Jewish leaders need to step up on climate change

Religion News Service

As the Biden administration gears up to combat climate change, I’d like to see the leaders of my religious community at the forefront of those rallying to the cause.

It’s not as if the Jewish rank and file are unconcerned. Back in 2014, a PRRI survey found that fully 78% of us consider climate change either “a crisis” or “a major problem” — the highest proportion of any religious group in America. And there’s no shortage of Jews involved in large secular environmental organizations, to say nothing of a number of small Jewish ones.

But the leadership of the communal umbrella organizations has pretty much been missing in action.

How come?

The question was posed at the opening panel of the Big Bold Jewish Climate Fest, an online agglomeration of discussions, performances, presentations, rituals and workshops that took place at the end of January around Tu B’shvat, the festival known as the “New Year of the Trees” that has become the annual focus of Jewish environmentalism.

“Why isn’t climate change high on the communal agenda?” asked organizer Lisa Colton.