To leaders within the American Jewish Community:
We are Jews, organizational leaders and rabbis, teachers and students who work passionately towards a bright American Jewish future.
We are also human beings who care deeply about all life.
And from this integrated Jewish and universal perspective, we are shocked by the US government’s decision to withdraw from the Paris Climate Accord.
This decision stands against common sense. Across the whole world, governments, corporations, non-profits, religious communities, and families and individuals are doing the hard work of slowly trying to wean ourselves from our own unhelpful behaviors and our fossil-fuel based economy, and toward a brighter future that better protects our planet and all its inhabitants.
The Climate Accord is a voluntary framework, signed by every country in the world except for Syria and Nicaragua. The signing was one of the largest gatherings of world leaders in human history. The withdrawal of the United States is tragic, and deeply problematic. As Jews living in a free society, we know the power of a shared framework which, even without legislative sanction, has a huge influence on the world. That’s what the Torah is; that’s why the Jewish people for twenty centuries have been on the right side of critical issues; and that’s why it is so critical that the Jewish community now stand up not merely to advocate for the Paris Climate Accord, but also to help implement it.
As Jews, we are also proud of our long history of economic innovation and entrepreneurship, so we are baffled by the false premise that withdrawing from the Paris Accords somehow prioritizes American jobs; on the contrary, our 21st century economy is driven by new energy technologies and our solar sector already far surpasses coal. Even so, we empathize with workers in the fossil fuel industry fearful of the changing energy economy, and strongly support business innovation and public policy to assist these workers during the transition to clean energy. Our nation’s economic interests are far better served by investments in this new energy economy than by the denial of climate science. Many experts agree that withdrawing from the Accord will weaken our economy – and threaten vulnerable populations both here at home and across the world.
In the face of this unfortunate decision, we applaud the leadership of mayors, governors, and businesses across the country who are taking responsibility for working towards the goals of the Paris Climate Accord. The US federal government is a vital actor when it comes to fighting climate change, but there is much that we can do ourselves, as institutions and individuals. Our children’s future demands that we do all we can.
Today, therefore, we call upon all Jewish federations, JCCs, synagogues, camps,day-schools, Jewish organizations, leaders, businesses, and community members to identify ways in which we, the organized and powerful American Jewish community, can and must respond to this climate crisis. There could not be more urgency at this moment, and our moral courage and bold leadership is needed on a national and global scale.
Here are some of the things that you can do:
- Commit yourself and your organization to the Paris goals, as Hazon, Pearlstone and a growing number of Jewish organizations have done. Amongst other things, that means reducing your carbon emissions by about a quarter (26 to 28%) over the next seven years.
- Make sure your institution has a Green Team, to develop a multi-year process to work on sustainability. Hazon Seal of Sustainability, and we invite you and your institution to join the Seal.
- Encourage your people – members, participants, staff, kids – to take some steps to live more lightly – ride your bike, or eat less meat, or eat more local produce. And if you can switch to solar or wind power, do so.
We are committed to working with interested parties within and beyond the Jewish community on this critical issue that will define our generation’s legacy.
In the Mishna, Hillel teaches us, “When no one else is acting, act.” We stand together, united in our commitment to a sustainable future.
Judith Belasco, Nigel Savage (Hazon)
Jakir Manela, Sara Shalva (Pearlstone)
Adam Berman (Urban Adamah)
Zelig Golden, Nancy Shaw (Wilderness Torah)
Robert Bank (American Jewish World Service)
Jeremy Burton (Jewish Community Relations Council of Greater Boston)
Charlene Seidle, Jim Farley (Leichtag Foundation)
Aaron Dorfman (Lippman Kanfer Foundation for Living Torah)
Sharon Alpert (The Nathan Cummings Foundation)
Adam Simon (Aviv Foundation)
Cheryl Cook (Avodah)
Reuben D. Rotman (Network of Jewish Human Service Agencies)
Judith Levey (Jewish Council on Urban Affairs)
Rabbi Fred Scherlinder Dobb (Coalition on the Environment and Jewish Life)
Rabbi Aaron Panken (Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institute of Religion)
Rabbi Asher Lopatin (Yeshivat Chovevei Torah)
Rabbi Yitz Greenberg (Jewish Life Network, retired)
Rabbi Sharon Cohen Anisfeld, Rabbi Arthur Green (Hebrew College)
Rabbi Mordechai Liebling (Reconstructionist Rabbinical College)
Rabbi Elyse Wechterman (Reconstructionist Rabbinical Association)
Rabbi David Ingber (Romemu)
Rabbi Sid Schwarz (Kenissa: Communities of Meaning Network)
Rabbi Arthur Waskow, Ph.D. (The Shalom Center)
Rabbi Ari Hart, Rabbi Dr. Shmuly Yanklowitz, Rabbi Mike Moskowitz (Uri L’Tzedek: Orthodox Social Justice)
Daron “Farmer D” Joffe (Coastal Roots Farm)
Rabbi Sharon Brous, Melissa Balaban (IKAR)
Rabbi Amichai Lau-Lavie (Lab/Shul)
Rabbi Katy Allen, Fred Davis, Andy Oram (Jewish Climate Action Network)
Idit Klein (Keshet)
Yoni Stadlin (Eden Village Camp)
Rabbi Roly Matalon, Rabbi Felicia Sol, Colin A. Weil (B’nai Jeshurun-NYC)
Josh Hanft (Ansche Chesed)
Mirele Goldsmith, Adriane Leveen, Wendy Seligson (Jewish Climate Action Network-NYC)
Rabbi Joshua Ratner (JLens)
Sarah Chandler, Melissa Hoffman (Jewish Initiative for Animals)
Rabbi Yosef Kanefsky (B’nai David – Judea Congregation)
Rabbi Jeremy Gerber (Congregation Ohev Shalom, Wallingford, PA)
Jessica Haller, Hody Nemes (Hazon Seal of Sustainability Advisory Board)
Rabbi Fred Greene, Rabbi Deborah Ruth Bronstein (Congregation Har HaShem)
Rabbi Ellen Lippmann, Franny Silverman (Kolot Chayeinu / Voices of Our Lives)
Sabrina Malach (Shoresh)
Trisha & Fred Margulies (Pushing the Envelope Farm)
Joelle Novey (Interfaith Power & Light, DC.MD.NoVA)
Chaim Seidler-Feller (UCLA Hillel)
Adrienne Krone (Allegheny College Hillel)
Rabbi David Seidenberg (neohasid.org)
David Krantz (Ayztim: Ecological Judaism)
Nati Passow (Jewish Farm School)
Yosef Gillers (GrowTorah)
Devorah Brous (Netiyah)
Rabbi Linda Motzkin & Rabbi Jonathan Rubenstein (Temple Sinai)
Chana Finman (Jewish Ferndale)
Rabbi Ruhi Sophia Rubenstein (Temple Beth Israel)
Jhena Vigrass (Repair the World NYC)
Rabbi David Kalb (Jewish Learning Center of New York)
Rabbi David Shneyer (Am Kolel Jewish Renewal Center)
Spiritual Leader Barbara J. Cohen (Congregation Ahavath Sholom)
Ilana Schatz (Fair Trade Judaica)