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Impeachment: Constitutional, Moral, or Spiritual?

The American people and the human race are facing profound moral and spiritual crises -- so profound that they shake our political systems and take the form of a Constitutional crisis. They force us to face the meaning of government, law, and democracy. In US history, a similar crisis led to the most important and consequential effort to impeach and remove a President of the United States –- an effort that failed. Today a profound moral and spiritual crisis – in some ways rooted in that historic failure -- has brought us to the same moment.  

In this essay (in two parts) I will sketch the history and ethics that lead me to this belief, and then will end by suggesting the actions that this crisis calls forth.

What we call “politics” and “constitutions” embody the spirituality of a whole society, even the whole human community. Sometimes it is a demonic spirituality, as in Hitler’s Germany. Sometimes it is a sacred spirituality, as in the three Constitutional Amendments after the Civil War that outlawed slavery and attempted to end racial inequality in the US.

IMPEACHMENT IN 1867

Those Amendments tried to create what would have been a Second Constitution of the United States. They emerged from a moral and spiritual effort to end the original sin – notice the “spiritual” word -- of slavery and racism in the original US Constitution and social system, and to bring about real racial equality. For almost a century, they mostly failed. Not till the grass-roots upheaval of the Black-led freedom movement in the 1960s did the courts give some of those amendments reality. 

The first sign of that century of failure came in a failed effort to use the impeachment provisions of the Constitution to remove from office President Andrew Johnson. The House of Representatives in 1867 brought charges of “high crimes and misdemeanors” against him. By a single vote, the Senate failed to remove him.

The House had impeached Johnson for (a) firing an activist Secretary of War, appointed by President Lincoln, who was ready to have the US Army ensure racial equality in the South, and (b) claiming

Action Guide for #Sukkot4ClimateHealing : Part 2, Ritual Resources

[At https://theshalomcenter.org/content/inviting-you-join-sukkot4climatehealing is the basic unfolding of our spiritually rooted strategy for engaging a wide variety of religious and spiritual communities in healing Earth and Humankind from climate disaster. This report follows the Guide to Sukkot Action, Part 1,  accessible at https://theshalomcenter.org/action-guide-sukkot4climatehealing-part-1. That report lays out the step-by-step process of organizing a Sukkot action to heal Earth.

[This Guide to an activist celebration of #Sukkot4Climate Healing was written by Faryn Borella. She is a rabbinical student at the Reconstructionist Rabbinical College and the Ira Silverman Memorial Intern at The Shalom Center. The Guide is intendedd to support groups of Jews and memberss of other religious, spirituaal, and ethical groups who joiin in celebrating Sukkot, the Jewish Harvest Festival tht traditionally welcomes participation by all communities that seek to honor, protect, and justly share Earth's abundance. In our generation, this includes insisisting on public policies to heal Earth and Humanity from the climate crisis. AW, editor]

Ritual Resources:

For a classic book on the history, spiritual meaning, and practices of the flow of the Jewish festivals, see Arthur Waskow’s  Seasons of Our Joy. The third edition, published by the Jewish Publication Society, is available from the publisher at  https://jps.org/books/seasons-of-our-joy/

 

 

General Sukkot Ritual Practices:

 

Below is a list of rituals traditionally practiced on Sukkot.Any one of these rituals could be used as part of your action. Here, they are summarized. Below, find amended versions of the rituals that tailor them toward the goal of Climate Healing.

  • Building and dwelling in the Sukkah
  • Ushpizin: A ritual to welcome our “sacred guests” into the sukkah with us. We perform a short ceremony to welcome the ushpizin (Aramaic for “guests”). The full text of the ritual invites them to join us, including prayers that our fulfillment of the mitzvah of sukkah will be worthy of Divine favor. Then, on the first day we say, “I invite to my meal the exalted guests, Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, Joseph, Moses, Aaron, and David. May it please you, Abraham, my exalted guest, that all the other exalted guests dwell with me and with you – Isaac, Jacob, Joseph, Moses, Aaron, and David.”

In many communities, women ushpizot have been added. One approach to naming them is based upon the seven women prophets named in the Talmud: Sarah, Miriam, Deborah, Hannah, Abigail, Huldah, and Esther. Other lists connect with the deep understandings of the spiritual aspects of various biblical women, especially the Four Foremothers, Miriam, Hannah, and Esther..

And in some communities, heroic men and women of later eras and other-than-Jewish communities are welcomed as sacred guests: for example, Martin Luther King and Fannie Lou Hamer; John Muir and Rachel Carson.

