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JYCM Newsletter - 12/7/20

JYCM Storytelling Campaign!

On November 15th, we launched our 2020 Storytelling campaign. The mission of this project is to engage people across the country and world through the power of a story. We take a look at storytelling through the Jewish climate narrative in hopes of motivating others in the name of the climate crisis. Our board takes on this role by writing their own stories as we begin to share them with our JYCM community. As a part of the campaign, we are also launching an Arts and Writing competition, with more information available on the website. Our Diversity, Equity and Inclusion group is currently organizing a Slam Poetry and Art Exhibition Night, which will take place on Sunday, December 13th. The leadership and executive board have been working to engage our new kvuzot(chapters) in this project. Social media is a great way to stay involved and updated on upcoming events and opportunities. We hope to see you all at our slam poetry evening!


Storytelling Campaign, cont.

At our official launch event, leadership board members Alex, Yonah and Naomi shared climate stories in a variety of creative formats to model different ways of powerful storytelling. Additionally, Sunrise Movement's public narrative leader, Jeremy Ornstein, shared his deeply moving story. The event was held in collaboration with JYCM Kvutzah B’nai Jeshurun in NYC, and following Jeremy’s story, we learned the story of Mari Copeny, a Youth of Color fighting environmental racism, from the B'nai Jeshurun teens.

Since the tremendously successful event, JYCM’s campaign subteams have begun putting our goal of sharing climate stories into action. The Outreach and Coaching subteam held a storytelling workshop, coaching people on how to tell their story in the most effective way and we held an adult storytelling event in which climate activists Vicki Kaplan from Dayenu, Sooji Min-Maranda from ALEPH, and Jonah Goldman from PLNT Burger, shared their wisdom with young, aspiring climate activists, emphasizing the importance of telling your own story and listening to others’ stories.

We've created a pledge which can be found on our website so that people can commit to take action on Tu B’shvat, where we will be participating in the Big Bold Jewish Climate Fest, at which the Storytelling Campaign will culminate. The action subteam is working on an 8-days of action series of events over Chanukah to provide more people with opportunities for learning, sharing stories, and taking action - check the calendar for updates. As the campaign progresses, we are accumulating more and more stories which will ultimately form a bank of diverse climate stories that capture many different experiences but all highlight the necessity to work together to fight the urgent issue at hand.


Image by Lily Raskin


Welcome to our new JYCM Kvutzot!

We now have 10 Kvutzot (chapters) - welcome to our newest members:

Ramah in the Rockies in Boulder, CO

Temple Beth Zion in Brookline, MA

Congregation Kol Ami in White Plains, NY

Kahal B'raira in Cambridge, MA

The Idea School in Tenafly, NJ

To learn more about building a JYCM Kvutzah, visit our Kvutzah page here.


“The Earth will not continue to offer its harvest, except with faithful stewardship. We cannot say we love the land and then take steps to destroy it for use by future generations.”

— John Paul II


A Word from a Board Member

I'm Anna, I use she/her pronouns, and I'm a senior in high school in New York. Growing up in a big city, it's easy to feel far away from nature. So while I've cared about environmentalism for a long time, it was easy to feel like my actions would have no impact. What's the point of changing my ways when I'm only one person? I reasoned. What impact could I possibly have?

But JYCM provides me with the opportunity to work with other Jewish teens who are passionate about environmentalism.

Since joining JYCM, I’ve learned how to advocate for political and institutional environmentalism. I do this because I know that I am not alone. I am joined by the other members of the movement, trying to live sustainably in a time of excess and waste. I am joined by those who accept the Torah’s call to steward the natural world. I am joined by individuals and organizations all across America, soldiers in the fight against climate change.

According to the Talmud, someone who saves a life saves an entire world. JYCM inspires me and empowers me to work toward saving all of our worlds.


Image by Haley Schusterman


D'var Torah by Aliza Cotton

One of my favorite Judaism facts has to do with the Talmud. The Talmud actually mentions 6 different genders. When I heard this fact, I was shocked. Judaism has upheld the existence of multiple genders since ancient times? That’s amazing! But I also felt a bit hurt. This was a big deal - one of the oldest and largest world religions was affirming the existence of trans people in one of its core documents. It felt like a huge revelation to just not tell someone. Don’t get me wrong, I am very grateful for the Jewish education that I was given. But it was very traditional. It was very “we have done it this way forever, we are still going to use the same worksheets we’ve used since the 90s because that’s just the way we do things.” And sure, I learned the foundations from that. But it was not particularly engaging or fulfilling for me. It wasn’t very relevant-- I understood Judaism in the context of temple and some traditions, but Judaism didn’t seem to be relevant in other parts of my life or identity. Around the time that I learned that there are six genders in the Talmud is when I rediscovered my love for Judaism as a tool for affirmation of myself and my beliefs. I was discovering new parts of Judaism I hadn’t previously known, and it felt invigorating. These discoveries not only strengthened my love for Judaism, but strengthened my identity and values system. This has been one of the most exciting things for me about JYCM. Maybe there are some Jewish teens out there just like me. They value their Judaism but feel unfulfilled with the textbook religious school education. They want to create change and strengthen their own identity. JYCM can show many more teens how relevant and progressive and valuable Judaism can be in their lives.


JYCM Leadership Board Members are Published Writers!

Hazon, along with The Center for Jewish Peoplehood Education, has just published the first ever Peoplehood Papers on the topic of climate: The Climate Crisis & The Jewish People: From “Why” to “What and How…” This is the 28th edition of The Peoplehood Papers, a publication which seeks to educate about the intersection between Jewish Peoplehood and a large variety of relevant and contemporary issues.

It consists of 13 essays by authors reckoning with the reality of the climate crisis, and our responsibility as Jews to engage, including members of our National Leadership Board. We hope their words serve to catalyze the Jewish community far and wide to face the Climate Crisis with bravery that is bolstered by tradition and community. Take some time to read these essays, and please share and discuss with family and friends.

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