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The Environmental Crisis- Our Spiritual Responsibility

November 17, 2017 @ 6:00 pm - November 19, 2017 @ 12:00 pm

Every time Jews pray in community, we say Aleinu – it’s incumbent upon us to continue the work of creation. For centuries, human industry has disregarded the environment we are spiritually tasked to “till and tend.” Now, we find ourselves in a critical moment, when our practical activities need to align with our deepest values in order to protect and preserve the world we have inherited. Join Temple Israel of Boston for the Burstein Scholars-in-Residence weekend November 17-19, 2017 as we learn about the crisis, consider important solutions, and wrestle with our responsibility.


Qabbalat Shabbat featuring Peter Fox-Penner

Peter Fox-Penner is a Professor of Practice in the Questrom School of Management and the Director of Boston University’s Institute for Sustainable Energy. His research and writing interests are in the areas of electric power strategy, regulation, and governance; energy and climate policy; and the relationships between public and private economic activity. He is the author of Smart Power, a book widely credited with foreseeing the future transformation of the power industry now used and cited all over the world, as well as other books in this area. He also teaches courses on sustainable energy and electric power in the Questrom School of Business. In addition, he is Chief Strategy Officer of Energy Impact Partners, Academic Advisor to The Brattle Group, and on the Advisory Board of EOS Energy Storage.

SATURDAY, NOVEMBER 18, 9:00 A.M. – 7:00 P.M.

A Day of Learning and Action 

Beginning with an environmental Torah Study, we will spend the day together learning and connecting. Our program features two plenary sessions, first with author Mitchell Thomashow, and then, after lunch, with Reverend Mariama White Hammond of Bethel AME Church. We will carry our inspiration into two blocks of excellent workshops, and the day will conclude with Havdalah.

Mitchell Thomashow devotes his life and work to promoting ecological awareness, sustainable living, creative learning, improvisational thinking, social networking, and organizational excellence. In January 2016, Thomashow accepted a Fellowship at Philanthropy Northwest. The Fellowship promotes awareness of sustainability, community, and place. The emphasis is on building social capital, intellectual leadership, and organizational effectiveness in promoting sustainability, community engagement, ecological awareness, diversity and inclusion, place-based solutions, public education, and the arts. His latest book, published in March 2014, The Nine Elements of a Sustainable Campus (The MIT Press) provides a framework for advancing sustainable living and teaching in a variety of campus environments.

Rev. Mariama White-Hammond was born in Boston, MA in 1979. The child of two preacher-doctors, Rev. Mariama grew up with an understanding that God calls us all to serve our fellow man. She serves on the ministerial staff at Bethel AME Church where she is the Minister for Ecological Justice and the Interim Youth Pastor. In May 2017 she graduated from Boston University School of Theology with a Masters of Divinity.

Rev. Mariama challenges the Christian church to embrace a more radical understanding of the life and mission of Jesus Christ. She believes that the church must be responsive to issues like street violence, mass incarceration, climate change, AIDS, food security, and human rights. She is actively engaged on social justice issues ranging from immigration policy to fair wage issues. She is a leader in the Massachusetts Moral Revival, the local branch a national faith-based intersectional movement for justice led by Rev. William Barber. She was the MC for both the Boston Women’s March and Boston People’s Climate Mobilization.

Rev. Mariama is very committed to engaging the faith community, and particularly Black church on climate change and ecological justice issues. She speaks throughout the country and serves on both local and national boards and committees like the New England Grassroots Environmental Fund, Clean Water Action and Green the Church.  In addition to her work at Bethel AME Church, Rev. Mariama is also a fellow with the Green Justice Coalition, a collaborative of people-of-color-led environmental groups.


  • 9:00 – 11:00 a.m. – Torah StudyWith Rabbi Zecher, Rabbi Jacobson, and Cantor Einhorn
  • 11:15 a.m. – 12:15 p.m. – Plenary Session with Mitchell Thomashow: Wonder Reciprocity and Response: How Heschel’s Depth Theology Provides Guidance for Environmental ChallengesEnvironmental challenges such as climate change, species extinction, and threats to biodiversity raise fundamental questions about human survival, meaning and purpose. Environmental and social activists, in living with these challenges navigate four existential tensions: the relationships between creation and extinction, hope and foreboding, wonder and indifference, faith and doubt. Heschel’s “depth theology” offers extraordinary insight into these psycho-spiritual questions. His notions of reverence, awe, wonder, reciprocity, and response provide activists and educators with remarkable spiritual support and guidance. This talk will explain why and how Heschel’s work is vital for contemporary environmental thought.
  • 12:15 – 1:00 p.m. – Lunch
  • 1:15 – 2:15 p.m. – Plenary Session with Reverend Mariama White Hammond of Bethel AME Church: Answering the Call – The Faith Response to the Ecological Crisis
  • 2:15 – 3:15 p.m. – First block of workshopsWorkshop Options:1. Singing for Our Lives: The Power of Prayer & Song in Climate Action (Rabbi Shoshana Friedman) 2. Analysis of Hope (Harvey Michaels and Susan Israel) 3. The Three R’s and How to Make them as Easy as ABC in Your Life (Sharon Bort) 4. Heschel’s Aphorisms and What They Can Teach Us about Caring for the Earth (Mitch Thomashow) 5. Greening your Congregation (buildings and members) or Business: A TI Case Study (Leon Glicksman and Dan Deutsch) 6. Our Relationship to the Land (Leora Mallach)
  • 3:30 – 4:30 p.m. – Second block of workshopsWorkshop Options:1. Ask the Experts: Green Electricity, Electric/Hybrid Vehicles, Green Electricity, LEDs, MASS SAVE Audits, Sea Level Rise, Solar Power, and More! (David Lowe, Andrew Klein, Sharon Bort, Harvey Michaels, Jen Bender)
    2. Communicating Climate to Bridge the Divide (Susan Israel)
    3. From Genocide to Ecocide: Learning from the Holocaust (Roger Gottlieb)
    4. Getting Unstuck: Using our Faith and Community to Move Past Despair (Rabbi Shoshana Friedman)
    5. Currently Pending State and Federal Legislative Proposals Relating to Climate Change (Nancy Israel)
    6. Hands-On Art Workshop (Lisa Goren)
  • 4:45 – 5:30 p.m. – Snacks, followed by Havdalah

    Led by Temple Israel Clergy


Explore these themes through art and have the opportunity for community and conversation.

Ellen Alt
Lisa Goren
Ian Todreas
Deborah Putnoi


November 17, 2017 @ 6:00 pm
November 19, 2017 @ 12:00 pm