Six months from right now, the official governmental representatives of the entire human race will hold a crucial international conference in Paris (from November 30 to December 11) to address the climate crisis. The success or failure of that conference can make an enormous difference to the future of the human race and the whole web of life upon our planet. Can we prevent world-wide climate-spawned disasters? Can we turn our science and our moral wisdom toward walking, step by step, into shaping a world of shared, sustainable abundance -- eco-social justice? If past governmental behavior is any indication, the governments will probably get stuck in Paris – unless we, the Peoples, insist on action. What we do during the next six months will decide what happens in Paris. We initiated the Rabbinic Letter on the Climate Crisis as a Jewish analogue to Pope Francis’ encyclical. As of this morning, 333 rabbis have joined in this Letter. It makes clear that ancient Jewish wisdom demands modern Jewish action. One approach we called Move Our Money/Protect Our Planet (MOM/POP):
- Households and congregations could decide to purchase their electric power from wind instead of coal.
- Jewish households and groups could shift their investments from lethal fossil-fuel production into life-giving enterprises.
- The citizenry could insist that our tax money stop subsidizing Big Oil and instead support renewable energy.
- These actions would weaken the power of the Corporate Carbon Pharaohs that are bringing plagues upon our planet, would strengthen life-giving enterprises, and would make clear that burning the Earth is a moral abomination.
And we suggested that every Jewish community assemble public city-wide meetings this coming fall, pointing toward Paris -- to energize Jewish and multireligious responses to the climate crisis, as the crucial Paris conference comes near. In these meetings, different approaches would be discussed and people choose what they will do to insist that the US government take vigorous action in Paris, despite pressures from the Corporate Carbon Pharaohs. The 333 rabbis drew on a remarkable passage of Torah to suggest that an auspicious time to do this will be October 4, the Sunday of Sukkot. For not only is Sukkot the most Earth-conscious of our festivals, but Torah (Deut 31:10-12) calls on us once in every seven Sukkot festivals to Assemble the whole people to relearn together the heart of Torah. This historic teaching is in Hebrew called "Hak'heyl” (Assemble!) This very year is a ”seventh year” -- the Sabbatical Shmita/ Year of Release when the Earth should be allowed to rest. So that means we could create Hak'heyl this coming Sukkot. The focus of this Hak’heyl should be Pointing Toward Paris. Insisting that the US government take a vigorous stand in Paris, despite whatever pressures the Corporate Carbon Pharaohs bring to bear. If you are interested in Assembling such a Hak'heyl gathering in your city this fall, please write us at Assemble@theshalomcenter.org We can help with program ideas, contacts with people, relevant sacred texts, scientific explanations, prayers as if the Earth really matters. The ancient call for Hak’heyl meets, in our own generation, the most urgent moment of human history. For the Torah’s timing and the crunch of history to conspire – “breathe together”-- in this way is uncanny. And powerful. We might even say, providential. But only if we respond.