January 6th by Naomi Parr, JYCM's Creative Writings and Arts Director
Today, on January 6th, we feel it’s important to acknowledge the historical anniversary. One year ago, our paralyzed nation watched as domestic terrorists stormed the Capitol. From our homes and our classrooms, we saw our congress people tweeting from under their desks, security crushes by mob violence, and total inaction from our then-president. This violent explosion of tension showed the impact of blatant disinformation and political manipulation. This manipulation was, and is, an attack on our democracy. As Jews, we are horrified by the antisemitic shirts and frequent swastikas spotted in the sea of insurrectionists, as well as all other displays of unabashed white nationalism. As Jewish Americans, we are further horrified to see these waved alongside American flags.
From this day, we are warned of the greatest divisive tool in our political world; intentional misinformation spread through social media and news networks is one of the greatest threats to American democracy. Through this, some politicians were able to manipulate ‘patriotism’ to incite treasonous action. This national betrayal is a warning. In today's world of disinformation, we must take care to protect our democracy, and those around us. Our best hope for ensuring prosperous democracy may seem insurmountable, but it needs to be welcomed regardless: Conversation can build understanding between differing perspectives. Inspiring empathy and conversation is the path to a more compassionate world. In the face of growing antisemitism, violent racism, and manipulation, it is empathy and unlearning that will prevent catastrophes like the capitol riot and dismantle the roots of oppression long before hateful beliefs have a chance to blossom.
In climate justice too, empathy and justice is what motivates us. A protected, healthy democracy is one that actively protects all of its citizens. As young Jews, our vision of a sustainable and equitable world for all, free from climate peril and the historic structures that enable it, mandates that everyone be welcomed, loved, and protected from the dangers we face, be those climate disasters or the rising tides of fascism. It’s events like last year that remind us how essential our work towards this vision is.
Last year the Big Bold Jewish Climate Fest brought together 6000+ people to make confronting the climate crisis a central moral priority of the Jewish community, and to catalyze bold action. Let’s do it again! JYCM is excited to be organizing the Youth Out Front track, in partnership with Dayenu and Hillel International. Register for free to save your spot today! Here are our events:
Monday, January 10th 8pm-9:30pm ET
Coming of Age in the time of Climate Crisis: Stories of Climate Grief and Resilience
For Gen-Z, the climate crisis has become a major phenomenon looming intimately over our lives, and we have grown up learning to navigate this collective fear for the uncertainty of our future. Join leading youth activists across the climate movement as we share our perspectives on grief, resiliency, and hope through a series of curated personal narratives, poetry, art, and conversations, shedding light on our generational reality and how we heal together through story and action.
Tuesday, January 11th from 8-9pm ET
Climate Organizing on College Campuses
Zoom (Register here)
In partnership with JYCM, Dayenu, and Hillel
Most of us care about climate change - but are we taking action? Learn from current students at UC Berkeley, Brown University, University of Pennsylvania, Queen's University, as well as activists at Future Coalition, Dayenu, Hillel International, and the Jewish Youth Climate Movement, who are building student-led groups to take climate action on and off campus.
Wednesday, January 12th from 8:30-9:30pm ET
Jewish Debt Forgiveness: Divesting Our Communities During the Shmita Year
Zoom (Register here)
Led by co-captains of the JYCM Shmita Campaign, Aliza Cotton and Sarah Gorbatov, with Rabbi Isaiah Rothstein, in discussion
As global climate actions turn towards pushing major financial institutions to divest from fossil fuels, we understand that a future oriented towards climate justice requires a transformation of how we utilize money and monetary systems. To facilitate this transition, join youth leaders at the Jewish Youth Climate Movement and Torah scholars to draw from Jewish texts and teachings about the Shmita Year (the year of land restitution and debt forgiveness) in crafting our modern economic vision out of the prescient ideas of the Jewish past.
