Thursday, October 31, 2019

Going Green Together - The Interfaith Climate and Energy Conference


“What is my responsibility to the world around me?” 
This question is one asked by people of faith and environmentalists alike, and it was the central
question being debated at the 2019 Interfaith Climate and Energy Conference at the University of
Notre Dame’s Tantur Ecumenical Institute. 
Jews, Christians, and Muslims gathered in Jerusalem to hear from religious leaders, seminary deans,
and learn from practical workshops how to turn passion into action! The conference opened with
remarks by Ambassador Gideon Behar on the interplay between Climate Change and the Middle
East followed by perspectives on religion and ecological behavior from Imam Hasan Abu Galiun,
Fr. Russ Mcdougall, Rev. Dr. Maria Leppakar, and Rabbi Yuval Cherlow. After a performance by the
Jerusalem Youth Choir, a social initiative bringing together Jews and Arabs in East and West
Jerusalem through music, the conversation turned from “Why is ecology important in conversations
about faith?” to “How can we act on this connection?” Practical workshops educated clergy members
and participants on composting, urban farming, and the ecology of the site of the conference; uniquely
placed between West Jerusalem and Bethlehem. 



Despite all the things that differentiated participants of the conference from one another, there was a
unanimous sentiment that exploring faith and ecology was central to answering what our responsibility
to the world is. Because of the depth provided by an interfaith dialogue, we also explored what our
responsibility is to one another. Participants left the conference with answers to the big questions on
their mind and new colleagues from different walks of life to help them articulate them to the world. 
A New Dawn was so thankful to help provide the Bedouin perspective on faith and sustainability, and
looks forward to bringing more participants to the next conference! Most of all, we are most grateful
to Yonatan Neril for the cordial invitation and providing our organization with the tools needed to be
a part of the event. We want to keep the momentum going and continue our work in the field of
sustainability. Next week, A New Dawn will be hosting Extinction Rebellion, to learn about how the
climate crisis will affect the Bedouin population in the Negev. 


The conference was organized by the Interfaith Center for Sustainable Development thanks to the
Julia Burke Foundation. The participating partners that were able to make the conference truly diverse
and engaging alongside A New Dawn in the Negev were the University of Notre Dame at Tantur, the
Studium Theologicum Salesianum, and the Swedish Theological Institute.



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