Rabbis Join Jane Fonda in Arrests for Climate Healing at U.S.Capitol


This past Friday, three rabbis were among thirty-two people arrested at the U. S. Capitol during an ongoing every-Friday protest. The protesters -- about 300 people --  called for the US government to address the Climate Crisis by enacting the Green New Deal.  

That rhythm of Friday actions was initiated by Jane Fonda. She brought her fame and creativity to inspire what she calls “Friday Fire Drills" to cool a world on fire. Each Friday is devoted to one aspect of our wounded Mother Earth. This past Friday it was the Oceans, and on Thursday night and Friday morning before the arrests there were mini-teach-ins about the perils that our Oceans are now facing. [Photos below are by Carla Aronsohn and Rabbinic Pastor De Herman.]


[In this photo from last Friday, Jane Fonda and Ted Danson (of "Cheers" TV fame) are flanked by Lynne Iser, an Elder Activist and adept of Spiritual Eldering.] 

We three rabbis were drawn to take part by three sacred commitments : to healing God's wounded Creation -- Mother Earth; to pursuing social justice and taking the next steps toward a fuller American democracy;  and to renewing a sense of shared social purpose and community.

The American People and the human race are standing at the edge of an abyss -- a simultaneous lethal threat to democracy and to the web of life on Earth. The Green New Deal is designed to address both the crisis of ecological peril and the crisis of social injustice and anti-democratic peril --  to address them in a single process. 

Its vision is not only shared economic prosperity and grass-roots political vitality, but a shared spiritual purpose.

That purpose is the survival and flourishing of Humankind and a million other endangered species. 

The absence of any shared social purpose leaves us in a welter of hostile greed and competition, arrogant cruelty among those who "win" and fury or despair among those who "lose." Instead, each of us needs to find our own best place in making that shared leap. Jane Fonda found her niche in the ecology of hope with this action. 

From the standpoint of individual people, an overarching purpose gives new life and new community. 

From the standpoint of the threat of disaster, only a great leap can meet the danger. Anyone who stands at the edge of a precipice and takes "incremental" short steps falls to disaster. The Green New Deal is a way of leaping across the abyss to a new society, in which justice and democracy and a sense of ultimate spiritual purpose go hand in hand. 

In the photo just below, you can see us amidst the crowd -- from left to right, Rabbi David Shneyer of Am Kolel in the Maryland suburbs of Washington DC; me, on behalf of The Shalom Center. Iser; and (in the rainbow yarmulke) Rabbi Mordechai Liebling, faculty of the Reconstructionist Rabbinical College.


 In the photo below of my own arrest, I am making the V for Victory sign and carrying my cane.  (The US Capitol Police, typically the gentlest of the five or six police forces that operate inside Washington DC, have cuffed me in front rather than behind my back so as to allow me to keep using the cane. That fact itself should lead to a serious discussion of different forms and degrees of privilege accorded whiteness, wealth, fame, age, etc. by different police forces under different situations.) 



And a final photo, with the Capitol behind us and our sense of sacred celebration strong among us and before us --


 A number of people have praised and celebrated those of us who protest and especially those who are arrested as "pioneers," "heroes," "prophets." That kind of response certainly warms my heart in a time of peril. AND it seems to me what this historic moment calls for is a mass movement, thousands and tens of thousands risking arrest, if we are to make the Great Turning that Humanity can now undertake in accord with all the life-forms that make up our Mother Earth.  

We now have enough Knowledge to shatter the wounded ecosystem that sustains us and thereby sentence our own grandchildren to misery and death on a dying planet. Enough Knowledge to shatter ourselves -- or heal ourselves. We could infuse that Knowledge with Wisdom and ensure that our grandchildren live in a planetary Beloved Community of shared abundance.

We have the whole world in our hands!
We have the frogs and the forests in our hands.
We have the rocks and the rivers in our hands.
We have our children and their children in our hands.
We have the whole world in our hands!

Now what?



Jewish and Interfaith Topics: