At a rally in Washington DC last Sunday, 50,000 people from across the United States gathered in the National Mall to spread awareness about climate change. Among them were thousands of Jewish activists, representing a handful of Jewish organizations joining the growing public concern for global warning and climate instability.
Royal Young decided to attend the rally after the recent devastation on Hurricane Sandy hit too close to home. “Sandy devastated New York. I feared for my elderly Jewish grandparents trapped out on Long Island with no heat or power,” he explained. “Climate change, with all its catastrophic effects, was no longer something I could ignore.
The rally, which focused in part on protesting the environmental impact of the Keystone pipeline proposed between the United States and Canada, was, according to Nili Simhai, “a historic moment.”
Simhai also believed that attending the rally was central to Teva Learning Alliance’s mission of educating Jewish day school students about Judaism and the environment. “It’s important for us to be here,” Simhai said. “Sustainable climate policies are at the core of what Teva has been teaching for years.”
Rabbi David Seidenberg agreed that protecting the environment and fighting against climate change was indeed a Jewish issue. “So is this Jewish? As we say, ‘No flour, no Torah, ’” he insisted. “Without a healthy planet there is no Torah, no Judaism, and no Jewish people.”
Still, according to Rabbi Seidenberg, the Jewish community is just beginning to wake up to the need to protect the planet. He is calling for more Jewish organizations to join the fight.
For Young, the recent Hurricane Sandy and his experience at the rally were enough to convince him that action must be taken. “Climate change is deadly serious, and at the risk of betraying my old happily unaware self, it’s a dangerous problem that must be stopped and so must our attitude toward it.”