People protesting

Photo credit: Julian Halliday

Tuesday, April 19, Jewish leaders from central Ohio along with interfaith and secular allies gathered in front of the Columbus office of Chase Bank to demand that Chase Bank take immediate action to end their investments in polluting fossil fuels. Emphasizing the urgency of the moment and lifting up the symbols of Passover, community leaders proclaimed the plagues that fossil fuel Pharoahs – coal, oil and gas companies – have inflicted on us. They held up matzah to demonstrate the urgency needed to confront the climate crisis and urged Chase Bank to ‘move their dough’ out of polluting fossil fuels.

“The word Dayeinu in Hebrew can mean both ‘we have enough and we are very thankful for what we have,’ and ‘we have had enough, this has to stop, and we won’t take this kind of activity anymore’.” said Joanie Calem from Kehilat Sukkat Shalom. “To me, those two meanings embody my feelings about our earth and the state of our existence here: we have been given such an incredible gift in this planet and our life here…we have been given everything we could possibly need to live a healthy fruitful life. And yet the powers that be and the corporations with money continue to ignore years of warnings that both the environment itself and scientists keep yelling out…we have to change how we are living and what we are doing to the earth. Dayeinu.”

On Passover, renewal, and the ritual of eating matzah:

● Matzah, the ‘bread of affliction’ and a symbol of freedom that our ancestors ate as they left Egypt, represents the urgency with which we must act. Like our biblical ancestors in Egypt, we cannot wait for the dough to rise: we must confront the climate crisis now. Financial institutions such as Chase Bank have a responsibility to accelerate the transition to a clean energy economy that can support a just and livable future for all, for generations to come.

On the climate crisis, Ukraine, the need for energy security:

● Without the global fossil fuel industry to bankroll it, Russia could not have invaded Ukraine. 60% of Russia’s exports and nearly 40% of its federal budget come from the sale of oil and gas. Putin’s invasion of Ukraine makes it shockingly clear that in order to achieve energy security and confront the climate crisis, we must end our reliance on dirty fossil fuels, and quickly transition to 100% clean energy.

On why climate is an issue of Jewish concern:

● The climate crisis is threatening our very ability to live l’dor v’dor, from generation-togeneration. We must ensure a just, livable world for all, for generations to come.

● Climate change is an issue American Jews care about profoundly. According to a recent survey by the Jewish Electorate Institute, climate change is the top issue for Jewish voters across the country.

● As Jews, we are commanded to protect the vulnerable, (shomer ger yatom v’almanah). The climate crisis is not only an existential threat, it is also a moral crisis. Millions of Black, Brown, Indigenous, and poor people in our country experience environmental racism every day when they are forced to breathe polluted air and drink poisoned water caused by fossil fuel and other noxious industries in their neighborhoods.

"For me as a Jew during this holiday of Passover, I am reminded by our tradition that we are each called upon to take action for freedom and liberation.” said Debra Seltzer from Central Ohio Jews for Justice. “One of the liberations that is needed is from the harm being done to our environment - acknowledging that those most harmed by climate crisis are those with the fewest resources available to them because of other injustices. Divestment from fossil fuels and investment in clean energy is one important step toward that liberation which is needed in our time."