Our planet is imperiled as perhaps never before by climate change and other environmental threats. It is urgent that steps be taken immediately to avoid the unprecedented catastrophe toward which the world is rapidly heading.
Jewish Vegetarians of North America (JVNA), now named Jewish Veg, has produced a major documentary about how Jewish teachings can help address current environmental crises.
While this one-hour documentary — entitled “A SACRED DUTY: Applying Jewish Values To Help Heal the World” — is especially suitable for synagogues, temples, JCCs, Jewish schools and other Jewish institutions, its universal message also makes it appropriate for showings at Christian, other religions’ and secular institutions, and at film festivals. A SACRED DUTY speaks to people everywhere about the ethics of our relationship to our natural world and why it is imperative that we respond quickly to help shift our imperiled planet onto a sustainable path.
Key climate scientists, including James Hansen of NASA, warn that we may reach a tipping point within a decade after which global warming could spiral out of control, with disastrous consequences. Recent reports, including the landmark “Livestock’s Long Shadow,” by the UN Food and Agriculture Organization, highlight the disastrous contributions of modern, intensive animal-based agriculture to this crisis. Israel’s special vulnerabilities to global climate change, in terms of reduced rainfall, severe storms and flooding from a rising Mediterranean Sea make this documentary urgent and timely, even more so than when it was first released in 2007.
A SACRED DUTY is a Jewish response to these issues. It reminds us that it is our sacred duty to become aware of these realities and our responsibility to apply Jewish teachings to how we obtain our food, use natural resources, and live among other creatures whom God created. It offers simple, practical measures for reducing our impact on the planet.
Produced by Emmy-Award-winning producer, director, writer, and cinematographer Lionel Friedberg, A SACRED DUTY will take its place alongside Al Gore’s AN INCONVENIENT TRUTH and Leonardo diCaprio’s THE ELEVENTH HOUR as another powerful expose of the dangers of climate change. However, it goes beyond the latter two films, by showing how religious responses can make a major difference and why a shift toward plant-based diets is an essential part of efforts to reduce global climate change and other environmental threats.
The documentarian be freely seen by visiting www.ASacredDuty.com. If you would like a complimentary DVD in order to arrange a showing, please visit the Jewish Veg website (www.JewishVeg.org)
The documentary includes interviews with the following, with their words illustrated by dramatic pictures:
Dr. Yeshayahu Bar-Or – Chief Scientist: Israel Environmental Ministry Raanan Boral – Director: Environmental Protection Division of the for the Society of Protection of Nature in Israel (SPNI) Samuel Chayen – Israeli environmental activist Yael Cohen Paran, Yair Cohen and Eren Ben Yaminy – Leaders of Green Course, an Israeli university-based environmental group; Yael is now an MK Eli Groner – Teacher of environmental studies at the Arava Institute Alon Tal – Leading Israeli environmentalist; founder of the Israel Union for Environmental Defense: author of Pollution in a Promised Land. Yael Ukeles – Director: Derech Hateva, Jerusalem
Dr. Joel Fuhrman, M.D. – A leading author and physician with a specialty in natural healing Roberta Kalechofsky – Founder and director of Jews for Animal Rights (JAR) and Micah Publications; author, editor and publisher. Richard H. Schwartz – Author of Judaism and Vegetarianism and president of Jewish Vegetarians of North America (JVNA) Jonathan Wolf – Founder and first president of Jewish Vegetarians of North America (JVNA)
Rabbi Shear Yashuv Cohen — Former Ashkenazic Chief Rabbi of Haifa Rabbi David Rosen — Former Chief Rabbi of Ireland; International Director of Interreligious Affairs of the American Jewish Committee
Rabbi Michael Cohen – Director of the Green Zionist Alliance (GZA) and a teacher at the Arava Institute in Israel Rabbi Fred Scherlinder Dobb, Adat Shalom Reconstructionist Congregation; environmental activist Rabbi Adam Frank – Congregation Moreshet Yisrael, Jerusalem, the largest Conservative synagogue in Israel Rabbi Yonassan Gershom – A Breslov Chassid and author Rabbi Simchah Roth – Torat Hayyim, Herzilia Rabbi Warren Stone – Temple Emanuel, greater Washington, D.C.; Chair, Central Conference of American Rabbis’ Environmental Committee
Lionel Friedberg, producer/director/writer/cinematographer: 18 feature film credits as Director of Photography. Awards include A Primetime Emmy, a National Emmy, the American Association for the Advancement of Science ‘Westinghouse’ Award for Science Programming, three Columbus and three Golden Eagles for Best Documentaries, and various awards as a dramatic and episodic TV director. Watch The Film World of Lionel and Diana Friedberg. I, Richard Schwartz, am the associate producer. I arranged for and carried out almost all the interviews while Lionel filmed them.
