Laudato Si and the Sages

Five years ago, in advance of 5776, and following the September 2015 publication of Pope Francis’ encyclical on the environment, Laudato Si (addressed to all people in advance of the United Nations meeting and the Climate March) Rabbi Daniel Swartz prepared a text study to use on Yom Kippur or any time through the year.

On Yom Kippur at the fifth anniversary of the both the encyclical and the study, we are re-publishing this resource. Find the downloadable study here, and the opening letter republished below.

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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 IPL, please feel free to email me or our Executive Director [2020 edit: Executive Director Daniel Heayn-Menendez, or rising Board President Rabbi Nathan Martin]

Lastly, I’d like to thank colleagues who reviewed this text study and made suggestions: Rabbi Malkah Binah Klein of Philly IPL, Rabbi Larry Troster of GreenFaith, and Rabbi Arthur Waskow of the Shalom Center.
In Hesed,
Rabbi Daniel Swartz

Before becoming the spiritual leader of Temple Hesed, Rabbi Daniel Swartz was the coordinator of Greater Washington IPL, 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.

Matzo Meditation — a liturgical interfaith seder at Earth Hour

This post was originally published here.  Reposted with permission
Marisa Guerin, PhD.

Original event/calendar post.  The downloadable MLK + 50 Freedom Seder created by the Shalom Center, which was a great resource in creating the Earth Hour seder.

Photos from the Seder were taken in low-light.  We are grateful to have them!  Thanks to Neysa Nevins for the visuals.

This reflection is inspired by the beautiful interfaith Seder that I participated in recently, jointly prepared and led by two women religious leaders, a rabbi and a minister (and that in itself was a gracious experience for this Catholic woman). The evening ceremony was focused on the theme of climate justice, and it was scheduled to coincide with “Earth Hour”, when electric lights around the world are turned off for one hour to shine a light on the need for climate action. The Seder was sponsored by Pennsylvania Interfaith Power & Light. In the beauty of candlelight, we commemorated the ancient traditions and living faiths of Judaism and Christianity.

During the service, Rabbi Malkah Binah Klein spoke of the symbolism of the matzo bread on each person’s plate. It is unleavened – that is, not puffed up, but plain, made with few ingredients and quickly-baked. Like our essential selves stripped of ego-puffiness, it is a bread that reminds us of what is basic and true. It is a bread of poverty, and also the bread that symbolizes freedom. It reminds us that even when what we have is humble and simple, we have enough. I could meditate on this for weeks.

Like matzo, the communion bread Continue reading Matzo Meditation — a liturgical interfaith seder at Earth Hour

STATE COLLEGE: Film and discussion—Earth The Operators’ Manual

The Church of the Good Shepherd (Good Shepherd Catholic Church to most locals) is celebrating a Season of Creation from September 1-October 4 (the Feast of St. Francis) this year.  In the leadup to that season, their Living Laudato Si study group

welcomes everyone —community members and parishioners— to join them in the Parish Hall for a viewing of Episode 1 of Earth: The Operators’ Manual (54 min.), followed by a discussion with Ken Davis, member of Good Shepherd and a climate scientist at Penn State.  

The series is informative, watchable, hopeful, and even funny at times, and will give us lots to talk about.  Official description below the trailer.

 

Earth: The Operators’ Manual. An operator’s manual helps keep your car or computer running at peak performance. Earth science can do the same for the planet. Join host Richard Alley – PSU professor, registered Republican, geologist, former oil company employee and expert on climate change and renewable energy — on a high definition trip around the globe to learn the story of Earth’s climate history and our relationship with fossil fuels. In this documentary, a diverse cast of Earth “operators” are proving that when the Earth’s bounty meets human ingenuity, there are many reasons to be optimistic about our energy future.

Religious Leaders Condemn Trump’s Withdrawal from the Paris Agreement

President Trump’s announcement on June 1, 2017 that he will withdraw the U.S. from the Paris Climate Agreement has inspired a diverse chorus of condemnation from religious leaders and organizations in the U.S. and across the globe. If your tradition or denomination has issued a statement that you don’t see listed below, please let us know. And if your tradition or denomination has not yet released a statement, ask your leaders to do so—and send them this page of religious statements for inspiration!

COP21Religious Statements Condemning U.S. Withdrawal from Paris Agreement

But wait…there’s more! Religious Statements in Support of Paris Agreement and/or Climate Action

Marywood University Presentation on Laudato Si

The 2015 release of Pope Francis’ encyclical, Laudato Si: On Care of Our Common Home, shifted the conversation about ecology, climate change, and environmental impacts on human communities, and emphasized our moral responsibility to care for creation. A great way to consider the teachings offered in the encyclical is to study it with a group in your community.

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Here, we offer a PowerPoint presentation about Laudato Si that was first given by Rabbi Daniel Swartz at Marywood University. Download the presentation here: Marywood Laudato Si, and the full text of the encyclical is available for download here.

Find other Laudato Si resources here, including a study guide for Yom Kippur developed by Rabbi Swartz.

 

VILLANOVA: Cardinal Peter Turkson and a multi-faith roundtable conversation

The Creation of Laudato Si
An Interfaith Conversation with Religious Leaders

Cardinal Peter Turkson

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President, Pontifical Council on Justice & Peace, and a draft author of Laudato Sí

Free but RSVP REQUIRED by Feb. 18

Thursday, February 25, 2016 
Villanova Room, Connelly Center

9:30–10AM Refreshments and Registration
10:00–11:30 AM Presentation by Cardinal Turkson with Multi-faith Responses & Roundtable Conversation

respondents: 

  • Rabbi Malkah Binah Klein, Pennsylvania Interfaith Power & Light
  • Rev. J. Anyabwile Bankole, Greater Mount Vernon Baptist Church
  • Imam Sohaib Sultan, Princeton University
  • Sister Marie Cook, Sisters of Mercy Mid-Atlantic Community
  • Rabbi Arthur Waskow, Shalom Center

You are invited to share in this unique opportunity to learn the story behind the creation of Laudato Si and to discuss its impact in diverse religious communities and within the wider environmental movement.

Cardinal Peter Kodwo Appiah Turkson serves as the President of the Pontifical Council for Justice and Peace. Working with the Council, Cardinal Turkson had primary responsibility for developing the first draft of Pope Francis’ encyclical on the environment, Laudato Si.

 Please RSVP by February 18. For more information, contact julia.sheetz@villanova.edu