Earlier this month, the Stony Point Center was honored to host long-time eco-social activist Rabbi Arthur Waskow, director of the Shalom Center in Philadelphia. Rabbi Waskow came to speak to our Summer Institute students and local activists about his current work organizing with IMAC (Interfaith Moral Action on Climate Change), a movement that aims to mobilize communities of faith to join together to awaken our nation’s leaders to their moral obligation of taking urgent action with regard to climate change.

Interested in helping to plan locally around the People's Climate March? Join us! Visit the upcoming events page for more information.
Rabbi Waskow and other faith leaders are spreading the word about what is guaranteed to be a massive day of Climate Action at the People’s Climate March on September 21, 2014 in Manhattan. The march with be held just days before a convened United Nations Climate Summit in New York City, where UN Secretary General Ban Ki-Moon is urging governments to support an ambitious global agreement to dramatically reduce global warming pollution. At the conference, the world’s governments and leaders will have an opportunity to build momentum toward an international climate treaty. The day of Climate Action and the People’s Climate March will send a clear signal to our leaders that we demand immediate strong action.

Since his work in the Civil Rights era, Rabbi Waskow has been teaching that “in each generation there are modern-day Pharaohs, and in each generation there are also the seeds of a social movement to overcome them.” The Pharaoh in the Hebrew Bible, Waskow teaches, is addicted to power and is unwilling to allow the Israelites to be a self-ruling people. Pharaoh acts in ways that seek to solidify and consolidate his own power while inflicting “plagues” or ecological and social disasters that wreak havoc and harm to the land and people of Egypt. It is only after the 10th plague, the death of the first-born, that Pharaoh agrees to let the Israelites leave Egypt.

Regarding ‘Global Scorching’, a term that Waskow uses to convey an urgency that he feels is not present in the term ‘Global Warming’, he teaches that Big Oil, Big Coal, and Big Gas are the modern day Pharaoh’s of our time, who are seeking to grow their infrastructure and power even as they inflict so many plagues on the Earth, including overwhelming carbon emissions, devastating oil spills, poisoning drinking water, and threatening the future of healthy resources on this planet. “It is time,” Waskow says, “to delegitimize Big Oil, Big Coal, and Big Gas. We as faith communities must shift our behavior away from climate immoral activities such as consumerism or materialism.”

To make this happen, Waskow has created a “Move our Money, Protect our Planet” Campaign, also known as, MOM & POP, which encourages individuals and religious communities to move their money away from banks and businesses that support Big Oil, Big Coal and Big Gas, and into renewable and resilient energy and climate solutions. His challenge to us is to increase investments in wind, solar, and other alternative energy companies, and to invest in projects that empower the poorer communities that are disproportionately vulnerable to climate change. 

After or before moving your money, Waskow invites us all to come march with him and over 550 organizations involved in the People’s Climate March to amplify the urgency of this message in a dignified, family-friendly, high energy and historic march. Greenfaith is helping coordinate the faith-based communities. Faith-based groups are invited to meet at Central Park and march together. The Community of Living Traditions at the Stony Point Center will be there alongside countless Jews, Muslims, Christians, Buddhists, Hindus, Sikhs and many other men, women, and children of all or no faiths. We will walk together and bear witness to our shared desire to live in a safe and healthy world. We will march to show our unity and our shared concern over the future of our planet. Will you come? Will you organize your congregation to be there?

Rosh Hashanah, the Jewish New Year, falls on September 24-26, just a few days after the march. This particular year is the Sabbatical Year that occurs every seven years in the Jewish calendar that is a special time of earth stewardship and healing between human society and the earth. Rabbi Waskow has publicized his vision of having 100 shofars (ram’s horns) being sounded at the march. It is customary to hear the sound of the shofar for the month preceding the new year as the sound of the Shofar calls out, “Sleepers, Awake!” Awaken to the danger of inaction; Awaken to hope and to the opportunity of this time; Awaken to the healing of ourselves and our planet. “As religious communities,” Waskow says, “we must awaken from the slumber of our pressing situation and urge our world leaders to courageously wake up to acknowledge the danger of the threat of life to the planet that continues to grow with each day that passes in which we do not take collective action.”

This is an invitation to change everything. This is an invitation to declare actions that exacerbate Climate Change to be iimmoral. Let’s answer the call to protect our planet with our marching feet and our marching dollars.

To sign up for the People’s Climate March, go to: http://peoplesclimate.org/march/. You will receive updates as plans for the march come together.



For more information, check out these links:

Interfaith Moral Action on Climate: http://www.interfaithactiononclimatechange.org

The Shalom Center: A Prophetic Voice in Jewish, Multireligious and American Life.

Jewish Sabbatical Year: http://hazon.org/shmita-project/educational-resources/core-shmita-principles/