Storytelling as an impetus to protect the climate

(Written by Thea Iberall)

JCAN's Storytelling Concert on May 22nd at Temple Beth Elohim was magical. An audience of about 40 people attended and included storytellers, fans, congregants from various synagogues, and climate activists.

Rabbi Katy Allen welcomed the audience and said a few words about JCAN. She then introduced Nyanna Susan Tobin, who is a seasoned storyteller, keeper of ritual traditions, and climate activist. Nyanna fought using the microphone because she loves making her stories interactive. She started with a song by Rev. Sarah Pirtle that began with the line, "My head is in the sky." Nyanna proceeded to tell a wonderful folk tale about young boys trying to trick a wise master, but the master saw what they were up to, and said, "The answer is in your hands."

Rabbi Katy then introduced Thea Iberall, storyteller, playwright, novelist, and activist. Thea told a story about moral obligation, which is to act based on a set of values. One way to learn how to act right is to acknowledge morally-infused heroic acts of the past, which Thea did in her story "Our Duty."

Rabbi Katy then introduced the award-winning master storyteller Judith Black, who told a short story about what it means to be a climate activist and see a dismal future. Judith then shared her tour-de-force, hour-long story "Bug Girl," about using science and heart to wake people up to environmental problems.

Rabbi Katy ended with an original poem which asks the question: "What will happen to G-d when the earthlings are gone." She summarized the evening's message for our future: it's in our hands, it's a moral obligation, and it will take science and stories to wake people up to making a change. With her poem, Rabbi Katy reminded us that G-d will endure no matter what happens. In all, the audience responded quite enthusiastically, giving Judith a standing ovation and realizing they had experienced an incredible moment of grace from these four storytellers.