The Highest “Crime & Misdemeanor”: Burning Earth.

 To Seek the Remedy: #Sukkot4ClimateHealing 

Surely of all the possible “high crimes and misdemeanors” for which we should Impeach a President, the highest crime is deliberately acting to choke and burn our Mother Earth, our “common home” and only source of nourishment for Humankind and all life-forms.

As impeachment of Mr.  Trump proceeds, we should make sure that the Bill of Impeachment includes this charge. To name this crime is crucial to guiding the future actions of every leader of the United States and indeed of every nation, every corporation. 

It is fitting that Impeachment comes to the fore as we are about to gather on Rosh Hashanah. The festival is a Time of Transformation, turning ourselves again from our misdeeds toward the Holy Interbreathing Spirit of all life. The festival is called “Hayom harat olam, The World’s BirthDay or ReConception Day.” The Shofar calls out, "Sleepers, Awake!"

Exactly two weeks later, we will celebrate Sukkot – of all the Jewish festivals, the one most open to Earth, traditionally the one that seeks a prosperous harvest for all the “seventy nations” of the world. 

Yet this year we know that all Earth and all peoples are facing a great crisis. Earth is crying out, “I can’t breathe!” The build-up of surplus CO2 is choking, scorching, and burning the home we humans share with all the other species in the great web of life.  Forests are burning, trees are dying, some crops are failing in unheard-of droughts, unprecedented storms and floods are drowning other crops, fish are vanishing as the oceans turn acid. 

Can we take Sukkot into public space to call for public policies that will heal our Earth, our asthma-haunted neighborhoods, our forgotten and disempowered workers, our farms and cities consumed by flood or fire?

 To heal Earth we will need to weave together scientific knowledge, spiritual wisdom, and political effectiveness. Among the spiritual resources we have are the festivals that were born from Mother Earth and her rhythmic “seasons of our joy.” Today we need Earth’s children --  the festivals -- to serve as sacred instruments for loving, saving, and healing their Mother Earth.

 The Shalom Center seeks to shape the celebration of #Sukkot4ClimateHealing and other festivals like Hanukkah, Tu B’Shvat, Pesach, and Tisha B’Av this year and in the future into a series of activist Earth-healing sacred practices. Our sacred goals: ending the climate crisis; healing Earth and Humanity from the ravages of global scorching; reversing the social injustice and oppression that Corporate Carbon Pharaohs and their governmental enablers impose on all of us,  especially on the most vulnerable among us; restoring for our grandchildren the life-giving climate that our grandparents joyfully lived in; and at the root of all these, learning to love  Earth rather than subduing it, subjugating it. 


All across America, Jewish congregations or existing interfaith organizations invite others to join in multireligious Sukkot vigils at a local home-district office of a Senator or Congressmember.

The vigils gather on Wednesday, Thursday, and/or Friday, October 16, 17,  and 18 -- the third, fourth, and fifth  days of Sukkot --  each a weekday, when these offices will be open. 

 We stand in vigil outside or even inside the office, carrying signs like “Burning Earth: The Highest Crime and Misdemeanor.” 

We wave the Four Species (branches of myrtle, willow, and palm, plus the lemony etrog – or perhaps branches and fruit more familiar in North American ecosystems) in the seven directions of the universe.


We chant prayers old and new, songs, psalms, in Hebrew, English, Spanish, other languages, all in celebration of a healthy, healing Earth. By waving fruit and branches we affirm that no one of these offices, no Senator or Congressmember, no human being, could exist without these trees to breathe them into life. 

 We demand that one of the Bills of Impeachment name the acts of Mr. Trump to worsen threats to the web of life on Earth, including human life. His acts to worsen the emissions of CO2 and methane from autos, coal plants, fracking. To multiply oil wells and pipelines in our already troubled oceans and in our precious national parks. To weaken the protection of endangered species.

At the deepest level,  the choice we face is to subjugate Earth and human earthlings, or to love each other. At its deepest level, impeachment is necessary to turn our most powerful officials away from a campaign of abusing their power in order to subjugate immigrants and refugees and especially their children, Blacks, Muslims, Jews, women, the free press, the Congress, the Constitution – even Mother Earth herself, who nourishes us all. 

Impeachment is intended to turn those officials away from subjugation to democracy. And at the deepest spiritual root of democracy is love for human beings and life-forms of every sort and background, all of us pieces of the Grand Jigsaw Puzzle – pieces that we must fit together into a Beloved Community, a Sacred Unity.

If we wish to urge a program beside ensuring that Burning Earth is listed among the Highest of High Crimes, we can support the Green New Deal. Why that?  Because it has so far gathered the broadest support for a modern analogue to the Biblical teaching of the eco/social-justice practice of the Shmita/ Sabbatical Year in which Earth rested, human beings freely shared its bounty, and debts were annulled (Lev. 25 & Deut. 15).

Then Sunday October 20, the seventh and last day of Sukkot, known as “Hoshana Rabbah,” the culmination of its prayers and practices, would be the perfect day to gather in sukkot to celebrate and plan for outreach to broaden the community willing to take the next spiritually rooted action to heal Earth. Perhaps the next foray could be on the Friday after Thanksgiving and again during Hanukkah/ Christmastime in late December.   

No one person, organization, or community can do this alone. So The Shalom Center welcomes the sharing of such resources as songs, Hoshana prayers in English and Hebrew, designs for placards, and posters for the sukkah itself, all focused on carrying out the goals of the #Sukkot4ClimateHealingcampaign. To share them, please click to and respond to a brief survey  -- it will take only three minutes – at .

With blessings that this year ahead be one of sweet Transformation in our own individual lives, in the life of our nation and all nations, and in our sacred relationship with Earth and the Interbreathing Holy Spirit of all life – Arthur Waskow


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