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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:

Action Guide for Climate Healing -Part 1

[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. What follows is Part 1 of the Action Guide. Part 2, which offeers more deatil on the ritualss of Sukkot and their signifocance, will follow tomorrow. -- AW, editor]

Pre-Action

1.Building Relationships

The most essential aspect of organizing an effective direct action is being in relationships of trust with those with whom you are taking action. Take time to get to know and build relationships with your team.

Assigning Roles:

Figure out who will be playing what roles leading up to the execution of the action. Such roles include:

Activist, Organizer, Coordinator, Campaigner

Fundraisers

Researchers: to learn about the target and gather facts for the campaign.

Scouting the site or route

Outreach and organizing

Logistics and support

Meeting facilitator

Ritual Prep

Artists, Painters, Sewers to make props, signs, banners, political theatre, etc.

Media outreach: Send out media advisory and media release

Media kits: write, gather and photocopy contents.

Writers: write materials, flyers, media kit contents, web site, etc.

2. Building alliances

The communities most impacted by climate change are the ones that are already marginalized and disenfranchised, and these communities have often also been on the cutting edge of climate justice struggles. Therefore, who can you build alliances within this action? What groups in your area are already engaged in climate justice work? What are interfaith organizing coalitions with whom you can partner? What are the indigenous collectives in your area, and how can you encourage their leadership?  

3. Identifying your Target

What congressperson is your target, and why? What is their record on climate justice initiatives? Where is there local office, and what do you need to know the effectively pull off an action at that location? Make sure to effectively scout the location.

4.Devising an Action Plan

What do you want to happen during your action? Where do you want to begin, and where do you want to end? Do you want to remain outside the building,  or do you want to go inside, either the office or the lobby? What is your main tactic? Picketing? Locking down? Sit-in? What is your demand? What level of risk are you willing to take?

 5. Outreach

Who do you want to take part in this action? Is it open to the public, or will it be carried out by a smaller group of trusted allies? Will only Jews be participating, or will you be inviting participation and leadership of other interfaith and indigenous groups?

6.Ritual Design

What do you want your specific Sukkot Ritual to look like? What ritual items do you want to bring with you? Will you have a traditional lulav, or one made from the materials of your local environment? See our list of ritual resources later in this document for ideas.

7. Assign roles for each person during the action, as well as roles that need to be held after the action is completed.  Such roles could include:

 DuringAction:

People risking arrest: intending to risk arrest and commit civil disobedience

Direct Support People: risking arrest by staying with those locked down as long as possible and necessary and providing a human shield to those locked down

Ritual Leaders: Who will be leading chant? Leading song? Giving speeches? Benching lulav and etrog.

Police Liaison: maintains communication between police and demonstrators.

De-escalators: another “layer” of human shield protection for the demonstration, specializing in nonviolent de-escalation techniques.

Media spokesperson: delivers crisp, 6-second sound bites to hungry reporters.

Media outreach: stays back in the office faxing press releases and making outreach calls.

Communication team: helps “clusters” of affinity groups stay in touch.

Demonstrators/Sign-holders/Chanters/Singers/ Hand out literature etc.

Videographer(s): to document the action and provide images to media.

Still photographer: to document the action and provide images to media.

Live Streamer: to livestream the action to Facebook/Instagram/etc. While it is happening.

Medic/EMT/Medical Team: deal with emergency health issues of participants.

Legal Observer(s): observes the police action, paying close attention to police violence.

Jail Support Contact person: the person on the “outside” who we call to update.

For lock-downs: an off-site key holder 

 

Post-action:

Legal Support to help the people in jail and coordinate with lawyers, if necessary

Lawyer: provides support and information about our choices, if necessary.

Documentarian/Historian/Archivist: keep track of the paperwork and footage.

Fundraisers: To raise money to pay for legal fees, if necessary

Public speakers: to be in contact with the media after the action.

 8. Contacting the Media

Let the media know what is happening, and when and where to be. Write a press release to be released during the action.

9. Collect supplies

What ritual objects do you need to effectively pull of this action? Do you want to have an art build to make posters, signs and banners prior to the action? And how do you want to transport all your supplies to the action? Example supplies include:

  • Lulav and etrog
  • Other ritual objects
  • Megaphone and/or portable sound system
  • Song/ritual sheets
  • Flyers about the action to hand to passers-by 
  • Banners and Signs
  • Any supplies you might need to execute a higher-risk tactic (lockboxes, chains, etc.)

 Action

  1. Meet at a central gathering place, potentially your local synagogue, its sukkah, or the park. Engage in grounding rituals to bring everyone together
  2. March to your target destination. Depending on your action plan, either set up inside, outside or both.
  3. Engage in your action script. This should include Sukkot ritual, such as building a temporary sukkah, benching lulav and etrog, inviting in the ancestors, chanting Hoshanah, petitions for intervention, and more (more information on these rituals below.) It could also include theater, songs, chants, making demands, and refusing to leave the premises.
  1. Throughout this time, you should try to have someone/people leading the ritual, someone livestreaming, someone taking photo, someone taking video, someone/people deescalating angry customers, staff, someone liasing with the media and someone liasing with the police, if present (see roles above).
  1. If you are refusing to leave, announce this intention.
  2. Make sure the action ends in a way that people feel unified, with a closing song or ritual together.

 Post-Action

  1. If people were arrested, contact your legal team and keep them updated on the situation.
  2. Find which station those arrested were brought to and make sure people are there, with snacks, for when they get out.
  3. Raise money for legal funds.
  4. Make sure to de-brief with your whole team. What went well? What can you celebrate? What did you learn for next time?
 
PART 2 of this Action Guide will follow tomorrow. It will focus on the specific ritual aspects of the Sukkot action.

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

From Ancient Prophet to the Climate Strike: Youth & Elders Heart-Connect

From last Thursday till Sunday night Rabbi Phyllis Berman and I were in St. Louis, on the invitation of the Central Reform Congregation and its two leading Rabbis, Susan Talve and Randy Fleisher. On Thursday night, the two of us and Rabbi Art Green, rector of the Boston College Rabbinical School and one of the great scholars and interpreters of Hassidism, spoke at the Jewish Federation on our visions of the future of Judaism.

Then on Friday morning I was invited by the young organizers for the Climate Strike in St Louis to be the featured speaker – accompanied by the outcry of the shofar -- at a gathering of about one thousand people at City Hall. The video of my talk is here –-  https://youtu.be/ys0pqlbem3I

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!

Arrested! While Blocking ICE in Philadelphia

This past Wednesday, my beloved fellow-rabbi and life-partner Phyllis Berman and I were arrested, along with two other people, while blocking the entrance to the ICE offices in Philadelphia. We were arrested by the Federal Dept of Homeland Security police, not the Philadelphia police -- and were each harged with two Federal offenses (with whopping fines if we don’t stand trial and the possibility of prison time if we do). 

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.

"Disloyal Jew"

“I think any Jewish people that vote for a Democrat, I think it shows either a total lack of knowledge or great disloyalty.”  Donald Trump. President of the United States

"Disloyal Jew"

By Reb Irwin Keller

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