(From left) Demonstrators use a tutari, a shankh, shofars, a drum and bells to "Make a Holy Noise for Climate Change" on Aug. 25 in San Jose. (Photo/George Barahona)
(From left) Demonstrators use a tutari, a shankh, shofars, a drum and bells to "Make a Holy Noise for Climate Change" on Aug. 25 in San Jose. (Photo/George Barahona)

Jews and other faith groups make ‘holy noise’ for action on climate change in San Jose

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Dayenu Circle of Jewish Silicon Valley and other local faith groups gathered for a boisterous protest Wednesday at San Jose City Hall, calling for legislators to take serious national action on climate change.

Representatives from a host of religions — including Jews, Sikhs, Hindus, Unitarians, Catholics and several denominations of Protestant Christianity — brought forth song, prayer, mantras and sacred religious instruments to make “holy noise,” imploring California’s senators, Dianne Feinstein and Alex Padilla, to return to Washington after summer recess and fight for an economic recovery bill that includes climate action.

Participants included Temple Emanu-El of San Jose, Jewish Silicon Valley, Congregation Emeth in Morgan Hill, the Hindu American Foundation, South Bay California Interfaith Power & Light, Grace Baptist Church, Catholic Charities of Santa Clara, SEWA International and Sikh Gurdwara Sahib, along with Dayenu Circle of Jewish Silicon Valley.

The event began with speeches from different religious leaders, each relating climate justice to their respective faith. A number of speakers addressed direct action they wanted to see incorporated into pandemic recovery legislation in Congress, including a clean-electricity standard, a Civilian Climate Corps and environmental equity.

Participants hold signs at the "Make a Holy Noise for Climate Change" demonstration on Aug. 25 in San Jose.(Photo/George Barahona)
Participants hold signs at the “Make a Holy Noise for Climate Change” demonstration on Aug. 25 in San Jose. (Photo/George Barahona)

Dr. Anurag Mairal, adjunct professor of medicine at Stanford and advisory board member of SEWA International, a Hindu humanitarian nonprofit, spoke about the lasting health effects of climate change and urged lawmakers to prioritize public health over profit.

Santa Clara County Supervisor Susan Ellenberg shared her goal to shut down Reid-Hillview Airport to reduce pollution, while representatives for Congressman Ro Khanna and state Sen. Dave Cortese voiced their support for climate action policy.

Demonstrators at the "Make a Holy Noise for Climate Change" demonstration on Aug. 25 in San Jose as they march to the federal building. (Photo/George Barahona)
Demonstrators at the “Make a Holy Noise for Climate Change” demonstration on Aug. 25 in San Jose as they march to the federal building.  (Photo/George Barahona)

Following the speeches, demonstrators made their rallying cry clear: “Dayenu — enough,” using the Hebrew word as they chanted and marched to the San Jose Federal Building. At the end of the march, participants called Feinstein’s office en masse to demand the senator vote for a recovery bill that “goes big on climate change, commits to clean energy and invests in green jobs and front line communities.”

The demonstration was organized by the local Dayenu Circle, a branch of the national Jewish climate change organization, and was the group’s first in-person event since its formation in April. The event was organized as a part of Dayenu’s national “Hear the Call” demonstrations, taking place in 16 cities across the country through Aug. 31.

Some Jews at the "Make a Holy Noise for Climate Change" demonstration on Aug. 25 in San Jose took the name of the event literally and brought shofars.(Photo/George Barahona)
Some Jews at the “Make a Holy Noise for Climate Change” demonstration on Aug. 25 in San Jose took the name of the event literally and brought shofars. (Photo/George Barahona)

“Climate change is not coming, it’s here,” said Michal Strutin, one of the founding members of Dayenu Circle of Jewish Silicon Valley.  “I was waking up in the middle of the night, thinking ‘what can I do?’”

Strutin says that organizing with Dayenu has eased her mind because now she has an actionable way to make a difference and actually “do” something to fight against climate change.

Michal Strutin of Dayenu Circle of Jewish Silicon Valley calls Senator Feinstein's office to demand she vote for climate action at the "Make a Holy Noise for Climate Change" demonstration on Aug. 25 in San Jose.(Photo/George Barahona)
Michal Strutin of Dayenu Circle of Jewish Silicon Valley calls Senator Feinstein’s office to demand she vote for climate action at the “Make a Holy Noise for Climate Change” demonstration on Aug. 25 in San Jose. (Photo/George Barahona)

“There’s a lot of people out there like me who think ‘what can I do?’” said Strutin, “but there’s Dayenu and we’re passionate about repairing this world.”

Dayenu’s next Northern California event will be at Feinstein’s San Francisco office at 1 Post St. on Aug. 31.

Lea Loeb
(Photo/Aaron Levy-Wolins)
Lea Loeb

Lea Loeb is engagement reporter at J. She previously served as editorial assistant.