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The Inflation Reduction Act of 2022 Paves the Way for Historic Climate Investments, a Top Priority for Jewish Americans

NEW YORK, NY - With tonight’s unexpected announcement that Majority Leader Chuck Schumer and West Virginia Senator Joe Manchin reached an agreement to include $369 billion in crucial climate investments as part of the Inflation Reduction Act of 2022, the budget reconciliation bill that could be brought to a vote next week, Rabbi Jennie Rosenn, Founder and CEO of Dayenu: A Jewish Call to Climate Action, issued the following statement:

I’m cautiously optimistic to hear that after over a year of negotiations, Leader Schumer and Senator Manchin have met the urgency of the moment by agreeing to historic investments in climate solutions. These investments represent a crucial first step in confronting the climate crisis – by cutting emissions and helping jumpstart the clean energy economy, we can ensure a just, livable world for generations to come. In addition, the bill includes long overdue funding for communities afflicted by environmental injustice.

I’m proud of the tenacity of Dayenu leaders and our many partners who met with their Representatives, called their Senators, and took to the streets with shofars, songs, and prayer to champion this first-ever piece of comprehensive federal climate legislation. There is a concept in Jewish tradition of ma’alin ba-kodesh v’ayn moridin: once we set out upon a holy path, we only rise, we do not descend.

Even as we urge passage, we know that there is much, much more to do to end the era of fossil fuels and build a clean energy future. We cannot drill, mine and burn our way out of our current energy crisis. This year’s record heatwaves, fires, storms, and floods serve a continual reminder of the urgent need for bold action at all levels of government and across all sectors.

Dayenu will continue to lead the Jewish community in this holy work until these climate investments reach President Biden’s desk.

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Fossil Fuel Goliaths Put Profits Over People to Defeat Federal Climate Legislation

NEW YORK, NY - Last night, after months of negotiations, Senator Joe Manchin announced he would not support any new investments in clean energy and transportation, siding with the fossil fuel industry and 50 other climate-denying Senators to torpedo federal climate legislation.

Manchin, who made millions and continues to profit from a family-owned coal company and who, in the past year, has received three quarters of a million dollars in campaign contributions from fossil fuel companies, represents the continuing stranglehold oil and gas companies have over the federal government.

This is a blow to the just and livable future that Jewish communities have committed to build. Without federal legislation, it will be that much more difficult for the U.S. to meet its emissions reduction pledges under the Paris Agreement, and to achieve what scientists tell us is needed to avert climate disaster. In the meantime, Black, Brown, Indigenous, and poor communities continue to bear the greatest burden of climate inaction.

But we will continue to grow the movement for climate action at the scale that science and justice demand.

Over the past two years, Dayenu Leaders and Circles:

Rabbi Jennie Rosenn, founder and CEO of Dayenu:

“At this time of profound disappointment, I return to the powerful moment in the Torah, when Moses descends from Mount Sinai with the two tablets and, seeing the Israelites worshiping the Golden Calf, he smashes the tablets in anger and disappointment. But Moses does not give up – after some reckoning, he treks back up the mountain to get a second set of tablets, that Moses carves into stone by his own hand from God’s dictation. In the face of a painful loss, he returns to Sinai, prepared to write a different ending to the story.

This Shabbat, we will take time to grieve this setback. Next week, we return to redouble our efforts to end the era of fossil fuels and realize the just and livable future for generations to come.”

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CONGRESS MUST ACT TO COUNTER SUPREME COURT’S ATTACK ON CLIMATE ACTION

With today’s decision in West Virginia v. the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), the Supreme Court’s partisan far right majority rolled back the EPA’s authority to regulate carbon emissions from power plants, which contribute 25 percent of U.S. greenhouse gas emissions.

By curbing the EPA’s ability to regulate carbon emissions under the Clean Air Act, today’s ruling represents a serious risk to public health and our collective future. And as is too often the case, Black, Indigenous, and people of color communities, who are more likely to live in proximity to polluting industries and experience harmful climate impacts first and worst, will be hardest hit.

