Justice, Religion

Nov 10: Day of Jewish Fasting & Action for Standing Rock

The solidarity principles coming from the indigenous leadership at Standing Rock guide all allies to 1) pray in our own traditions and 2) amplify indigenous voices. How can Jewish tradition guide us in this moment? Our rabbis of the Talmud did not live in a world where access to water was troubled by the acts of human hands, by human greed. In Masechta Ta’anis they prescribed public fasting to save the people from drought, emphasizing our collective interdependence and culpability, and requiring the entire community to petition for Divine mercy.

standing rock pipeline protest via dallas goldtooth facebook
Standing Rock protesters march against the Dakota Access Pipeline. Photo via Dallas Goldtooth/ Facebook.
Today, we know that indigenous people, poor people, and people of color, like those at Standing Rock or in Flint, Michigan, are the first to bear the catastrophic costs of the poisoning of our natural water resources. And, as our rabbinic tradition teaches, we are all ultimately reliant on access to water and the health of the earth; we are also collectively responsible for its healing. We must respond to the urgent call to protect clean water and fight for environmental and climate justice. And we know that to show up effectively, we must follow the leadership of the people most impacted.  
It is in this spirit of solidarity with indigenous leadership at Standing Rock, and rooted in our own tradition that we invite you to join us for a Day of Jewish Public Fasting, Learning & Action for Standing Rock on Thursday, November 10th. Synagogues and individuals are invited to take on this internationally coordinated, halachically voluntary fast as well as the Standing Rock Jewish Learning Circles and action steps associated with it (there many ways to be involved with or without fasting). More details about the action and our vision are given below. You can visit our Facebook page, “Day of Jewish Public Fasting for Standing Rock,” to keep updated and/or click here to sign up to participate in one or more components of the action.

Jewish Day of Fasting, Learning & Action
for Standing Rock – November 10, 2016

Action Goals

  1. To immediately mobilize Jewish communal time, tzedakah, and talent resources in direct support of indigenous organizing at Standing Rock.
  2. To conduct public learning and raise the profile of indigenous rights issues in our Jewish communities.
  3. To access our Jewish traditions as guidelines for principled reflection, prayer and/or action in support of Standing Rock.

Action Components

  1. Day of Fasting in Solidarity: Thurs. Nov. 10
  2. Jewish Learning Circles: Thurs. Nov. 10 & Sat. Nov. 12
  3. Divrei Torah: Sat. Nov. 12
  4. Mobilize for local actions as part of international Nov. 15  #NoDAPL Day of Action

Action Resources (forthcoming–will be shared on the Facebook page and elsewhere)

  1. Jewish Learning Circles Toolkit (forthcoming)
  2. Dvar Torah Toolkit (forthcoming)
  3. “Voluntary Fasts and Halakhah” information sheet (forthcoming)
  4. Putting the Public in Public Fast: Social Media Kit (forthcoming)

Political Unity/Vision
The construction of the Dakota Access Pipeline (DAPL) is harmful because:

  1. Construction of the DAPL would engender a renewed fracking-frenzy in the Bakken shale region, as well as endanger a source of fresh water for the Standing Rock Sioux and 8 million people living downstream.
  2. DAPL would also impact many sites that are sacred to the Standing Rock Sioux and other indigenous nations; many sacred sites have been destroyed by DAPL construction already. The Pipeline violates the Fort Laramie Treaty of 1868 and 1851 signed by the United States government.
Standing Rock pipeline protest poster via Instagram user Megalyn
Via Instagram user Megalyn
We support and honor Indigenous sovereignty, and we follow Indigenous people as leaders in the struggle for their land and self-determination.
This campaign was initiated by individual organizers who are informed by a politics of feminist decolonization, collective liberation, and Jewish-self love; our explicit priority in this campaign is solidarity with Standing Rock.
Indigenous leaders are calling for allies to take bold action in our own communities, teaching and telling about the struggle about Standing Rock, and to pray in our own traditions.
We draw on our own traditions because they provide guidelines for principled reflection, prayer and/or action in support of Standing Rock. We live in the midst of a dominant American culture that teaches us individual consumerism and denies the fundamental interdependence of all living things with the world we inhabit. The rabbis of the Talmud understood that we are all reliant on the well-being of the earth and that we are collectively responsible for healing its ills; and that when our neighbors lose access to water, we are obligated to stand by their sides.
Authors: Jessica Rosenberg & Jonah Sampson Boyarin; with information from NYC Stands with Standing Rock & adapted material from the recent Philadelphia Jewish Standing Rock action

3 thoughts on “Nov 10: Day of Jewish Fasting & Action for Standing Rock

    1. Good question! Because: 1) The water protectors’ need at the camp is very urgent 2) It’s a Thursday, which is traditional for a fast 3) It sets up an effective timeline to support indigenous organizing: Fast/Learning/Ritual Thurs. 11/10-> D’var Torah/Learning Circle/Discuss in shul shabbes 11/11-11/12 -> mobilize our community to show up for our local version of the Nov. 15 #NODAPL Day of Action (indigenous initiated and/or led).

  1. Nov 10 is not realistic — too soon to organize. Nov 17 one week later is the date when Noah’s flood begins according to one appending interpretation (the 17th of the second month in Genesis). Delay it a week and take more time to publicize — including publicity at all the Nov 15th events happening around the country. Then also provide some liturgy people can use for that day — maybe for some kind of afternoon service (whether secular or religious), as is traditional on fast days. Just a suggestion but I hope you all will take it.

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