Sukkot Celebration Matched with Concern for the Environment by Rabbi Peter Hyman

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Starting Sunday night, September 23rd, at sundown, the Jewish community in Easton will join Jewish communities around the world in celebrating the holiday of Sukkot. We will moving our meals outside, to a temporary dwelling called a Sukkah. Spending time in the Sukkah, with a roof of branches open to the sky, invites us to be more aware of the changing seasons, our environment and more mindful of our place in the natural world.

Like faith communities everywhere, congregants at Temple B’nai Israel, have become increasingly concerned about the impact we are having on our environment. We’re mindful that our burning fossil fuels for electricity is pouring heat-trapping climate pollution into the atmosphere, damaging our climate and hurting our neighbors, close to home and around the world.

As warmer temperatures at the poles melt land-based ice, our seas are rising. Our own Eastern Shore communities are among the most vulnerable to rising seas. The subsidence of the Delmarva Peninsula and the slowing of the Gulf Stream will only exacerbate the harm caused by rising waters. Right here in our region, farmers, fishermen, and other residents are contending with wetter springs, hotter summers, and chronic flooding from coastal storms.

As we conclude the Sukkot holiday, the holiday in the Jewish calendar that focuses us environmental stewardship and ecological responsibility, we will reinsert into our daily liturgy a few seasonal words. We will praise God “Who causes wind to blow and rain to fall.” Here on the Eastern Shore, we can particularly appreciate this blessing and promise of the wind blowing across our coastal waters.

Recently, I along with other faith leaders, signed a letter to Congressman Andy Harris, speaking out proudly that our communities have an opportunity to show national leadership by hosting the Skipjack and U.S. Wind offshore wind projects. We called on Rep. Harris to oppose any expansion of oil and gas development and exploration in the Atlantic.

To address these problems, here in Easton and beyond, we’ll need to come together. Sukkot is a holiday for warmly welcoming guests! So we invite the entire Easton community to join us at Temple B’nai Israel this Thursday evening, September 27th at 7 pm for a free screening of the film “Reinventing Power,” and to gather in the Sukkah afterwards for a conversation about the promise of clean energy for our region. It’s a joyous time of year, please join us.

Rabbi Peter Hyman is the rabbi of Congregation Temple B’nai Israel, The Satell Center for Jewish Life on the Eastern Shore in Easton. The film screening, hosted by Interfaith Power & Light and Temple B’nai Israel, will take place Thursday, September 27th at 7 pm at 7199 Tristan Drive in Easton.

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