The Bible Says What? Be like Rachel when it comes to climate change

The latest Jewish News

Read this week’s digital edition

Click Here

The Bible Says What? Be like Rachel when it comes to climate change

Rabbi Richard Jacobi takes a controversial topic from the Torah and looks at a modern-day response. This week, the planet

Melting ice (Photo by Melissa Bradley on Unsplash)
Melting ice (Photo by Melissa Bradley on Unsplash)

Something that struck me over the past week has been parallels between Jacob’s narrative in our Torah and the drama played out at COP26 in Glasgow.

Might we cast the delegations from the smaller nations and the indigenous peoples as Jacob? They arrived in the foreign environment of a UN space, at which politicians from 200 countries sought to ensure that their own interests were met.

Perhaps we might see the spotted, speckled goats and dark rams over which Jacob and Laban squabble and manipulate each other (Genesis 30: 29–43) as the planet and all its natural life. While we humans argue and seek to protect our own short-term interests, many species are becoming extinct and many others are finding their habitats disappearing or changing radically because of anthropogenic (human-made) climate change.

Those representing the flora and fauna of the world were quite a distance away in the ‘Green Zone’ from the politicians in the ‘Blue Zone’. One senses that, whoever is deemed to have ‘won’ COP26, these innocent species will quite probably lose.

How do we see Rachel’s theft of her father’s ‘household gods’ (Gen 31)? It was an almost silent intervention into the loud-mouthed arguments between Laban and Jacob. Yet, somehow, this act was an essential catalyst for a dramatic conclusion to the games Laban and Jacob played against each other.

Out of this came a pact allowing the protagonists, their families and their flocks to move forward safely with their lives. Just as Rachel might or might not have known that her action would prove essential, so we can and must do what little we are able to in order to effect change.

Rabbi Richard Jacobi serves East London & Essex Liberal Synagogue

Support your Jewish community. Support your Jewish News

Thank you for helping to make Jewish News the leading source of news and opinion for the UK Jewish community. Today we're asking for your invaluable help to continue putting our community first in everything we do.

Unlike other Jewish media, we do not charge for content. That won’t change. Because we are free, we rely on advertising to cover our costs. This vital lifeline, which has dropped in recent years, has fallen further due to coronavirus.

For as little as £5 a month you can help sustain the vital work we do in celebrating and standing up for Jewish life in Britain.

Jewish News holds our community together and keeps us connected. Like a synagogue, it’s where people turn to feel part of something bigger. It also proudly shows the rest of Britain the vibrancy and rich culture of modern Jewish life.

You can make a quick and easy one-off or monthly contribution of £5, £10, £20 or any other sum you’re comfortable with.

100% of your donation will help us continue celebrating our community, in all its dynamic diversity...


Being a community platform means so much more than producing a newspaper and website. One of our proudest roles is media partnering with our invaluable charities to amplify the outstanding work they do to help us all.


There’s no shortage of oys in the world but Jewish News takes every opportunity to celebrate the joys too, through projects like Night of Heroes, 40 Under 40 and other compelling countdowns that make the community kvell with pride.


In the first collaboration between media outlets from different faiths, Jewish News worked with British Muslim TV and Church Times to produce a list of young activists leading the way on interfaith understanding.


Royal Mail issued a stamp honouring Holocaust hero Sir Nicholas Winton after a Jewish News campaign attracted more than 100,000 backers. Jewish Newsalso produces special editions of the paper highlighting pressing issues including mental health and Holocaust remembrance.

Easy access

In an age when news is readily accessible, Jewish News provides high-quality content free online and offline, removing any financial barriers to connecting people.

Voice of our community to wider society

The Jewish News team regularly appears on TV, radio and on the pages of the national press to comment on stories about the Jewish community. Easy access to the paper on the streets of London also means Jewish News provides an invaluable window into the community for the country at large.

We hope you agree all this is worth preserving.

read more: