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Laudato Si: Pope Francis's encyclical letter on climate change
Last uploaded : Thursday 16th Jun 2016 at 19:35
Contributed by : Carol Gould


Laudato Si - the Jewish response to the encyclical by Pope Francis on climate change

For Westminster Cathedral Interfaith Group

by Carol Gould

Presented on 15th June 2016


It should be noted that much of the Holy Father's views are shared by American presidential candidate Sen Bernie Sanders, who met him in Europe this year.

There was a monumental response from world Jewry, most particularly from the Progressive movement -- Liberal and Reform -- to the Holy Father’s encyclical letter Laudato Si as soon as it was released a year ago in May 2015.

The Pope’s screed inspired a group of 300 rabbis from around the world to sign a letter on climate change. Led by Rabbi Arthur Waskow of the Shalom Centre based in my hometown, Philadelphia, they called for ‘vigorous action to prevent worsening climate disruption and to seek eco-social justice. ‘

In 2015, the immediate response to Laudato Si from the aforementioned 300 rabbis led by Arthur Waskow included these observations:

‘Even before the papal encyclical on the climate crisis appears, it is having an effect in religious communities beyond the Catholic church.

‘The rabbinic letter was initiated by seven rabbis from a broad spectrum of American Jewish life, including me as director of The Shalom Center. The other rabbis are Elliot Dorff, rector of the American Jewish University; Arthur Green, rector of the Hebrew College rabbinical school; Peter Knobel, former president of the Central Conference of American Rabbis; Mordechai Liebling, director of the Social Justice Organizing Program at the Reconstructionist Rabbinical College; Susan Talve, spiritual leader of Central Reform Congregation in St. Louis; and Deborah Waxman, president of the Reconstructionist Rabbinical College.
We wrote to our colleagues:

‘Our decision to do this arose out of our learning that Pope Francis will this summer issue an encyclical to the Church and the World that will address the climate crisis in the context of worsening concentrations of wealth and power and worsening degradations of poverty.
‘We believe it is important for the spiritual leadership of the Jewish people to speak to the Jewish people as a whole and to the world on this deep crisis in the history of the human species and of many other life-forms on our planet.

To the Jewish People, to all Communities of Spirit, and to the World: A Rabbinic Letter on the Climate Crisis
We come as Jews and rabbis with great respect for what scientists teach us – for as we understand their teaching, it is about the unfolding mystery of God's Presence in the unfolding universe, and especially in the history and future of our planet.
Although we accept scientific accounts of earth's history, we continue to see it as God's creation, and we celebrate the presence of the divine hand in every earthly creature.
Yet in our generation, this wonder and this beauty have been desecrated -- not in one land alone but 'round all the Earth. So in this crisis, even as we join all Earth in celebrating the Breath of Life that interweaves us all:
You sea-monsters and all deeps, Hallelu-Yah.
Fire, hail, snow, and steam, Hallelu-Yah.
Stormy wind to do God's word, Hallelu-Yah.
Mountains high and tiny hills, Hallelu-Yah
-- Psalm 148
We know all Earth needs not only the joyful human voice but also the healing human hand."

In direct response to Laudato Si, the rabbis have written:

We are especially moved when the deepest, most ancient insights of Torah about healing the relationships of Earth and human earthlings, adamah and adam, are echoed in the findings of modern science.

The texts of Torah that perhaps most directly address our present crisis are Leviticus 25-26 and Deuteronomy 15. They call for one year of every seven to be Shabbat Shabbaton – a Sabbatical Year – and Shmittah – a Year of restful Release for the Earth and its workers from being made to work, and of Release for debtors from their debts.

In Leviticus 26, the Torah warns us that if we refuse to let the Earth rest, it will "rest" anyway, despite us and upon us – through drought and famine and exile that turn an entire people into refugees.
This ancient warning heard by one indigenous people in one slender land has now become a crisis of our planet as a whole and of the entire human species. Human behaviour that overworks the Earth – especially the overburning of fossil fuels --- crests in a systemic planetary response that endangers human communities and many other life-forms as well…