The video received much acclaim, favourable reviews, and several awards. Blurbs and reviews can be seen by visiting www.ASacredDuty.com. Here is just a sampling:
“We at CLAL believe that if Judaism is going to be taken seriously by American Jews and for that matter by all Americans, Jewish wisdom needs to contribute to and to add value to the debates at the center of our culture and politics. This documentary – whether or not one agrees with every detail – is an important contribution to one of the critical public policy conversations facing this country and a serious example of taking Jewish wisdom public. Produced at a high quality, this documentary reminds us that it is our sacred duty to become aware of current threats and our responsibility to apply Jewish teachings to how we obtain our food, use natural resources, and live among other creatures whom God created. Not only does it offer simple, practical measures for reducing our impact on the planet, it shows how authentic religious responses melded with science can make a major difference in our efforts to reduce global climate change and other environmental threats. It also challenges people to consider the many moral issues related to our diets, including Torah teachings on how animals are treated on factory farms and the effects on human health and the environment.
“Although it is primarily intended for a Jewish audience, A Sacred Duty speaks to people everywhere about the ethics of our relationship to the natural world in which we live. We are honored that JVNA has made this gift possible.”
Rabbi Irwin Kula, President CLAL (Jewish think tank)
CLAL sent DVDs to 2,000 rabbis and other Jewish leaders who have connections to the group
“A Sacred Duty should be mandated viewing for all people on planet Earth. Great job!”
Howard F. Lyman, the Mad Cowboy
Former fourth generation cattle rancher who is now a leading vegetarian activist
“A Sacred Duty is a tour de force. Anyone who watches with an open heart and an open mind will leave the theater deeply moved and called to action.”
Bruce Friedrich, Vice-President, PETA.
“A Sacred Duty melds modern science with Jewish religious teachings to make a compelling case for vegetarianism that conscientious viewers will find hard to resist. A cheekier title might have been “What Would Moses Eat Today?” in the face of catastrophic global warming and environmental degradation, world hunger and needless violence to billions of helpless animals every year. I hope A Sacred Duty will help redefine kosher for the 21st century Jew, for vegetarianism – a diet infused with kindness and blessedly free of bloodshed – is our Biblical root (“behold, I have given you every herb bearing seed”) and our moral destiny (“and the wolf shall dwell with the lamb”).”
Syd Baumel, writer and animal activist, publisher of eatkind.net
“I can’t find the words to tell you how deeply I was moved by A Sacred Duty. I’ve seen similar factory farming footage for decades, but in the context of this extraordinary film, it was particularly compelling….very moving. Poignantly written, beautifully filmed and perfectly executed, it was enlightening without being admonishing. A truly monumental film not only for those of the Jewish faith, but for the animals. Another, very subtle impression was the fact that you were able to bring together representatives from all corners of the Jewish faith. While just by nature of their categories, there are things that separate them, their words around this topic had great unison, sounding as though they came from one voice. From the first scene to the final word, this film is absolutely brilliant! Thank you, Lionel, Richard, and all who were involved, for the legacy of this contribution to our planet, its people and its animals.”
Kris Haley, Former Manager of Multifaith Outreach/Animals & Religion
Best Friends Animal Society