Jewish Group Urges Consideration of Global Warming, Energy and Diet on Birkat HaChamah
March 30, 2009

For Immediate Release
Contact Person:  Richard H. Schwartz,
President, Jewish Vegetarians of North America (JVNA)

718-761-5876     Cell: (917) 576-0344

Jewish Vegetarians of North America (JVNA) issued the following statement today:

Birkat HaChamah, an event that commemorates the time that the sun will be in the same position relative to the earth that it was at the time of creation, is an ideal time for Jews to consider the state of our imperiled  planet and how to shift it to a sustainable path. This commemoration occurs every 28 years and this year it will occur on the morning of April 8.

“When God created the world, He was able to say, 'It is tov meod (very good)' “ (Genesis 1:31), stated JVNA president Richard Schwartz. “Everything was in harmony as God had planned; the waters were clean and the air was pure. But what must God think about the world today, when it is so threatened by global warming, rapid species extinction, destruction of tropical rain forests and many other environmental problems?”

Israel is especially threatened by global warming. It Is now suffering from the worst drought in its history, and a 2007 report from the Israel Union for Environmental Defense projects that global warming will cause a temperature increase of 3-11 degrees Fahrenheit, an average decrease in rainfall of 20 - 30 percent, severe storms and major flooding from a rising Mediterranean Sea.

It is time to apply Judaism's powerful environmental teachings to reducing global warming and other environmental threats. Since Birkat HaChamah focuses on the sun, this is a good time to consider using solar energy and other renewable forms of energy, in order to reduce global warming and our dependence on fossil fuels.

When thanking God for the many blessings of Creation on Birkat HaChamah, we might also consider returning to the vegan, strictly plant-based dietary regimen that God provided for humans when the world was created (Genesis 1:29), because animal-based agriculture is having devastating effects on the environment. Raising 60 billion farmed animals worldwide for slaughter annually causes soil erosion and depletion, the loss of biological diversity, the destruction of tropical rain forests and other valuable habitats and other environmental problems and requires far more land, water and energy than plant-based agriculture. Most importantly, with the world apparently rapidly approaching an unprecedented catastrophe from global warming, a 2006 UN report indicated that the production of meat and other animal-foods emits more greenhouse gases (in CO2 equivalents) than all of the world's cars, planes, ships and all other means of transportation combined (18 percent vs. 13.5 percent).

We are to be responsible stewards, co-workers with God, in protecting the environment. Hence, with our world so threatened today, Birkat HaChamah would be a great time to start applying Jewish values to help respond to the environmental threats to Israel and to all of humanity.

Further information about JVNA and its campaigns to get vegetarianism and environmental activism onto the Jewish agenda, as well as much background material on Jewish teachings on the environment and vegetarianism can be found at the JVNA web site ( JVNA is very interested in respectful dialogues and debates on dietary connections to global climate change and other current environmental global threats and on questions such as “Should Jews Be Vegetarians?” The group believes that the Jewish community should make tikkun olam, the repair, healing and proper transformation of the world a central focus in Jewish life today. It will send a complimentary DVD with its acclaimed documentary “A Sacred Duty: Applying Jewish Values to Help Heal the World” to rabbis and other Jewish leaders who request one at The entire movie can also be seen at



Richard H. Schwartz, Ph.D.
Professor Emeritus, College of Staten Island
Author of "Judaism and Vegetarianism," "Judaism and Global Survival," and "Mathematics and Global Survival," and over 130 articles at

President of Jewish Vegetarians of North America (JVNA)

and Society of Ethical and Religious Vegetarians (SERV)

Associate Producer of A SACRED DUTY (
Director of Veg Climate Alliance (