(JTA) — The last eight years have been the hottest in recorded history, causing untold damage across the world — and that destruction is not something that we can reverse with the flick of a switch. We can’t instantly turn back the floods in California nor solve its decade-long drought. We can’t immediately end the wildfires in Colorado, hurricanes in Florida or flash floods in the Northeast and California.
But the American Jewish community has an important role to play in addressing the underlying cause of these devastating events and avoiding an ever-increasing cascade of destruction and harm.
Many of us are members of Jewish organizations or congregations that, often unknowingly, support fossil fuel companies. Even as we work to cut our carbon footprints, our investments are financing Exxon’s and Chevron’s expansion in fossil fuels. A recent report by the organization I lead, Dayenu, found that a sample of major Jewish organizations had over $3 billion invested in fossil fuel companies. According to Fossil Free Funds and the EPA, that’s $3 billion invested in coal, oil and gas companies that extract and burn carbon responsible for the equivalent of running 561,276 cars on the road for a year.
By reallocating that money from the extraction and burning of fossil fuels to investing in clean energy, we can turn our communal assets from a net cost to the earth to a net gain for our future.
The way forward is clear. The world’s leading scientists tell us that to avoid the worst impacts of the climate crisis, we must halve global greenhouse gas emissions by 2030 and end all climate pollution no later than 2050. Fossil fuels — coal, oil, and gas — are the leading contributors to climate change, responsible for 75% of all greenhouse gas emissions. Renewable energy sources like solar, wind, and hydropower are already cheaper, more reliable, and more lucrative for investors — while creating millions of jobs.
The vast majority of American Jews support bold climate action. A 2014 study found that 8 out of 10 American Jews were concerned or alarmed about the climate crisis. Since then, climate has become a top concern for American Jews, consistently ranking as a priority issue for American Jewish voters, especially young people. Initiatives like the Jewish Climate Leadership Coalition are helping institutions cut their emissions, and there is growing interest in socially responsible and impact investing.
These steps show a commitment to taking action — but much more is needed to reach the scale necessary to confront climate change. Over the past few years, Brandeis, a university “animated by Jewish values, rooted in Jewish history and experience,” decided to turn concern into action.
Joining Harvard, Yale and other universities, Brandeis divested some $997 million from fossil fuel companies in 2018. But University President Ronald Liebowitz said a recent decision to further reduce exposure to fossil fuels and expand investments in clean energy helps move the university to further align with its Jewish values and become “a Brandeis that strives to reflect one of its highest values: using one’s talents to repair the world — in word and deed.”
It’s not just institutions of higher education. Thousands of other organizations have already moved their money from fossil fuels to clean energy investments. Sovereign states like Norway, major retirement plans like New York City’s pension funds, and numerous faith organizations have all moved their resources in ways designed to make them agents of a sustainable future.
Now Jewish organizations, institutions and communities can join them. As part of the report “With All Our Might: Bechol M’odecha: How the Jewish Community Can Invest in a Just, Livable Future,” Dayenu lays out a six-step Roadmap for Change to help the Jewish community better align its investments with its values. Beginning with Jewish learning, or reishit chochma (grounding), the steps guide institutional leaders through cheshbon (research investments), limmud (education), sicha (engagement), kavanah (making a plan) and kadima (moving your money).
Larger institutions will focus on their asset managers, while congregations and smaller organizations will focus on their banks. By advocating publicly and privately with both banks and asset managers — the two primary financiers of fossil fuel extraction — to reinvest their money, Jewish organizations can educate their communities about sustainability and finance. Vocally aligning their finances with their values, the Jewish community can help speed a movement away from fossil fuels and toward clean energy at the pace that we, and future generations, need to survive.
And, make no mistake, it’s a race against time. The International Energy Agency — the world’s most respected energy analysis group — says that to reach zero emissions by 2050, we need to invest $4 in clean energy for every $1 in fossil fuels every year for the next few decades. However, since the Paris Agreement was signed, asset managers and banks have put trillions of dollars into the fossil fuel industry. To win this race, we need to use the lever of private finance. Faced with pressure from whole sections of the public — including the Jewish community — companies like BlackRock, Citigroup, JPMorganChase and Vanguard could be persuaded to hasten the transition to clean energy.
The American Jewish community is well-positioned to take meaningful climate action. Like other faith traditions, we are well-organized, and our institutions have an estimated $100 billion of investment assets. Following Dayenu’s six-point roadmap, we can withhold the Jewish community’s financial support for dirty energy and instead invest in renewables. By raising our voices alongside the many investors who are calling for change, we can accelerate the transition to a clean energy future. As floods, fires, and heat waves come with alarmingly greater frequency and severity, we know we have no time to waste.
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Phyllis Pollock died at home Sunday September 3, 2023 in Winnipeg, after a courageous lifetime battle with cancer.
Phyllis was a mother of four: Gary (Laura), daughter Randi, Steven (deceased in 2010) (Karen), and Robert. Phyllis also had two grandchildren: Lauren and Quinn.
Born in Fort Frances, Ontario on February 7, 1939, Phyllis was an only child to Ruby and Alex Lerman. After graduating high school, Phyllis moved to Winnipeg where she married and later divorced Danny Pollock, the father of her children. She moved to Beverly Hills in 1971, where she raised her children.