The crisis is worsened by the spread of extreme extraction of fossil fuels that not only heats the planet as a whole but damages the regions directly affected.
Fracking shale rock for oil and "unnatural gas" poisons regional water supplies and induces the shipment of volatile explosive "bomb trains" around the country.
Coal burning not only imposes asthma on coal-plant neighbourhoods – often the poorest and Blackest – but destroys the lovely mountains of West Virginia.
Extracting and pipe-lining Tar Sands threatens Native First nation communities in Canada and the USA, and endangers farmers and cowboys through whose lands the KXL Pipeline is intended to traverse..
Drilling for oil deep into the Gulf and the Valdez oil spill in Prince William Sound off the Pacific have already brought death to workers and to sea life and financial disasters upon nearby communities. Proposed oil drilling in the Arctic and Atlantic threaten worse.
All of this is overworking Earth -- precisely what our Torah teaches we must not do. So now we must let our planet rest from overwork. For Biblical Israel, this was a central question in our relationship to the Holy One. And for us and for our children and their children, this is once again the central question of our lives and of our God.
One way of addressing our own responsibility would be for households, congregations, denominations, federations, political action -- to move from spending that helps these modern Carbon Pharaohs burn our planet, to spending that helps to heal it. For example, these actions might be both practical and effective:
Purchasing wind-born rather than coal-fired electricity to light our homes and synagogues and community centers;
Organizing our great Federations to offer grants and loans to every Jewish organization in their regions to solarize their buildings;
Shifting our bank accounts from banks that invest in deadly carbon-burning to community banks and credit unions that invest in local neighbourhoods, especially those of poor, Black, and Hispanic communities;
Moving our endowment funds from supporting deadly Carbon to supporting stable, profitable, life-giving enterprises;
Insisting that our tax money go no longer to subsidizing enormously profitable Big Oil but instead to subsidizing the swift deployment of renewable.
Convincing our legislators to institute a system of carbon fees and public dividends that rewards our society for moving beyond the Carbon economy.

Our ancient earthy wisdom taught that social justice, sustainable abundance, a healthy Earth, and spiritual fulfilment are inseparable. Today we must hear that teaching in a world-wide context, drawing upon our unaccustomed ability to help shape public policy in a great nation. We call upon the Jewish people to meet God's challenge once again.

With Pope Francis’s arrival in Washington, DC on Sept. 22 2015, a group of rabbis gathered in the capital on Tuesday afternoon to begin a Yom Kippur service unlike any other. The venue for the service, which began Tuesday evening and ran into Wednesday, was none other than the Lincoln Memorial, a ‘pre-eminent American symbol of our collective responsibility to work for freedom and democracy for all people with ‘malice toward none, and charity for all,’ writes The Shalom Center .

Yom Kippur is known as the Day of Atonement, when Jews ask for forgiveness for the wrongs they have committed. The DC service focussed specifically on climate change, according to Rabbi Arthur Waskow, who founded The Shalom Center and organized the event with Rabbi Mordechai Liebling, director of the Social Justice Organizing Program at the Reconstructionist Rabbinical College.

While the service was unfolding Pope Francis made appearances around the city gearing up for his address to Congress on Thursday, Sept. 24. The Catholic leader’s visit comes at an important time for faith communities working on climate justice, Waskow said.
“The fact that the pope has spoken out so powerfully and so clearly [on climate change], and the fact that he is going to be speaking at the UN and Congress and meeting with the president, means that the work many of us have been doing for years is on the front page,”

The Yom Kippur service at Lincoln Memorial wove in not only passages from this rabbinic statement on climate change, but also portions of the pope’s encyclical.

“Just as we developed the rabbinic letter, many different religious and spiritual communities are developing out of their own theology and tradition positions and views which come out to be fairly similar. The pope’s unwavering emphasis on caring for creation “takes the work we’re doing it and gives it front and center place in people’s consciousness.”
The service included the traditional Kol Nidre prayer, sung at the start of Yom Kippur. and included Torah readings and commentary. The rabbis moved from the Lincoln Memorial to the city’s John Marshall Place Park to host the Ne’ilah, closing services for Yom Kippur, and an interfaith vigil.

Participants were invited to join the Yom Kippur fast, the event’s website stated, and wear white “to signify our intention to purify our souls and our lives.”

One of the aspects of the Holy Father’s encyclical that strikes me most powerfully is his use of the Old Testament in discussing climate change and our ‘common home.‘ Indeed, the Jewish festival year revolves around harvest and dairy-related observances.

The texts in ‘Laudato Si and the Sages: Reflections on Climate Justice’ are, in the eyes of modern rabbis, designed to generate reflection and action for global climate change. It presents a new look at the connections between climate and justice, human responsibility, our role in the world, and what this means to Jews as people of faith within the Jewish community or in interfaith settings.

