Ha Lachma anya de’achalu avahatana b’ar’a d’Mitzrayim.
This is the bread of poverty that our ancestors ate in the Land of Egypt. (Haggadah)
Growing up, Passover was always my favorite Jewish holiday. Most likely because it meant the gathering of our closest family members around a beautifully set table to hear the telling of a remarkable story and enjoying a bountiful meal. As a child this was fascinating. To be included (at least for the part when we were allowed in with the grownups and not relegated to the “kids table”) in the remembering of the pharaoh, Moses, the plagues and the parting of the seas was wondrous. Being honored as the youngest to ask the four questions and the joy of hunting for the afikomen (middle matzah) were always highlights of the celebration. And realizing that these same traditions were happening in one form or another in other Jewish homes all around the world imbued the holiday with a true sense of connectedness.
These days it is hard to achieve that feeling of connectedness. I realize this is one of main reasons that my husband and I have chosen to raise our children as Jews, and perhaps the same is true for people of other faiths. As parents, we hope to instill in our children a feeling of connectedness to what came before to give them a foundation to thrive in a world of unknowns that lie ahead; to understand that we all bear a responsibility to treasure, and protect our world and the people around us. We will try to bring this message home as we embark on our Seder this coming Friday to mark the first night of Passover and the celebration of Earth Day.
Whether or not you choose to celebrate Passover, you may want to read over these wonderful resources to help weave the ideas of social and environmental justice into the fabric of your life. Even non-Jews may choose to simply eat matzah instead of bread for 8 days and you can immediately feel connected to all of our brothers and sisters who are suffering from lack of food, clean water, safety and freedom . . . from Baltimore to Syria. Whether their plight is due to some form of tyranny, systemic discrimination or catastrophic changes in their environment it is not hard to realize that the time to take action is now. At IPC we are here to help you and your faith community to take actions that make a real difference. Please contact me so we can make a plan - - to “part the waters” of any obstacles that may be keeping you and your congregation from moving forward into the promised land of environmental equity.
These are great ways to incorporate themes of sustainability into your Passover Seder or any family gathering as a celebration of liberation.
A Bedikat Chametz Ritual for removing leaven [pdf] - new from Rabbi Jill Hammer
A Pesach Prayer for the Earth [pdf] - new from Rabbi Rachel Barenblat
A Seder Host's Companion [pdf] - new from student rabbi Amy Grossblatt Pessah
Kiddush and First Cup: to Honor the Earth [pdf] - from Rabbi Jill Hammer and Kohenet Carly Lesser
Printable Freedom Seder for the Earth [link] - from Rabbi Arthur Waskow and the Shalom Center
Thanks to the Shalom Center, The Alliance for Jewish Renewal & COEJL for these sources.
וְיִַגל ַכ ַמיִם ִמ ְשָפט; וְצדקה ְכנַַחל ֵאי ָתן
Vayigal kamayim mishpat; u’tzedakah k’nachal eytan.
Let justice well up as waters, and righteousness as a mighty stream. (Amos 5:24)
Wrap-up of Maryland Legislative SessionPesticide Bill
Maryland became the first state in the country to restrict consumer use of toxic neonicotinoid (neonic) pesticides! While we had strong bi-partisan support in the Maryland General Assembly, there is just ONE more step to make it final. Gov. Hogan needs to sign this bill. He can either choose to sign it, choose to not sign it and then it will become law on its own, or he can veto it before May 11th. He is already getting pressure from opponents to not sign the bill. If you support this bill - and 10 denominational leaders representing thousands of Marylanders did! - please urge Gov. Hogan to sign the bill. Click here to send your message directly to Gov. Hogan.
Prince George's County Bans Fracking
On April 12th, the Prince George's County Council voted unanimously to ban fracking in the county! Click here for the full details.
Say Thank You to Legislators for Energy Bill
Maryland did it! The Maryland Legislature is on the verge of passing the Clean Energy Jobs Act and sending this landmark piece of climate legislation to Governor Hogan’s desk. By requiring that 25% of our electricity come from clean sources like wind and solar by 2020, this bill will help reduce use of fossil fuels, create thousands of new jobs in the wind and solar industry, and propel Maryland forward on a positive path of energy justice.Now is a good time to thank the legislators that worked along side you and many other organizations to bring this about. Click here to say "thank you" to your legislators about this bill!