  • On each day, a different one or two of the seven or fourteen is singled out, in order. [Check Ritualwell or Open Siddur for roster of uspizot] For more information, see here
  • Hallel: chanting Psalms 113-118, songs of joy and thanksgiving. The full text can be found here:

https://www.myjewishlearning.com/article/ushpizin-welcoming-guests/.

  • Benching Lulav and Etrog: Waving the lulav and etrog, in the seven directions ---  six outward – Left, Right, Front, Back, Up, Down – each time bringing the lulav inward to touch your heart --  the seventh direction,accompanied by blessings.
    • Take up the lulav and etrog.
    • Say: May my thoughts be holy, in token of the abundance of blessing that is mine from heaven and earth. With these fourspecies, I reach out to the Interbreathing Spirit of all Life, whose Presence is with us in all directions and all ways.
    • Wave the species in the seven directions and recite the blessing (below listed first in the masculine, then in the feminine.
    • בָּרוּךְ אַתָּה יָהּ אֱלֹהֵינוּ רוּחַ הָעוֹלָם אֲשֶׁר קִדְּשָׁנוּ בְּמִצְוֹתָיו וְצִוָּנוּ עַל נְטִילַת לוּלָב   
    • Barukh Atah Yah, Eloheynu ruakh haolam, asher kidshanu b'mitzvot v'tzivanu al netilat lulav.
    • בְּרוּכָה אַתְּ יָהּ אֱלֹהֵינוּ רוּחַ הָעוֹלָם אֲשֶׁר קִדְשַׁתְנוּ בְּמַצּוֹתֶיהָ וְצִוַתְנוּ עַל נְטִילַת לוּלָב
    • Brukhah At Yah Eloheynu ruakh haolam asher kid'shatnu b'mitzvot v'tzivatnu al n'tilat lulav.   
    • Blessed are you, Yah, Breath of Life, who makes us holy us with Your commandments [or “connections”] and has enjoined upon us the mitzvah of the lulav.   
    •   בָּרוּךְ אַתָּה יָהּ אֱלֹהֵינוּ רוּחַ הָעוֹלָם שֶׁהֶחֱיָנוּ וְקִיְּמָנוּ וְהִגִּיעָנוּ לַזְּמָן הַזֶּה
    • Barukh Atah Yah, Eloheynu ruakh haolam, sheheheyanu v'kiy'manu v'higiyanu lazman hazeh.       
    • בְּרוּכָה אַתְּ יָהּ אֱלֹהֵינוּ רוּחַ הָעוֹלָם שֶׁהֶחֱיָתְנוּ וְקִיְּמָתְנוּ וְהִגִּיעָתְנוּ לַזְּמָן הַזֶּה   
    • Brukhah At Yah Eloheynu ruah haolam sheheheyatnu v'kiy'matnu v'higiatnu lazman hazeh.   
    • Blessed are you, Yah, Breath of Life, who has kept us alive, sustained us, and enabled us to reach this moment.
  • Torah: On the first day of Sukkot, the Torah portion Emor (Leviticus 23:33-44) is read, which includes the instructions to dwell in booths. The Haftarah, the special selection from the prophetic books that accompanies Torah readings on Shabbat and holidays, is from Zechariah 14:7-9, 16-21. The Torah is read on every day of the festival, including the Shabbat that falls during Sukkot. On this Shabbat, the Book of Kohelet (Ecclesiastes) is read.
  • Hoshanot: prayers recited each day of Sukkot, asking the divine for salvation. For more information, see here
  • Hoshanah Rabbah: The seventh and final day of the intermediary days of Sukkot, prior to Shemini Atzeret, on which it is said the judgement of Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur draws to a close and the world is judged for how much rain it will receive. Seven Hoshanot are recited as we circle the bimah seven times. For more information, see here.
  • Simchat Beit Hasho’evah: An ancient ritual of water-pouring, recently revived, in which the act of water pouring is used to induce the rains from the heavens. For more information, see here and here.

 

Alternative Sukkot Prayers/Practices for Climate Healing:

 

More information on Climate Catastrophe and Just Response:

The Highest “Crime & Misdemeanor”: Burning Earth.

 To Seek the Remedy: #Sukkot4ClimateHealing 

Surely of all the possible “high crimes and misdemeanors” for which we should Impeach a President, the highest crime is deliberately acting to choke and burn our Mother Earth, our “common home” and only source of nourishment for Humankind and all life-forms.

As impeachment of Mr.  Trump proceeds, we should make sure that the Bill of Impeachment includes this charge. To name this crime is crucial to guiding the future actions of every leader of the United States and indeed of every nation, every corporation. 

