What Would Noah Do? Shabbat Parshat Noah and A Global Climate Change Campaign (10/9 – 10/10)

 10/10/10 Global Work Party



10/10/10 is a globally acknowledged date to help bring awareness to the significance of climate change.  It is all too appropriate that Shabbat Noah falls out on the same weekend.  Our Shabbat and day of action is in participation with the 350.org campaign, an international effort that’s building a movement to unite the world around solutions to the climate crisis.

September 2 , 2010

By Ilana Krakowski, a senior in the Double Degree Program between Barnard and the Jewish Theological Seminary and a committed Hazon intern

If you received a divine message that the world and all of its living beings were to be destroyed, what would you do? Difficult, huh? In the story of Parshat Noah, we see that Noah remains silent when God tells Noah the plan for the Flood. Many readers of this Torah portion have perhaps, understandably, ridiculed Noah for his tacit acceptance of the world’s destruction. 

Rabbinic tradition, however, offers a commentary of Noah planting trees he would later use to build the ark, stalling 120 years just so he could warn his neighbors to change their evil ways.  I also agree with the rabbis’ reading of Noah’s silence. It is hard to believe that Noah did not protest nor feel anguish behind God’s decree.  It’s hard to know what Noah may have done but he probably felt a deep regret for humanity and the world so while alone in his ark, uncertain about the future.

After all, how could Noah have felt being chosen as the sole survivor (albeit with his wife and sons) in God’s plan “to destroy all flesh wherein is the breath of life?”  I more recently imagine Noah stoically feeling despair, loneliness, and much uncertainty with just his ark, flood, animals. God doesn’t even tell Noah what is to happen after the flood!

Just like Noah, we too may feel just as daunted and unsure about the future.  While it is difficult to see the building of an ark in which to escape as an example of what we should do in the midst of environmental disasters, I think that it’s important to see that Noah never denied what he saw all around him–the oncoming of a flood. If we can also accept that climate change is real and happening all around us now then we can grasp what is in our power to make good decisions for the environment and society. Yet unlike Noah, we could be loud, visible, and communal in fighting for justice.

This is why I think the international climate change awareness 350.org campaign is so powerful.  Groups of people around the world are encouraged to take action, to “ rise to the challenge of the climate crisis—to create a new sense of urgency and of possibility for our planet.” All of us should participate in a 10/10/10 event, the 350.org acknowledged day of action, whether it’s organizing a bike ride, starting a community garden, or asking our nation’s leaders to take environmental policy seriously.

What we can be certain of is that people all over the world are participating in 10/10/10. It is a fantastic opportunity to ensure that we at least have a greater chance of effecting change if we work together. Therefore, whatever you decide to do that day, take a moment to photograph your event with the number 350 (the safe upper limit for CO2 in our atmosphere), share it with the world, and keep working to perpetuate the message of Parshat Noah.

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