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Jewish students, groups and businesses take part in ‘Global Climate Strike’

Millions took to the streets with signs and messages that the planet must be cared for, and that the situation is long past dire.

Jewish youth take part in the global “ClimateStrike” on Sept. 20, 2019. Credit: RSY Netzer.
Jewish youth take part in the global “ClimateStrike” on Sept. 20, 2019. Credit: RSY Netzer.

It seemed fitting that Mother Nature offered a gorgeous day around a large part of the globe as climate became the word of the day on Friday.

Millions took to the streets with signs and messages that the planet must be cared for, and that the situation is long past dire.

Students in school districts from New York to California got a pass from classes to attend rallies in major North American cities and in some 150 countries as part of a week-long effort, from Sept. 20 to Sept. 27, to raise awareness for environmental issues, clean water and related concerns.

Members of Jewish groups worldwide, including RSY-Netzer and Noam Masorti Youth from the United Kingdom and Hazon: The Jewish Lab for Sustainability, were among those who participated in events under the banner “ClimateStrike.”

The event, which was led by student activists, comes after 16-year-old Swedish girl, Greta Thunberg, who has gained notoriety for her battle on climate change, addressed Congress on Friday.

A coalition of Jewish activities, including Hazon, gathered at the Marlene Meyerson JCC in New York before the rally to show support for climate change.

Some businesses found other ways to boost the initiative. SodaStream, the Israel-based company that allows people to make carbonated drinks at home, closed its global offices with its Canadian employees choosing to participate in a shoreline cleanup.

“The climate crisis is an emergency and can no longer be ignored. It is our responsibility as leaders to hear and raise the voice of the young generation today and act now,” said SodaStream CEO Eyal Shohat in a press release about the closure. “Caring for the planet is at the core of our company, and we have to walk the talk.”

And, as has become all too common, a few gatherings took a sideline into anti-Semitism.

Alex Hartzog, an aspiring journalist at Ithaca College in New York State, tweeted: “Crowd chants ‘Free Palestine’ at the Ithaca” climate strike.

Elsewhere in the Twitter-sphere, a photo from another related college event shows a Palestinian flag and some online posters using the strike hashtag to claim that the crisis disproportionately effects Palestinians.

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