From Hanukkah to Copenhagen: A Broad-Based Jewish Call to Action

From Hanukkah to Copenhagen: A Broad-Based Jewish Call to Action

By Rabbi Arthur Waskow | 12/2/2009

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Dear folks,

At the initiative of The Shalom Center, a broad spectrum of American Jewish leadership has issued the following statement about Hanukkah and Copenhagen:
 “Hanukkah for Humanity”

The traditions of rabbinic Judaism have long celebrated the Hanukkah miracle in which one day’s oil met eight days’ need. In that spirit, we join in urging the world community to include in our Hanukkah celebration this year a call to all the peoples of the earth. We encourage Jewish communities, wherever possible, to gather in public one Hanukkah evening to light their menorahs with this message:

That the human race deeply reduce our burning of fossil fuels as a step toward healing the climate crisis that threatens our future. The world’s governments are convened in the Copenhagen conference as we light the lights of Hanukkah at a time of the darkness of the moon and sun. We especially call out to them, that together all humanity light the lights of a sustainable future in the midst of a dark and difficult passage through history.

The list of individual signers of the “Hanukkah for Humanity” statement can be found below.

Among the nationally known signers are: Rabbi Dennis Beck-Berman, past president, Ohalah; Ellen Bernstein, Founder, Shomrei Adamah; Evan Eisenberg, author, The Ecology of Eden; Rabbi Steve Gutow, Director, Jewish Council on Public Affairs; Debra Kolodny, Executive Director, ALEPH: Alliance for Jewish Renewal; Vivian Lehrer, Co-founder/Director, Eden Village Camp; Rabbi Mordechai Liebling, Recon. Rabb. Coll.; Rabbi David Saperstein, Director, Relig Action Ctr of Reform Judaism; Nigel Savage, Executive Director, Hazon; Richard H. Schwartz, President, Jewish Vegetarians of North America; Rabbi David Shneyer, past president, Ohalah; Nili Simhai, director, Teva Learning Center ; Rabbi Margot Stein, New Legends; Rabbi Warren Stone, Chair, Environment Comm, CCAR; Rabbi Lawrence Troster, Greenfaith; Rabbi Arthur Waskow, director, The Shalom Center ; Rabbi Sheila Peltz Weinberg, Inst for Jewish Spirituality; Rabbi Shawn Zevit, Jewish Reconstructionist Federation

Among organizations, The Shalom Center, Hazon, the Teva Learning Center, and ALEPH: Alliance for Jewish Renewal, have so far joined in endorsing it.

Please share this letter with your friends and coworkers and take the initiative to organize a “Hanukkah for Humanity” event in your own community. For one example, see below.

One example of carrying “Hanukkah for Humanity” into action: The Shalom Center, with support from a wide variety of Philadelphia synagogues, other Jewish organizations, and several interfaith groups and activists, is sponsoring a vigil for action to heal our endangered climate from “global scorching” — on the night of December 12 at 6:15, the second night of Hanukkah, near Independence Hall — at People’s Plaza, between 5th& 6th close to Market Street. 
That vigil will be connecting with hundreds of candle light vigils around the globe on the weekend of December 11-13, calling on the negotiators in Copenhagen to take the actions needed to save our eco-system. The call to that action came from Bill McKibben. Excerpts follow, below.

Shalom, salaam, shantih — Peace!

Here are excerpts from Bill McKibben’s letter:

”There’s a global mobilization coming together for the weekend in the middle of the Copenhagen conference—Dec. 11-13. Our collective message? “The World Wants a Real Deal” — people all over the planet are demanding a binding global climate agreement guided by the latest science and built upon principles of justice and equity.

”Our main hope is that you will help organize a candlelight vigil at some iconic or strategic place near you on Friday or Saturday night, December 11th or 12th. Around the world people will gather to light lanterns or candles, in solemn solidarity with the citizens of those nations who will be first to face the challenges to their very survival.

“Click here for details about staging a local vigil and to register one in your community:


“The short-term survival of many nations, and the long-term health of the whole planet, rests in the hands of Obama and the United States Senate. Their positions, along with the level of leadership provided by the European Union, China and a few other nations, can make or break a global climate treaty. The decisions made by this small group of people will, in large part, determine whether or not the world forges a real deal—not just any deal, but one that is strong enough to pull us back from the brink of climate catastrophe and put the planet on a path to 350. Their courage—or lack of it—will help set the future of the planet for geologic time.

“The candles we will light are candles of hope.”

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