Jewish Leaders call for "Climate Healing Shabbat" at Noah/Rainbow Torah-time, Oct 23-24

Initiated by The Shalom Center; endorsed by Religious Action Center of Reform Judaism, United Synagogue of Conservative Judaism, Jewish Reconstructionist Federation, ALEPH: Alliance for Jewish Renewal, Hazon, Teva, COEJL (a JCPA project) , & Canfei Nesharim (*participating through the Parshat Noach Sustainability Project); Rabbis Steve Gutow (head of JCPA), David Saperstein, Nina Beth Cardin, Peter Knobel, & Michael Lerner; Nancy Ratzan, Nigel Savage, Richard Schwartz, Ellen Bernstein, Jo Ellen Green Kaiser; many others, listed below.)

Says an old Southern Black song: "God gave Noah the Rainbow Sign; No more water, the fire next time." In our generation, the Flood of Fire has come upon us in the climate crisis of global scorching and rising of the seas. We ourselves -- all of us -- must build the Ark to save humanity and all endangered life-forms. The Rainbow Sign calls us to this work of transformation.

A Call to Observe Shabbat Noach, October 23-24, as Global Climate Healing Shabbat

This fall, Shabbat Noach -- when Jews around the world read the Torah portion about the Flood, Noah, the Ark, and the Rainbow -- comes on October 23-24, the day when a number of experts on the global climate crisis have called for world-wide actions to protect our planet from climate disaster.

This Torah passage lends itself to focusing on the danger of destruction of life on our planet, and also on the actions we need to take to prevent destruction and preserve the web of life in which the human race has emerged and created civilization.

So we --- both national and grass-roots leaders of the Jewish people -- urge all Jewish communities to observe Shabbat Noach as "Global Climate Healing Shabbat" with special prayers, sermons, Torah commentary/ midrash, songs, lectures, debates, panel discussions, resolutions, kiddushes, meals, nature-walks, stories for children, invitations to public officials and environmental activists, and other means of bringing Jewish commitment to bear on healing the earth from the dangers that over-use of fossil fuels is bringing upon us all.

We invite those of all religious, spiritual, and ethical traditions to join as well at that time of year.

Please register your intent to create a local event (even if you are just beginning to plan) in both these places:

Please forward this message to your friends and co-workers, and please support the work by clicking on the logo on the right-hand margin of this page. Please see the statement we are appending below about the worldwide scheduled events and the key planners.]

The international observance of "Global Climate Healing Shabbat Noach" is a prelude to the crucial United Nations conference on the climate crisis scheduled for Copenhagen in December, 2009.

Almost daily reports of widespread droughts, floods, storms, wildfires and melting polar ice caps, mountain snowcaps, glaciers, and the forced migration of invasive species and diseases into new territories all cry out to us for action. Passage after passage of Torah and secular Jewish writings cry out to us that as Jews we must act more vigorously, not only in private and communal households but in shaping public policy to celebrate and heal the web of life.

We urge our own members and all Jews to contact local rabbis, Jewish educators and other scholars and communal leaders to plan "Global Climate Healing Shabbat" events that will make this Shabbat (and if you wish the days just before and after it) the beginning of a truly transformative time.

We call on Jews not only to green our own households and communal buildings but also to work for major public policy changes away from fossil fuels and toward shifts in energy use, transportation, food production, housing, and other dimensions of our society.

Jewish tradition about caring for the poor also guides us to make sure that industries and regions especially affected must get help from the whole society, and that poor countries also get special help to develop on a non-fossil path and to ward off the destructive effects of climate change.

We hope the continuing momentum of Global Climate Healing Shabbat will help the December UN conference in Copenhagen make the decisions necessary to greatly reduce threats to our climate.

Signed (partial list):

Rabbi Steve Gutow, president of the Jewish Council for Public Affairs and a leader in the Coalition on the Environment and Jewish Life.
Rabbi David Saperstein, director, Religious Action Center of Reform Judaism.
Nancy Ratzan, President, National Council of Jewish Women.