It is fitting that Impeachment comes to the fore as we are about to gather on Rosh Hashanah. The festival is a Time of Transformation, turning ourselves again from our misdeeds toward the Holy Interbreathing Spirit of all life. The festival is called “Hayom harat olam, The World’s BirthDay or ReConception Day.” The Shofar calls out, "Sleepers, Awake!"

Exactly two weeks later, we will celebrate Sukkot – of all the Jewish festivals, the one most open to Earth, traditionally the one that seeks a prosperous harvest for all the “seventy nations” of the world. 

Yet this year we know that all Earth and all peoples are facing a great crisis. Earth is crying out, “I can’t breathe!” The build-up of surplus CO2 is choking, scorching, and burning the home we humans share with all the other species in the great web of life.  Forests are burning, trees are dying, some crops are failing in unheard-of droughts, unprecedented storms and floods are drowning other crops, fish are vanishing as the oceans turn acid. 

Can we take Sukkot into public space to call for public policies that will heal our Earth, our asthma-haunted neighborhoods, our forgotten and disempowered workers, our farms and cities consumed by flood or fire?

 To heal Earth we will need to weave together scientific knowledge, spiritual wisdom, and political effectiveness. Among the spiritual resources we have are the festivals that were born from Mother Earth and her rhythmic “seasons of our joy.” Today we need Earth’s children --  the festivals -- to serve as sacred instruments for loving, saving, and healing their Mother Earth.

 The Shalom Center seeks to shape the celebration of #Sukkot4ClimateHealing and other festivals like Hanukkah, Tu B’Shvat, Pesach, and Tisha B’Av this year and in the future into a series of activist Earth-healing sacred practices. Our sacred goals: ending the climate crisis; healing Earth and Humanity from the ravages of global scorching; reversing the social injustice and oppression that Corporate Carbon Pharaohs and their governmental enablers impose on all of us,  especially on the most vulnerable among us; restoring for our grandchildren the life-giving climate that our grandparents joyfully lived in; and at the root of all these, learning to love  Earth rather than subduing it, subjugating it. 

 IMAGINE:

All across America, Jewish congregations or existing interfaith organizations invite others to join in multireligious Sukkot vigils at a local home-district office of a Senator or Congressmember.

The vigils gather on Wednesday, Thursday, and/or Friday, October 16, 17,  and 18 -- the third, fourth, and fifth  days of Sukkot --  each a weekday, when these offices will be open. 

 We stand in vigil outside or even inside the office, carrying signs like “Burning Earth: The Highest Crime and Misdemeanor.” 

We wave the Four Species (branches of myrtle, willow, and palm, plus the lemony etrog – or perhaps branches and fruit more familiar in North American ecosystems) in the seven directions of the universe.

 

We chant prayers old and new, songs, psalms, in Hebrew, English, Spanish, other languages, all in celebration of a healthy, healing Earth. By waving fruit and branches we affirm that no one of these offices, no Senator or Congressmember, no human being, could exist without these trees to breathe them into life. 

 We demand that one of the Bills of Impeachment name the acts of Mr. Trump to worsen threats to the web of life on Earth, including human life. His acts to worsen the emissions of CO2 and methane from autos, coal plants, fracking. To multiply oil wells and pipelines in our already troubled oceans and in our precious national parks. To weaken the protection of endangered species.

At the deepest level,  the choice we face is to subjugate Earth and human earthlings, or to love each other. At its deepest level, impeachment is necessary to turn our most powerful officials away from a campaign of abusing their power in order to subjugate immigrants and refugees and especially their children, Blacks, Muslims, Jews, women, the free press, the Congress, the Constitution – even Mother Earth herself, who nourishes us all. 

Impeachment is intended to turn those officials away from subjugation to democracy. And at the deepest spiritual root of democracy is love for human beings and life-forms of every sort and background, all of us pieces of the Grand Jigsaw Puzzle – pieces that we must fit together into a Beloved Community, a Sacred Unity.

If we wish to urge a program beside ensuring that Burning Earth is listed among the Highest of High Crimes, we can support the Green New Deal. Why that?  Because it has so far gathered the broadest support for a modern analogue to the Biblical teaching of the eco/social-justice practice of the Shmita/ Sabbatical Year in which Earth rested, human beings freely shared its bounty, and debts were annulled (Lev. 25 & Deut. 15).

Then Sunday October 20, the seventh and last day of Sukkot, known as “Hoshana Rabbah,” the culmination of its prayers and practices, would be the perfect day to gather in sukkot to celebrate and plan for outreach to broaden the community willing to take the next spiritually rooted action to heal Earth. Perhaps the next foray could be on the Friday after Thanksgiving and again during Hanukkah/ Christmastime in late December.   