This selection from Laudato Si resonates with me and with many rabbis:

Inner peace is closely related to care for ecology and for the common good because, lived out authentically, it is reflected in a balanced lifestyle together with a capacity for wonder which takes us to a deeper understanding of life. Nature is filled with words of love, but how can we listen to them amid constant noise, interminable and nerve-wracking distractions, or the cult of appearances? Many people today sense a profound imbalance which drives them to frenetic activity and makes them feel busy, in a constant hurry which in turn leads them to ride rough-shod over everything around them. This too affects how they treat the environment. ¶225

As you know ‘On Care for our Common Hom’e is an encyclical letter by Pope Francis, a high level written pronouncement, second in authority only to an ‘Apostolic Constitution. ‘ Every paragraph in Laudato Si is numbered.

Rabbi Waskow instructs congregations to reflect on the Holy Father’s screed, for example:

Do you think of the earth as a sister or mother? Would it make a difference if you did? Do you feel the connection to animals, plants and even “lifeless stone” that the Jewish commentator ibn Kaspi wrote about? What might make that connection stronger? What relevance might the commandment to let the land rest every 7 and 50 years (note: this is considered to be a 50th year) have today? When you think of “the environment,” do you think of something separate from humans or connected to us?

Do these texts make you think differently about the connections between climate change and justice? Why or why not? What are some ways Jews might connect our traditional efforts to help the poor with work on climate change? ..Did you know there is a similar letter that Muslim leaders have recently published? Why is climate justice a topic faith communities should address?

It should be noted that Jewish congregations can link up across faith traditions through Interfaith Power and Light, which has affiliates in most American states.
There are many additional resources in the Jewish community including Jewcology.org

I have narrowed down these sections of Laudato Si that resonate most with current rabbis:
1) Redefining Progress

On this issue is the following view by the 20th century commentator Abraham Heschel

To set apart one day a week for freedom, a day on which we would not use the instruments which have been so easily turned into weapons of destruction, a day on which we stop worshiping the idols of technical civilization, a day of armistice in the economic struggle with our fellow humans and the forces of nature – is there any institution that holds out a great hope for our progress than the Sabbath?

2) Climate Justice
Pope Francis writes: The human environment and the natural environment deteriorate together; both everyday experience and scientific research show that the gravest effects of all attacks on the environment are suffered by the poorest.. ¶48

The Rabbinic Letter of 2015 in response to Laudato Si asserts:
The unity of justice and Earth-healing is also taught by our experience today: The worsening inequality of wealth, income, and political power has two direct impacts on the climate crisis. On the one hand, great Carbon Corporations not only make their enormous profits from wounding the Earth, but then use these profits to purchase elections and to fund fake science to prevent the public from acting to heal the wounds. On the other hand, the poor in America and around the globe are the first and the worst to suffer from the typhoons, floods, droughts, and diseases brought on by climate chaos. So we call for a new sense of eco-social justice – a tikkun olam that includes tikkun tevel, the healing of our planet. We urge those who have been focusing on social justice to address the climate crisis, and those who have been focusing on the climate crisis to address social justice.

3) Global Inequity
Pope Francis writes: ‘..the New Zealand bishops asked what the commandment “Thou shalt not kill” means when “twenty percent of the world’s population consumes resources at a rate that robs the poor nations and future generations of what they need to survive”. ¶95

Rabbis responding to Laudato Si refer us to Ezekiel 34:18-19
3) Is it not enough for you to graze on choice grazing ground, but you must also trample with your feet what is left from your grazing? And is it not enough for you to drink clear water, but you must also muddy with your feet what is left? And must My flock graze on what your feet have trampled and drink what your feet have muddied?

4) Just Solutions

Some strategies for lowering pollutant gas emissions call for the internationalization of environmental costs, which would risk imposing on countries with fewer resources burdensome commitments to reducing emissions comparable to those of the more industrialized countries. As the bishops of Bolivia have stated, “the countries which have benefited from a high degree of industrialization, at the cost of enormous emissions of greenhouse gases, have a greater responsibility for providing a solution to the problems they have caused.” ¶170

The Progressive rabbinic movement, led by Rabbi Waskow, responds as follows, quoting from the Shulkhan Arukh, the Jewish Code of Law compiled by Rabbis Joseph Kara and Avroham Isserlis in the 16th century.

