Why is the Jewish media so shy about reporting news about climate change and global warming? Good question. I’ve often pondered this.
For the most part, most Jewish communal newspapers in Canada, the U.S. and Britain don’t get into climate change news. It’s not their job to go into climate doom and gloom or even utopian visions of solutions to man-made global warming, they believe, so most of the news that appears in such publications as The Jewish Chronicle in the UK and Tablet and Forward and the Jewish Telegraphic Agency (JTA) wire service is about movie stars, pop singers and Jewish community events that the editors feel readers will want to know about.
But climate change? Please change the subject. Not interested.
But recently several editors and reporters I have been in touch with have told me that they plan to do news articles about the rise of a new literary genre called “cli-fi” and how it’s been promoted worldwide by a Jewish public relations guy working a kind of one-man army to get the world’s media to pay attention. And some success has come his way, with major articles about cli-fi in The New York Times, the BBC, the Guardian, the Sydney Morning Herald, the Chronicle of Higher Education, Slate and Salon. And the Chicago Review of Books.
But up until now, not one Jewish newspaper has bothered to report on this, not in Canada, not in Britain, not in the USA. However, when I pitched the story idea to Jonathan Zalman at the Forward, he seemed interested and said “Send me a full pitch.” I’m hoping he’s working on his article this summer.
I also pitched the idea of Ami Eden at the JTA and one of his staff writers at the wire service desk, Gabriel Friedman, and both indicated they would pass on the news tip to their staff reporters. So a JTA article, I believe, is in the works.
And at the Jewish Ledger in western Massachusetts, reporter Stacey Dresner told me she was also interested in an article about cli-fi and would get back to me about it with a bunch of email questions for me to answer as soon as possible.
And Rosa Doherty, a top reporter at The Jewish Chronicle in London, is also planning to do a story on cli-fi, if her editors approve it. Reporters report, but it’s the editors in the editor’s chair who decide which stories get the greenlight and which ones get killed before publication.
So I’m waiting, and I’m patient. In fact, “patience” is my middle name.
A well-known British rabbi in London and a climate activist himself, Jeffery Newman, has been an email friend for the past five years and he always gives me encouragement and support, telling me to never give up with the PR work, and relax and be patient.
We are a world now divided bitterly over climate change issues. In my view of things, novels and movies can serve to wake people up in ways that politics and ideology cannot. And that’s where cli-fi comes in.
In my late 60s, with a heart stent keeping my ticker ticking, and my days numbered now, I’m combining my Jewish heritage with its emphasis on social justice with my personal concerns about the future impacts of man-made global warming. I’m not religious at all, although I grew up in an animated Jewish family and went to Hebrew School at Temple Beth El in Springfield, Massachusetts, had my bar mitzvah at age 13 and wrote a book for a major New York publisher about Jewish grandparents in 1985 titled “Bubbie and Zadie Come to My House.”