Celebrating Mother Earth was wonderful. Now it’s time to plan the actions we can take to challenge the Carbon Pharaohs that are bringing plagues upon her and disasters on the human communities she nurtures.
Said Rabbi Akiba, facing threats from the Roman Empire, “Which is stronger [as a path of Resistance] –- study or action? He answered, “Study – IF it leads to action.”
I am sharing with you today both action and study: one report of action last week to confront and rebuke a modern Pharaoh, a modern Roman Emperor, whose own actions are ravaging he Earth and endangering humanity; and an invitation to learn this summer with me and a climate scientist the next steps we need to take to heal our planet.
- Mr Pruitt: Turn, Turn, Turn!
Last week, I took part in a vigil and letter-sending to confront Scott Pruitt, head of what used to be the Environmental Protection Agency. Rabbi Rain Zohav of the Washington metro area brought together from all across America hundreds of religiously-rooted letters to Mr. Pruitt -- who makes a special point of his commitment to his Christian faith -- reminding him of his obligation to God and God’s creation.
I read aloud a letter from me to include in the package of letters we delivered. I pointed out that Mr. Pruitt had turned away from his sacred obligations by turning EPA – which had been the Environmental Protection Agency – into the “Earth Poisoning Atrocity.” I urged him to repent – to do what Jewish tradition calls tshuvah, a conscious and active turning away from destroying Earth to face the Creative Breathing Spirit of all life. My letter to Mr. Pruitt is posted on our Website at <https://theshalomcenter.org/mr-pruitt-turn-turn-turn>.
We were able to make a videotape of parts of the vigil. Click here to watch it: <https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WH0ydDMtXmA&feature=youtu.be>
The letters to Mr. Pruitt go by very quickly; if you want to read them, as each appears press the "pause" button on the video.
2. New study to make new action possible: "Torah, Science and Hard Choices. ”
It is time to put Akiba;s teaching into practice, if we are to heal the Earth, This summer I will be co-teaching a class on “Healing Our Wounded Climate: Torah, Science and Hard Choices. ” My co-teacher will be Rob Socolow, Professor Emeritus of Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering at Princeton University, Co-Director of the Carbon Mitigation Initiative, and senior scholar of the Princeton Environmental Institute.
Our class will be held from July 2-8, at the ALEPH Jewish-renewal Kallah (gathering) on the campus of the University of Massachusetts in Amherst, Mass.
This is what the class will address: Increasing numbers of scientists are warning that even achieving zero CO2 emissions will leave a trillion tons of excess carbon dioxide in the atmosphere. That can wreak havoc on, and possibly even destroy, human civilization.
Climate science and renewable-energy engineering have already taught us what we need to do to in order to make sure our planet can barely survive. But what should we do to renew and restore a healthy, life-giving planet? An Earth, a planet, as life-giving for our childrren and grandchildren as it was for parents and grandparents?
For that we need more study, and new action. Various proposals are being put forward to get this excess carbon dioxide out of the atmosphere. So as Rabbi Akiba taught, action is necessary – IF it is guided by study and understanding.
What should be the relationships among religion, science and public policy in addressing this crisis? What are these proposals, what are their risks and possibilities? What does Torah teach about the roots of the climate crisis: how we should behave toward the Earth, how to balance the risks of action and of inaction, how to judge among the various proposed solutions and how to engage (through study, liturgy, daily practice and advocacy) the Jewish and multi-religious communities in making these decisions?
You might say, as this photo embodies, how do we connect trees and Torah?
I look forward to meeting face-to-face with you to deepen our conversation about action to heal our wounded Mother Earth.
Next week I will share with you our plans for working with the Poor Peoples Campaign to prevent ecological devastation, and our plans to “Share Sukkot: Grow the Vote!”
Please help The Shalom Center continue its work to heal the Earth's deep wounds by clicking on the maroon “Contribute” button on the left-hand margin of this page.
Blessings of shalom, salaam, paz, peace for Earth and all her myriad earthlings.