My Father Is Not Better Than Your Father

7th Heshvan

by Rabbi Daria

You may have read about how we generously received a Torah scroll recently, just in time for Rosh HaShanah this year. (You can read about it here.) Well, this past Sunday I traveled to outside of Seattle, to the Treacy Levine Center, to speak to 200 people at the 50th anniversary of the center. It is also a time when they are transitioning from having owned about 200 acres of land to a new organization, Camp Korey, coming to take over the facilities. I was greatly humbled to receive a standing ovation. 

Shalom,

What an honor it is to be here at the celebration of the 50th anniversary of the Treacy Levine Center, "TLC."

For half a century, people who came to TLC got extra TLC and it helped heal them. God willing, for the next more than 50 years, healing will continue here for children with severe illnesses and their families.

For healing on multiple levels can’t help but take place when one spends time connected to the natural world, and particularly when one shares these experiences with others.

How fitting, then, that a vision for healing of this kind found root in a man whose name means “God heals,” “Raphael.”

Rabbi Raphael Levine, or “The Rabbi,” as he was often referred to by the community here, most likely had various nicknames. I never knew him personally, but I was fortunate to know one of his nicknames: “Uncle Raif.”

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Raif, a nickname for Raphael, was my Grandma Muriel’s uncle, and my great-grandmother, Ida’s, “baby brother.” These two women played important roles in my life, and long before I imagined that I would myself enter the rabbinate, through their stories I was first introduced to Uncle Raif, a rabbi in the family who had been on TV and started an interfaith retreat center in distant Seattle.

Stories about him didn’t dominate my relationship with them, and growing up in greater Boston I only saw these relatives periodically. But I remember one particular visit to Minnesota to visit my grandparents there when I was in my late 20s. My grandmother pulled out her copy of The Wild Branch on the Olive Tree and shared a little more about her uncle and the work he had done. Never could I have imagined that I would be standing here today, a direct descendent of this powerful man, and myself now working in the rabbinate, as we mark 50 years of the work created by his vision, together with that of our dear Fr. Treacy.

What a journey so many of our lives take. Many of us find ourselves having experiences we wouldn’t have expected at many other times in our lives. And that is how I find myself here. After a winding journey that took me through 3 years of living in Japan, an EdM, living in Israel for 3 years, the rabbinate, many other surprises, and now living in northern CA with my own start-up community that connects people to the natural world for the sake of deep healing in relationship to ourselves, community, the Divine, and the natural world, I am struck by the placement of my journey in my greater family journey.

It was a handful of years ago now that the thought crossed my mind, “I know that I have rabbinic heritage, and an amazing retreat center was co-created by one of these individuals in partnership with a Catholic Priest. Is it still around? What’s the Priest doing now?” Fortunately, with the help of the internet, after just a little work I was able to find the center and connect with Father Treacy.

However, it wasn’t until one year ago August, after I has resettled to the west coast and begun building community there, that he and I were able to meet in person for the first time and I was able to see the product of this grand vision that had come to fruition through such an immense amount of hard work. The weekend that I came purposefully coincided with the visit of a group of children from Kids for Peace, an organization that brings together children from Israel, Palestine and Seattle- Jews, Moslems, and Christians. I was able to talk with the facilitators and some of the children about the life changing experiences afforded them because of the vision behind the Treacy Levine Center and this space here.

Kids for Peace will now need to find a new location for the youth to meet, and I am confident that they will be able to do so. But what I was so struck by, and continue to be struck by, is that powerful vision for healing and connection that not only is the raison d’etre for the Treacy Levine Center, but that finds its source in the fact that “the Rabbi,” growing up in a shtetl in Lithuania, and “the Priest, growing up in a small village in Ireland, had been able to build such a relationship together, and such a legacy, so that decades later this very same Priest can teach me about my own family’s stories, and introduce me to my great-great-great-grandfather, Lebl the inn keeper, who lived to be 104 years old. What worlds have been traversed in this drama! And by coming here today, all of us are part of it.

