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Scottish Council of Jewish Communities (SCoJeC)
Scottish Council of Jewish Communities (SCoJeC)
Scottish Council of Jewish Communities (SCoJeC)

 

SCoJeC Launches Climate Network
for the Scottish Jewish Community

 
Click here to watch a video of the Rabbis' presentations

 

29 September 2020

Look at my works, see how beautiful they are, how excellent. For your sake I created them all, see to it that you do not spoil and destroy my world. For if you do, there will be no-one else to repair it”. (Kohelet Rabbah)

 

SCoJeC has joined with Jewish communities around Scotland to set up a Climate Network for the Scottish Jewish Community to coincide with the planned date of the United Nations Climate Summit, COP26, in Glasgow. Although this has now been postponed until 2021 because of the pandemic, there will still be substantial activity online around the original dates of the summit, and we wanted to provide a space for discussing the issue of the climate emergency as Jews.

For the first time at a SCoJeC event, we brought together three rabbis from different traditions, one Orthodox, one Liberal, and one Reform, to put care for the environment into a Jewish context, and to address us on the Jewish imperative to keep the planet safe.

Scottish Jewish Climate Network

Rabbi Moshe Rubin of Giffnock and Newlands Synagogue in Glasgow spoke about how the New Year greeting, Shanah Tovah, includes the whole world, the people, and the planet. This is a time of judgement and reflection, a highly appropriate time to be thinking about how G-d is judging us in relation to our responsibilities towards the natural world. He spoke about the story of Cain and Abel, and how G-d rebuked Cain for the murder of his brother and for using the earth to bury the crime; and said that since that time, G-d “has been calling to us to ensure that the planet and everything in it is healthy, so it can continue to give life and sustain life”. He concluded by saying “when we focus our attention on how strong our relationship is with G-d, it’s important to realise that part of that relationship is how we look after and respect G-d’s planet”.

Scottish Jewish Climate Network

Rabbi Mark Solomon of Edinburgh Liberal Jewish Community (and also the Leicester Liberal Community) spoke about the importance of the festival of Sukkot, which reminds us that we are absolutely dependant, not just on G-d, but on nature for our very lives and for all our sustenance. “Anything we do to harm the balance of nature, that fragile balance which is so important to our lives, as the lives of other living things, is actually putting our own future as human beings at risk.” He told us that the Sukkah is “a reminder that we all depend on that shelter that the natural world gives us. This makes it a great imperative for us, at this very time of the year, to think about combating climate change, protecting our environment, protecting our own future and that of our children and all the living beings on earth.”

Scottish Jewish Climate Network

Rabbi Mark Goldsmith of Edgware and Hendon Reform Synagogue, who is a member of the Eco-Synagogue Steering Group, cited the Midrash from Kohelet Rabbah which speaks of G-d showing Adam around the Garden of Eden and saying: “See to it that you do not spoil and destroy my world, for if you do, there will be no one else to repair it”. He spoke about the Shabbat, a day of rest for Jews and anyone in our household, and shmittah, a year of rest for the land every seven years, and the tradition of Jubilee restoring land to its ancestral holders, originally every fifty years. He concluded by saying: “Torah mandates that food and productivity must be shared with the disadvantaged in society: the poor, the orphan, and the stranger. Behind all of the mitzvot here, is an essential concept in Judaism – that humanity does not own the Earth; G-d does. And our use of the world is conditional on our respect for it, and our willingness to share it in a sustainable manner, to the benefit of all humanity.”

You can listen to the messages from the three Rabbis here, and you can read the full transcripts of Rabbi Rubin's presentation, of Rabbi Solomon's presentation, and of Rabbi Goldsmith's presentation.

After the contributions from the three rabbis, there was a presentation by Rolf Schmidt, the chair of the Inverness Interfaith group, about the climate emergency, and the participants then went into into small groups to discuss their own climate action stories.

This was the last event organised by outgoing Projects and Outreach Manager Fiona Frank, who retired at the end of September after nine years at SCoJeC. She handed over during the evening to the incoming Projects and Outreach Manager, Ruby Katz, who has set up a a steering group to plan a year of activities for the new Network.

 
Click here for information about forthcoming Climate Network events
or contact Ruby for more information: ruby@scojec.org

 

   
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