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Earth Etude for Elul 5 – Where Are We Going?

by Thea Iberall, Ph.D.

~A while ago, I started writing a book that contained everything I had learned about love, life, Jewish ethics, and about making peace with the past. And I made up a science fiction world of bad things happening. And one day, my sister Norrie said, “You don’t have to make it up. There’s bad things happening already.” I asked what she meant. She sat me down in front of her computer screen and showed me some charts. How the carbon dioxide is rising and with it the temperature in the air and in the oceans. She showed me how the waters are rising and how droughts are getting worse. I reached my finger up to the screen and traced the rising numbers. And realized, as my teshuvah, I had to rewrite the book. Not only include everything I had learned about love, life, Jewish ethics, and making peace with the past. But to include this story, this story of us. Of our world that we are trashing. In the past, we could afford to be distracted. But no more. I cannot be distracted. In 2080 and beyond, they’ll look back at our generations and judge us by our deeds. Whether we were the heroes that fought to save the environment so that they could live or whether we became part of the problem and marched us down the path to a living hell. The Talmud teaches the principle of bal tashchit – do not destroy. What will be your teshuvah,your turning away from environmental destruction, so that future generations can live?

My sister Dr. Norrie Robbins, USGS, retired, teaching native Kumeyaay children

Thea Iberall is on the leadership team of the Jewish Climate Action Network. As head of the JCAN interfaith group, she works with other organizations such as the Green Sanctuary Committee of the First Parish UU Church Medfield, Massachusetts Interfaith Power & Light, and 350MA.org. Dr. Iberall is the author of The Swallow and the Nightingale. In this visionary fiction novel, she uses today’s world of climate change as a backdrop to help awaken people, reminding us that the visions of Gandhi, religious mysticism, and Native Americans are a more sustainable solution than the patriarchal system under which we live. Learn more at www.theaiberall.com.
Rabbi Katy Z. Allen is the founder and leader of Ma'yan Tikvah - A Wellspring of Hope, a congregation without walls that meets outdoors all year long. She is the co-convener and President pro-tem of the Boston-area Jewish Climate Action Network, and the founder of the One Earth Collaborative, a program of Open Spirit in Framingham, MA.
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