Rabbi Jennie Rosenn, founder and CEO of Dayenu: “To respond to the climate crisis on the scale that science and justice demand we need to use every tool available: corporate, legislative and executive. Today’s Supreme Court decision limits that ability. Now more than ever, we need Congress to pass a reconciliation bill that provides justice, jobs, and renewable energy for all. We know that for every second we delay, the costs of inaction grow. It’s time our leaders move from backroom discussion, to action, before it’s too late.”

The WV v. EPA ruling comes at the end of a Supreme Court session dominated by a conservative majority, half of whom were appointed by Presidents who did not win a majority of votes, dismantled precedent, constrained constitutional rights, and disregarded religious liberty. Today’s decision will not only limit our ability to tackle the climate crisis, but could set a dangerous precedent of overturning further regulations on issues such as health care and civil rights.

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The Supreme Court’s decision on the EPA is devastating. Jews must hold that grief as we forge ahead

The Forward

There are almost no words to describe the devastation the Supreme Court has wreaked in the past week. I find hope in how members of the Jewish community have rallied in response to rulings like Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization, which takes away the constitutional right of bodily autonomy for all, and impedes our religious freedom.

And today, the Supreme Court ruling in West Virginia v. EPA takes aim at the Clean Air Act — the landmark environmental law signed by President Richard Nixon in 1970, as Americans were waking up to the harmful impacts of pollution on public health and the environment. The Clean Air Act saves over 200,000 lives per year by regulating the pollution that causes asthma, bronchitis, heart disease and cancer.

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‘Shema Yisrael’ – Listen, people! The climate is calling

eJP

Every morning we chant the Shema – “Listen!” in our rabbinical seminary’s sanctuary. Last Wednesday morning, we chanted our daily prayer in a very different setting, through a microphone to hundreds of people outside BlackRock’s midtown Manhattan offices. Instead of a peaceful meditation, it was a powerful call to investors and employees to realign their investments away from fossil fuel expansion. On the morning of BlackRock’s annual general meeting, we prayed that BlackRock would “Listen!” Listen to the scientists, the economists, to the 80% of Jewish Americans who agree that climate change is a crisis, and to the 8 billion people who call this beautiful planet home.

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At Major New York Interfaith Gathering, Leaders Call for Peace, Climate Justice, and Urgent Action by Congress

Rabbi Jennie Rosenn, founder and CEO of Dayenu: “In the face of an intensifying climate crisis, religious leaders have come together today to provide hizuk – strength and encouragement – for politicians to act decisively for peace, justice, and a rapid transition to clean energy.”

New York faith leaders came together on Sunday, May 22, to offer moral courage to Members of the New York Congressional delegation. In the crucial weeks leading up to August Recess, they have perhaps the last best chance to pass a reconciliation bill that makes historic investments in clean energy and climate justice, transitioning the economy away from the polluting fossil fuels that bankroll Putin’s invasion of Ukraine and toward 100% clean, renewable energy

Senator Charles Schumer, Congresswoman Carolyn Maloney (NY-12) and Congressman Jerrold Nadler (NY-10) responded via videos pledging their support for action.

Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer: “This is a moment of truth, not only for our country, but for our entire world. Each passing year, climate change’s threats grow stronger and stronger – hurting most of all the poor, the refugee, and those least able to support themselves… Fossil fuels like coal, oil, and gas only serve to fund Putin’s war machine while burning up the planet. That’s why tackling these issues is one of my highest priorities.

Beginning with a somber prayer for Ukraine, Father Kiril Angelov, of St. Michael’s Ukrainian Catholic Church, reflected on the loss of life and radical upheaval caused by the Russian invasion, funded by oil and gas revenues.

Father Kiril Angelov quoted St Francis of Assisi, “the patron saint of ecology,” saying “respect for creation comes not from obligation but from love.” But that is not what President Putin does, “Putin dangles natural resources like a stick.”

In a resolute and inspiring program, Muslim, Hindu, Jewish and Christian faith leaders offered prayers, teachings, and powerful words to ground our work in the wisdom and traditions of our faiths, and call on Congress to act according to the moral and scientific imperative. These words were accompanied by spirited songs, led by Dr. Charon Hribar of the Kairos Center and Poor People’s Campaign, Rabbi Margo Hughes-Robinson of T’ruah: A Rabbinic Call for Human Rights. And a moving dance piece choreographed by Apollonia Holzer.

