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.
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.”
Dayenu Renews Call for Bold Climate Action as Bipartisan Infrastructure Agreement Heads Toward Passage
With a bipartisan infrastructure bill heading towards passage in the Senate, Rabbi Jennie Rosenn, Founder and CEO of Dayenu: A Jewish Call to Climate Action issued the following statement:
“Now is not the time for photo-ops and symbolic victories. We need our elected leaders to meet the moment and address the climate crisis, the existential threat of our lifetimes. We are facing a climate emergency that is accelerating before our very eyes: from wildfires in the West, extreme heat and deteriorating air quality across the country, historic flooding in the Midwest, and intensifying storms along the East Coast. During the Jewish month of Elul, we blow the shofar each day, stirring our souls in preparation for the High Holidays. In 5782, Congress must Hear the Call and take decisive action to pass an ambitious budget reconciliation bill with historic investments in and incentives for renewable energy, a Clean Energy Standard, and targeted funding for communities impacted by environmental racism and injustice. We cannot afford anything less. The time for Congress to act on climate is now.”
“While this infrastructure legislation will lead to long-overdue investments in our country’s drinking water systems, transportation, and communications, it falls short, delivering paltry investments at a time when bold action is critical. This bill entirely excludes critical investments in clean energy, energy-efficient housing, education, and care and it’s investments in electric vehicle infrastructure, electric school buses, and lead service line replacement are insufficient. In short: It does not deliver the transformative change we so desperately need if we are to build a just and sustainable future.”
This month we’re talking about climate change, grief, and how the Jewish community is and can respond to climate change.
In the last month, record heat waves descended upon the Pacific Northwest, killing hundreds. Concurrently, wildfires are spiraling out of control, while once-in-a-generation flooding hits the Midwest. Last week, New York City’s air quality declined precipitously as a result of the fires more than 3,000 miles away. At this point, it is inarguable that climate change is devastating our natural world, our economy and our society; truly, the climate crisis knows no boundaries. We simply cannot wait any longer to address this unfolding disaster.
Right now, Congressional negotiations are unfolding on a broad infrastructure package alongside a $3.5 trillion reconciliation bill, which together carry a unique opportunity for Congress to make historic investments in clean energy, environmental justice and sustainable transportation. Dayenu, a national organization started a year ago to mobilize a Jewish climate action, was created to meet this moment. Dayenu is building an intergenerational movement of American Jews to confront the climate crisis with decisive action and spiritual courage.
As leaders of the New York Dayenu chapter, we are mobilizing our neighbors to engage in climate action. Last week, our chapter delivered Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer a letter signed by more than 300 Jewish New Yorkers demanding that the upcoming infrastructure package invest in good-paying jobs and transition our country towards an environmentally just future. Given the threat posed by climate change, we believe this package must include investments in energy efficiency, clean energy, transportation, targeted funding to combat environmental racism, a national Clean Electricity Standard and support for the care economy that will allow a diverse clean economy workforce.
President Joe Biden has pursued a bold agenda to address the climate crisis. On his first day in office, he had the United States rejoin the Paris climate agreement. A week later, he signed an executive order to “Tackle the Climate Crisis at Home and Abroad.” On Earth Day, April 22, he convened world leaders to address the urgent need for collective action on the climate crisis. During that summit, he announced that the United States will target reducing planet-warming emissions by 50 percent to 52 percent across the economy by 2030 compared with 2005 levels. The Biden administration also proposed the American Jobs Plan, part of the administration’s economic recovery proposals that includes historic investments in climate action through infrastructure that would create good-paying jobs while making the American economy more equitable and sustainable. These positive actions have been well-received by religious leaders, who continue to call for bold action in defense of God’s creation.