine activities that are in the same area into one trip.

I struggle a lot about flying, as there are people I want to see and places I want to go, some of which are at a great distance. I've wanted to take a group to Israel, but I am struggling about the ethics of doing that, given the amount of carbon it would put into the air. I try to take the train when I can, but it isn't always very convenient, or it can take a long time. We are currently looking into other ways to make our home more energy efficient as well.

What are others doing?