G’mar Chatimah Tovah. I’m very honored to speak to you about my advocacy experience with Adat Shalom’s Climate Working Group. When my mother and I were looking to join a synagogue, we were immediately drawn to Adat Shalom because of the shul’s strong commitment to social justice, advocacy, and environmental work. I recently graduated from college, and I wanted to find a new community to replace the communities that I had loved for four years, like my rowing team and my sorority. I fell in love with the sermons, the discussions, and the bagels at oneg, but it wasn’t until I joined the Climate Working Group that I truly felt I had found my place at Adat Shalom.
I’ve always been passionate about the environment ever since I was in elementary school learning about the Chesapeake Bay, but in recent years I’ve vacillated between pestering my family to compost and feeling abject despair at the immanency of global warming. Finding community support and faith at Adat Shalom has helped me work through those moments of despair and fatigue, and has given me a shared path towards action that is much less lonely than trying to enact change by myself. I have learned so much from the people in this community – not only about the goings-on of Montgomery County Council, or what community solar is, or how to effectively talk to the Torah school, but about how to carry a light in the darkness, build meaningful partnerships, and deepen my connection to Judaism. I feel closest to God when I am surrounded by nature, and therefore it is a natural progression for me to protect the forests, rivers, and skies that I love. It helps me find peace and it makes me feel connected to our thousands of years of Jewish ancestors who valued their sacred relationship with the earth.
A year ago, I sat in the Wootten auditorium and I was brand new to all of this. A year from now, I will hopefully be in graduate school studying for my PhD in neuroscience. I will be far away from Adat Shalom but I will still feel close to this spiritual community, grateful for the connections I have built here, and ready for all of the climate work that lies ahead.