It was Greta Thunberg, the youth of Extinction Rebellion, and the youth of the Rainbow Movement who created the world-wide Climate Strike in September. They are now calling for a new and larger wave of the Strike in the US on Friday, December 6.
Their generation is demanding enactment of the Green New Deal as an interweave of eco-sanity and social justice that is crucial to their lives – literally their lives, not their deaths in misery as human civilization and the web of life on earth collapse from the world’s addiction to burning fossil fuels.
The time has come for the Jewish community to join in that demand and in the Climate Strike on December 6 – as a community, not only as a scattering of individual Jews taking part in Climate activism.
We at The Shalom Center urge groups to form in synagogues, havurot, Jewish retirement homes, schools, Federations, radio and TV and Internet networks, activist groups on many different issues (not just climate), Yiddish classes, clusters of Israelis – to plan to take part on December 6. To be Jewishly visible and audible: wearing kippot and tallitot, blowing the shofar of warning and awakening. Asking to speak. Quoting the Hebrew Bible. Chanting “Olam chesed yibaneh /We will build the world with love”) and “Nishmat kol chai tivarekh et-shimcha/ The Breath of all Life Praises Your Name” and “We have the Whole World in Our Hands” and using Leonard Cohen’s melody for “Hallelu-Yah/ Let us Praise the Breath of Life.”
As the December 6 plans firm up and action sites emerge, we will be back to you with more detailed information. For now: Reach Out. Connect. Meet. Covenant to Act as part of #ElijahCovenant4Earth. Talk with allies in and beyond the Jewish community.
Why? The reasons are ancient – and utterly Now. We are bearers of an extraordinary treasury of indigenous wisdom carried for millennia into a generation that needs that wisdom. It is encoded in the Hebrew Scriptures. They are the distillation of the spiritual experience of shepherds and farmers close to Earth. So close they called Earth “adamah” and Human earthlings “adam.” The truth of our intertwining was named in the very words they used.
And today? The Jewish community would make a difference to the human future if we drew publicly, explicitly, and Jewishly on that ancient past and our modern political expertise.
So The Shalom Center has reached out to rabbis and other spiritual leaders of the Jewish people to call for Jewish activism between the generations. More than 50 Initiating Signers came forward from practically every strand of Jewish religious and spiritual leadership in the USA, Canada, the United Kingdom, and Israel. More than 200 rabbis and other spiritual leaders have since then signed the call. It echoes an ancient call for the generations of youngsters and elders to turn toward each other to heal the endangered Earth.
Elijah’s Covenant Between the Generations
to Heal Our Endangered Earth
We Rabbis, Cantors, and other Jewish leaders and teachers see ourselves as the heirs of the ancient Hebrew Prophets, including the last, whose words echo through the ages:
I [YHWH] will send you the Prophet Elijah to turn the hearts of
parents to children and the hearts of children to parents,
lest I come and utterly destroy the Earth.”
(Malachi 3: 23-24)
For the first time in the history of Humanity, we are actually moving toward the burning and devastation of the web of life on Earth by human action -- the unremitting use of fossil fuels. Our children and grandchildren face deep misery and death unless we act. They have turned their hearts toward us. Our hearts, our minds, our arms and legs, are not yet turned toward them.
Can we more fully turn our hearts to these our children? It will mean:
1) Studying Jewish wisdom and today’s truest science of Earth-Human relationships;
2) Lifting up old prayers and new, old rituals and new, that celebrate Earth;
3) Welcoming refugees who have fled the storms, floods, and famines that beset their homes because of global scorching;
4) Urging our banks and our politicians to Move Our Money, Protect Our Planet (MOM/POP): Move away from investments in and subsidies of Carbon Corporations and Protect by investing in renewable wind and solar energy;
5) Persuading ourselves and our congregations and communities to move our own money, create solar-energy co-ops, establish car pools to lessen reliance on gas, and adopt additional modes of kashrut to include foods and energy sources that heal, not harm, our planet;
6) Joining our young people in urging our governments to legislate a swift and massive program that intertwines ecological sanity and social justice, as they were intertwined in the biblical practice of the Shemittah/ Sabbatical/ Seventh Year. (Lev. 25 and Deut. 15)
7) Shaping all these efforts as expressions of joyful community, not fearful drudgery.
The nearest analog to that ancient Shemittah practice to have brought together the hearts and minds of Youth and Elders today is the “Green New Deal.” Among its urgent demands:
1) Swiftly end the burning of fossil fuels;
2) Provide millions of well-paid new jobs to install the necessary network of renewable energy for an economy freed from the tyranny of carbon;
3) Sustain those workers whose jobs disappear as we move from the old economy to the new one;
4) Empower neighborhoods of color and of entrenched poverty, indigenous peoples, and other marginalized communities that have already been suffering the worst impacts of fossil-fuel harm and dead-end economic despair;
5) Reforest Earth and defend our natural wildlife refuges;
6)Take carefully vetted steps to restore a climate as life-giving to our grandchildren as it was to our grandparents.
This social transformation is the fruit that can grow only from the roots of spiritual wisdom. We come back to the Ruach HaKodesh, the Holy Spirit, the Interbreath. In planetary terms, that Interbreath is the interchange of Oxygen and CO2 that keeps animals and plants alive. It is precisely that Interbreath that is now in crisis, as the over-manufacture of CO2 by burning fossil fuels overwhelms the ability of plants to transmute the CO2 to oxygen – and thus heats, scorches, burns our common home.
