Session on Tikun Olam - changing the world

Update: I've submitted the brief description of my session hopefully for inclusion in the programme :)

Last Limmud I threw myself in the deep end and attempted to team up with a youth worker and some teenagers to run a 1-hour workshop (known in limmudnik lingo as a session) on the subject of climate change.

At the Alter-COP in Paris I found a good educator and put it to her, and her friend, what is the best way to teach these kids climate change in an hour or so.

My next challenge, set me by the Manc day-Limmud programming team, is to speak at a session on Tikun Olam (excuse the jargon, this roughly translates as "be the change you wish to see in the world")  and Torah.  Torah Le-shem-shamayim, Learning from text for the sake of heaven, i.e. education and raising awareness, is a core value of Limmud.

I wonder if readers who know anything about Judaism (or indeed Islam and other spiritual teachings) can give me a few things I might like to talk about and how I can make the session vaguely entertaining and engaging even funny and useful.

I am thinking of doing something to do with Green Party.  I also have other interests: The event will take place 2 weeks before Tu Bishvat so I might like to give people a resource for that.  it will be after Hannukah and a week after the Torah portion  of Bo, (Hebrew for come, relating the story of "let my people go")

So here are a few ideas I have so far
- My own Limmud journey: Particularly ecological Judaism meeting people like Naomi Tzur from NSPNI and Alon Tal from the JNF-KKL, Arik Ashermann that legend of Tikun Olam who inspired me organising over in West Hendon just as he organised in Bedouin neighbourhoods of Israel, Our own eco audit of Limmud, using plastic disposable biodegradeble items, maybe how Grassroots high holy days services.
and the importance of cross-communal education at Limmud, UJS, and other institutions
How that might translate into a session I don't know but maybe I could bring a text from Rabbis for Human Rights, or the liturgy, such as last year's Tu Bishvat seder that I took part in 3rd night.

- Chavrutah (breakout into pairs) study of certain texts.  These might be from a range of traditions
"What is hateful to you do not do unto thy neighbour.  That is the whole Torah, the rest is commentary" - Rabbi Hillel

Story-telling (the Talmud torah tradition of agada')

I suppose the best way of opening a discussion on Israel in a Torah context would be to talk about The Land of Israel as opposed to the modern State of Israel.  Unlike the state, the land has very clearly defined borders which can be quoted from Gittin (chapter of the Jewish Talmud)

"No country is free of the risk of terrorist attack, and the so-called war on terror has failed to make people safer in the US, Europe or Israel" - Lesley Grahame, Green Party Shadow Cabinet, in response to the Fairness for Israel Charter 2015. (this is widely available and will be made available)
"להילחם בטרור זה כמו לאכול מרק במזלג."
  "To wage war on terror is like eating soup with a fork." Shimon Peres, 1997  

I'd like to narrow down the handouts to 2 sheets of large print with gaps for notes around the outside.

A response to Trump might be a good starting point Psalm 1:1.  I'll google now if there are any musical settings to this ancient piece of hebrew literature.

In terms of Tikun Olam itself if there is time at the end it's probably worth quoting the origin of the phrase from the Alenu prayer and its original and modern meanings.

Climate change has been tackled by Liberal Judaism's magazine, the print edition of Tenoua, in a special issue which focused on the concept of "Adam".  It's been written about in classic collections of essays in the past by people like Rabbi Arthur Waskow

Message from Federal USA Greens campaign chair

I got an email this morning, here's my favourite bit,

The Green Party is the answer to so many problems plaguing our nation and our world.
And that’s likely the reason our party membership is growing like wildfire. 
Our victories are growing, too - including victories in this past election. There were over 1.2 million votes for the Green Party ticket of Stein/Baraka nationwide. Then also, both Maine and Benton County, Oregon both adopted measures approving ranked-choice voting.
Washington State passed Initiative 735 and California passed Proposition 59 calling for a constitutional amendment to abolish the illegitimate, court-created concepts of “corporate constitutional rights” and “money equals political speech.”
We're proud of that record.
Greens were also elected at the local level! We elected 3 in Minnesota, 5 in Michigan, and 10 to 13 in California, and 1 in Florida.
But our victories haven’t been isolated to just this election. They’ve been happening all along.

open letter to my elected representatives

Zac Goldsmith has resigned his seat and is standing as an independent on December 1st.  He wants to make this a "referendum" on Heathrow but since relaying my concerns about climate change some other issues have reared their ugly head.
- Zac can not be trusted to deliver anything for his disabled constituents because he voted to cut the money they need.
- Zac has been described by the left as "nasty".  Here in Hendon his nasty campaign talked up Islamic radical extremism without actual action to improve our environment.  Meanwhile the Green response to the Paris attacks was to strengthen inter faith links in Europe as part of the movement for climate justice for peace.  False accusations of antisemitism fly but will not stick when they are mistaken.

  Even the pro-Israel Anti Defamation League whose raison d'etre is fighting antisemitism, are on their guard.

I therefore request that you put party and backers aside when it comes to Richmond Park and North Kingston and put the national interest first, putting the community first.



32 Haslemere Avenue

On the failure of NAFTA so called free trade, what "we" have in common

This morning not many of us have slept well, who follow American politics.  So expletives and repetition of campaign messages are the first thing I've seen on twitter, and I saw a lot of things.

However what will remain in my mind is what Jo Cox MP would do if she had not been murdered by a man with links to far right American organisations.  Jo would focus on what "we" have in common.

"Don't mourn, organise"

As Greens one policy of Trumps we really like is his opposition to ISDS, a type of free trade deal which puts legal power in the hands of a handful of corporate lawyers.  Justin Tredeau (Liberal Party of Canada, elected under a similar system) and most of the mainstream media support these deals.  On most things the GOP stands for I disagree.  It's been said that UKIP only oppose these trade deals because they involve the European Union.  They would support it if it was the British state and the City of London behind the same ISDS type deal.  Ultimately this is a campaign we can win with the solid support of the left, greens, and possibly some UKIP, though UKIP members of European Parliament did not vote to oppose the deal last time.

What does this opposition to NAFTA mean?  For all of us it is about the world which we envision, that we wish to create.  This is a world for people working in manufacturing and skilled jobs, not a corporate elite.  When we win, we need to be talking about an Alternative Trade Mandate (ATM).  This clear plan is backed by many fair trade charities and non governmental organisations.  I would welcome a stripping of the language around this deal which is so technical and deliberately misleading.  However as we move towards Trump's style of rhetoric this must not mean a lowering of critical thinking standards and it must not mean a rejection of experts and academic study.  It is just that we have to connect with what what TPP, CETA and TTIP actually mean to you.  For me the agreements threaten things which should not be marketised: education for the young, the broadcast media for democracy, and continuing the National Health Service at a time that Medicare in the states is being attacked by misogynists and vested interests.  Here in Barnet it means the future shape of our Barnet Council services.

In his victory speech he called for America to put aside division get together.  As his fake anti establishment mate Alex Jones describes Clinton's ideology as globalism I am still trying to figure out what that means and how the world can get together.

We are Green!