This blog discusses the conference and also efforts to get many rabbis and other influential Israelis to sign a climate change statement (below) that will help get media attention.
You are cordially invited to join me in attending a potentially transformative event, an “Interfaith Climate Change and Renewable Energy Conference.” It is scheduled for Wednesday, May 9, from 9 AM to 6 PM at the Tantur Ecumenical Institute in Jerusalem. Of course you need not attend the entire conference.
Admission is free if registration occurs on April 25 or 26 and is 70 shekels after that. You can sign up when you register online for a lunch for only 30 shekels, payable at the event. Space is limited so you should register soon if you plan to come.
The event will feature talks by leading Israeli environmentalists, Jewish and other religious leaders, and others. I am scheduled to facilitate one of the discussions between the talks, on practical approaches to increasing awareness and action.
The event is being organised and sponsored by the Interfaith Center for Sustainable Development (ICSD), the Arava Institute for Environmental Studies, the Swedish Theological Institute, and the Tantur Ecumenical Institute.
Further information can be obtained at http://www.interfaithsustain.com/interfaith-climate-change-renewable-energy-conference/., including the full program, information about the four sponsoring groups, how to register, and travel and contact information.
The conference will engage faith communities to mitigate human caused climate change and promote renewable energy use. Religious leaders will speak about religious imperatives for promoting environmentally sustainable practices and the use of renewable energy. Presentations by scientists will describe the current impacts and imminent dangers of climate change to the region.
The conference provides an opportunity for you to become aware of the facts and issues related to an existential threat to Israel and the world and to help in efforts to shift our imperiled planet onto a sustainable path.
To increase interest in and support for the event and to gain maximum media coverage, I wrote a climate change statement (see below) and it is hoped that many influential Israelis will sign it. A list of 41 Israeli Orthodox rabbis who signed the statement in conjunction with a climate change conference last year is below the climate change statement. It is hoped that additional lists of rabbis and other influential Israelis will be added for this year’s conference.
Please let me know of people I should contact about this initiative or pass this message on to them and please also let me know of rabbis, Jewish educators, and other influential Jews who might sign the statement.
STATEMENT ON THE CLIMATE CRISIS (signed so far by 41 Israeli Orthodox rabbis). Please let me know of other influential Jews who might sign or contact them yourself.
“ In the hour when the Holy One, blessed be He, created the first man, he took him and let him pass before all the trees in the Garden of Eden and said to him: “See my works, how fine and excellent they are. Now all that I created I created for your benefit. Think upon this and do not corrupt or destroy my world. For if you destroy it, there is no one to restore it after you.” (Midrash: Ecclesiastes Rabbah 7:28)
Today, 97% of climate scientists and all the major science academies worldwide– an overwhelming consensus– state that climate change is occurring, is primarily caused by human activities, and must be addressed immediately in order for life on earth to continue to survive and thrive. All 195 nations at the 2015 Paris climate change conference agreed and the vast majority pleaded to reduce their greenhouse gas emissions. Their conclusion is reinforced by many facts on the ground:
•Every decade since the 1970s has been warmer than the previous decade and all of the 17 warmest years since temperature records were kept in 1880 have been since 1998. The three previous years have successively broken worldwide temperature records.
•Polar icecaps and glaciers worldwide have been melting rapidly, faster than scientific projections. This has caused an increase elevation in oceans worldwide with the potential for major flooding.
•There has been an increase in the number and severity of droughts, wildfires, storms, and floods. California experienced so many of these events that its governor Jerry Brown said, “Humanity is on a collision course with nature.”
•Many climates experts believe that we are close to a tipping point due to positive feedback loops, when climate change will spiral out of control, with disastrous consequences, unless major positive changes soon occur. A 2017 report in the respected science publication Nature, signed by over 60 leading climate scientists, that warned that failing to start to significantly reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 2020 would likely result in increasingly severe climate events.
•While many climate scientists think that 350 parts per million (ppm) of atmospheric CO2 is a threshold value for climate stability, the world reached 400 ppm in 2014, and the amount is increasing by 2 – 3 ppm per year.
•While climate scientists hope that temperature increases can be limited to two degrees Celsius (3.6 degrees Fahrenheit), largely because that is the best that can be hoped for with current trends and momentum, the world is now on track for an increase of 4 – 6 degrees Celsius, which would result in major threats to human civilization.