We live in a somewhat paradoxical time: from a Jewish perspective, the rate of intermarriage with those of different backgrounds is at an all-time high. It is more the norm for me personally and professionally to encounter families in which one parent comes from a Jewish lineage and the other from a different tradition. That is not to say that Jews are not at all marrying Jews, but rather that in the non-Orthodox Jewish world, no one blinks an eye in these situations. This is, of course, a far cry from the not-too distant history, in which one of my great-uncles married a Christian woman and my great grandfather, his father, disowned him for over a decade.

The Treacy Levine Center creates and supports opportunities for people to come together because in knowing one another our assumptions can be corrected and our fears can be assuaged.

Let me quote from Uncle Raif’s writing:

“I could see a great ecumenical, religious, educational, and cultural center for the Pacific Northwest... It would be a retreat for people seeking spiritual renewal to meet the challenges of a difficult world, and for families seeking to know each other better, away from th    e turbulence and distractions of city life. It would be a haven for those who wish a deeper understanding of themselves and their fellow beings, a center for conferences concerned with better human relations, a place where people could work and learn together, sharing their knowledge, experience, needs, hopes and dreams. It would be a camp for children and adults of all races and creeds to enjoy themselves, and in the process, to come to know one another as equals.

What an inspirational vision! And although it is as deeply relevant today as it was 50 years ago, life often unfolds in mysterious ways and the direct ownership of this land will no longer be part of the Treacy Levine Center’s responsibility. 

But what of the vision of the center, and the need for healing that it was responding to? If you had a chance to read some of the excerpts of Uncle Raif’s autobiography, you might have read about the incitement of violence by the Christian clergy and the government in Lithuania, and the fear it rightfully instilled among innocent people who were different- in particular, us Jews. Upon his resettling to Duluth, MN, Uncle Raif fortunately was gifted with a Christian teacher at his public school who was able to dispel his assumptions thanks to her kindness and care. That’s what the Treacy Levine Center is about: the healing that can come about when we can open our hearts to the humanity of the other.

In much of the Jewish community we can see how truly effective “meeting the other” is, and has been, in building relationships, and in fact so many marriages!

And so, perhaps the vision of the Treacy Levine Center is no longer needed? Alas, we unfortunately can still see far too many instances of deep pain and suffering created out of ignorance and fear. Perhaps the issue no longer is as present in many parts of direct Jewish-Christian interactions and relationships, but sadly it still looms large throughout our nation and the world.

Just last week, with arrival of the new moon, we moved on from the Jewish month of “high holydays”- a moon cycle full of calls to wake up, check in with our path, to open to vulnerability, and to rejoice deeply. Over the course of the holidays, ancient words and ideas keeps us focused on these various themes.

One part of the liturgical cycle, particularly on the holiday of Yom Kippur, focuses our attention even more exactingly on how we have used speech this past year, thereby giving us the opportunity to make changes this coming year in order to better align our reality with our aspirations.

But this theme doesn’t exist just in the holiday cycle. Every day, the liturgy reminds us that worlds are created, and therefore can also be destroyed, through speech. This of course lies in direct contrast to the childhood taunt: “Sticks and stones may break my bones, but words can never hurt me.”

Beyond the liturgy, rabbis over the centuries have explored the concept of “shmirat lashon,” “careful speech,” as well as “lashon ha’ra,” “evil speech,” and even “avak lashon,” “dust of the (evil) tongue.”

Just because we have these teachings about how to focus our speech and what kind of speech to avoid doesn’t mean, of course, that I believe Jews have always succeeded in all these various areas of speaking as carefully as possible. Humans are humans! And these teaching carry universal messages and practices, which is why I wanted you to know that a rich, ancient and present-day literature exists that is part of serious Jewish study for the explicit sake of helping individuals with this challenging task of “right speech.” Why do we need such help? Many of us know this intuitively, but another response comes from a Jewish teaching about the design of our bodies: we are given only one mouth, and yet two ears, so that we might listen more and speak less!

