WELCOME TO THIS MOMENT OF POSSIBILITY FOR WHAT YOU AND YOUR COMMUNITY CAN DO TO CONFRONT THE CLIMATE CRISIS WITH BOLD ACTION AND SPIRITUAL AUDACITY.
We’re thrilled that you’re interested in starting a Dayenu Circle. Dayenu Circles are small groups of 5-15 people who meet at least once monthly to engage in national (and sometimes local) climate actions. A Dayenu Circle can be based in your home or community and can include friends, neighbors, or colleagues. You can also set up a Dayenu Circle with a group of students on your campus, members at your synagogue, JCC, or existing Jewish environmental or social justice group.
This resource will help you understand what it means to be part of a Dayenu Circle and walk you through the steps to launch one. We are here to guide you along the way; please email [email protected] for support.
WHAT DOES IT MEAN TO BE PART OF A DAYENU CIRCLE?
Dayenu Circles are a way for you to be part of a multi-generational, national movement of American Jews working for climate solutions and raising up a spiritual, religious, and moral voice in response to the climate crisis. We are working together with other communities to reach net zero greenhouse gas emissions well before 2050 while building an equitable clean energy economy. Your Dayenu Circle can function as your homebase for climate action as you engage together in Dayenu’s national campaigns and programs.
A Dayenu Circle can also provide a center of gravity, enabling us to align Jewish values with the change we seek to make in the world. Drawing from our Jewish tradition, experience, and faith, we can move from fear and anxiety to courageous action, and toward creating a world that is just, equitable, and livable for us and for generations to come.
You can learn more about Dayenu’s work here.
HOW TO LAUNCH A DAYENU CIRCLE
Here are some concrete steps to launch a Dayenu Circle in your community:
- Reflect on your motivation. What brought you here? What is it about the climate crisis that is of greatest concern to you? Why do you want to do this work as part of a Jewish group? Your answers to these questions can create a compelling personal story to share with others that you hope to recruit to your Circle, including your co-leaders.
- Refine your pitch. Now that you have your motivation and story in mind, think of a sentence or two that helps describe the Dayenu Circle you’re hoping to create, so that potential co-leaders and members get a concrete sense of what you’re asking them to join. For example:
- “I’m working to launch a Dayenu Circle, a small group of us that will meet monthly to address the climate crisis and take bold action together. Dayenu is a new national organization that’s bringing a Jewish voice to climate action and will support our Circle with national campaigns. They will also connect us to a national network so that our actions can be more powerful together.”
- Identify your co-leaders. One of the benefits of a Dayenu Circle is not having to go it alone, and that goes for leading the circle as well. Two or three co-leaders are ideal for circles of up to 10-15 members. As you think about who would make a great co-leader, you may consider:
- Who might bring a different and useful perspective because of their age, race, gender expression, identity, or background?
- Who would complement your skills and knowledge on this topic?
- Who has a social network that they can draw on to recruit to the circle?
- And importantly: with whom would you be excited to share this journey?
- Inventory your resources. Together with your co-leader, think about what resources—people, places, expertise, infrastructure—are available to help you launch your circle.
- If you’re planning to launch a Circle independently (not housed within an organization): Do you have a meeting space in mind, or a way to convene people online? Are you part of any community email lists, Facebook groups, or message boards where you can post to recruit people to your Circle? Do you know anyone who could be a great speaker on the topic of climate change/action at one of your Circle’s meetings?
- If you’re planning to launch a Circle within an organization (like a synagogue, JCC, youth group, etc.): Can you talk to the organization’s leadership—professionals, volunteers, clergy—about championing your Circle (for example, by dedicating a sermon, speech, or newsletter to the climate crisis)? Can you access the organization’s communications channels to reach and recruit potential circle members? Does the organization have space where your Circle can meet, or access to online technology you can use to convene people virtually? Does the organization have any funds to help provide food or childcare for those attending?
- Recruit circle members. Dayenu Circles need a core group of 5-15 members to work well; this core group can then mobilize their larger networks for action at key moments. When recruiting for your Dayenu Circle, it’s important to keep a few things in mind:
- Who belongs in your Dayenu Circle? Will your Circle include mostly close friends? Members of your organization? Is it safe and welcoming for folks of all ages, and non-white and/or non-Ashkenazi Jews? What about non-Jewish partners and loved ones? We encourage you to consult these resources from 18Doors, Evolve and the Jews of Color Initiative.
- What might motivate people to join? It’s often easiest to identify people who are motivated by the climate crisis and are ready to take action. But there are many ways into the conversation, and many pathways to action. Your circle can also be a space for people who care about justice in all of its forms, and for people who are looking to put their Jewish values and spirituality into action. When recruiting people, remember to share your story of what motivated you to start the Circle, and open the conversation to what might be piquing their interest.
- Some helpful entry points into your conversations with potential circle members may include:
- “When you think about the climate crisis, how do you feel? What does it make you think about?”
- “How do you feel about your own power and agency in the face of the climate crisis?”
- “What values are most important to you?”
- “How does the climate crisis feel relevant to you as a Jew?”
- Check in with Dayenu. Now that you’ve got your co-leaders on board and recruited your first Dayenu Circle members, it’s a good time to drop us an email at [email protected] to let us know you’re ready to launch. We can connect you and your co-leaders to the most current national climate campaigns and actions so that you can start having impact right away. We can also help you prepare for your first meeting, and anticipate some of the questions that may be coming your way.
- Schedule your first meeting. It’s time for you and your co-leaders to send a welcome message to everyone and schedule your Dayenu Circle’s first meeting.
- To help ease the challenges of coordinating everyone’s schedules, we recommend using Doodle to identify a mutually available time. Once you have your first meeting, you can determine the right timing for future meetings (for example, the second Tuesday of each month).
- We also recommend identifying a meeting place in advance. You can host your Circle’s meeting in someone’s home, a cafe or restaurant, a park or outdoor space, or in a meeting space that a local organization can provide. In this time of COVID, in-person gatherings will depend on what is deemed safe in your community. If you’re meeting virtually, you may consider using platforms like Google Hangouts or Zoom, and make sure that you’re comfortable using the technology before the date of the meeting.
Mazel tov: You’re officially off the ground and running to take bold action to build a more just, equitable, and livable world for all!
Your next step will be to plan an agenda for your Circle’s first meeting, and you’ll find more guidance in this resource.
If you have any questions, please feel free to reach out to us: [email protected]. We look forward to hearing from you, and to welcoming your Dayenu Circle into our national network.