What do 200 tree-hugging Jews in San Francisco have in common—besides heads of unruly dark curls? Sarah Silverman, believe it or not. On Sunday, November 8 at the Jewish Community Center of San Francisco it was a quintessential gathering of the tribe, where members traced degrees of separation amongst each other while exploring the role of Jews in the global movement towards a clean and secure energy future. Called “J-REC: Jewish Response to the Energy Challenge,” this event was organized by young professionals from American Jewish Committee’s young leadership group ACCESS, and included simultaneous sister events around the country, as well as in Jerusalem and Eilat.
Speakers in San Francisco included the likes of wunderkind Adam Werbach, an environmental activist who was the youngest president ever of the Sierra Club, author, currently the head of Saatchi & Saatchi’s sustainability arm, and father of three—and he’s not even 40 yet! Other energy ballers included JB Straubel, CTO of electric car company Tesla Motors and Anne Korin, an energy security whiz who spends her free time on Capitol Hill calling for a Boston Tea Party for oil producing countries.
But back to Sarah Silverman. Turns out the genius behind “The Great Schlep,” an online presidential voting campaign that featured Sarah Silverman in a video that was viewed by every Jew in America, if not the world, is 34-year-old Ari Wallach, a strategy and process design consultant in New York. He told the J-REC crowd that PR campaigns aimed at the Jewish community are overly focused on Israel, anti-Semitism and the Holocaust and this monolithic message is failing to reach Jewish millenials, for whom Israel may not be in the top three global priorities.
As far as convincing young Jews to take the reigns of the clean energy movement, Wallach said it will take, “A shifting consciousness and an amazing communications plan put together by Adam [Werbach] and myself.”
And back to Silverman again. Her name popped up at least once more, when it was discovered that she was the sister-in-law of J-REC speaker Yosef Abramowitz, a Zionist, self-proclaimed bad-ass, and proprietor of Arava Power Company, which is building Israel’s first commercial solar field. Abramowitz is all about movements. After all, he moved his family—seven deep—from Boston to Kibbutz Ketura, north of Eilat, three years ago. When he arrived, he was surprised that nobody had thought to harness the plentiful sunshine for energy usage, which led to the birth of Arava.
“I’m a crazy person who makes things happen,” Abramowitz explained, and left us with the following words of clean energy movement wisdom: “Values are what you live by, vision is what you live towards. Leadership, which anyone can do, is living your values towards your vision; this means anyone can be a leader.” Got that? Now go do something here: Jewishclimatecampaign.org.