Well, we all know that we shouldn’t gossip. Is there really much more beyond that? The rabbis go far beyond the category of gossip and include insults, ridicule, jests, denigrating another’s craftsmanship or merchandise, commenting on someone’s physical attributes, mental status, financial situation, and medical history.

In fact, they teach that when you embarrass another, the red flush that comes to their face can remind us of blood – for embarrassing another in public compares to murder.

“Wow!” You might be thinking. “That’s pretty extreme!”

Yes. I agree completely. AND, I want us to also ask:

1)   What are the results of too many of our present modes of communication, especially in this election cycle?

2)   What might the world look like if we could all move ourselves a little more on the spectrum to align with our goals for right speech?

First, let’s look at the world that we live in. In our “business as usual” model, is there any space to respond to the divinity within another? Or if you’re a concrete kind of person- are we getting the results we want? Do we see people living in safety, and with enough of their basic needs met, even in this country of ours? Are we making the world a better place through discourse of the kind that is presently so carelessly thrown around?

Or does the language that we hear, even in such public venues as over the course of the presidential campaign, express derogatory views of Moslems, immigrants, refugees, and women, and include not too subtle suggestions that violence is actually a legitimate, and appropriate response to a candidate’s position on an issue?

Will the situation that Uncle Raif faced in Lithuania at the turn of the prior century, and that too many have experienced even in our own country and certainly in the Holocaust and throughout the world actually be something that becomes sanctioned by our government? How can it be acceptable to have a potential leader of our very powerful nation modeling this? Hate speech, expressions of superiority and inferiority, and objectification of other human beings is so very dangerous, and the results have been shown throughout history and around the world, as well as through present day reports in our very own country.

According to the Southern Poverty Law Center, and their hate map, we are fortunate that in this part of the country there are – as we may feel to be true- not a lot of hate groups. But do check out their map online.

Here are some statistics that can help you gain a clearer view of the “state of hate” in our nation. (These numbers do not include 2016 since the year is not yet complete).

However, by the end of 2015:

·        Increase in total number of hate groups up from 2014. 14%

·        Total number of antigovernment 'patriot' groups in 2015. 998

·        Total number of Ku Klux Klan groups in 2015 190

·        Increase in total number of anti-Muslim hate groups up from 2014. 42%

Is this consistent with our values, as both Americans and as supporters of the Treacy Levine Center?

At this time in history when there is so much hope for connection, and so many barriers to difference have already been brought down, our work is clearly not yet done.

The Treacy Levine Center will no longer responsible for hosting people at this facility, but their healing work will continue. And regardless of our relationship to the center beyond today, we each have the power to be “secret agents of healing” in our own lives.

Here are some opportunities for action:

1.   We are called upon to do be God’s hands, and that means that when we hear hurtful words or see hurtful actions, we speak up and do what we can to arrest these situations.

2.   We can bring increased attention to our own attitudes, behaviors, and actions.

3.   We can reach out to others to help bridge differences.

4.   We can get involved with organizations like the Southern Poverty Law Center, that fight hate, seek justice, and teach tolerance.

5.   And of course we can continue to stay involved with the Treacy Levine Center.

In closing, the late Rabbi Zalman Schachter Shalomi , (whose youth was spent in Europe, in a Vichy internment camp, narrowly escaping the Holocaust), and who was one of the most influential Rabbis in the liberal Jewish world, would often speak about an “organismic model of religion.” He compared the myriad world religions to the various organs of the human body. We need right arms, we need left arms. We need legs, and a stomach, and a liver, heart, etc. Without each organ we cannot function optimally, and indeed, with each organ we can be a powerful, beautiful force in the world. So, too, can the various non-extremists segments of religious groups unite to be a powerful, beautiful force in the world.