•The Pentagon and other military groups warn that climate change will increase the potential for instability, terrorism, and war by reducing access to food and clean water and by causing tens of millions of desperate refugees to flee from droughts, wildfire, floods, storms, and other effects of climate change.
In light of the above and more, we, the Israeli rabbis, educators, politicians, and other Israeli leaders, whose signatures are below, believe that Jewish teachings mandate that we do everything possible to help avert a climate catastrophe and other environmental disasters and to help shift our imperiled planet onto a sustainable path. Here are just two of these teachings:
- Genesis 2:15 indicates that the human role is to work the land but also to guard and preserve it: “The Lord God took the human being, and He placed him in the Garden of Eden to work it and guard it.”
* “Who is the wise person? The one who considers the future consequences of his or her actions.” (Babylonian Talmud, Tractate Tamid 32a)
Based on these and other Jewish teachings, we believe Jews should be on the forefront of efforts to help avert a climate catastrophe. Making this even more important is that Israel is especially threatened by climate change. The Middle East is a very hot, dry area and projections are that it will become hotter and dryer, making instability, violence, terrorism, and war more likely. Also, much of Israel’s population and infrastructure are threatened by a rising Mediterranean Sea inundating Israel’s coastal plain.
Reducing climate change must be a central focus of Jewish life today. We strongly recommend that our fellow rabbis, Jewish educators, and other Jewish leaders, and our synagogues, Jewish schools, and other Jewish individuals and organizations take major steps to increase awareness of climate threats and steps that must be taken to reduce them. We urge the Israeli government to shift from its widespread use of fossil fuels to a far greater emphasis on renewable sources of energy like solar and wind, and we urge the Knesset (Israeli parliament) to prioritize legislation that reduces greenhouse gas emissions.
Signatures of the 41 Israeli Orthodox rabbis (alphabetically) follows with information about each rabbi for identification only. [As indicated above, we want to expand this list and add additional lists of influential Israelis. Please help in this effort if you can. Thanks.]
Rabbi Elan Adler, teacher and counselor, Maale Adumim
Rabbi Dr. Raymond Apple, Officer of the Order of Australia, emeritus rabbi of the Great Synagogue, Sydney
Rabbi Dov Berkovits, Bet Av – Creativity and Renewal in Torah
Rabbi David Bigman, Yeshivat Ma’aleh Gilboa
Rabbi Yitzchak Blau: Rosh Yeshiva Yeshivat Orayta
Rabbi Dr. Nathan Lopes Cadozo
Rabbi Bob Carroll, Former Program Director, Edah, and Board Member of the Interfaith Encounter Association
Rabbi Yuval Cherlow, Rosh Yeshiva of Emit Orot Shaul.
Rabbi Dov Ber Cohen, Director of Education: Justifi: Jewish Social Justice
Rabbi Menachem Cohen, Chief Rabbi of Romania and rabbi of the Moshavim Movement in Israel
Rabbi Chaim Dovrat, Modi’in, formerly at Wellington Hebrew Congrgation
Rabbi Yehoshua Engelman,
Rabbi Seth (Shaul) Farber, Kehilat Netivot, Raanana
Rabbi Zev Farber,
Rabbi Mike Feuer Sulam Yaakov – Educational Director
Rabbi Binny Freedman, Rosh Yeshivat (Dean ) Orayta
Rabbi Akiva Gersh, Educator, Alexander Muss High School in Israel, Hod Hasharon, Israel.
Rabbi Fivel Yedidya Glasser, Director, Nesiya
Rabbi Dr. Meesh Hammer-Kossoy, Faculty/Director of Admissions, Director of SocialJustice Tract, Pardes Year Program Alumna
Rabbi Shaul David Judelman, Educator, guide at Teva Ivri
Rabbi Ariel Konstantyn, MS, PT, Founding Rabbi, The Tel Aviv International Synagogue – Beit El, Rabbinic Consultant, Tzohar
Rabbi Tzvi Koren, Rav of Kehilat Kinor David, Ra’anana
Rabbi Daniel Landes,
Rabbi Aharon Ariel Lavie, Founder of the Hakhel Incubator for Jewish Intentional Communities
Rabbi Aaron Leibowitz, Sulam Yaakov – Dean, Jerusalem City Council Member
Rabbi Hayim Leiter, Pardes Institute for Jewish Studies
Rabbi Ronen Lubitch, Rabbi Nir Etzion, president of the Ne’emanei Torah v’Avodah movement, member of the Executive Committee of the Adam, Teva VeDin Association.
