In December 2017, I walked down the Avenue of the Righteous Among the Nations at Yad VaShem in Jerusalem. This avenue, lined by large trees was created in honour of the non-Jewish people who risked their lives to save Jews during the Shoah. It is a symbol of resistance against the fascist Nazi regime and honours those who chose to be ‘upstanders.’ Now, in no means am I comparing the Holocaust to climate change, however, I am calling upon the eligible voters to join the resistance against the growing climate crisis. It’s coming for everyone. But not everyone can change our government’s ways.

Having turned eighteen in April, I am so grateful to be able to vote. This will be my first time voting, and I feel an immense responsibility to speak for many of my peers, my siblings and other young people who don’t have this opportunity. You see, the people who will spend their adult lives in this catastrophe are your children, grandchildren and their children, assuming we still have a planet. Young people all over the world are striking to tell the government that we’re sick of their inaction. As I stood shoulder to shoulder with students at the climate strike, I feel an overwhelming sense of empowerment as the gravity of this issue was displayed through the 150000 students that striked across Australia.

You have the opportunity to influence what our future may look like, so why waste it? Why should we support political parties that campaign only on the economy when they have no climate policy put in place. What use is a strong economy with no planet to benefit from it.

In Australia, we are one of the developed countries that has caused the most damage to our climate, however we won’t be the first to feel it’s effects. On May 18, I will be considering those in developing countries who are and will experience climate change’s risks first and worst. I stand as an ally with people of Indigenous and Torres Strait Islander background particularly the Wangan and Jagalingou people who have said no to the Adani coal mine four times. By going ahead, it will contribute to many more deaths by fuelling climate change.

After eighteen years of living amongst the JCOM, I would consider myself an expert on our niche but strong community. There are so many Jewish people who fight for what they believe in, attempting to make the world a better place and thus practising the act of Tikkun Olam. However, it is worrying to see that much of our community has neglected this issue whilst considering the upcoming federal election. I respect that there are many issues to consider, but I compel members of this community to consider the facts. We have 11 years to improve our treatment of the planet before a climate change catastrophe. Our community is so passionate about Jewish continuity however many aren’t considering the fatal consequences of neglecting the climate.

Last night I was completing a past French exam set by the Victorian Curriculum and Assessment Authority. The extended response asked students to explain the dangers of global warming, identifying why we need to act now. If VCE students can recognise and explain the impending climate crisis in French, no less, why can’t every voter? I urge every one of you to use this election to take a stand for our planet and future.

**This article was originally a speech at an event of the Jewish Climate Action Group. The whole event can be viewed on youtube.

Article by Author/s
Freya Boltman
Freya Boltman is an eighteen-year-old student and school captain at The King David School. She is passionate about social and environmental justice and the arts, striving to make the world a better place.

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