Tuesday, January 28, 2014

From The Shalom Center: Pete Seeger: Our Loving Admiration

[Editor's Note: Pete Seeger -- folk singer, song writer, musician and activist for peace, human rights and the environment -- passed away on Jan. 27, 2014. We received this photo of Seeger from Rabbi Arthur Waskow of The Shalom Center and permission to publish it with part of his article about an environmental project Seeger shared with his neighbors in Beacon, NY.]

In 1998, The Shalom Center and the Elat Chayyim spiritual retreat center co-sponsored a "liturgical/spiritual protest" against the poisoning of the Hudson River by the PCBs that the General Electric Corporation had poured into it. The protest was held at Beacon, NY, on the banks of the Hudson -- and Pete Seeger (right, on banjo), who lived in Beacon and was a lover of the river, joined in the protest/celebration. Pictured at left is Rabbi Arthur Waskow with his daughter Shoshana. (Photo courtesy The Shalom Center. Reprinted with permission.)

By Rabbi Arthur Waskow
Posted Jan. 28, 2014, on The Shalom Center Web site
Reprinted in part with permission

The occasion was the seventh day of Sukkot, the harvest festival -- the day traditionally celebrated as Hoshana Rabbah, with seven dances of the Torah Scroll; many prayers for healing of the Earth from locusts, drought, famine; and beating willow branches on the ground at the banks of the river.

We added prayers, petitions, and protests to save the Earth and the river from PCBs, and we brought seven great banners to honor the seven dances as the seven days of creation -- bright yellow for the sun and moon, blue for the oceans, red for red-blooded mammals, white for Shabbat. One of those who gathered was an elder of the Iroquois, who had heard about the action and knew he belonged in any effort to heal the river of his people. We invited him to carry the Torah for the first processional dance. A dozen Catholic nuns from convents along the Hudson joined. Three hundred Jews came -- hailing from a long stretch of the River -- Kingston to Manhattan, where students of the Jewish Theological Seminary were especially drawn to this moment.

And Pete Seeger. He thanked us for blessing the Hudson and confronting its poisoners. He told us about the sloop Clearwater he had created as an activist educational center about the Hudson. He said his voice was almost gone, but he could croak a version of  "Hinei Mah Tov u’Mah Nayyim"  if we would do the singing for him. We did. He did.... Click here to read the rest of this article.*

* Click here to read about The Shalom Center's CD that includes Pete Seeger and other well known musicians and singers performing songs of peace, justice, and healing of the earth.

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