No one person, organization, or community can do this alone. So The Shalom Center welcomes the sharing of such resources as songs, Hoshana prayers in English and Hebrew, designs for placards, and posters for the sukkah itself, all focused on carrying out the goals of the #Sukkot4ClimateHealingcampaign. To share them, please click to and respond to a brief survey  -- it will take only three minutes – at https://www.surveymonkey.com/r/XJCXS7R .

With blessings that this year ahead be one of sweet Transformation in our own individual lives, in the life of our nation and all nations, and in our sacred relationship with Earth and the Interbreathing Holy Spirit of all life – Arthur Waskow

Reb Arthur Waskow at 2019 Climate Strike in St Louis, MO, USA

On September 20, 2019, the day set aside for the Climate Strike, Rabbi Waskow was in St. Louis, MO to teach and speak at the Central Reform Congregation. The generation of young people who organized the Climate Strike invited him to speak at the Strike gathering at City Hall, and invited a member of the congregation to blow the shofar.They introduced Rabbi Waskow as the featured and climactic speaker. Here is a video of what he said..

Spread over All of Us the Earth-Healing Power of Sukkot

Last week I sent you a recipe for #Sukkot4ClimateHealing.

Like all recipes, it was intended to invite forth your own imagination – some cinnamon here, sprinkle of lime essence there.

The basic idea is that we turn the Harvest Festival of Sukkot into a melodious instrument for healing our wounded Mother Earth from which Sukkot as a festival was born in the first place.

We suggested holding vigils at Senatorial Congressional home-district offices and/ or  branches or cash machines of Wells-Fargo  Bank, waving  in the seven directions of the world the traditional Four Species --  branches of myrtle, willow, and palm, and the lemon-like fruit of the etrog or citron. (Four species that grow in North American eco-systems might also be appropriate.)   

Watching the unrestrained joy of this child now, waving the Four Species, keep in mind that 30 years from now, whether this child lives in joy or misery depends of whether we act NOW to heal the climate.

These vigils might demand support for the Green New Deal and an end to loans and Federal subsidies to Corporate Carbon Pharaohs that are burning our planet and choking our kids with asthma.

For the full recipe of #Sukkot4ClimateHealing, please see--

https://theshalomcenter.org/content/inviting-you-join-sukkot4climatehealing

Please help us with your own ideas and suggestions about carrying out this #Sukkot4ClimateHealing  campaign. We invite you to sign up for whatever sacred sources, old or new, you could create or share that would spiritually and politically enhance the sacred movement #Sukkot4ClimateHealing
to save all Earth and all Humanity from disaster: plans for a vigil, prayers, Hoshanot, sermons or
midrash, songs.

Please click here and respond to a brief survey  -- it should take only three minutes – at https://www.surveymonkey.com/r/XJCXS7R Thanks!

Within two weeks we will share with you and our wide readership an action plan for communities to use and modify, and links to resources that we harvest.  Meanwhile, we are sending a song that you could use either in the midst of a communal prayer service or in an activist vigil at a Wells Fargo branch or a Congressional/ Senatorial office.

With blessings that our commitment take root “Like a Tree that’s planted by the water” --- Arthur

Inviting You to Join in #Sukkot4ClimateHealing

Inviting You to Join in #Sukkot4ClimateHealing

Sukkot, the week-long Jewish harvest festival that begins the evening of October 13, is of course in its essence a festival of interconnection among Earth and human earthlings. (I use this odd word for human beings to echo in English the way that Hebrew teaches in language the truth of the intertwined relationship – with the words adamah (Earth) and adam (human).

The Shalom Center intends to make the celebration of #Sukkot4ClimateHealing this year and in the future one of a series of Earth-connecting sacred practices. Through them, Jews and those of other spiritual, religious, and ethical communities can join to pursue these sacred goals: ending the climate crisis, healing Earth and Humanity from the ravages of global scorching, and restoring for our grandchildren the life-giving climate that our grandparents joyfully lived in.

How do we plan to do this?

The celebration of Sukkot by our community can be transformed in several ways:

1) Jewish tradition teaches that through Sukkot we seek the just sharing of Earth’s abundance not only for the Jewish people but also for the “70 nations of the world” – that is, all the communities of humankind. We propose to make this vision real by sharing with other spiritual, religious, and ethical communities the prayers and actions that can work to heal what Pope Francis called our common home, all Earth.

2) We can direct the traditional symbols, prayers, songs, and practices of Sukkot to make explicit our determination to actively work for eco/ social justice and healing.

