— by Rabbi Arthur Waskov
Along with 14 other religious folks, clergy and committed “laity,” I was arrested for standing at the White House with signs and songs, reciting the names of more than one hundred people who had been killed by one result of the climate crisis — Superstorm Sandy.
Among those arrested alongside me were Rabbi Mordechai Liebling, who teaches on social justice at the Reconstructionist Rabbinical College and is a member of The Shalom Center’s Board; Lynne Iser, a member of the Board of Isabella Freedman retreat center; and Freyda Black, a cantor, farmer, and member of P’nai Or Fellowship in Philadelphia.
More after the jump.
We were calling on the President to act swiftly to heal our Mother Earth from the climate crisis, from the plagues that modern Pharaohs — Big Oil, Big Coal, Unnatural Gas — have brought upon us.
As you see on the faces of two of us actually in the prison wagon after our arrests, the arrest itself — paradoxically — felt like a step into freedom, a continuation of, rather than a break from, both our joy in singing and our sorrow at the deaths we had recited. What is the Freedom of Passover? Freedom to grieve our wounds, Freedom to celebrate our covenant for action with YyyyHhhhWwwwHhhh, the Holy One who is the interbreathing of all life.
These are the Ten Plagues I recited, and below them, “Ten Healings” that accompanied the blessing of our Globe.
- Undrinkable water poisoned by fracking. (Sorrow!)
- Asthma: Lungs suffering from coal dust and gasoline fumes. (Sorrow!)
- Suffering and death for fish, birds, vegetation, and human beings from the oil upheaval in the Gulf of Mexico. (Sorrow!)
- Smashed mountains and dead coal-miners in the lovely hills of West Virginia. (Sorrow!)
- Unheard-of droughts in Africa, setting off hunger, starvation, civil wars and genocide. (Sorrow!)
- Drought in Russia, setting off peat-bog fires and scarcity of wheat. (Sorrow!)
- Summer-long intense heat wave in Europe, killing thousands of elders. (Sorrow!)
- Unheard-of floods in Pakistan, putting one-fifth of the country under water. (Sorrow!)
- Superstorm Sandy, killing hundreds in Haiti and America. (Sorrow!)
- Years of drought and fires in Australia. (Sorrow!)
- Parched corn fields and dead crops in the US corn-belt. (Sorrow!)
- Creating organic farms in countrysides and cities. (L’chayyim, To life!)
- Wind-based energy: Purchasing home & company electric power from wind-based suppliers. (L’chayyim, To life!)
- Hybrid or electric cars. Families buy them; convince cities, government agencies, & businesses to switch their auto fleets. (L’chayyim, To life!)
- Use public transportation. (L’chayyim, To life!)
- Family & congregational education/ action to heal the Earth: At Bat/Bar Mitzvah time and teen-age baptisms/ confirmations, “turning hearts of children and parents to each other, lest the Earth be utterly destroyed” (Quote from last passage of Malachi, last of the classical Hebrew Prophets). (L’chayyim, To life!)
- Vigils, picketing, civil disobedience at sites of mountain destruction by coal companies. (L’chayyim, To life!)
- Prevent the Tar Sands Pipeline. (L’chayyim, To life!)
- End fracking: Insist on moratoriums or prohibitions. (L’chayyim, To life!)
- Divestment by colleges, pension funds, religious communities, etc from investment in fossil-fuel companies, shifting investment to renewable, sustainable energy. (L’chayyim, To life!)
- Carbon pricing: Insisting that Members of Congress put prices on carbon-fuel production and pay dividends from the incoming fees to American families. (L’chayyim, To life!)