The sound of the shofar will be heard when an anticpated 100,000 people gather in New York City on Sept. 21 for a major demonstration in favor of fighting climate change.
The 70 Jewish organizations listed as supporters of the People’s Climate March in New York City are asking Jewish marchers to bring and blow shofars.
The ram’s horn, a symbol of the upcoming Rosh Hashana holy day, will sound a “wake-up call” to the governments and industries that are the targets of the demonstration, say organizers.
“The Jewish environmental movement has been saying for decades that we have strong support in the Torah for this work,” said Rabbi Lawrence Troster, a New Jersey resident and rabbinic scholar in residence for Greenfaith, the Highland Park-based interfaith coalition for the environment. “One reason the Jewish environmental movement got started was to bring environmentalists — Jews involved through science, the academy, and other activities — to reconnect to the Jewish community.”
Timed to coincide with the United Nations summit on climate change, which begins two days later, the march has the support of more than 1,000 organizations worldwide. More than 2,000 coordinated events will also take place in 150 countries.
The first two Jewish organizations to sign on as cosponsors were Hazon and the Shalom Center in Philadelphia. The list now includes national organizations like the Jewish Council for Public Affairs and the Coalition on the Environment and Jewish Life. Jewish summer camps like Eden Village Camp, synagogues, JCCs, schools, seminaries, and liberal Jewish umbrella organizations are also encouraging members to march.
Troster predicted as many as 10,000 participants will march under the banner of faith-based groups. While Jewish organizations will gather for the march with other faith groups on West 58th Street, individual Jews will also march with other interest groups.
“Unfortunately, I think many Jews are active but not through the Jewish community,” Troster said. “They have the impression that the organized Jewish community does not think this is a serious issue.”
As for his goals, Troster said, “The march is the message, more than any specific platform.” Those taking part “will be expressing their deep fear and frustration at the lack of any undertaking of significant government action. We want to show the governments that a large number of different people are expressing their frustration. Politicians think people do not care about this, but they do. They are deeply concerned for their children and grandchildren. In fact, that’s why I got involved.”
Troster and other marchers are hoping to send a message to the UN summit on the climate crisis, which over two days will seek an action plan on global climate to follow 1997’s Kyoto Protocol. “This is a major campaign,” said Troster, “a large grassroots effort to push governments to create and act on a treaty, because time is running out.”