The Avodah Blog

Taking Climate Action Through Environmental Justice in Avodah’s Jewish Service Corps

“Climate justice intersects with all the other justice issues,” says Noa Gordon-Guterman. “The Earth houses all of both the beautiful work and all of our flaws as a human people. When the Earth is hurting, human beings are hurting as well. It is important to act on that interconnectedness.”

Noa is a current Avodah Service Corps Member serving with Interfaith Power & Light (IPL), a non-profit organization based in Washington D.C. IPL focuses on a “religious response to climate change,” an intersection of two important values for Noa, who is interested in climate resiliency and was raised within a Jewish community. IPL does a mixture of state-level advocacy work, greening projects for congregations and spiritual programs coordination. 

“I am interested in the way that spiritual and religious community can be organized to create climate resiliency,”  Noa said. “I do a lot of work with Jewish communities, including organizing through the Jewish Climate Action Network and other, young adult-centered programming.” 

Noa with a community garden she has been tending.

In her work and advocacy,  Noa makes a point to center young voices, especially those of POC and indigenous identities. The organization’s programs are aimed to both benefit and empower those populations, which are the most vulnerable to the impacts of climate injustice. This included Noa’s recently developed environmental justice-oriented Omer calendar, in which each day includes a different learning or action opportunity to encourage individuals to combat climate change. She has also helped to give young people an opportunity to connect with local farmers in preparing for Shabbat dinners, working alongside One Table and organizing climate justice programs with Repair the World

Noa’s service this year has caused her to think critically about Judaism and her own identity. Judaism is heavily rooted in a historical context, but Noa spends her days working for a better future. It’s important to her to find a way to resolve that conflict. She says that Judaism has deepened her understanding of the world on a day-to-day basis, and it also gives her the language to understand crises. 

Her experience as a Corps Member not only offered her post-graduation stability during the uncertainty of the COVID-19 pandemic, it taught her valuable skills she can take with her into the workforce.  

“What I really wanted to gain from IPL, in addition to deepening my knowledge about environmental issues, is an understanding of how small nonprofits function. I now understand how to interact with folks in work spaces and how to organize people in a way that respects their needs, culture, religion and world views.” 

Noa intends to continue her work in the environmental space after her time in the Service Corps. 

“I love and feel nourished in cities and also feel nourished by nature,” two things which fuel Noa’s passion for urban agriculture and finding ways to reduce extractivism. “When human beings feel more connected to their environment, they can heal their relationship with the Earth.”

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