Washington, D.C., November 19, 2015 – Yesterday, Jewish leaders from four states joined with environmental, health, and small business leaders to speak to their representatives about the importance of clean water as a Jewish value. Rabbi Darah Lerner from Congregation Beth El in Maine, Cantor Rachel Rhodes from Temple Rodef Shalom in Virginia, and Beth Razin from the Jewish Federation of Greater Philadelphia, came to Washington to advocate for the Clean Water Rule.
The group thanked Members of Congress who voted against a Congressional Review Act for the Clean Water Rule and asked those who had opposed the rule to reconsider. Access to clean water free of pollutants is not only a critical issue for agriculture, manufacturing, and small business, but is also an issue of equity and environmental stewardship. As people of faith, these Jewish leaders believe that they have an obligation to fight for the Clean Water Rule in order to protect both those who are vulnerable and lacking in access to clean water and to steward our earth.
“For us as Jews, water and humanity are both sacred. People’s access to clean water is a fundamental human right, and a core Jewish value. Our holidays and sacred texts revolve around rain cycles and water-dependent agriculture. Protecting the earth’s living waters is a godly obligation, since we know God as the ‘Source of the Waters of Life’ (Jeremiah 2:13, 17:13). Advocating for the Clean Water Rule to preserve the Waters of the United States is, for us, all about protecting these divine ‘Waters of Life,’ and part of our duty to be enlightened stewards of God’s great creation,” said COEJL Chair, Rabbi Fred Scherlinder Dobb.
Cantor Rachel Rhodes noted that the Clean Water Rule protects all bodies of water including the smallest of tributaries. Mishnah Baba Kama 3:2, which can be seen as a Jewish source text for the Clean Water Rule: “One who pours water into the public domain, and another was injured by it, is liable for his injury.” She added that we all are responsible for what we put into our water systems and how that pollution affects others.
The Coalition on the Environment and Jewish Life will continue to work with Jewish community leaders and Members of Congress to advocate for the Clean Water Rule and other protections to our planet.
COEJL is an initiative of the Jewish Council for Public Affairs and the Jewish partner to the National Religious Partnership on the Environment. The Jewish Council for Public Affairs is the public affairs arm of the organized Jewish community and serves as the advisory body for the 16 national and 125 local Jewish community relations organizations.