At least 155 more protesters were arrested outside the White House Tuesday as part of a weeklong action pressuring President Joe Biden to declare a climate emergency and end all new fossil fuel projects.
Guided by the theme “fossil fuels are driving the climate crisis,” the latest demonstration followed over 100 arrests on Monday, when protesters marked Indigenous Peoples’ Day and drew attention to polluting operations including Enbridge’s Line 3 tar sands project and the proposed Mountain Valley Pipeline (MVP).
Russell Chisholm, coordinator of Mountain Valley Watch and co-chair of Protect Our Water Heritage Rights, was among those who spoke at the rally Tuesday. Pointing to the years of opposition that the MVP has faced, he vowed that “we will continue to resist that project until it is defeated.”
Chisholm said that opponents will keep up the fight “not just to protect our water, not just to protect that tiny spring that feeds my home, but to protect our brothers and sisters who live along the Gulf Coast, who live with the climate-induced catastrophes all the way back to Katrina.”
The 303-mile fracked gas pipeline being built across West Virginia and Virginia is set to begin service in the summer of 2022 but still lacks some permits to cross water bodies and wetlands.
BOSTON – Following an international scientific body’s grim prediction for the future of Planet Earth, Jewish scientists and researchers in the Boston area and the North Shore shared their thoughts on the dire forecast.
On Aug. 9, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), a part of the UN, released its latest findings in the Sixth Assessment Report, which stated that it is likely that global warming will increase by 1.5 or 2 degrees Celsius in the coming decades. The report linked this to global warming caused by humans, principally through the emission of greenhouse gases such as carbon dioxide, and cited already-record temperatures and extreme weather events that may become more dramatic.
“The key takeaway is that climate change isn’t something happening in the future, it’s happening now,” said Peter Frumhoff, the director of science and policy and chief climate scientist of the Cambridge-based Union of Concerned Scientists. “We’re already seeing demonstrated threats to the Earth’s climate – rising seas, more extreme floods and droughts, more extreme heat in every section of the world, including the U.S.”
Frumhoff had participated in a previous IPCC study, the Fourth Assessment Report, which was released in 2007 and won the Nobel Peace Prize.
The point of the most recent study, he said, “is that the unbelievably extreme heat in the Pacific Northwest, the floods in Europe, the wildfires that – even though they’re in the West – [we see] smoke coming over New England and affecting our air quality … we know the cause – burning fossil fuels, primarily the major driver, CO2 pollution in the atmosphere. … If we are to limit the worst consequences of climate change, we have no time to wait.”
It’s a call echoed by local advocacy organizations such as the Jewish Climate Action Network (JCAN), the Jewish Alliance for Law and Social Action (JALSA) and Dayenu, which were among the cosponsors of climate rallies in multiple locations across Massachusetts on Aug. 19.
In Wake of Mounting Climate Disasters and the California Oil Spill, Dayenu Renews its Call for Congress to Act
“It is appalling that a few, isolated moderates in the Democratic caucus remain willing to threaten the hope of a just and livable planet for generations to come.”
New York, NY – As Congress sets a final deadline to pass a major reconciliation package supported by the overwhelming majority of the American public and the Democratic caucus, Rabbi Jennie Rosenn, Founder and CEO of Dayenu: A Jewish Call to Climate Action issued the following statement:
“After months of promises and activism, including unprecedented mobilization by the American Jewish community in support of a $3.5 trillion reconciliation bill supporting climate, jobs, and justice, it is appalling that a few, isolated moderates in the Democratic caucus remain willing to threaten the hope of a just and livable planet for generations to come. Our leaders have promised, time and time again, that they will deliver historic investments in climate that meet the scale that science demands. Now, as negotiations reach their conclusion, they must follow through.
“Last week, we celebrated the holiday of Simchat Torah, when we finish the yearly cycle of reading the Torah and immediately begin again. Right now, Congress has the opportunity to initiate a new story – one in which we realize a future with good, green jobs, affordable and accessible clean energy, and environmental justice for all. Their actions can help uphold the fundamental Jewish value of living l’dor v’dor, from generation to generation.
“We applaud the Progressive Caucus for holding the line and demanding congressional leaders move the infrastructure and Build Back Better packages forward in tandem. After a summer of nonstop climate emergencies and last weekend’s devastating oil spill off the coast of California, it is time for Senators Manchin and Sinema, as well as the few Democratic holdouts in the House, to support the just, green future we need. Our country cannot afford to miss this opportunity.”
