Ice block on the seder table
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CLIMATE QUESTIONS

Ice block on the seder table

The Pesach Ice Block Challenge asks anyone hosting or attending a seder to place an ice block beside the seder plate and begin a conversation about the rapidly changing climate.

Five-year-old Mira Feldman brings a block of ice to the
seder table. Photo: Zoe Arnott
Five-year-old Mira Feldman brings a block of ice to the seder table. Photo: Zoe Arnott

THE Jewish Climate Network (JCN) has launched a campaign that invites the community to bring a new conversation about climate change to this year’s seders.

The initiative, dubbed the JCN Pesach Ice Block Challenge, asks anyone hosting or attending a seder this year to place an ice block beside the seder plate and begin a conversation about the rapidly changing climate and linking it to Pesach themes.

As the ice block melts throughout the seder, it becomes a physical prompt to ask questions, much like other seder icons prompt their own questions, explained JCN CEO Joel Lazar.

To support these conversations and questions, the JCN has created a downloadable guide to use at seders. “Brave questions are at the crux of Judaism and Pesach,” reflected Lazar, “so it is appropriate that at a time when we are all gathering, that we ask these questions and have challenging conversations.”

From seders he has attended through the years, Lazar recounted that “each guest had to sing for their supper by bringing a new idea, question or activity to the seder table that enriched the experience for all”.

“The Ice Block Challenge definitely meets the criteria this year,” he said.

“Australia and the world is currently on a very dangerous path. The best science tells us that if we get to 2030 and haven’t fundamentally changed the way our society and civilisation functions, it may be too late to avoid the worst. No community, including our own, is immune from the impacts,” he stated. “Our sages teach us that mitzrayim (Egypt) also means a ‘narrow place’. When we recall the Exodus from Egypt, we consider how to break free of narrow thinking and closed-mindedness. Creative thinking has kept our people alive for thousands of years. This is the thinking needed to solve the climate crisis.”

The campaign hopes to engage 5000 Jewish community members in climate conversations. Those numbers are counted when participants register their seder for the Ice Block Challenge and receive the JCN seder resource guide. Those taking part are asked to register, share the challenge with family and friends, print the guide, prepare the ice block and bring it to the seder.

The JCN, established in 2019, comprises parents, teachers, doctors, rabbis, philanthropists and business owners who are motivated by Jewish tradition to harness the capabilities of Australia’s Jewish community to accelerate the transition to a zero-emissions world, said Lazar. “Their vision is for a stable and safe climate that supports the flourishing of human life and community.”

People can get the free guide when they register their seder for the JCN Pesach Ice Block Challenge. Visit jcn.org.au/register_your_seder.

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