In anticipation of Pope Francis' Climate Encyclical set for release on June 18, 2015, Jewish Rabbis have fashioned a Rabbinic letter of their own. Inspired by Pope Francis' moral imperative to care for G-d's creation, seven Rabbis have penned a compelling plea for Jews to take action on climate change, and the response has been overwhelming!
With 333 Rabbinic signatures, the document is certain to carry some weight in motivating the 5.3 million Jewish-Americans to make a path to positive change. Employing an easy to remember acronym, MOM/POP (Move Our Money/Protect Our Planet), these Rabbis are asking a very simple question: “Can we turn our moral wisdom toward the problem of fixing the earth and insuring sustainability?” With almost four millennia of theology behind you, I'd say anything is possible!
Three months ago, authoritative sources at the Vatican started saying that in June, Pope Francis would be issuing one of Catholicism’s most important statements — an Encyclical — on the climate crisis, and that in September, during his trip to the United States, he would speak to the United Nations General Assembly and to the U.S. Congress on the crucial need for action to prevent climate disaster.
Seven rabbis responded to this news by deciding that Jews should address the climate crisis in the nearest way analogous to an Encyclical: with a broad-based Rabbinic Letter.
“Why?” they asked each other. For three reasons: to bring unique Jewish wisdom to the worldwide efforts to heal the world from climate disruption; to remind the Jewish community itself that practical wisdom about the relationships between human beings and the earth is encoded in the Torah, and, especially, to connect with younger Jews who are deeply concerned about the damaged world they and their children may inherit, and who have had no idea that Judaism might speak to their strongest concern.
The seven were Rabbi Elliot Dorff, rector of the American Jewish University; Rabbi Arthur Green, rector of the Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institute of Religion rabbinical school; Rabbi Peter Knobel, former president of the Central Conference of American Rabbis; Rabbi Mordechai Liebling, director of the Social Justice Organizing Program at the Reconstructionist Rabbinical College; Rabbi Susan Talve, spiritual leader of Central Reform Congregation, in St. Louis; Rabbi Deborah Waxman, president of the Reconstructionist Rabbinical College, and me.
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