Thousands of Jews marched alongside other people of faith in the People’s Climate March, which drew over 300,000 individuals to the streets of New York City on Sunday, September 21st. The march had a strong and visible Jewish presence with over 100 Jewish groups having signed on as partner organizations and hundreds of Jews blowing the shofar – the ram’s horn traditionally sounded as a call to repentance on Rosh Hashanah, in a clarion call for climate justice. Rabbi Arthur Waskow of the Shalom Center spoke at the rally for faith groups at the start of the march, which was timed to send a strong message to world leaders meeting for a climate summit at the UN this week that people around the world are suffering from the changing climate and want strong action to reduce emissions from fossil fuels and support a transition to clean renewable energy.
Hazon’s Topsy Turvy bus made guest appearances at Columbia-Barnard Hillel and the Manhattan JCC, with members blowing shofarot on the roof to symbolize the topsy-turvy world we’re living in, and the shofar’s call to teshuva – not only for us as individuals and as a community but for the whole world. “I was enthralled seeing wave after wave of proud Jews, many with shofar in hand and many new to climate activism, interspersed among countless other people of faith, ” remarked Rabbi Fred Scherlinder Dobb, who is the rabbi at Adat Shalom Reconstructionist Congregation in Bethesda MD as well as the chair of the Coalition on the Environment and Jewish Life. “The constant t’ruah on W. 58th Street was a true summons to collective repentance and toward positive change. As Rabbi Riqi Kosovske from western MA said, ‘we can never hear the shofar the same way again after this.’
Jewish activists from around the world – and from all generations – showed up to join the Jewish community in its call for environmental action and justice. A group of List College students were at the forefront of organizing the entire Morningside-Heights community to ensure its strong showing at the march. “I’m proud of JTS’s sponsorship of this momentous call to action that builds upon our Jewish commitment to the earth and JTS’s long-standing commitment to justice,” remarked Dr. Shuly Schwartz, dean of List College, JTS’s undergraduate school.
Yosef Abramowitz, CEO of Energiya Global, a Jerusalem-based solar energy company, timed a US trip specifically to coincide with the March. “The business model from Israel to scale commercial, diesel-killing solar power comes at a time when the world is looking for practical solutions to reduce emissions,” says Abramowitz. “I was honored to represent Israel’s solar pioneers at the climate march with Hazon.”
The event was, in some ways, even biblical: Auburn Theological Seminary built a 26-foot long diesel-powered Noah’s Ark. “With the ark, and as people of faith, we were calling on people around the world to think of themselves as modern-day Noahs. In the biblical story, Noah is called to steward God’s creation through the flood as two-by-two,” stated Isaac Luria, who is the Vice President of Auburn Action at Auburn Seminary. “We must help people see that climate disruption is real and that there are solutions. We need to help the media and our political leaders see this movement as truly multiracial, multigenerational, multifaith, and of many economic backgrounds.”Jewish representatives on board the ark included JCPA’s Steve Gutow, NCJW’s Nancy Kaufman, and Hazon’s Nigel Savage.
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PHOTOS: HazonFlickr, photo credits: Jon Leiner