  • Traditionally, for this week we build a “sukkah” –a fragile, temporary home, a hut with a leafy, leaky roof --  open to sun, wind, rain. We eat there, pray there, some might live there.
  • We invoke the blessings of the sacred Breath of Life, the Wind of Change, Ruach Ha”Olam, as we wave the fruit or branches of Four Species of trees in the seven directions of Earth, bringing us close to the touch and sight and feel and smell of our different trees and breezes.
  • We chant Hosha-Na (Please Save!) prayers that ask the One Interbreathing Spirit of all life to save all Earth and Humankind from locusts, drought, insects, and other plagues. 
  • We can chant a  Rosh Hashana prayer that  even ends, “Please save this planet, suspended in space!” – written long before anyone had taken the iconic sacred photo of Earth suspended in space.

3) Some of us can also choose to take Sukkot prayers and practices beyond the walls of synagogues, churches, mosques, temples  -- beyond even the  fragile spaces of our sukkah-huts --  into public and commercial spaces to demand our governments and businesses change their policies so as to heal our Mother Earth, not poison and burn her.

What might this look like? Please understand that the imaging of possible action that follows will, we assume, be modified by local communities as befits their own circumstances.

The Film of a Future: #Sukkot4ClimateHealing

 All across America, hundreds of local clusters of people gather in synagogues or other houses of prayer and Spirit, perhaps in a communal sukkah. They are of varied religious, spiritual, and ethical traditions and communities who have been invited to join in an activist celebration rooted in Jewish tradition. They walk together to a local "home district" office of a US Senator or Congressperson

These processions carry the traditional Sukkot life-symbols of palm, willow, and myrtle branches and the lemony etrog /citron (or some version of these Four Species that are rooted in the varied ecologies of North America).  Perhaps they also carry a very simple version of a sukkah --  a thatched-roof hut carried on four posts.  

 They gather on Wednesday, Thursday, and/or Friday, October 16, 17,  and 18 -- the third, fourth, and fifth  days of Sukkot. (The first two days are for many Jews especially holy days in which they would not travel other than by foot, would not spend money, etc.) And it is important to gather not on Saturday or Sunday or on the near-by American holy-day of Columbus Day/ Indigenous Peoples Day,  but on a weekday when Congressional offices are open.

At the bank or office, some picket outside, some enter --  carrying signs like "Endorse the Green New Deal," "Burning Earth is the Highest Impeachable Crime," “Stop Funding Deadly Fossil Fuels, Start Funding Energy from Sun & Wind,”  "Burning Carbon => Asthma Epidemics & Environmental Racism"

They keep waving the Four Species in the seven directions of the universe. They keep chanting songs, prayers, psalms, in Hebrew, English, Spanish, and perhaps other languages, all in celebration of a healthy, healing Earth. 

They demand that the leading officials in the places where they are chanting appear and sign a pledge to support the Green New Deal as an act to heal Earth and bring both life and justice to endangered and marginalized human communities. (Why the Green New Deal?  Because we believe it is the closest analgue for a modern society to the Biblical teaching of the eco/social-justice practice of the Shmita/ Sabbatical Year in which Earth rested, human beings shared its bounty, and debts were annulled.)

 These Earth-Affirmers join with others – peoples of the Indigenous Nations, Christians, Muslims, Unitarians, and many others -- in the Name of the ONE Who is the Interbreathing Spirit of all life, Whose universal Breathing is the “nameless name” that supports and suffuses all the many diverse Names of God in many cultures and communities, Whose Interbreathing of CO2 and Oxygen preserves all life and is now gravely wounded by the production of more CO2 than all Earth’s vegetation  can transmute to Oxygen. 

Then on Sunday October 20, the seventh and last day of Sukkot, known as “Hoshana Rabbah,” the culmination of its prayers and practices, would be the perfect day to gather in sukkot to celebrate. That might also be a time to plan for outreach to broaden the community willing to take the next spiritually rooted action to heal Earth. Perhaps the next foray could be on the Friday after Thanksgiving and again during Hanukkah/ Christmastime in late December.   

Before Sukkot and afterward, in congregations and interfaith gatherings all across America among sermons and as part of prayer services and public teach-ins, there are discussions of the dangers facing Earth and what we need to do to return Earth to the healthy climate that our grandparents enjoyed and that we intend to leave to our grandchildren. 

Resources #Sukkot4ClimateHealing campaign Will Need and The Shalom Center will Gather and Share

Model sermons to prepare people for this Sukkot campaign, for delivery on Rosh Hashanah, Yom Kippur, and the Jumaa,  Shabbat,  and Sabbath services just before and after. 

Model sermons and services for Sukkot and celebration of Earth and Harvest in other traditions.

Texts and translations and melodies for prayers, old and new, for Earth and human earthlings under these stressful conditions.

Information on the most important institutions that are now preventing climate healing, and the most effective ways for faith communities to change their behavior or redirect their energy.

