Jewish learning Ep #7: Challenging Destruction: We Speak Up Despite the Odds
[Rabbi Shoshana’s] sermon makes us think again about Noah, who is a great ecological hero. After all, he saved a breeding pair of every animal on Earth. But it makes us think again about his agency and ours. And to me, that’s at the absolute center of thinking about the climate crisis.
– Bill McKibben
This week’s essay brings us deep into the story of Noah’s Ark and reframes what has often been designated as a children’s story as a tale of exploration in personal responsibility, lost opportunity, and a pressing call to activism that the world can no longer ignore in the face of the existential threat of climate change.
The author of today’s sermon is Rabbi Shoshana Friedman: a writer, mother, activist, and song leader in Boston. She serves as the Director of Professional Development and faculty member at Hebrew College and is a rabbinic advisor and ambassador for Dayenu: A Jewish Call to Climate Action.
Reading Shoshana’s sermon is Bill McKibben: a celebrated environmentalist, contributing writer to The New Yorker, founder of the grassroots climate campaign 350.org, and a Schuman Distinguished Professor in Residence at Middlebury College in Vermont.
Join us in this episode to discover the lessons from the ancient stories of Noah and the flood, and Abraham’s intervention in the destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah. And in the post-sermon discussion, both Bill and Shoshana share their thoughts about our role and responsibility to take action and speak up to encourage the collective consciousness needed to address climate change.
What You’ll Discover from this Episode:
- Where this story serves as a warning against paralysis in the face of destruction and disaster.
- What Bill believes we can learn from Noah’s missteps in being willing to step out of our comfort zone to avoid crisis.
- How Shoshana brings together faith and science, away from the usual perception of the two being in conflict with one another.
- The role that clergy has to play in protecting our planet.
- How Shoshana believes we can emulate Abraham in this story, speaking up despite the odds.
Featured on this Episode:
Rabbi Shoshana Friedman`14 (writer) is a writer, mother, activist, and song-leader in Boston. She serves as the Director of Professional Development at Hebrew College, and as a rabbinic adviser and ambassador for Dayenu: A Jewish Call to Climate Action. Her writing has been published in various venues including The New York Times, YES! Magazine, and Rooted & Rising: Voices of Courage in a Time of Climate Crisis (Rowman & Littlefield, 2019). Learn more about her work at rabbishoshana.com
Bill McKibben (reader) is a contributing writer to The New Yorker, a founder of the grassroots climate campaign 350.org and the Schumann Distinguished Professor in Residence at Middlebury College in Vermont. He was a 2014 recipient of the Right Livelihood Prize, sometimes called the ‘alternative Nobel,’ and the Gandhi Peace Award. He has written over a dozen books about the environment, including his first, The End of Nature, published 30 years ago, and his most recent, Falter: Has the Human Game Begun to Play Itself Out? Learn more about his work at billmckibben.com.
Rabbi Jeffrey Summit, PhD (host) is Director of the Hebrew College Innovation Lab. He is Research Professor in the Department of Music & Judaic Studies at Tufts University and Senior Consultant for Hillel International. The author of several books, among his many awards are a 2018 Hebrew College honorary degree, a GRAMMY nomination for his CD Abayudaya: Music from the Jewish People of Uganda, the Edgar M. Bronfman Award for Lifetime Accomplishment in Hillel Professional Leadership, and the Tufts Hosea Ballou Medal.
A special thank you for this episode’s musical contributions:
Intro by: Jackson Mercer
Jackson is an Ordination Candidate at the Rabbinical School of Hebrew College in Newton, MA. He grew up at Congregation Rodef Sholom in San Rafael, CA where he cultivated a love of Judaism, embolden with music, spirituality and justice.
Esa Einai (Psalm 121:1)
Music by Jackson Mercer
Guitar and Melody by Jackson Mercer
Harmonies by Cantor Rosalie Will, Ilana Sandberg, Rabbi Micah Shapiro, Rabbi Josh Warshawsky, Noah Diamondstein, Ryan Leszner, Eliana Light.
Outro by: Rabbi Noam Lerman
Rabbi Noam Lerman (they/them) was ordained at Hebrew College in 2020. Noam has acted as a chaplain for elders, incarcerated, and previously incarcerated individuals and are the founder of Sha’arey Ometz Gates of Resilience, a new online- based Jewish spiritual community, as well as Der Tkhines Proyekt.