The artwork on this note card was created by 5768 WRJ Art Calendar artist Césan d’Ornellas Levine.
Last night we celebrated Shemini Atzeret, the last day of Sukkot. As the final day of the fall harvest chag, Shemini Atzeret includes a special prayer for rain called Tefillat Geshem. In the Biblical state of Israel (as opposed to in river-crossed Egypt) rain had incredible significance and was central to the continued viability of Israelite communities. Their gratitude to God for providing rain was necessarily a cornerstone of their religious identity.
With modern irrigation and highly accurate predictors of weather variants, Shemini Atzeret’s Teffilat Geshem may seem at first glance outdated. However, in today’s world, watching drought-stricken California and New York State still suffering through the aftermath of Super-Storm Sandy, a prayer for rain and the Jewish relationship to water takes on new significance. As the global temperature rises, as we continue to emit unprecedented levels of carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases, as the ice in Alaska begins to melt and the sea levels rise, a prayer for rain really means a prayer for sustenance. We are praying for rain in California, but not too much rain in New York.
In 2014, Teffilat Geshem is really a call to action. Last night we prayed for rain, today we can help make our own synagogues more energy efficient by joining GreenFaith Energy Shield Certification to ensure that we minimize our community’s carbon footprint. On Shemini Atzeret we ask God for a fruitful harvest and for rain to feed our crops. Today we must act, in covenant and partnership, and raise our voices to help stem climate disaster. If you’re interested in doing more take my Tishrei Green Challenge and stop using plastic bags, or tell the Environmental Protection Agency that you support carbon pollution standards for existing power plants.