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Multi-religious rally protests BP spill, marks Tisha B’Av

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WASHINGTON (JTA) — Dozens of protesters stood outside the Capitol to denounce Congress’ handling of the BP oil spill while commemorating Tisha B’Av.

Buddhist, Muslim, Jewish and secular speakers spoke across the street from the Capitol from noon until 1 p.m Tuesday at a rally with the theme “Get Dirty Fuels out of our Air & Water; Get Dirty Money out of our Politics.” Event organizers, which included the Shalom Center, Teva Learning Center, MoveOn.org and Greenpeace, then sent delegations to demand that Congress members who had received the most campaign contributions from BP donate the money to clean-up efforts.

Tuesday was Tisha B’Av and the three-month anniversary of the oil spill.

“Tisha B’Av is when we mourn the destruction of the Temple,” said Rabbi Arthur Waskow, director of the Shalom Center. “The earth is the sacred temple of all communities and all life forms. Jewish tradition teaches the temple was a microcosm of all the earth.”

Waskow and Tamar Cohen, Barbara Bick Memorial Fellow of The Shalom Center, concluded the rally with an Eicha, or lament that is traditionally read on Tisha B’Av, for the earth.

Denise Avellina, 53, a sailmaker from New Orleans who spoke at the rally, said its multi-religious component sent an important message.

“People need to get past politics, religious affiliation, and just be civil minded and realize promoting a green mind-set is beneficial to all,” Avellina said. “We must safeguard our quality of life for our children.

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