Rabbi Dave Mason, Author of The Age of Prophecy series
Rabbi Michael Melchior Rav of Kehilat Talpiyot Hachadasha, Yerushalayim
Rabbi Yonatan Neril Founder and director of the Interfaith Center for Sustainable Development
Rabbi Ronen Neuwirth V’AhavT”A – TLV Jewish Experience
Rabbi Micha Odenheimer
Rabbi Ariel Picard, Hartman Institute
Rabbi Chananel Rosen, Rabbi of Yakar Tel-Aviv, Director of Yakar Institutions
Rabbi David Rosen KSG CBE, International Director of Interreligious Affairs, AJC; International President, Religions for Peace
Rabbi Dr. Shlomo Dov Rosen, Rabbi of the Yakar community in Jerusalem.
Rabbi Hanan Schlesinger, Director of International Relations, Roots/Shorashim/Judur
Rabbi Meir Schweiger, Mashgiach Ruchani, Pardes Institute of Jewish Studies
Rabbi Ariel S.
Rabbi Yedidyah Sinclair,
Rabbi Renee Samuel Sirat, former Chief Rabbi of France.
Rabbi Daniel Sperber, Professor of Talmud at Bar-Ilan University
Rabbi Pesach Dahvid Stadlin, Author and spiritual director of Eden Village
Hare are important reasons we all should be very concerned about climate change:
1. Science academies worldwide, 97% of climate scientists, and 99.9% of peer-reviewed papers on the issue in respected scientific journals argue that climate change is real, is largely caused by human activities, and poses great threats to humanity. All 195 nations at the December 2015 Paris climate change conference agreed that immediate steps must be taken to combat climate change.
2.Every decade since the 1970s has been warmer than the previous decade and all of the 17 warmest years since temperature records were kept in 1880 have been since 1998. 2016 was the warmest year globally since 1880, when temperature records were first kept, breaking the record held before by 2015 and previously by 2014, meaning we now have had three consecutive years of record temperatures..
3. Polar icecaps and glaciers worldwide have been melting rapidly, faster than scientific projections. This has caused an increase elevation in oceans worldwide with the potential for major flooding.
4. There has been an increase in the number and severity of droughts, wildfires, storms, and floods. In little more than a month in 2017 there were three category 4 or 5 hurricanes that severely damaged Texas, Florida, and Puerto Rico and an unprecedented wildfire in northern California.
5. California has been subjected to so many severe climate events (heat waves, droughts, wildfires, and mudslides when heavy rains occur) recently that its governor, Jerry Brown, stated that, “Humanity is on a collision course with nature.” California serves as an example of how climate change can wreak havoc.
6. Many climates experts believe that we are close to a tipping point due to positive feedback loops,when climate change will spiral out of control, with disastrous consequences, unless major positive changes soon occur.
7. While many climate scientists think that 350 parts per million (ppm) of atmospheric CO2 is a threshold value for climate stability, the world reached 400 ppm in 2014, and the amount is increasing by 2 – 3 ppm per year.
8. While climate scientists hope that temperature increases can be limited to two degrees Celsius (3.6 degrees Fahrenheit), largely because that is the best that can be hoped for with current trends and momentum, the world is now on track for an average increase of 4 – 6 degrees Celsius, which would result in great human suffering and significant threats to human civilization.]
9. The Pentagon and other military groups think that climate change will increase the potential for instability, terrorism, and war by reducing access to food and clean water and by causing tens of millions of desperate refuges fleeing from droughts, wildfire, floods, storms, and other effects of climate change.
10. The conservative group ConservAmerica (www.ConservAmerica.org), formerly known as ‘Republicans for Environmental Protection,’ is very concerned about climate change threats. They are working to end the denial about climate threats and the urgency of working to avert them on the part of the vast majority of Republicans, but so far with very limited success.
Given the above, averting a potential climate catastrophe should be a central focus of civilisation today, in order to leave a lovable world for future generations. Every aspect of life should be considered. We have to shift to renewable forms of energy, improve our transportation systems, produce more efficient cars and other means of transportation, reduce meat consumption, and do everything else possible to reduce greenhouse gas emissions