Student Activism

Rabbinical student Elana Rosen-Brown led “A Day of Jewish Wilderness Spirituality and Outdoor Environmental Learning” at Bear Mountain State Park. Through Shabbat prayer, meditation, hiking, Havdalah ritual, and text study, students explored the themes of Passover and rebirth as connected to ecology and outdoor education, with the participation of ecologist/conservation biologist Rebecca Stern. Students emerged with concrete Jewish environmental teachings and activities that they could bring to congregants of all ages.

Cantorial student Rachel Harrison Rhodes presented her senior recital on “Speak to the Earth and It Will Instruct You” (Job 12:18) to inspire environmental stewardship through Jewish song.  “My goal is to galvanize the Jewish community to enact a cultural shift towards sustainability. Using music, the recital paints for us a picture of despair when we look at our world and see how we are treating it with such recklessness. The music then moves us towards hope- together, through the power of song, study, community, and action we can create change. Jews must support the environmental movement, as it is written in our tradition: ‘I created everything for you. Make sure you do not ruin or destroy my world. If you do, there will be no one after you to fix it.’” Watch her recital >

Students, faculty, and administration participated in the People's Climate March on September 21, 2014 in New York, joining more than half a million people who took to the streets in a unified global move to demand commitments from world leaders just days before their historic summit on climate change. The HUC-JIR cohort were among over 100 Jewish organizations and, as part of the Jewish Climate Campaign, brought shofars to provide a wake-up call to governments and organizations to work to fight climate change.  "We joyfully added our voices to the hundreds of thousands of others who came to let the world know that climate change is a clear and present danger to our planet," said Dr. Lisa D. Grant, Professor of Jewish Education. "We marched as Jews with countless other religious and secular groups who came together in common cause to urge world leaders to take action for climate justice. It was a day of possibility and promise."