MLinsights_JULY2020 (1)

Pesach and the Ice Block Challenge

Why is this seder like no other? At many of the sedarim throughout the KDS community this year there will be a new addition to the seder table – an ice block. Our school has joined the Jewish Climate Network (JCN) in promoting and supporting the Pesach Ice Block Challenge. This involves including an ice block on the table that acts as a physical and symbolic reminder of the imperative to take action on climate change. The melting ice block reflects the melting of permafrost and ice sheets that is resulting from climate change, but more broadly, it represents the race against time to achieve the requisite change before it is too late.

Our students were initially intrigued by the addition of ice blocks to the tables at their school seder. As they sang, laughed and ate their way through the ritual, they watched as the blocks slowly melted. The symbolism was not lost on them as the students have studied the importance of preserving habitats, reducing waste and emissions and are very proud of the School’s move towards renewable energy.

The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) suggests that without significant global changes across energy sourcing, transport, industry and agriculture the climate crisis could reach a tipping point where future lives and lifestyles will be dramatically imperilled. As Sir David Attenborough asserts – “it is important, it is true, it is happening, and it is an impending disaster.”

JCN explains that “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. Our world is warming and our food, air and lives are at risk.”

Most Australians accept the science of climate change and believe that our nation should be doing more to address the crisis. The most recent Climate of the Nation Benchmark Report found that 82% of respondents want action on climate change; 82% are concerned that climate change will result in more bushfires; 83% believe that coal-powered electricity stations should be phased out and 71% believe that Australia should be a global leader in finding solutions to climate change.

I believe that the Pesach seder is the perfect place to have a productive conversation on perhaps the greatest challenge of our time. This ancient festival tells of a time of great crisis for our people where acts of bravery and disrupting the status quo ultimately led to our salvation. While the retelling of the story often focuses on the leaders, the reality is that all of the people of Israel should be regarded as heroes.

This Pesach we should think about how we can all be part of climate solutions. What can we change in our lives to reduce our emissions footprint? This is certainly something that we have been very focused on in the School.

JCN has stated that “Pesach is also about reflecting on what the Jewish People have experienced each generation – bechol dor va’dor – and our vision for the future. After all the Jewish People have sacrificed and preserved, we must now act boldly if we are to enjoy future generations of seders together in peace and health.”

You can read more about the Ice Block Challenge and register your seder here: