On behalf of all of us at Repair the Sea, as we prepare for Rosh HaShanah to enter the New Year, I would like to wish all of our friends, supporters, and readers a healthy and happy 5784.
As I write this, I am Kvelling (bursting with pride) over this year’s Reverse Tashlich. In six short years, our Reverse Tashlich has grown from a small group of 5 college students at Eckerd College in St. Petersburg Florida to an international event, and Repair the Sea has grown from a Hillel scuba club (Scubi Jew) to a global Jewish marine environmental movement.
This year, 291 communities in 22 countries on six continents recognized their obligation as Jews to fulfill the mitzvah of Bal Tashchit (the prohibition against needless waste and destruction) and joined Repair the Sea to remove tens of thousands of pounds of debris from waterfront locations where they live. Take a look at photos from some of the participating communities here. More photos will be added as communities continue to hold Reverse Tashlich programs throughout the holiday period.
As proud as we are of the response to the Reverse Tashlich, none of us at Repair the Sea delude ourselves into thinking that once a year is going to make a difference. Yes, it’s a meaningful program to prepare for the New Year and yes, it’s a lot of fun as well, but it’s just one day a year… and that is not enough. We didn’t set out to create a program. Our goal is to create a movement. A movement that engages and energizes the Jewish community to make a difference for the Ocean and all the waterways of the world because, as Rashi (one of our greatest sages) said in his commentary to Genesis 1:2 - “water preceded everything” in the order of creation. It is the life force of our planet. Without it, we will die.
But how do we go from a program to a movement? It’s actually very simple. When each of us asks ourselves: What more can I do?” With the New Year comes new energy and new commitment to make the world a better place. It doesn’t have to be just once a year. We’re creating Repair the Sea chapters around the world. If your community felt that by participating in the Reverse Tashlich they made a difference, then imagine what could be done if Repair the Sea was a permanent part of your Jewish communal life. Imagine if you could move your Jewish community off single-use plastic products. Imagine if you were to organize regular waterfront cleanups. Imagine if learning Torah could motivate local water conservation and restoration. Imagine inspiring others to join you in these efforts. Imagine what we could do… Together. As Margaret Meade said: “Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world; indeed, it's the only thing that ever has.” As we enter the New Year, all of us at Repair the Sea are here to help you do just that.
Our Mission is clear:
“To share the spiritual wonders of water and the Sea from a Jewish perspective, promote interfaith harmony and cooperation, and raise awareness and encourage action to address the many threats facing the aquatic environment.”
Our vision is transformational:
We envision a Jewish community that is committed to the protection and preservation of the Marine Environment.
We envision Jews involved at every level of national and international marine science and conservation organizations.
We envision Jews philanthropically supporting marine conservation and scientific efforts around the world.
We envision a world where the ocean is clean, where marine life is abundant and safe, and where the sanctity of the Sea is appreciated and protected.
If you agree with our Mission and Vision, and you’re interested in starting a Repair the Sea chapter in your community, contact Shayna Cohen at firstname.lastname@example.org. We will do everything we can to make that happen.
To inspire you to take these actions, we have created a new piece of liturgy for Rosh HaShanah and Yom Kippur. It’s our “Ashamnu for the Sea.” During the next 10 Days of repentance, I ask you to read this Ashamnu, and then ask yourself, “What can I do in my community to repair and restore the aquatic environment?” Every action has an impact and every individual makes a difference.
Ashamnu for the Sea
We Abused our role as stewards of the planet.
We Betrayed the trust God has placed in us.
We Created Cacophony in the Silent Sea.
We Destroyed the coral reefs and kelp forests.
We Enjoyed the Sea, but did not protect it.
We Fished more than the Ocean can replenish.
We Gouged the dolphins and Harpooned the whales.
We Injured the turtles.
We Jeered at those who promote positive action.
We Littered the beaches and Mismanaged the water.
We Neglected the souls of the sacred Sea
We Obstructed natural waterways for our own benefit.
We Polluted the water.
We Quenched our thirst without thanks.
We Robbed and Stole.
We Transgressed through Unkindness.
We have been Violent and Weak.
We hunted to eXtinction
We Yielded to the rumble of our stomach, not the call of our heart.
Zero... We, as the global Jewish Community, have done Zero to Repair the Sea.
May this year see a new start.
If you would like to download and print the Ashamnu, you can find it here.
On behalf of all of us at Repair the Sea; Shayna, Josh, Linda, and myself, I wish you and yours a Shanah Tovah U’Metukah. May you be inscribed and sealed in the Book of Life for a good and sweet New Year.