When Beth Sirull took over the Jewish Community Foundation of San Diego five years ago, she moved quickly to offer its donors — including local Jewish groups — the option to put their money in a fund that “applies a Jewish lens” to its investments. That meant buying Israel bonds, bankrolling affordable housing and using shareholder advocacy to push companies on social and environmental causes.
Lisa Colton plans to galvanize the Jewish community around climate change the same way she once sold Girl Scout cookies: with new ideas. As a scout, Colton purchased a box of each flavor cookie with her own money, cut the individual cookies into small pieces and offered them as samples. She sold more than 1,000 boxes.
Now at 47 years old, Colton, who lives in Seattle in Washington State, has applied her marketing smarts to causes she cares about. She spearheaded last year’s The Great Big Jewish Food Fest and the upcoming The Big Bold Jewish Climate Fest. The latter runs next Monday thru Friday to coincide with Tu B’Shvat, starting Sunday evening.
As American Jews, we have long played active roles in our world’s most pressing challenges and crises. This was true of the Black-led Civil Rights Movement in the 1960s, and efforts to end the genocide in Darfur in the 2000s. Our current climate crisis demands our attention, our action and our voice. We are facing an existential threat at a scale unlike anything humans have faced in history; the Jewish community must bring all of its people and power to ensure a livable and sustainable planet for generations to come.
This week all eyes have turned to Glasgow, Scotland, as world leaders gathered for COP26, the annual UN climate conference. While COP26 feels like a distant set of high-stakes negotiations, the success of these meetings hinges on whether the United States delivers serious climate action on the homefront, which in turn hinges on how we show up as a community.
What do you see as your role in confronting the climate crisis?
Most of my decisions as an adult have been defined by the reality of climate change. I became a farmer and farm educator to help people come into proximity with the food they eat, and understand the challenges in our industrial food system. And I became a spiritual guide, rooted in my own ancestral tradition, to help people meet the fallacies of our capitalist system and find ways to transcend it.
Rabbi Elliott Tepperman of Bnai Keshet, a Reconstructionist congregation in Montclair, first discovered the writings of Rabbi Arthur Waskow, the Jewish Renewal author and environmental activist, in the early 1990s, when he was a college student at the University of California Santa Cruz.
“I had been reading a lot of Christian liberation theology and was just thrilled to find somebody who was writing Jewish liberation theology, arguing for the need for us to be engaged in social justice work rooted in Judaism,” Rabbi Tepperman said.
Scores of rabbis and Jewish youth were arrested recently as they engaged in civil disobedience to demonstrate their outrage and anguish that the United States is not doing enough to halt climate change. To the loud cry of the shofar, protesters at the White House demanded that Congress pass far-reaching climate solutions in the Build Back Better budget. In the next few weeks, as negotiations over the budget reach the endgame, we need many more Jews to make their voices heard.
A diverse coalition of faith leaders flocked to Capitol Hill Wednesday for a day-long vigil to demand President Joe Biden’s Build Back Better agenda be passed, as it encounters significant roadblocks in its home stretch of negotiations.
Invoking doctrine and scripture, representatives from groups like Bread for the World, Dayenu: A Jewish Call to Climate Action, Interfaith Power & Light, and NETWORK Lobby for Catholic Justice stood alongside lawmakers to make a religious appeal for the bill’s priorities: eradicating child poverty, expanding health care coverage, and addressing the climate crisis.
SPRINGFIELD – At a rally in front of U.S. Representative Richard Neal’s Springfield office in August, a chorus of shofars were blown to ask Rep. Neal to “hear the call for climate action.”
The shofar blowers were members of the Western Massachusetts chapter – or “circle” – of Dayenu: A Jewish Call for Climate Action. Dayenu joined with groups like Springfield Climate Coalition, Sunrise Hampden County, the Sierra Club, and Arise for Social Justice at the “#SealTheDeal” rally to encourage Rep. Neal – chair of Congress’ Ways and Means Committee — to support President Joe Biden’s infrastructure bill.
At least 155 more protesters were arrested outside the White House Tuesday as part of a weeklong action pressuring President Joe Biden to declare a climate emergency and end all new fossil fuel projects.
Guided by the theme “fossil fuels are driving the climate crisis,” the latest demonstration followed over 100 arrests on Monday, when protesters marked Indigenous Peoples’ Day and drew attention to polluting operations including Enbridge’s Line 3 tar sands project and the proposed Mountain Valley Pipeline (MVP).