If you are anything like me, I imagine you strive to reduce your harm on the environment. Perhaps you bring reusable bags to the supermarket or limit your use of single use plastic and paper products. Maybe you compost or drink coffee from a reusable travel mug.
And yet, if you are anything like me, despite having made some or all of these personal lifestyle changes, you feel that these small tweaks to your daily routines aren’t enough. Large scale systemic changes are what’s needed to positively impact the future of our fragile planet.
This year at CCAR Convention in Baltimore, I am thrilled that we’ll dive deep into both the small scale actions we can take and the systemic changes we can fight for to truly be spiritual leaders on the devastating issue of climate change.
On Wednesday morning, Karenna Gore, activist, advocate, and Director of the Center for Earth Ethics at Union Theological Seminary will inspire us as religious leaders with her moral and ethical vision for climate justice. After learning from her, we’ll gather for workshops that give us tools and strategies to take back home and implement locally. Topics will include: clean and accessible water, rising sea levels, and we’ll also learn from experts at Baltimore’s National Aquarium.
Choni the Circle Maker from Taanit 23 famously states that he plants a tree, not for his own benefit but for the good of generations to come. In doing so, Choni reminds us of the urgency of working today to benefit the future. But have you read the end of this Choni parable? There, we learn that when Choni makes his infamous time travel journey 70 years into the future, upon visiting the Beit Midrash, no one recognizes him, and he is left alone. He cries out in pain from the grief he feels of being left out. This ending to the story gives us an equally important moral about the need for community. Choni reminds us that we cannot act effectively when we are alone. We need each other.
This idea certainly rings true for me as a solo clergy in a small congregation and as a Hillel rabbi on a local campus. At Convention, I draw energy and strength from being with you all and feeling that together we can raise our voices to positively impact our fragile planet, its plants, animals, and human beings.
If you haven’t yet registered for this year’s Convention, please consider joining us. It will be a better Convention with you there.
I look forward to seeing you all in Baltimore!
Rabbi Lisa Vinikoor is the rabbi of Beth Israel Congregation in Bath, Maine and Bowdoin College and a member of the CCAR Convention committee. CCAR Convention 2020 will be held in Baltimore, March 22–25, 2020.