The New Year of the Trees and Leadership
Many Jews will ring in the new year of the trees this weekend and next week with the celebration of Tu B’Shevat (Tuesday night, February 3rd and Wednesday February 4th). These festive seders, where tasty fruits are passed around the table, are a reminder of spring even as we are in the dark skies of winter. In California, Wilderness Torah, a nonprofit organization that connects Jews to the outdoors, will gather in a Redwood grove to honor these ancient and giant trees that tower overhead.
Currently, debate over protection of the environment is taking place in Washington, D.C. The United States Senate and the White House are in a battle over whether to protect the lands and waters of the United States or open them up for development.
This week, the President called for protecting areas within the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge from development, and has set aside millions of acres of Arctic waters that are home to Beluga whales and other marine life.
In the Senate, the Keystone XL pipeline bill is being riddled with amendments that would weaken land protections for millions of acres of habitat around the West, as well as weaken the law that allows for the creation of national monuments. This is the same law that was behind creating most of our national parks.
So, when we gather at a Tu B’Shevat seder this year, we should be well aware that the values of protecting the planet, a core tenet in Jewish tradition, are under threat.
If you agree, please take a moment to call your elected leaders and tell them to stand up for the plants, animals, lands and waters: those things that are bigger than ourselves that we want passed on to our children and grandchildren. Tell them that as a Jew, you believe in protecting G-d’s creation.
U.S. House of Representatives and the U.S. Senate
The White House
Sam Goldman, an alum of the Wexner Heritage Program (SF 11), is the California Program Director for the Conservation Lands Foundation, a leading conservation organization working to protect America’s Western public lands. He joined the Foundation in 2011. Previously, Sam coordinated California wilderness campaigns for the Wilderness Society. He worked to help pass the Omnibus Public Land Management Act, which protects 2.2 million acres of wilderness across the country. Sam is active in the Jewish community and is on the board of Wilderness Torah and is Co-Chair of the LGBT Alliance of the San Francisco Jewish Community Federation. Sam can be reached at email@example.com.