Tikkun Olam at Temple Beth Am

Connecting our congregation to social action opportunities

A Cause for Optimism

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By Barak Gale, Temple Beth Am Green TeamImage

Dear Chevra,

Occasionally I have bursts of real optimism regarding the ability of humanity to make it’s voice heard to save our planet from folly. One such burst of optimism was earlier this evening at the Coal Export Hearing at the Convention Center.
A little background….
Big coal companies want to ship dirty Montana and Wyoming coal through our state to be burned in Asia. The Army Corps of Engineers, Whatcom County Council and Washington Dep. of Ecology hosted this hearing, one of six around the state, to define issues, public concerns, and alternatives to be addressed in the Environmental Impact Statement regarding the proposed coal export terminal at Cherry Point, near Bellingham, WA.
The cause for optimism….
It wasn’t just that hundreds of people dressed in red rallied in Freeway Park , or that I’d guess over a thousand people packed two enormous halls at the hearing, or that those dressed in red with the slogan “Beyond Coal Exports”  greatly outnumbered those dressed in green t-shirts supporting the coal terminal.  It was the breadth and depth of the statements from teenage boys and girls talking about their future, fishermen talking about the danger to our waters and fisheries, a Muslim woman sharing a legend and speaking of the sacredness of the earth from a Muslim perspective, Prof. Jaffe of the U.W.  talking very specifically about the known dangers of coal and coal dust, etc., etc.   Every person was so articulate.
I was fortunate to be able to speak as well.  I identified myself as a member of Beth Am.   Last moment I decided to chant instead of speak.  Here was my testimony….
Ladies and Gentlemen (I like the formality of this.)
I believe wholeheartedly that we are destroying our Garden of Eden.  I would like to share a dirge from my Jewish tradition.  (This is a part of the keenah or dirge composed by Chazan Richard Kaplan, and based on the Lamentations text and melody.)
Vi konen Yirmiyahu o’oh.  Ka’asher shama otah shara.  Hakinah l’churban gan eden..
Jeremiah wept, o’oh.  Hearing her song.  Lamenting her Temple so wounded.
Alas my forests are dying.  I hear my waters crying.  When will they learn?
O’oh that I, o’oh that they were pure again.
************
I urge you to evaluate the impacts of this project on creation.
Thank you.
*************
Barak
People still have until Jan. 21 to comment at www.eisgate waypacificwa.gov.
For more information about the Temple Beth Am Green Team please contact Barak Gale barakgale@gmail.com
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