Rev. Dr. Michael Bos, Senior Minister, Marble Collegiate Church: “Those of us who are older, like myself, who participated in creating this mess, are now seeing it directly affect those we love.

We [at Marble Collegiate Church] trace our history back to 1628… I’m proud of our history but if I’m honest I have to say sometimes we came down on the right side of history and sometimes we did not…As we meet let’s make sure that whatever we decide and do that we come down on the right side of history when it comes down to climate justice.”

Carolyn Maloney, Congresswoman for New York District 12 (where the event was held): “Climate change is an existential threat that we cannot afford to ignore.”

Jerrold Nadler, Congressman for New York District 10: “As an original sponsor of the Green New Deal… I cannot overstress how important this is.”

Aminta Kilawan-Narine, Co-Founder of Sadhana: Coalition of Progressive Hindus: “Our dharma, our moral obligation, means… we must do something when humanity is in danger… We are Hindus acting in the name of justice, not just for Hindus but for all of humanity…”

“Prayers alone are not enough… we’re here to call on Congress to exercise short-term and long-term vision to do right by communities in this country… Especially to BIPOC people because we know that these are the people who are disproportionately affected by this climate crisis.”

Speaking at the Marble Collegiate Church, during a record-breaking heatwave, a reminder of the extreme weather we will continue to experience if we do not confront the climate crisis with action, diverse faith leaders shared a unified message of the urgency to confront the climate crisis to realize a more just and peaceful future .

Hanadi Doleh, Director for Community Partnerships at The Interfaith Center of New York: “Islam teaches us to take care of the earth…Muslims are khaleafas or guardians for the earth and God will hold us accountable for our actions… Caring for nature means serving God.”

Days away from the anniversary of the release of Pope Francis’s Laudato Si’ encyclical on the care for our common home, now marked as the Laudato Si’ Week, Nancy Lorence of Metro NY Catholic Climate Movement and Cam Stewart of St. Francis Xavier Parish, led an intergenerational reading of “A contemporary interpretation of the Beatitudes inspired by Laudato Si’.” Two prominent Catholic climate diplomats, US climate envoy John Kerry and UN climate envoy Mark Carney, both spoke last week of the need to reduce emissions now.

Now is the time. In recent weeks we’ve seen a devastating tornado in Kansas, massive wildfires in New Mexico and drought conditions across the West. Over half of Americans experienced this weekend’s East Coast heatwave. 2022 is likely to set yet another record breaking summer of extreme weather. Meanwhile, the war in Ukraine rages on, bankrolled by Russian oil and gas profits.

By passing a reconciliation bill with bold investments in clean energy, we can end our reliance on polluting fossil fuels, and begin to address the moral and financial crisis we face. In 2021 alone, climate disasters cost the nation a record-breaking $145 billion in direct losses, disproportionately felt by historically marginalized communities..

The window of opportunity is closing. Unless there’s a negotiated framework by early summer, Congress will not have time to pass meaningful climate legislation before departing Washington for the summer. It would miss the opportunity to fund a rapid transition to a clean energy economy creating millions of good jobs. Or worse, kowtow to fossil fuel interests, and build-out expensive, unnecessary and dangerous oil and gas infrastructure.

Rabbi Stephanie Kolin, Rabbi, Congregation Beth Elohim (CBE); Senior Fellow, Auburn Seminary: “Some of our leaders are buying into false solutions, they think that we can drill, mine and export our way out of this challenge, but we know that pathway is a fool’s errand. Oil, gas, and coal pollute our communities, heat up this planet and increase our reliance on those intent on making a profit while the world burns — dragging us back to Mitzrayim, the narrow places. But we are looking forward.”

Peggy Shepard, Co-Founder and Executive Director, WE ACT for Environmental Justice: “[The climate crisis] is especially dire for communities of color and indigenous peoples who are most vulnerable to climate change because they are often the first and worst hit by extreme weather events that exacerbate the legacy of pollution and environmental degradation in their communities.”

We’re ready to lead the nation… toward achieving a just, responsible and ethical climate change future because we can achieve decarbonization and a safer future through policies that protect the most vulnerable communities of our country.

