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.
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.”
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.
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.
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.”
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.