The Shalom Center and I welcome your comments on this proposal for a campaign and your offers to provide and share resources like those described above. Within two weeks we will share with you and our wide readership an action plan for communities to use and modify, and links to resources that we harvest.

Please help us with your own ideas and suggestions about carrying out this #Sukkot4ClimateHealing campaign. Please click to and respond to a brief survey  -- it should take only three minutes – at https://www.surveymonkey.com/r/XJCXS7R Thanks!

Our Grandchildren Call Us: Join the Climate Strike!

Our Grandchildren Call Us: Join the Climate Strike!

On Friday, September 20, there will be a world-wide Strike for Climate Action. To see where and when in your own town there will be a gathering in support of the strike, you can click to  https://globalclimatestrike.net/    and plug in your town or zip code.

If you join in the Climate Strike, feel free to use the graphic and the slogan just above.

The Climate Strike began with young people in Europe, then with the Sunrise Movement in the US, then with groups like 350.org, Friends of the Earth, and groups rooted in faith and in the Spirit -– carrying out the call of the last of the ancient Hebrew Prophets (Malachi 3 ) that the hearts of the parents and children must turn to each other to prevent the utter destruction of Earth.

What is the goal of the strike? Most broadly, to have the Climate Crisis formally recognized as a national crisis by every government. Beyond that, various groups will have varied intentions. For me, the goal is enactment of some version of the Green New Deal. That approach comes closest to the biblical commitment to connect social justice with eco-sanity. You can read the Congressional GND resolution sponsored by Senator Ed Markey and Congresswoman AOC,  at

 https://news.brightest.io/green-new-deal

I’ve been asked for advice about how Jews and other religious folk can join in these events while making publicly clear the spiritual, religious, and /or ethical covenant/ commitment that for many of us is at the heart of our passionate insistence on healing Earth from the climate crisis.

My suggestions: First, most obvious, especially for Jews, the Shofar (the ram’s horn, an earthy sacred instrument for calling out sorrow, alarm, and transformation). During Elul, the Jewish month before Rosh Hashanah, the tradition teaches us to blow the Shofar every day except on Shabbat, to reawaken us to the need for transforming our lives. September 20 this year will be the 20th of Elul, and Jewish groups taking part in the Strike could make a point of publicly blowing the Shofar to remind us of our obligation to love Mother Earth and heal her.

Jews, Christians, Muslims, and other communities could also carry posters or banners that use the graphic at the top of this letter, or this one -- slightly more grown-up-- with the text above or this text beneath:

 

 

 The text could read:  “JEWS [or Xxxx] JOIN NOAH TO SAVE ALL LIFE ON EARTH ”

or whatever your own heart or group desires.

 The weekend that begins on September 20 will have at least two notable Jewish experiences that bear on the Climate Crisis.  One is the reading of a passage of Torah that begins (Deut. 26: 1-3) by celebrating the first fruits of abundance that come from Earth’s bounty, God’s bounty, the bounty that in scientific fact as well as spiritual insight comes to us through the Interbreathing of all life --  whether you name the Interbreathing “YHWH,”  or the interbreathing of CO2 and Oxygen that makes life possible upon this planet. .

 Later in the portion (Deut 28: 20-24), the Torah recites the consequences of not following the teachings of YHWH, the Breath of Life, the Interbreathing Spirit of the world, about the ways of loving and respecting Earth.

 Those consequences  --“scorching heat,”  drought” – sound very much like the consequences that climate scientists have been warning about for the future and have  now become real  in the present.

 Notice I said “consequences,” not “punishments.” The nature of the Interbreathing that all life shares is that each act has consequences. A very different theology from one that understands God as King, Lord, Judge Who rewards and punishes. 

 In my view, we humans will not be able to heal Earth and ourselves so long as we insist on a hierarchical worldview. We will come out of this crisis fully alive only if we grow to affirm an ecological worldview in which all the differences and uniquenesses of life and society are crucial because, like the unique pieces in a jigsaw puzzle, they fit together into a magnificent Whole, a ONE. 

For this reason, I think –- but it is certainly not necessary to do this in order to join in supporting the Climate Strike --  that it is time for us to drop the “King, Lord, Judge” metaphor for God, to stop substituting the words “Adonai, Lord, “ for YHWH and instead to “pronounce” it truthfully, without vowels -- – just by breathing ”YyyyHhhhWwwwHhhh.”  Or to translate it truthfully as “Breath of Life.”

The second special aspect of the weekend September 20-22 is that on that Saturday night, traditionally, Jews gather for Slichot – beginning the process of “Forgiveness” that is a crucial part of the oncoming High Holy Days.