This work is slow and challenging as the administration seeks to initiate a transformative process and consciousness throughout 20 or more federal agencies… but we must take advantage of the political moment and help the administration achieve its climate, social and environmental goals… we have to be the change makers, we have to make the change we seek.”

Phil Aroneanu, Chief Strategy Officer, Dayenu: “After months of negotiations and the passage of a landmark bill in the House of Representatives, climate and clean energy legislation remains stalled in the U.S. Senate. And the window of opportunity is closing. We need our lawmakers to find the moral courage to overcome the powers of denial and delay… and we need them to pass this bill at the scale that science and justice demand.”

Partners: Aytzim: Ecological Judaism; Auburn Seminary; Bronx Jews for Climate Action; Church Women United in New York State; Dayenu: A Jewish Call to Climate Action; Dayenu in the Heights; Center for Earth Ethics; Congregation Beth Elohim; Congregation B’nai Jeshurun; Fort Tryon Jewish Center; Green the Church; Hazon; Hebrew Tabernacle, Interfaith Center of New York; Interfaith Power and Light; Jewish Climate Action Network-NYC; Jewish Youth Climate Movement; Jews for Racial and Economic Justice; Marble Collegiate Church; Maryknoll Office for Global Concerns; Mothers Out Front NY, Capital Region; New York City Environmental Justice Alliance; New York Interfaith Power and Light; New York Jewish Agenda; New York Renews; NY Jewish Clergy Students for Climate Action; Park Slope Jewish Center; Presbyterian Church USA; Religious Action Center for Reform Judaism - New York; Shomrei Ha’Adamah Dayenu Circle; Sojourners; The Point CDC; United Church of Christ Environmental Justice Ministry; United Church of Christ, Justice and Local Church Ministries. WeACT for Environmental Justice

For Immediate Release

May 23, 2022

Contact: dan@dayenu.org

For information: https://dayenu.org/moralcall

Photos: https://drive.google.com/drive/folders/1dRkgYDlxLbDHU5aAnbK9dZ5JqrLmqVC-

Video Recording: https://fb.watch/daJM1AOiJl/ (or upon request)

Contact: dan@dayenu.org

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My On-Ramp To Jewish Environmental Activism

Jewish Boston

As I stood amongst the crowd just a few weeks ago, I was filled with a sense of purpose and gratitude. I was gathered with around 100 Boston-area Jews in front of a Chase Bank branch, calling on Chase to divest from fossil fuels. We highlighted the urgency of the moment by showing how the climate crisis is our modern-day “10 plagues.” Our organizing was part of a national campaign by Dayenu, an organization working to mobilize the Jewish community to respond powerfully to the climate crisis.

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Enough!

The Jewish Standard

At the beginning of April, the United Nations’ Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change reported that while some progress has been made in ameliorating global warming, there is only a slim chance of averting a rise in temperatures of 3 degrees Fahrenheit unless greenhouse gas emissions peak within three years. Three degrees may not seem like much, but the temperatures have already risen nearly 2 degrees, and the impact can be seen in unprecedented fires, storms, and heat waves around the world. This week, temperatures in India’s Punjab region, which is its bread basket, are predicted to hit a crippling 120 degrees Fahrenheit.

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City declares climate emergency, commits to net zero emissions policy

Evanston RoundTable

With a mix of younger and older residents pressing for action, Evanston City Council members approved a resolution declaring a climate emergency and committing to an immediate mobilization effort to restore climate stability.

To applause from audience members, the Evanston City Council voted 7-0 on April 25 in favor of the resolution, which draws on a statement from the United Nations’ Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change about the dire need for action.

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Citi Investors Reject Oil, Gas Loan Limits as Climate Activists Gather at HQ

Bloomberg Quint

(Bloomberg) – Citigroup Inc. shareholders rejected a proposal that would have limited the bank’s ability to lend to projects dedicated to new oil and gas exploration as climate activists convened at the firm’s Tribeca headquarters in Manhattan. Just 12.8% of shareholders voted in favor of the measure, according to a preliminary tally at the company’s virtual annual meeting Tuesday. Investors also rejected proposals that would have required the company to examine how it treats Indigenous people and review its efforts to become an anti-racist institution.

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