THIS IS OUR HOME,
AND IT IS ON FIRE.
We know why our home is burning.
And as Jews we have watched
our home burn before.
Our names are being called,
and it is time to
To this we say:
Here we are.
As young people, we have inherited a world of environmental destruction and social injustice that threatens our very lives—and futures. While we did not create these issues, we have a unique position and power, as valued members of the Jewish community and in broader society, to raise our moral voice in the charge toward climate justice.
In Jewish tradition, for millennia our community has been compelled by the idea of l’dor v’dor, from generation to generation—the need to preserve tradition and life and transmit them to our children. Today, the weight of our obligation to l’dor v’dor is upon us. We must live according to the value of Tikkun Olam, repairing the world, and act as the midrash Kohelet Rabbah instructs us: “For if you corrupt it, there is no one to repair it for you” (7:13:1). As Jews, we are adept survivalists, having weathered many oppressive storms before. We must reinvigorate our Jewish tradition and inspire systemic, political change by rising up collectively against the climate crisis.
The Jewish Youth Climate Movement (JYCM), a program of Adamah, was founded in 2019 to help the Jewish community achieve such levels of action. We are the only national, Gen-Z-led organizing movement dedicated to combating climate change and environmental injustice from a Jewish lens.
At JYCM, each word in our name motivates us to build a better world.
Judaism teaches us tzedek tzedek tirdof, meaning “justice, justice, you shall pursue” (Deuteronomy 16:20). Throughout history, our people have bravely advocated for justice. As a people connected to the environment and as a movement dreaming of collective liberation, we must pursue a sustainable and equitable world for all.
We recognize the moral authority youth wield to create a ripple effect that brings our families, institutions, and communities along with us, ultimately steering the direction of the entire Jewish community. As youth, we ask our communities to act with us, rather than perpetuate the harmful notion that it is the responsibility of youth alone to save us from environmental and political calamity.
The climate crisis poses a great existential threat of our times. All communities, including Jews, must protect our shared home if we are to survive as peoples, cultures, and species of the Earth.
The severity of the climate crisis demands action on the scale of a national and global mass movement dedicated to creating a more equitable world for all. JYCM will catalyze a cultural shift that makes taking collective action towards climate justice a central, defining feature of Jewish identity in the 21st century, mobilizing Jews in vast numbers to join the broader climate movement around us.
Our goal is to make taking collective action towards climate justice a central, defining feature of what it means to be Jewish over the next decade, empowering Jewish youth to lead our fight to build a sustainable and equitable world for all.
Our role is to:
- Empower young people to become leaders
- Compel our Jewish institutions to orient around climate education and action
- Mobilize Jews across generations and backgrounds to change policies and institutional practices at the local and national level
- Agitate institutions, corporations, and our government to combat the climate crisis
- Define what it means to be Jewish in the era of climate change and to interact sustainably and equitably with our world (the physical Earth and those who inhabit it)
Our Theory of Change
Educate & Raise Awareness
We create change first by exposing the urgency of the climate crisis and the need for systemic change within Jewish-American communities.
Create Equitable Growth
We find young Jews through schools, synagogues, and youth groups, and invite them to join our movement. Though steered by a centralized National Leadership Board, we are building a decentralized network of kvutzot (local chapters) that make up the core of our movement. We are committed to careful growth, at the speed we can absorb people, in order to ensure that those we engage find an inclusive, equitable home that centers their access needs in our movement.
Internally Change the Conversation
We orchestrate actions that tell stories, ones that draw the connection between climate justice and a resilient Jewish future.
Bolster the External Climate Movement
As we activate the Jewish community, we will pivot outward, channeling Jewish energy for change into an active and strategically supportive arm of the national climate movement.
Develop Leadership & Community
We build up each other’s leadership skills while cultivating community. We bake accessibility and inclusivity into all our programs and actions. We are fiercely hopeful for a better world: we celebrate one another, pursue radical optimism, and laugh along the way.
Lovingly Agitate Our Passive Supporters
According to the 2021 Jewish Electorate Institute National Survey of Jewish Voters, climate change is the number one issue among Jewish voters, across all denominations and generations. By and large, Jews are informed on the issue and eager for society to implement climate solutions, but aren’t yet mobilized in this fight: we call them to act with us.
