October 2020 Newsletter: A Time of Change

A time of change

Friends, as we enter into this Fall season of transformation I wanted to share with you some changes that are taking place at PA IPL. As many of you know, we were delighted to welcome our new Executive Director, David Heayn-Menendez, earlier this month. He has already stepped into leadership and is working hard to move our organization forward.

At the same time, we are saddened to announce that Cricket Hunter, our long-time Program Director and our founding staff person, has decided to leave the organization after 10 years of incredible service and contribution to PA IPL. Over the coming weeks, we will have an opportunity to honor Cricket and her invaluable work.

Our Board has been strong during this period of dynamic transition, and has helped PA IPL to maintain financial stability with our Stories from the Road Campaign, while managing staff changes, adapting to the limitations of the pandemic, and welcoming new board members. This is due in large part to the dynamic energy of our Board President, Barb Ballenger. After 5 years of service on the Board, Barb will be stepping down this month to complete academic work and continue in her full time role as an Associate Priest at St. Martin in-the-Fields Episcopal Church in Philadelphia. We thank Barb for her tremendous work at this critical time and invite you to share your gratitude with her as well via email to bballenger@stmartinec.org.

This month I will be stepping up as board president, Melinda Krokus will be the new board vice-president, Donna Korba will step in to serve as Secretary, and Bill Cozzens will continue in his vital role as Treasurer.  We will welcome at least two new board members at the annual organizational meeting on November 15th. The 7PM meeting (via Zoom) will include an interfaith prayer service for the health of our country.
(See prayer and process, below!)

I’m looking forward to building on Barb’s leadership to help our board grow, adapt, and support our organization into the future. While change can be challenging, we are also energized by the possibilities that accompany transition. PA IPL remains committed to its core mission of cultivating a strong interfaith voice to promote policies and actions that fight for our planet. In this current moment of pandemic and societal vulnerability we are convinced more than ever of the need to stay connected and hopeful for the challenges that lay ahead. 

We welcome your continued support of our vision and appreciate your ongoing involvement in the work of PA IPL. And of course, we always invite your ideas on ways to make the organization even more vibrant and impactful. Please contact me if you have questions or suggestions at rabbinm18@gmail.com.

Best wishes,

September 2020 Newsletter: Engagement at the Equinox

There is a Hadith that says, “Verily, in your lives there are breezes (of grace and mercy) that will blow, indeed you should take advantage of them.” In this year of so much uncertainty and loss, of loved ones, of our daily rhythms, and of icons, such as the honorable Ruth Bader Ginsberg, it can be difficult to see the signs of God’s grace and mercy. As the seasons change, I am reminded of the great cycles of change we experience and the role of both community and the hand of God in our lives. This week marks the Jewish new year with Rosh hashanah and as we enter the colder months we should take stock of all we have been blessed with and look beyond the horizon to new beginnings, as an organization and a community of like minded believers in climate justice. We can begin to step back from the heavy burdens of this year, to bear witness to the larger wonders of our world and trust in the greater power of God’s ongoing creation.  

“Indeed, in the creation of the heavens and  the  earth  and  the  alternation of  night  and  day,  there  are  signs  for those  who  possess  intellects.  Those who remember God standing, sitting, and lying on their sides, and reflect on the  creation  of  the  heavens  and  the earth  (and  say)  ‘Our  Lord,  You  have not  created  this  in  vain!  Immaculate are You!” (3: 190-191)

At the autumnal equinox (Maban) may we recognize and give thanks for our many blessings, the harvest, our community, and the conviction of our mission which sustain us as the fruits of the garden of creation.

September 2020 Newsletter-Civic engagement — make and support voting plans now.

Voter registration is open until October 19, 2020.  Already-registered voters can register to vote by mail until October 27, 2020, but to make sure delays don’t get in your way, make your choice and do it now! 

Now is also the time to reach out in your congregation.  Make sure every member of your congregation who wants to vote, has a plan — and has the support to carry out that plan with time to spare.   You can help fellow congregants check to make sure their registrations are correct, and may be able to help by printing registration forms, checking transportation schedules, or doing phone-tree reminders for those who are planning to vote in person.  Remind in-person people to mask up for safety, and to bring water, a snack, and weather-appropriate clothing in case they have to wait outside this time! 

This one pager from PA IPL has all the links you need.  It’s currently available in English.  Spanish and Arabic language versions coming soon to paipl.org  Share as many as you like with your congregation and civic groups — and if you’re fluent in another language, offer us another version to post!

September 2020 Newsletter: Learn and Act-Renewable Electricity Webinar

Did you know that in Pennsylvania, you can choose 100% renewable electricity — and you can do so affordably?  Fall and spring are the best times to shop.  We will help with specific recommendations about how to use PA PowerSwitch to plug your house into wind and solar without getting stuck in a “deal” you don’t want. 

Join us for a webinar on Thursday evening, October 15th.  Between 7:00 and 8:00 PM, we’ll walk you through the process using current information.  You’ll get slides you can use at home after the webinar, and if the Internet is robust enough, we may even do a couple of live searches. 

This webinar uses Pennsylvania state resources, and is specifically designed for people living in Pennsylvania.

Registration is required.  A recording and resources will be available to those who register.  There is no fee for this program; your donations help us keep doing the work. 

September 2020 Newsletter: New Beginnings: A Time for Creation- Letter from the Executive Director


My name is David Heayn-Menendez and I am the new Executive Director of PA IPL. I am so happy and excited to be part of our interfaith community and to lead the moral fight against climate change. I am a Philadelphia native but I currently live with my spouse and two sons in North Central Pennsylvania –  Lewisburg, where I attend the Sunbury Islamic Center. My background is as a community organizer/campaign manager, local elected official, and for much of my life, as an educator. Most of my scholarship and teaching focused on the religious history of the Middle East and North Africa region, and especially on intercommunity interaction. Most recently I have been the Director of Public Education at a Philadelphia-based arts and culture non-profit.

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It was my passion for community organizing, social justice, and environmental stewardship that brought me to PA IPL, because the vital work of preserving and protecting our natural environment and our communities is a foundational and inextricable component of living a life of faith. Together as members of faith we can hold each other up, amplify our voices, and tend the garden entrusted to us. We are a community guided by our faiths to action, to preserve the environment for the benefit of all. 

Since my start at the end of the August, I have been warmly welcomed with open arms by the Board and members of PA IPL. In the coming months, I hope to meet and speak with many of you to hear your concerns and goals, and to forge a new path together. Recently I have been reminded of a quote from my time at Villanova from Saint Augustine, “Do you wish to be great? Then begin by being. Do you desire to construct a vast and lofty fabric? Think first about the foundations of humility. The higher your structure is to be, the deeper must be its foundation.” In order to grow PA IPL, in terms of its impact, its reach, and its finances during this period of transition we must first take a breath, a moment to contemplate who and what we are, and then move forward, renewed in our mission and with the wind at our back. 

May the peace, mercy, and blessings of God be upon you,

David Heayn-Menendez