Western Mass News
SPRINGFIELD, MA (WGGB/WSHM) – Climate activists gathered in Springfield on Tuesday to rally outside Congressman Richard Neal’s office.
Several grassroots groups calling on the representative to “seal the deal” as Congress negotiates the infrastructure bill and budget reconciliation.
While the plan brings large investments to roads, electric grids and more, activists said more needs to be done for broader items including climate solutions, jobs, and childcare.
“We don’t have much time before the climate crisis becomes way more of a crisis than it already is, so we need to invest in those climate solutions and right now, we’re asking Richard Neal to be bold and to make sure that $3.5 trillion bigger reconciliation bill gets passed and has everything that our communities need,” said Lizzy Pereira with Sunrise Hampden County.
The House is expected to vote on the infrastructure bill sometime Tuesday.
With a $3.5 trillion budget resolution passing the House today, Rabbi Jennie Rosenn, Founder and CEO of Dayenu: A Jewish Call to Climate Action issued the following statement:
“The passage of today’s $3.5 trillion budget resolution through the House marks a critical step forward on the road towards the bold climate action that most Americans support. Amid a summer of cascading weather emergencies and a UN report showing the ways in which we are perilously close to a point of no return, we call on Congress to pass a recovery package that addresses the dire threat we face and invests in bold climate solutions, jobs, care, and justice. A package that fails to include these investments will constitute a failure by our elected representatives to address the crisis at hand.
“As we approach Rosh Hashana, the Jewish new year, we enter a time of reflection and teshuvah, atonement and turning. It is painfully clear that we must turn away from fossil fuels and towards a livable, equitable future for all. And Congress must turn our country and economy toward a just and livable future by swiftly passing a recovery package that includes a pathway to 100% clean, pollution-free energy, targeted funding for communities impacted by environmental racism and injustice, and unprecedented investments in energy efficiency and renewable energy. There is no more time to waste.
“To that end, Dayenu is mobilizing the American Jewish community to demand that their elected representatives meet the moment and go big on climate. With the Jewish new year approaching, Jews will gather to publicly sound the Shofar as part of Dayenu’s Hear the Call campaign, offering a clarion call to action for leaders to pass the climate investments we so desperately need.”
Like the Hindu faith, the Jewish faith is among the oldest continuous religions, born when people lived in nature, not in cities. Some of Judaism’s major holidays are based on ancient harvest festivals: wheat and barley in late spring, olives and grapes in autumn. We even have a New Year of the Trees, one of my favorite holidays. The blossoming of the almond tree, the first tree to bloom in Israel, signals its start. I planted an almond tree in my garden here in San Jose just to wonder at its beauty in bloom.
Over millennia, life continued, following Earth’s natural rhythms: rain in its season, dry warmth in its. People, like the wildlife around them, lived within the boundaries of Earth’s cycles. In the past century, however, human technology began to overtake nature. Our dominance of nature became pronounced in the past 50 years. As we caused the natural world to become out of sync and detrimental to life, environmental organizations, both secular and religious, grew to counter the problems. In the past few years, one environmental crisis—more threatening than any other—loomed as existential: climate change.
The Jewish community had no organization devoted solely to solving the climate-change crisis. Two years ago, Rabbi Jennie Rosenn, who worked for 20-plus years in social justice organizations, realized that many of the issues she worked on would be ameliorated by tackling climate change. So she started Dayenu: a Jewish Call for Climate Action.
As we make our way through this hot, smoky summer — witnessing record-breaking temperatures and the uncontrollable spread of fires in California and Oregon — the reality of climate change can no longer be ignored. Since the industrial revolution, human activities have polluted our atmosphere with 2.4 trillion metric tons of carbon dioxide, an unfathomable amount of a greenhouse gas that’s proven to lead to extreme weather, food-supply shortages, increased wildfires, health problems, and so much more. Communities on the frontlines of poverty, racism, and pollution suffer these consequences most intensely. Our broken world is calling out for Tikkun Olam – for repair.
San Jose Spotlight
Summarizing the 4,000-page study, carefully assembled by teams of climate scientists around the world, the UN released a statement that simply said, “This assessment of the latest science is a severe warning regarding the well-being of human society and all life on Earth. It is testimony to the fact that efforts to reduce greenhouse gas emissions over the past decades have been wholly insufficient.”
