For Immediate Release:

January 25, 2009



Richard H. Schwartz, President of the Jewish Vegetarians of North America (JVNA)


Phone: (718) 761-5876 [Cell 917-576-0344 )


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


Last Monday, the most severe drought in Israel's history -- caused or exacerbated by global warming -- prompted an emergency halt to the pumping of water from the depleted Kinneret (also known as the Sea of Galilee),

 with water instead being pumped from Israel's underground aquifers, which are also at dangerously low levels.

(JTA report is at the end of this release.) If present trends continue, the Israeli Union for Environmental Defense (IUED) projects that global warming will soon result in Israel facing major heat waves, a reduction of rainfall of up to 30 percent, severe storms causing major flooding, and a rising Mediterranean Sea which would inundate the coastal plain where most Israelis live.


"These deeply worrying events should be a wake-up call to the Jewish community that global warming poses an existential threat to the state of Israel that rivals any other," stated Richard Schwartz, president of JVNA.


Tikkun olam -- the healing and repair of the world, which includes the prevention of global warming –must become a central issue of discussion and action in Jewish institutions, from schools and synagogues to newspapers and websites," added Schwartz. “Our Jewish tradition abounds with splendid teachings on environmental conservation and sustainability. These must be applied to the environmental crisis we face today.”



Though not well publicized, there is a scientific consensus that one of the most powerful ways humanity can fight global warming is to shift to a more climate-friendly diet.


A landmark 2006 report by the United Nations Food and Agricultural Organization estimated that globally livestock production is responsible for more greenhouse gas emissions (GHGs, in CO2 equivalents) than the world's entire transportation sector. The report, “Livestock's Long Shadow,” projects that the world's current population of about 56 billion farmed animals will double in 50 years if human population growth and dietary trends continue. The resulting increase in greenhouse gas emissions would largely negate reduction goals for GHG emissions from transportation, electricity and other, higher-profile sectors.

Expert recognition of the importance of diet in preventing global warming20is growing. This fall, Dr. Rajendra Pachauri, Chair of the United Nations

Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, which shared a Nobel Peace Prize with Al Gore in 2008, called on people in the developed world to "give up meat for one day [a week] initially, and decrease it from there." More recently, NASA climatologist James Hansen -- the world's most prominent scientific advocate of aggressive action against global warming -- told an interviewer:


"... if you eat further down on the food chain rather than animals, which have produced many greenhouse gases, and used much energy in the process of growing that meat, you can actually make a bigger contribution in that way than just about anything. So, that, in terms of individual action, is perhaps the best thing you can do."


Since 1979, JVNA has raised awareness of the environmental, health, humanitarian and other benefits of a global shift to vegetarian, vegan or plant-based, diets, most recently in its feature-length docume ntary film: A SACRED DUTY: APPLYING JEWISH VALUES TO HELP HEAL THE WORLD. It can be viewed at


"JVNA is eager to make its expertise and resources available to all educators, rabbis, journalists, policymakers and other conscientious and influential Jews so they may heighten awareness within the Jewish community not only of the seriousness of global warming but of the power of ethical dietary choices to prevent it," said Schwartz.


The issues are so critical that JVNA is spearheading a campaign to turn Tu B’Shvat into a Jewish Earth Day and urging synagogues, Jewish schools and other institutions to arrange environmental activities on and around that day which occurs on February 8-9 this year.






Supplementary Material on Global Warming Threats


The threats from global warming are really worldwide. There are daily reports of severe droughts, storms, flooding and wildfires and about meltings of polar icecaps and glaciers. All this due to an average temperature increase of about 1.5 degrees Fahrenheit in the past 100 years, and global climate scientists are projecting an increase of from 3 to 11 degrees Fahrenheit in the next 100 years, and this would result in an20unprecedented catastrophe for humanity.

Some climate scientists are warning that global warming could reach a tipping point and spin out of control in a few years, with disastrous consequences, unless major changes soon occur Al Gore pointed out that the United States must free itself from fossil fuels and switch to renewable energy sources by 2018. He stressed the urgency of the change by stating: 'the survival of the United States of America as we know it is at risk,' and that 'The future of human civilization is at stake.'


When we read daily reports of the effects of global climate change, such as record heat waves, severe flooding, widespread droughts, unprecedented numbers of wild fires, and the melt ing of glaciers and polar icecaps; when some climate scientists are warning that global climate change may spin out of control with disastrous consequences unless major changes are soon made; when a recent report indicated that our oceans may be virtually free of fish by 2050; when species of plants and animals are disappearing at the fastest rate in history; when it is projected that half of the world's people will live in areas chronically short of water by 2050; it is essential that the Jewish community fulfill our mandate to be a “light unto the nations” and lead efforts to address these critical issues.




JTA article:  Israel halts Sea of Galilee water pumping

January 22, 2009


JERUSALEM (JTA) -- Israel has halted pumping water from the Sea of Galilee.

Pumping from Israel's main water source stopped Monday when the water level reached about 16 inches from the "black line," beyo nd which pumping is strictly prohibited.


Water instead is being pumped from Israel's underground aquifers, which are also at dangerously low levels.

Rainfall in Israel this year has been at about half of its annual average. This month is on track to be the driest in the history of such records, according to Ha'aretz.


Water sources that flow into the Sea of Galilee, also called Lake Kinneret , are also at their lowest level ever.


Israel is in the midst of its fifth consecutive year of drought.




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 (