Scranton rabbi attends climate conference in Vatican City

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EYEWITNESS NEWS (WBRE/WYOU) — A climate conference with religious leaders from all over the world was held in Vatican City Wednesday and among those leaders, a rabbi from Northeastern Pennsylvania.

About 50 global leaders, from nearly a dozen religious traditions, including Pope Francis and Scranton Temple Hesed’s Spiritual Leader Rabbi Daniel Swartz, gathered at the Vatican to prepare a document urging everyone to save the environment.

“The main part and the big ceremonial part was this appeal, which was signed by all the religious leaders, starting with the pope. That calls on the nations of the world, and the people of the world to really address climate change seriously, in light of the upcoming conference (in Glasgow),” explained Rabbi Daniel Swartz. “Substantial parts of the document were things that I had written and suggested be added. Specifically, the need for education that gives people a moral foundation and connects them with serious issues, like climate change.”

One of the rabbi’s highlights was when he had three minutes to engage in conversation with the pope.

“Some cardinals came up to him and he waved them off, he shook them off. He said he really wanted to hear from everybody. When we talk about education, we really have to talk holistically. We have to talk about educating for the head, the heart, the hands, and the soul,” said Rabbi Swartz. “We really have to make sure that everyone really has those opportunities. I talked about when we adopted our daughter, which is 21 years ago, the educational opportunities that she has, that she might not have had.”

Eyewitness News spoke with the rabbi about what residents in our area could do to help save our planet for future generations.

If you’re going to be religious in the 21st century, it doesn’t matter which religion, everybody was there at the table. To be religious, we have to love our neighbor, and that neighbor is all life across the planet,” said Rabbi Swartz. “Two, figure out one more thing to do in your home. And three we, have to make some societal decisions, and saying we are doing this, and we are not doing that.”

The recommendations signed at the climate conference were passed on to representatives of the upcoming United Nations Climate Change Conference.

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