In the spring of 2021, Cathy Marshall– former Michigan IPL Bookkeeper extraordinaire!– started a Dayenu Circle at Temple Beth Emeth (TBE) in Ann Arbor. Dayenu is a movement of American Jews confronting the climate crisis with spiritual audacity and bold political action. The newfound committee has made incredible strides educating individuals on how they can take action on climate change and we spoke with Cathy about her inspiration for starting the committee, and how the new group has been a powerhouse for change in the TBE community.
I feel fulfilled being part of this community. Our work strengthens our bond as temple members- we see each other and know each other and we feel like we're making progress on something together.” --Cathy Marshall
Pictured: Cathy Marshall and Rabbi Josh(left), and members of TBE's Dayenu Circle join Michigan IPL and the Exodus Alliance in protesting in front of Chase Bank to pressure them to divest from fossil fuels.
An open discussion about the direction of the committee kicked off the first few meetings. “Our group decided to focus on climate actions individuals can take,” Cathy commented. “I feel good about our direction because climate change mitigation is not something that we can just rely on the governments of the world to take care of. We as individuals have a responsibility to live our lives in ways that take care of the world we live in.”
So far, the new committee has developed green building guidelines, utilizing examples Michigan IPL provided. They’ve also developed a webpage that offers information on climate change, how to take action, and how individuals can make climate-friendly choices like unplugging electronics when not in use and reducing food waste by composting. In December, the TBE Dayenu Circle hosted a webinar with keynote speaker David Uhlmann, a UofM professor and President Biden’s nominee for EPA compliance, which attracted 75 attendees.
“The robust participation and passion of the committee members has been incredible,” Cathy said about the group’s work ethic. “They’re willing to take on tasks and get them done!”
When asked about what inspired her to take action, Cathy reflected on her Jewish values and the urgency of climate action. “One of the values that I most connect to in Judaism is tikkun olam, which translates to ‘repairing the world,’” Cathy explained. “We don’t have a choice of whether we should act on climate change. I have to do what I can so that my grandkids have air to breathe and clean water to swim in.”
For TBE Dayenu’s next big project,
the group will purchase ads every other month in the Ann Arbor Observer and share stories of local Climate Heroes- people who make climate-friendly choices in their everyday lives. The inspiration came from a statistic Leah Wiste, Executive Director at Michigan IPL, shared with the group that only 40% of people in Washtenaw County talk about climate change. The goal of the ads are to motivate people in Ann Arbor to start conversations and adapt more eco-conscious habits.
TBE and St. Clare’s Episcopal Church are hosting a Climate Action Week in June with lots of activities and opportunities to get involved! These are public events, so everyone is welcome to attend. TBE and St. Clare’s Episcopal Church share a building at 2309 Packard St, Ann Arbor.
Summer Solstice Nature Walk at Olson Park, Ann Arbor
Tuesday, June 21 from 7-8:30 pm
Climate Action Shabbat Service
Friday, June 24 @7:30 pm at Temple Beth Emeth or join virtually on Zoom
Film Screening & Havdalah Service
Saturday, June 25 @7pm at Temple Beth Emeth
A screening of David Attenborough’s film “A Life On Our Planet”, along with a discussion, Havdalah service and desserts.
Climate Action Worship Service
Sunday, June 26 @10:30am at St. Clare’s Episcopal Church
Landscaping Volunteer Project
Sunday, June 26 | from 1–4pm, at Temple Beth Emeth
Volunteer to help with rain garden prep and other climate-friendly plantings and landscaping projects on the campus that houses TBE and St. Clare’s. RSVP here
You can also join TBE in pledging not to use single-use-plastics during Climate Action Week. Around 380 million metric tons of plastic are being produced yearly and approximately 91% of plastic is not recycled. Roughly half of our global annual plastic production is destined for a single-use product. Take the pledge!
To sum up her experience with TBE’s Dayenu Circle, Cathy commented “I feel fulfilled being part of this community. Our work strengthens our bond as temple members- we see each other and know each other and we feel like we're making progress on something together.”