Jewish Energy Guide: Social Justice and Climate Change by Rabbi Jill Jacobs

Summary: The clash of rich versus poor is a concept going back to Talmudic times, but today it takes a new meaning in reference to the environment. Rabbi Jill Jacobs was recently named to The Forward’s list of 50 influential American Jews and to Newsweek’s list of the 50 most influential rabbis in America, and in her article she hopes to influence your social view on how the waste of the wealthy impacts the environment of the impoverished.

While the wealthiest individuals, corporations, and nations use far more than their share of our natural resources, the poorest individuals and nations will pay the price in lives, healthcare costs and a decline in their standards of living.

On a local level, low-income communities in the United States already suffer physically and financially from smaller scale environmental decisions. For example, substandard housing stock and the nearby placement of waste transfer stations, bus depots, factories and power plants all contribute to high levels of asthma among low-income children. Asthma, in turn, leads to missed days of school, missed work for parents, high medical bills — and, in some cases, death. And hazardous waste plants, chemical-producing factories and mountaintop removal mining practices all lead to high levels of cancer and other diseases in low-income communities.

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Rabbi Jill Jacobs is the executive director of T’ruah (formerly Rabbis for Human Rights-North America). She has been named to The Forward’s list of 50 influential American Jews and to Newsweek’s list of the 50 most influential rabbis in America. Jacobs is the author of two books: Where Justice Dwells: A Hands-On Guide to Doing Social Justice in Your Jewish Community, and There Shall Be No Needy: Pursuing Social Justice through Jewish Law and Tradition. She received her ordination at the Jewish Theological Seminary.

The Jewish Energy Guide presents a comprehensive Jewish approach to the challenges of energy security and climate change and offers a blueprint for the Jewish community to achieve a 14% reduction in greenhouse gas emissions by September of 2014, which is the next Shmittah, or sabbatical, year in the Jewish calendar.

The Jewish Energy Guide is part of COEJL's Jewish Energy Network, a collaborative effort with Jewcology's Year of Action to engage Jews in energy action and advocacy. The Guide was created in partnership with the Green Zionist Alliance.

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