Earlier this week it was HOT! Portland officially reached a scorching 116 degrees, surpassing the city's previous record by 8 degrees (Seattle posted a new record of 108 degrees, 5 degrees hotter than ever). In fact, Monday’s temperature was higher than any official temperature ever recorded in Dallas or Miami.
I am not a scientist nor an expert on meteorology. Whether this week’s heat was an anomaly or not, our planet is experiencing weather changes. In fact, with global warming making heat waves and other extreme weather events both more likely and more severe, this week's sizzling temperatures may herald a climate reality that scientists thought was still decades in the future.1
Larry O’Neill, associate professor at Oregon State University, said, "We see evidence of climate change in the data already, but in the Pacific Northwest, we thought maybe by the middle of the century is when we would start to see really substantial and impactful events. But we're seeing those now."
Across the western United States, more than 35 cities tied or set temperature records Monday, with several places shattering their all-time highs.
The Jewish community often talks about “tikkun olam” – repairing the world. Some would say that dealing with the human existential crisis of global climate change is our ultimate task, and we are all responsible. If we cannot slow climate change, limit its eventual scope, and preserve the livability of this Earth for generations to come, then nothing else matters.
For decades, the Jewish Community Relations Council (JCRC) of the Jewish Federation focused primarily on protecting the social safety net, promoting civil rights, Israel advocacy, and combating hate in all forms. The JCRC realized there was a major issue missing from their agenda – and thus created the Climate Action Committee
almost two years ago. The committee’s mission is “to inspire, educate, and mobilize our Jewish community to protect our planet from the negative impacts of climate change.”
It is our hope to:
- Sound out an urgent and visionary Jewish voice on the crisis of climate change.
- Build relationships with environmental and justice leaders in Jewish and other communal organizations.
- Inspire and mobilize our Jewish community to take leadership and participate in bold climate campaigns
- Develop and provide informational resources to allies working on climate change action.
You can learn more about the Climate Change Committee here
. I encourage you to watch this recording of a program
done earlier this year. And, if interested in joining the committee, please click here
In addition to our local efforts, in April 2020 a national Jewish organization, Dayenu: A Jewish Call to Climate Action
, was created to mobilize the Jewish community on this issue and to press legislators and candidates to take action. We are working to create a partnership with Dayenu.
Rabbi Jennie Rosenn, founder and CEO of Dayenu, shared, “Jews are concerned with the climate crisis, but most are not taking action on the systemic level that we need, and that science and justice demand. People aren’t sure what to do.”
I know there are those who dispute climate change or are apathetic to the issue (I include myself among the latter until recently), but climate change is an existential crisis upon which the future of humanity depends. I hear it from my children on a daily basis. What is at stake is the kind of world we will have and what the lives of future generations will be. Let’s do our part!
Sunday is July 4th -- independence day. Here are a few tidbits:
- Independence Day should have been celebrated on July 2, 1776. Although the document was dated July 4, Congress actually voted for independence from Great Britain two days prior.
- Three presidents who signed the Declaration of Independence died on July 4. John Adams and Thomas Jefferson both died on July 4, 1826 — our country’s 50th anniversary. James Monroe died five years later on July 4, 1831. Calvin Coolidge is the only president born on the 4th of July.
July 4th is also a special day in Israeli history. In 1976, the “Raid on Entebbe” was carried out by commandos of the Israel Defense Forces (IDF) at the Entebbe (Uganda) Airport. The operation, which took a week of planning, lasted only 90 minutes and rescued 102 Israeli and Jewish hostages.
The situation began on June 27, 1976, when a Paris-bound Air France flight from Tel Aviv, via Athens, was hijacked and diverted to Entebbe, Uganda. Two of the hijackers were members of the German Baader-Meinhof Gang, and two were from the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine. They demanded the release of 53 jailed terrorists in Israel.
On the third day of the crisis, the terrorists separated Israeli and Jewish passengers from the others. The captors freed the non-Jews and sent them to France the next day. That is why the IDF had to rescue only the Israeli and Jewish hostages several days later.
I am reminded of a story I heard from Brig. Gen. (res.) Joshua Shani, the lead pilot in the operation, flying the first C-130 Hercules cargo plane with the entire rescue force on board. He shared that after his father’s death, he found his letters from Bergen-Belsen that he gave to Kibbutz Mishmar Haemek in Israel. The letters described his experiences during the Holocaust, what happened to his family, etc.
One of the letters said, “My only comfort is Joshua. He gives me reason to continue.” Thirty years later, when Shani returned from Entebbe, his family and friends held a party to celebrate the mission’s success. Shani said, “I know what my father was thinking as a Holocaust survivor. I was a pilot in the Israel Air Force and just flew thousands of miles in order to save Jews. That pride added ten years to his life.”
Have a safe, fun, and enjoyable July 4th weekend and Shabbat shalom.