In an ancient Jewish teaching from about 2000 years ago the rabbis asked, “Why, when creating the world did God just make one human being at the very beginning?” After all, God could have created the world in any number of ways, and certainly could have created several human beings from the start. (Regardless of how we understand the creation of this world, we, too, can be curious about this sacred story.) And how do the rabbis answer this question? God created the world with just one human being at the beginning so that no one can say that “my father is better than yours.”

Imagine- what could the world look like if we were all open-hearted and fearless enough to not have to put another down by lifting ourselves up. Imagine- what could the world look like if we could securely and with great love build strong bridges to those we know better as well as those that cause us to shrink back in fear, or to reach out in attack.

The actions we take as individuals and as a community can and do shift the great drama we are part of one way or another. So I extend to you the question that poet Mary Oliver asks: “Tell me, what is it you plan to do with your one wild, and precious life?”

And so, I invite you to join me in this prayer for healing. It comes from the Torah, in the Book of Numbers, and the story in the Hebrew bible when Miriam is stricken with a disease and her brother, Moses calls out to God to heal her: Ana, El, Na – Rfa na la. Please God, heal her.

At this time of hope, when there is still such a need for healing, may we, too, call out to God, and call out to one another as instruments of the Divine- Please, let us heal her. Let us heal the collective “us.” For your father is not better than my father. Your father is my father.

Please join me in this chant for healing: Ana, El na, rfa na la!

Unrolling... literally!...the Tree of Life (a new Torah scroll) on the Birthday of the World

24 Elul 5776 (Look! Less than 1 week from the new moon/month/year!)

In the 150 year history of Jewish Sebastopol, there has yet to be housed a Torah that lives here, until now.

Zmanim's new Torah scroll!

Zmanim's new Torah scroll!

Just in time to be literally "unrolled" for the Jewish new year of Rosh HaShanah (which begins 10/2), Rabbis Daria and Josh Jacobs-Velde were the recipients of a Torah scroll and beautiful, hand-made, portable ark last week.

In the past, Congregation Beth Ami of Santa Rosa generously loaned us a Torah scroll when needed. However, we will now be able to build a connection with our very own Torah scroll, the first ever to belong to a Sebastopol-based Jewish community!

How did this wondrous event unfold? Through a special relationship that almost predates the beginnings of Sebastopol. Rabbi Daria's great-great uncle was also a rabbi, Rabbi Raphael Levine. Born in Lithuania at the turn of the last century, he came to the US as a young boy, and grew up in Minnesota. After becoming a lawyer, he found his calling in the rabbinate, just in time to be sent to London to serve during WWII. Upon returning to the US he was hired by a congregation in Seattle, WA. While serving a large congregation there, he, together with a Protestant minister and a Catholic priest from Ireland, Father William Treacy, started a TV show that ran for over a decade called "The Challenge."

Through the course of his relationship with the priest, he had the vision, and they fundraised together- to buy 200 acres outside of Seattle to start an interfaith retreat center together - Camp Brotherhood (later the Treacy-Levine Center) where youth and adults of all backgrounds could come together to connect through shared experiences in the natural world, in a beautiful camp-like setting.

Rabbi Daria never met this relative of hers who died suddenly 30 years ago. (However, she knew his older sister a little bit, her great-grandmother). Her grandmother had given her a book that "the Rabbi" and "the Priest" co-wrote together, The Wild Branch on the Olive Tree, and a handful of years ago Rabbi Daria decided to see if "the Priest" (as he was referred to) was still alive... After a little searching, she found him!

In August 2015 she traveled up to Seattle to finally meet him in person. As he is now 97 years old, it was like a reunion of long, lost family members whose families' history together spans over a century. It was during that visit that Fr. Treacy and the executive director of the Treacy-Levine Center, Tom Howell, had the idea to gift Rabbis Daria and Josh with the Torah scroll that hadn't been used and was not going to be used in the foreseeable future. Not only that, but the Torah scroll came with a beautiful, portable, hand-made ark (likely by "the Rabbi") that just needed a little TLC. How perfect for the Jewish community that loves to be outside whenever possible. Now the Torah can literally be carried in her own ark wherever she goes!