When they collect taxes from the people of the city in order to build a protective wall … it is collected according to wealth (ability to pay) and only after it is divided up, they also collect from those closer to the wall, those closer paying more (because they are in greater danger if the wall should fall) And if there is a house close to the wall that does not have money and one far from the wall that does, do not collect from the close one, because it does not have anything. Shulkhan Arukh, Hoshen Mishpat 163:3

5) Solidarity and the Common Good

We require a new and universal solidarity. As the bishops of Southern Africa have stated: “Everyone’s talents and involvement are needed to redress the damage caused by human abuse of God’s creation”. All of us can cooperate as in­struments of God for the care of creation, each according to his or her own culture, experience, involvements and talents.¶14
Modern rabbis respond, quoting Leviticus Rabbah, a commentary that dates to the 5th century. This is an analogy of man’s destructive actions that are spoiling our environment..

Some people were sitting in a ship. One of them took a drill and began to bore a hole in the ship under where he was sitting. His companions said, what are you sitting and doing? He said, what has it to do with you? I am boring a hole under my part of the ship. They said, but the water is coming in and sinking the ship under us. – Leviticus Rabbah 4:5

6) Intergenerational Justice
Once we start to think about the kind of world we are leaving to future generations, we look at things differently; we realize that the world is a gift which we have freely received and must share with others. The environment is part of a logic of re­ceptivity. It is on loan to each generation, which must then hand it on to the next. ¶159

The Shalom Center responds, quoting Talmud Bavli, Ta’anit 23a and the commentator Rashi , a medieval French rabbi.

6A) Once, while the sage, Honi, was walking along a road, he saw an old man planting a carob tree. Honi asked him: “How many years will it take for this tree to give forth its fruit?” The man answered that it would require 70 years. Honi asked: “Are you so healthy a man that you expect to live that length of time and eat its fruit?” The man answered: “I found a fruitful world because my ancestors planted it for me. So, too, will I plant for my children”. Talmud Bavli, Ta’anit 23a

6B) “The voice of your brother’s bloods cry out to me.” Why plural? Because he spilled his brother’s blood and that of all possible descendants. Rashi on Genesis 4:10

7) Our Connection to the Earth

“LAUDATO SI’, mi’ Signore”–“Praise be to you, my Lord”. In the words of this beautiful canticle, Saint Francis of Assisi reminds us that our common home is like a sister with whom we share our life and a beautiful mother who opens her arms to embrace us. “Praise be to you, my Lord, through our Sister, Mother Earth, who sustains and governs us, and who produces various fruit with coloured flowers and herbs”. This sister now cries out to us because of the harm we have inflicted on her by our irresponsible use and abuse of the goods with which God has endowed her. …We have forgotten that we ourselves are dust of the earth (cf. Gen 2:7); our very bodies are made up of her elements, we breathe her air and we receive life and refreshment from her waters. ¶1-2

Rabbis respond to the Holy Father in this way, quoting the 14th century French commentator and philosopher Joseph ibn Kaspi on Deuteronomy, who wrote twenty-nine books despite his life being interrupted by anti-Semitic uprisings in which he suffered.

7) We are composed of four substances: mineral, vegetable, animal, and human, the categories of created things. In our pride we foolishly imagine that there is no kinship between us and the rest of the animal world, how much less with plants and minerals. To eradicate this foolish notion God gave us certain precepts, some concerning minerals, others vegetable, others animal, and others human. Above all we are bidden to be compassionate to all other human beings: “love thy neighbour as thyself.” …In a descending scale come the precepts governing the plant world, since they are further removed from us. We are forbidden to cut down fruit trees and the like. After this comes the soil and inert matter, which is further removed but still akin to us. Thus the land itself must be rested every seven years. To conclude, the Torah inculcates in us a sense of our modesty and lowliness, so that we should be ever cognizant of the fact that we are of the same stuff as the ass and mule, the cabbage and the pomegranate, and even the lifeless stone. Joseph ibn Kaspi on Deuteronomy 22:6-7

8) God’s Love in Creation
Our insistence that each human being is an image of God should not make us overlook the fact that each creature has its own purpose. None is superfluous. The entire material universe speaks of God’s love, his boundless affection for us. Soil, water, mountains – everything is, as it were, a caress of God. The history of our friendship with God is always linked to particular places which take on an intensely personal meaning; we all remember places, and revisiting those memories does us much good. Anyone who has grown up in the hills or used to sit by the spring to drink, or played outdoors in the neighbourhood square – going back to these places is a chance to recover something of their true selves. ¶84

