An Inconvenient Vidui
Prepared by Barry Kamil for Yom Kippur 5776
Rabbi Arthur Green wrote, “The day is short. I believe we stand at a great moment of transition in human and planetary history. Unless we take drastic steps to change our way of living, our patterns of consumption, and our most essential understanding of our relationship to the world in which we exist, we are at great risk of destroying our earthly home and rendering it a wasteland. Our future, and that of our planet, is in our hands. We need to reshape our religious language… to inspire the great collective act of teshuvah… required of us at this moment. We need to repent of our cavalier treatment of the biosphere in which we live, of our indifferent overconsumption and waste of resources, of our virtual disdain for nonhuman forms of life. Without such teshuvah humanity will not survive.”
We have transgressed before You, Adonai,
- by taking the Gan Eden we have been blessed with for granted and desecrating it.
- by putting our own human comfort above the survival of other living creatures.
- by consuming 90% of our edible fish in the oceans, making them all endangered species.
- by polluting our atmosphere so badly that half the arctic ice cap has melted, and continues to shrink.
- by carelessly discarding plastic products that form vast whirlpools of tiny plastic bits in our oceans so large — over half a million square miles in the Pacific — that they may never be removable,
- by allowing fish to feed on these plastic bits, toxifying our global food chain.
- by already having cut down half of the earth’s trees, which convert vast amounts of carbon dioxide into oxygen.
- by wasting so much water that most of the world’s major rivers no longer reach the oceans.
- by having shirked our divine responsibility to steward the earth and its creatures wisely.
- by squandering our birthright and using up our planet, when we have no replacement.
May we do better in the coming year.