Our sacred task requires affirming not only the biological ecosystem but also a cultural/ social ecosystem -- the modern word for how the diverse Images of God become ECHAD. Jews, Indigenous Nations, Christians, Muslims, Unitarians, Buddhists, Hindus, and many others –each community must bring their own unique wisdom to join, in the Name of the ONE Who is the Interbreathing Spirit of all life. Whose universal Breathing is the “nameless name,” the “still small voice” that supports and suffuses all the many diverse Names of God in many cultures and communities. That Interbreathing Spirit supports and suffuses all life on Planet Earth.
Initiating Signers: (Institutions are noted for identification only. In keeping with that understanding, officerships in those institutions are not noted. These initiating signers come from practically every strand of Jewish religious and spiritual leadership in the USA, Canada, the United Kingdom, and Israel. By now almost 200 additional Rabbis have signed. We will make their names available in a readable form by early next week.)
Rabbi Howard Avruhm Addison, Graduate Theological Foundation
Rabbi Katy Allen, Jewish Climate Action Network, MA
Rabbi Phyllis Berman, ALEPH Mashpiah Faculty
Rabbi Ellen Bernstein, Shomrei Adamah emerita
Dr. Barbara Breitman, Reconstructionist Rabbinical College
Rabbi Sharon Brous, Ikar, Los Angeles
Cherie Brown, National Coalition-Building Institute
Rabbi Daniel Burstyn, Center for Creative Ecology, Kibbutz Lotan, Israel
Rabbi Fred Scherlinder Dobb, Interfaith Power and Light
Rabbi Elliot Dorff, American Jewish University
Rabbinic Pastor Kate Shulamit Fagan, Ohalah Rabbinic Pastor Program
Rabbi Randy Fleisher, Central Reform Congregation, St Louis
Rabbi Dr. Aubrey Glazer, Panui Institute & Shaare Zion, Montréal
Rabbi Shefa Gold, C-DEEP
Arlene Goldbard, The Shalom Center emerita
Rabbi Aaron Goldstein, Conference of Liberal Rabbis and Cantors, UK
Rabbi Arthur Green, Rabbinical School, Boston Hebrew College
Rabbi Yitz Greenberg, CLAL: National Jewish Center for Learning and Leadership
Rabbi Jill Hammer, Kohenet Institute
Rabba Sara Hurwitz, Yeshivat Maharat
Rabbi David Ingber, Romemu, New York City
Rabbi Jill Jacobs, Truah: A Rabbinic Call for Human Rights
Rabbi Raachel Jurovics, OHALAH: The Association of Rabbis and Cantors for Jewish
Hazan Jack Kessler, ALEPH Ordination Program
Rabbi Sharon Kleinbaum, Beit Simchat Torah, NYC
Dr. Joy Ladin, Stern College, Yeshiva University
Rabbi Michael Latz, Truah & Shir Tikvah, Minneapolis
Rabbi Michael Lerner, Tikkun
Rabbi Mordechai Liebling, Reconstructionist Rabbinical College
Rabbi Ellen Lippmann, Kolot Chayyeinu emerita
Yavilah McCoy, Dimensions Inc.
Ruth Messinger, American Jewish World Service
Rabbi Yonatan Neril, Interfaith Center for Sustainable Development, Israel
Rabbi Jeffrey Newman, Finchley Reform Synagogue, UK
Dr. Judith Plaskow, Manhattan College emerita
Rabbi Marcia Prager, ALEPH Ordination Program
Rabbi Josh Rabin, United Synagogue of Conservative Judaism
Rabbi Danny Rich, Liberal Judaism, UK
Rabbi Jeff Roth, Awakened Heart Project
Rabbi David Saperstein
Nigel Savage, Hazon
Rabbi Shalom Schachter, Interfaith Social Assistance Reform Coalition, Ontario, Canada
Rabbi David Seidenberg, NeoHasid.org
Rabbi David Shneyer, Am Kolel, Washington DC area
Rabbi Daniel Siegel, ALEPH: Alliance for Jewish Renewal (Canada)
Rabbi Hanna Tiferet Siegel, ALEPH Mashpiah Faculty
Rabbi Susan Talve, Central Reform Congregation, St Louis
Rabbi David Teutsch, Reconstructing Judaism
Rabbi Arthur Waskow, The Shalom Center
Rabbi Deborah Waxman, Reconstructing Judaism
Rabbi Elyse Wechterman, Reconstructionist Rabbinical Association
Rabbi Levi Weiman-Kelman, Kol HaNeshama, Jerusalem
Rabbi Sheila Weinberg, Institute for Jewish Spirituality
Joey Weisenberg, Hadar's Rising Song Institute
Rabbi Jonathan Wittenberg, Masorti Judaism UK
Rabbi Shmuly Yanklowitz, Uri L’Tzedek
Rabbi Shawn Zevit, Mishkan Shalom, Philadelphia
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Again: We at The Shalom Center urge Jewish groups of all sorts to plan to take part on December 6. To be Jewishly visible and audible. To act as if the lives of our children and grandchildren are at stake – because they are. To act as if the future of the Jewish People is at stake – because it is. We seek not only to avert disaster but by uniting the spiritual wisdom and the scientific knowledge we now have, to help create the Beloved Community of shared and sustainable abundance in a world of justice. Shalom, salaam, paz, peace -- Arthur