On July 26, in the midst of a Jerusalem heat wave and heated conflicts over the Temple Mount, a group of Jewish, Muslim and Christian leaders met at the Jerusalem Press Club to encourage people of all faiths to help curb climate change.
The event, organized by the Interfaith Center for Sustainable Development (ICSD), focused on the critical role faith leaders can play in increasing public awareness about environmental issues.
Rabbi Yonatan Neril, ICSD’s director, moderated a panel that included Rabbi David Rosen, AJC International Director of Interreligious Affairs; Father Francesco Patton, Custos of the Holy Land (Franciscan); and Kadi Iyad Zahalka, judge of the Muslim Sharia Courts in Israel reached a consensus on the religious basis for environmental sustainability and addressing climate change.
“We are part of creation, so we have to take care of our common home and take responsibility for creation,” Patton said.
Rosen, citing Deuteronomy 30:19 (“Choose life in order that you and your children shall live”) said that climate change today is a matter of life and death. “Because of this, everything else becomes secondary — it’s like rearranging the deck chairs on the ship Titanic as we head for the iceberg.”
Zahalka spoke to the importance of “taking care of everything for the coming generation. We need to do our part in saving and preserving nature and all the earth.”
At the event, a letter signed by 37 Israeli Orthodox rabbis was released, calling for action on climate change.
Neril cited studies linking climate change to increased drought and extreme heat in the Middle East, and said they are exacerbating conflict and threat multipliers.
“We can only address climate change by religious figures taking a leading role in helping to reorient humanity toward sustainable lifestyles,” said Neril.
Meanwhile, the Israeli company Mellanox Technologies just released the short video below, showing how the world might look after a serious climate disaster.