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Elul, the Month for Climate Action

By David Krantz

3 Elul 5775  /  Aug. 18, 2015

Tekiah! In Elul, we hear the call for the quintessential sound of the shofar every morning. It’s meant as a daily wake-up call to action. Appropriately, the word Tekiah itself also means “disaster.” Day after day in Elul, the shofar shouts: “Disaster! Act now!”

Just as an alarm clock gives us notice that we have to get to work, the shofar reminds us that time marches onward and that our mistakes won’t correct themselves. We must actively engage with the world to repair it and our relationships with each other. The process of repentance and repair starts with recognition, and it’s time that we recognize that with human-induced climate change threatening the Earth as we know it, our relationship with our environment is greatly in need of repair in order to avert disaster. But how can we repent and repair our relationship with the Earth? Every day of Elul, we can take one step forward to mitigate and abate climate change.

Start small, such as by changing your light bulbs to save on energy. Think bigger by calling your elected representatives and telling them to take action on climate change. And magnify your impact by joining with others and becoming more involved with the Jewish-environmental movement.

This month Aytzim, for example, joins the Jewish Social Justice Roundtable, a network that will enable us to deepen our work with partner organizations and develop new organizational cooperation. You also can join a network — there’s even one that’s dedicated to Jewish environmentalism. Jewcology — think Jewish ecology — is a project of Aytzim, and it’s free to join. It’s like a Jewish-environmental Facebook of sorts, except instead of reading about your friends’ summer vacations, you can discover more good green ways to change the world: You can find and connect with Jewish-environmental organizations, share blogs, pedagogical resources and events.

If you are a rabbi, cantor or maggid, or studying to be one, you can join Shomrei Breishit: Rabbis and Cantors for the Earth. Run as a joint project of Aytzim and GreenFaith, Shomrei Breishit is the only international Jewish-clergical group focused on Jewish environmentalism.

As the new academic semester starts, college students can help bring Jewish environmentalism to campus by starting an Aytzim student chapter.

Just after Elul ends, those who live in the Northeast can join with thousands of others to attend Moral Action on Climate events in Washington.

And, of course, there is a plethora of Jewish-environmental organizations in need of fiscal support. You can help Aytzim and find others by consulting the map of Jewish-environmental initiatives.

Unlike when we as individuals hurt the feelings of our friends, our repentance with the Earth is societal, and our success is dependent on collective action. Each of us needs to act in concert. So spread the word! Share this article; start climate-action conversations with your friends and relatives; and discuss climate action at synagogues, JCCs and schools. Listen to the imperative of the shofar’s daily blast: “Act now!” “Act now!” “Act now!”

And heed the shofar’s call to action. Tekiah!




David Krantz is the president and chairperson of Aytzim: Ecological Judaism.



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