by Rabbi David J. Cooper
Jews, Muslims and Christians marching for climate sanity under a banner together. You can watch that on Shabbat morning, November 21. Hey! Don’t just watch; join us! (Gather at 10am at the Lake Merritt Amphitheatre at the Faith Trio banner (near 12th Street and Lake Merritt Boulevard).
It makes sense that we should do so, because whatever theological differences we have between us, however disparate our spiritual practices, all three faiths share a sense of responsibility to God and to the generations that follow us to tend and preserve the planet. Often earth’s resources have been pillaged in the name of religion, but that interpretation of our founding texts cannot stand in the face of the human-made ecological disaster all people face on the surface of this tiny vulnerable globe.
And this is a fitting way for the Faith Trio to mark its ten years of alliance. For a decade, Kehilla, the Islamic Cultural Center of Northern California, and the Montclair Presbyterian have been in association through an activist committee of representatives from the three congregations.
For years, the Trio has organized various successful interfaith events including art exhibits, poetry reading, lectures, joint work at the food bank, and most especially our annual Harvest Festivals.
This year we had a series of scheduling challenges for our annual gathering and we ended up setting it for a Shabbat morning service and luncheon at Kehilla on November 21. But that plan was aborted when we learned that a giant climate action was happening that morning and afternoon to mobilize people around the planet as world leaders converge on Paris to work out an agreement on reducing greenhouse gasses and other necessary moves in the face of global warming. The world’s people need to join together to demand an effective and binding agreement that is beyond lip service.
So the Trio quickly decided to join the local Oakland action and to celebrate the autumn harvest this year Heschel-style, that is, praying with our feet. So we will not meet at Kehilla, but will gather in the vicinity of the Lake Merritt Amphitheatre at 10am at a specific location we will work out with the event organizers. (Keep up with our subsequent calendar listings, announcements and Social Action Opportunities emails.) There, we will have a modified interfaith Saturday morning service to prepare spiritually for the action’s assembly, march and rally at Frank Ogawa/Oscar Grant Plaza near City Hall. (After the rally, we have tentative plans to retire a few blocks to the Islamic Cultural Center to talk and eat.)
Perhaps it is fitting that this should be our first joint-political social action. The one political thing about which we are indisputably united is the need to forcefully demand that there be real change toward effective climate healing.
The origin of the Faith Trio is the tragedy of September 11, 2001. In ts wake, a few women from the Islamic Cultural Center were looking to break the sense of isolation that many Muslims were feeling in the face of growing Islamophobia after the attacks. They felt that they needed to do outreach and came to the Presbyterians in Montclair with whom they began to meet. Within a short while, the group was feeling that a Jewish element was missing in this Abrahamic gathering and so Kehilla was approached and Chela Blitt and Bonnie Reiser joined in. This was in 2005. I joined the group when I recovered from my cancer surgery in 2006.
In more recent years, as the Trio organized its large exhibits of art from a cross-section of artists on different themes, Lea Delson, who helped organize the exhibits, became active in Kehilla’s representation in the group. But at this point, we are looking for one or two new Kehilla reps – see the box on this page. And very soon, a Trio website will be up with an on-line exhibit of the art and notices about Trio activities; we’ll let you know when it’s on-line.
So as a “trio” we are now in our tenth year and this year was supposed to be Kehilla’s turn to host the festival meal, but the necessity was the mother of inventing this, our first joint climate action. Join the action.
NOTE: Are you interested in being active in the Faith Trio? Although we only have space for two or three more people, we would like to know everyone who may be interested because there are Trio activities that need a variety of degrees of participation. So email to RabbiDavid@ KehillaSynagogue.org.