Greenhouse Bill Is Law!
On April 4th, Gov. Hogan signed the Greenhouse Gas Reduction Act, which will support over 150 programs in Maryland for addressing climate pollution, and commits Maryland to reducing climate pollution 40% by 2030. We should all be proud of MD!
REDUCE Act Update
This bill (SB398/HB820) aimed to require industries, when building or expanding in predominantly low-income or minority areas, to engage with the communities to establish diesel truck routes to reduce the health risks associated with truck traffic. The bill encountered significant opposition and as an amendment would have required the Maryland Department of Environment to issue a report and recommendations from the Cumulative Impacts Workgroup and Environmental Justice Task Force to the Assembly. The bill and amendment received unfavorable votes from the Senate Committee. No action was taken in the House.
For a complete list of all of Maryland League of Conservation Voters' priority bills and how they fared, click here. Want to help us stay abreast of legislative bills so that we can do more to support individual grassroots campaigns? Join our Advocacy Committee! Email jodi@interfaithchesapeake if you'd like to hear what it takes to be part of our Advocacy Committee.
Earth Day Climate Prayer - at noon (your local time) on April 22. Over 100,000 people of all faiths will be coming together to pray for healing our climate and Creation. Here's where to join people across the nation and read the prayer.
Earth Day Giving
Our organization has a robust budget and financial support that we work hard to procure from state, federal, and private sources such as Campbell Foundation, Bancroft Foundation, Chesapeake Bay Trust and National Fish and Wildlife Foundation. This helps us carry out our work, and offer free resources, programs, and guidance to help congregations do what they yearn to do: be faithful stewards of sacred waters.
But, we can't do this alone.
Can you give back to IPC to help us with our mission?
Thank you and have a blessed Earth Day!
Covenantal Partners Program - New Round Opening
We are preparing to offer the Covenantal Partners Program (CPP) again, in light of the success of the first pilot round. This program offers congregations a facilitated process that helps your community gain the knowledge and spiritual context they need to prioritize and take action to heal water. Congregations in the pilot delivered final projects that ranged from educational programs/spiritual programs for their members to installation of green infrastructure.
We have not narrowed down the regional focus for this next round, so regardless of where you live, if you're interested to learn more about CPP and put your name on the interest list, please contact our Executive Director email@example.com. Or call 410-609-6852.
Planting Trees IS Planting Hope
Looking for an Earth Care action project that is all set to go? Trees for Sacred Places is available to congregations and faith owned properties throughout Maryland. The program provides everything you need to kick start your congregation to Care for God’s Creation. Engage your Youth Ministry, Men’s Group, Grounds Committee, etc. - - young and old alike can participate. Join our growing list of congregations throughout that have toiled in the soil. Each planting we do with congregations is unique to their brand of "faith" - - bringing their enthusiasm and flair. Program includes a professional planting plan, native trees, deer protection, all necessary tools to plant AND environmental and spiritual workshops tailored to your congregation's needs. And it is all FREE!!! You can learn more about the program on our webpage HERE. Contact Bonnie Sorak at firstname.lastname@example.org or call 410-609-6852 today to get started right away.
We specifically have opportunities right NOW for congregations in Montgomery County and Prince George's Counties. View and download State-wide Flyer here. View and download Prince George's Flyer here.
Upcoming Tree Planting Days - Come check out how this works and see if you want to bring this to your congregation:
Earth Day Ideas
Looking for ways to honor Earth Day? Here are some ideas to get you going. Or, call our office and set up a time to discuss your interests with our staff so we can help you brainstorm other ideas for Earth Day.
Faith-Based Grants Available
In case you missed the DC Congregations Webinar...
Upcoming Events and Volunteer Opportunities
Volunteers Needed - We are looking for volunteers to help us staff our informational tables at these events - help us inspire more people! Training is provided. Contact Bonnie Sorak at email@example.com or call 410-609-6852 today if you can spare an hour or two.
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