The rabbinic response, quoting nineteenth century German Rabbi Samson Hirsch and Nachman of Braslav, a leader of the eighteenth century Hasidic movement:

8A) One glorious chain of love, of giving and receiving, unites all creatures; none is by or for itself, but all things exist in continual reciprocal activity -- the one for the All; the All for the One. Third Letter of Ben Uziel, Samson Raphael Hirsch

8B) Master of the universe, grant me the ability to be alone; may it be my custom to go outdoors each day,among the trees and grasses, among all growing things,there to be alone and enter into prayer.There may I express all that is in my heart, talking with God to whom I belong. And may all grasses, trees, and plants awake at my coming. Send the power of their life into my prayer, making whole my heart and my speech through the life and spirit of growing things, made whole by their transcendent Source. O that they would enter into my prayer!Then would I fully open my heart in prayer, supplication, and holy speech;then, O God, would I pour out the words of my heart before Your presence. Rabbi Nachman of Bratslav, Likutey Moharan Helek I, 5:2

9) Hope
Although the post-industrial period may well be remembered as one of the most irresponsible in history, nonetheless there is reason to hope that humanity at the dawn of the twenty-first century will be remembered for having generously shouldered its grave responsibilities. Human beings, while capable of the worst, are also capable of rising above themselves, choosing again what is good, and making a new start. ¶205, ¶71

Rabbi Waskow quotes Job:
9) There is hope for a tree; if it is cut down it will renew itself; its shoots will not cease. If its roots are old in the earth and its stump dies in the ground, at the scent of water it will bud and produce branches like a sapling. Job 14:7-9

My Israeli journalist colleague Sheila Raviv sent me this message in response to Laudato Si: ‘Let's begin with the fact that Israel is the only country in the world that has increased its tree population over the last 100 years.’

A prayer for our earth
All-powerful God,
You are present in the whole universe
and in the smallest of your creatures.
You embrace with your tenderness all that exists.
Pour out upon us the power of your love,
that we may protect life and beauty.
Fill us with peace, that we may live
as brothers and sisters, harming no one.
O God of the poor,
help us to rescue the abandoned
and forgotten of this earth,
so precious in your eyes.
Bring healing to our lives,
that we may protect the world and not prey on it,
that we may sow beauty,
not pollution and destruction.
Touch the hearts
of those who look only for gain
at the expense of the poor and the earth.
Teach us to discover the worth of each thing,
to be filled with awe and contemplation,
to recognize that we are profoundly united
with every creature
as we journey towards your infinite light.
We thank you for being with us each day.
Encourage us, we pray, in our struggle
for justice, love and peace.
-- From the close of Laudato Si
Between the Fires
We are the generation that stands
between the fires:
Behind us the flame and smoke
that rose from Auschwitz and from Hiroshima,
From the burning forests of the Amazon,
From the hottest years of human history
that bring upon us
Melted ice fields, Flooded cities, Scorching droughts.
Before us the nightmare of a Flood of Fire,
The heat and smoke that could consume all Earth.
Here! we ourselves are coming
Before the great and terrible day
of smiting Earth —
For we ourselves shall turn the hearts
Of parents to their children
And the hearts of children to their parents
So that this day of smiting
Does not fall upon us.
It is our task to make from fire not an all-consuming blaze
But the light in which we see each other fully.
All of us different, All of us bearing
One Spark.
We light these fires to see more clearly
That the Earth and all who live as part of it

In conclusion:
It should be noted that in 1992 US Vice President Al Gore and science writer Carl Sagan invited leaders of major organisations in Jewish life as well as rabbis, politicians and community leaders to gather in Washington, D.C. to ‘discuss the creation of a Jewish response to the mounting environmental crisis.’ This was in response to the Rio Declaration on environment convened in 1992 by the United Nations and to which Pope Francis refers in Laudato Si.

As a result of Vice President Gore’s conclave the Coalition on the Environment and Jewish Life was formally created in 1993 and charged with creating a distinctively Jewish policy response to the environmental crisis. COEJL was initially envisioned as a short-term project to galvanise environmental programmes that would become permanently integrated into Jewish institutions. Those most prominent in generating action rather than words were the Jewish Council for Public Affairs, the Religious Action Center of Reform Judaism and the Jewish Theological Seminary of America. This Coalition on the Environment joined forces with the National Religious Partnership for the Environment.

