It’s indisputable, contends Rabbi Nina Beth Cardin, that climate change is the “critical issue of our era.”
In only two months, the Trump administration has begun the process of “eviscerating” climate change policies implemented by President Barack Obama and earlier administrations, she says.
“It’s a full-court assault on our environment,” says Rabbi Cardin, a Baltimore-based author, teacher and environmental activist. “It’s important that Jews get involved. We must get this right. If we don’t, everything else pales.
“It’s not about tomorrow or 10 years from now — it’s about now. The Third World is already suffering from the excesses of the First World.”
One way Rabbi Cardin hopes that Jews throughout the Baltimore metropolitan region and across the country will fight climate change is by supporting the People’s Climate March & Shabbat on Saturday, Apr. 29. The initiative is an outgrowth of the non-sectarian People’s Climate March scheduled for that day in Washington, D.C. Organizers expect 400,000 people to attend.
Rabbi Cardin co-chairs the advocacy committee of the Pearlstone Sustainability Coalition with Joelle Novey, director of the regional office of Interfaith Power & Light, an organization that works with congregations of all faiths on environmental issues.
A Baltimore native who grew up attending Stevenson’s Chizuk Amuno Congregation, Novey says she is pleased with the growing interest in climate change and environmental issues among members of the local Jewish community.
For Novey, the obligation to care for the planet and its inhabitants is central to the teachings of Judaism.
“Why should I care [about the environment]? How could I not?” asks Novey. “We see ourselves as a link in a chain. I must do everything I can to protect the earth for children.”
While some local Jews may go to the nation’s capital that morning to march with the faith contingent, others who do not travel on Shabbat can show their solidarity with the environmental movement in other ways, Novey says.
For example, she says that congregations can focus on environmental issues at Shabbat services and youth group activities. Also, Novey says families can utilize various resources around their Shabbat tables compiled by Jewish environmental organizations on the Interfaith Power & Light’s website (ipldmv.org/
Rabbi Cardin and Novey note that Shabbat observance itself is inherently a climate- and sustainability-conscious activity.
“In and of itself, Shabbat highlights and celebrates sustainability and the same values of the march,” says the rabbi. “[During Shabbat] there is no commerce, our appetites are satisfied, we are spiritually satisfied, we appreciate the awe of creation and what matters most — family, community and each other.”
In preparation for People’s Climate March & Shabbat activities, several events are taking place in the Baltimore area:
- On Sunday, Apr. 2, from 3-4:30 p.m., Rabbi Cardin will host a party at her Pikesville residence for those interested in learning more about the People’s Climate March & Shabbat and the sustainability movement;
- On Wednesday Apr. 26, Interfaith Power & Light, the Hazon environmental group and the Pearlstone Retreat Center will offer an environmental advocacy training seminar from 11 a.m. to 9 p.m. at the center, 5425 Mt. Gilead Road in Reisterstown;
- On Thursday, Apr. 27, the Pearlstone Center and Hazon have chartered a bus for activists to travel to Washington to lobby lawmakers about climate change issues.
Although details are still developing, Novey says that people marching with the faith hub will gather near Capitol Hill around 11 a.m. for songs and prayers.
Those seeking transportation to Washington may consider traveling on a Sierra Club-sponsored bus leaving from Baltimore Hebrew Congregation’s parking lot, at 7401 Park Heights Ave., on Saturday morning at 8.
Those wishing to participate in the march who do not travel on Shabbat can visit Interfaith Power & Light’s website for information on arranging hospitality in Washington.
Rabbi Cardin says participating in the march and being environmentally conscious are another form of tikkun olam, repairing the world.
“Imagine a world where we have everything we need made in a sustainable way that satisfies our appetites and doesn’t threaten anyone else,” she says. “It is so right to do this.”
To contact Rabbi Cardin, email email@example.com.
Photo: Activists are shown in New York City at the People’s Climate March in 2014.
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