Judaism and global warming

by Ginosar  

Liberal US Judaism lost its compass

For many decades modern liberal Judaism in the US has focused its main attention on Tikkun Olam, making this world a better place for all humanity. The idea was to make the outstanding Jewish Mitzvot [commandments] relevant to today's world by minimizing human suffering. Kashrut [Kosher] laws were changed, for example, to be concerned about animal welfare. Our Mitzvot that focused on Jewish welfare were broadened to care for people suffering every where, such as Darfur.


Tikkun Olam is not about trivia, about doing what is relatively easy and may be popular. It is extending yourself beyond your comfort zone. It is breaking barriers, fighting seriously for an important human cause. About making real impact on the world.


We were active in the anti-discrimination movement from the beginning. Who does not remember the murder of the Jewish youngster in the South while registering African Americans?
Who does not remember Rabbi Heschel marching hand-in-hand in protest with Reverend Martin Luther King?


But for the last decade we are ignoring the key Tikkun Olam issue of our times; the unique, all encompassing danger to all humanity- Global Warming.


Individual Jews are heavily involve in this issue, but I am talking about the liberal jewish community as a powerful voice- and that I do not hear yet. I have tried to interest Jewish leaders on a national scale in Global Warming, but with no result. There are some minor involvement is "eat locally grown food," or minor sustainability issues, but they are all minor and would not impact global warming. Liberal Jews, like many Americans, are mainly focused on their own private lives, or some good souls on the immediate community. May be they feel Global Warming is the problem of the non Jews, not ours. It is not a Jewish issue like Soviet Jewry was. Or is it?


Is the survival of modern life, the sustainability of our world, the pending suffering of hundreds of millions of people across the globe less important than any other issue?


I have seen nearly zero participation from the Jewish community in my own town- Sacramento, and the United States in this subject. Some local actions are commendable, but ineffective. We need national voice, a powerful one.


Unless we raise large outcry, create political pressure of large magnitude, it will be ignored by the President and Congress. Congressman Waxman of Los Angeles and Senator Boxer of California have put their careers on the line to advance the fight against Global Warming. I hope they have substantial private support from powerful Jews, but they do not get the support from the Jewish community nation wide on the scale they need and deserve.


Yes, some Jewish leaders went to Congress to express their concerns about GW, but that is about that. That's nice but not influential. Congress does listen to a mass public pressure- letters and phone calls, but they did not witness any significant, consistent, Jewish public outcry about the lack of action in Congress. Even Conservative Christian groups are working hard against Global Warming, why are we so late in our grasp of the issue?


I do not see any mass Jewish movement, no mass literature, and no repeated discussions in Temples, nearly nothing of substance. I read nothing in the mass media or the web either on a strong Jewish presence on Global Warming.


As long as we are not working hard, taking chances to reduce the danger of global worming, we are not contributing to human survival. Up to now, I have to conclude, we have lost our desire to make this world a better place to all humanity. We have lost our focus on real Tikkun Olam.


O' Yes, it is also an issue of Jewish survival; when our world would be in the midst of global suffering due to the deterioration of the climate, Jews may be again the key scapegoat.

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