Torah Calls Us to "Assemble!" in Sukkot after Sabbatical/ Shmita Year Has the time come for Jewish communities to hold public gatherings to discuss and plan responses to the climate crisis? In Boston, such a conference was held on May 17 by the Jewish Climate Action Network. (The Shalom Center was a co-sponsor, and I spoke there.) In Philadelphia, the Jewish Federation and its Jewish Community Relations Council is planning toward such a gathering on October 4. I encourage all of us to be thinking about organizing such an event in our own cities. These could be Jewish or interfaith gatherings.
An auspicious time to do this might be the Sunday of Sukkot, the harvest festival -- this coming fall, October 4. Why then? Partly because Sukkot is one of the most Earth-conscious of our festivals. And especially because this coming Sukkot is special.
The Torah (Deut 31:10-12) calls on us in the Sukkot after a Sabbatical Shmita/ Year of Release to Assemble (in Hebrew, "Hak'heyl") the whole people to learn together the heart of Torah. This very year is a Sabbatical Year -- so that means we could create Hak'heyl this coming Sukkot.
In our generation, this means learning the Torah of eco-social justice,healing the Earth and human earthlings from the lethal climate crisis we are in, and birthing a new Earth-wide community of shared and sustainable abundance.
If you are interested in organizing a Hak'heyl gathering in your city this fall, please write us at Outreach@theshalomcenter.org