How did Ekar Farm go from being a small urban farm project on the Denver Academy of Torah’s campus to a front runner in the fight for food justice and action around climate change? Executive Director Sue Salinger says it is one of the many results of a global pandemic.
Denver’s two-acre Jewish communal farm and garden, which was based on a charity model of food production, began more than a dozen years ago. Today, said Salinger, “Ekar Farm is at an inflection point. At the start, we grew food and donated food. Now, we’re at the center of trying to understand the root causes of food and environmental injustice.”
During the height of the pandemic, the number of families needing food assistance multiplied ten-fold. In order to meet that demand, said Salinger, the farm needed to take a more systemic approach to feeding the hungry, including making strategic choices to maximize their impact in the community.
One silver lining of the otherwise devastating COVID pandemic has been a move toward a more collaborative effort across the Denver Metro area to address the problem of food insecurity. For the past year, said Salinger, Ekar Farm and other organizations have participated in weekly phone meetings to discuss ways to serve the community’s needs, and the philanthropic community, including JEWISHcolorado, has stepped in repeatedly to provide emergency funding for hunger relief. As a result of those meetings, Ekar received emergency assistance and grants that enabled them to triple the amount of food grown and distributed to those facing food insecurity and to coordinate the distribution of over 17,000 seed packets to community gardeners and individuals.
Putnam, CT – About 100 area residents and guests of the local Jewish community gathered outdoors at Congregation B’nai Shalom on Sunday afternoon, inspired by Rosh Hashanah— the Jewish New Year–to call for climate justice and stop construction of the nearby proposed Killingly Energy Center gas power plant. A dozen e n v i r o n m e n t a l justice groups, including the Sierra Club Connecticut Chapter, Windham-Willimantic NAACP, and No More Dirty Power Killingly, as well as sixteen rabbis and five regional synagogues endorsed this event, with speakers calling for state officials to withhold permitting for the Killingly plant and to support federal laws and funding for clean renewable energy. Initiated by Willimantic Temple Bnai Israel Rabbi Jeremy Schwartz and his congregation in partnership with the national Jewish organization “Dayenu: A Jewish Call To Climate Action,” the observance was part of a nationwide effort, rooted in Jewish values, to confront the climate crisis and take action to sound the alarm with the traditional shofar–ram’s horn– blasts and to call for action for a future free of fossil fuel use.
In early September, much of the political world was focused on U.S. Sen. Joe Manchin’s, D-W.Va, seeming intransigence about passing the $3.5 trillion reconciliation package being debated this week in Congress. On Sept. 12, he made the rounds on Sunday morning shows. Meanwhile in Phoenix that morning, approximately 40 people stood outside another moderate Democratic senator’s office, asking her to be bold.
Arizona Jews for Justice, with support from the Jewish climate advocacy group Dayenu, organized a rally, Hear the Call: Jews for a Just Recovery Package, outside of U.S. Sen. Kyrsten Sinema’s office at 3333 E. Camelback Rd. The event’s goal was to convince the moderate Democrat to vote yes on reconciliation package — “with not a penny less.” Their clarion call: “Climate, care, jobs and justice now!”
The bill includes billions of dollars for climate issues and by using the reconciliation process, Democrats could pass the legislation with 50 votes. Vice President Kamala Harris’ vote would break the tie.
But that would require every Democratic senator to vote yes, since it has no Republican support. The activists in Phoenix believe if Sinema signals she will vote yes, Manchin will follow suit.
Shofars sounded in downtown Newark last Tuesday afternoon, as Jewish climate activists gathered near Penn Station, and near the offices of Senator Cory Booker, to call on the senator to “hear the clarion call for climate action and act now to ensure a swift transition to a clean energy future.”
“I hate seeing beautiful sunsets that are caused by fires on the other side of the country,” Rabbi Elliot Tepperman of Montclair’s Congregation B’nai Keshet said. “I hate that teenagers think they will not have a world that is safe to live in.
“Senator Booker, we are here to make sure you hear our call,” he said, and then he blew his shofar.
Among those joining Rabbi Tepperman as speakers and shofar blowers at the demonstration were Rabbi David Vaisberg of Temple B’nai Abraham in Livingston, Rabbi Marc Kline of Monmouth Reform Temple in Tinton Falls, and Rabbi Laurence Malinger of Temple Shalom in Aberdeen.
The event was organized by Margo Wolfson of Manalapan Township. Ms. Wolfson teaches biology at Brookdale Community College, and she is a rabbinical student with Aleph: Alliance for Jewish Renewal.