Since that first face-to-face meeting things changed in the plans for the future of the Treacy-Levine Center, and they decided that after 50 years it was time to sell the camp. A wonderful new camp will be coming in, Camp Korey, whose mission is to honor the courage, strength and determination of children living with serious illness. So the camp site will be able to continue the mission of "the Rabbi" and "the Priest" by providing a place for people of different backgrounds to play and learn together- from the campers, to their parents.

Meanwhile, the largest Judaic item there, the Torah (aka "the Tree of Life"), has found new life in her new home with Rabbis Daria and Josh and the Zmanim community. Starting with this year's Rosh HaShanah celebrations for the "birthday of the world," on Oct. 2 and Oct 4, she will be brought out for the first time in a very long time, and publicly chanted from and celebrated with in close proximity to her dear relatives- branches, leaves, trunks and roots of the local "trees of life."

Come join us for a true shehekheyanu (first time, positive event) moment as we connect with the particularities of this zman (time/moment- singular of "zmanim")!

Shanah tova u'm'tukah! May you have a happy, sweet new year, and we look forward to celebrating it with you!

 

Entering the Auspicious Month of Elul

27 Av 5776

By Rabbi Josh

Here's a short, recent exchange between myself and my second-grader son, Shlomo, that took place in our backyard:

Me: “Shlomo, where are you?”

Shlomo: “In the garden.”

Me: “What are you doing?”

Shlomo: “Seeing what needs help and what doesn’t.” (He was helping a cucumber find a place for its tendrils to climb).

It struck me that our brief exchange was a great setup for the new Hebrew month of Elul that we are entering this Friday night. With this new month, we officially enter the High Holyday season which culminates in Yom Kippur forty days later. It is the time of year where the call goes out to each of us from the Totality of Being: “Where are you? What are you doing?”

Shlomo had a pretty good answer at that moment--he was in the garden. How about us? Do we really know where we are? Are we aware that we are in the garden? By that I mean are we really maintaining the awareness that the world we find ourselves in is a place of beauty, wonder, and Divine expression? And what are we doing? Are we seeing what needs help? The month of Elul beckons us to begin considering those questions, to begin making space for reflection.

The other night, I was at a parent meeting for Shlomo. His teacher was describing how the prefrontal cortex of second-graders has not yet fully developed, so they are still basically in a state driven by impulse. They may feel guilty after the fact about stealthily grabbing a piece of chocolate off the dessert table, but when they spy the chocolate, they don’t really have the ability to control the impulse to grab it.

I thought about how we as adults are not really so different. True, we generally have a more developed ability to control our impulses, unless we are the current Republican Presidential candidate. Yet, this explanation of 2nd grader neurological development reminded me of some torah from my longtime teacher Rabbi Miles Krassen (www.planetaryjudaism.org). Drawing from the teachings of A Course in Miracles, Rabbi Miles points out that we have two voices within us: a kol dmama dakah, the “quiet, subtle voice” we can also call the “voice for God”; and then the much louder voice of the forces of ego separation. (Interestingly, it’s not called the voice of God, but the voice for God.)

The voice for God reminds us, in the words of Psalm 27 (the Psalm associated with Elul and the High Holy Days) to seek the Face in all faces/bakshu panai. The voice of the forces of ego separation is the voice of defensiveness, reactivity, judgmentalness, and anger--the voices that seek to defend our separate sense of self.

Fundamental to the alignment we seek at this season is an act of choice, an act of what is called teshuvah/return, to choose to align with the voice for God, and to strengthen that attunement and awareness.

