Jerusalem’s on fire, but these “enemies” put faith in ecology

Jerusalem’s been boiling over with violent and deadly conflicts over the last half a year. But faith leaders intent on ecological ideals as a peace bridge have met again at the the Faith and Ecology conference in Jerusalem last week.

Green Prophet has attended meetings in the past (see our coverage from 2011) and a photo of our founder Karin Kloosterman, below, at the event in 2012.

And we are happy to hear that the annual event is still building trust and those much-needed green bridges between Jews, Muslims and Christians in the Holy City.

Yonathan Neril, a Jewish rabbi, started the idea of using green faith as a lever for peace about five years ago. Since, his organization the Interfaith Center for Sustainable Development aspires to bring the “enemies” of Jerusalem together to create peaceful initiatives.

He also creates green teaching tools to help faith leaders inspire their devoted.

yonathan neril

Neril is the leading drive behind the regular conference and the initiative of bringing faith and green together in Jerusalem.

In 2007, this is the very same reason why Kloosterman founded Green Prophet.

Specifically in the Holy Land, members of the three Abrahamic traditions all share the importance of being stewards of creation.

Because Jerusalem is a gate to heaven

The recent conference happened last week, where over 100 clergy, seminary students, and others and provided tools and inspiration to expand faith-based environmental teaching and action.

Rabbi Michael Melchior, former Member of Knesset (israel’s parliament) and co-founder of the Knesset environmental caucus, said that “the holy city of Jerusalem sometimes goes astray to points of violence, but really we can make it a gate to Heaven.


“The world really belongs to God, and all of us are temporary residents in this world, which we have been given to take care of.”

Speakers included Jerusalem-area priests, rabbis, imams, and a scientist, such as Bishop William Shomali, the Latin Patriarchate of Jerusalem,  Rabbi Yuval Cherlow head of Yeshivat Hesder Petach Tikva and Dr. Nurit Hashimony Yaffe from the Academic College of Tel Aviv-Yafo.


The group participated in interactive workshops, an outdoor session, and a video session featuring pre-recorded addresses from the Dalai Lama, Archbishop Desmond Tutu, and Rabbi Lord Jonathan Sacks.

Part of the event was dedicated to generating action plans within each faith community, which resulted in commitments for continued collaboration on the environment.

This event was part of the United Planet Faith & Science Initiative, which brings faith and science leaders together to catalyze shifts in society to address climate change. It is part of a series of events in late 2014 taking place on three continents in New York, Jerusalem, and Lima.

The events coincide with UN climate talks and aim to generate tangible environmental action within faith-based communities.

The Conference was held at the Mishkenot Sha’ananim Conference Center in Jerusalem, and was co-organized by the Konrad Adenauer Foundation, the Interfaith Center for Sustainable Development, and the Salesian Pontifical University.

More on greening pilgrimages:

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