Organizational Endorsements

  1. The Shalom Center
  2. Religious Action Center of Reform Judaism
  3. United Synagogue of Conservative Judaism
  4. Jewish Reconstructionist Federation
  5. ALEPH: Alliance for Jewish Renewal
  6. Tikkun & Network of Spiritual Progressives
  7. Hazon
  8. Canfei Nesharim (*participating through the Parshat Noach Sustainability Project)
  9. Jewish Vegetarian Society of North America
  10. Coalition on the Environment and Jewish Life (COEJL)
  11. Jewish Climate Initiative, Israel
  12. Teva Ivri (Israel)
  13. Teva Learning Center
  14. Kayam Farm at Pearlstone Center
  15. Southern Arizona COEJL


  1. Ellen Bernstein, founder of Shomrei Adamah; author, Birthday of the Trees and The Splendor of Creation
  2. Rabbi Nina Beth Cardin, Director, Baltimore Jewish Environmental Network.
  3. Rabbi Amy Eilberg, St. Paul Interfaith Network.
  4. Evan Eisenberg, author, The Ecology of Eden.
  5. Dr. Mirele B. Goldsmith, Environmental Activist
  6. Dr. Michael Kagan and Rabbi Julian Sinclair, Jewish Climate Initiative, Israel.
  7. Jo Ellen Green Kaiser, Editor, Zeek
  8. Susan Kaplan, Southern Arizona COEJL.
  9. Rabbis Sharon Kleinbaum and Ayelet Cohen, Congregation Beth Simchat Torah, NYC, a Green Menorah Covenant congregation.
  10. Debra Kolodny, director, ALEPH:
  11. Rabbi Peter Knobel, Beth Emet, Evanston IL; past president, Central Conference of American Rabbis
  12. Barbara Lerman-Golomb, Founder, Barbara Wow Workshop; Director Educaton and Outreach, Hazon; former ED, COEJL
  13. Rabbi Michael Lerner, Tikkun & Network of Spiritual Progressives
  14. Rabbi Mordechai Liebling, Board, The Shalom Center
  15. Rabbi Ellen Lippmann, Kolot Chayeinu/Voices of Our Lives, Brooklyn; Board, The Shalom Center
  16. Rabbi Thomas A. Louchheim, Tucson
  17. Jakir Manela, Kayam Farm at Pearlstone Center
  18. Rabbi Richard A. Marker, Co-chair, Board of World Religious Leaders
  19. Rabbi Yocheved Mintz, President, Ohalah/ Association of Rabbis for Jewish Renewal
  20. Rabbi Brant Rosen, Jewish Reconstructionist Congregation of Evanston IL. a Green Menorah Covenant congregation.
  21. Max Samson, Milwaukee; Board of The Shalom Center
  22. Nigel Savage, Hazon
  23. Lindsey Paige Savoie, Director, Shomrei Adamah of Greater Washington
  24. Rabbi Fred Scherlinder Dobb, Adat Shalom, Washington area; Greater Washington Interfaith Power & Light, Board of The Shalom Center
  25. Reb Zalman Hiyya Schachter-Shalomi, Boulder
  26. Richard Schwartz, Jewish Vegetarian Society of North America.
  27. Rabbi David Shneyer, Am Kolel, Washngton DC area; past president, Ohalah.
  28. Daniel Sieradski, director, Jew It Yourself.
  29. Nili Simhai, Teva Learning Center.
  30. Rabbi Margot Stein, composer/lyricist, Guarding the Garden
  31. Rabbi Warren Stone, Temple Emanuel, Kensington MD, a Green Menorah Covenant congregation; co-chair, environment committee of the Central Conference of American Rabbis.
  32. Rabbi Shawn Zevit, Director of Outreach and Tikkun Olam, Jewish Reconstructionist Federation
  33. Daniel Ziskin, PhD, Climate Scientist and President, Jews Of The Earth

Information on Jewish Teachings on Environmental Stewardship and Sustainability


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