Phyllis had a busy social life and lucrative real estate career that spanned over 50 years, including new home sales with CoastCo. Phyllis was the original sales agent for three buildings in Santa Monica, oceanfront: Sea Colony I, Sea Colony II, and Sea Colony. She was known as the Sea Colony Queen. She worked side by side with her daughter Randi for about 25 years – handling over 600 transactions, including sales and leases within the three phases of Sea Colony alone.
Phyllis had more energy than most people half her age. She loved entertaining, working in the real estate field, meeting new and interesting people everyday no matter where she went, and thrived on making new lifelong friends. Phyllis eventually moved to the Sea Colony in Santa Monica where she lived for many years before moving to Palm Desert, then Winnipeg.
After battling breast cancer four times in approximately 20 years, she developed metastatic Stage 4 lung cancer. Her long-time domestic partner of 27 years, Joseph Wilder, K.C., was the love of her life. They were never far apart. They traveled the world and went on many adventures during their relationship. During her treatment, Phyllis would say how much she missed work and seeing her clients. Joey demonstrated amazing strength, love, care, and compassion for Phyllis as her condition progressed. He was her rock and was by her side 24/7, making sure she had the best possible care. Joey’s son David was always there to support Phyllis and to make her smile. Joey’s other children, Sheri, Kenny, Joshua and wife Davina, were also a part of her life. His kids would Facetime Phyllis and include her during any of their important functions. Phyllis loved Joey’s children as if they were her own.
Thank you to all of her friends and family who were there to support her during these difficult times. Phyllis is now, finally, pain free and in a better place. She was loved dearly and will be greatly missed. Interment took place in Los Angeles.
Gwen Centre Creative Living Centre celebrates 35th anniversary
By BERNIE BELLAN Over 100 individuals gathered at the Gwen Secter Centre on Tuesday evening, July 18 – under the big top that serves as the venue for the summer series of outdoor concerts that is now in its third year at the centre.
The occasion was the celebration of the Gwen Secter Centre’s 35th anniversary. It was also an opportunity to honour the memory of Sophie Shinewald, who passed away at the age of 106 in 2019, but who, as recently as 2018, was still a regular attendee at the Gwen Secter Centre.
As Gwen Secter Executive Director Becky Chisick noted in her remarks to the audience, Sophie had been volunteering at the Gwen Secter Centre for years – answering the phone among other duties. Becky remarked that Sophie’s son, Ed Shinewald, had the phone number for the Gwen Secter Centre stored in his phone as “Mum’s work.”
Remarks were also delivered by Raquel Dancho, Member of Parliament for Kildonan-St. Paul, who was the only representative of any level of government in attendance. (How times have changed: I remember well the steadfast support the former Member of the Legislature for St. John’s, Gord Mackintosh, showed the Gwen Secter Centre when it was perilously close to being closed down. And, of course, for years, the area in which the Gwen Secter Centre is situated was represented by the late Saul Cherniack.)
Sophie Shinewald’s granddaughter, Alix (who flew in from Chicago), represented the Shinewald family at the event. (Her brother, Benjamin, who lives in Ottawa, wasn’t able to attend, but he sent a pre-recorded audio message that was played for the audience.)
Musical entertainment for the evening was provided by a group of talented singers, led by Julia Kroft. Following the concert, attendees headed inside to partake of a sumptuous assortment of pastries, all prepared by the Gwen Secter culinary staff. (And, despite my asking whether I could take a doggy bag home, I was turned down.)
Palestinian gunmen kill 4 Israelis in West Bank gas station
This is a developing story.
(JTA) — Palestinian gunmen killed four people and wounded four in a terror attack at a gas station near the West Bank settlement of Eli, the Israeli army reported.
An Israeli civilian returning fire at the scene of the attack on Tuesday killed one of the attackers, who emerged from a vehicle, and two others fled.
Kan, Israel’s public broadcaster, said one of those wounded was in serious condition. The gunmen, while in the vehicle, shot at a guard post at the entry to the settlement, and then continued to the gas station which is also the site of a snack bar. A nearby yeshiva went into lockdown.
Israeli Defense Minister Yoav Gallant announced plans to convene a briefing with top security officials within hours of the attack. Kan reported that there were celebrations of the killing in major West Bank cities and in the Gaza Strip, initiated by terrorist groups Hamas and Palestinian Islamic Jihad. Hamas said the shooting attack Tuesday was triggered by the Jenin raid.
The shooting comes as tensions intensify in the West Bank. A day earlier, Israeli troops raiding the city of Jenin to arrest accused terrorists killed five people.
The Biden administration spoke out over the weekend against Israel’s plans to build 4,000 new housing units for Jewish settlers in the West Bank. Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu also finalized plans to transfer West Bank building decisions to Bezalel Smotrich, the extremist who is the finance minister. Smotrich has said he wants to limit Palestinian building and expand settlement building.
Kan reported that the dead terrorist was a resident of a village, Urif, close to Huwara, the Palestinian town where terrorists killed two Israeli brothers driving through in February. Settlers retaliated by raiding the village and burning cars and buildings.
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