Snow two feet deep and a huge tree-limb down in our back yard, thermometer dancing with Zero, 620,000 folks here in Philly without electricity — winter gone haywire from what some call “Global Weirding” –
I am yearning toward the coming thaw. Not just of flowers rising up against Winter, but the people rising up against Pharaoh. Springing up in active hope to save us all from the Carbon Pharaohs that are bringing on the climate crisis – Plagues that afflict us all.
So let’s begin to plan now. I am writing with suggestions, hopes. I especially hope many of us will comment, suggest, and begin planning now for vigorous action.
The first night of Pesach comes Monday evening, April 14. Palm Sunday comes the day before. Not surprising! –- The first Palm Sunday was a protest against oppression by the Roman Empire, a protest march in the provincial capital of the Empire – Jerusalem — led by a radical Rabbi from the Galilee.
Not surprising for these nonviolent Jewish marchers to choose Passover-time to raise green palms of life and protest: Passover was the archetypal festival of a victorious challenge to Imperial power, as well as the festival of life reborn.
So ——— already from The Shalom Center on our own and within Interfaith Moral Action on Climate and Philadelphia Interfaith Power & Light there are plans afoot for action in Philadelphia, NYC, and Washington DC. We’d also be glad to assist wherever possible if activist groups emerge in other cities — in synagogues and havurot & independent minyanim, in churches and mosques everywhere.
FIRSTEVENTIN A SPRINGOFTIKKUNTEVEL:On April 9 or 10, with Matzah in one hand and Palms in the other, we who seek to heal our wounded Mother Earth will gather in a house of worship, pray and praise that ONE who breathes all life.
Then we will march with Palms in hand to some Pyramid of Power: an office of the American Petroleum Institute, or a coal-powered plant spewing asthma into the neighborhood and drought upon the planet, or railroad tracks where derailed tanker cars threaten to bring flames of terror upon an entire city. There to pass a Globe from hand to hand, singing “We’ve got the whole world in our hands/ Trees and tigers in our hands/ Our children and their children in our hands / We have the whole world in our hands!” And to eat the Matzah that is the Bread of Haste, “for there was no time for the dough to rise”; it is the Bread of the “fierce urgency of Now.”
NEXTPOSSIBLECLIMATE-FOCUSTIME: On Shabbat morning April 12, Jews will read a passage from the last of the Prophets – Malachi — specially designated for the Shabbat before Passover:
Here! The day is coming that will flame like a furnace, says the Infinite YHWH / Breath of Life, when all the arrogant and all evil-doers, root and branch, will like straw be burnt to ashes. Yet for those of you who revere My Name, a sun of justice will arise with healing in its wings / rays… .
Here! Before the coming of the great and awesome day of YHWH/ the Breath of Life, I 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 smite the earth with utter destruction.” (Malachi 3: 20-21, 23-24; See commentary at https://theshalomcenter.org/node/1497 )
This Haftarah passage lends itself to bringing together different age groups in the congregation to learn more deeply about the climate crisis and to plan for action. NEXT:During the week of Pesach and Holy Week, clusters of people can plan an Interfaith Seder for the Earth: perhaps a Second or Third Seder, perhaps on Holy Thursday in memory of the Last Supper, perhaps on the evening of Earth Day, April 22, beginning just after Passover ends. Check at
In a separate letter, I will suggest ways of pointing Shabbat B’Har (May 10); Lag ba’Omer (Sunday May 18); and Shavuot (beginning the evening of June 3) toward the Torah of Tikkun Tevel – Healing of the Planet.
Let me repeat: I welcome comments, suggestions — write them below; and I hope some of us will respond to the wailing of our wounded Mother Earth by drawing on these ideas to shape our own actions.
Make a recurring donation and receive Freedom Journeys as our token of appreciation. Click here for more info about the book. Freedom Journeys is a deep meditation on the timeless—and timely—relevance of the Exodus narrative. In the grand tradition of mystical exegesis, Waskow and Berman reflect upon Exodus not only as an event that happened “then” and “there”, but a paradigm of movement that is happening here and in the now, for all of us, Jew and Muslim, Black and White, male and female. —Omid Safi, professor of Islamic studies, University of North Carolina.