Julia Cunnien and Erica Meyers

The Well and Hazon partner on event to address climate destabilization.

The Well, in collaboration with Hazon Detroit and Michigan Interfaith Power and Light (MIPL), hosted Shomrei Adamah: Facing the Climate Crisis through Dialogue and Action Together on Aug. 24.

Shomrei Adamah translates to “Guardians of the Earth.” The principle of being guardians of the Earth is deeply entrenched in Jewish values. The event took place at Walking Lightly in Ferndale.

Rabbi Jeff Stombaugh, executive director of The Well, said, “What I love about this event is that it didn’t have to look this way. This was a real collaboration of leveraging strengths and viewpoints of different organizations to bring the values of Judaism and sustainability to life and down to earth.

“On one hand,” he continued, “this is a Hazon event that The Well was able to host space for. And, on the other hand — because of how The Well was able to host this event and collaborate to design the substance and flow for the event — it became something bigger and emblematic of how partnership can work.

Emily Levine modeling her reusable cup ed
Emily Levine modeling her reusable cup ed

“Not to be understated, it was because of listening to community lay leaders that this venue was discovered,” he added. “This event was able to highlight a value-aligned local business, which I always think is a great way to make content feel real and extend a tangible way for participants to live out their values.”

The Well was one of nine Michigan congregations (others were synagogues) selected by Hazon to facilitate the Shomrei Adamah learning and dialogue events. The Well, a Hazon Detroit Seal of Sustainability site, put the content together and facilitated the connection between Michigan Interfaith Power and Light (MIPL).

Erica Meyers, engagement and programming associate at The Well, said the choice of Walking Lightly for the Shomrei Adamah event was consistent with sustainability and footprint-consciousness. “We are leaving as minimal of a footprint as we can,” she said.
Julia Cunnien, Seal of Sustainability program manager for Hazon Detroit, said the three key goals of the Shomrei Adamah program were encouraging conversations about the climate crisis, tapping into connectedness and values and recognizing some psychological barriers to climate action, and setting the stage for taking faithful collective action for climate justice.

The program was led by Leah Wiste, executive director of Michigan Interfaith Power & Light, whose mission is “to inspire and equip people of faith to exercise stewardship of and love for all Creation.”

Leah Wiste leading conversation ed
Leah Wiste leading conversation ed

Wiste stressed the importance of engaging people’s hearts and spirits in talking about climate destabilization. She challenged the group to approach climate destabilization by examining it through heart, head and hands.

Focusing first on heart, Wiste asked, “What are the ways in which the Earth loves and provides for you?” Shifting to head, she asked the group, “What do you know about climate destabilization?” And rounding off with hands, she quoted Pirkei Avot, “You are not obligated to complete the work, but neither are you free to desist from it.”

Wiste stressed the impact of saying “climate destabilization” rather than the more frequently used term “climate change.” Destabilization better communicates the dire negative impact of change in climate on the Earth.

She drew a three-legged stool, identifying each leg as part of how to engage and commit to the cause. The legs represent practical/local actions, social/systemic action and spiritual/relational action.

The three-legged stool is a foundational principle of Judaism. The teaching is that the world is held up by the three legs of Torah, tzedakah (righteousness/charitable giving) and chesed (lovingkindness).

Wisde closed the program by leading the group in the song, “The Tide is Rising” by Rabbi Shoshana Meira Friedman.

The group sang, “The tide is rising and so are we … This is where we are called to be.”

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