The artwork on this note card was created by 5768 WRJ Art Calendar artist Césan d’Ornellas Levine.
Going up to NFTY’s North American President and asking her to take our resolution off the agenda for Asefah (NFTY’s business meeting) just hours before the meeting began was the last thing we expected to do, but it is what we did. For nearly a month, the three of us spent hours crafting the resolution that would set NFTY’s stance on climate change. This was an important first step towards making NFTY more sustainable and more environmentally conscious, but up until that point, we failed to see that there was an incredible number of people who shared the same concern for our planet and our future. We saw that in its current state, this resolution could not serve the needs and aspirations of NFTY and the entire Reform Movement. In order to have the impact we sought, we realized that we needed to expand our dream. So, we decided to temporarily put our resolution on hold and think about what would create the change we knew needed to happen. Thus, the Environmental Justice Task Force was born.
The core goal of the NFTY Environmental Justice Task Force is to empower individuals and communities to take action against climate change through tangible measures that when put together over time, create the momentum that will change the way we treat our planet. As frustrating as it is, we realize that helping one person reduce their carbon footprint is not enough to slow the effects of climate change; it’s going to require action on a global scale to stop the damage we’re doing to our planet. However, because we don’t have the power to initiate action around the world (just yet!), we decided to bring in those we share a Jewish connection with from across North America to educate ourselves on how to take action, and then share that knowledge with others so that they may do the same. Our belief is that by starting with people who show incredible passion for this issue, they will then mobilize their communities to take action on an issue that often feels unimaginably large.
There is no denying that our climate day-of-no-return is fast approaching, and the idea is a sobering one. While this can sometimes make us feel hopeless, Rabbi Abraham Isaac Cooke’s words can serve as a guiding light for us all. He said, “I don’t speak because I have the power to speak; I speak because I don’t have the power to remain silent.” Our livelihoods, the lives and hopes and dreams of this teenage generation, as well as those before and after it, rest on the shoulders of individuals who have not begun to speak for the issue of climate change. Fortunately, we find within our community those that are not only willing to speak, but those that are willing to come together to create a societal impact bigger than any individual ever could. This is the vision for our Task Force and for the Reform Movement as a whole. We hope you will help us in achieving that vision – we know all too well that we cannot do it alone.
The NFTY Task Force for Environmental Justice is not the only way teens can get involved in environmental and climate justice work. We invite the Reform Movement to join us and youth across the globe for the Global Climate Strike happening September 20-27. Find information about your local strike here and join the movement demanding climate justice for all. Now is the time to act. Let us know that you are participating in your local strike!
Josh Rosenblum is the NFTY-SW Programming Vice-President from Phoenix, AZ. Evan Lorant is the NFTY-NW Programming Vice-President from Vancouver, BC Canada, Michael Barash is the NFTY-SoCal Membership Vice-President from Los Angeles, CA.