One “ceremony” or “spiritual exercise” that has in some communities become a mark of Slichot: The community gathers around a large bowl of clear water, Each person receives a piece of paper and a pen with water-soluble ink. After some songs and prayers, each person writes a misdeed they have done on the paper and slowly, as the community watches, one by one its members plunge the paper into the water and watch the words dissolve. 

Without knowing what each person’s misdeeds are, the community deeply understands that each person has taken the first steps of recognizing their own misdeeds, and the community as a whole can take the first steps of forgiveness.

Not till the recognition of misdeed has taken root can each person do tshuvah, “turning” – action to repair the damage already done and to stop mis-doing the misdeed.

What does this have to do with the Climate Strike? The Strike should be not only a demand that large institutions change but also a “strike” of one’s own – taking steps to stop what we ourselves are doing that brings on Earth-wide disaster, just as in a labor strike the workers stop contributing their own labor to their own oppression.

Those who take part in Slichot can encourage each other to think this way.

This will not happen all at once. People who say that almost all of us are "oiloholics" -- addicts of Carbon Burning – are right. Kicking the habit is not easy,, because it takes social change as well as individual change. .  But nicotine addicts joined with others in challenging the Tobacco Drug Lords – and won legal and policy changes that have reduced the level of addiction.  The Climate Strike offers the same opportunity, even to oiloholics, to challenge the Carbon Drug Lords and force them to change.  Slichot can help at the individual level, as the Strike does at the whole-society level.

Our outlook on the Climate Strike is like our approach to all aspects of the Great Turning tht Earth and Humanity need today: The “spiritual” and the “political” cannot be severed from each other. A new politics of planetary survival must be rooted in an “old” spirituality of love – made new.

The Shalom Center and I welcome your comments on these thoughts, and your reports and suggestions on what you think Jews and other religious communities can do in relation to the Climate Strike on September 20. Please write us! (Climate@theshalomcenter.org) If you are willing, we’ll circulate your ideas to our broad readership and membership.

3 Steps TODAY toward Healing Mother Earth

Between now and October 20, we have a major opportunity to greatly grow the gathering public wave for healing Earth and Humankind from the destructive climate crisis.

I am writing to urge us all to act in the spirit of the Shabbat HaGadol haftarah in which YHWH, the Breath of Life, calls on Elijah to turn the hearts of parents and children to each other lest Earth be utterly destroyed.

  1.  On September 20, the Swedish 16-year-old Greta Thunberg, the Sunrise Movement, Extinction Rebellion, 350.org, and others – including The Shalom Center and other Jewish and multireligious groups  -- have together called for a World-Wide Climate Strike to insist that governments at every level take action to heal our Mother Earth and ourselves from the deadly fires, floods, droughts, superstorms, spread of deadly diseases, famines, and rising seas that we are already suffering  -- with worse to come. The Shalom Center and the Jewish Earth Alliance are among sponsors of a webinar on Jewish participation in this World-wide Climate Strike. Join the Webinar at 4 pm Eastern Time TODAY (Monday) by linking to  

https://zoom.us/j/902022662 or Dial by your location +1 646 558 8656 US (New York)   +1 720 707 2699 US   Meeting ID: 902 022 662 


  1.   From Sunday evening October 13 and onward for seven days,  the Jewish community will celebrate Sukkot, the earthiest of all our holy days. That festival already has a tradition of celebrating a healthy and abundant Earth for all the “70 nations,” not just the Jewish people; so a multireligious network could authentically lift Sukkot into Earyh-poteddting activism. OFor Sukkot we could borrow a Roh Hashanah prayer that celebrates "Toleh eretz al blima-- -- The One Who suspends Earth in space [literally, in that which is without whatness]." –- The prayer was written long before anyone could take the iconic photo of Planet Earth, suspended in space.

The Shalom Center has already begun exploring how to draw on the symbols, the practices, and the wisdom of  Sukkot to carry into public along with those of the “70 nations”  for the sake of the web of life of Earth "theirself," not only for the sake of Humankind. Rabbi Art Green, rector of the rabbinical school at Boston Hebrew College, has enthusiastically joined in exploring this, and the (Boston) Jewish Climate Action Network (JCAN) has joined in. Please click "Reply" and write us at The Shalom Center if you want to join in this effort to make Sukkot, a festival born from Earth, into a holy instrument to heal the Earth that birthed her.

 

  1.  We are joining in a call from the young people of the Sunrise Movement to join in a campaign to ensure a major debate by Presidential candidates on the climate crisis. The Democratic National Committee will decide whether to hold such a debate on the most profound issue facing the USA, the human race, and the planet. Such a debate will act as a National Teach-in on climate and how to address the dangers we face.