So that is my invitation for us as we enter Elul this Friday evening: to see if we can sift out and strengthen the voice for God, which is the voice that calls us to keep our hearts open and to lovingly focus our actions in this world for the greatest possible good. The nature of existence is that at times we will all fall under the sway of the voice of ego separation. The important thing is that we recognize we’ve fallen, and in that moment extend the forgiveness of the High Holyday season to ourselves, and then to realign and re-attune to the voice for God. Our tradition reminds us that the praiseworthy thing about the tzadik (the evolved, highly conscious person) is not that they never fall from their level, but that they recognize they’ve fallen, and then quickly raise themselves back up.

May we be strengthened in this work, may we truly remember where we are and what we are doing, and may we seek the Face in all faces. Amen and hodesh tov/ “have a good new (Hebrew) month”!

Our Collective Future - A Guest Blog Post

1 Av 5776

(though actually we're posting it on the 26th of Tamuz!)

This Friday evening the new month of Av will begin, and so we're sending out our monthly blog post a couple of days early (by posting it on Monday instead of Friday). Nine days later, starting the evening of the 13th of August will be the holy day of Tisha b'Av (which means the 9th day of the month of Av). This is a day which traditionally commemorates the destruction of the 1st and 2nd Temples in Jerusalem, and whose meaning is now often expanded towards tapping into feeling the brokenness in our world as a whole. It is a day when the tradition invites us to collectively allow our hearts to break and to feel the grief over the brokenness of our world that we often keep at arms length. It is traditionally marked by a full 25 hour fast, like on Yom Kippur, avoiding all food and water.

This month, we'd to share with you a guest blog piece by ZMANIM community leader, Daniel Swid. The piece was written 3 years ago when Daniel and his family were living in Los Gatos, but its message about the connection between the upcoming holy day of Tisha B'av, climate change, and the environment is still profoundly relevant. We hope that you enjoy Daniel's thoughts.

~ Rabbi Josh

"Rocket Push"

I was living in Tel Aviv when Mika, my first daughter was born. Nearly every day I’d bike to the large urban park, Park Ha’yarkon that defines the northern boundary of the city. I would bike to picnics and barbecues, for playdates and solitude. But biking in the city was another story. As I biked the short distance to Mika’s daycare, I became Indiana Jones in a Temple of Doom strewn with booby traps and obstacles to discourage the young cyclist. On narrow sidewalks I weaved between pedestrians, dog poop, and stray cats. As if avoiding poisonous darts, I would duck beneath overgrown hedges. Cars and scooters parked in the bike lanes forced me onto the roads where buses threatened to roll over me. My favorite day of the year was Yom Kippur---no cars---pedestrians and cyclists could traverse the city without fear.

I day dreamed of changing the situation single handedly but, really what could I do alone? So, after further frustration and thought, I joined a handful of other volunteers at “Israel BShvil Ofanaim,” the national bike organization that lobbies in support of bike legislation and infrastructure.

Last year was the hottest year on record. It was also the year I quit my job at one of the Valley’s hottest tech companies. I’ve been mindful of Climate Change for a while, but last year was a turning point. During my slow traffic heavy commute up and down highway 85 to Palo Alto, I decided to hear the science first hand and listened to the audio book Storms of My Grandchildren, by NASA climatologist Dr. James Hansen. In 1988,  Hansen testified before congress about Climate Change. He was the first to raise broad awareness of the subject. Parts of the book are technical, very sleepy, and it’s a wonder I survived my daily commute. The book is also scary. Rising sea levels, super storms, ocean acidification, droughts, mass extinction, fossil fuel subsidies, and political inaction. Hansen believes that for life on our planet to remain stable we must maintain carbon dioxide in the atmosphere around 350 ppm. We hit 400 ppm this May. In National Geographic it was written that the last time CO2 levels were this high, “it was between 2.6 and 5.3 million years ago”. Climate Change is scary.

