Teshuva for Climate Change: A New Generation of Jews Marching To Change The World
For thousands of years, Jews have recited penitential prayers the Saturday night before Rosh Hashanah. This year Jews will do more than pray. The day after they gather for Selichot services, thousands of Jews will blow the shofar in the streets of New York as they participate in what is expected to be the largest march for the climate in history.
The People’s Climate March is mobilizing people of all backgrounds to demand political progress toward a world safe from the ravages of climate change, with good jobs, clean air, and healthy communities for everyone. It is being held in NY because world leaders are convening at the UN to discuss how to reach a meaningful, ambitious climate treaty.
Already over 90 Jewish organizations have signed up to bring marchers. They include local congregations, camps, JCCs, social service organizations, and national organizations like the United Synagogue of Conservative Judaism, Hillel, and the Jewish Council for Public Affairs. (A full list is available at http://www.jewishclimatecampaign.org/participating-organizations/) Jews across the region have stepped up to organize groups to attend the march, charter buses, and speak in synagogues on the Shabbat before the March.
March organizer Phil Aroneanu, US Managing Director of 350.org, said that the response from the Jewish community has been extraordinary: “Faith communities teach us to protect creation and love our neighbors. The climate crisis requires a change of heart, and this is what Judaism teaches. The participation of the Jewish community in the People’s Climate March gives me hope for the future.”
Steve Gutow, President of the Jewish Council for Public Affairs, said, “The most vulnerable people in our community are the most threatened by climate change. New Yorkers know this through our experience of Hurricane Sandy. Studies estimate climatic disasters will cause effects to 375 million people per year by 2015, and by 2050, a billion people may be forced out of their homes. This March is an opportunity to speak up for policy changes that will help everyone, while also fulfilling our religious obligation to pursue justice and protect the most vulnerable among us.”
Mirele Goldsmith, of the Jewish Climate Change Campaign, which helped to recruit Jewish organizations to participate in the March, said that “New York is home to the second largest Jewish population in the world. This is our chance to stand up as a community and say that we support policies that will save lives today and for generations to come.”
Hazon’s Nigel Savage added, “A generation of American Jews have grown up with the famous story of Heschel saying that his legs were praying. It has been incredibly gratifying to see the incredible number of Jewish organizations that have signed up for this march – it feels like a new generation is really ready to pray with its legs. It is an inspiring and important way to go into the Jewish new year.”
The Jewish community will be assembling for the People’s Climate March alongside marchers from many faith communities on West 58th Street between 8th and 9th Avenues.
Many Jewish leaders are gathering at 11am at the JCC in Manhattan, where they plan to walk together to the March, wearing Jewish Climate Campaign shirts – and carrying and blowing shofarot.
For more information, or to arrange an interview or photo opportunity, please contact Mirele Goldsmith, firstname.lastname@example.org, 917.679.2121