Archive for June, 2009

As we enter July (hot hot times here in Israel!), we wanted to bring you a roundup of our posts from the last month, just in case you missed one or two. As always, we’d love to hear your feedback on any of our posts, and on the blog in general. And feel free to let us know your thoughts around the US House of Reps (just) passing the Waxman-Markey Climate Change/Energy Bill- Is it too little? Too much? Just Right? Click Here to leave a response.

Last Month’s Posts:

Envy Based Economics and a Forgotten Tenth Commandment: Rabbi Sinclair challenges an economic system based on the systematic violation of “Thou Shalt not Covet.”

Shavuot is the Green Festival: Dr. Michael Kagan on Shavuot as the bridge back to the Garden of Eden.

Sally Bingham’s “Love God, Heal Earlth”: A Review of Bingham’s Compilation of Essays by Religious Leaders for the Environment.

Video: Founder of Heschel Center, Dr. Eilon Schwartz on what Jews can do about Climate Change: Important Questions and Useful Answers from one of Israel’s most Accomplished Environmental Activists.

Video: Deputy Mayor of Jerusalem, Naomi Tsur, on how Grassroots Organization can Help Fight Climate Change: From her new post in the mayor’s office, Ms. Tsur still believes meaningful action starts from the bottom.

Global Climate Healing Shabbat: This Parshat Noach: Save the date! In the wake of the Copenhagen Conference to Replace Kyoto, Jews around the world will focus Shabbat around global warming and the climate crisis.

A Green Pope, Fatwas on Illegal Mining, an Evangelical Climate Initiative and the JCI: Zoe Cormier explores the potential for religion to succeed where science and politics have not.

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In an article recently pubished in Green Living Magazine, Zoe Cormier covered the recent surge in religious groups mobilizing to fight global warming- from America to Indonesia to the Vatican to Jerusalem. Quoted on the Jewish side was Jewish Climate Initiative co-founder Dr. Michael Kagan!

It’s a fascinating and hopeful piece, exploring the potential for faiths to succeed where science, politics and environmentalism have not. To read from Zoe’s personal site, click here. To read the article from Green Living, click here (When you get to the Green Living site, just give a click on “Contents” and then “Divine Intervention.”). Enjoy!

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Pass it on! This coming October 23rd-24th is Global Climate Healing Shabbat. A press release this week from a group of American Jewish organizations announced:

A number of Jewish  groups, including the Jewish Council for Public Affairs (the national umbrella group on public policy)  today  called for October 23-24, 2009, to be declared a “Global Climate Healing Shabbat.”

That Shabbat is in Jewish tradition Shabbat Noach, when Jews around the world read the Torah  portion about the Flood, Noah, the Ark, and the Rainbow. This reading lends  itself to focusing on the danger of destruction of life on our planet, and  also on the actions we need to take to prevent destruction and preserve the  web of life in which the human race has emerged and created  civilization….

The international observance of “Global Climate Healing Shabbat Noach”   is a prelude to the crucial United Nations conference on global warming  scheduled for Copenhagen in December, 2009. The Jewish groups are urging that  there be many global climate-related educational events that are consistent  with the laws and spirit of Shabbat on that day.

“Almost daily reports  of widespread droughts, floods, storms, wildfires and melting polar ice caps,  mountain snowcaps, and glaciers indicate that we are already in a  lot of trouble. So much trouble that I feel the words ‘global warming’ give  people a false sense of comfort, and I call the danger ‘global scorching’  instead,” commented Rabbi Arthur Waskow, director of The Shalom Center.”

The Climate Shabbat is part of a groundswell of initiatives leading up to the Copenhagen Conference. We at Jewish Climate Initiative are proud to endorse it.

The press release calls on people to mark the day with:

“Sermons,  lectures, debates, panel discussions, resolutions, special kiddushes and  meals, nature-walks, invitations to public officials and environmental activists, stories for children, and much more.”

As the date gets closer we’ll be posting ideas and resources for communities who want to be a part of this global initiative. It’s a great opportunity to awaken the Jewish people to the urgency of climate change and to make our voices heard at this pivotal moment.

Spread the word!

