Entitled “Elijah’s Covenant Between the Generations to Heal Our Endangered Earth”
NEW YORK — As climate change and its effects accelerate, an unusual collaboration of 500 rabbis and other leaders across every denomination of Jewish religious life are urgently calling for action from both young and old to work together to ensure that future generations do not suffer the dire consequences caused by climate-chaos, floods, famines, and fires. The Rabbinic Call is entitled Elijah’s Covenant Between the Generations to Heal Our Endangered Earth. It is inspired by the words of the Prophets and draws on Jewish and other religious teachings. The Rabbinic Call list is still in formation and additional signees are expected in the days ahead.
Created by The Shalom Center in Philadelphia, the Rabbinic Call addresses not only the planetary climate crisis itself, but also the power configurations behind that crisis. It contends that this ecological imbalance has been created in large part by unaccountable concentrations of corporate and government power that make change difficult, as well as the disastrous role of hyper-wealth in fueling greenhouse gas emissions.
The rabbis and Jewish leaders who have signed on include Orthodox, Hasidic, Modern Orthodox, Conservative, Reform, Renewal, Masorti, Reconstructionist, Humanist, Jewish Mindfulness, and secular leaders. Signees span the globe from the United States and Canada to England, Israel and Brazil.
The Shalom Center (founded in 1983) provides a prophetic voice in Jewish, multi-religious, and American life that brings spiritual thought and practice to bear on seeking peace, pursuing justice, healing the earth, and celebrating community.
Rabbi Arthur Waskow, Founder and Director of the Shalom Center says,” Australia and California are burning. Fire, flood, and famine are beginning to consume the world. As young people in the Sunrise and Climate Strike movements demanded action to save their futures, we recalled a powerful warning from the very last of the Hebrew prophets, Malachi: God would send Elijah the Prophet to turn the hearts of children and parents to each other lest the Breath of Life become a Hurricane and utterly destroy the Earth. That moment is now, and we must become Elijah. We must turn our hearts and heads and hands to join these young people!”
Ruth Messinger, a co-initiator of the Rabbinic Call, and former Borough President of Manhattan, former President of American Jewish World Service and their Global Ambassador says, “We face an acute climate crisis, and it compels us all to act. Not only are our homes and communities threatened but around the world there are and will be millions of climate refugees unable to live in their own countries if the world does not mobilize now. We must take individual and institutional steps, and we must engage in demonstrations and public policy advocacy to protect the planet. Our Judaism demands that we work aggressively for environmental justice.”
The Rabbinic Call provides specific personal and political actions. These deeds, mandated in ancient Jewish scriptures, translate into contemporary actions such as (full list in the Rabbinic Call):
- Urging our banks and politicians to move our money from burning carbon to investments in renewable wind and solar energy.
- Reforesting the Earth and defending our natural wildlife refuges.
- Welcoming refugees who have fled the storms, floods, and famines that beset their homes because of global scorching.
- Creating solar-energy co-ops; establishing car pools to lessen reliance on gas; and adopting modes of kosher practice for foods and energy sources that heal, not harm, our planet.
- Joining in the campaign to enact a Green New Deal that weaves millions of well-paid jobs, social justice, and eco-sanity into one program.
The Rabbinic Call also reaches out to all cultural and social ecosystems in the modern world: Jews, Indigenous Nations, Christians, Muslims, Unitarians, Buddhists, Hindus. and others. It asks each community to bring their own unique wisdom to the table to join in the effort to address climate change.
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