Below you will see a link from the Sunrise team helping us to take a few minutes right away to help this campaign by calling just two of our own state and local reps on the Democratic National Committee to urge them to vote for the DNC to hold a special Presidential Debate on this issue. To reach your two DNC members, please click on this link and plug in your zip code.  I’ve done this, and it literally takes only 2 minutes each.


  1. Call your two DNC members

    https://act.credoaction.com/call/climate_debate_calls_sunrise/?link_id=1&can_id=de6277e02b2b184c1a1c39f5bf6caf62&source=email-the-final-stretch-10&email_referrer=email_596452___subject_776981&email_subject=good-news-and-bad-news

Shalom, salaam, paz, peace! --  Arthur

The Debates: Leap across a Precipice to the Other Side, or take an "incremental" step into the Abyss?

The most profound question that has surfaced in the Democratic Party’s presidential-primary debates is between calls for a transformation of American society and economy in the direction of far more compassion and justice for human communities and Earth itself – or a series of small steps in the same direction.

I think the world --  both Earth and human earthlings – is crying out for Big Change. Swift Change.  As we say in the traditional prayer for Healing, refuah shleymah, refuat hanefesh v’refuat haguf,  bimheyra v’yamenu! -- a complete healing of soul and body, swiftly in our own days!

We are facing a double crisis: 

Within a dozen years, the scientists tell us and the evidence mounts up with every morning newspaper, we must stop emitting CO2 and methane into The Sacred Interbreathing of all Life that is the actual “God” surrounding and infusing all God’s varied names –- or see the life-web of our planet wither and die.

And perhaps in an even narrower time frame, we are hearing the cries of human pain at a dead-end of jobs and income and dignity and even life-span that are moving millions in the USA and many other countries toward support for unenlightened despots. Threatening that democracy will wither and soon die.

These two outcries, these two impending disasters, are really one. For the root of both disasters is subjugation by the Powerful of those they disempower: The Hyper-wealthy and Hyper-powerful treating Earth and her human beings as objects, as “Its” rather than “Thous,” to use Buber’s insightful language. As tools rather than Persons.

“Globalization” does not have to be subjugation, but it has been so far. It has engineered the massive loss of jobs and future income, of local cultures and foods and musics and story-tellings and prayers -- and with them the loss of a sense of meaningful life. Those who first mutter and whine and then cry aloud that they are the “forgotten Americans” are right. And some of them are then more easily manipulated into taking on sujugation of others as the remedy for the subjugation that they themselves are suffering. 

That chain of clamping chains on those less powerful benefits those at the top. It is the classic strategy of Pharaoh: a Hyper-Power that necessarily curdles into racism, religious bigotry, hatred of foreigners, contempt toward women, caging and killing children, poisoning and plaguing Earth.

Indeed, the strongest way of persuading those in despair to keep oppressing those “below” them is precisely the conviction that there can’t and won’t be basic healing change – only band-aids.  The “incrementalists” will create exactly what they claim to fear –- more support for Pharaoh’s neo-fascism.  

What is The Alternative? We have gained the deep ecological knowledge in biology that could actually respond to each unique and individual species as a sacred part of an interwoven Whole. We could apply the same way of thinking to our ethics, our politics, our economics, our culture, our religion.

Those who claim that only small increments of change can defeat Trumpist neo-fascism are profoundly mistaken. Trump is a symptom that then causes the disease to worsen. But it is the disease that needs to be addressed. To defeat Mr. Trump in an election but leave the basic disease untreated will leave the cancer growing as it was doing before 2016 – but still more desperate and angry.  

The “incrementalists,” for example, complain that the Green New Deal is too big, faces too many aspects of our deep disease. But that is precisely its value. Even at the crassest political level, we cannot make the great leap from the Carbon-burning  Economy to the Solar-Wind Economy without making sure that coal miners and oil-refinery workers can move into the new economy. And we can only make the transformation by mobilizing millions into worthwhile, well-paying jobs. The pieces mesh into a whole.

And in the other direction, we cannot address the environmental diseases that are worsening from lead in drinking water, coal dust in the air, poisons in the food, opioids to meet despair with unintended or deliberately suicidal overdoses, without making the leap into a democratic,  decentral, renewable, and communal  energy system and new kinds of health care  -- focused on public and environmental health as well as universal coverage. The opposite pf energy and health systems based on Super-Profits.

If you try to leap across a yawning chasm by taking one small step, you fall shrieking from the precipice into the death below. Learning how to leap across is not easy, but it is necessary. We know the springy dance-steps that can help us dance in God’s earthquake, across the precipice to the other side. We need to have the courage to dance them.

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