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Yom Kippur… and Pope Francis? RESOURCES for anyone to use now or later.

September 22, 2015 - September 23, 2015


Yom Kippur, the holiest of the High Holy days in the Jewish calendar is celebrated on 10 Tishrei, which begins at sundown on September 22, 2015 on the secular calendar.  It is a day of fasting and prayer, and is spent at the synagogue.

PA IPL board president Rabbi Daniel Swartz created a text study of Jewish texts (scripture through Middle Ages to the modern era) “speaking to” excerpts from Pope Francis’ encyclical, Laudato Sii, and followed by a discussion guide.  There is both a 2-page version and a 4-page version in this downloadable PDF:encyclical Jewish text study for yom kippur daniel swartz

People of all faiths may find that this guide sparks reflection on scripture, wisdom, and prayers from their own traditions.   PA IPL would be delighted to make additional reflections and guides widely available, so please do share both links to others’ work (we’ll ask permission to post!) or resources you have helped to develop.  Note that a series of writings from PA IPL board member John Roe is already on our blog.

Rabbi Daniel opens the guide with a letter (included in the PDF)

Dear Colleagues and Friends,
Shanah Tovah! As you prepare to welcome 5776, I invite you to connect with one of the most notable faith events of the year – Pope Francis’s visit to the United States just after Yom Kippur, during which he will speak about his encyclical on climate change and justice,
Laudato Si: On Care for our Common Home. At this time of year, as we reflect on how we have treated our fellow human beings and how we might better live up to God’s expectations of us, we have a special opportunity to examine our relationship with all of God’s creation
– and the Pope’s encyclical provides us with an excellent way to do just that.

To that end, I’ve selected a number of excerpts from the encyclical and paired them with Jewish sources ranging from the Tanakh, to midrashim, to Heschel, to rabbis of today. Here at Temple Hesed in Scranton, PA, I will be using this text study, “Laudato Si and the Sages: Reflections on Climate Justice,” on Yom Kippur afternoon, and we have invited the press and other faith communities as well. Please use it however it might work best for you: at High Holy Day Services, at a multi-faith gathering, at a social action weekend etc.

The texts are presented in two formats. The first is a more complete four-page selection, designed for in-depth or multi-session discussions; it can be studied in a larger group setting, in hevruta, in small groups or in some combination. The second is a single page of texts, meant to serve as a ready-made one-hour program. In both formats, I’ve included questions on each topic highlighted by the texts, as well as some summary questions. I’d love to hear how you’ve used it or if you have any questions – drop me an email.

I also hope this text study will inspire further action to combat climate change. (To help with this, some “next steps” are presented at the  end of each discussion guide) I present it in my role as board president of Pennsylvania Interfaith Power & Light, one of 40 IP&L affiliates, each of which works with communities, organizations, and individuals of faith to address climate change as a moral issue. If  you’d like to learn more about PA IP&L, please feel free to email me or our Executive Director, Rev. Alison Cornish.
Lastly, I’d like to thank colleagues who reviewed this text study and made suggestions: Rabbi Malkah Binah Klein of Philly IP&L, Rabbi Larry Troster of Greenfaith, and Rabbi Arthur Waskow of the Shalom Center.
In Hesed,
Rabbi Daniel Swartz
daniel headshot

Before becoming the spiritual leader of Temple Hesed, Rabbi Daniel Swartz was the coordinator of Greater Washington IP&L, executive director of the Children’s Environmental Health Network, Associate Director of the National Religious Partnership for the Environment, and Congregational Relations Director for the Religious Action Center of Reform Judaism, where he was the lead author of To Till and to Tend: a Guide to Jewish Environmental Study and Action.



September 22, 2015
September 23, 2015
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