Join us for an Interfaith Climate Rally on Wednesday, August 25, 5 p.m., at San Jose City Hall Plaza
Like the Hindu faith, the Jewish faith is among the oldest continuous religions, born when people lived in nature, not in cities. Some of Judaism’s major holidays are based on ancient harvest festivals: wheat and barley in late spring, olives, and grapes in autumn. We even have a New Year of the Trees, one of my favorite holidays. The blossoming of the almond tree, the first tree to bloom in Israel, signals its start. I planted an almond tree in my garden here in San Jose just to wonder at its beauty in bloom.
Over millennia, life continued, following Earth’s natural rhythms: rain in its season, dry warmth in its. People, like the wildlife around them, lived within the boundaries of Earth’s cycles. In the past century, however, human technology began to overtake nature. Our dominance of nature became pronounced in the past 50 years. As we caused the natural world to become out of sync and detrimental to life, environmental organizations, both secular and religious, grew to counter the problems. In the past few years, one environmental crisis—more threatening than any other—loomed as existential: climate change.
The Jewish community had no organization devoted solely to solving the climate-change crisis. Two years ago, Rabbi Jennie Rosenn, who worked for 20-plus years in social justice organizations, realized that many of the issues she worked on would be ameliorated by tackling climate change. So she started Dayenu: a Jewish Call for Climate Action. Dayenu means “Enough!” in Hebrew. The organization backs its bold name with a mission statement that “confronts the climate crisis with spiritual audacity and bold political action.” For example, standing with the Ojibwe tribe in Minnesota to protest the Line 3 oil pipeline and lobbying on Capitol Hill.
Dayenu struck a nerve and local Dayenu “circles” began springing up, more than 50 around the country at the latest count. Dayenu Circle of Jewish Silicon Valley came together naturally when eight of us from four different synagogues—all with climate concerns—formed our circle’s steering committee.
For our first bold action, we envisioned a rally to send our legislators, especially our senators, back to Washington, D.C. focused on climate legislation. We found a partner in the Hindu American Foundation.
Together we two and other faith groups are rallying on August 25, 5 p.m, at the San Jose City Hall Plaza to show our concern with prayers, civic leaders’ calls to action, and “holy noise.” Dr. Anurag Mairal, advisory board member of SEWA International among many other accomplishments, will be one of our speakers. Our interfaith “congregation” will blow Hindu conches (shanka) and Jewish shofars (rams’ horns), shake timbrels, and beat drums as we make the short walk to the Federal Building where we will call our senators.
We want to make sure our legislators hear our strong voices decrying a planet in decline because of wildfires, polluted skies, rising seas, drought-caused crop failure, and biblical-strength flooding—all results of human-caused climate change. For us, the critical legislators are Senators Dianne Feinstein and Alex Padilla.
We are no minority.
A recent Pew Research Center survey shows that 64 percent of American adults believe the U.S. should “reduce the effects of climate change.” Let our senators remember our voices and “holy noise” so they will include a clean-electricity standard, a Civilian Climate Corps, environmental equity, and more in the “reconciliation” bill.
Join us! Interfaith Climate Rally, Wednesday, August 25, 5 p.m., San Jose City Hall Plaza.
Interfaith Rally Registration and rally information: d.aye.nu/sanjose-aug25
Michal Strutin’s debut novel is Judging Noa: a Fight for Women’s Rights in the Turmoil of the Exodus. Discovering Natural Israel and two volumes of the Smithsonian Guides to Natural America are among her books on natural history and the environment.
Images: Somanjana Chatterjee