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Ms. Naomi Tsur is one of Israel’s most dedicated environmental advocates. A longtime member of the Society for the Protection of Nature in Israel (SPNI), she headed the organization’s Jerusalem Branch and later all of Israel’s SPNI urban centers, and led SPNI’s efforts to bring together eco-activists throughout the Holy City to form the Sustainable Jerusalem Coalition. All of us in the green world were both proud and hopeful when Ms. Tsur recently accepted her post as Deputy Mayor of Jerusalem.

In the following video, from JCI‘s April 5th Vayehi Or event, Ms. Tsur discusses the potential of grassroots activism, as well as the need to unite all factions within the Jewish People in fighting climate change. It was an honor to have Ms. Tsur speak at Vayehi Or, and we look forward to working with her in the future. Enjoy!

If you can’t see the video from this page, click here.

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Hi Everyone,

In the following video, Dr. Eilon Schwartz, founder of Israel’s Heschel Center for Environmental Learning and Leadership challenges us to own up to our own implications in causing climate change, as well as our reservations in fighting it, and makes important suggestions as to what we can do, at Jewish Climate Initiative/Hazon’s Vayehi Or: Values and Vision in Energy and Climate Change Workshop in Jerusalem.


(If you can’t view the video from this page, click here.)

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By Rabbi Julian Sinclair, as published on www.GreenProphet.com

Twenty years, ago, Sally Bingham went to her local bishop and announced that she wanted to be ordained so that she could become the world’s first priest for the environment.

She was received with some skepticism. Undeterred, she embarked on almost a decade of study and became an Episcopalian minister in 1998. She went on to found Interfaith Power and Light (what a great name for an organization). Today IPL has some 2000 affiliated congregations in 26 states of the US.

In her recent book “Love God, Heal the Earth”, Bingham has brought together 21 leading voices speaking out about the about the religious duty to protect the environment. All are doers in the field, not just thinkers. Some are inspirational leaders. There a couple each of Muslims, Buddhists and Jews, and 15 Christians of all stripes and persuasions.

The tone of the essays is personal, often confessional. Each tells of a personal journey towards placing creation at the center of his or her faith and activism.

Some tell of mystical experiences in nature, others of a progression from a passion for feminism or civil rights to environmentalism.

Among the most interesting are the accounts of Richard Cizik and Joel Hunter, leaders of the Evangelical Climate Initiative for whom accepting the reality of anthropogenic climate change and the urgency of doing something about it was a struggle, and ultimately, a conversion.

Their stories vividly document the suspicion of science, of government and the mainstream media in the evangelical movement.

They show just how counter-cultural acceptance of climate change was within their churches. (This is what makes the Evangelical response to global warming politically very significant. It removes climate change from the leftish pigeon hole in which it was in danger of becoming stuck and elevates it to the status of an ethical issue that transcends party lines.)

One of the common themes of all the essays is that, as Bingham puts it,

The contributors all in different ways trace the transformation that begins with spiritual stirrings of love and reverence for God’s world and eventuates in action.

Rev. Sally Bingham, Author of Love God, Heal the Earth

Sally Bingham, Author of Love God, Heal Earth

As Pastor Clare Butterfield writes:

What we are trying to do is not to change light bulbs. We are trying to change people – with the assumption that they will then be the kind of people who will change their own light bulbs.

This heart-light bulb nexus touches on the unique and necessary contribution that religions can make in the struggle to avert climate change. Environmentalists are realizing that knowing what we must do may not be enough. We also need to find the moral passion to do it and the strength to overcome inner obstacles.

In the words of Gus Speth, Dean of the Yale School of Forestry and the Environment, quoted in the book by Richard Cizik:

“Thirty years ago, I thought that with enough good science, we would be able to solve the environmental crisis. I was wrong. I used to think the greatest problems threatening the planet were species extinction, pollution and climate change. I was wrong there too. I now believe that the greatest problems are pride, apathy and greed.”

“Love God, Heal the World” is an impressive and sometimes moving collection of testimonies from leaders of the environmental religious movement. It sheds light on the actions and the souls of people who are not only bringing new life and hope to environmentalism, but are also rethinking their religious faith and traditions in the light of the challenges environmentalism levels.

To be sure, the authors present their views in engagingly broad strokes that raise a lot of questions. As many of the writers acknowledge, the world’s religions have arrived late to this issue.

As the book shows, they are catching up fast.

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