Hazon is an environmental organization calling for climate action in Jewish communities across the nation. Eat the Change Impact will support Hazon’s Jewish Youth Climate Movement (JYCM) program – a national youth-led movement dedicated to mitigating climate change by empowering young leaders, mobilizing communities and taking action. The Changemaker grant will be devoted to developing trainings and programs for their Fall Shmita Campaign. Shmita, occurring every seven years, is the year-long biblical commitment to land rest and related justice. A major focus of the Shmita Campaign will be to educate and advocate for a more sustainable food system that will create a healthier, more sustainable, and more equitable world for all.
What is your role at Hazon?
I’m Ruby (she/her), and I’m currently a sophomore at Oberlin College, and I serve as the Jewish Youth Climate Movement’s college Programs Intern! I work to support the youth driving this movement behind the scenes by staffing meetings and organizing and managing public facing programs that we offer to our national membership, as well as our partners. I also work closely with the teens in the JYCM national working groups, especially on social media projects. In the future, I look forward to coordinating with our partners to expand our network of young Jewish climate activists through an educational curriculum on how deeply our commitment to this global issue is woven into our religious and cultural tradition.
How would you describe your community? What makes it unique?
The Jewish climate justice community is like a fire. It is ignited with passion and urgency, and continuously fed by hope, vision, momentum, and community action. This community is so unique because of our immense care for each other and the climate, based on our Jewish heritage. We all have the common ground of coming from a tradition that deeply values justice, action, support, and being the change that we want to see in the world. This is hard work, but the community is fueled by our love for the movement, along with song, prayer, and ritual that drives our connection and commitment to the climate and future generations of Jews.
What inspired you to get involved with Hazon?
I’ve known about Hazon in the Jewish community for a long time, and the faith-based climate work that they’re doing on such a large scale is something that I value. I’ve always seen my spirituality as deeply linked to nature, as well as strong commitments to social justice, which motivates me to do this justice work from a Jewish standpoint. As the largest faith-based environmental organization in the U.S., Hazon spans a wide range of inspirational core values that I hold dear to my heart, such as experiential learning, spiritual growth, centering inclusion and justice, and creating deeply personal connections to the climate crisis.
How is the concept of change important to your work? What kind of change does Hazon hope to bring about?
The concept of change is so important in climate work because we really do need to fundamentally change so much about how we’re living and interacting with the world around us. The climate crisis is extremely urgent and will continue to close in on us in irreversible ways unless we individually and collectively take the initiative to enact mass systematic change that will uproot our historic systems of oppression and bring about the justice that we envision as the first step in solving the climate crisis. As Jews, we seek to be the change we want to see in the world, and Hazon definitely does this by leading by example and paving the way for other Jewish institutions and organizations to make changes to benefit the climate. Some of the ways Hazon enacts this are by creating opportunities and initiatives for Jewish people and institutions to follow that will benefit the climate, such as educational fellowships for young Jewish people, or commitment sign-ons for institutions. The Jewish Youth Climate Movement, as a program of Hazon, is leading the way on so much of this, and Hazon is ensuring that Jewish youth are being heard and uplifted as leaders in the work towards climate justice. We’re currently pushing institutions to sign onto our Shmita commitments as part of our youth led Shmita campaign.
What are your biggest challenges right now?
Besides the impending climate anxiety that we are all facing due to the ongoing crisis, I would say that one of the biggest challenges is making everyone feel this urgency. Many institutions and big companies don’t see this as a pressing issue and are unwilling to make the changes and compromises necessary to halt the irreversible damage that we will face in the next few years. We push to use tools of empathy and storytelling from youth voices, as well as our core Jewish values to propel organizations towards changes that need to be made.
We are so grateful to organizations like Eat the Change who are supporting our work. And, we need more help to expand our impact and really reach our full potential! We have launched a winter fundraiser - will you consider supporting our work? Donate today!
What is inspiring you right now?
I’m continuously inspired by the teens on the national leadership board that I get the privilege of working so closely with. I’ve only been out of high school for a couple of years, but seeing the level of work, passion, and care that they put into the movement while balancing high school, the college process, and other extracurriculars is astonishing. I also remain inspired by the rest of the JYCM staff team, who are constantly pushing themselves and each other to be better youth allies and resources, all while going above and beyond to support each other. Everyone recognizes the importance and necessity of this work, and there is always someone to step up to take on the next step in bettering our world.
Who We Are - Jewish Youth Climate Movement
If you were a plant or a fungi, what would you be?
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