A Jewish leadership program talks about environmental and sustainable action within the Jewish community

The Jewish Community Leadership Program (JCLP) hosted a panel on Sunday highlighting environmentally just and sustainable efforts within the Jewish community. The event included six speakers who shared their experiences as environmental activists in the Jewish community.

One of the speakers, Kristy Drutman, is a Jewish-Filipino environmental activist and founder of Brown Girl Green, a company focused on including the perspectives of people of color in the climate change movement. Kaplan Drutman, another speaker at the event, is an organizing director and activist at MoveOn – a non-profit organization focused on non-partisan education and advocacy of important national interests – and has worked with communities to shut down coal-fired power plants. Drutman has also worked to protect water as a public resource.

Drawing on her own experiences, Drutman pointed to the disparities that exist for nonprofit green organizations run by people of color, especially when it comes to community attention and resources.

“I always think about the distribution of resources within the climate movement,” Drutman said. “I think about the fact that I worked with the two pretty big white environmental organizations. But I’ve also worked with environmental justice organizations run primarily by black and brown people who don’t get the same funding, press support, and overall clout as those big mainstream environmental organizations.

Rabbi Isaiah Rothstein, a rabbinical scholar and public affairs adviser to Jewish Federations of North America, said one challenge that exists is the divide between science and religion when it comes to climate change.

“It’s so hard for ideological divides to exist,” Rothstein said. “How we approach the power of education to come together is difficult, especially when it’s one person against another.”

Sophia Rich, a high school student and member of the National Leadership Council of the Jewish Youth Climate Movement, explained that she felt she was not taken seriously because of her age, and pointed out the importance for young people to engage in environmental justice. action.

“Something that we’ve been talking about a lot recently is the symbolization of youth, which has become a very pervasive issue (in) different ecological spaces and in social justice in general,” Rich said. “Everyone says ‘Hi, Sophia. She’s our young. She’s going to give us our young perspective. But I think, especially thinking about the climate crisis, we have to think about all the responsibility that lies with these young people and to the fact that we are Generation Z. It is in a way our responsibility to deal with this crisis.

Rabbi Dr. Ariel Mayse, assistant professor in the Department of Religious Studies at Stanford University, described the importance of Jewish narratives for environmental justice and building a structure that compels everyone to contribute to change.

“Bonds are an essential part of what I think Judaism brings to the table, a theory of obligation and a tasty environmental ethic, which is not just about individual moral choices,” Mayse said. “It has to go hand in hand with the fact that we are acting in the midst of stories. Sophia and many others spoke today about the need to think differently about the stories we find ourselves in and our actions that reflect them.

The event then ended with speakers addressing how Jewish institutions could do more work in environmental justice and increase climate change education.

Rabbi Ellen Bernstein, who founded the first Jewish environmental organization in 1988 and serves on the advisory board of the Yale Forum on Religion and Ecology, spoke of the need to intensify discussions of climate change in education superior.

“For years I tried to get a master’s degree in the ecology of Judaism at various seminaries, and people always said there was no money for it,” Bernstein said. “It is the most important issue of our time, and the fact that it is not addressed in Jewish institutions (of higher learning) is very sad, and something very bad is happening there.”

Daily News contributor Jonathan Wang can be reached at [email protected]

Kevin E. Boling