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US rabbis urge eco-social justice in letter on climate crisis

250 signatories encourage expanded use of wind energy, condemn fracking, coal mining, oil drilling

A wind farm near Kibbutz Ein Zivan on the Golan Heights (Flash90)
A wind farm near Kibbutz Ein Zivan on the Golan Heights (Flash90)

WASHINGTON – More than 250 rabbis signed on to a letter on the climate crisis that calls for greater involvement in fighting for eco-justice.

The inspiration for the letter dated May 12 began with the decision by Pope Francis to issue an encyclical on the climate “in the context of worsening concentrations of wealth and power and worsening degradations of poverty,” the rabbis wrote.

“So we call for a new sense of eco-social justice – a tikkun tevel, the healing of our planet. We urge those who have been focusing on social justice to address the climate crisis, and those who have been focusing on the climate crisis to address social justice,” the letter said.

In the letter, the rabbis call for the expanded use of wind energy, providing grants to Jewish organizations to power their buildings with solar power and the end of subsidies to energy companies. They also spoke out against fracking, coal mining and oil drilling.

“We believe it is important for the spiritual leadership of the Jewish people to speak to the Jewish people as a whole and to the world on this deep crisis in the history of the human species and of many other life-forms on our planet,” wrote the seven rabbis who initiated the letter.

They are Rabbi Elliot Dorff, rector of the American Jewish University; Rabbi Arthur Green, rector of the Hebrew College rabbinical school; Rabbi Peter Knobel, former president, Central Conference of American Rabbis; Rabbi Mordechai Liebling, director of the Social Justice Organizing Program at the Reconstructionist Rabbinical College; Rabbi Susan Talve of the Central Reform Congregation in St. Louis; Rabbi Arthur Waskow, director of The Shalom Center; and Rabbi Deborah Waxman, president of the Reconstructionist Rabbinical College.

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