Loved it! Lab/Shul at the People’s Climate March
I waved hello to the Muslims, skirted past the Pagans, meandered through the Buddhists, nodded at the Catholics, said “hi” to the Bahai’s, and looped back around the Unitarian Universalists until I finally found…the Jews! And there were my people from Lab/Shul!
Is this the beginning to some classic joke about a Rabbi, a Priest, and an Imam on a plane? Nope. It was the incredible, massive, faith-based contingent of the People’s Climate March in New York City.
And it was no joke. On the contrary, it was extremely moving to see that the interfaith arm of the march alone was 10,000 people strong and it was about as interfaith as you can get, infused with a true spirit of mutual respect and solidarity. In fact, our leg of the parade was heralded by both a multi-faith Noah’s Ark float and an inflatable mosque. It wasn’t just all faiths represented but all races and ages too (One of the sweetest signs I saw was held by an elderly couple and stated simply “For our grandchild.”)
A group of us from Lab/Shul gathered among dozens of other Jewish groups to prepare for the march and enjoy the interfaith concert that was put on in our 58th St. set-up area. On stage, Neshama Carlebach, daughter of celebrated Chassidic songster, Shlomo Carlebach, performed her father’s song “Return Again,” which we had just sung together at Lab/Shul’s beautiful Selichot services the night before in Brooklyn. It reminded me how similar the messages of our high holidays are to the messages of the environmental movement: return, repent, renew, reduce, reuse, recycle…
Several members of the Jewish contingent brought shofars to blow during the march, and when these shofars resoundingly answered the calls of the African-American gospel singer Roosevelt Credit who later graced the stage, it felt like they were doing exactly what shofars are meant to do: shouting Wake up! Be alarmed! Do something now!
After a couple hours of standing and singing and chanting together in the staging area—delayed because so many more people came to march than expected—our interfaith group was finally released into Columbus Circle to join 390,000 or so others in the main march. And then our swell of diversity became even greater, as we connected with students, businesspeople, Republicans, Democrats, anarchists, marching bands, Native Americans, scientists, hipsters, yuppies, and members of just about every other group that New York City holds.
With all the negativity that has predominated the global narrative this summer, this gathering felt very different. It was positive, peaceful, and even joyous.
We hundreds of thousands were marching, not against something, but for a better future for everyone on earth. The crowd was working to right—or at least mitigate—the wrongs of the past, and marching together toward a greater, cleaner, healthier, and more just future. And what could possibly be a better sentiment to carry us into the Days of Awe and a great new year?