Mika will start first grade this fall and my daughter Zoe attends preschool here at Shir Hadash. Together we ride our bikes to school. When she rides up Blossom Hill Blvd I give her “rocket pushes”. A rocket push is a maneuver where, while pedaling together uphill, I place one hand upon her back and give her a great shove, transferring some of my momentum to propel her forward. Once, while crossing the bridge over Highway 17 on Blossom Hill Blvd, I slowed and paused, as if I had arrived for an appointment to gaze out over the endless stream of vehicles. Suddenly, I became overwhelmed by immense feelings of grief, sadness, and despair. I was overwhelmed by the sheer magnitude of the problems facing this next generation, facing my children.

Tisha B’Av is our community’s collective appointment with grief, sadness, and despair. I imagine all of us standing together on that bridge, overwhelmed yet embracing those dark emotions. In preparation for this appointment, the weeks leading up to the holiday include restrictions on physical and social joys like weddings, music, new clothes, and (like me) getting a haircut. It is said that G-d is absent. And on the holiday itself we fast. Tisha B’Av is also the turning point where we push through to hope. The purpose of emotions like grief, fear, and despair are to evoke transformative change and summon strength for action. It is said that the Messiah will be born on Tisha B’Av, how appropriate.

In February of this year, I traveled to Washington DC to witness the largest climate change rally in history. I left inspired by the diversity of the crowd of 50,000. There were children and grandparents, veterans and police officers in uniform, Native Americans and hipsters, blue collar, white collar, hippies and businessmen. This is a moral problem affecting everyone, but what can we really do alone?

In an interview with Bill Moyers, Annie Leonard creator of Story of Stuff says, “When we’re faced with problems as gigantic as disruption of the global climate, our consumer response is to buy green products, switch our lightbulbs, reject bottled water, or carry a reusable bag to the store. Those are all very good things. But they’re not about making the transformative change we need right now. To do this, we need to step out of our consumer role and into our citizen role and work together, through community and our democratic institutions. Perfecting our day to day eco-choices can be a step in the right direction, or it can be a distraction if we’re deluded into thinking that we’ve done our part since we shopped at Whole Foods.”

She goes on to say, “Today’s mainstream media is deeply invested in maintaining business-as-usual and an honest assessment of the current climate situation leads to the realization that fundamental shifts are essential in our economy, our transportation, our built environment, and much more.”

I believe our national conversation and mainstream media reflect a consciousness which has not yet embraced those dark emotions. There is a campaign underway across this country, called GoFossilFree, kicked off by 350.org, the organization founded by Bill McKibben and named after Dr Hansen’s target for sustainability on Earth, 350 ppm CO2.

The strategy is that the conversation played out by the mainstream media will transform as headlines are made by public, educational, and religious institutions that declare their intention to purge their foundations, endowments, and pension funds from financial investments in fossil fuels such as coal, tar sands, oil, and natural gas. Bill McKibben’s moral call is “if it’s wrong to wreck the climate, it’s wrong to profit from that wreckage.”

Today, there are active fossil free investment campaigns at over 300 universities, 100 cities and states, and a handful of religious institutions. Commitments have been made by San Francisco, Santa Monica, Berkeley, and Seattle. A commitment was made by the national religious body United Church of Christ, and by the San Francisco State University Foundation. And just last week, a large Norwegian pension fund and insurance firm removed 19 fossil fuel companies from its financial products to ensure long term returns declaring such investments to be “worthless financially” in the future. Their decision was based upon the release of a report by UK think tank Carbon Tracker which states that 60-80% of fossil fuel reserves need to be left in the ground if the worst effects of climate change are to be avoided

I’ve joined a handful of volunteers here in the Valley working on this issue. Our current goal is to support a fossil free Stanford. As community members at large of Stanford University, you can support this campaign by signing a petition at the information table outside in the Oneg Room or after Shabbat go online to support one of the local campaigns at Stanford, UC Santa Cruz, Deanza College, and the City of San Jose.

And what about Tel Aviv? Today, she is certainly not the Temple of Doomed Cyclists with over 100 km of bike lanes, a bike share program like those found around the world in Paris, Montreal, New York, Barcelona, and DC. Through groups and communities working together as citizens with heart and intention, our world can change.

Thank you.