On Saturday, April 29, Avodah Service Corps Members, Justice Fellows, alumni and supporters will march in unison with thousands of other Americans united in the fight to ensure clean air, water and health for all, as we sponsor the People’s Climate March in Washington, D.C.
As the only organization devoted to creating a nationwide network of Jewish social justice leaders, we will not stand idly by while harmful environmental policies and proposed cuts to the Environmental Protection Agency threaten the very communities our Service Corps Members Fellows, and alumni serve.
“Our Jewish teachings instill in us the responsibility to repair and improve the world for future generations. The current dismantling of our environmental policies will affect us all, but it is poor and minority communities that will suffer most,” Avodah Executive Director Cheryl Cook said. “As we work to mold future Jewish leaders, we cannot ignore the environmental injustices in our country. From Flint, Michigan, to the Sioux territories of North Dakota, to the poorest wards of New Orleans, it is our responsibility to protect the most vulnerable. We proudly support the People’s Climate March and resist wholeheartedly the catastrophic environmental policies that stand to cause further harm to the health and well being of those we serve.”
‘Bal Tashchit’ — Do Not Destroy
“Judaism commands us bal tashchit, do not destroy — that is, to work to prevent needless destruction and to be responsible stewards of the Earth. We’re also commanded, in many places and in many ways, to protect the poor and the vulnerable and to safeguard life at all costs. Those living in poverty now suffer the most from climate change, and will continue to bear the brunt of extreme weather, agricultural shortages, rising food prices, increases in disease and natural disasters. We have a clear obligation to take action on behalf of our planet and those who inhabit it — and to demand that our government do everything in its power to do the same,” Avodah Rabbi in Residence Danya Ruttenberg said.
It is a critical time. We have just one planet and protecting it requires long-term commitment. To fulfill our Jewish obligation to be stewards of this Earth and all of its inhabitants, Avodah is shaping the next generation of Jewish leaders, who will be on the frontlines in the cause for environmental justice. Our alumni across the country are working to preserve public lands, influencing urban planning projects to prepare for natural disasters, fighting for fair environmental and trade policies and taking on environmental justice issues within their communities.
Environmental Justice in Action
Take Dahlia Rockowitz, an alumna of our DC Service Corps (‘08-’09) for example. During her Service Corps year, Dahlia worked as the Healthy Returns Coordinator and Nutrition Educator at DC Central Kitchen, which works to prevent food waste, feed low-income residents, and train men and women for new careers in the culinary arts. At DCCK and in her ensuing years at American Jewish World Service advocating on global issues of climate justice, natural resources and human rights, Dahlia recognized the need to address social and environmental issues in-tandem. Now, she is taking her passion for creating a better world by pursuing a master’s degree in environmental justice and policy at the University of Michigan.
“I believe that ensuring communities have the power and knowledge to sustainably manage and develop their economic, social and natural assets and resources will greatly contribute to the just and equitable world we’re all working to achieve,” she said.
A Sustainable Future Demands Sustained Service
With almost two decades working to advance social justice, we know that real change does not happen in a day. Lasting change requires long-term partnership and a tireless commitment to cultivating a new generation of leaders. A sustainable future demands sustained service.
Together, we must pursue justice for people across the country who are suffering from unfair environmental practices and the effects of climate change. Join us and thousands of American Jews on April 29th in the People’s Climate March and help build a more just world for all people.
Members of the Avodah community will be joining the Faith Contingent and assembling at 3rd St. SW, between Madison Dr. NW and Jefferson Dr. SW (Google maps link).
Avodah is building a nationwide network of Jewish social justice leaders. Avodah provides transformative experiences and skill-building opportunities to young Jewish adults across the country. Our leaders have provided critical services to hundreds of thousands of people coping with the challenges of poverty and have added millions of dollars in capacity to hundreds of frontline antipoverty nonprofits.