Extinction Rebellion protesters to take succah to central London
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Extinction Rebellion protesters to take succah to central London

'This Succot, we face up to this truth and resource ourselves to try to build a future,' said Reform Judaism's Rabbi Debbie Young-Somers, who will speak at the gathering

Extinction Rebellion Jews at Sadeh farm making their flatpack sukkah (Credit: Extinction Rebellion Jews)
Extinction Rebellion Jews at Sadeh farm making their flatpack sukkah (Credit: Extinction Rebellion Jews)

Climate change protesters are to take a succah to the streets of central London this evening, as demonstrations intensify in the capital. 

Six rabbis are expected to join Extinction Rebellion Jews (XR Jews) on Thursday, including senior Masorti Rabbi Jonathan Wittenberg and Reform Judaism’s Rabbi Debbie Young-Somers.

The gathering will feature music and speeches while Extinction Rebellion kippot will be printed and handed out to protesters.

Activist Elinor Milne said the gathering is a chance for participants “to engage with the climate emergency, understand how severe and terrifying the situation is and go away feeling like they want to take action.”

Fellow member Shulamit Morris-Evans said the climate movement’s Jewish bloc is about “creating a space where Jewish people can feel at home and comfortable and empowered to use their voices to form a part of the rebellion.”

Dozens of Facebook users have already confirmed attendance to the gathering at 6pm in Trafalgar Square. “This Succot, we face up to this truth and resource ourselves to try to build a future, one deeply connected with nature, just like the walls and covering of the Succah,” read the Facebook event listing.

“The Succah of Extinction Rebellion Jews is a very good peaceful symbol of commitment to our environment and the urgency of acting about it.

Rabbi Young-Somers, who will be lighting a memorial candle to remember the victims of Halle’s Yom Kippur attack in Germany, said she hopes speaking at the protest will raise awareness about the climate crisis and reach an even bigger audience.

She told Jewish News: “I think [Jewish News readers] will get a fantastic start to their engagement with Succot about how we can really embody the values of Succot and embrace a world that acknowledges our interconnectedness to nature. It’s something that our Jewish calendar really asks us to embrace and we often forget in the chaos of one chag after another at this time year.”

She added: “Although we might think we’re quite safe in our north west London bubble, we’re going to be impacted too. This is our world. We’re all in it together.

“Ultimately people are already dying everyday as a result of climate change and it is one of the most serious crises […] and our leaders haven’t been listening, and I think it’s an incredible opportunity to grab this moment of teaching and to look at how we as Jews, sitting in our cosy Succah, eating off plastic plates, are actually making the problem worse.”

Senior Masorti Rabbi Jonathan Wittenberg, who will be speaking at the event, urged the community to join in the fight against climate change.

“There are many many ways to take action. The most important one is to change our own habits and the way we consume, to use green energy, to avoid buying plastic, to eat less meat, to fly less, but also […] to make it clear to politicians and leaders across industry, finance and politics that this is an issue that ordinary people care about passionately and deeply.”

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