by Mirele B. Goldsmith~
The reality of climate change and other environmental problems weigh on me all year long. But as Yom Kippur approaches my thoughts turn more and more to my own responsibility. During this past year did I do enough? Was I effective in what I did? And most troubling of all, did I make the right choices about where to invest my efforts?
An answer to this question came to me this summer when I participated in the Green Attica Conference. The conference was convened by Patriarch Bartholomew, leader of the Eastern Orthodox Church, who is known as the “Green Patriarch” for his commitment to environmental protection. The participants were clergy, scientists, politicians, teachers, business leaders, and activists. Each one inspired me; Kalliope Stara, a graduate student who is leading a campaign against fracking in Greece; Christiana Figueres, who led the process that culminated in the Paris Agreement on climate change; Maude Barlow, who has championed the human right to water; and many others.
Reflecting on the experience of meeting so many wonderful people, each one working to protect creation in their own way, I found the answer to my question. Each of us has a unique contribution to make in the effort to protect the earth and its inhabitants and all of these contributions are essential. There are many “right choices.”
As Ben Zoma teaches, “Who is wise? The one who learns from everyone.” (Avot 4:1) As the new year begins, I have resolved to keep learning from those around me about the many ways there are to repair our world. I will stop worrying about whether I am doing the right thing, and instead focus on doing more of what I can do best.
Dr. Mirele B. Goldsmith is an environmental psychologist, educator, and activist. Mirele founded Jews Against Hydrofracking, directed the Jewish Greening Fellowship, and was a leader in the People’s Climate March and Jewish Climate Action Network-NYC. Mirele’s writing has been published by the Jewish Week, Forward, Shma, and Huffington Post.