Climate-Concerned Jewish New Yorkers Gather For Jewish Climate Summit

NEW YORK, NY: On Sunday April 23, Dayenu: A Jewish Call to Climate Action and the New York Religious Action Center for Reform Judaism hosted a New York Jewish Climate Summit at Temple Shaaray Tefila with grassroots leaders and featuring New York City’s highest elected Jewish official, Comptroller. Brad Lander.

Lander explained New York City’s Net Zero Implementation Plan, which will take NYC pension fund investment portfolios to net zero emissions by 2040. This approach, leveraging institutional investments to confront climate risk and drive climate action, aligns with Dayenu’s All Our Might campaign, supporting  Jewish institutions to take similar action.

Notable attendees included Assemblyman Alex Bores and State Senator Liz Krueger, sponsor of the HEAT Act. They heard a keynote panel that included Peggy Shepard – Co-founder and Executive Director of WE ACT for Environmental Justice (a NYC-based group that has grown to have statewide and national influence), Dayenu’s Founder and CEO Rabbi Jennie Rosenn and Vlad Gutman-Britten, Assistant Director at NYSERDA (New York’s state energy innovation authority).

Sunday’s event gathered Jewish New Yorkers to learn, organize, and take action together to tackle the climate crisis. Attendees broke out into smaller action groups to build relationships, share organizing and advocacy skills, and learn how to make a meaningful climate impact in NY state and in their congregations.

The Summit came on the eve of two important decision-points for climate action in New York: The Annual General Meeting season began this week with CitiGroup’s shareholders voting on major climate resolutions that scientists deem vital to avert climate chaos, including whether to phase-out new fossil fuel exploration and development. And, as of this writing, NY Governor Hochul is still negotiating the overdue budget and its climate provisions with state legislators. This funding is critical to realizing the environmental and economic benefits of the New York State’s historic Climate and Community Investment Act, which took effect in 2022.

The clock is ticking for climate action. Last month’s report from the UN Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change made clear that we are in a short and critical window to drive down climate pollution and transition to a clean energy economy. The post-Pesach flooding in Florida, followed by storms in Texas and Florida this week are a timely reminder that the Jewish community needs to fight the climate crisis with All Our Might – including our communal assets. 

Finance is a critical lever for climate action. The most recent Banking on Climate Chaos report found that the world’s leading banks have poured $5.5 trillion over the past 7 years into the coal, oil and gas industries, contributing to the climate crisis and causing harmful local impacts. Jewish institutions can use Dayenu’s roadmap and accompanying resources to make sure that Jewish communal money is not invested in fossil fuels, while using their moral voice to call on their banks and investment advisors to do the same. 

Event Co-Sponsors: Jewish Theological Seminary, Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institute of Religion, Central Synagogue, Congregation Emanu-El of the City of New York, B’nai Jeshurun, Jewish Youth Climate Movement, Jewish Climate Action Network NYC, NFTY-New York Area, Larchmont Temple, Town & Village Synagogue, Westchester Reform Temple, Congregation Emanu-El of Westchester, Shomrei Ha’Adamah Dayenu Circle, Romemu Brooklyn, Congregation Beit Simchat Torah, Woodlands Community Temple.

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