Thursday, January 13th from 4–5pm ET
Stopping the Money Pipeline: Banks, Investors, and Water Protectors
Zoom & Livestream
Organized by Dayenu
Just 100 fossil fuel companies are responsible for 70% of the emissions fueling the climate crisis. Learn from campaigners and Indigenous water protectors about how banks and investors are threatening sacred lands and waters and contributing to climate change by financing fossil fuels – and what you can do to stop the money pipeline to these companies.
Speakers will include Tara Houska (Giniw Collective), Lindsay Meiman (Stand.Earth), and Madeline Canfield (JYCM), facilitated by Phil Aroneanu (Dayenu)
Friday, January 14th at 3:45pm ET
Facebook and Instagram
As we wrap up an incredible few days of learning and empowerment, JYCM, Batya Levine, and Aly Halpert invite you to join us in celebrating our Jewish resilience through the joy of stepping into Shabbat! We will reflect on the teachings of the festival with the ancient teachings of Parshat Beshalach, centering youth kavanot, and rejoice in song and experimental prayer as we transition into the strengthening spirit of Shabbat.
From Hannukah through Tu B'Shvat, we are raising money to support the Jewish Youth Climate Movement! The money raised will go towards continued growth and impact-building of JYCM, will help us spread the word about our work across the country, develop more Kvutzot/local chapters of JYCM within Jewish more communities, support our team, and develop our college cohort of JYCM leaders who graduated from the national leadership board last year. Thank you!
QUOTE OF THE MONTH: “The pursuit of knowledge for its own sake, an almost fanatical love of justice and the desire for personal independence, these are the features of the Jewish tradition which make me thank my stars that I belong to it.” —Albert Einstein
Welcome to our new JYCM Kvutzot!
We now have 37 Kvutzot (chapters) - welcome to our newest members:
Congregation Agudath Israel, Caldwell, New Jersey
A Word from a Board Member
Hey there! I’m Sarah Gorbatov (she/her), I’m 16 years old, and I’m a senior at The Idea School in Tenafly, New Jersey. I love exploring biology, from climate science to oncology, and philosophy, specifically ethics and religion. Whatever I’m studying, I make sure that I carry my learnings outside the library and into the real world as a community organizer, namely through JYCM.
I originally discovered JYCM while participating in its Jewish Youth Climate Activism Series this past spring. Hearing from powerful, trailblazing activists and meeting youth with whom I shared both a common identity and a vision for the future was an experience like no other. After joining the movement, what I found as a member of the National Leadership Board was something even greater: a nourishing community.
What I adore most about JYCM is the environment it has fostered, an environment in which we can simultaneously build the climate justice cause, our Jewish culture, and our relationships with one another. As another Board member once so eloquently said, “We move at the speed of relationships.” JYCM’s belief that this difficult work can be tackled by a collective inspired by ancestral values and devoted to fighting contemporary injustice is what differentiates us. From my role in the Policy Working Group to my responsibilities as the Education Director, I am constantly collaborating to stir change on the local and national levels.
I envision a future for JYCM in which we continue to harness the power of connection, Judaism, education, and action to heal the world we inherited. Through the Shmitah Campaign, we are lovingly agitating Jewish institutions to meet demands and make measurable contributions. Through the Winter Fundraiser, we are raising the funds to expand our kvutzah network and make our annual retreats possible. Through all the rest of JYCM’s incredible programming, we are rallying for progress and, importantly, ensuring that our commitment to equity and inclusion never falters as we do so.
I am very excited to see what the remainder of this year holds and, next year, what being a member of the Amitim College Cohort has in store!
Sarah recently had an amazing piece published in the Jewish Women Archive:
Sharing our Stories
This art piece is by one of our leadership and executive board members, Rivka. It is titled “The Dead Would be Ashamed.” It’s about how our ancestors would be shocked at how we are treating our planet.
Over the course of our storytelling campaign, we learned the importance of storytelling in the climate movement. We gave everyone a chance to learn how to tell their story and share it with everyone. In the coming months we will be sharing people's climate stories in JYCM's monthly newsletters. If you're interested in having yours featured, please reach out to firstname.lastname@example.org.