At Temple Har Shalom in Park City, Utah, August is Mitzvah month. During this month the community is encouraged to donate their time, and resources, to organizations that are serving community members in need. In its simplest and most traditional interpretation, a Mitzvah is the performance of a Torahic commandment, including the commandment of charity. In recent decades within social justice and environmental Jewish circles, the performance of a Mitzvah has also come to represent acts of compassion, kindness and servitude to others.
As part of our participation in Mitzvah month, we have decided to give back to the great African Seaforest of Southern Africa (a place Chantal calls home), by donating to and highlighting the work of Sea Change Project. The Sea Change Project team uses media advocacy to protect the South African marine environment. Their work is inspired by daily contact with The Great African Sea Forest, and their goal is to have it declared a UNESCO Natural and Cultural World Heritage Site. By achieving this status, the kelp forest will be recognized as a global treasure that needs to be protected. Craig Foster and Ross Frylinck founded the Sea Change Trust in 2012, a South African nonprofit. Through hundreds of hours of underwater exploration, they have come to understand this unique environment and the community of creatures that live within it.
My Octopus Teacher, a documentary film, 8 years in the making has been nominated for 8 Jackson Wild film awards and will premiere this September on Netflix. The work of everyone in this team has inspired us to continue to nurture our own relationship to nature, the ocean and to all the marvelous and priceless more-than-human species that live and thrive within it.
Photo by Craig Foster