Hazon's Cross-USA Jewish Environmental Bike-RidePresident Clinton
The White House
1600 Pennsylvania Ave
August 28th, 2000 / Av 5760
Hazon is a new non-profit organization based in New York. The word is Hebrew for "vision": Hazon has been founded to encourage and empower idealistic people and innovative projects in the US Jewish community.
Today we completed Hazon's first big project, the first-ever Cross-USA Jewish Environmental Bike-Ride. There are only twelve of us, but we encompass the diversity of the Jewish community - we are Jews from the US, the UK and Israel; Orthodox, Conservative, Reform and secular; married and single, straight and gay.
We have been united by a determination to bicycle from Seattle, WA to the White House, here in Washington, DC, and in so doing to raise environmental awareness in Jewish communities.
During our journey we have taught about the relationship between Judaism and the environment, and have encouraged Jewish communities to deepen their ecological learning and environmental commitment. And we have learned so much: about the kindness of strangers, for instance, and about our capacity to grow and to learn (and to ride distances we wouldn't have believed possible until recently). We have seen from a bicycle seat both the beauty of America and the ecological challenges we all face.
The creation story at the beginning of the Torah says that we are commanded to protect and conserve the earth. We write to you now, at the end of our Ride, to thank you for the ways that your Administration has acted in furtherance of this injunction, especially in bringing hundreds of thousands of acres of land under public protection.
At the same time, as the media talks about the "legacy" of your Administration, we ask you, in our name and in the name of Jewish tradition, to use these last months of your term of office to take steps truly to protect the world. In particular, our Ride has coincided with evidence that the North Pole seems to be melting. We call upon you to appoint a Presidential Commission on Global Warming, enjoined to advise on ways that the US can do more to lessen the threat of irrevocable and damaging climate change.
One specific thing we learned this summer was about the ecological impact of eating meat, something that the Union of Concerned Scientists cite as second only to automobile usage in damaging the environment. For your health and that of your family, and as an example to all Americans, we invite you also to take a decision to eat less red meat.
Finally, we enclose with this letter a T-shirt from our ride, together with a two-volume collection entitled Torah of the Earth ("Exploring 4,000 Years of Ecology in Jewish Thought").
With all best wishes,
On behalf of our riders:
Mark X Jacobs, Coalition on the Environment & Jewish Life
Jerry Lawson, EPA EnergyStar/Congregation
Rabbi Norman Lamm, Yeshiva University
Rabbi David Saperstein, The Religious Action Center of Reform Judaism
Rabbi Ismar Schorsch, The Jewish Theological Seminary
Rabbi Arthur Waskow, The Shalom Center
Rabbi Eric Yoffie, The Union of American Hebrew Congregation