Judaism and climate change conference hosted by ASU highlights activism, veganism

JEWISH NEWS

Rabbi Shmuly Yanklowitz is fighting climate change one vegan meal at a time.

Veganism transforms an individual and the whole family unit, Yanklowitz said, because it makes people more thoughtful about what they are eating and why. It also heightens their awareness of the impact they are having on the environment.

“I’m very grateful for those working on political revolutions, but I want to be on the side of a spiritual revolution that starts person by person, home by home,” he said.

From changing an individual’s diet to garnering community support for legislative changes, Jewish leaders across the country gathered to discuss the best ways to take on climate change.. Yanklowitz was one of five activists who addressed the relationship between Judaism and environmental activism during the Judaism, Science and Medicine Group’s annual conference hosted by Arizona State University via Zoom on Feb. 28, 2021.

In 2014, a Public Religion Research Institute survey found 78% of American Jews consider climate change either “a crisis” or “a major problem” — the highest proportion of any religious group in America.

But that sentiment doesn’t necessarily translate to action.

“There was amazing work happening, there continues to be great work happening and we need more — for the Jewish community to fully show up in all of our people and power and play a critical role in the larger national climate movement, and in turn, the global climate movement,” said Rabbi Jennie Rosenn, founder and CEO of Dayenu. She launched the organization last April to mobilize the American Jewish community to confront the climate crisis.