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Jewish and Interfaith Climate Resources

COEJL, Shomrei Breishit, and our partners welcomed Pope Francis’s encyclical early this summer. With all the media buzz around his visit to the US (during Yom Kippur!), and a very public faith conversation on climate, this is our moment. Please join us by (a) educating yourself and others about Jewish perspectives on climate (below) and about the encyclical itself; (b) reaching out to Catholic friends and contacts to help deepen the encyclical’s impact, and being a welcoming voice to the Pope when he visits; and (c) joining the interfaith bandwagon of voices clamoring for meaningful action.

These 5776/2015 High Holy Days are ripe to turn green, as public attention shifts to the Papal visit (and later to the critical climate negotiations in Paris starting Nov 30) – even as this Rosh HaShanah marks the end of the shmita/sabbatical year, and this Sukkot is occasion for the ancient tradition of a 7th-year hakhel/re-covenanting ritual. You can ask your clergy and educators to address climate concerns at the coming chagim, utilizing the resources found below; invite your rabbi to add their name to a letter Welcoming Pope Francis to America, and also to join over 400 other signatories on the Rabbinic Letter on the Climate Crisis; utilize the great COEJL resources available below; and plan now to make sustainability and justice high priorities in the critical season ahead.

For decades, numerous Jewish voices have emerged on protecting environment, and confronting climate change in particular; with striking similarities between Jewish and Catholic social teaching in this arena, new ones have been generated just in time for these High Holidays. Here are a few handpicked resources – study sheets, essays, educational activities, backgrounders – drawn from COEJL’s many years of generating and curating environmental resources; from Shomrei Breishit: Rabbis and Cantors for the Earth; and from our partners in the Jewish and interfaith environmental world. Please use them! And keep the buzz strong.

Meanwhile, key educational and activist efforts are underway on several fronts – advocacy for the morally-necessary Green Climate Fund; regional gatherings with COEJL and JCRC activists with our partners; working with Congress to elevate the issue of climate change; continual coordination with our interfaith partners; and much more. Please stay connected to, supportive of, and involved in COEJL’s sacred work of protecting Creation, generation to generation.


  •  Looking for study materials for the High Holidays, or anytime? We offer various study guides, lifting up eloquent texts from the Papal encyclical alongside parallel Jewish teachings. Use these documents for Yom Kippur afternoon study sessions, adult or teen education, interfaith dialogue groups, or other settings: a briefer four-page and fuller eight-page version of “Judaism, Climate Change, and Laudato Si” (edited by Rabbi Fred Scherlinder Dobb); as well as Laudato Si and the Sages: Reflections on Climate Change (from Rabbi Daniel Swartz). 
  • Concise, poignant, and easily reproduced study sheets on Judaism and climate change are accessible on these links from COEJL (formatted with Hebrew to be posted soon), and from Canfei Nesharim and Jewcology on Energy and Stewardship, and elsewhere. Use them in synagogue and havurah, in adult and teen/youth education settings, at Jewish summer camps, in day schools and Hillels, at JCRC meetings, and far beyond….
  • The aforementioned Rabbinic Letter on Climate, initiated by the Shalom Center’s Rabbi Arthur Waskow alongside Reform, Conservative, and Reconstructionist rabbinic leaders, is itself a resource worth reading and acting on. Thank your rabbis who’ve signed it; encourage others to do so. And while you’re at it, point them to Hazon’s rabbinic offerings, including reflections on the papal teachings. 
  • Jewish environmental education materials can be found on COEJL’s resource page, through Hazon’s Teva program, and across the web; here’s just one good example, for grades four & up.
  • And again, do stay connected with COEJL – and stay tuned for updates on all our programs and initiatives. There’s much to learn, and much to do. Join us!
  • Considering greening your synagogue? Jewish and interfaith eco-activist Joelle Novey (of greater DC’s Interfaith Power and Light) discusses the role of Synagogues as environmentally friendly spaces. Washington’s Green Shuls is one of many articles outlining how early-adopting green synagogues can serve as replicable examples for other Jewish communities. 
  • In Thou Shalt Conserve Energy, Rabbi Fred Scherlinder Dobb provides contextual evidence from the Talmud and Torah that caring for environmental issues is an essential part of Judaism.
  • Looking for a good read on Climate Change? Dr. Daniel Ziskin (a climate expert and Colorado eco-Jewish activist) outlines The Science of Climate Change, describing what we may expect from the impact of global warming down the road.
  • Understanding the physical action and consequences of climate change is only part of the story: Rabbi Yonatan Neril considers The Spiritual Roots of the Environmental Crisis, and looks at a spiritual response to changing our impact on the environment. 
  • In Genesis, Noah certainly is no stranger to ecological disaster; some argue that he’s the first environmental activist. Shabbat Noach: Global Climate-Healing Shabbat (Oct 16-17, 2015) asks us to consider how we can help prevent the next flood, as the earth continues to warm.


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