For over a century researchers have suspected that we are warming our atmosphere, and for the past 50 years evidence has mounted that the culprit was increased burning of fossil fuels. Since 1965, every U.S. president (with one notable exception) has warned that global warming was a threat to national security, and pledged to curb emissions. But in all these decades no broad-based, systematic action was designed to address this looming crisis.
No surprise that for decades comprehensive federal efforts to reduce carbon consumption have been stymied by fossil fuel companies. Borrowing the playbook from the tobacco industry, they spent millions on propaganda designed to cast doubt on the role of carbon emissions. When, despite their hand waving, further studies showed greenhouse gases to be the cause—and a carbon tax was proposed as the cure—they switched tactics to suggest that individual consumers could restore the climate simply by changing light bulbs and planting trees.
A flyer in the window of a local hardware store caught my eye recently: “Sea Level Rise is Real. Here’s how you can help.” The first item on the list of suggested actions read ”pick up litter.”
I felt a chill as I imagined some well-intentioned community group devoting time and effort to disseminating this lie. There is no amount of personal greening or neighborhood clean-ups that will make a dent in the climate crisis. The recent IPCC report makes clear that we are hurtling towards a world where close to 1 billion people suffer in extreme heat and hundreds of millions suffer drought.
One morning this spring I was circling the yard behind my apartment on the phone with my therapist. I’d perfected the particular choreography of our virtual sessions. Pacing the largest outside area that didn’t necessitate a mask, I rolled exercise into the process of analyzing my family dynamics or my self-confidence deficit or my gnawing sense of existential doom.
That week, the topic was doom. Specifically, the climate crisis. As I attempted to unravel my knotted mess of feelings, differentiating the dread from the anxiety and the helplessness from the despair, she stopped me. “Were any of your grandparents Holocaust survivors?” she asked.
“No, they weren’t,” I replied. Taken aback, I started to scroll back through what I had said to find what might have tipped her off. Was it my lack of faith in governments and corporations to work in the best interest of humanity? Or expressing my primal sense of need to stay physically close to loved ones in an attempt to ensure our safety?
We have with us Rabbi Benjamin Weiner who is the spiritual leader of the Jewish Community of Amherst, and a volunteer organizer for Dayenu, which is the Jewish Call for Climate Action.
With the Senate passing a $3.5 trillion budget resolution, Rabbi Jennie Rosenn, Founder and CEO of Dayenu: A Jewish Call to Climate Action, issued the following statement:
“The passage of a $3.5 trillion budget resolution is the first step to getting the significant and essential investment in climate action that a clear majority of Americans support. The United States has a once-in-a-generation opportunity, after decades of inaction, to turn away from fossil fuels and towards an equitable, clean energy economy. With proposed investments in clean energy, environmental justice, jobs, healthcare,, and childcare, the budget resolution is a necessary step towards a sustainable future. The reconciliation package must include these historic investments. With fires raging and fires raging and nearly 175 million Americans under heat advisories amidst a summer of record temperatures, anything less than the proposed $3.5 trillion will constitute a failure by Congress to meet this moment.
“During Jewish month of Elul, we prepare for the High Holy Days by calling ourselves and our communities to account. We take stock and vow to do better. This Elul, it is painfully clear that we must do teshuvah; we must turn, as a community and as a planet, away from fossil fuels and towards a livable, equitable future for all.
“In the coming weeks, Jews across the country will mobilize and demand that their Members of Congress hear the call of the shofar and support bold climate action. Leading with the Hear the Call campaign, Dayenu is organizing over a dozen local rallies across the US, punctuated by the call of the shofar. With Members of Congress heading home for the recess, Dayenu members will be there to welcome them home and remind them that when it comes to climate, there is simply no time left to waste.”
Good morning, New York. We’re finding it hard not to freak out over a UN report warning climate change is happening much faster than expected and showing how the window for meaningful action is rapidly closing. The Jewish environmental group Dayenu offered these words of encouragement: “In the face of such news, it’s easy to despair. But a powerful antidote to despair is action. The month of Elul is a time when we call ourselves and our communities to account. We take stock and vow to do better.”