Dayenu protesters gather in front of BlackRock’s building in downtown San Francisco on April 19, 2022. (Photo/Justin Katigbak)
Dayenu protesters gather in front of BlackRock’s building in downtown San Francisco on April 19, 2022. (Photo/Justin Katigbak)

Jewish climate protesters challenge Bay Area financial institutions

Dayenu, a Jewish national nonprofit dedicated to combating climate change, held a boisterous protest outside of BlackRock’s San Francisco office Tuesday in response to what it called the corporation’s exacerbation of the climate crisis.

Local activists with the national group followed up with a protest in Palo Alto Wednesday, chanting, “no more coal, no more oil, keep your carbon in the soil!” before demonstrating outside Chase, Citibank, Bank of America and Wells Fargo.

Protesters used the story of Passover to illustrate their demands, saying they were working to free themselves from destruction caused by “Fossil Fuel Pharaohs.” They held up signs telling of the 10 “climate plagues,” among them wildfire, heatwave, floods and drought.

BlackRock, a global investment and financial management firm, has billions of dollars invested in oil and gas companies including Chevron and Exxon Mobil. The Palo Alto banks are four of the nation’s largest; protesters called on them to divest from oil, gas and coal financing.

The protests represented two of more than a dozen actions around the country held outside bank branches and financial management offices to coincide with Passover. Protests were held in Denver; Columbus, Ohio; Cleveland; Los Angeles; Washington, D.C., and other cities.

Around 50 people attended the San Francisco protest. They sang Jewish folk songs and pressed the matter’s urgency as they held up matzah and demanded corporations “move their dough” away from fossil fuel companies.

Young protesters at the San Francisco gathering. (Photo/Carrie Rice)
Young protesters at the San Francisco gathering. (Photo/Carrie Rice)

In Palo Alto, Rabbi Amy Eilberg addressed the crowd: “This is the moment for all hands on deck!” she said.

Bank managers in Palo Alto listened to the protesters’ demands and were “courteous and thoughtful,” according to a press release from Dayenu. Still, one protester noted in the release, “They promised to divest. As of yet, they’ve done nothing.”

Dayenu, headquartered in New York City, describes itself as a “movement of American Jews confronting the climate crisis with spiritual audacity and bold political action.” It has regional chapters throughout the United States, including in the Bay Area.

Gabe Fisher
Gabe Fisher

Gabe Fisher is J.'s editorial assistant. Follow him on Twitter @ItsGabeFisher.