Seeking forgiveness: an invitation from a 13 year old with wisdom that goes back a lot further.

Hi, my name is Hadassah. I’m a 13-year old climate activist and daughter of a Rabbi.  In just a couple of weeks we are going to celebrate Rosh Hashanah, the Jewish New Year, where we focus as a Jewish community on teshuva, the process of seeking forgiveness and becoming our best selves. Our ancient sages even claimed that this process of seeking forgiveness was created before the world itself was created! (Babylonia Talmud Pesahim 54a) But, in light of the damage we have caused to our planet, how does one seek forgiveness from the earth?

Perhaps we can draw from Maimonides’ guidelines on repentance by (a) fully acknowledging our transgression and taking responsibility (b) allowing ourselves to experience remorse, and (c) taking steps to repair the damage. 

That is why I joined the Sunrise movement — a youth-led organization whose goal is to stop climate change and create millions of jobs in the process. Sunrise recognizes that we must act before the possibility of a livable planet diminishes. Specifically, the movement is calling for a Green New Deal, a ten year plan to transform our economy by guaranteeing almost 100% clean renewable energy by 2030, a living wage job to every American who needs one, and progress towards ending oppression of minority groups. I created a Sunrise Hub in Northwest Philadelphia to bring the Sunrise activism to our part of town and to fight climate change with my community.

I hope you all can consider joining me on September 20th when I, along with thousands of other youth from around the country, will be striking and standing up for our generation’s future. As the sage Hillel taught, “it is not up to us to finish the work, but we can’t desist from it either.” (Ethics of our Fathers 2:21) Wishing you all a sweet new year and a better year for our planet!