Keeping in mind that this assembly of prominent and influential leaders occurred some twenty-four years ago I feel as a prelude to my paper on Laudato Si that I must indulge you by reading this very slightly abridged -- for the sake of time -- Founding Statement:

Issued by the Coalition on the Environment and Jewish Life - Washington, D.C. March 10, 1992
We, American Jews of every denomination, from diverse organizations and differing political perspectives, are united in deep concern that the quality of human life and the earth we inhabit are in danger, afflicted by rapidly increasing ecological threats. Among the most pressing of these threats are: depletion of the ozone layer, global warming, massive deforestation, the extinction of species and loss of biodiversity, poisonous deposits of toxic chemicals and nuclear wastes, and exponential population growth. We here affirm our responsibility to address this planetary crisis in our personal and communal lives.
For Jews, the environmental crisis is a religious challenge. As heirs to a tradition of stewardship that goes back to Genesis and that teaches us to be partners in the ongoing work of Creation, we cannot accept the escalating destruction of our environment and its effect on human health and livelihood. Where we are despoiling our air, land, and water, it is our sacred duty as Jews to acknowledge our God-given responsibility and take action to alleviate environmental degradation and the pain and suffering that it causes. We must reaffirm and bequeath the tradition we have inherited which calls upon us to safeguard humanity’s home.
We have convened this unprecedented consultation in Washington, D.C. to inaugurate a unified Jewish response to the environmental crisis. We pledge to carry to our homes, communities, congregations, and workplaces the urgent message that air, land, water and living creatures are endangered. We will draw our people’s attention to the timeless texts that speak to us of God’s gifts and expectations. This consultation represents a major step towards:
mobilizing our community towards energy efficiency, the reduction and recycling of wastes, and other practices which promote environmental sustainability;
initiating environmental education programs in settings where Jews gather
to learn, particularly among young people;
pressing for appropriate environmental legislation at every level of government and in international forums;
convening business and labour leaders to explore specific opportunities for
exercising environmental leadership;
working closely in these endeavours with scientists, educators, representatives of environmental groups, Israelis, and leaders from other religious communities.
Our agenda is already overflowing.… the continuing problems of poverty, unemployment, hunger, health care and education …all these and more have engaged us and must engage us still.
But the ecological crisis hovers over all Jewish concerns, for the threat is global, advancing, and ultimately jeopardizes ecological balance and the quality of life. It is imperative, then, that environmental issues also become an immediate, ongoing and pressing concern for our community.

This Coalition, born in 1992, is still going from strength to strength today and its current focus, much like that of Pope Francis, is on preservation of land and forests; global warming; energy; endangered species and toxic waste. The latter is destroying the Great Barrier Reef and is putting Australia near the top of world polluters. In recent years other excellent organisations determined to bring governments and industry to account have been hard at work. In Israel the Agency for International Development Cooperation, the Golda Meir Mount Carmel International Training Centre, the Arava Institute for Environmental Studies and the Arava Centre for Sustainable Development, all of whom hold a combined annual conference attended by delegates from around the world. Over the fifty-two years of its existence the Mount Carmel Institute for Environmental Studies , 19,000 men and women form over 150 countries have received training and have gone on to posts in NGOs and in the United Nations.

I would like very briefly to highlight sections of Laudato Si that resonated with me.

Pope Francis refers to Noah -- talk about someone who had a vision about sustaining the planet and its creatures! I also love the Holy Father’s reference to the financial meltdown in 2007-8: ( section 189) ‘Saving banks at any cost, making the public pay a price, foregoing a firm commitment to reviewing and reforming the entire system, only reaffirms the absolute power of a financial system , a power which has no future and will only give rise to new crises..’

I invite this audience to celebrate the New Year for Trees, Tu b’Shvat, the annual Jewish celebration of all things that grow. When it next occurs on 11 February 2017 try to celebrate it with a Jewish friend or even better try to visit the Holy Land and enjoy nuts, dried fruit and every imaginable treat wherever you go, even at the pharmacy or dry cleaner’s !

I will conclude by reading from St Francis of Assisi from Laudato Si. (section 87.)

Carol Gould






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