For Immediate Release:

January 11, 2009


Richard H. Schwartz, President of the Jewish Vegetarians of North America (JVNA)        Phone: (718) 761-5876


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


In view of the major threats to Israel and, indeed, the entire world from global warming and other environmental problems, it is essential that the Jewish community join with others in responding, and an excellent time to start is Tu B’Shvat, which starts this year at sundown on Sunday evening, February 8. This increasingly popular “New Year for the trees” should be considered a “Jewish Earth Day.”


With Israel facing the worst drought in its history, and with the Israeli Union for Environmental Defense projecting that, if present trends continue, global warming will result in Israel soon 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, rabbis and other Jewish leaders should support and join major efforts to combat global warming.


“It is urgent that tikkun olam—the healing and repair of the world -- be a central issue in synagogues, Jewish schools and other Jewish institutions,” stated Richard Schwartz, president of JVNA. “Judaism has splendid teachings on environmental conservation and sustainability, and it is essential that they be applied to respond to the many current environmental threats, in order to move our imperiled planet to a sustainable path.”


Consistent with the fact that all the foods at the traditional Tu B’Shvat seder are from plants, JVNA also urges rabbis and other Jewish leaders to make Jews aware of how plant-based diets are most consistent with basic Jewish mandates to preserve human health, treat animals compassionately, protect the environment, conserve natural resources and  help hungry people.


According to a UN Food and Agricultural Organization 2006 report, animal-based agriculture emits more greenhouse gases (in CO2 equivalents) than all the cars, planes, ships and other means of transportation worldwide combined. The report projects that the number of farmed animals worldwide, currently about 56 billion, will double in 50 years. If that happened, the increased greenhouse gas emissions would negate the effects of many positive changes that environmentalists support. Hence a major societal shift to vegetarianism is imperative.


Further information about these issues can be found at the JVNA web site JVNA will provide complimentary copies of its new documentary A SACRED DUTY: APPLYING JEWISH VALUES TO HELP HEAL THE WORLD and related materials to rabbis and other Jewish leaders who will contact them ( and indicate that they will consider using them to involve their congregations on the issues.


We plan to contact rabbis and other Jewish leaders and urge them to make Tu B’Shvat a Jewish Earth Day.


Supporting material includes the following:

The threats are really worldwide. There are daily reports of severe droughts, storms, flooding and wildfires and about meltings of polar icecap s 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 Farhrenheit in the next 100 years, and this would result in an unprecedented 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 melting 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.


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 (