Act, Engage, Train
We stage creative actions that escalate and disrupt the passive status quo in the Jewish community by inciting institutional change. We then integrate these target communities into our rapidly expanding movement.
We mobilize the Jewish community to take action against the climate crisis.
We draw on our connections and shared values to motivate our Jewish communities to take action: tzedek tzedek tirdof, “justice, justice, you shall pursue.” We tap into organized Jewish life and reach beyond it to make pursuing collective action for climate justice central to what it means to be Jewish in our world today. We bring into our movement Jews of all identities, classes, races, abilities, genders, sexualities, ethnicities, denominations, religious practices, and ways of life.
We empower young people to lead.
We interpret the principle of l’dor v’dor, from generation to generation, as an invitation to learn from and collaborate with other generations while centering the leadership of Gen Z. We are youth united and rooted in decentralization. Our kvutzot, chapters, are groups of youth empowered to pursue climate action in the ways best suited to their communities.
We learn from the wisdom of our ancestors.
We learn from the rich history of Jews and others fighting to preserve their cultures and enact justice, and we learn from the mistakes they made along the way. We honor their work to care for and liberate many communities, which guides our own action today.
We are guided by Jewish values and traditions.
As a pluralistic, egalitarian movement, we draw inspiration and strength from a diversity of Jewish traditions, incorporating them into all aspects of our movement for climate justice, such as strategy, action, trainings, and community building. We contribute to youth-led Jewish culture by creating Jewishly-rooted rituals, traditions, songs, stories, art, creative text studies, and more.
We understand the existential threat of a crisis created by generations of systemic oppression.
We know the climate crisis arose as a result of many oppressions including capitalism, colonialism, racism, patriarchy, and antisemitism, and the crisis disproportionately affects marginalized communities, especially low-income and Black, Brown, and Indigenous folks and other people of color. We also understand that fossil fuel executives and their allies have fueled race and class divisions because they fear our collective power. In order to rebuild our relationship with the earth, we must rebuild our relationship with each other through solidarity. We are committed to dismantling these systems of oppression through our work. Climate justice means justice for all: racial, economic, disability, feminist, LGBTQ+, immigrant, and all other forms of justice.
We take collective action toward systemic change.
For generations, corporations and governments have pushed an individual approach to climate action, such as recycling and reducing personal energy usage. Individual action has been inaccessible to many communities, kept us divided, and deflected from the necessity of larger systemic change. As a movement, we seek systemic change through grassroots organizing—we call on institutions to curb their carbon emissions and enact a just transition from fossil fuels. We boldly organize for our demands, and we are nonviolent in our words and tactics.
We work toward our collective vision: a sustainable and equitable future free from this crisis and its oppressions.
We harness the power of positive visioning to dream the world we want to create. We imagine how liberation will look and feel, and then we apply that image to energize our fight for a world transformed. We dare to dream big.
We promote equity and create an intersectional movement.
The Torah commands us, v’ahavta l’reacha kamocha, love your neighbor as yourself. Centering equity and inclusion is the only moral way to exist in the world. It is also strategic—fossil fuel executives and their allies seek to divide us because they know that together we are unstoppable. We model internally the liberatory practices we work to see in the world.
We take care of each other and ourselves.
Youth organizing is tiring, and burnout is real. We give what we can, we request and offer support, and we rest and reflect often. We value people as whole humans, not just for their work. By creating an uplifting community, we remember we don’t have to do this alone.
We move at the speed of relationships.
To make effective change, we must build trust and community. We devote time and attention to building strong relationships by checking in with each other as friends and establishing team events that center bonding and mutual support.
We find inspiration from our stories and lived experiences.
We embrace storytelling as a powerful method used by both Jews and social movements. We tell our stories to cultivate community, inspire others to action, and humanize the impacts of the climate crisis. We listen to each others’ stories and amplify the voices and leadership of marginalized and frontline communities.
We believe that we will win.
We embody the Jewish principle of ruach, spirit, by making time to laugh and be joyful together. We remain fiercely hopeful, and we use that hope to unite and motivate ourselves and others. We are resilient and refuse to give up, even when the fight challenges us, because we know liberation is worth all that it takes.
We will build this world from love. (“Olam Chesed Yibaneh.”)
We are guided by hope, joy, and love because we cannot cultivate a better world with the same building blocks that oppressors have used to structure this one. In a world where fear and hate abounds, we build our movement with chesed—kindness and care.
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