Jewish activists ask Sen. Baldwin to stay strong

 

About two dozen local activists gathered at a rally organized by Milwaukee Jews for Climate Action outside Sen. Tammy Baldwin’s Milwaukee office to call on her to stay strong against climate change.  

“We want to thank Sen. Baldwin for what she’s done,” said Rabbi Michal Woll, speaking at the foot of The Clark Building, 633 W. Wisconsin Ave., on Aug. 19, 2021. “But it’s our understanding that she’s under a lot of pressure to start polluting.”   

Activists are concerned that Baldwin could waiver on the infrastructure legislation that she and all Senate Democrats have already voted for. The $1 trillion bill includes $150 billion for clean energy and efforts to address climate change. As of Chronicle press time, some centrist House Democrats were turning skittish on the mammoth spending package, according to media reports. The bill could come before the Senate again.  

“It is so clear that we have been burning fossil fuels for too long,” said Woll, who was a key organizer for the rally and leads Congregation Shir Hadash in Milwaukee.  

“It’s the people shouting who broke down the walls of Jericho. We want our voices heard,” Woll said, just before she blew a shofar with others clamoring in unison.   

Rabbi Joel Alter – with his twin girls at his feet, each holding a small shofar – spoke to the assembled about the obligation “to all that lives on G-d’s green Earth.” He talked about the Jewish obligation to restore a lost object – not unlike restoring the Earth.   

“Let’s heed the call of the Torah,” said Alter, who leads Congregation Beth Israel Ner Tamid in Glendale. “Let’s ask Sen. Baldwin to heed the call of the Torah.”  

Some, but not all, attendees were from the Jewish community. This action was one of dozens to take place across the United States during the Jewish month of Elul, as Jews prepare for the High Holy Days, and as Jewish Americans raise their voices, and the traditional call of the ram’s horn, at their senators’ doorsteps, according to a news release.  

Local Jewish activists organized the event in cooperation with Dayenu: A Jewish Call to Climate Action, a national organization.   

Baldwin response 

“I have always believed in the power of engaged citizens to bring about change,” said Baldwin in a statement, when asked for comment by the Chronicle. “Now, we are called upon to confront the growing threat of the climate crisis and I want to thank everyone who is speaking up and letting their voices be heard across Wisconsin.”   

In addition to the infrastructure bill, Baldwin voted yes on the budget resolution, which takes bold action on climate, according to the Baldwin press office.   

“I remain committed to working together at the local, state and federal level to push for bold action to confront climate change and build a clean energy economy that can make our state stronger,” Baldwin said. “We have a shared, moral responsibility to take action.” 

Natalie Mullins and Mark Seghers, both of Wauwatosa, held a sign at a climate action rally affiliated with Dayenu: A Jewish Call to Climate Action. Cantor David Perper of Congregation Shalom in Fox Point, with his back to the camera, sang at the climate action event on Aug. 19, 2021.