Interfaith Spiritual Care 2021 – Session 4 – Autumn: Spiritual Gifts of the Season

Please join PA IPL for the 4th session of our seasonal Interfaith Spiritual Care series. This session will honor the spiritual gifts with which our creator has blessed us from the natural world. The program will include interfaith prayers, meditation, and music.

These online interfaith sessions take place 4 times a year, once per season, over Zoom. The sessions will build on the theme of each season. Each event is designed to help us come together, reconnect, and seek hope as an interfaith community. Through poetry, music, meditations, and ritual, we hope to nurture each other.

All are welcome to attend.

Interfaith Spiritual Care 2021 – Session 3 – Summer: Spiritual Gifts of the Season

PA IPL will again offer programming focused on the spiritual and interfaith character of our Climate Justice mission starting on Tuesday, June 29th at 7:00pm.

These online interfaith sessions will take place 4 times a year, one per each season, over Zoom. The sessions will build on the theme of each season with this third session being titled Summer: Spiritual Gifts of the Season. This will give space for our interfaith work and expressions of our traditions.

Each event is designed to help us come together, reconnect, and seek hope as an interfaith community. All are welcome to attend.

Please register in advance for Session 3 – Summer: Spiritual Gifts of the Season here.

Additionally, we will offer opportunities for PA IPL Board Members and Chapter Members to organize faith specific celebrations.

Earth Seder for Everyone 2021 — via Zoom

When? 6:00pm, Thursday, April 1st EST
What? An Earth Seder, with prayer and music
Where? Around your table, and via Zoom
Who? You — this is an all-faiths-welcome celebration of the Passover seder, cosponsored by the Coalition on the Environment and Jewish Life (COEJL), Temple Hesed of Scranton, and PA IPL.

Why now?
This year, Passover comes just before the 50th anniversary of Earth Day.  It also comes as a new and unique Passover Haggadah has just been published by a colleague of Rabbi Daniel,  Rabbi Ellen Bernstein, the founder of the first Jewish environmental group, Shomrei Adamah.

Before COVID-19 threw a wrench into the plans, Temple Hesed was going to host one of 10 inaugural “Earth Seders.”  Now, our seder has to go online, which, while it has its downsides, also means that we can be connected to presentations by Rabbi Bernstein and others from across the country.  So we will have a Zoom Earth Seder on April 1st at 6 pm — which you can join from wherever you are!
What is an Earth Seder?  
EARTH SEDERS understand that the freedom we celebrate on Passover depends on the earth’s well-being. If the earth and its systems are compromised, our freedom is compromised. Life itself is compromised.   EARTH SEDERS  are rooted in Rabbi Bernstein’s new Passover Haggadah, The Promise of the Land,  which blends traditional text with a modern ecological sensibility.   EARTH SEDERS offer an opportunity to deepen our connection to the natural world, and, to raise awareness, commitments, and funds for an environmental or conservation project. 

Everyone who signs up — and all are welcome, from within the Temple Hesed community and well beyond, even for those living far away — will be given guides for what to do in their own homes as they join the seder, as well as the link to join the Zoom Earth Seder on April 1st.  

Seder or “table” is however many people join you on one Zoom connection.

All funds raised go to support the work of COEJL and PA IPL.


FORUM2020 and Interfaith Prayer on Climate Emergency

October 16th 10am-1pm EST-FORUM2020: Science, Spirituality, the Climate Emergency and our Future
October 17th 10am-11:30am EST-Global Interfaith Prayer Service for the Earth

The Temple for Understanding and the Marble Collegiate Church are collaborating to offer a multifaith climate + prayer created by others on October 16 and 17.  The events are free with registration.

The Forum2020 gathering “Science, Spirituality, the Climate Emergency and Our Future” on Friday, October 16th, from 10:00am-1:00pm, consists of three 30-minute panels.  Speakers and panelists are listed here, including The Rev. Susan Hendershot, President of Interfaith Power & Light (national).

The multifaith prayer service will take place Saturday morning, October 17th from 10am-11:30am, with “prayers, affirmations and contemplations offered by Indigenous and world religious leaders and sacred music by renown international artists including Yungchen Lhamo, Samir Chatterjee and Steve Gorn, Marble Collegiate Church Choir, Marble Collegiate Church Gospel Choir.”

Proudly presented by the Temple of Understanding in collaboration with Marble Collegiate Church, New York City.

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.

daniel headshot

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.