It was the first New Jersey activity of Dayenu: A Jewish Call to Climate Action. Dayenu launched in 2020 to build “a multi-generational Jewish movement that confronts the climate crisis with spiritual audacity and bold political action,” according to its website.
“I joined Dayenu a little more than a year ago,” Ms. Wolfson said. She took part in a Dayenu national meeting held on Zoom, which split into breakout rooms for participants from different states. She was the only one on the meeting from New Jersey. So she turned to friends from a long-standing Rosh Chodesh group and found a couple able to help her organize.
“I was hoping for a minyan,” she said of the turnout at Newark. “We got 20.”
When 70 climate activists stood outside Sen. Dianne Feinstein’s West Los Angeles field offices 10 days ago and blew a shofar, it wasn’t their way of wishing their senator an early Happy Jewish New Year.
One clue? One of their protest signs read, “Sho-far, Not Sho-good.”
The activists were organized by a climate action group called Dayenu — loosely speaking, Hebrew for “Enough!”— part of a campaign that is blowing the ritual ram’s horn across the country to urge Congress to pass President Biden’s $3.5-trillion “Build Back Better” budget bill focused in part on reducing carbon emissions.
The connection between climate change and Rosh Hashanah, the Jewish New Year, which begins the evening of Sept. 6, might not be immediately apparent — unless, that is, you’re familiar with a fairly arcane Jewish custom of “shmita.”
Shmita (rhymes with “pita”) is a sabbatical year on the Jewish calendar, occurring every seven years, including in 5782, which begins Monday evening.
During shmita, Jews are commanded to let the land of Israel lie fallow — the laws only apply to the land of Israel. They may not sow, harvest or even buy and sell crops they produce from the land. They can only pick what grows on its own.
Shmita is set in the Bible: “The seventh year shall be a sabbath of solemn rest for the land, a sabbath unto the LORD; thou shalt neither sow thy field, nor prune thy vineyard_.”_
Even though there is some debate as to whether the onerous laws of shmita were ever observed exactly as commanded, they are still followed in some fashion by Orthodox Jews in Israel, who have found workarounds to keep food and commerce flowing, such as buying produce from Palestinian farmers — another data point that Arab-Jewish coexistence is likely more mutually beneficial than conflict.
Wisconsin Jewish Chronicle
About two dozen local activists gathered at a rally organized by Milwaukee Jews for Climate Action outside Sen. Tammy Baldwin’s Milwaukee office to call on her to stay strong against climate change.
“We want to thank Sen. Baldwin for what she’s done,” said Rabbi Michal Woll, speaking at the foot of The Clark Building, 633 W. Wisconsin Ave., on Aug. 19, 2021. “But it’s our understanding that she’s under a lot of pressure to start polluting.”
Activists are concerned that Baldwin could waiver on the infrastructure legislation that she and all Senate Democrats have already voted for. The $1 trillion bill includes $150 billion for clean energy and efforts to address climate change. As of Chronicle press time, some centrist House Democrats were turning skittish on the mammoth spending package, according to media reports. The bill could come before the Senate again.
“It is so clear that we have been burning fossil fuels for too long,” said Woll, who was a key organizer for the rally and leads Congregation Shir Hadash in Milwaukee.
“It’s the people shouting who broke down the walls of Jericho. We want our voices heard,” Woll said, just before she blew a shofar with others clamoring in unison.
Dayenu Circle of Jewish Silicon Valley and other local faith groups gathered for a boisterous protest Wednesday at San Jose City Hall, calling for legislators to take serious national action on climate change.
Representatives from a host of religions — including Jews, Sikhs, Hindus, Unitarians, Catholics and several denominations of Protestant Christianity — brought forth song, prayer, mantras and sacred religious instruments to make “holy noise,” imploring California’s senators, Dianne Feinstein and Alex Padilla, to return to Washington after summer recess and fight for an economic recovery bill that includes climate action.
Participants included Temple Emanu-El of San Jose, Jewish Silicon Valley, Congregation Emeth in Morgan Hill, the Hindu American Foundation, South Bay California Interfaith Power & Light, Grace Baptist Church, Catholic Charities of Santa Clara, SEWA International and Sikh Gurdwara Sahib, along with Dayenu Circle of Jewish Silicon Valley.
The event began with speeches from different religious leaders, each relating climate justice to their respective faiths. A number of speakers addressed direct action they wanted to see incorporated into pandemic recovery legislation in Congress, including a clean-electricity standard, a Civilian Climate Corps and environmental equity.
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