PUTNAM — About 100 area residents gathered outdoors at Congregation B’nai Shalom in Putnam one recent Sunday afternoon to stop construction of the nearby proposed Killingly Energy Center gas power plant.
At an event endorsed by a dozen environmental justice groups — including the Sierra Club Connecticut Chapter, Windham-Willimantic NAACP, and No More Dirty Power Killingly — as well as 16 rabbis and five local synagogues, speakers called for state officials to withhold permitting for the Killingly plant and to support federal laws and funding for clean renewable energy.
Initiated by Temple Bnai Israel in Willimantic, in partnership with the national Jewish organization “Dayenu: A Jewish Call To Climate Action,” the event was part of a nation-wide effort, rooted in Jewish values, to confront the climate crisis; a call to action for a future free of fossil fuel use was marked by the bowing of the shofar.
Temple Bnai Israel congregant Sam Marcus was the youngest speaker at the event.
“I’m only 15 years old,” he said. “I’d like to be able to live the rest of my life without being devastated by climate change, and to die in a world that has solved the climate crisis.”
CT State Senator Mae Flexer, who has consistently opposed the placement of a gas power facility in her district, pointed out that northeast Connecticut “continues to be a place where people with deep pockets and special interests can come in and decimate our environment…with no consideration for the health of our community or our environment. This community has stood strong…and now we’re here, fighting…”
At the rally, Temple Bnai Israel President Peter Malinow led the shofar call and response for participants seven times (in Judaism, the number seven signifies the completeness of Creation), urging Connecticut’s senators to lead on investment in energy efficiency, clean electricity generation and transportation, and to end subsidies to polluting fossil fuels.
Following the shofar blowing, participants placed calls via cell phones to the offices of elected state and federal officials, leaving messages urging such action.
Rabbi Howard Voss-Altman closed out the event, held on the banks of the Quinebaug River, acknowledging the Nipmuc Nation as long-ago dwellers on the site.
“The Quinebaug’s ever-renewing waters remind us of the possibility of our own cleansing renewal,” he said. “We stand up for the Quinebaug by saying ‘no’ to the Killingly plant.”
Main Photo: High school student Sam Marcus adresses the crowd in Putnam, as Rabbi Jeremy Schwatz, spiritual leader of Willimantic’s Temple Bnai Israel looks on. (Coutesy Temple Bnai Israel)